Wednesday, February 21, 2018

This Blows My Mind

Skateboarding history in Culture . . .

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Why swearing can be a good fucking way to sound convincing

from Boing Boing:

Emma Byrne, a science writer and artificial intelligence researcher, has just published a new book called Swearing is Good for You: The Amazing Science of Bad Language and it sounds fucking great. "If you ask people what they think about swearing, they tend to insist that it diminishes the speaker’s credibility and persuasiveness—-especially if the speaker is a woman," Byrne writes. But actually, a presenter's swears can sometimes make them damn more convincing. From Smithsonian:
In the book, Byrne cites one study that examined the rhetorical effects of swearing on an audience that was already sympathetic to the speaker’s message. For the study, psychologists Cory Scherer of Penn State University and Brad Sagarin from Northern Illinois University showed videotaped speeches to 88 undergraduate students. Participants listened to one of three different versions of a speech about lowering tuition rates at a university—one with no swearing, one that had a “damn” thrown in the middle, and one that opened with a “damn.” The rest of the speech was unchanged.

“The students who saw the video with the swearing at the beginning or in the middle rated the speaker as more intense, but no less credible, than the ones who saw the speech with no swearing,” Byrne summarizes in her book. “What’s more, the students who saw the videos with the swearing were significantly more in favor of lowering tuition fees after seeing the video than the students who didn’t hear the swear word.”

Byrne delineates between what she calls propositional swearing, which is deliberate and planned, and non-propositional swearing, which can happen when we’re surprised, or among friends or confidants. Trump’s most recent swear, she suspects, is of the latter category. Among his supporters,President Trump’s profanity is often considered a sign of honesty – e.g. “he tells it like it is.” A leader’s coarse choice of words can be an instance of deliberate use of profanity as a rhetorical device, says Byrne. “As with rehearsed gestures and well-orchestrated photo opportunities, swearing can be used instrumentally to give an impression of passion or authenticity,” she says.

Swearing is Good for You: The Amazing Science of Bad Language (Amazon)

Monday, February 19, 2018

School of Life Monday:
How Our Past Influences Our Present

A lot of the way we see reality has been influenced, and often distorted, by our past. Our childhoods, which went on a long time, have shaped how we assess other people, ourselves and our prospects. Knowing about our innate biases allows us to liberate ourselves from certain settled but unhelpful habits of the mind.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Florida student Emma Gonzalez
to lawmakers and gun advocates: 'We call BS'

(CNN) Emma Gonzalez, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, addressed a gun control rally on Saturday in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, days after a gunman entered her school in nearby Parkland and killed 17 people.

