Author Archive | Haystack

Homelessness: The Game

Homeless The Game

Zachary Sniderman writes on Mashabe.com:

It’s one thing to feel bad for homeless people; it’s another to be forced into their shoes. Advertising agency McKinney has teamed up with Urban Ministries of Durham (UMD), a non-profit based in North Carolina, to create SPENT, an online game that guides users through what it feels like to be homeless.

Here’s how it works: If you accept the challenge to play, you enter a simple point-and-click game, navigating multiple choice questions about your livelihood. The site says you have been stripped of your savings and are currently unemployed, asking, “Can you make it through the month?”

You’re given simple choices with varying consequences. Do you want to try working in a restaurant? A factory? If you live far from the city your rent will be cheap, but, as you’re informed through pop-ups, you’ll have to pay more for gas or transportation.

The game’s integration with Facebook is its best feature.

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Confessions Of A Thug

Victoriangothic.org reviews the classic novel which first popularized the Thuggee cult, a darkly psychological adventure story with a murderous anti-hero, Ameer Ali:

Philip Meadows Taylor’s 1839 novel Confessions of a Thug captured the imagination of 19th-century Britain with its chilling depiction of an organized death cult preying upon the hapless travelers of India’s wild and desolate roads. Based upon real accounts Taylor gathered during his work suppressing the Thuggee cult for the Nizam of Hyderabad, the book is ominously introduced as an authoritative exposé in which true events have been faithfully woven into a fictionalized narrative.

Group of Thugs c. 1864.

Group of Thugs c. 1864.

As portrayed by Taylor, the Thugs are the votaries of Bhowanee (Kali); the destructive aspect of the Supreme Being. Endowed with superior intelligence and cunning, they are sent forth to make “sacrifices” on her behalf. The reward for their piety is the plunder they gather from their victims. In so far as they observe her omens and obey her taboos, Bhowanee grants them protection from earthly authorities.

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Creepy Naked Babies: The Memorial Art Dolls of Jennifer Stocks-Dearborn

Vermont artist Jennifer Stocks-Dearborn sculpts realistic clay babies for parents who have lost infants or unborn children. Much in the tradition of Victorian post-mortem photography, these “memorial art dolls” bear the likeness of the deceased. Leon Thompson of Seven Days writes:

…Stocks-Dearborn’s art began with anything but laughter. As much creativity does, hers originated in darkness — death, to be precise. Her 16-month-old daughter Madison died of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) on October 8, 2000. Within the next three years, Stocks-Dearborn married and had two sons. But the healing process from her daughter’s death did not really begin until April 2006, when a friend forwarded an email about Canadian sculptor Camille Allen’s “Marzipan Babies.”

“As I stared at these tiny, hand-sculpted babies made from clay, I thought, I can do that,” Stocks-Dearborn recalls. “And I did. I remember sculpting my very first piece, and how my anxieties and overwhelming tidal waves of emotions subsided.

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How To Boycott The Koch Brothers

kochAs Jane Mayer’s New Yorker Magazine piece argues, the Koch brothers prefer to stay in the shadows because they do not want the products they manufacture to become widely associated with their controversial and self-serving political agenda. With recent protests in Madison spotlighting their war on workers and the middle class, however, many people have found themselves wondering if any of the products they buy have been bankrolling these corporate douchbags.

Here is a list, compiled at the DailyKos:

Georgia Pacific Products: Angel Soft toilet paper • Brawny paper towels • Dixie plates, bowls, napkins and cups • Mardi Gras napkins and towels • Quilted Northern toilet paper • Soft ‘n Gentle toilet paper • Sparkle napkins • Vanity fair napkins • Zee napkins • Georgia-Pacific paper products and envelopes

