What was Bradley Manning’s real crime? His real crime was in trusting Adrian Lamo and in not using the TOR network and other anonymity services to leak the information he had extracted from the military network he had access to in Iraq.
Had he, however, dumped his data to something like New Yorker’s Strong Box—a new feature on their website that was developed for sending in anonymous tips by the late web activist Aaron Swartz—he wouldn’t be getting the Gitmo treatment in solitary now. Instead, a sanctioned news agency would be taking the heat and leveraging their plethora of lawyers and spin doctors to fight off government officials embarrassed by the real secret that had been revealed: That our foreign policy and war strategies were foisted upon the US (and the rest of the world, natch) by a small cabal FUCKTOCRACY of arrogant white men who simply refused to believe how stupid they are. (I mean, what else did the Collateral Murder prove but that our GUN-ho soldiers hadn’t been trained to properly identify and select military targets?)
Don’t make the same mistake! By using Strong Box which, in turn, can only be accessed through the TOR network, aspiring leaker, your chances of being tortured or held indefinitely in solitary are greatly reduced, as TOR (properly used!) eliminates the possibility of tracing the origin and destination of traffic sent through the TOR network. Basically, each TOR node collects up lots of traffic, encrypts it, and then sends this whole wad to another TOR node (or “Onion Router”), where it gathers up traffic originating from a bunch of nodes and then encrypts the whole ball again. If anyone has the ability to crack TOR, it is only a handful of governments in the world, and they won’t risk revealing what they can do unless it’s something really important. Go on over to TOR and download a TOR browser and poke around a bit. If you are going to access, say, Dangerous Minds without leaving a trail, make sure the browser is showing https, because TOR doesn’t automatically encrypt your traffic as it enters and exits the TOR network.
TOR itself is fascinating as the basic ideas were developed by Cypherpunks and other anarchically inclined people in the 1990s, and most nodes are run by private individuals on their own time and dime. Through TOR you can also check out Silk Road, an illicit substance marketplace that functions a lot like eBay. Of course, you can’t actually buy anything on Silk Road unless you have learned how to handle Bitcoins (and have an account), but it is fascinating (is it not?) to see a “TOR hidden service” like Silk Road, the physical location of which can’t really be determined (and I mean to tell you, it would be hard for even top-secret government agencies to determine the location of the Silk Road servers).
This, my friend, is freedom, though it’s not what you might have thought freedom was going to look like. But it’s a freedom that was taken through the sheer force of mathematics, and there is probably no government on earth that has the power to stop it.
Marko Mäetamm is a multimedia artist, who works within the mediums of video, photography, drawing, painting and the Internet. Over the past 2 decades, Marko has established himself as an original and provocative artist, and his work has been exhibited across Europe.
Born in South Estonia, Mäetamm ‘grew up without any artistic influences,’ and did not consider becoming an artist until he was 18.
‘The first time I thought doing something creative was through this friend, who was a great fan of Prog Rock and Heavy Metal,’ Marko explains. ‘And the first time I felt I really wanted to do something visual or artistic was when I was looking at the these Heavy Metal and Prog Rock album sleeves at his place.
‘This was at the beginning of the 1980s, when Estonia was part of Soviet Union and you couldn’t legally buy any Western music in stores. It was all smuggled in somehow, so you had to know people who knew people who knew other people to get access to original albums of any kind of Western music. It was more common to share tape-recorded copies of the albums rather than to have the original vinyl.
‘So, my first “serious drawings” were copies of all of these album covers and bands.’
Marko jokes that these were ‘terribly bad drawings,’ but it was still enough to inspire his interest, and after 2 compulsory years in the Soviet Army, he studied study printmaking at the Estonian Academy of Arts in Tallinn.
‘It was still the end of Soviet regime, so we didn’t get much information of what was happening in the world of contemporary art. My first influences were all these great modern artists we had to study—Rousseau, Matisse, Chagall, Picasso and so on. That was until I discovered Pop Art, at the end of my studies, and got really into it.
‘This was all happening around the same time the new wave of Young British Artists jumped on the stage, but then nobody was talking about it in Estonia. So it shows you how huge a gap there was between the art here in Estonia, and international art. It took the whole 90-s to cover this gap.’
Dangerous Minds: How would you describe yourself as an artist and how would you describe your art?
