Author Archive | Virtually Yours

He’s Lost Control Again

Spoek Mathambo is an incredibly talented musician from Soweto South Africa and in 2010 he produced a “darkwave township house” cover of Joy Division’s She’s Lost Control Again. It is a blistering track of Afro-Gothic intensity and its accompanying video is just as hauntingly fierce: “shot in Langa, Cape Town and directed by respected photographer, Pieter Hugo, who used a cast made up mainly of kids from the local dance troupe, Happy Feet.”

For more Spoek sexcellence, make sure to check out Gwababa (Don’t Be Scared) and War on Words. Also, if you love the killer beat which he has going in Control, then make sure to check out the full version of the song here!

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Performing Live Tonight: ‘Abominations’ of the Sexual Spectrum


The word abomination seems to have come up several times recently on this site. First, in several comments from a fellow disinfonaught, then again in this article. So I find it particularly ironic/amusing that I would then stumble upon this most glorious discovery, courtesy of The Huffington Post:

Scientists say they’ve discovered four species of Brazilian cave insects with sex-reversed genitalia. The females possess a penis-like organ, the males a vagina-like organ. This is the first documented example of animals with sex-reversed genitalia.

Sex-role reversal has been observed previously in animals — such as in African antelopes. But the “female penis” seen in the four species, all of which are in the genus Neotrogla, is a “completely novel structure,” Kazunori Yoshizawa, an associate professor at Hokkaido University and one of the scientists behind the new finding, told The Verge.

How do these insects have sex? During copulation, the female Neotrogla inserts a “highly elaborate” penis-like organ, dubbed the “gynosome,” into the male’s vagina-like opening.

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To Blaze or Not to Blaze: Casual Pot Use & Brain Abnormalities

PIC: Black Zack (CC)

PIC: Black Zack (CC)

A research team at Northwestern has made some interesting discoveries involving casual marijuana use and brain change, which found that “young adults who used cannabis just once or twice a week showed significant abnormalities in two important brain structures.”

Breiter and his team analyzed a very small sample of patients between the ages of 18 and 25: 20 marijuana users and 20 well-matched control subjects. The marijuana users had a wide range of usage routines, with some using the drug just once or twice a week and others using it every single day.

Utilizing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the researchers analyzed the participants’ brains, focusing on the nucleus accumbens (NAC) and the amygdala – two key brain regions responsible for processing emotions, making decisions and motivation. They looked at these brain structures in three different ways, measuring their density, volume and shape. According to Breiter, all three were abnormal in the casual marijuana users.

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Scientific Study Says the US is an Oligarchy (In Other Breaking News: Water is Wet!)

Pic: PD

Pic: PD

The Daily Kos has reported on a new study (courtesy of researchers from Princeton and Northwestern) which claims to demonstrate, via science, that the US is an oligarchy:

“The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence. Our results provide substantial support for theories of Economic Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism.”

This news shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone who has been paying the least bit of attention, though it is encouraging to see that more people are beginning to wake up and acknowledge these facts.

Another disturbing aspect which the author points out:  “the data used for this study was drawn from study of public policy 1,779 instances between 1981 and 2002.… Read the rest

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The Legacy of The Colbert Report: The Joke’s On You!

Pic: Promotional photo (C) Comedy Central.

As you have most likely already heard, Stephen Colbert will be taking over for David Letterman as host of The Late Show. Some are lamenting this decision, while others are rejoicing. Colbert has said that he will be hosting The Late Show as himself, so as he prepares to retire his much-loved alter-ego at the height of his show’s popularity, perhaps now would be a good time to reflect on the legacy of both the character and the show…

Few there are who seem able/willing to question the wit and integrity of either Colbert or Stewart, which is why this brutal Baffler essay by Steve Almond is so incredibly refreshing! Almond completely eviscerates the two and puts them both in their place, refusing to apologize for what he views as mindless mollification and mediocrity for the masses.

The entire essay is well worth the read, though here are a few highlights that are particularly poignant, resonating with a righteous fury:

Stewart and Colbert’s net effect is almost entirely therapeutic: they congratulate viewers for their fine habits of thought and feeling while remaining careful never to question the corrupt precepts of the status quo too vigorously…We have come to accept coy mockery as genuine subversion and snarky mimesis as originality.… Read the rest

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Rethinking Privacy: Google Glass Harassment & The Coming Age of Sousveillance

PIC: Antonio Zugaldia (CC)

PIC: Antonio Zugaldia (CC)

“A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity.” – Dalai Lama

A woman was recently accosted at a bar in San Francisco for wearing Google Glass, and while I can sympathize to a certain degree with those disgruntled patrons who had not agreed to be recorded while out in public, I cannot help but wonder:  do these same individuals share a similar sense of outrage over the illegal monitoring and recording of all our digital data by the NSA? Many view Glass as a further intrusion of privacy, and as wearable/recordable tech becomes increasingly ubiquitous we are probably going to start seeing signs like these popping up in stores and restaurants all over the place.

