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An Honest College Rejection Letter - McSweeney’s Internet Tendency
"Dear Applicant,

The Admissions Committee has carefully considered your application and we regret to inform you that we will not be able to offer you admission in the entering class, or a position on one of our alternate lists. The applicant pool this year was particularly strong, and by that I mean the Admissions Committee once again sent candidates like you multiple enticing pamphlets encouraging you to apply, knowing full well we had no intention of accepting you.

However, you will be pleased to know that you have contributed to our declining admissions rate, which has helped our university appear exclusive. This allows us to attract our real candidates: upper-class kids and certified geniuses who will glean no new information from our courses or faculty, whose parents can incentivize us with a new swimming pool or lacrosse stadium.

As a reminder, we don’t aspire to be a socially exclusive learning environment. In fact, we have chosen to actively pursue a more diverse campus and welcome all minorities. But our admissions program is quite unique; we combat past discrimination by discriminating in the present. It is one of the many techniques that our Nobel, Peabody, and Oscar award-winning faculty has helped to develop.

While we consider applicants from all backgrounds who excel both in and out of the classroom, we really want student savants who relentlessly pursue a single instrument, sport, or other activity. Unless you have written a New York Times bestseller, won first place in the Intel Science Fair, or cured type 1 diabetes using only solar power and a tampon string, we’ll put you at the bottom of the pool.

You may be wondering how a near-perfect SAT and ACT, a dozen perfect AP scores, and your presidency of four clubs did not distinguish you from the pack. Please know that we take many other factors into account as well, including socio-political-monetary context, Asian-ness of name, BMI, and modified-Rorschach (in which one of our assistants holds your application from across the room and we try to discern the outline of your profile).

You should also know that our committee did not fall for your attempts to look “humble” or “well-rounded.” Volunteering in developing countries is nice, but truly generous individuals volunteer to improve their local communities, while truly wealthy families buy a third-world country for their child to gentrify. We also realize that your extensive study of how “Novel cyclic di-GMP effectors of the YajQ protein family control bacterial virulence” was not influenced by your passion for “volunteering with the elderly,” nor was it anything but a résumé inflator. Most importantly, we know that your minimum-wage job did not teach you “patience, teamwork and leadership.” No one learns anything from minimum-wage jobs except how much they hate people and that they shouldn’t have majored in political science.

The reality is that we are no longer looking for students who are remarkable candidates for college; we are looking for people who have already made a difference, so that we can grow our list of impressive alumni. Your value to our college depends solely on your ability to attract future applicants. Since you are no Emma Watson or James Franco, we urge you to consider your acceptance letters from state universities and equally expensive second-tier schools, and commence nursing an inferiority complex for the rest of your life.

We sincerely hope that you find it in your heart to forgive us for not “seeing” your “full potential.” Please remember that we will need your tiger-parent instincts in approximately three decades when you push your own children to the brink of death, and once again help us boost our US News & World Report ranking.

Best,
Dean of Admissions"
education  colleges  universities  diversity  admissions  collegeadmissions  2019  satire  mimievans  selectivity  competition  rankings  highered  highereducation 
4 weeks ago by robertogreco
Michael Rosen: Recent squibs on education
"The thing is people didn’t know how to use emojis until the govt produced the Emoji Curriculum.

In the name of ‘raising standards’ but in reality bullying education into being a weapon in international competitiveness wars, the govt has unitised and monetised education. We shld reply with humanistic values to this onslaught.

Hey 4 year old, you are not a ‘4 year old’, you are a ‘stage’ , a developmental unit, a score on the way to being another score, a place on a graph, a monitored level, a number less than or more than another number...

“With his dark blue furry just-fitting, interesting hat on, which he had bought, he walked in.” = Good writing according to ‘Expected level’ National Curriculum.

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Children whose names are not phonically regular must not try to read or write their names in Nursery, Reception or Year 1 in case it hinders their learning of how the alphabetic code works. [irony alert]

If Nursery, Reception or Yr1 children ask to see the writing in a non-phonically regular book, or try to read a cereal packet or a road sign, firmly grip the top of their head and turn it away from the words in question. See Bold Beginnings for more advice on this.

Why do you write poems, Michael?
So that children can be graded according to how well they ‘retrieve ‘ and ‘infer’ on a right/wrong grid devised by people who don’t like poetry."
michaelrosen  education  children  school  unschooling  deschooling  schooling  learning  poems  poetry  2018  inference  literature  emoji  standards  standardization  satire 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Poe’s law explains why 2016 was so terrible.
"We will all remember 2016’s political theater for many reasons: for its exhausting, divisive election, for its memes both dank and dark, for the fact that the country’s first female presidential candidate won the popular vote by a margin of 2.8 million and still lost the election to an actual reality show villain.

But 2016 was also marked—besieged, even—by Poe’s law, a decade-old internet adage articulated by Nathan Poe, a commentator on a creationism discussion thread. Building on the observation that “real” creationists posting to the forum were often difficult to parse from those posing as creationists, Poe’s law stipulates that online, sincere expressions of extremism are often indistinguishable from satirical expressions of extremism.

A prominent example of Poe’s law in action is the March 2016 contest to name a British research vessel that cost almost $300 million. Participants railed—perhaps earnestly, perhaps jokingly—against the National Environment Research Council’s decision to reject the public’s overwhelming support for the name “Boaty McBoatface.” So too is the April spread of the “Trump Effect” Mass Effect 2 remix video, which resulted in then-candidate Donald Trump retweeting a video that may or may not have been a satirical effort to frame him as a xenophobic, fascist villain. June’s popular Harambe meme, in which a gorilla shot dead at the Cincinnati Zoo was embraced in the service of animal rights advocacy alongside Dadaist absurdity and straight-up racism, is another. In each case, earnest participation bled into playful participation, making it difficult to know exactly what was happening. A ridiculous joke? A pointed attack? A deliberate argument? Maybe all of the above?

The rise of the so-called alt-right—a loose amalgamation of white nationalists, misogynists, anti-Semites, and Islamophobes—provides a more sobering example of Poe’s law. White nationalist sentiments have metastasized into unequivocal expressions of hate in the wake of Trump’s electoral victory, but in the early days of the group, it was harder to tell. Participants even provided Poe’s law justifications when describing their behavior. A March 2016 Breitbart piece claimed the racism espoused by the “young meme brigades” swarming 4chan, Reddit, and Twitter was ironic play, nothing more, deployed solely to shock the “older generations” that encountered it. According to Breitbart, those propagating hate were no more genuinely bigoted than 1980s heavy metal fans genuinely worshiped Satan. The implication: First of all, shut up, everyone is overreacting, and simultaneously, do keep talking about us, because overreaction is precisely what we’re going for.

Perhaps the best illustration of this tension is Pepe the Frog, the anti-Semitic cartoon mascot of “hipster Nazi” white nationalism. The meme was ostensibly harnessed in an effort to create “meme magic” through pro-Trump “shitposting” (that is, to ensure a Trump victory by dredging up as much chaos and confusion as possible). But it communicated a very clear white supremacist message. The entire point was for it to be taken seriously as a hate symbol, even if the posters were, as they insisted, “just trolling”—a distinction we argue is ultimately irrelevant, since regardless of motivations, such messages communicate, amplify, and normalize bigotry. And normalized bigotry emboldens further bigotry, as Trump’s electoral victory has made painfully clear.