Marko Mäetamm: ‘It is always difficult to describe yourself. It is kind of a tricky thing. We never see ourselves the way like the other people do, even when we look in the mirror we actually see our image in a mirror – the eye that we think is our right eye is actually our left eye for other people and so on. And our voice we hear coming from inside us is totally different from the voice other people hear us talking with.
‘But to try to say something - I think I am quite obsessed by my work and I probably need it to keep myself in balance. I say, “I think” because I do think that it might be like that, I don’t really know. And I think that I may not function as good if I didn’t have that channel – art, to communicate with the world. I have come to recognize this by thinking of my own projects during my career. And how my ideas change. People have asked me if I have a therapeutic relationship with my work, and I have always answered that it is absolutely possible. But I really don’t know and I don’t even know if I would need to know it. I don’t know if that would make my work better.’
There’s a fantastic new—at least I think it’s pretty new—sub-reddit section that’s a catchall for some of the more idiotic conspiracy theories out there. Titled ‘Conspiratards,’ for the most part, the forum consists of postings debunking the willy-nilly fever dream dot-connecting of Glenn Beck, Alex Jones, the 9-11 truthers, birthers, LaRouchites, Tea partiers, Ron Paul fanboys and David Icke. If you are so inclined, it’s a fucking laugh riot.
Special Note: Conspiratards hate free speech and religiously down-mod good submissions here, so be sure to check out the “controversial” submissions that they don’t want you to see!
When you talk about conspiracy theories, there are, of course, REAL conspiracies and crimes—things which can be proven in a court of law and that actually happened historically (Watergate and the Iran Contra scandal come immediately to mind) and then there’s the utter lunatic bullshit that Alex Jones propagates on his radio show, the Montauk Project book series and Brice Taylor, the self-proclaimed mind-controlled sex slave of Bob Hope, the CIA and Henry Kissinger). When you get down to the “lizard people” level, I’m not sure what value these empty mental calories provide as a part of one’s intellectual diet, but from a sociological viewpoint, it’s fascinating to gawk at the loopy things that some people are willing to believe, absent any proof other than a sweaty, obnoxious fat guy shouting that it’s all a big government cover-up (A pic of Alex Jones looking suitably barking mad is the Conspiratards’ mascot).
I’ve watched as the conspiracy theory subculture degenerated from serious, yet unorthodox, inquiry and investigative journalism (the high point was the late 80s, early 90s when zine culture still flourished) to the mentally unstable jabberwocky of Jones, the Fox News reichwing propaganda machine and the smirking, immature fratboy fascists at Breitbart we have today. It’s gone from fascinating to pathetic and there’s a world of distance between the likes of a great, non-conformist mind such as Mae Brussell or her disciple Dave Emory, and a bi-polar paranoid numbskull like Alex Jones.
Because of the popularity of Disinformation, which launched in 1996 when the Internet was still a new thing to most people, I was often asked to comment on conspiracy theories on television shows and newscasts from all over the world. Out of “nowhere” these “theories” appeared to be gaining a level of acceptability in the culture, and this seemed to alarm traditional journalists and so they would have someone like me—or Jonathan Vankin, author of Conspiracies, Cover-Ups and Crimes, still the definitive book on conspiracy theorists) explain it for their listeners, viewers or readers. Both Jonathan and myself were bemused onlookers, not true believers in any way, so we tended to be the “go to” guys for that stuff back then.
I was always asked these two questions, or some variation thereof: “Have you ever investigated a conspiracy theory that you were skeptical of, only to find that you ultimately came to believe it?” (“No,” is the very short answer) and they also always wanted to know how the general public would be able to tell shit from shinola in this brave new Internet era…
This was the trickier question to answer, but to a large extent, I’d give the same answer today as I did fifteen years ago: “If it sounds like something they already believe, and it’s presented with a certain level of slickness, be it a professional TV graphics package, or good web design, then a certain segment of the population probably will believe it—fervently—and there’s not a lot that can done about it.”
I’ve had TV hosts gasp when I said that, but I wasn’t trying to imply—certainly not—that Lyndon LaRouche’s website would be on equal footing with The New York Times, but I was on the record several times back then predicting that “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” as defined by Richard Hofstadter in his famous 1964 essay of the same title, would become very popular in the coming decade as a form of entertainment.