Below is a full transcript of her speech:
We haven't already had a moment of silence in the House of Representatives, so I would like to have another one. Thank you.
Every single person up here today, all these people should be home grieving. But instead we are up here standing together because if all our government and President can do is send thoughts and prayers, then it's time for victims to be the change that we need to see. Since the time of the Founding Fathers and since they added the Second Amendment to the Constitution, our guns have developed at a rate that leaves me dizzy. The guns have changed but our laws have not.
We certainly do not understand why it should be harder to make plans with friends on weekends than to buy an automatic or semi-automatic weapon. In Florida, to buy a gun you do not need a permit, you do not need a gun license, and once you buy it you do not need to register it. You do not need a permit to carry a concealed rifle or shotgun. You can buy as many guns as you want at one time.
I read something very powerful to me today. It was from the point of view of a teacher. And I quote: When adults tell me I have the right to own a gun, all I can hear is my right to own a gun outweighs your student's right to live. All I hear is mine, mine, mine, mine.
Instead of worrying about our AP Gov chapter 16 test, we have to be studying our notes to make sure that our arguments based on politics and political history are watertight. The students at this school have been having debates on guns for what feels like our entire lives. AP Gov had about three debates this year. Some discussions on the subject even occurred during the shooting while students were hiding in the closets. The people involved right now, those who were there, those posting, those tweeting, those doing interviews and talking to people, are being listened to for what feels like the very first time on this topic that has come up over 1,000 times in the past four years alone.
I found out today there's a website Nothing in the title suggests that it is exclusively tracking the USA's shootings and yet does it need to address that? Because Australia had one mass shooting in 1999 in Port Arthur (and after the) massacre introduced gun safety, and it hasn't had one since. Japan has never had a mass shooting. Canada has had three and the UK had one and they both introduced gun control and yet here we are, with websites dedicated to reporting these tragedies so that they can be formulated into statistics for your convenience.
I watched an interview this morning and noticed that one of the questions was, do you think your children will have to go through other school shooter drills? And our response is that our neighbors will not have to go through other school shooter drills. When we've had our say with the government -- and maybe the adults have gotten used to saying 'it is what it is,' but if us students have learned anything, it's that if you don't study, you will fail. And in this case if you actively do nothing, people continually end up dead, so it's time to start doing something.
We are going to be the kids you read about in textbooks. Not because we're going to be another statistic about mass shooting in America, but because, just as David said, we are going to be the last mass shooting. Just like Tinker v. Des Moines, we are going to change the law. That's going to be Marjory Stoneman Douglas in that textbook and it's going to be due to the tireless effort of the school board, the faculty members, the family members and most of all the students. The students who are dead, the students still in the hospital, the student now suffering PTSD, the students who had panic attacks during the vigil because the helicopters would not leave us alone, hovering over the school for 24 hours a day.
There is one tweet I would like to call attention to. So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled for bad and erratic behavior. Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities again and again. We did, time and time again. Since he was in middle school, it was no surprise to anyone who knew him to hear that he was the shooter. Those talking about how we should have not ostracized him, you didn't know this kid. OK, we did. We know that they are claiming mental health issues, and I am not a psychologist, but we need to pay attention to the fact that this was not just a mental health issue. He would not have harmed that many students with a knife.
And how about we stop blaming the victims for something that was the student's fault, the fault of the people who let him buy the guns in the first place, those at the gun shows, the people who encouraged him to buy accessories for his guns to make them fully automatic, the people who didn't take them away from him when they knew he expressed homicidal tendencies, and I am not talking about the FBI. I'm talking about the people he lived with. I'm talking about the neighbors who saw him outside holding guns.
If the President wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy and how it should never have happened and maintain telling us how nothing is going to be done about it, I'm going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association.
You want to know something? It doesn't matter, because I already know. Thirty million dollars. And divided by the number of gunshot victims in the United States in the one and one-half months in 2018 alone, that comes out to being $5,800. Is that how much these people are worth to you, Trump? If you don't do anything to prevent this from continuing to occur, that number of gunshot victims will go up and the number that they are worth will go down. And we will be worthless to you.
To every politician who is taking donations from the NRA, shame on you.
Crowd chants, shame on you.
If your money was as threatened as us, would your first thought be, how is this going to reflect on my campaign? Which should I choose? Or would you choose us, and if you answered us, will you act like it for once? You know what would be a good way to act like it? I have an example of how to not act like it. In February of 2017, one year ago, President Trump repealed an Obama-era regulation that would have made it easier to block the sale of firearms to people with certain mental illnesses.
From the interactions that I had with the shooter before the shooting and from the information that I currently know about him, I don't really know if he was mentally ill. I wrote this before I heard what Delaney said. Delaney said he was diagnosed. I don't need a psychologist and I don't need to be a psychologist to know that repealing that regulation was a really dumb idea.
Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa was the sole sponsor on this bill that stops the FBI from performing background checks on people adjudicated to be mentally ill and now he's stating for the record, 'Well, it's a shame the FBI isn't doing background checks on these mentally ill people.' Well, duh. You took that opportunity away last year.
The people in the government who were voted into power are lying to us. And us kids seem to be the only ones who notice and our parents to call BS.Companies trying to make caricatures of the teenagers these days, saying that all we are self-involved and trend-obsessed and they hush us into submission when our message doesn't reach the ears of the nation, we are prepared to call BS. Politicians who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the NRA telling us nothing could have been done to prevent this, we call BS. They say tougher guns laws do not decrease gun violence. We call BS. They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun. We call BS. They say guns are just tools like knives and are as dangerous as cars. We call BS. They say no laws could have prevented the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred. We call BS. That us kids don't know what we're talking about, that we're too young to understand how the government works. We call BS.
If you agree, register to vote. Contact your local congresspeople. Give them a piece of your mind.
(Crowd chants) Throw them out.

Friday, February 16, 2018

You Could Even Have A BLACK FLAG In 2016'

from BlabberMouth:
Earlier in the year, Moshcam conducted an interview with Henry Rollins, former lead singer with BLACK FLAG and current spoken-word performer, actor and "punk" journalist, while he was in Sydney, Australia. You can now watch the chat below.

