Monthly Archives: May 2013

DNA portraits

Check out this mind-blowing project.  Artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg is using DNA gathered from public places to create portraits of the owners.

..she gathers information about the person’s ancestry, gender, eye color,  propensity to be overweight and other traits related to facial morphology, such  as the space between one’s eyes. “I have a list of about 40 or 50 different  traits that I have either successfully analyzed or I am in the process of  working on right now,” she says.

Dewey-Hagborg then enters these parameters into a computer program to create  a 3D model of the person’s face.” Ancestry gives you most of the generic picture  of what someone is going to tend to look like. Then, the other traits point  towards modifications on that kind of generic portrait,” she explains. The  artist ultimately sends a file of the 3D model to a 3D printer on the campus of  her alma mater, New York University, so that it can be transformed into  sculpture.

Ding dong

I went to see a Pieter Dirk Uys live performance last night.  Pieter Dirk Uys is a brilliant South African performer who uses satire to comment on current social and political issues.  He is greatly loved by South Africans because of his brilliant humour and the fact that he’s never shied away from pointing out injustice, hipocrisy and incompetence, no matter who the target is.  He was openly critical of the Apartheid government, which was known for silencing critics through any means, and he is openly critical of the incompetencies and corruption in the current government.  He is well known for his impersonations of politicians and other dignitaries, including PW Botha, Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu.

In last night’s show he brought back many favourite characters, including Margaret Thatcher.  His impersonation of her is splendid; he gets the voice and accent just right.  To introduce the character, he sang “Ding dong, the witch is dead.”  This is a song we’ve been hearing a lot lately in connection with her passing.  There has even been a campaign to push it to the top of the music charts.

I confess that I am a little taken aback by all this vitriol being aimed at a dead woman.  I understand that many people don’t agree with what she said and did, and that some of her policies were very controversial.  But she was not an evil, malicious or selfish person.  She didn’t become a politician because she wanted to be rich and famous, and she didn’t use her office to enrich or in other ways benefit herself, as so many other politicians seem to do.  She was an honest, hardworking individual who loved her country and dedicated her life to making it a better place for everyone.

Not everyone agreed with her policies, but people seem quick to forget that the British economy was basically dying when she took office, and she pretty much saved it.  From the way people were dancing in the streets after her death, you could be excused for thinking she was some kind of monster dictator who ruined the country before being overthrown, rather than someone who was elected to her post three times through a transparent democratic process.

This New York Times article does a better job than I could of listing her many accomplishments.  I am a Liberal at heart, and don’t agree with many of the things she believed.  I certainly don’t approve of everything she did.  But I look at her life and I see someone I can admire, someone who lived her life with passion, dignity, courage and honour and who changed the world in many ways, many of them for the better.  I would much rather celebrate her life than her death.

The fallibility of Wikipedia

Salon has an interesting article by Andrew Leonard on how vulnerable Wikipedia is to editors abusing the anonymity of the contribution process to further their own agenda.  Although this is somewhat alarming, the fact that it has been discovered, exposed and corrected shows that the crowd-sourcing model can be highly self-corrective.  I love Wikipedia.  I think it is one of the greatest human achievements over our entire history, and we should all do everything we can to protect it and make it even better.

Women have always fought

This piece by Kameron Hurley at A Dribble of Ink is awesomazing.  It looks at the ways in which we allow narratives to perpetuate negative stereotypes about women.

I actually watched a TV show recently that was supposedly about this traumatic experience a young girl went through, but was, in fact, simply tossed in so that the two male characters in the show could fight over it, and argue about which of them was at fault because of what happened to her. It was the most flagrant erasure of a female character and her experiences that I’d seen in some time. She’s literally in the room with them while they fight about it, revealing all these character things about them while she sort of fades into the background.

We forget what the story’s about. We erase women in our stories who, in our own lives, are powerful, forthright, intelligent, terrifying people. Women stab and maim and kill and lead and manage and own and run. We know that. We experience it every day. We see it.

But this is our narrative: two men fighting loudly in a room, and a woman snuffling in a corner.

Dude, have you ever thought that maybe it’s you?

Word of the day: Incel.  It’s short for Involuntary Celibacy.  According to Wikipedia, it’s

chronic near-total or total absence in a person’s sexuality of intimate relationships or sexual intercourse that is occurring for reasons other than voluntary celibacy, asexuality, antisexualism, or sexual abstinence.  It is the psycho-social opposite of having a sex life.

