My neighbourhood in East London has a lot of very nice street art, and a fair number of hipster entrepreneurs who lead tourist parties on "Street Art Tours." Artist Dr D combined the Olympic police-state with the Street Art Tour phenomenon to make this great prank notice, which I snapped on the way to our weekly Sunday brunch.
A redditor called zacch asked his mom to paint him a pair of Batman Converse. She came through with flying (and suitably gloomy) colors.
Steve sez, "Amazing Stories magazine is in the process of being resurrected. In order to satisfy trademark registration requirements, have some content to capture a bit of attention and to help get the ball rolling for a future fund raiser, the publisher - The Experimenter Publishing Company - is offering anyone and everyone the opportunity to obtain a free copy of the Ezine."
Amazing is the oldest sf magazine in the world, founded by Hugo "Award" Gernsback himself in 1926. I have been published in one of its many incarnations along the way. Nice to see it still around, and DRM-free, to boot.
Sgt. Rock and Easy Company are saluting comic book legend Joe Kubert, who passed away today at the age of 85.
Here's some random old dude at the library playing The Clash's "Train in Vain."
White House TSA petition goes dark as it nears the finish line, disappears when the lights come back on
A White House petition about the TSA's screening procedures was 90 percent of the way to completion when Wired ran a story giving it a final push. The White House's petition site went down for unannounced maintenance, and when it came back up, the petition had "expired" -- though the Electronic Privacy Information Center says it still had time left on the clock:
At approximately 11:30 am EDT, the White House removed a petition about the TSA airport screening procedures from the White House "We the People" website. About 22,500 of the 25,000 signatures necessary for a response from the Administration were obtained when the White House unexpectedly cut short the time period for the petition. The site also went down for "maintenance" following an article in Wired that sought support for the campaign.
Update: The petition's creator reportedly disputes EPIC's version of the timeline, saying that the petition had run out its time during the outage.
Paul Ryan wants to kill all tax on capital gains, interest, and dividends -- income you get from owning things, rather than doing a job. Under this plan, Mitt Romney's $21,000,000 in 2010 income would be largely tax-exempt. Only his speaking and author fees -- $593,996 -- would be taxed, and only at 25%, for a net tax of $177,650 on $21,661,344 -- that is, 0.82%.
But don't worry, the government won't go broke if the super-rich are virtually tax exempt. Under Ryan's budget, tax on the bottom 30% of earners will increase. Matthew O'Brien explains in The Atlantic:
It might seem impossible to fund the government when the super-rich pay no taxes. That is accurate. Ryan would actually raise taxes on the bottom 30 percent of earners, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, but that hardly fills the revenue hole he would create. The solution? All but eliminate all government outside of Social Security and defense -- a point my colleague Derek Thompson has made in incredible chart form.
Ryan sez, "We recently went out on the streets of Manhattan to photograph bikes around the city that have been abandoned, destroyed or otherwise left for dead, and how they contrast with the many vibrant scenes that surround them. The bikes tend to take on a surreal shape after being twisted and rusted for so long, rusty bike chains begin to look like miniature Richard Serra constructions and bent wheels melt like Dali's clocks. We tried to bring the beauty out of these things that many people would consider eyesores."
I got creamed by a drunk driver on my bike twenty-plus years ago. When I finally got off crutches and rescued what was left of the frame that I'd U-locked to a post before the ambulance came, I brought the bike to Duke's cycle for an insurance replacement. They confirmed it was a write off and told me the dead frame would go to the Bovine Sex Club, a venue across the street whose sign was made of hundreds of twisted abandonware bikes welded together.
Mark Fisher's essay "Time-Wars" riveted me. It's an analysis of the way that stories about technology and work -- both explicit political/ideological stump speeches and futurism, and science fiction stories -- have failed to keep pace with the reality of work, automation, and "precarity" (the condition of living a precarious economic existence). After all, time is finite. Life is finite. Automation makes it possible not to work, or to work very little, at least in the rich world. The system distributes the gains of automation so unevenly that a tragically overworked class is pitted against a tragically unemployed class. Meanwhile, the only resource that is truly non-renewable -- the time of our lives -- is frittered away in "work" that we do because we must, because of adherence to doctrine about how money should flow.
For most workers, there is no such thing as the long term. As sociologist Richard Sennett put it in his book The Corrosion of Character: The Personal Consequences of Work in the New Capitalism, the post-Fordist worker “lives in a world marked … by short-term flexibility and flux … Corporations break up or join together, jobs appear and disappear, as events lacking connection.” (30) Throughout history, humans have learned to come to terms with the traumatic upheavals caused by war or natural disasters, but “[w]hat’s peculiar about uncertainty today,” Sennett points out, “is that it exists without any looming historical disaster; instead it is woven into the everyday practices of a vigorous capitalism.”
It isn’t only work that has become more tenuous. The neoliberal attacks on public services, welfare programmes and trade unions mean that we are increasingly living in a world deprived of security or solidarity. The consequence of the normalisation of uncertainty is a permanent state of low-level panic. Fear, which attaches to particular objects, is replaced by a more generalised anxiety, a constant twitching, an inability to settle. The uncertainty of work is intensified by digital communication technology. As soon as there is email, there are no longer working hours nor a workplace. What characterises the present moment more than our anxious checking – of our messages, which may bring opportunities or demands (often both at the same time), or, more abstractly, of our status, which, like the stock market is constantly under review, never finally resolved?
We are very far from the “society of leisure” that was confidently predicted in the 1970s. Contrary to the hopes raised at that time, technology has not liberated us from work. As Federico Campagna writes in his article “Radical Atheism”, published on the Through Europe website. “In the current age of machines … humans finally have the possibility of devolving most productive processes to technological apparatus, while retaining all outcomes for themselves. In other words, the (first) world currently hosts all the necessary pre-conditions for the realization of the old autonomist slogan ‘zero work / full income/ all production / to automation’. Despite all this, 21st century Western societies are still torn by the dusty, capitalist dichotomy which opposes a tragically overworked section of population against an equally tragically unemployed one.”
Campagna’s call for a “radial atheism” is based on the recognition that the precariousness that cannot be eliminated is that of life and the body. If there is no afterlife, then our time is finite. Curiously, however, we subjects of late capitalism act as if there is infinite time to waste on work. Work looms over us as never before. “In an eccentric and an extreme society like ours,” argue Carl Cederström and Peter Fleming in their book Dead Man Working, “working has assumed a universal presence – a ‘worker’s society in the worst sense of the term – where even the unemployed and children become obsessed with it.” (2) Work now colonises weekends, late evenings, even our dreams. “Under Fordism, weekends and leisure time were still relatively untouched,” Cederström and Fleming point out. “Today, however, capital seeks to exploit our sociality in all spheres of work. When we all become ‘human capital’ we not only have a job, or perform a job. We are the job.”