Poe’s law also played a prominent role in Facebook’s fake news problem, particularly in the spread of articles written with the cynical intention of duping Trump supporters through fabrication and misinformation. Readers may have passed these articles along as gospel because they really did believe, for example, that an FBI agent investigating Hillary Clinton’s private email server died mysteriously. Or maybe they didn’t believe it but wanted to perpetuate the falsehood for a laugh, out of boredom, or simply to watch the world burn. Each motive equally possible, each equally unverifiable, and each normalizing and incentivizing the spread of outright lies.

Hence the year’s plethora of outrageous election conspiracy theories—including the very false claim that Clinton was running a child sex trafficking ring out of Comet Ping Pong, a Washington, D.C., pizza restaurant. Pizzagate, as the story came to be known, like so many of the stories animating this weirdest of all possible elections, has a direct link both to 4chan and r/The_Donald, another hotbed of highly ambivalent pro-Trump activity. It is therefore very likely that the conspiracy is yet another instance of pro-Trump shitposting. But even if some participants are “just trolling,” other participants may approach the story with deadly seriousness—seriousness that precipitated one Pizzagate crusader to travel from his home in North Carolina to Comet Ping Pong with an assault rifle in order to conduct his own investigation, by opening fire in the restaurant.

And then there was Trump himself, whose incessant provocations, insults, self-congratulations and straight-up, demonstrable lies have brought Poe’s law to the highest office of the land.

Take, for example, Trump’s incensed reactions to the casts of Hamilton and Saturday Night Live, his baseless assertion of widespread voter fraud (in an election he won), and his unconstitutional claim that flag-burners should be denaturalized or imprisoned. Are these outbursts designed to distract the press from his almost incomprehensibly tangled economic conflicts of interest? Is he just using Twitter to yell at the TV? Is he simply that unfamiliar with well-established constitutional precedent? Is he, and we say this with contempt, “just trolling”?

The same kinds of questions apply to Trump’s entrée into foreign policy issues. Did he honestly think the call he took from the president of Taiwan was nothing more than pleasantries? (His advisers certainly didn’t think so.) Does he sincerely not remember all the times Russian hacking was discussed—all the times he himself discussed the hacks—before the election? Does he truly believe the Russian hacking story is little more than a pro-Clinton conspiracy?

It’s unclear what the most distressing answers to these questions might be.

Poe’s law helps explain why “fuck 2016” is, at least according to the A.V. Club, this year’s “definitive meme.” Content subsumed by Poe’s law is inherently disorienting, not unlike trying to have an intense emotional conversation with someone wearing dark sunglasses. Not knowing exactly what you’re looking at, and therefore what to look out for, obscures how best to respond in a given moment. More vexingly, it obscures what the implications of that response might be.

Take Pizzagate. If proponents of the theory genuinely believe that Clinton is running an underage sex ring out of a Washington, D.C., pizza shop, it makes absolute sense to debunk the rumor, as often and as loudly as possible. On the other hand, if the story is a shitpost joke, even to just some of those perpetuating it, then amplification might ultimately benefit the instigators and further harm those caught in their crosshairs (in this case both literally and figuratively).

Further complicating this picture, each new instance of amplification online, regardless of who is doing the sharing, and regardless of what posters’ motivations might be, risks attracting a new wave of participants to a given story. Each of these participants will, in turn, have similarly inscrutable motives and through commenting on, remixing, or simply repeating a story might continue its spread in who knows what directions, to who knows what consequences.

As the above examples illustrate, the things people say and do online have indelible, flesh-and-blood implications (looking at you, Paul Ryan). Heading into 2017, it is critical to strategize ways of navigating a Poe’s law–riddled internet—particularly as PEOTUS mutates into POTUS.

One approach available to everyone is to forcefully reject the “just trolling,” “just joking,” and “just saying words” excuses so endemic in 2016. In a given context, you may be “just trolling,” “just joking,” or “just saying whatever,” because you have the profound luxury of dismissing the embodied impact of your words. It may also be the case that the people in your immediate circle might get the troll, or joke, or words, because they share your sense of humor and overall worldview.

But even if you and your immediate circle can decode your comments, your troll or joke or words can be swept into the service of something else entirely, for audiences who know nothing of the context and who have exactly zero interest in both your sense of humor and overall worldview.

In short, regardless of anyone’s self-satisfied “don’t blame me, I was just X-ing,” all actions online have consequences—at least the potential for consequences, intended or otherwise. So for god’s sake, take your own words seriously."
whitnetphillips  ryanmilner  fakenews  media  facebooks  google  extremism  nathanpoe  poe'slaw  creationism  satire  sarcasm  internet  memes  shitpoting  pepethefrog  conspiracytheories  conspiracy  discourse  twitter  socialmedia  news  newscycle  donaldtrump  2016 
january 2017 by robertogreco
The Passable Designer – Breathtakingly honest coverage of the world's least self-absorbed industry
[via: https://eyeondesign.aiga.org/the-seriously-lighter-side-of-design-criticism-3-sites-that-actually-make-it-a-pleasure-to-read/

"Imagine The Onion on design. The Passable Designer is a satirical news site that offers “breathtakingly honest coverage of the world’s least self-absorbed industry”. London-based product designer Zander Brade began the site in October 2015 when he got tired of his daily life as a designer.

“I was far more interested in writing prose or singing songs with my guitar, which still remains the case because that’s really cool, but Passable became a healthy vessel for projecting my professional disdain—an incestuous, slithering marriage of my interests in design and literature, a love story for the ages,” he said in an e-mail interview.

From a report on how boring a group of designers’ conversation about Comic Sans is to another piece on an incredibly talented female designer being turned down for a job because of “some reason that’s not obvious at all,” Brade delivers some serious critique that hits home after you finish laughing at how ridiculously true the situation is.

Contrary to his fears that readers will be offended (he says he prefers to be punched in the face rather than sued), he says people actually like what he’s written. “I fear it could all be a grand (though rather depressing) prank, and I’ll leave my apartment one day to hundreds of designers in button-downs and overpriced jeans laughing at me for using the wrong grid system on the site,” he says."]
design  satire  criticism  designcriticism  humor  zanderbrade 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Nature Rx
"Tired, irritable, stressed out? Try Nature! This non-harmful prescription is shown to relieve the crippling symptoms of modern life. Side effects may include confidence, authenticity, and being in a good mood for no apparent reason."

"CAUTION: Nature may cause you to slow down, quit your job, or seriously consider what the f#%k you are doing with your life."
nature  satire  wellbeing  comedy  life  living  depression  stress  modernity  video 
august 2015 by robertogreco
Why are teachers cheating the American school system? This videogame will explain - Kill Screen - Videogame Arts & Culture.
"Children are the worst. They have needs and wants and a complete inability to distinguish between the two. Pity the poor teachers tasked with educating these indolent creatures. Their jobs would be much easier if these pesky students lost all of their child-like qualities.

PUPILS HAVE BEEN MAGICALLY TRANSFORMED INTO TEST-TAKING PINEAPPLES. 

Subaltern Games’ No Pineapple Left Behind, which just released its alpha trailer, will let you live out this pedagogical dream. You are the principal of a school where, by a magical intervention, the pupils have been transformed into test-taking pineapples. Their prowess in passing exams brings the school money. If left unsupervised, however, the pineapples revert to being kids with personalities and interests that keep them from studying. So what do you, as the principal, do?