It’s not about the John Birch Society-type ideas, or those of Glenn Beck’s idol, W. Cleon Skousen, per se—they’ve been languishing in the background for 50-60 years—but the slicker presentation of these kinds of ideas in a wide-open, low barrier to entry mediaverse that is seeing them flourish and gain traction in a way that never could have been imagined when Hofstadter wrote his essay. Today what used to be the fringe is the mainstream.
Consider the right wing “bubble” that the Mitt Romney campaign and the GOP were accused of living in during the 2012 election. If Breitbart.com looked like Free Republic, it’s doubtful that it would carry the same weight in the minds of conservatives as the freaking New York Times, if you take the point, but to many on the right, it DOES have the same value, a fact that came out repeatedly in the election post-mortems. Breitbart? WTF?
Then there’s Fox News. Imagine how threadbare that network would appear without the slick motion graphics and the blonde newscasters? It would frankly look just like the Alex Jones podcast without the Fox-y ladies and professional art directors. Ever noticed how few live reports Fox does? Local newscasts get out of the studio more often than Fox does and many times, they’re using the same feeds as CNN, perhaps even licensing these feeds from their competitor. It looks like a news network and has all of the trappings and outer appearance of one, but is it really news that Fox offers its elderly viewers in between all of the Gold Bond powder and MedicAlert commercials?
In any case, my perception of the Conspiratards sub-reddit forum is that it represents (by its explicitly mocking name and irreverent attitude) a really, really interesting new development in conspiracy theory culture. Not merely a “get your head out of your ass, dude” place to vent, it’s actually a place where even the folks who troll it will inevitably get a dose of counter reality that will bounce off the back of their heads like a basketball of logic.
I can understand why people are Glenn Beck fans or Alex Jones diehards, but it doesn’t mean I have any respect for how their tiny minds process and evaluate information sources. Conspiratards on reddit looks to promote a modern—and necessary—form of media literacy, no more, no less. The educational system might be failing us, but take heart that we can still teach each other something.
Legendary music impresario and Creation Records founder, Alan McGee has announced details of his new record label 359 Music, which will be a joint venture with respected indie Cherry Red
In a statement issued with co-founder of Cherry Red Iain McNay, McGee said he hoped 359 Music will provide “an outlet for new music artists that have been shut out by the system.”
McGee has also pledged to listen to all submissions personally.
The joint statement reads in full.
Alan McGee: ‘Recently I found myself reinvigorated by new music again after being 5 years away from music living in rural Wales, and from which there has been much talk about how I will return to music. As recently talked about in the press, my original plan was to do a deal with major label backing in Japan. But when it came down to it I realised that I didn’t want to come back to music through a major music label - that’s not what I want to be part of. That’s when I had a chat with Iain McNay from Cherry Red and we quite quickly put our heads together and developed between us a much better deal for 359 Music which will be a joint venture with Cherry Red.
The first ever person to ever approach me about music when I was 19 was Iain McNay from Cherry Red. That was 1980 and 33 years later Cherry Red still continues to send me publishing cheques for songs I wrote then. To me that just proves nothing but honesty and diligence. To me it makes sense and it excites me - it’s where it all started and where I will have my, more than likely, last record label.
My vision for 359 Music is a launch pad for new talent and some ignored older talent. We intend to release on average a dozen new bands per year every year - maybe more if I find a lot of new talent I like. Hopefully some of the artists will stick around and make numerous albums with 359 but some will go on to other things and that is just nature of the musical beast.
Due to technology the world is much smaller these days and 359 Music will be run from rural Wales by phone and computer and the day to day engine room will be run by the Cherry Red team in London. So basically the day to day logistics of 359 Music will be handled by Cherry Red Records and the A&R signing policy and creative decisions will be my domain.
There is no agenda of ‘let’s be the biggest like Creation Records’ - if in 5 years’ time people who I respect and who love music can turn round to me and say 359 Music has put out some great music then that to me will be success. There really needs to be an outlet for new music artists that have been shut out by the system and I hope 359 Music will be that outlet.
If you are an artist and want to be considered for 359 Music send an mp3 to INFOAT359MUSIC@AOL.COM and I will personally listen.
