Wheeeeeeeeee!!!! (Stay warm and safe!)
We're surprised the >british accept net censorship. It's certainly necessary to take action to reduce child sex abuse and pornography, but the mandatory internet obscenity filter they're implementing seems to vastly overreach. First, it is managed by private corporations without clear transparency controls. Corporate partnerships with government are ominous to begin with, but are much more so when they're charged with enforcing "acceptable behavior standards" (as Commons Home Affairs Select Committee chairman Keith Vaz put it). Second, the content filter is installed at ISPs and enabled by default, requiring customers to opt-out of it to access content that is legal but deemed "obscene and tasteless". In a post-Snowden world, divulging anything to government should spark skepticism, but having to identify yourself as interested in obscene material in order to remove a corporate-managed filter seems to ask for trouble. Third, although supporters have referred to a slippery slope from consuming tasteless material to consuming illegal material, there is also concern for the slippery slope from filtration to protect children to filtration to protect against dissenting views of politicians or the government. In light of recent surveillance abuses, how can one expect anything less than a voracious appropriation of authority from government agencies. The filter's technical infrastructure expands the nanny state, but can be repurposed for a police state. It is easy enough for parents to install (or have installed) content filtering software on their computing devices. And the UK already has the Cleanfeed system for filtering child pornography. So this new content filter, originally sprung from the government's desire to address rising "commercialization and sexualization of childhood" and then expanded in the response to two highly-publicized child murders, is an overreaction that will have harmful consequences. We'd be content to silently observe all of this from a distance. But the American and British governments seem to be of the same mind lately when it comes to digital privacy. And, while more can and should be done to address child sex abuse, we are scared by the basic notion of empowering corporate and political entities to judge for us what information is and is not "acceptable".
Clemency for Snowden! He shined necessary light on unconstitutional & antidemocratic government actions in the only meaningful way possible
Design is the result of creativity motivated by empathy for the pain of others. Design is good. We like design.
We're relieved the NY SAFE Act was upheld. It brings sensible rules to gun ownership in the wake of recent mass shootings, while respecting the individual's right to self-defense.
Short workouts can be great! We're excited by studies showing that short but intense workouts can provide substantial health benefits. This is welcome news for those of us whose schedules are very impacted, and since this addresses one of the largest psychological barriers to exercise, we hope this can help turn the tide on the obesity epidemic afflicting so many.
Happy New Year, world! May tolerance and understanding of others allow us to leverage our differences to make the most of 2014 and the challenges it holds!
Love Actually blows, actually. Much has been said as of late (see below) of the 2003 film Love Actually, as it assumes the status of "holiday classic." We most certainly dispute that assumption and furthermore do not think it is anything about love as it "actually" exists in the real world. "Love Cinematically" might have been an acceptable title (denigration to the cinema notwithstanding).
The premise of Love Actually is no more than "if and only if a woman waits passively and exerts no control over the course of her romantic life, will she be matched with a charming, powerful man who will find, adore, and love her." It's regressive, chauvinistic, and anti-feminist, and saps one of the ownership they have over their destiny.
We support Chiara de Blasio's recovery. The 19-year-old daughter of the mayor elect overcame an alcohol and marijuana dependency she developed last year during her freshman year of college. She's taken a very common issue for college students and become a role model for how to handle it. It's a bit sad that she had to be so public about it, but such is the collateral damage of having a political family. Now that it's off the table, however, we hope her privacy will be respected going forward.
A great Christmas video from the ACLU. But we prefer the original version of the song, so let's do what we can to bring transparency and democratic controls to the NSA. (See attached link.)
We're glad the Pussy Riot members were released, despite the political circumstances leading up to the Sochi Olympics. But we continue to remain baffled about why the >russians don't do more to demand greater democratic controls. Is it pride? Fear? Skepticism of democracy? American democracy is admitedly imperfect, but that doesn't mean they should not strive for something better than the stifling, dehumanizing, de facto authoritarianism of Putin.
Beyoncé, sometimes we hate to love you, but damn! This last week, you got us, pure and simple. We'll humbly bow down now.