[game trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=twimJX7O7H4 ]

No Pineapple Left Behind’s title is a joking reference to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002. The crueler joke, however, is that the No Child Left Behind Act has proven to be a game in its own right. Rules—whether politicians or game developers impose them—create a series of incentives that shape human behavior. No Child Left Behind established a system of financial penalties and rewards for American schools. Failure to meet proscribed standards would result in reduced funding. This makes some sense as an abstract economic theory, but try telling a teacher with struggling students that the answer is less support. Thirteen years on, it’s clear that a policy designed to foster higher educational standards has encouraged a subset of America’s teachers to game the system.

The most famous example of this phenomenon took place in Atlanta, where eleven teachers and administrators were recently convicted on multiple felony charges after it was discovered that they systematically altered test results. One of the teachers, Damany Lewis, told The New Yorker’s Rachel Aviv "I'm not going to let the state slap [students] in the face and say they're failures." This attitude is hardly confined to Atlanta. In 2013, the Government Accountability Office reported, "40 states detected potential cheating during the past two school years and 33 states confirmed at least one instance of cheating."

“40 STATES DETECTED POTENTIAL CHEATING."

Of course, gaming the system can have less criminal meanings. Teaching to tests, for instance, is the logical outcome of a system that puts tremendous emphasis on end-of-year standardized exams. This, too, arguably comes at the cost of forms of learning that are not as easily quantified.

There is very little humour to be found in America’s education system, which consistently outspends much of the OECD only to produce average or below average outcomes as measured on the PISA index. If No Pineapple Left Behind can wring some humour from this political and ethical morass, more power to it. However, it might mean the game only manages to highlight the absurdist status quo."
standardizedtesting  testing  schools  schooling  education  gaming  videogames  subalterngames  nopineappleleftbehind  humor  satire  children  teaching  learning  howweteach  factoryschools  standardization  nclb  rttt  publicschools  pisa  absurdism  atlanta  cheating  economics 
april 2015 by robertogreco
The Funnies – The New Inquiry
"Rape cartoons are funny if it’s inconceivable to you that you could ever be raped. If you live in a bubble of gender privilege that insulates you from all consequences of rape culture.

AIDS jokes are funny if you’ve never loved someone who died of AIDS. If you live in a bubble that allows you not to know that millions of Africans died, thousands of gay men died, of criminal state indifference and denialism. Because they were, after all, only blacks and queers. Comedy material, not lives worth grieving.

Ebola cartoons are funny. Unless your partner is a public health doctor, forced to choose every day between treating patients without protective clothing or abandoning them to save her own life.

Cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed naked, on all fours, anus presented as target, are anti-clerical snigger fodder. Unless you and half the men and boys and boy children and baby boys you know and love are named Mohammed.

Unless you and your brothers, cousins, fathers, sons, friends are at daily risk of random causeless stop-and-frisks, patdown-gropes, strip-searches, cavity-searches inside Enlightened Fortress Europe. Because they can.

Unless your grandfather Mohammed was raped and castrated by the French in their concentration camps in Algeria.

Unless your mother survives daily harassment and threats of violence by Front National thugs in her banlieue by invoking the mercy of the Prophet on the ignorant.

Unless all the naked bodies in the Abu Ghraib torture photos look like you. Naked prone men, trailing blood, dragged on leashes by grinning US soldiers. Naked men piled in flesh sculptures by thumbs-up flashing, beaming young GIs. Naked brown Mohammed buttocks branded with cigarette burns like pointillist skin canvases. Mohammeds hooded and wired, bleeding from mouth and ears and anus, as their torturers laugh and strike poses. Naked violated men who look like you, like your brother, like your father, like the man your sweet baby boy will grow up to be.

Unless you and your friends pass around testimonies like dirty stories from survivors of CIA anal rape, also known as rectal rehydration. Survivors of Guantanamo oral rape, also known as force-feeding. Because you need to testify before they happen to you. This is survival lore.

Unless your little sister came home sobbing last week and screamed she would never go back to school, the school your parents dreamed for her before she was born. It took hours of coaxing and comforting to elicit why. The bully who makes her schooldays hell found a delicious new cruelty, one that follows her beyond school like an electronic ankle tag. He put that cartoon up on the classroom whiteboard, and the teacher left it there all day as a lesson in free speech."
#JeSuisCharlieHebdo  #JeSuisCharlie  2015  france  humor  satire  parody  shailjapatel  islamophobia  charliehebdo  abughraib  guantanamo  bullies  power  privilege  gender  religion  homophobia  colonialism 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Why I am not Charlie | a paper bird
"There is no “but” about what happened at Charlie Hebdo yesterday. Some people published some cartoons, and some other people killed them for it. Words and pictures can be beautiful or vile, pleasing or enraging, inspiring or offensive; but they exist on a different plane from physical violence, whether you want to call that plane spirit or imagination or culture, and to meet them with violence is an offense against the spirit and imagination and culture that distinguish humans. Nothing mitigates this monstrosity. There will be time to analyze why the killers did it, time to parse their backgrounds, their ideologies, their beliefs, time for sociologists and psychologists to add to understanding. There will be explanations, and the explanations will be important, but explanations aren’t the same as excuses. Words don’t kill, they must not be met by killing, and they will not make the killers’ culpability go away.

To abhor what was done to the victims, though, is not the same as to become them. This is true on the simplest level: I cannot occupy someone else’s selfhood, share someone else’s death. This is also true on a moral level: I cannot appropriate the dangers they faced or the suffering they underwent, I cannot colonize their experience, and it is arrogant to make out that I can. It wouldn’t be necessary to say this, except the flood of hashtags and avatars and social-media posturing proclaiming #JeSuisCharlie overwhelms distinctions and elides the point. “We must all try to be Charlie, not just today but every day,” the New Yorker pontificates. What the hell does that mean? In real life, solidarity takes many forms, almost all of them hard. This kind of low-cost, risk-free, E-Z solidarity is only possible in a social-media age, where you can strike a pose and somebody sees it on their timeline for 15 seconds and then they move on and it’s forgotten except for the feeling of accomplishment it gave you. Solidarity is hard because it isn’t about imaginary identifications, it’s about struggling across the canyon of not being someone else: it’s about recognizing, for instance, that somebody died because they were different from you, in what they did or believed or were or wore, not because they were the same. If people who are feeling concrete loss or abstract shock or indignation take comfort in proclaiming a oneness that seems to fill the void, then it serves an emotional end. But these Cartesian credos on Facebook and Twitter — I am Charlie, therefore I am — shouldn’t be mistaken for political acts.

Erasing differences that actually exist seems to be the purpose here: and it’s perhaps appropriate to the Charlie cartoons, which drew their force from a considered contempt for people with the temerity to be different. For the last 36 hours, everybody’s been quoting Voltaire. The same line is all over my several timelines: [image]

“Those 21 words circling the globe speak louder than gunfire and represent every pen being wielded by an outstretched arm,” an Australian news site says. (Never mind that Voltaire never wrote them; one of his biographers did.) But most people who mouth them don’t mean them. Instead, they’re subtly altering the Voltairean clarion cry: the message today is, I have to agree with what you say, in order to defend it. Why else the insistence that condemning the killings isn’t enough? No: we all have to endorse the cartoons, and not just that, but republish them ourselves. Thus Index on Censorship, a journal that used to oppose censorship but now is in the business of telling people what they can and cannot say, called for all newspapers to reprint the drawings: “We believe that only through solidarity – in showing that we truly defend all those who exercise their right to speak freely – can we defeat those who would use violence to silence free speech.” But is repeating you the same as defending you? And is it really “solidarity” when, instead of engaging across our differences, I just mindlessly parrot what you say?