“So there you have it - 359 Music. I am extremely happy to be working again with my friend Iain McNay and to be again involved in the Cherry Red family after 33 years’”
Iain McNay: ‘Alan and I go back a long time, over 30 years in fact. Cherry Red celebrate their 35th birthday next month and we just continue to grow and grow. We released 623 albums (all on CD) last year, mostly catalogue but with an increasing number of new recordings. I only know of two other labels that have survived the late ‘70s Independent breakthrough intact in the UK; that’s Ace and Beggars. I like to think of the three of us as the ‘A,B and C’ of British Independent labels.
I have always admired Alan’s passion and belief in the music he loves. His maverick side will sit well with Cherry Red’s committed Independent stance. I have no doubt we will have a great adventure together. One thing is for certain, working with Alan McGee is never going to be boring…..’
The Harryhausen family regret to announce the death of Ray Harryhausen, Visual Effects pioneer and stop-motion model animator. He was a multi-award winner which includes a special Oscar and BAFTA. Ray’s influence on today’s film makers was enormous, with luminaries; Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Peter Jackson, George Lucas, John Landis and the UK’s own Nick Park have cited Harryhausen as being the man whose work inspired their own creations.
Harryhausen’s genius was in being able to bring his models alive. Whether they were prehistoric dinosaurs or mythological creatures, in Ray’s hands they were no longer puppets but became instead characters in their own right, just as important as the actors they played against and in most cases even more so.
If it wasn’t a monster movie, then it wasn’t worth watching. That was my narrow view of films when I was a child. There was the usual list of werewolves, and vampires, and stitched-together cadavers from Frankenstein’s lab, but there was nothing quite as thrilling as seeing Ray Harryhausen’s name on a film.
Harryhausen’s name on a movie meant unforgettable special effects that made any average film extraordinary. Before VHS or DVD recorders, we memorized those key scenes to replay in our heads, and discuss at our leisure. The ghoulish, resurrected skeletons that fought Jason and the Argonauts; the Rhedosaurus that tore up New York in The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms; the Terradactyl that terrorized Raquel Welch in One Million Years B.C.; the sinewed goddess Khali that fought Sinbad; these were memories that made many a childhood special - mine included.
It was seeing the original version of King Kong that started Harryhausen off on his career. His ability to duplicate some of Willis O’Brien’s groundbreaking effects led the young Harryhausen to meet and then work with his idol on Mighty Joe Young, in 1949. Their collaboration won an Oscar, and set Harryhausen off on his career.
Today, tributes poured in from across the film industry praising Ray Harryhausen‘s genius:
“Ray has been a great inspiration to us all in special visual industry. The art of his earlier films, which most of us grew up on, inspired us so much.” “Without Ray Harryhausen, there would likely have been no STAR WARS” —George Lucas.
“THE LORD OF THE RINGS is my ‘Ray Harryhausen movie’. Without his life-long love of his wondrous images and storytelling it would never have been made – not by me at least” — Peter Jackson
“In my mind he will always be the king of stop-motion animation” —- Nick Park
“His legacy of course is in good hands because it’s carried in the DNA of so many film fans.” — Randy Cook
“You know I’m always saying to the guys that I work with now on computer graphics “do it like Ray Harryhausen” — Phil Tippett.
“What we do now digitally with computers, Ray did digitally long before but without computers. Only with his digits.” —Terry Gilliam.
“His patience, his endurance have inspired so many of us.” — Peter Jackson
“Ray, your inspiration goes with us forever.” — Steven Spielberg
“I think all of us who are practioners in the arts of science fiction and fantasy movies now all feel that we’re standing on the shoulders of a giant.
If not for Ray’s contribution to the collective dreamscape, we wouldn’t be who we are.” — James Cameron
A sad loss, and a sad day, but what movies he has left us!
And of course there are those times when so much is happening—the emails to be read, the dog to be walked, the work to be done, the ‘toothpaste to be squeezed’—that a story occasionally slips by unnoticed, unacknowledged. So, it was with this piece from the Tampa Bay Times that was posted in March.
..visited several times with Jack Kerouac at Kerouac’s home on 10th Avenue N for this story, which was published Oct. 12, 1969. Kerouac died nine days later, on Oct. 21, at St. Anthony’s Hospital.
According to Kevin Hayes, author of the book Conversations With Jack Kerouac, McClintock’s interviews were Kerouac’s last.
