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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Artist Performs The Impossible By Nailing Manhood to The Red Square

Monday, November 11th, 2013

nailed the stateIn a protest against Russian apathy, political indifference, and police brutality, performance artist Pyotr Pavlensky stripped nude yesterday in Moscow’s cobblestone Red Square, sat down, and nailed his scrotum to the ground.

Pavlensky’s act kicked gossip rags the world over into high gear, but amid all of the salacious chatter and gawking at the “freak in the square,” the poignancy of the performance is getting lost.

Following on the heels of Pussy Riot and announcements that social media will be banned at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Pavlensky’s incredible piece (no pun intended) shines a spotlight on Putin’s desperate but heavy-handed efforts at silencing not only dissent, but any form of expression deemed potentially threatening to the state.

We should all take heed that when a state-ordered gag has been in place for as long as Russia’s, people on the street begin to forget what unsanctioned language sounds or looks like. Which, of course, is what the State wants: to make the unsanctioned literally unthinkable, in every sense of the term.

Watch the reactions of crowds to Pussy Riot, and of the police to Pyotr. Onlookers don’t just seem surprised; they look positively bewildered, like natives witnessing the sudden arrival of an interloper whose culture is so foreign, so unimagined, and so dangerously unpredictable, that they can’t, at first, move. Even after getting their bearings, the spectators remain reluctant to approach the message-bringers; even the politsiya sniffing around Pyotr are careful not to get too close.

This reminds me of J.G. Ballard’s dystopian story, “The Concentration City,” in which a student named Franz journeys into unmapped territories of the City despite the State’s bureaucratic claims that the metropolitan space extends infinitely in all directions and contains no unmappable areas; the existence of anything that has not been characterized officially by the State is denied.

Pussy Riot and Pyotr are effective precisely because they show up at officially mapped locales, but then present language that falls outside of what has been deemed possible by the State. Their messages can’t be contained because they’re already on the other side of the State’s hegemonic fence upon arrival; how does one rein/reign in something that’s not even supposed to be possible? (Answer: you send her to Siberia, then pray). Riot and Pyotr are liberating because they call into question the way space and power have been parceled—they prove, in a glint of hope, that not everything has been mapped, which is poison to a totalitarian state.

*** UPDATE: An interview with Pyotr has been posted here.

Fun With NSA Watchwords

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

NSA got you feeling paranoid?  Not to worry: I made you a little tool that’ll let you encrypt (scramble) any message between you and a friend using a browser or smartphone.

But this scrambler has a surprise. After encrypting your message with industrial-grade AES encryption, the tool further scrambles the output into a mess of random NSA terror watchwords. If the NSA is so hellbent on illegal eavesdropping, why not give them something fun to read? And if enough of us use this, in theory it should make it harder for them to single out any one person for monitoring.

Scrambling the phrase NSA is watching with the password eavesdrop produces a ciphertext of:

exposure bomber spy worm cain black chemicals port marijuana hazmat botnets eavesdrop codes standoff trafficking cain black underground eavesdrop trafficking pipe scam narcotics undercover tnt riot black national biological trafficking listen port cops initiative force cartels looting underground nitrate national bombing nitrate outbreak mitigate

…and then you can use the eavesdrop password again to decrypt the whole mess back to normal.

Haha, OK, granted, maybe it’s not the most efficient means of communication, but it’s fun. And the AES makes it strong as hell. And it’s one more way to protest the erosion of our constitutional rights. Ssshh! They’re listening.

Get scrambled at Ø

You Know What To Do

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

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Opening for Elisha Shapiro’s “The Funniest Nihilist” at The Hollywood Fringe Festival!

Monday, May 30th, 2011

I’m uber excited to be opening for Elisha Shapiro’s THE FUNNIEST NIHILIST one-man show at the Hollywood Fringe Festival. Believe in nothing? Then this show’s for you! Producer of the Nihilist Film Festival, creator of the Nihilist Olympics, 1988 Nilhilist Party presidential candidiate, and more, Shapiro weaves a hilarious tale of a life about nothing that you won’t soon forget (and if you do, that’s ok with him too…heh). June 24+25 @ 8PM in L.A. Tix are FREE, but they’re going fast—get ‘em while you can!

Lisa Madigan is mad again

Monday, August 4th, 2008
Lisa Madigan
Lisa Madigan. Photo © 2007 by blahedo

In her latest attack on freedom, last week Attorney General Lisa Madigan banned the sale of super caffeinated Meth Coffee from the good state of Illinois, saying the product is “glorifying drugs.”

Her claim is ridiculous. Look at Meth’s web site. The product’s whole spin is blatant satire—bad taste to some, maybe, but obviously a joke—and therefore protected speech. Right from the very first word on Meth’s home page, the paranoid first-person narrator talks about his new “volatitherapeutic beverage” that “straightens drunks” and “wakes zombies”—and if that’s not enough, click on the ‘About’ page for a look at the madcap disclaimer: “CONTAINS NO ACTUAL METHAMPHETAMINES, I.E., CRANK, GLASS, SPEED, CRYSTAL, BATU, SHABU, MABU, CRACKHOO, ETC. PRODUCT NOT WARRANTED TO CURE ECZEMA, EDEMA, ACNE, CONSTIPATION, TOURETTE’S, OR GUM DISEASE.” It’s hyperbole at every turn, and carries no believable danger. What’s next, banning exploding gum because it might encourage terrorism?

Meth issued a response outlining Madigan’s poorly researched claims against the beverage, that Meth is clearly a joke for an adult audience, that its founding members include recovering drug addicts, and that the company is a good faith co-sponsor of the hilarious 2008 Comedy Addiction Tour for addicts in recovery. Meth also makes the great point that “Richard Pryor, Mad Magazine, and other comedy geniuses have unleashed dark, satiric comedy about drugs for years, and to positive effect.”

The point here is that Madigan is using taxpayer money to trample her own constituents’ freedom to see, hear, and consume what they choose. Other totalitarians have made this mistake. The people of Illinois are no doubt pissed off; read the Chicago Sun-Times comments sections and you’ll see more than one reference to “Nanny Madigan” and her compulsive need to diaper everyone in sight. Slapping an “explicit lyrics” sticker onto a Richard Pryor CD isn’t enough; apparently any product that references drugs, even with funny over-the-top satire that appeals to thousands, must be censored even if raises awareness, promotes discussion, and makes its target adult audience laugh. Madigan is waging a disingenuous fake war against fake drugs in the worst kind of political grandstanding, with Meth Coffee as her straw man. And just watch: if she really does run for IL governor in 2010, or, god forbid, President, her handlers will be sure to misrepresent her soundbites to their fullest: “Remember how tough Madigan was on drugs in 2008? She fought meth!”

We’ve all heard the criticism of the Right over wiretapping without warrants and torture at Guantanamo; this time it’s a reactionary Democrat intent on trampling the Constitution for political gain. But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, given how hard Madigan has fought against gun ownership and death row prisoner rights. Maybe she earned her law degree in China?

I recently heard of a coffee brand called ‘Bad Ass’. I’m surprised Madigan hasn’t sued it for giving donkeys a bad name.

Watch your ass, Illinois, if you value your freedom.