But no, if you don’t copy the cartoons, you’re colluding with the killers, you’re a coward. Thus the right-wing Daily Caller posted a list of craven media minions of jihad who oppose free speech by not doing as they’re ordered. Punish these censors, till they say what we tell them to!

[image]

If you don’t agree with what Charlie Hebdo said, the terrorists win.

[image]

You’re not just kowtowing to terrorists with your silence. According to Tarek Fatah, a Canadian columnist with an evident fascist streak, silence is terrorism.

[image]

Of course, any Muslim in the West would know that being called “our enemy” is a direct threat; you’ve drawn the go-to-GItmo card. But consider: This idiot thinks he is defending free speech. How? By telling people exactly what they have to say, and menacing the holdouts with treason. The Ministry of Truth has a new office in Toronto.

There’s a perfectly good reason not to republish the cartoons that has nothing to do with cowardice or caution. I refuse to post them because I think they’re racist and offensive. I can support your right to publish something, and still condemn what you publish. I can defend what you say, and still say it’s wrong — isn’t that the point of the quote (that wasn’t) from Voltaire? I can hold that governments shouldn’t imprison Holocaust deniers, but that doesn’t oblige me to deny the Holocaust myself.

It’s true, as Salman Rushdie says, that “Nobody has the right to not be offended.” You should not get to invoke the law to censor or shut down speech just because it insults you or strikes at your pet convictions. You certainly don’t get to kill because you heard something you don’t like. Yet, manhandled by these moments of mass outrage, this truism also morphs into a different kind of claim: That nobody has the right to be offended at all.

I am offended when those already oppressed in a society are deliberately insulted. I don’t want to participate. This crime in Paris does not suspend my political or ethical judgment, or persuade me that scatologically smearing a marginal minority’s identity and beliefs is a reasonable thing to do. Yet this means rejecting the only authorized reaction to the atrocity. Oddly, this peer pressure seems to gear up exclusively where Islam’s involved. When a racist bombed a chapter of a US civil rights organization this week, the media didn’t insist I give to the NAACP in solidarity. When a rabid Islamophobic rightist killed 77 Norwegians in 2011, most of them at a political party’s youth camp, I didn’t notice many #IAmNorway hashtags, or impassioned calls to join the Norwegian Labor Party. But Islam is there for us, it unites us against Islam. Only cowards or traitors turn down membership in the Charlie club.The demand to join, endorse, agree is all about crowding us into a herd where no one is permitted to cavil or condemn: an indifferent mob, where differing from one another is Thoughtcrime, while indifference to the pain of others beyond the pale is compulsory.

We’ve heard a lot about satire in the last couple of days. We’ve heard that satire shouldn’t cause offense because it’s a weapon of the weak: “Satire-writers always point out the foibles and fables of those higher up the food chain.” And we’ve heard that if the satire aims at everybody, those forays into racism, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism can be excused away. Charlie Hebdo “has been a continual celebration of the freedom to make fun of everyone and everything….it practiced a freewheeling, dyspeptic satire without clear ideological lines.” Of course, satire that attacks any and all targets is by definition not just targeting the top of the food chain. “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges,” Anatole France wrote; satire that wounds both the powerful and the weak does so with different effect. Saying the President of the Republic is a randy satyr is not the same as accusing nameless Muslim immigrants of bestiality. What merely annoys the one may deepen the other’s systematic oppression. To defend satire because it’s indiscriminate is to admit that it discriminates against the defenseless."



"This insistence on contagious responsibility, collective guilt, is the flip side of #JeSuisCharlie. It’s #VousÊtesISIS; #VousÊtesAlQaeda. Our solidarity, our ability to melt into a warm mindless oneness and feel we’re doing something, is contingent on your involuntary solidarity, your losing who you claim to be in a menacing mass. We can’t stand together here unless we imagine you together over there in enmity. The antagonists are fake but they’re entangled, inevitable. The language hardens. Geert Wilders, the racist right-wing leader in the Netherlands, said the shootings mean it’s time to “de-Islamize our country.” Nigel Farage, his counterpart in the UK, called Muslims a “fifth column, holding our passports, that hate us.” Juan Cole writes that the Charlie Hebdo attack was “a strategic strike, aiming at polarizing the French and European public” — at “sharpening the contradictions.” The knives are sharpening too, on both sides.

We lose our ability to imagine political solutions when we stop thinking critically, when we let emotional identifications sweep us into factitious substitutes for solidarity and action. We lose our ability to respond to atrocity when we start seeing people not as individuals, but as symbols. Changing avatars on social media is a pathetic distraction from changing realities in society. To combat violence you must look unflinchingly at the concrete inequities and practices that breed it. You won’t stop it with acts of self-styled courage on your computer screen that neither risk nor alter anything. To protect expression that’s endangered you have to engage with the substance of what was said, not deny it. That means attempting dialogue with those who peacefully … [more]
censorship  france  islam  terrorism  charliehebdo  islamophobia  2015  scottlong  solidarity  freespeech  freedomofspeech  religion  violence  oppression  oneness  stereotypes  silence  satire  #JeSuisCharlieHebdo  #JeSuisCharlie 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Random thoughts on Charlie Hebdo | Snakes and Ladders
"1) I don’t think the most important question about what happened is “Do we support Charlie Hebdo?” I think the most important question is, “Do we support, and are we willing to fight for, a society in which people who make things like Charlie Hebdo can work in peace and sleep in their beds each night without fear?”

2) Freddie deBoer wrote,
Peter Beinart and Ross Douthat and Jon Chait and hundreds more will take the time in the week to come to beat their chests and declare themselves firmly committed to brave ideas like “murder is bad” and “free speech is good.” None of them, if pressed, would pretend that we are at risk of abandoning our commitment against murder or in favor of free speech. None of them think that, in response to this attack, we or France or any other industrialized nation is going to pass a bill declaring criticism of Islam illegal.


That last sentence is true enough, as far as it goes. But it doesn’t go nearly far enough. The measure of freedom of speech in a society is not simply a matter of what laws are or are not passed. We must also ask which existing laws are or are not enforced; and what self-censorship people perform out of fear that their societies will not or cannot protect them. Freddie writes as though freedom of speech can be adequately evaluated only by reference to the situation de jure; but there are de facto issues that must also be considered.

3) One of the more interesting comments on this whole affair is that of Giles Fraser:
In one sense an iconoclast is someone who refuses the established view of things, who kicks out against cherished beliefs and institutions. Which sounds pretty much like Charlie Hebdo. But the word iconoclast also describes those religious people who refuse and smash representational images, especially of the divine. The second of the Ten Commandments prohibits graven images – which is why there are no pictures of God in Judaism or Islam. And theologically speaking, the reason they are deeply suspicious of divine representation is because they fear that such representations of God might get confused for the real thing. The danger, they believe, is that we might end up overinvesting in a bad copy, something that looks a lot like what we might think of as god, but which, in reality, is just a human projection. So much better then to smash all representations of the divine.

And yet this, of course, is exactly what Charlie Hebdo was doing. In the bluntest, rudest, most scatological and offensive of terms, Charlie Hebdo has been insisting that the images people worship are just human creations – bad and dangerous human creations. And in taking the piss out of such images, they actually exist in a tradition of religious iconoclasts going back as far as Abraham taking a hammer to his father’s statues. Both are attacks on representations of the divine. Which is why the terrorists, as well as being murderers, are theologically mistaken in thinking Charlie Hebdo is the enemy. For if God is fundamentally unrepresentable, then any representation of God is necessarily less than God and thus deserves to be fully and fearlessly attacked. And what better way of doing this than through satire, like scribbling a little moustache on a grand statue of God.


