Go Read: Touch The Junk

Meet your new favourite culture blogger!

At the self-described “queer word art group” blog Bully Bloggers, Tavia Nyong’o, an associate professor of Performance Studies at NYU, has written an astoshingly good takedown of this moment right here in our world, at the nexus of the outrage over John Tyner’s bizarre encounter with the US Transportation Security Administration and the bluster and booty-shaking of Kanye West’s new album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, making the case that we are now living in the Age of Hysteria (sadly, no relation to the Def Leppard album).

Nyong’o is wickedly smart, cuttingly insightful and frequently very funny. Witness:

But opportunism and even cynicism are politically ambidextrous. Tyner’s panicked recourse to every technological appendage he could lay hold of to disseminate the news of the feds touching his junk is the Everyman counterpart of Kanye’s privileged victim. Both are virtuosos of the new communicative media that promise greater sociability even as they reduce us to gadgets. But where Tyner seeks to restore a certain modicum of privilege for the male genitals, quietly ensconcing them back in their protective coverlet, Kanye has cock, balls, and indeed, asshole dangling in the wind, admitting he’s a monster, and daring us to do something about or with it.

Watch for prairie dog‘s review of the new Kanye album in this week’s print edition, hitting the streets on Thursday!

Hockey, Denim, Teens, Texting, Sex, Drugs And Facebook

Busy day today so I just have time for a couple of quick items.

First: I have no idea how I missed this news, but apparently the Saskatoon Blades will wear imitation denim jerseys for their game against Ryan Johansen and the red-hot Portland Winterhawks this Friday. Imitation denim. Yup. Give’er.

(The Winterhawks play the Pats tonight, by the way. Puck drops at 7:00. Did I mention that Columbus Blue Jackets’ prospect Ryan Johansen will be in the lineup? The Jackets rock. No, I’m not being sarcastic. Yes I really am a huge Blue Jackets fan. No I will not apologize. Go away.)

Second: A new study (and how many nightmares of the modern age have been unleashed after those words?) says that “hyper-texting” teenagers — teens who fire off more than 120 texts per day or spend more than three hours on social networking sites like Facebook — are more likely to be involved in sex, drugs and presumably rock and roll. Continue reading “Hockey, Denim, Teens, Texting, Sex, Drugs And Facebook”

Shameless And Awe-Inspiring Plagiarism Blows Up Internet

Have you heard the one about the cooking magazine, the ripped-off article and the editor who told a writer she should pay that editor for stealing her story? Yes? Sorry for stale news. No? Well, let me fill you in.

The magazine is a teeny little regional thing in New England called Cooks Source and its editorial technique is apparently “copy, paste, edit, publish and don’t tell (or pay) the writer — but keep her name on the story because we’re not just crooks, we’re also really stupid.” The current issue of Cooks Source (why no apostrophe?) ran a 2005 article by writer Monica Gaudio about medieval apple pies that they swiped from  this website. When Gaudio found out her work had been lifted, she contacted the editor, Judith Griggs, who, in an e-mail, told her:

“But honestly Monica, the web is considered “public domain” and you should be happy we just didn’t “lift” your whole article and put someone else’s name on it! It happens a lot, clearly more than you are aware of, especially on college campuses, and the workplace. If you took offence and are unhappy, I am sorry, but you as a professional should know that the article we used written by you was in very bad need of editing, and is much better now than was originally. Now it will work well for your portfolio.”

And the kicker:

“We put some time into rewrites, you should compensate me!”

So what happened? Not surprisingly, Gaudio blogged about it, and Lo the Internet heard and was roused  to wrath. And  Cooks Source is being eviscerated.

Continue reading “Shameless And Awe-Inspiring Plagiarism Blows Up Internet”

The It Gets Better Project

From Savage Love:

Another gay teenager in another small town has killed himself—hope you’re pleased with yourselves, Tony Perkins and all the other “Christians” out there who oppose anti-bullying programs (and give actual Christians a bad name).

Billy Lucas was just 15 when he hanged himself in a barn on his grandmother’s property. He reportedly endured intense bullying at the hands of his classmates—classmates who called him a fag and told him to kill himself. His mother found his body.

Nine out of 10 gay teenagers experience bullying and harassment at school, and gay teens are four times likelier to attempt suicide. Many LGBT kids who do kill themselves live in rural areas, exurbs, and suburban areas, places with no gay organizations or services for queer kids.

“My heart breaks for the pain and torment you went through, Billy Lucas,” a reader wrote after I posted about Billy Lucas to my blog. “I wish I could have told you that things get better.”