Asked how he thinks a band like BLACK FLAG would be received if it was formed in 2016 and not forty years earlier, Rollins said: "I don't know if there's ingredients in society in America that would birth a band like BLACK FLAG right now. With cell phones and Bandcamp sites and relative convenience, I don't know if a band like BLACK FLAG — which was birthed out of anger and police oppression and having our phones tapped and people throwing stuff at the band — I don't know if you would have gotten that level of anger and precision and hostility coming from us, 'cause we were all of that. I don't know if those ingredients would be in place to be able to mold and temper that kind of music. I think BLACK FLAG was truly a product of the late '70s [and] early '80s California, where cops were just going to gigs and just beating the daylights out of kids, and there was drugs that were killing kids — a lot of speed, a lot of heroin — and there's certainly that now, sadly. So I don't know if you could even have a BLACK FLAG in 2016."

He continued: "How would it be regarded now? Probably no one would be there throwing ashtrays at our heads. They'd be going, 'Wow! Your anger's so great. Can I get a photo with you?' I think it would be that. It's a softer… I'm aware of things… Maybe I'm just old and curmudgeonly, but all of those music scenes I see these days, they're very soft, in my opinion."

Rollins was the frontman for BLACK FLAG from 1981 to 1986. In that time he developed a worldwide reputation thanks to his wild, ferocious stage presence and his penchant for violence.

BLACK FLAG disbanded in 1986 because of the strained relationship between Rollins and the group's founder Greg Ginn.

In 1995, Henry won a Grammy in the "Best Spoken Word Or Non-Musical Album" category for the audiobook version of his non-fiction work "Get In The Van: On The Road With Black Flag".

Ginn in 2013 announced a new BLACK FLAG album and tour with onetime frontman Ron Reyes. Later the very same day, four other former members of BLACK FLAG announced the formation of FLAG — a tribute to all eras of the band, featuring founding singer and current OFF! frontman Keith Morris, bassist Chuck Dukowski, drummer Bill Stevenson, singer-turned-guitarist Dez Cadena and newly adopted guitarist Stephen Egerton, Stevenson's longtime bandmate in his main outfit, fellow SoCal punk legends the DESCENDENTS.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Vending machines to offer free items
to NYC's homeless people

from Boing Boing:

Using electronic key cards, homeless men and women in New York City will soon be able to get three free items a day from one of these orange vending machines. Basic but necessary items like socks, tampons, toothbrushes, and water will be made available to them. There will also be food, like fresh fruit, chips, sandwiches, and chocolate (all donations from local supermarkets, charities, and shops). One of the most popular items? Books.

The man behind the project is Huzaifah Khaled. He's the founder of Action Hunger, a British charity that is "committed to alleviating poverty and hardship amongst the homeless."

Khaled was recently interviewed on WBUR, and talked about the first machine already being used in Nottingham, England since January:

"The early data and feedback has been very, very promising. In fact, it's far surpassed even our own expectations. It's offering them a little more dignity. It's giving them a little more agency over their own lives. It's really heartwarming to see our service being used exactly as designed."

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

‘O.J.: Made in America’ Director
Boards Roberto Clemente Biopic

I am looking forward to this... Clemente was an idol to me growing up.

from Variety:

Ezra Edelman is following up the award-winning “O.J.: Made in America” by spotlighting another famous athlete.

The Oscar winner has signed on to direct Legendary’s biopic on baseball icon Roberto Clemente.

Legendary closed a deal for Edelman to develop a feature film with writer Rowan Ricardo Phillips based on the life of the famed baseball player. John Lesher will produce alongside Fuego Films’ Ben Silverman and Jay Weisleder, with Giselle Fernandez and Sandra Condito serving as executive producers.

The studio previously picked up the rights to David Maraniss’ book “Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball’s Last Hero” and entered into an agreement with Clemente’s family for his life rights. Legendary has already seen success in this genre, having successfully launched the Jackie Robinson biopic “42” to box office and critical success, and hopes for similar results with this film.

Clemente played for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1955 to 1972. On Dec. 31, 1972, Clemente boarded a small plane en route from Puerto Rico to Nicaragua to assist with earthquake relief. The heavily loaded plane crashed just off the Puerto Rican coast, and Clemente’s body was never recovered. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973.