Kerouac was unlike the imaginary Beat writer that millions venerated. He was a maudlin drunk, who clung to his childhood beliefs, spoiled by drink, a bitter Republican, who was dismissive of the hedonistic culture his work had inspired. It’s sometimes inevitable that the youthful firebrand will evolve into the tweedy curmudgeon. Often this phase of an artist’s life is dismissed or edited out (look how Allen Ginsberg tirelessly ignored or defended, as somehow ironic, his friend’s homophobia and anti-semitism). Still, I find such phases as interesting and as valid as the sunny, glory days—in the same way “fat Elvis” is as compelling a narrative as “Sun Records Elvis,” but for wholly different reasons.
McClintock went looking for Kerouac wanting to know what happened to the Beats in the “Age of Aquarius?” After a week of no-shows, McClintock at last saw a recognizable face with “grizzled jowls and red-rimmed eyes under spikey, dark tousled hair.”
Kerouac? The face said, “Yeah,” and then: “You want to come in?”
Although the sun was two hours from taking its evening dip into the gulf 10 miles to the west, the house was dim inside. A television set in the corner was on, soundless. The sound you heard was Handel’s Messiah blaring from speakers in the next room.
“I like to watch television like that,” Kerouac said.
“You ain’t going to take my photo are you? You better not try to take my photo or I’ll kick your ass.” A threatening leer, then a laugh.
“Stella. Hey! Turn the music up!” Stella went and turned the music up. Her feet were silent on the floor.
Kerouac dragged up a rocking chair for the reporter, then slumped into another one in the corner.
He was wearing unpressed brown pants, a yellow-and-brown striped sport shirt with the sleeves rolled to the elbow. The shirt was unbuttoned and beneath it the T-shirt was inside out. He pointed to his belly, large and round.
“I got a goddam hernia, you know that? My goddam belly-button is popping out. That’s why I’m dressed like this … I got no place to go, anyway. You want a beer? Hah?” He picked up a pack of Camels in a green plastic case. “Some whiskey then?”
Kerouac has a hernia, his gut swollen over his pants, “My belly-button is popping out,” he said. McClintock wanted to know what Kerouac was working on:
“Well, I wrote that article,” he said, a trifle belligerently. His agent was busy selling a piece Kerouac had written, entitled “After Me, the Deluge,” his reflections on today’s world and what he might have contributed to it.
“Well, I’m going to write a novel about the last 10 years of my life …
The conversation moved onto the Beats, Ginsberg, Neal Cassady and Ken Kesey (“I don’t like Ken Kesey…He ruined Cassady”) before Kerouac began his drunken ramblings about the Mafia, the Communists and “the Jew,” and talking about his experiences with drugs:
“I smoked more grass than anyone you ever knew in your life,” Kerouac snorts. “I came across the Mexican border one time with 2½ pounds of grass around my waist in a silk scarf. I had one of those wide Mexican belts around me over it. I had a big bottle of tequila and I went up to the border guard and offered him some, and he said, No, go on through, senor.”
Kerouac laughed, remembering how that was.
“It should be legalized and taxed. Taxed. Yeah, ‘Gimme a pack of marijuana!’ But this other stuff is poison; acid’s poison, speed is poison, STP is poison, it’s all poison. But grass is nothing.”
By the end of the interview, Kerouac revealed a spark of his old self, his essence, his enthusiasm for writing:
“Stories of the past,” said Jack Kerouac. “My story is endless. I put in a teletype roll, you know, you know what they are, you have them in newspapers, and run it through there and fix the margins and just go, go – just go, go, go.”
McClintock has written a powerful and memorable portrait and the whole article can be read here.
Last night, acclaimed author and biologist (not to mention public enemy to skeptics and atheists) Rupert Sheldrake gave a lecture in Maryhill, Glasgow.
At the talk, Sheldrake spoke about his recent experience of being censored by the TED organisation. If you are not aware of the story, this past January in London Sheldrake was invited to give a TEDx talk on his book The Science Delusion—a book that calls into question some of the fundamental beliefs of science—which was filmed and uploaded to the TED website.