This tech will force us to reconsider previously held notions of “public versus private” and that is not necessarily a bad thing, but another question worth asking might be: could this tech – when used responsibly – potentially help us to regain some sense of equilibrium and empowerment against the current surveillance state?… Read the rest

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Complicit Corruption: Calling Out the Supreme Court on Citizens United

“Our country is now taking so steady a course as to show by what road it will pass to destruction, to wit: by consolidation of power first, and then corruption, its necessary consequence.” – Thomas Jefferson

This past Wednesday, Kai Newkirk – co-founder of 99Rise.orgstood up during a session of the Supreme Court and (while being secretly videotaped, presumably by another member of his organization) made the following bold announcement:

“I rise on behalf of the vast majority of the American people who believe that money is not speech, corporations are not people, and our democracy should not be for sale to the highest bidder. Overturn Citizens United. Keep the cap in McCutcheon. The people demand democracy!”

This is the first time that video footage has ever been taken within a session of the SC (these sessions are open to the public, yet photography and recordings are banned) and Newkirk will face federal prosecution in March for having the balls to stand up in front of these crooks and say what everyone else is already thinking.… Read the rest

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To Boldly Go to There: The Proto-Post Scarcity Economy of Star Trek

Pic: Desilu Prouctions (C)

Pic: Desilu Prouctions (C)

“The acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force of our lives. We work to better ourselves and the rest of humanity.” – Captain Jean-Luc Picard

Rick Webb has written a fantastic piece about the economics of Star Trek, and then speculates about whether or not we could begin to incorporate some of these notions…

“Take a mental journey for a moment with me: what if, one day, technology reaches the point that a small number of humans — say, 10 million — can produce all of the food, shelter and energy that the race needs. This doesn’t seem like insanely wishful thinking, given current trends. There’s no rational reason why the advances in robotics, factories, energy and agriculture couldn’t continue unabated for long periods of time. Of course I’m not saying they will, but rather, they could.

“So, then, take that journey. What, then, of labor? In today’s terms, a ‘healthy’ economy now is one at or near full employment.

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The Lottocracy Has Arrived: Say Goodbye (and Good Riddance!) to Campaigns, Candidates, and Elections

Pic: USGOV (PD)

Pic: USGOV (PD)

“It is accepted as democratic when public offices are allocated by lot, and as oligarchic when they are filled by election.” – Aristotle (Politics IV. 9, 1294b8)

I was in the process of cobbling together a piece on sortition (the selection of government officials by lottery) but it turns out that Alexander Guerrero – an assistant professor of philosophy, medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania – has beaten me to the punch, and then some! He has written a superb essay about the subject and has also come up with an alternative system which he has dubbed “the lottocracy”, an idea which is challenging, thought-provoking, and incredibly hopeful…

So what’s wrong with the system of representation which we currently employ?

“In the presence of widespread citizen ignorance and the absence of meaningful accountability, powerful interests will effectively capture representatives, ensuring that the only viable candidates — the only people who can get and stay in political power — are those who will act in ways that are congenial to the interests of the powerful.”

What is the historical precedent for sortition?

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Surveillance Camera Man: Antagonism as Activism?

So there is a guy on Youtube who goes by the name of Surveillance Camera Man, and over the past year he has uploaded five videos which are comprised of various scenes of him wandering around and filming people without their permission, presumably to see what kind of reaction he would get. He comes off as a bit of a creep, though, because when people ask him what he is doing, all he ever really says is: “Shooting a video.” A lot of people become belligerent rather quickly, which is understandable considering that they have a camera shoved into their face by a man who refuses to answer their questions. (I almost feel bad for the guy on the phone who keeps saying: “This is a private phone call!” The irony being, of course, that there is no longer any such thing as “private” phone calls…or texts…or emails.) 
But this is where I am torn on the methods employed by SCM: because on the one hand, you could argue that he is raising awareness about the fact that we are all constantly being monitored/recorded, and that he is also pointing out the hypocrisy of our nonchalance over these issues when we are not being confronted with them face-to-face.… Read the rest
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