Whiting Award-winning poet, Guggenheim fellow, and Paris Review sports columnist, Phillips is also the author of four books: “The Ground,” “Heaven,” “The Circuit,” and 2010’s essay collection “When Blackness Rhymes With Blackness.” Also a prodigious sportswriter, his work in that field has appeared in magazines such as The New Yorker as well as the Library of America’s “Basketball: Great Writing About America’s Game.”

Edleman’s “O.J.: Made in America” was celebrated for not only its in-depth look at the infamous football star, but also for its reflection of race relations in the country. The pic went on to win an Emmy and Oscar for best documentary.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Fugazi Returns... Through Opera?

from Pitchfork:
by Andy Beta Contributor
Last November, Washington Post pop critic Chris Richards posted a photo from a Washington Wizards telecast, featuring former Fugazi and Rites of Spring member Guy Picciotto taking in the game. Soon after, another indelible image of Picciotto on a basketball court circulated online, of the guitarist and vocalist performing at an early Fugazi show, dangling upside down from the basket, shirtless and screaming. It was a searing reminder that Fugazi’s vitality has seldom been matched. For nearly 20 years, they were an inspirational force in the underground—as kinetic as a severed power line, night in and night out.

“They're still the greatest rock band I've ever seen live, as electrifying as your imagination will allow,” recently said Richards, whose post-hardcore band Q and Not U was signed to Dischord Records, co-owned by Fugazi and Minor Threat frontman Ian MacKaye. “Fugazi taught me how intense live music could be, and how that intensity can help bind a community.” After the band’s sixth album, 2001’s The Argument, and its subsequent tour, Fugazi went on indefinite hiatus in 2003. Every so often there are rumors of a reunion (and even an April Fool’s Day joke), but the band has never played live again. In 2011, they offered a consolation of sorts: an 800-show live archive spanning from 1988 to 2003 and containing over 1,500 hours of music, uploaded to Dischord’s site.

When Brooklyn-based experimental theater group Object Collection announced It’s All True, a so-called “opera-in-suspension” based on that archive, fans, music sites, an even the band were flummoxed. “I was really left-footed by it–I couldn’t read the tonality at all,” Picciotto said recently, via email. “It seemed kind of arch at first, though I was hugely relieved that it wasn’t some kind of hagiographic take on the whole thing.” It’s All True premiered in Norway in 2016, was staged in London last year, and now makes its U.S. premiere at New York’s venerated experimental theater home, La Mama, where it runs from February 8th through the 25th.

Before the idea of “Waiting Room,” “Glue Man” and “Reclamation” being strung together into a cringeworthy storyline about two Gen-X lovers crosses your mind, none of Fugazi’s songs actually appear in It’s All True, meaning that the band thankfully won’t be having its Mamma Mia! or American Idiot moment. Instead, Object Collection’s composer Travis Just and writer/director Kara Feely pulled their material solely from stage banter, feedback, guitar re-stringing, and confrontations between Picciotto, MacKaye, and their audiences—a bewildering mix of incidental and interstitial moments that suggest every performance is in a perpetual state of collapse. How fitting for a troupe that most recently presented a hardcore take on the Russian Revolution (and the legendary Sergei Eisenstein film about it) with cheap&easy OCTOBER.

“Our work is non-narrative and there's already 1,000 versions of ‘Reclamation’ available for everybody to listen to, so what's the point of us doing that?” Just said. “We're not gonna tell the story of the band, either. As a composer, I've always loved uncontrollable feedback and drums that sound like they've been thrown down a flight of stairs. That's kind of my thing.”

Even after Fugazi granted usage rights (they are selective, generally allowing student films and non-profits but not most corporate and industry requests), they still didn’t think anything would come of the project. “Frankly, I didn’t fully understand what they were going to do with the material, and I also wasn’t 100 percent convinced it would ever happen,” Picciotto said. But after the premiere, the band saw video footage and couldn’t quite believe the end results. “We all started exchanging emails of the ‘what-the-fuck’ variety,” Picciotto added. “But the more we watched it, the more it started to grow on us. I think the willful perversity of the undertaking really appealed to us—the literal notation-scoring of the incidental music by Travis, all the crazy quilting of the stage speech by Kara.” Picciotto even admitted that no single member of Fugazi actually made it through the entirety of their own live archive, a process he called “pretty fucking grueling.”