Sheldrake’s video was subsequently removed from the site as it was deemed to be “unscientific,” and his own reputation was called into question (along with fellow speaker Graham Hancock, the video of whose talk on consciousness was also removed). Understandably, this action upset quite a lot of people, both members of the public and professionals in various fields of science alike. A group of scientists and philosophers have publicly addressed the issue, and the response from TED’s Chris Anderson, at the Huffington Post.
In this audio clip, which was recorded by Innes Smith (of the Scottish Society for Psychical Research) Sheldrake talks openly about the controversy, the people he thinks were behind the initial censorship, and, having spoken to Anderson directly, believes he was pressured into the removing the video and now regrets it:
With thanks to Innes Smith. The Scottish Society for Psychical Research can be found here. Sheldrake’s talk can be found here.
The collective behind Cosmarxpolitan describe themselves as “Smug college students” with too much time on their hands.
General Secretary of Cosmarxpolitan is Clara, who also blogs at That Girl Mag, and collaborates with The Central Committee of People’s Commissars (Andrew, Ken, Lucas, Mark, and Nicole) to produce these witty and amusing fake Cosmarxpolitan covers. As explained on the site’s FAQ:
The intention of Cosmarxpolitan is to ridicule the awful advice and backwards attitudes of magazines targeted at women; not to poke fun at those who suffered under communist rulers.
For those of you who think that we promote stereotypes that marginalize certain groups and privilege a deeply distorted narrative, it’s because we’re doing our best to channel Cosmo.
Only one of the collective is a Marxist (Ken), the rest are “just bourgeois scum, to varying degrees,” who hope that (once revolution comes) they will be “stripped of the chains of oppression, (and having other things to do), article writing will flourish.”
If John Waters ever dreamt up a scandal mag full of sex, celebrity and murder, then it might look something like The Exploiter.
Not known for its subtly, The Exploiter was a no-rent tabloid sold in supermarkets that guaranteed interest with such sensational headlines as:
SON CHOPS, CLUBS, STRANGLES AND STABS HIS FAMILY!
(Well, you can never be too careful…)
Story of Papillon “I ESCAPED FROM DEVIL’S ISLAND!”
Raquel Welch Sells Sex Thrills!
But of course.
Actually, the story on Ms. Welch was a late report on her appearance in the 1967 French comedy Les plus vieux métier du monde, aka The Oldest Profession. But you get the idea…
Also in The Exploiter for 31 January, 1971, was this intriguing job opportunity:
HELP WANTED: ORGY INSPECTOR APPLY INSIDE…
This turned out to be a behind-the-scenes report on various hi-jinks taking place on the set of Ken Russell‘s latest work-of-genius, The Devils.
Interestingly, this story had come across the wires, and was originally posted in The Free-Lance-Star 30 November, 1970. It then appeared amongst the entertainment section of the St. Petersburg Times, for December 2, 1970, next to an advert for “The Sensational, Fascinating T-A-N-T-A-L-I-Z-N-G BUNDLE OF SEX MELINA” at the Twilight Lounge, 2235 Central Ave., and “Stay Young—Go Dancing” with Bob Burklew’s Dixians, at St. Pet Coliseum.
Help Wanted: Orgy Inspector
LONDON (AP) - Equity, the British actors’ union, is appointing an orgy inspector to keep watch on mass sex scenes in movies. His job will be to insure that the male actors stick to the script.
Five actresses complained during the shooting of a scene from “The Devils,” they were sexually assaulted in a crowd of 50 naked male extras, all amateurs. The movie, about sex-mad nuns in the 17th century, stars Vanessa Redgrave and Oliver Reed, who were not involved.
In John Baxter’s long-interview-cum-biography, An Appalling Talent Ken Russell (1973), the great director gave some background to the story, as Mr. Russell explained:
The extras on The Devils were a particularly bad bunch. They weren’t all the same but you only need one bad apple for the rot to set in and we had a whole barrel-load. Casual work like this attracts bad characters and when they learn a bit about how films are made they can hold you to ransom by demanding more money…
...On The Devils they were even worse. They not only tried to get ‘money for breathing’; they were very bad at exterior shots and in some of the cathedral scenes they manhandled the naked nuns more than was called for and one poor girl was even sexually assaulted. I think the union knows what some of its members are like. and after the fuss on The Devils they made an effort to correct things…
So, now we know, there was a serious incident, but there was no job for an orgy inspector.
Still, who knows, maybe one day John Waters will consider editing a scandal mag?