And Dan Savage has set up a Youtube channel, the It Gets Better Project, where people can tell kids just that. Here is the video he and his partner have made for it. It is essential viewing.

Learned about this on Pharyngula.

Just one more hit, I swear

If my mom gave up the Internet, it wouldn’t be a huge deal. She really doesn’t use it for much more than googling her kids’ names to see if any of us are famous yet (nope, not yet), or to look up “the name of that guy from the thing”. My mom is awesome that way– she’s not caught in the Net like so many dolphins.

However for cartoonist James Sturm, who quit the Internet four weeks ago, the online world figures into most of what he does. Giving it up would mean a huge change in the way he does things, wouldn’t it?

Sturm has been chronicling the process through a series of online posts on Slate (presumably he submits the posts via post). It’s an interesting read (complete with drawings and cartoons, of course), and it makes me want to start hand-writing letters again.

Which I would totally do if only I had the time.

When And Why An Editor Gives Up Commentors

Kyle Shaw, the editor of Halifax alt-weekly the Coast, wrote a letter explaining how they dealt with their recent legal situation. As reported on April 14, they were forced by a court order to surrender information on some of the commentors on their website. Google also had to follow suit.

In the letter, Shaw explains the paper side of things pretty thoroughly:

People often approach The Coast asking for IP addresses so they can try to get hold of a member of our online community. No matter the reason—from Who is my secret admirer? to Who do I sue?—if we just handed over the info we’d probably be violating privacy laws. So in this case we gave the standard answer: That is information related to our business, and we won’t share unless you get a court order. Soon enough we were in court, where Supreme Court Justice M. Heather Robertson granted the order forcing us to surrender the IP information.

You can read the whole thing here.

Library Of Congress To Archive Tweets, My Bad Decisions

It was recently announced that the Library of Congress will begin archiving all messages sent through Twitter. This is good news for tweeters like Shaq or NOT Pat Fiacco, whose tweet skills will be preserved for years to come.

At the end of the New York Times article on the matter, there’s an interesting suggestion:

Knowing that the Library of Congress will be preserving Twitter messages for posterity could subtly alter the habits of some users, said Paul Saffo, a visiting scholar at Stanford who specializes in technology’s effect on society.

What do the tweeters of Twitter have to say about this development? Here’s a selection of responses, with links removed:

Vanessa_Carlson: The Library of Congress thinks that I am so interesting, that they are archiving my tweets!

sajendra: Future generations will now know when I tweet about my bathroom habits

stereohasmono: Not too happy about my tweets being archived by the Library of Congress. We have no privacy anymore. :(

tallhomeyvita: Library of Congress to archive your tweets – it’s a wrap…big brother is watchin everything u say!!!

_misserablebee: eat shit, library of congress. you’re a bunch of tweet thieves.

Knowing that their tweets will be available to future generations isn’t going to elevate the dialogue happening on Twitter, especially as long as you can tweet from your phone, a lesson I learn every time I have a drink and decide to start commenting on George Wendt’s post-Cheers career.

Gaming for smarty pants

Local video game site Vigigames is declared rad.

"Games in context"
Video game criticism website Vigigames

“Bioshock”, “education”, and “textual analysis”.

Those are three tags you’re not likely to see on a Dog Blog post. You aren’t even likely to see them on most video game sites. Local site Vigigames is the place that rectifies that.

Their tagline “Games in context” sums up their project pretty well. The three contributors – Matthew Blackwell, John Cameron, and Christian Hardy – are trying to talk about video games from a critical perspective that takes into account scholarly theory and thoughts other than “the graphics are sweet”.

One of their more recent posts, “Game study; or, will we play Bioshock in classrooms?” (which has all the tags listed above) is a good place to start:

I bring up Bioshock not because I think that it’ll be studied in schools (well, maybe in universities one day. Too much gore for high schools), but because it sort of represents that hope that games will, one day, be self-aware enough to recognize their potential for a deeper insight into the human condition. A teacher shouldn’t use a particular book because it’s canonized – the book is a means to an end. By studying books and literature, the student is exercising their literacy skills and applying them in ways to examine the themes. This is why in my classroom, I often use unconventional texts, including movie trailers, advertisements and radio broadcasts. Yet, to some degree, this is still playing it safe.

There’s obviously a certain stigma with using videogames in the classroom. They’re so entertainment-oriented and, more specifically, product oriented that few would even be worth studying as a class. Bioshock is an exception, obviously, but more often than not, developers aren’t interested in making games that would require deep textual analysis. Not to mention that few people would understand why one would use videogames as a teaching tool – parents and administrators, specifically.