What a ridiculous waste of tax dollars by the NSA! We can only imagine the pricetag associated with these whimsical hyper-paranoid pursuits. At a time when Americans are in need of job training, when city infrastructure is in disrepair, when the cost of education has skyrocketed, the NSA's conduct is shameful.
Ban e-cigarettes in public everywhere!
NYC has the right idea. And business owners should also ban their use in offices! More research is needed before permitting their general use.
If people of religion have a right to voice their opinion, then so should people of no religion. While incendiary and provocative, the message voiced by the American Atheists is not "hateful", as NY state senator Andrew Lanza said.
Congratulations to everyone involved with P4A (Project for Awesome) the annual YouTube tradition in which individuals upload fundraising videos to raise awareness of their favorite charities. It's supported by ProjectForAwesom
Without wasting too much time on this idiot, we give kudos to A&E for removing Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty, even if only temporarily.
Only time will tell, but Hyrule Warriors could be the experiment that saves Nintendo. Allowing third-party developers to incorporate Nintendo's fabled cast of characters might bring greater developer and consumer interest to the Wii U. We have concerns that shoe-horning characters from the slow-paced adventure realm of Zelda into a hack-and-slash action game might water down the magic of those characters. But maybe it's time those concerns are sacrified: what good are characters that are locked into a dying console? So we wisth Nintendo good luck!
Now's the time to reform gun laws. This text message exchange between a father and his son during the Arapahoe High shooting is terrifying and heart-rending. There must be a better way forward, because the status quo is needlessly endangering our children. Regardless of what our politicians would have us believe, we believe it's possible both to respect the 2nd Ammendment and to bring sensible controls to gun ownership. (Even 69% of NRA members believe that gun show sales should be subject to criminal background checks.) We have to press our elected leaders about this, because our children should never have to text us about how well they're hiding from a school shooter.
So Target disclosed that criminals somehow accessed credit/debit card information for as many as 40 million of its Black Friday retail customers. Alright, it's settled. We gotta go back to a cash-only society. But seriously, if you shopped in a brick-and-mortar Target store in between November 27 and December 1, double-check your transaction history. This is the the kind of thing that justifies having a positive brand image. The press coverage of it has been relatively light, but we wonder how such a breach would be reported if it were to happen to more divisive brands like Walmart.
The flop of the night, courtesy of Paul George.
For a couple days the awesome Instapaper app for iOS is free. This lets you easily save articles from the web for reading later on your mobile device. It's a super productivity enhancer for straphangers. Get it while it's hot!
The sky is falling!! Congress is actually gonna pass a budget without delay or chest-beating brinkmanship! And all it took was Boehner having a spine, and a couple experiments by the to prove the obvious. So kudos to Boehner's nascent spine, and a hearty, forceful pat on the back of the 113th Congress for meeting our minimum expectations. For once.
[Homeland spoiler alert.] So, after surviving two full seasons, Brody is suddenly killed off at the awkward midseason finale. Who cares that he was the most dynamic, controversial character in the story? Unlike Brody's neck, it seems the studio (or Senator Lockhart) wants to make a clean break: Saul is apparently gone (along with Carrie's unborn baby), as is the U.S. setting. And nary a cliff from which to hang in sight. That's a bit worrisome, but the show's always had some flaws, so this could be a good thing. It wouldn't be the first time a show changed course after a couple seasons and hit its stride.
Miracle on Ludlow Street! The LES was removed from SantaCon's official bar crawl route! Hallelujah! Let the vomit and urine floweth in the streets of other neighborhoods! Thankful NBC-NY for airing our complaints. But other hoods have reason to rejoice too. This miraculous snowfall seems to be keeping the sloppy Santas indoors. God really is merciful!
I and other people of color (aka non white identifying) struggle with this daily. There is still a perception of a level of measure being applied to normative culture as it being set by white Americans. Even if hiphop and other powerful native cultures to the Americas like the various Latino cultures are increasingly influential. The images we see, that are advertised or the social norms we adopt are heavily influenced by the anglo-american. This largely has to do with who controls most of the wealth in this country, but also there is a psychology of all american people to normalize to this level of whiteness in order to avoid persecution or oppression by being outside of the larger society because of political, sexual, religious or vocational choices. "White America is desperately searching for its soul because it has for so long benefited from a belief that it is apart from the rest of us, blank of experience..."
