A Year to Subtract

The Banned, the New & the
Obscene, Plus Satan Tweets

On the Chinese calendar, 2018 is the Year of the Dog, which is but another of many ironies we hadn’t really asked for. For there’s no doubt to whom this one’s been gone to. Yet, throughout its mostly painful months, we came through with another appreciation. For the trivial.
Whether for better, worse, or neither the case, is up in the air. Trump’s Orwellian ban on words, a new organ and continent, things we’ve got stuck inside, plus a Tweeter account wittier than the president’s, 2017 had us all gagging. But it could be even worse. Maybe.
Like this just in, breaking news: by closing time, we still haven’t heard from Mary Lee, the East Coast GPS tag-wearing, 16-foot shark, we grew fond of following. She’s missing and our hearts are skipping beats; knowing she was out there (without us) gave us so much solace. Please call home, proud Mary.

Speaking of the Orange-in-Chief, he’s beaten and abused us the whole year, and we ducked and despaired. But while he’s taken credit for the very air we breathe, the puppeteers behind him looked all familiar: they’re doing their usual worst, but, let’s not be coy about it, we know where they all live.
Just saying, not holding our breath about it, as our old Nanny from Kansas used to say. But as we prepare our hour of reckoning, we may count blessings for not having lost our heads, for we’ll be needing them when our ship arrives. By then, hopefully the New Year won’t keep going K-9 on us.

THESE WORDS SHALL NOT BE UTTERED
There hasn’t been precedent of a U.S. presidency being so often compared to 1984, the nightmarish dystopia George Orwell envisioned in his 1948 book, even discounting party-biased assumptions. But a recent Trump administration brief to the country’s top health agency seems to confirm people’s fears.
The words ‘vulnerable,’ ‘entitlement,’ ‘diversity,’ ‘transgender,’ ‘fetus,’ ‘evidence-based’ and ‘science-based,’ are for now on forbidden to be used by the Center for Diseases Control and Prevention, government officials told the agency. Does that imply that, with the new order, you’d better watch what you say?
Enough to send chills down anyone’s spine, isn’t it? Yet, despite such blatant totalitarian ‘edit,’ which follows the redacting of ‘climate change’ from government environmental sites, many are not convinced (more)
_______
Read Also:
* Guilty as Charged
* Downtime
* Haunting Memories

Continue reading

Advertisements

Tell a Story in One Sentence

Say it All
in Six Words

‘For sale: baby shoes. Never worn.’ This Ernest Hemingway-credited ‘novel’ is arguably the best known example of how entire lives can be distilled into only six words. If ‘brevity is the soul of wit,’ to quote Bill Shakespeare, then this is probably how it’s done.
The concept’s also a suitable match to our age’s short-span attention, managing to beat Twitter at its own game, fit easily in a tiny phone screen, all the while delivering a potential knockout. Papa was on to something, and his story is as moving now as it was then.
The current revival that the concept enjoys nowadays can be attributed to Larry Smith, who launched the Six-Word Memoir Project in 2006. Few would’ve expected that the Website would be now home to over a million six-word sentences, by thousands of people, celebrities or not.
The latter includes yours truly, whose literary concoctions found their way into Six Words About Work, published in 2009, and Best Advice in Six Words, coming out this week (yes, it’s a plug). Both books are part of a growing collection edited by the Smith mag team. Hooray.
Thus we decided to show you some of our own contributions, gathered here in a sort of chaotic way, for your enjoyment. It’s also our humble way of thanking the good people of the Six-Word Memoir community, who obviously could’ve done just fine without our input. Still, we’re proud.
There’s something about the format. Not as complex as a Haiku, or functional as the 5-word limit Ig Nobel Award recipients are bound to keep on their thank you speeches, six words are perfect to strike a balance of just enough info and emotion, convey background, and leave much to be guessed.
None of these is at par with Papa‘s, mind you. Or Bill, for goodness sake. But they’re fun to compose and, honestly, addictive. You should try it sometime. Thousands have. What if you have just the perfect idea about what happened to those shoes? Cheers.

PROXIMITY MADE MY HEART GROW NASTIER

SIX PILLS REPLACED SEX & THRILLS

The Way We Look

Printing Faces From Chewing
Gum & Food for the Red Planet

The latest tool to redefine facial reconstruction is Three-Dimensional Printing, which has already taken digital technology to surprising realms. But as some rushed to print a firearm, the medical field found a much better use for it, helping people with disfigured faces.
From Egyptian death masks to crime-solving forensics to recovering the likeness of historical figures and early humans, facial recreation has come a long way. Now artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg is combining 3-D with DNA decoding to re-imagine the face of her contemporaries.