I would love to agree with this, but can’t quite. All iconoclasm is not alike. Reading Fraser’s essay I found myself remembering Mikhail Bakhtin’s great essay “From the Prehistory of Novelistic Discourse,” in which he compares ancient and medieval parody with its modern equivalent.
Ancient parody was free of any nihilistic denial. It was not, after all, the heroes who were parodied, nor the Trojan War and its participants; what was parodied was only its epic heroization; not Hercules and his exploits but their tragic heroization. The genre itself, the style, the language are all put in cheerfully irreverent quotation marks, and they are perceived against a backdrop of contradictory reality that cannot be confined within their narrow frames. The direct and serious word was revealed, in all its limitations and insufficiency, only after it had become the laughing image of that word — but it was by no means discredited in the process.


By contrast, “in modem times the functions of parody are narrow and unproductive. Parody has grown sickly, its place in modem literature is insignificant. We live, write and speak today in a world of free and democratized language: the complex and multi-leveled hierarchy of discourses, forms, images, styles that used to permeate the entire system of official language and linguistic consciousness was swept away by the linguistic revolution of the Renaissance.” Parody for us is too often merely iconoclastic, breaking images out of juvenile delight in breaking, not out of commitment to a reality too heteroglot (Bakhtin’s term) to fit within the confines of standardized religious practices. I think Charlie Hebdo is juvenile in this way.

But feel free agree with that judgment or not — it’s not germane. As I said, the truly vital question here is not whether the magazine’s satire is worthwhile. The truly vital question is how badly — if at all — we want to live in a society where people who make such magazines can live without fear of losing their lives."
alanjacobs  charliehebdo  2015  satire  politics  gilesfraser  mikhailbakhtin  heroes  heroization  heteroglots  parody  society  freddiedeboer  freedom  #JeSuisCharlieHebdo  france  freespeech  freedomofspeech  islam  gravenimages  middleages  medieval  renaissance  power  language  linguistics  religion  #JeSuisCharlie 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Hace mucho que Charlie Hebdo no nos hacía reír, hoy nos hace llorar (Quartiers Libres) | Tus piolets. Mi fresadora
"No seamos hipócritas. Charlie Hebdo no es un amigo político. Desde hace años, se ha desviado al campo del pensamiento dominante y participa en el desarrollo de una islamofobia de izquierdas. En cambio, NADIE puede ni debe alegrarse de la ejecución de estxs periodistas. Nada puede justificar este acto en el contexto actual de Francia. Pero este ataque no debe hacer callar tampoco las críticas que se pueden hacer a Charlie Hebdo y a la prensa en general acerca de su línea de redacción y su humor islamófobo."

[translastion of http://quartierslibres.wordpress.com/2015/01/07/ca-faisait-longtemps-que-charlie-hebdo-ne-faisait-plus-rire-aujourdhui-il-fait-pleurer/

"Ne soyons pas hypocrites, Charlie Hebdo n’est pas un ami politique. Depuis des années, il a basculé dans le camp de la pensée dominante et participe au développement d’une islamophobie de gauche. Pourtant personne ne peut ni ne doit se réjouir de l’exécution de ses journalistes. Rien ne peut justifier cet acte dans le contexte actuel de la France. Mais cette attaque ne doit pas faire taire non plus les critiques à l’encontre de Charlie Hebdo et de la presse en général sur sa ligne rédactionnelle et humoristique islamophobe." ]
charliehebdo  #JeSuisCharlieHebdo  france  racism  freespeech  2015  islamophobia  edwardsaid  orientalism  freedomofspeech  satire  #JeSuisCharlie 
january 2015 by robertogreco
When cartoons upset the 'wrong people' - Opinion - Al Jazeera English
"I condemn the attacks on the cartoonists even though I don't agree with the publication's editorial slant, which I have often found to be hurtful and racist. Nevertheless, I would continue to stand for their freedom of speech…

Freedom of speech is a powerful weapon and one I have never fully had - but for those who do have it, I wish they would stop taking it for granted.

Instead, they ought to ask the right questions - the questions that need to be asked - rather than accusatory ones that fuel the stereotypes that have originated in mainstream media.

Their work must focus on conveying the right message. They must work towards bridging the gap - and not widening it."
charliehebdo  #JeSuisCharlieHebdo  france  racism  freespeech  2015  islamophobia  freedomofspeech  satire  cartoons  khalidalbaih  #JeSuisCharlie 
january 2015 by robertogreco
On Charlie Hebdo | Jacobin
"However, there is a wider narrative that is emerging in the rush to judgment, as news media attempt to stitch together details — at first entirely circumstantial— into an explanatory story. The assumption is that the killers are members of some sort of Islamist group, possibly linked to Islamic State, and are exacting political retribution for the publication’s regular satirical attacks on Islam by executing its journalists. And about that, I do have something beyond the obvious to say, just as a starting point.

The first point is that French President Francois Hollande declared this a “terrorist” attack very early on. Now, we don’t need to know any concrete details to understand the purpose of this. “Terrorism” is not a scientific term; it is inherently normative.

The uses of “terrorism” in such contexts are by now well understood. I suggested apropos the Woolwich killing that it functions as a narrative device, setting up a less-than-handful of people as a civilizational threat evoking stoic defense (of “British values,” “la république,” “the West,” etc). It justifies repressive and securitarian responses that tend to target Muslims as such, responses which in the United Kingdom chiefly come under the rubric of the government’s Prevent strategy.

The second is that there is already an enormous pressure, in this context, to defend Charlie Hebdo as a forceful exponent of “Western values,” or in some cases even as a brilliantly radical bastion of left-wing anti-clericalism.

Now, I think there’s a critical difference between solidarity with the journalists who were attacked, refusing to concede anything to the idea that journalists are somehow “legitimate targets,” and solidarity with what is frankly a racist publication."



"No, the offices of Charlie Hebdo should not be raided by gun-wielding murderers. No, journalists are not legitimate targets for killing. But no, we also shouldn’t line up with the inevitable statist backlash against Muslims, or the ideological charge to defend a fetishized, racialized “secularism,” or concede to the blackmail which forces us into solidarity with a racist institution."

[Also posted here: http://www.leninology.co.uk/2015/01/charlie-hebdo.html ]
charliehebdo  #JeSuisCharlieHebdo  france  racism  freespeech  2015  islamophobia  edwardsaid  orientalism  freedomofspeech  satire  richardseymour  #JeSuisCharlie 
january 2015 by robertogreco
In the Wake of Charlie Hebdo, Free Speech Does Not Mean Freedom From Criticism « The Hooded Utilitarian
"Now, I understand that calling someone a ‘racist asshole’ after their murder is a callous thing to do, and I don’t do it lightly. This isn’t ambiguous, though: the editorial staff of Hebdo consistently aimed to provoke Muslims. They ascribe to the same edgy-white-guy mentality that many American cartoonists do: nothing is sacred, sacred targets are funnier, lighten up, criticism is censorship. And just like American cartoonists, they and their supporters are wrong. White men punching down is not a recipe for good satire, and needs to be called out. People getting upset does not prove that the satire was good. And, this is the hardest part, the murder of the satirists in question does not prove that their satire was good. Their satire was bad, and remains bad. Their satire was racist, and remains racist. "

[See also commentary on Tumblr: http://finalbossform.com/post/107500460335/in-the-wake-of-charlie-hebdo-free-speech-does-not ]
charliehebdo  2105  satire  racism  france  terrorism  jacobcanfield  #JeSuisCharlieHebdo  freedomofspeech  punchingdown  power  supremacy  islamophobia  freespeech  #JeSuisCharlie 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Two — but only two — cheers for blasphemy - Vox
"Blasphemous, mocking images cause pain in marginalized communities. The elevation of such images to a point of high principle will increase the burdens on those minority groups. European Muslims find themselves crushed between the actions of a tiny group of killers and the necessary response of the majority society. Problems will increase for an already put-upon group of people."
matthewyglesias  charliehebdo  2015  freespeech  marginzalization  #JeSuisCharlieHebdo  freedomofspeech  satire  racism  islamophobia  #JeSuisCharlie 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Charlie Hebdo: This Attack Was Nothing To Do With Free Speech — It Was About War — Medium
"White people don’t like to admit it, but those cartoons upheld their prejudice, their racism, their political supremacy, and cut it how you will — images like that upheld a political order built on discrimination."



