Spare Money??? #Conceptual #Art

If you do have some spare money knocking about, why not take a punt on this piece of Conceptual Art. With perhaps a nod in the direction of Carl Andre, this Untitled piece speaks of #Austerity, #Unity, #Resistance, and probably a great many other things if you stop long enough to actually consider it.

 

It is currently listed on Ebay, with all proceeds from the sale going directly to Shelter (England and Scotland), for the benefit of those persons living without a home. The sale price is ambitious, but in a world where Donald J. Trump gets to be President-Elect of the U.S.ofA., who’s to say we can’t achieve the full price?

Dig deep, winter is coming, and being homeless is no fun, no matter where in the world you live.


#ElectionFinalThoughts #Trump #Hillary and the (potential) Continuation of The Hawk’s (#StephenHawking) History of Stupidity?

As the polls prepare to open on #Election2016 / #ElectionNight, it’s perhaps a good moment to step back, pause, and consider with care the next phase in the evolution of U.S. politics. The hashtag, #ElectionFinalThoughts, should be renamed to reflect the fact that following this election, no matter who enters the Oval Office, some serious thinking needs to be done in order to address certain issues that have cropped up during @realDonaldTrump and @HillaryClinton campaigns, respectively. #ElectionContinuingThoughts might be such a hashtag, where issues, once thought to be resolved/won and therefore no longer important issues (Civil Rights, for example), or even issues that rarely get a mention in the mainstream press (Indigenous Peoples, for example), can be discussed in order to figure out the best way forward for U.S., and by extension, world politics.

Another issue that has cropped up, but that pretty much has been skirted around, is one of the practice, whether intended or not, of woman-hating rhetoric, acts, sentiments, and other such stuff. That’s certainly the opinion of Barbara Kingsolver, who makes the case that girls growing up when she did faced overwhelming opposition to ideas that girls “could go to college, have jobs, be doctors, tentatively working my way up the ladder” to the position of president, perhaps. Well, now that time has come. There is indeed a woman knocking on the door marked Commander-in-Chief, and, judging by the press coverage stemming from Trump and his supporters, as well as those from within her own party, you’d think this particular woman was the Devil incarnate. Michelle Goldberg writes:

“I’ve interviewed Trump supporters, conventional conservatives, Bernie Sanders fans, and even a few people who reluctantly voted for Clinton in the Democratic primary but who nevertheless say they can’t stand her. Most of them described a venal cynic. Strikingly, the reasons people commonly give for hating Clinton now are almost the exact opposite of the reasons people gave for hating her in the 1990s. Back then, she was a self-righteous ideologue; now she’s a corrupt tool of the establishment. Back then, she was too rigid; now she’s too flexible.”

So, it seems that Hillary is too this, or too that – she’s just not Goldilocks enough. But it seems that the language used to speak ill of Hillary is the kind of language usually reserved for denigrating women, in particular. She is too “stupid” because she stood by Bill during the Lewinsky scandal. She is too “old” even though she’s not as old as Ronald Reagan when he won. She is too “ill” because she recently suffered an illness whilst attending a 9/11-remembrance ceremony. She is too “risky” because of the old email business (and please forgive any naivety, here, but this seems to be about the worst of Hillary’s misdemeanours, which, when you think about it, doesn’t seem all that bad when on the other side we seem forever to be discussing Trump and over a dozen seemingly plausible accusations of sexual assault). Basically, according to her haters, she’s a stupid, old, unwell, and unstable WOMAN.

And when discussing the other accusation that seems to be ever at hand to beat Hillary down, that she’s too much a part of the “corrupt,” self-serving U.S. politics, are people really saying that she’s all that different from what’s gone before? Really?

Is she worse than James Buchanan, who failed to prevent the outbreak of the Civil War?

Is she worse than Warren G. Harding, and his mishandling of the Teapot Dome oil reserves?

Is she worse than Andrew Johnson, who opposed measures, such as the Fourteenth Amendment?