Korean Friendship Bell Restored We salute Ernest Lee and the Korean Friendship Bell Preservation Committee for their their volunteer work resulting in the restoration of the Korean Friendship Bell in Angels Gate Park, San Pedro, California. The 17-ton bell was cast in South Korea in the early 1970’s, at a cost of more than $1 million, and was presented to the United States as a gift for our bicentennial. Since then the bell has fallen into disrepair and the city of Los Angeles had neither the money nor the skill to repair the bell. Several years ago the Korean Friendship Bell Preservation Committee was formed and took it upon themselves to find the funds and talent to restore the bell. When local metallurgy experts said restoration of the bell was outside their expertise they eventually identified and contacted Beom Jong Sa, the manufacturer of the bell. The Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism supported the project and paid more than $300,000 to hire the required experts including master metallurgist Chai Dong-Hey, whose mentor created the bell. We hope the city of Los Angeles will find the will and means to maintain the restored treasure that some Koreans consider the West Coast Statue of Liberty. And we hope that visitors to Southern California will include the bell in their itinerary.
Big ups to Manhattan BP for smacking down CB3 for their outrageous, anti-democratic censoring of an LES resident group, the LES Dwellers. Given the history of fickle, Neanderthal thinking, it would not be surprising for CB3 to resist, which is why we can only hope that Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer is not afraid to back up his letter with muscle.
Lower East Siders, revolt! It's unconscionable that the chair of Community Board 3 has censored a community group (the LES Dwellers) for the horrible crime of Engaging Other Governmental Agencies. CB3 is losing relevance, and this act only reduces their credibility as well. What's most astounding is to imagine how CB3 must envision itself. They ultimately serve at the privilege of the community, not the other way around! We deserve better than this! We demand that Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and District 1 Council Member Margaret Chin reel them in!
No sympathy for the NYC motorcycle mob. The video (referenced below) shows them to be an aggressive, reckless and threatening mob of immature "stunt" motorcycle Neanderthals that intimidated and ultimately beat a man in front of his wife and 2 year old. Barring some new evidence, it's clear they instigated the confrontation, and deserve to be punished. The man was defending his family from a life-threatening situation (they slashed his tires when he stopped after he collided with a rider, who's license had previously been revoked and who appeared intent on being hit), and therefore was within his rights to act as he did. Many motorcyclists are law-abiding courteous users of public roads. But some are obnoxious idiots, especially when in a pack, who routinely flout traffic laws and/or intentionally disturb the peace of residential neighborhoods. Those guys don't deserve the privilege of a driver's license.
Shutdown plurality voting!
- Government shuts down, due to
- Ideological fundamentalism in Congress, due to
- Ideological fundamentalists voted into Congress by the American people, due to
- Dysfunctional, big money, two-party political system generating few election options, due to
- Widespread use of simplistic, poorly-representative, winner-takes-all, Plurality Voting system based on single-mark ballots, due to
- It being used when the country was founded and now being ingrained in our culture, due to
- Single-mark ballots being easy to tabulate by hand.
Yes, in 2013, after landing rovers on Mars, sequencing the human genome, and creating a machine than can beat humans on Jeopardy!, Americans still use a simplistic system based on single-mark ballots and plurality voting because historically they were easier to count by hand!
Fortunately the Constitution (and local and state law) can be changed. ;) That means it's actually on us. Do we want to move to more evolved, robust systems, such as Preferential Voting (ranked voting) or Proportional Representation (wherever possible), to create a more representative, satisfactory, efficient government? Or do we want to keep our 'merican gladiator system that produces ideological meatheads who'd rather fight on camera than solve problems?
Congress... You idiots.
We believe >iranians want to peacefully coexist with us, despite the rhetoric and actions of their government in recent history. We only want the same, so we are cautiously optimistic about the recent developments. However, until we understand what has brought about this change, we will remain guarded and skeptical.
Three cheers for New Jersey!!!
Chipotle's new new ad is pointed and poignant. We especially love the juxtaposition of the innocence associated with a child-oriented art form (and an exquisite voice) and the greed and manipulation of capitalism and marketing.