[Caption next to an image of a drone: "A ‘free speech’ machine. It looks for people who do not have enough free speech and them gives them some" ]
charliehebdo  2015  freespeech  power  discrimination  racism  prejudice  supremacy  freedom  extremism  politics  france  europe  #JeSuisCharlieHebdo  freedomofspeech  satire  islamophobia  #JeSuisCharlie 
january 2015 by robertogreco
#JeSuisCharlieHebdo? | AL JAVIEERA
"I. It’s surprising to have to spell out these notions, but here goes…

One can condemn violence and at the same time sustain a critical stance against Charlie Hebdo.

One can condemn the “asymmetric warfare” of masked gunmen and also reject racism, tyranny, and hate.

One can denounce cold-blooded massacres while also unsubscribe from the horrible, orientalist titillation of Charlie Hebdo cartoons and the mental passivity of liberalism.

----------

II. It is imperative, at this frightening intersection, to resist the coercive call to stand behind a vacuous, hypocritical, shallow slogan about “free speech.” The response to the horrible tragedy in Paris already seems to become folded into the same previous mode of thinking that enabled the magazine to exist and thrive. It is a mode in which there is no deliberation of better or worse ideas; just a liberal “freedom” excuse to embrace hate (albeit hate selectively applied, despite liberal disclaimers otherwise).

Western culture is arbitrary in its principles; it is arrogant, self-centered, and self-deluded about its respect and care for the weak and oppressed. A glance at statistics about drone strikes tells the story. Ebola tells the story. Palestine tells the story. The migrant labor building imperial stadia for futbol and Olympics tell the story. The fact that a hashtag like #BlackLivesMatter exists. The deportations of millions and deaths on the high seas…

This is a frightening moment — a moment charged with reactionary simplifications and reductions. These reductionisms serve a purpose. Among other things, the point is to ignore the very complex circulations through which the killers were likely trained, funded, armed, and recruited. If we explored these circulations, more than the usual suspects that might be rounded up in the coming hours or days would be implicated.

Instead, political doctrinaires murmur slogans about an ancient religious cause behind the killings. They equate vast social processes with merely “terror,” nothing more; and none of it has anything to do with the actual, mediatized and quite modern ways in which the operation came about. These dimensions must remain unthought and unimagined.

Who identifies with “#JeSuisCharlieHebdo,” and who does not? It is exactly at these points where one should resist and explore ideas more critically and openly and generously, but this is politically dangerous for the neoliberal parties.

III. The cartoonists and reporters killed earlier cannot speak now, obviously. The voicelessness of death never dies. It lives on in martyrdom. We thus create Western martyrs, ventriloquizing with their corpses. Sadly, the victims themselves are appropriated. The dead suddenly appear solemn. They are actually being used as blunt tools against dissenting thought and radical ideas. The morbid fascination with the dead falsely assures the living that life isn’t meaningless. But ironically, it has been Charlie Hebdo and many more who have been complicit with precisely such a cheapening of life. The response pathetically shows exactly how we live in such terrible times; in societies of alienation. I would post the images of the covers, but it is not worth it to continue giving them more views.

To work in collective and common ways against alienation requires critical thought and analysis. But huge forces exist to force closure, such as #JeSuisCharlieHebdo. The massive public spectacles in plazas are smoothly incorporated into these forces.

To make matters worse, our Western governments and corporations have operated in the spaces of totalitarianism: they’ve spied, bombed, tortured, and killed in (semi-)secrecy.

What can be said or done to counter the outpouring of craven solidarity with nothing but an abstract notion of “free speech”? This outpouring insults real people who have differences and needs, but seek to live together. It also closes down a discussion that builds on a true public knowledge, exposing all that is done in our names. #JeSuisCharlieHebdo is patently antithetical to collective and common life, alienating entire groups of people who never saw their lives represented in this rag. And it is therefore contradictory to abdicate power, as happens at these moments, to the states which have proven time and again to be incapable of facilitating this shared life."

[See also Javier's RTs assembled by Kenyatta: http://finalbossform.com/post/107505352430/twitter-users-resurrect-the-invalidating ]
javierarbona  2015  charliehebdo  racism  islam  hate  tyranny  liberalism  freedom  freedomofspeech  religion  freespeech  #JeSuisCharlieHebdo  hypocrisy  satire  islamophobia  #JeSuisCharlie 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Evgeny Morozov: Author of the Quixote?
" With just 4,000 words at his disposal in the New Yorker Morozov was generous to spend two of them evaluating Medina’s work in passing as an “entertaining history.” Two words might not sound like much, but The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (revised edition) summed up Earth and everyone on it as “mostly harmless.” Heck, I’ve seen posters for really bad movies that blew up fainter and shorter praise in huge letters (“Energetic!” Some guy you’ve never heard of – Huffington Post). Despite this clear signposting in the tenth paragraph some dimwits did not grasp that the piece was a book review. With what little respect might be due to them, this is clear their fault, not his. He simply did not have enough space “to repeat what was already obvious.” Let me observe in passing that Morozov is wasting his new piece on Tumblr. With a little editing it too could be published in the New Yorker. I suggest the “Shouts & Murmurs” section.

I have particular sympathy for Morozov as a glance at his Twitter feed over the past month shows that he is beset with idiots on all sides. People with paralyzed brains in startups. Events “about bullshit.” The silliness of Marshal McLuhan. The “stupidity” of Checky. The dullards who retweet him without recognizing his sarcasm. Bravest of all, a tweet observing “Got nothing to say? Add the word ‘ontology’ to it – at least, it will get published.” Perhaps he had, at that very moment in his research, come across Peter Galison’s classic paper “The Ontology of the Enemy: Norbert Weiner and the Cybernetic Vision.” His books tell a similarly moving story. As the only person in the world who is both intelligent and principled he puts a succession of idiots, hacks, and corporate shills to shame. It’s the lot of the genius to be unappreciated in his own lifetime.

His plight is captured eloquently by his twitter tagline, “There are useful idiots. Look around.” Let’s do that right now. All of you line up. Look left. Look right. One of you is an idiot. Probably that guy on your left. I think he’s drooling, but it’s hard to tell with the light down here. The woman on the right doesn’t look too sharp either. Chances are that they’re both idiots. Hell, I wouldn’t be shocked if all three of you are idiots. Some of you don’t even go to Harvard.

So, implausible as this might seem, here’s why I think Morozov is being unduly modest about his own immense potential. Over the past six months I’ve been conducting my own unpublished, unwritten, research project on a little known figure of the early twentieth century: Pierre Menard. Menard is remembered a prolific yet minor scholar, author of five monographs and a number of articles on a range of topics. Like Morozov he spread his talent widely.