Is she worse than Franklin Pierce, whose administration was responsible for the so called “Bleeding Kansas” or Border War, considered as being one of the key events that led to Civil War?

Is she worse than Millard Fillmore, who endorsed the Fugitive Slave Act?

Is she worse than John Tyler, the first American head of state to face impeachment?

Worse than Shrub?

Nixon?

Really?

Hillary Clinton is no different than any of the other aspiring Presidential candidates before her, except for one thing: Hillary is a woman. It remains to be seen whether Americans are willing to accept a woman as President, but make no mistake, woman-hating is prevalent in society. Having a woman in The White House may expose more of the woman-hating, as seen throughout the entirety of the election campaign. But how severe does the woman-hating have to get before people call it out for what it is?

When do we stop adding to, as The Hawk calls it, our collective “history of stupidity?”

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Stephen Hawking, #AI, and the “History of Stupidity”

Following on from the very brief post on Adam Curtis’ #Hyper-Normalisation, which is riveting viewing despite its length being around 166 minutes, and despite the fact that it, like most of Curtis’ productions IMO, leaves you feeling oddly numb as the end credits roll, kind of like you’ve seen too much and can’t quite process the wave after wave of stupid human behaviour being presented to you in film format, it’s fascinating to hear Professor Stephen Hawking’s view that: “We [humans] spend a great deal of time studying history, which, let’s face it, is mostly the history of stupidity.” And you’d have to admit, he’s got a point here.

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So, with that in mind, and very much “on-trend” in terms of what’s going on in the world, and as was touched on in Hyper-Normalisation, what’s the deal-i-o with AI? Is it likely to be, as Pro Hawking (can we just call him the Hawk?) predicts, “either the best, or the worst thing, ever to happen to humanity?” Now, surely that will depend on your viewpoint in the first instance. Watching @Gemma_Chan1 on How to Build a Human the other night, it was interesting to hear views from experts who feel we may need to curb AI’s remit before it even comes into existence, and that AI needs to be for our benefit – but curb it from doing what, precisely, and who are the “we” that we are speaking of?

For instance, AI may reach a level where it decides that we are truly a very stupid species and that things need to change. But what things might it want to change, and how would that impact upon “humanity?” The show gave us a brief glimpse of AI gone rogue, with an example of a Twitter account run by AI that ended up all misogynistic and racist and stuff – so that’s not a great future.

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But what if a supremely intelligent form of AI were to come into existence, take a bit of time to look around and do its research before coming up with the following list of things that need changing:

  • The practice of thinking that the best way of keeping peace on the planet (even though that seems never to have happened, thus far) is to invent the deadliest weapons you can think of that would annihilate the population if used in sufficient numbers.
  • The practice of allowing “humane” end-of-life procedures for animals you care for, whilst at the same time leaving humans to suffer some awful and agonisingly slow deaths through sickness/illness, and the like.
  • The practice of encouraging/forcing the bulk of “civilised” populations to be placated into doing endless tasks that are, and always will be, meaningless – whether that be shopping, working (unless it’s a job that truly benefits society), or engaging in forms of entertainment.
  • The practice of viewing some humans as less human than others, and therefore less worthy of basic human rights – like adequate access to healthy sources of food and water, and the provision of shelter and a safe environment.

And those are just four examples of things that we might consider to be stupid ways of living. What if AI messed with those things? What would that look like, and, more to the point, who would object?


Adam Curtis’ #Hyper-Normalisation

Only part-way through this film, but there’s sufficient substance to start a post, and the most intriguing thing about Curtis’ film, Hyper-Normalisation, so far, is the use of the phrase “collective action,” as opposed to what appears to be a scathing critique of the “individual” who observes life with a kind of “hip irony.” The sentiment, here, and remember that the film isn’t finished yet, seems to be one aimed at pricking the senses, perhaps stirring viewers to a form of collective action. The questions that keep popping up with respect to this are: but what kind of collective action can we imagine when we have to make a film that spells out the state of hyper-normalisation? What, if any, collective action is possible when, for instance, and here’s a seasonal reminder, we have the whole weight of corporate marketing aimed at convincing us that we need to give things to each other in excess, or to buy those things for ourselves, and often with credit (money that we don’t have), because that’s a good way to celebrate the life of Jesus Christ?