“They maybe weren't expecting us to go as deep as we did, but when you're working with an archive, you kind of have to go through everything,” Just said, though the process did start to have adverse effects on him. “It was brutal, I won't lie. I was having weird dreams that I was in the band or just some disembodied head.”

In the years since Fugazi went on hiatus, their legacy has grown, though the band’s convictions have become at times distorted. “It drives me insane how people talk about them today,” Richards said. “‘Fugazi? Weren’t they that straight-edge band who hated dancing and liked to scold their audience?’” Yes, the band held to convictions about keeping shows cheap (often $5-$7), all ages, and safe. If the mosh pits grew hostile toward women and younger kids, MacKaye would immediately bring things to a halt. Rather than regard it as nagging and hectoring a paying audience, such pauses and verbal sparring were ultimately about fostering inclusivity in the scene. As a 16-year-old living in central Texas, Fugazi coming to play in my town felt seismic: an all too-rare event that didn’t involve going to a bar, needing a chaperone, or borrowing money from my parents. Even more mind-boggling is that I can revisit that exact show.

Although neither Just nor Feely ever saw the band play live, Fugazi’s dedication to a DIY ethos—their willingness to book the tours, rent the PA, and cart their own gear—spoke to the theater group. “Being involved in performance, it's all about the live show for us,” Feely said. “There was just such a huge amount of activity going on around [Fugazi] shows, whether they were playing a benefit concert, or there was a rally going on that they were playing in front of, or even just how they conducted themselves live and what they expected of the audience.”

On Thursday night, It’s All True made its U.S. premiere, every bit as confounding as the video clips hinted at. Propelled by a din scored and conducted by Just for the Dither Guitar Quartet, bookended by drummers Shayna Dunkelman and Clara Warnaar, the noise accompanied four actors as they thrashed and shouted on a simple stage of armchairs, folding chairs, metal tables, and stacks of cardboard, moving seemingly at random. It was gestural yet resistant to a through-line, the music similarly disjointed: tunings, drum rolls, amp buzz and, at one point in the performance, amplified sipping from water bottles. “Surprisingly, the incidental music triggered weird ‘feelings’ for me,” Picciotto said. “Stuff I heard a million times–certain time-killing drum fills or tuning patterns–and it was weird how resonant that felt.”

Although much of this stage banter was first uttered by Fugazi in the ’90s, as the band railed against Exxon, Mobil, Bush 41, and the “television miniseries Desert Storm,” there are passages highlighted in It’s All True that become eerily resonant in the present moment: lines about police violence, gun deaths, the unchecked growth of for-profit prisons, affordable healthcare, “male lame asses,” and even a diatribe on “shitholes,” all woven into the din. The opera starts to reflect the mass confusion that is palpable in 2018, wherein we’re in need of action yet flailing over how exactly to act.

“I always hated the whole question of, ‘Does politics have a place in music?’” Picciotto said. “It’s moronic. We are all in politics all the time, and the play reminded me of how much that was foregrounded at the shows—we were all in it. And we’re still all in it. It’s a combination of that depressing feeling of ‘fuck, this shit AGAIN?’ with the more resilient, combative ‘FUCK this shit, again!’”

Amid the jumble of feedback and shouted lines, something resembling that heartening relief of being in the crowd at an underground show or a protest march emerges: the paradoxical realization that while no one person can make a difference, a difference can nevertheless be made. It’s All True explicitly addresses that near the end, taking a line from the band and shouting it anew: “You look around and go, ‘I’m not alone!’”

Monday, February 12, 2018

School Life Monday:
What Your Home Says About You...

One of our most basic psychological needs is to create a home, that is a space that is decorated in such a way as to reflect our values back to us. That's why we can legitimately get so excited (or distressed) by matters of home decoration - and why, after too long on the road, we long to get back to our own place.


“One of the most meaningful activities we are ever engaged in is the creation of a home. Over a number of years, typically with a lot of thought and considerable dedication, we assemble furniture, crockery, pictures, rugs, cushions, vases, sideboards, taps, door handles and so on into a distinctive constellation we anoint with the word home. As we create our rooms, we engage passionately with culture in a way we seldom do in the supposedly higher realms of museums or galleries. We reflect profoundly on the atmosphere of a picture, we ponder the relationship between colours on a wall, we notice how consequential the shape of the back of a sofa can be and ask with care what books really deserve our ongoing attention…”