Yet Menard’s true, and little acknowledged, genius lay in an entirely separate project. He was attempting a supremely audacious literary feat: reproducing Don Quixote without, and here comes the hard part, having read it since early childhood. He did not want to compose another Quixote —which is easy— but the Quixote itself. Needless to say, he never contemplated a mechanical transcription of the original; he did not propose to copy it. His admirable intention was to produce a few pages which would coincide—word for word and line for line—with those of Miguel de Cervantes. By the time of his death years of meticulous research had allowed Menard to independently reproduce significant portions of the text. He was one of the forgotten greats of world literature.

Menard’s challenge was more formidable that Cervantes’, just as Morozov faced a more difficult task than Medina. As Menard wrote, “To compose the Quixote at the beginning of the seventeenth century was a reasonable undertaking, necessary and perhaps even unavoidable; at the beginning of the twentieth, it is almost impossible. It is not in vain that three hundred years have gone by, filled with exceedingly complex events. Amongst them, to mention only one, is the Quixote itself.”

Looking side by side at identical passages from Menard and Cervantes it is clear that Menard’s was the greater accomplishment. To write in an alien tongue, three centuries later and still produce the same words was a remarkable and subtle triumph. Since Menard’s death none have dared to take up this challenge, but given his remarkable talent as a replicator of research I think Morozov might be able to finish the job. There are other parallels. Menard was drawn to Don Quixote as “an entertaining book.” Morozov’s research began with Medina’s “entertaining history.” Both authors transcended their sources by reproducing them.

They also share working methods. Menard spent sleepless nights scribbling thousands of draft pages, which he meticulously destroyed. As he noted, “the philosophers publish the intermediary stages of their labor in pleasant volumes and I have resolved to do away with those stages.” Only the brilliant end product remains. Morozov tweeted to an admirer that his method was “old school: most of is (sic) in my head and occasional notes in Open Office. I am blessed with good memory.”

Morozov’s ability to repeat interviews with Medina’s oral history subjects to reproduce the same quotes she used in her book is the surest sign of his readiness for this awesome challenge. Morozov mentions interviewing Flores and Brian Eno, but again his modesty is deceptive. I’m sure that he also interviewed Ángel Parra (quote p. 133) and Tomas Kohn (quote p. 132) to independently reproduce the remarks from their 2008 interviews with Medina that appear both in her book and in his article. He showed particular ingenuity in discovering that a quote Medina incorrectly attributed to a 2006 interview she conducted with Raul Espejo (quote p. 186 fn. 53, p. 288) was actually something that “one of Cybersyn’s directors remarked at the time.” Contemporary remarks are more historically reliable that those given decades later, so this is another way in which Morozov’s is a more profound historical contribution than Medina’s.

As Jorge Luis Borges noted in “Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote,” an entertaining history article, Menard believed that “Every man should be capable of all ideas and I understand that in the future this will be the case.” We live in that future, and Evgeny Morosov is our champion. It would be a crime for him to spend years working on a Ph.D. thesis with footnotes and the other accoutrements of mediocrity. Let him instead do what only he can do: take up the project of Menard and complete the Quixote.

There must be no more grumbling against this great and humble scholar. Cabal dismissed."
borges  evgenymorozov  satire  thomashaigh  2014  academia  writing  plagiarism  attribution  cybersyn  quixote  thenewyorker  research  footnotes  memory  pierremenard  edenmedina  donquixote  humor 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Humanity Surprised It Still Hasn’t Figured Out Better Alternative To Letting Power-Hungry Assholes Decide Everything | The Onion - America's Finest News Source
"Noting that it has had thousands of years to develop a more agreeable option, humankind expressed bewilderment this week that it has yet to devise a better alternative to governing itself than always letting power-hungry assholes run everything, sources worldwide reported.

Individuals in every country on earth voiced their frustration that, in spite of generations of mistreatment, neglect, and abuse they have suffered at the hands of those in positions of authority, they continue to allow control over the world’s governments, businesses, and virtually every other type of organization and social group to fall to the most megalomaniacal pricks among them.

“We’ve all seen what this system leads to, so you’d think that by now, someone, somewhere would have sat down and thought up another way to keep our societies functioning without giving all the power to arrogant, amoral dicks whose only concern is improving their own status,” said Mumbai software designer Ankan Rao, one of 7.1 billion humans who conveyed continued surprise that their species has so far proven incapable of formulating a method of governance that was even slightly more tolerable. “Everybody dislikes the people in charge and everybody knows they’re only serving their own personal agendas at the expense of everyone else, but we just keep allowing these jerks to make our decisions time and time again. And it’s not just here—it’s everywhere in the world.”

“Boy, maybe we shouldn’t do that anymore,” Rao added. “Anyone have any better ideas?”

Speaking with reporters, citizens across the planet unanimously expressed their bafflement at the consistency with which they either formally or informally select corrupt and self-obsessed sacks of shit for leadership roles in all facets of life, including positions atop corporate boards, judicial and legislative bodies, religious institutions, parent-teacher associations, the military, intramural softball teams, and international and national professional associations, as well as groups of friends deciding where to eat.

In addition, sources offered countless examples of the counterproductive and perplexing practice of entrusting power to the world’s least scrupulous individuals, ranging in scale from a domineering dictator who plunges his country into civil war in order to consolidate his power, to a Foot Locker shift manager who forces his subordinates to close up without him so that he can go home early.

Moreover, everyone across the planet acknowledged that the tradition of allowing an exploitative asshole to take charge of a given situation has been the principal system for group decision-making from the earliest formation of tribal societies to the present day, an admission that caused each member of the human race to either emit an exasperated sigh, shake his or her head, or mutter a profanity."
power  humor  satire  theonion  2014  careerism  authority  abuse 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Radio Ambulante: La Balada de Daniel D. Portado
En 1994, en medio de un debate tenaz sobre la migración en California, el caricaturista Lalo Alcaraz se inventó un nombre y un personaje: Daniel D. Portado. Veinte años después, D. Portado ha vuelto a cobrar relevancia.
via:javierarbona  danieldeportado  proposition187  laloalcaraz  california  immigration  satire  radioambulante  1994  telemundo  petewilson  2012  policy 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Inside the United States | GlobalPost
"GlobalPost goes inside the United States to uncover the regime’s dramatic descent into authoritarian rule and how the opposition plans to fight back."