Instead of using molds or clay or plaster, though, or reconfiguring someone’s resemblance by their bone structure, Dewey-Hagborg is tapping into a seemingly endless supply of raw material: garbage infused with organic matter. In other words, stray hair, nails, discarded chewing gum and cigarette butts.
These dejects we routinely toss aside with abandon have, potentially, all the information about us that a DNA lab would wish for. You may now insert here your own nightmarish scenario of a shady organization going through dustbins to collect material about you. Which, haven’t you noticed?, is already happening.
Take comfort you’re not the only one concerned about what’s called genetic surveillance, since the whole point of the artist’s ‘Strange Visions‘ exhibit is to raise awareness, by proving that it’s possible to gather an incredible array of personal information about anyone, through not necessarily illegal means.
After all, since the early 1990s, there’s already a well funded National DNA Index System, ready to process such material. Compounded with old-fashioned surveillance, like cameras and recordings, and digital snooping, the whole thing does make old Georgie and his 1984 sound like a kids’ bedtime story.

THE FACE’S VALUE
It doesn’t have to be that way, or rather, it hasn’t always been this way. Face masks were used in the Egyptian highly ritualized burials to memorialize the deceased. Mummies were sent to the great beyond wearing layers of clay, bronze or gold masks, perhaps as an attempt to compensate for the inexorability of flesh decay.
Throughout the centuries, ritualized or not, death masks were adopted as a portraiture device, printed as effigies, Continue reading

Cowturday

Your Herd Will Message
You When the Time Comes

Perhaps that’s what George Orwell feared the most. Not cellphones and their invasion of your privacy. Not the ubiquity of people doing all sorts of dangerous things while text messaging. No, our money would be on you, as a farmer, receiving a SMS straight from your cows’ vaginas.
That’s right, dear reader, we don’t mean to be crass, but that’s exactly the kind of device Swiss researchers have been working on. And, in case you’re wondering, yes, this is the latest on our thrilling series about bovines, who the last you’ve heard, can make you crazy too.
Today, besides your usual pasture-variety cow attack, we have them drinking beer; stalking and killing an old man who’d thrown water at them (a no-no, apparently), and a group of individuals being openly accused of killing senior citizens in the U.K.
Before we get going, though, credit must be given to our friend Maggie Koerth-Baker, an editor at Boing Boing, who wrote a week-long series Continue reading

Beyond the Grave

The Mormons’ Unrequited (But
Contested) Post-Death Conversions

Among the many questions not being asked the Republican Party’s presidential candidates, those concerning religion shouldn’t occupy the front burner and, in fact, so far they haven’t.
But, it’d be fair to expect the same scrutiny about personal beliefs that Senator Barack Obama faced in 2008, on frontrunner Mitt Romney. Will he ever be asked about the Mormon Church’s conversion of dead people?
First, some housekeeping. It’s a established fact that the Founding Fathers of this nation went through great lengths to separate religion from matters of state.
All strident spinning by extremists of all faiths not withstanding, the very First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution clearly states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
In fact, religious pluralism and freedom is a basic tenet this country was founded upon and one of the reasons it’s became a beacon to the world. Period.
In practice though, the actual realization of such principles is not as simple. Time and again, attempts have been made to establish a U.S. theocracy based on the preposterous assumption that this or that denomination has the hegemony over faith.
Despite a vibrant non-believer and science-based debate over personal choice and the nature of spirituality, an equivalent to a backwater alley of the thought, the obscurantist, tolerance-averted Continue reading

The 1% Solution

The Clarity of Simple
Truths & Justice for All

“During times of universal deceit, telling
the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”
Few quotes, such as the one often attributed to George Orwell, could’ve been better tailored to express what the Occupy Wall Street movement is going through right now.
Whether he said it or not is irrelevant. But it does frame with accuracy and flair, the political risks and personal cost for those talking straight to power.
Last night’s raid of the Ground Zero of the movement that has since spread out globally, ordered by the Mayor of New York City and executed by the NYPD, only reinforced the old concept of history repeating itself, except that without the benefit of the farce.
The violent invasion of the Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, was, of course, no theatrical laughing matter. On the contrary, despite not having been so far as harsh or even lethal as elsewhere in the country, it was scary enough to remind everyone of infamous assault on the Bonus Army veterans camped at the Capitol lawn in 1932. Continue reading