Georgia Pacific Building Products: Dense Armor Drywall and Decking • ToughArmor Gypsum board • Georgia pacific Plytanium Plywood • Flexrock • Densglass sheathing • G/P Industrial plasters (some products used by a lot of crafters) • FibreStrong Rim board • G/P Lam board • Blue Ribbon OSB Rated Sheathing • Blue Ribbon Sub-floor • DryGuard Enhanced OSB • Nautilus Wall Sheathing • Thermostat OSB Radiant Barrier Sheathing • Broadspan Engineered Wood Products • XJ 85 I-Joists • FireDefender Banded Cores • FireDefender FS • FireDefender Mineral Core • Hardboard and Thin MDF including Auto Hardboard Perforated Hardboard and Thin MDF Wood Fiberboard, Commercial Roof Fiberboard, Hushboard Sound Deadening Board, Regular Fiberboard Sheathing, Structural Fiberboard Sheathing

INVISTA Products/Brands: COMFOREL® fiberfill • COOLMAX® fabric • CORDURA® fabric • DACRON® fiber • POLYSHIELD® resin • SOLARMAX® fabric • SOMERELLE® bedding products • STAINMASTER® carpet • SUPPLEX® fabric • TACTEL® fiber • TACTESSE® carpet fiber • TERATE® polyols • TERATHANE® polyether glycol • THERMOLITE® fabric • PHENREZ® resin • POLARGUARD® fiber • LYCRA® fiber

[Full article at DailyKos]

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Meet Jack Black, Rat-Catcher To The Queen

Jack BlackFrom “The Rats of London” at victoriangothic.org:

If you were a rat in mid-century London, [Jack Black] was your nemesis. “Moist as rabbits, and quite as nice,” was how he described the rats he cooked for his own consumption. Sewer rats, he insisted, were just as good as barn rats, if you gave them a few days’ chase before killing them.

Rat-catching was a regular profession among London’s poor, allowing one to leverage a childhood spent peeking under floorboards and playing with filthy animals into a full and rewarding career. Armed with quick dogs and well-trained ferrets, Black and his colleagues ’sterminated rats by the hundred, collecting their fees on a cash-only basis. It was  a “peculiar and exciting” line of work, according to Ike Matthews, who wrote the book on rat-catching; one where you could be own boss and turn long sojourns into the country with your hunting animals into a remunerative business.

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You Can’t Un-Watch Klaus Nomi

Lady Gaga has nothing on Klaus Nomi, the surreal German countertenor whose short career spanned 1977-1983. < Sadly, Nomi died of AIDS in 1983 before he had the chance to render 80's pop culture even more bizarre than it eventually became. As he was dying, Nomi gave this especially poignant performance of the "Cold Song" (lyrics follow)...
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Should America Expand the Size of Congress?

Dalton Conley and Jacqueline Stevens make a pretty compelling argument in a recent NY Times op-ed:

With the Senate preparing to debate filibuster reform, now is a good time to consider a similarly daunting challenge to democratic representation in the House: its size. It’s been far too long since the House expanded to keep up with population growth and, as a result, it has lost touch with the public and been overtaken by special interests.

Indeed, the lower chamber of Congress has had the same number of members for so long that many Americans assume that its 435 seats are constitutionally mandated.

But that’s wrong: while the founders wanted to limit the size of the Senate, they intended the House to expand based on population growth. Instead of setting an absolute number, the Constitution merely limits the ratio of members to population. “The number of representatives shall not exceed one for every 30,000,” the founders wrote.

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Ass Reflexology Hoax Shames Integrative Medicine Conference

Readers may be familiar with the infamous Sokal Affair, where a physicist successfully published an utterly nonsensical article in Social Text, a journal of postmodern cultural studies, in order to demonstrate its poor editorial standards and idealogical biases.

Recently, professor of medical education John C. McLachlan pulled the same stunt on an “International Conference on Integrative Medicine” held in Jerusalem in 2010, where he was invited to present a paper on the promising new field of ass reflexology. He described his findings as such:

McLaughlins Ass Reflexology Map

McLachlan's Ass Reflexology Map

Recently, as a result of my developmental studies on human embryos, I have discovered a new version of reflexology, which identifies a homunculus represented in the human body, over the area of the buttocks.

The homunculus is inverted, such that the head is represented in the inferior position, the left buttock corresponds to the right hand side of the body, and the lateral aspect is represented medially.

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