Sounds pretty terrible, right?  It get’s worse:

Most incels are not physically unattractive and exhibit the same social behaviours as their peers who have sex lives.  A few of the involuntarily celibate population may have discernible personality disorders that preclude current and future sexual opportunities, but the small amount of research done on this subject indicates that the incel population are on the whole socially normal, otherwise healthy individuals whose frustration is merely a product of their lack of sex, and not vice versa.

But when you read a little further, you realise that this is not the whole story.  The real story is that this is a made-up condition that is used by socially awkward men to explain their inability to find a girlfriend.

Being an “incel” means you get to sit around feeling sorry for yourself, blaming your loneliness on everyone but yourself.  After all, you are a “socially normal, otherwise healthy” individual.  It’s not your fault that women aren’t throwing themselves at you; it’s their fault.  And if it’s their fault, there’s no reason for you to ask whether there might be something wrong with you..

It seems almost inevitable that this “it’s not my fault, it’s everybody else” kindergarten-level kind of thinking will end in this totally loony tunes fest of self-pity and hate.  This guy, as the name of his blog indicates, feels that governments should pay women to go on dates with guys like him.  Here are some choice excerpts:

Government should offer women money to go on blind dates.  These women would freely apply for such program, as would incel men.  Every woman would have a limit of 30 dates.  If she doesn’t find a suitable partner during those 30 days she will be fired to prevent scammers – however, she would be paid the full sum, as would a woman who finds a partner during one of these 30 dates.

Newsflash, dude!  The world is FULL of women looking for boyfriends!  You don’t have to pay them!  All you have to do is turn yourself into someone who they would want to have for a boyfriend.  And that starts with not feeling so damn sorry for yourself.  Get out there and get a life.  Find an interest, a hobby, something to talk to women about.  Take care of your appearance and your health.  See a therapist; get on medication if necessary.  Work at your career, so that women will see a financially stable potential partner instead of a dead-beat loser.  Develop friendships.  This will help you to improve your social skills and increase your opportunities for meeting potential mates.

For example…  Physical consequences like the lack of penile sensation.  Mental consequences like the fact that I’m seeing women who would like me as priceless goods (it’s a comparison, manginas and feminists, I don’t think they’re goods), which they are in a way because I can’t find one to like me.  Like the fact that I’m notably bitter and weird to most women even if I don’t tell them anything I talk about here, or the fact that I’m extremely attracted to high schools girls because they kinda represent what I lost in my teenage years (they’re legal here).

If you can’t find some who wants to be in a relationship with you now, this paying-women-for-dates thing is not going to solve your problem.  YOU are the problem, not the women you’re dating.  As long as you carry on this creepy self-pitying misogyny act, you will never get a second date.

Due to their phobia, love-shy males can’t be treated as pure incel males.  In order for them to be cured their erotophobia must be defeated.  To achieve this goal women, all of whom would freely apply and be paid for it, would teach these men how to cuddle and kiss – which, to most of them, would be their first experience of these things.  In the end, once their phobia has receded,  there would be an option of these women sleeping with them, but only if both parties agree.  If any of these males refuse to have their first time that way their wishes would be respected, same if any of the women refuse to have sex with a male.

Right.  You’re scared of women, so the government must pay women to cuddle and kiss you until you get over it.  No dude.  I understand that you are lonely and horny and you think that some government-sponsored cuddles and kisses (and sex) will make it all better.  This is NOT CORRECT.  Your problems are bigger than that.  See a therapist!

The world/government does not owe you love, sex or happiness.  If you work at it, though, you might get lucky and find one or even all three.

All of this will probably never go away.  I mean, it might, but only after years of a very happy relationship (which is quite unlikely) or great successes with many beautiful women (if anything, that’s about 100 times less likely than the possibility that I will find one girl I will be happy with, so unlikely that I am certainly more likely to win the lottery, while I theoretically have more chances of finding the right girl than winning the lottery).

The saddest part is that this poor bastard doesn’t realise that there are two people in a relationship, and hard work is required from both of them to make it a happy relationship.  He seems to imagine that he is going to find a girl who is willing to be his girlfriend, and then he is going to be happy, end of story.  Kind of like how some people think that they are going to buy their dream car/house/boat/handbag/shoes/body, and then they are going to be happy.  Except a car doesn’t have its own inner life, with thoughts and emotions and needs, etc.

Boy, is he in for a surprise when he realises that a woman is neither a blow-up doll nor a fairy with a magical “happiness” wand, but a walking, breathing PERSON with feelings and dreams and needs of her own!  And that she might actually expect him to behave like a real person instead of an emotionally stunted douchebag who expects her to “make” him happy!

Let’s hope this guy doesn’t find a girlfriend.  Just think of all the misery that will be avoided, both by the woman and any offspring that might have resulted from such a doomed union..