Side note: Some of the things that we could buy right now – drones with cameras (up to £1300); VR (virtual reality) goggles (up to £100); and, showing how desperate corporate marketing is when it comes to not letting us rest for even a moment, wireless headphones (up to £250), with the accompanying tag-line: “Run off that Christmas Pudding.” And, on a separate note, we can also see the ways in which we are kept pigeon-holed when we stop to consider the sections that tell us which gifts are acceptable/suitable “For Him,” and “For Her,” each with the very simple colour scheme of blue for boy, pink for girl.

Anyway, back to the film for now.


Just So Many Reasons to Not Accept the #Lockerroom Excuse

In light of #DonaldTrump’s recent comments, where he attempts to excuse away the vile comments he made about the ways in which he professes to grab females by their genitalia, here are a few reminders of why such talk should not merely be excused as “locker room” banter.

  • Reminder 1: Judge #AaronPersky continues to be lenient in his sentencing of abusive people, such as #BrockTurner. If we excuse such comments, the Aaron Perskys and Brock Turners of the world feel justified in their actions when they should be horrified by them.
  • Reminder 2: The levels of violence aimed at women around the globe, like the news item in Argentina, are far too many to be excused, and so Trump’s comments should not be tolerated, nor should they be excused.
  • Reminder 3: Convicted rapists, such as Brock Turner, simply fade from memory as news items move on. Unfortunately, the survivors of such crimes do not get to have their memory of events fade away so simply, and therefore we must continue to hold at the forefront of our minds the horrendous things that humans do to one another when they feel they can justify their actions away as “locker room” behaviour, for example (a very basic internet search of “Brock Turner update” brings back items that date no later than early September 2016 – so his story of raping an unconscious person fades away from public view).

(Lucia Perez (pictured above) died as a result of some person/s justifying their behaviour to themselves – it’s never right to treat another human in this manner, nor is it okay to excuse their behaviour) The preceding article is extremely disturbing – all the more reason to read it and contribute to ending such behaviour, however you can.


(Still) Troubled by #MrRobot and the #Infinite Loop of Insanity

On the 4th or perhaps 5th time of watching, Mr. Robot, Series 1, episodes 1-3 still do not disappoint, and so the question remains… at what point will the show start to fail its subversive underpinnings and come crashing down to reveal nothing but rubble with no sign of the essential footings required to maintain the kind of integral structure I’d once imagined was possible? (Architecture metaphor?).

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There’s just no other word for it. Subversive. That’s what it is. It’s just so subversive in its first incarnation that it’s almost impossible to fail to notice its subversiveness. So, what went wrong with Series 2.0? A question I’ve been grappling with all summer, and until attending a Rosi Braidotti masterclass I’d imagined I’d be struggling with such a question a good while longer.

But now a glimmer of hope.

Perhaps there’s a need to apply Deleuzian principles in order to make sense of the shift from subversiveness to a kind of style over substance? But, better check back later when more reading has been done…


Cassettes & @PeterDoherty – How Very 1970s

Following on from the post, “If Technology is All That, What’s Going On With the #Vinyl Revival?,” there follows the news that new music is being put down on cassette format. Now, you’d have thought that cassette was also deader than dead, as was previously thought of our old friend vinyl, yet here we are with none other than Peter Doherty producing a cassette version of his new solo album, Hamburg Demonstrations.

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If this trend carries on, where do we end up, when at one end of the spectrum we have the Musk/TESLA guy banging on about the colonisation of Mars (and let’s hope to goodness that he’s using colonialism in a progressive way), and at the other we have cassette players coming back into vogue?


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