"This is satire. Although the news is real, very little actual reporting was done for this story and the quotes are imagined. It is the first installment of an ongoing series that examines the language journalists use to cover foreign countries. What if we wrote that way about the United States? "
us  journalism  media  authoritarianism  mimicry  china  globalpost  petergelling  satire 
june 2013 by robertogreco
The ARPANET Dialogues
"an archive of rare conversations within the contemporary social, political and cultural milieu"

Vol. I
Published on 9 October 2010
ARPANET Test 1975 with Marcel Broodthaers, Jane Fonda, Ronald Reagan & Edward Said…

Vol. II
Published on 14 March 2011
ARPANET Test June 1976 with Samir Amin, Steve Biko, Francis Fukuyama & Minoru Yamasaki…

Vol. III
Published on 1 November 2011
ARPANET Test March 1976 with Joseph Beuys, Juan Downey, Rosalind Krauss & Henry Moore…

Vol. IV
Published on 4 March 2012
ARPANET Test April 1976 with Jim Henson, Ayn Rand, Sidney Nolan & Yoko Ono…"

[See also: http://meaning.boxwith.com/projects/the-arpanet-dialogues and http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/culturelab/2011/04/so-reagan-signs-into-this-chatroom.html ]
satire  humor  internet  darpa  donaldlupton  artdubai2011  manifesta8  1975  1976  yokoono  sidneynolan  aynrand  jimhenson  henrymoore  rosalindkrauss  juandowney  josephbeuys  minoruyamasaki  francisfukuyama  stevebiko  samiramin  edwardsaid  ronaldreagan  janefonda  marcelbroodthaers  conversations  culture  philosophy  politics  netart  history  arpanet 
december 2012 by robertogreco
In praise of Joanne Rowling’s Hermione Granger series
"And there we have it: The defining hero of our age is a girl who saves the day with her egalitarianism, love of learning, hard work, and refusal to give way to peer pressure. It’s hard to think of the Hermione Granger series as anything other than flawless. And yet — as fans constantly point out — there is a very big flaw in the series. You know who I’m talking about; it’s He Who Must Not Be Named, but we spell it H-A-R-R-Y.<br />
<br />
The character of Harry Potter is an obnoxious error in the Hermione Granger universe, made more obnoxious by his constant presence. It’s tempting to just write Harry off as a love interest who didn’t quite work out; the popular-yet-brooding jock is hardly an unfamiliar type. And, given that Hermione is constantly having to rescue Harry, he does come across as a sort of male damsel-in-distress.<br />
<br />
But, if we look closely, we can see that Harry is a parody of every cliche Rowling avoided with Hermione…"
feminism  satire  literature  harrypotter  jkrowling  hermionegranger 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Curtis gets Curtised | Abject [This is good.]
"I’m only one-third through Adam Curtis’s latest film, All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace, and as usual I am hooked in and provoked by his work. But as with his previous films, there is a certain something about how Curtis constructs his arguments… The way he picks out a distinct element or personal value and makes it the core value that explains EVERYTHING. Don’t get me wrong, I would describe The Century of the Self, The Power of Nightmares, and The Trap as essential viewing, and since his films are readily available online I hope lots of people watch them. He’s also a brilliant blogger.

But I can’t ignore that something feels off for me in his rhetorical concatenations… and this slick parody helps me to understand what that something is:"

[This video embedded: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1bX3F7uTrg ]
adamcurtis  satire  style  documentary  allwathedoverbymachinesoflovinggrace  via:leighblackall  bbc  2011  video  collagevideo  collage 
june 2011 by robertogreco
International Philosophy Sketch from Monty Python
"The Germans playing 4-2-4, Leibniz in goal, back four Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer and Schelling, front-runners Schlegel, Wittgenstein, Nietzsche and Heidegger, and the mid-field duo of Beckenbauer and Jaspers. Beckenbauer obviously a bit of a surprise there."
humor  philosophy  football  satire  film  montypython  wittgenstein  kant  nietzsche  heidegger  hegel  leibniz  plato  socrates  aristotle  archimedes  sophocles  ancientgreece  soccer  sports  futbol 
march 2011 by robertogreco
The Most Emailed 'New York Times' Article Ever | The Awl
Brilliant! Just a taste:

"At Yael Farms, Anna gets plenty of exercise. She spends the day herding ibex, drawing water from a well, and moving heavy stones. After a Deuteronomy-friendly dinner of figs, unleavened bread and honey-drizzled ibex, she practices her Mandarin. Like many of the ibex farms sprouting up across the northeastern United States, Yael offers an intensive Chinese-language immersion course.

“We speak Chinese here,” says Jones, the farm's co-owner. “It’s just smart business.” Foreign policy analysts like Wilbur Jenkins, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, think entrepreneurs like Jones have the right idea. “In China, children are being taught English in utero,” Jenkins says. “American teenagers better start catching up.”"
humor  nytimes  satire  writing  parenting  elitism  elite 
january 2011 by robertogreco
This is a news website article about a scientific finding | Martin Robbins | Science | guardian.co.uk
"In this paragraph I will state the main claim that the research makes, making appropriate use of "scare quotes" to ensure that it's clear that I have no opinion about this research whatsoever.<br />
<br />
In this paragraph I will briefly (because no paragraph should be more than one line) state which existing scientific ideas this new research "challenges".<br />
<br />
If the research is about a potential cure, or a solution to a problem, this paragraph will describe how it will raise hopes for a group of sufferers or victims.<br />
<br />
This paragraph elaborates on the claim, adding weasel-words like "the scientists say" to shift responsibility for establishing the likely truth or accuracy of the research findings on to absolutely anybody else but me, the journalist…"
parody  journalism  science  satire  humor  writing  reporting  media  classideas 
september 2010 by robertogreco
The Jean-Paul Sartre Cookbook [via: http://twitter.com/genmon/status/20415848302]
"We have recently been lucky enough to discover several previously lost diaries of French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre stuck in between the cushions of our office sofa. These diaries reveal a young Sartre obsessed not with the void, but with food. Aparently Sartre, before discovering philosophy, had hoped to write "a cookbook that will put to rest all notions of flavor forever.'' The diaries are excerpted here for your perusal."
jean-paulsartre  sartre  humor  existentialism  philosophy  parody  cooking  satire  recipes  food  literature  classideas 
august 2010 by robertogreco
What The Fuck Is My Social Media Strategy? [Generates buzzwordy strategy statements]
From the about page: "How to sound like a social media expert:

Mix together words from both columns to form sentences that make simple things sound more complicated than they are.

Voila, a fancy sounding "strategy" that you can put in your presentations.

The moral of the story? Social media should be about making brands more accessible to users. Not using fancy words."
bullshit  language  twitter  business  buzzwords  socialnetworking  socialmedia  humor  generator  media  satire  marketing  internet  strategy  advertising  2010  socialmediastrategy 
august 2010 by robertogreco
DavidByrne.com - Tree Drawings / Arboretum
"Drawing/diagrams in the form of trees, which both elucidate & obsfucate roots of contemporary phenomena & terminology. Sort of like borrowing evolutionary tree format & applying it to other, often incompatible, things. In doing so a kind of humorous disjointed scientism of mind heaves into view.

Published by McSweeney's...Straight from sketchbook, smudges & all, plus a 4-foot foldout guide. It’s an eclectic blend of faux science, automatic writing, satire, & an attempt to find connections where none were thought to exist—a sort of self-therapy, allowing the hand to say what the voice cannot. Irrational logic, it’s sometimes called. The application of logical scientific rigor * form to basically irrational premises. To proceed, carefully & deliberately, from nonsense, with a straight face, often arriving at a new kind of sense. The world keeps opening up, unfolding, & just when we expect it to be closed—to be a sealed, sensible box—it shows us something completely surprising."

[via: http://bobulate.com/post/849400482/blood-sweat-and-felt-markers ]
davidbyrne  information  design  visualization  infographics  culture  books  diagrams  art  maps  mcsweeneys  sensemaking  logic  diagramming  order  ordering  terminology  scientismofmind  fauxscience  automaticwriting  satire  connections  forcedconnections  irrationallogic  drawings 
july 2010 by robertogreco
We are respectable negroes: What Would U.S. History Look Like If It Were Written By Texas and Arizona?
Just a taste:

"1929–Great Depression begins. Tens of millions unemployed because of FDR’s failed economic policies. His New Deal introduces the nanny state, prolongs America’s economic collapse, and weakens the economy until Ronald Reagan renews America.

1941–Patriotic Japanese Americans volunteer to place themselves in gated communities so that America will be safe from Imperial Japan.

1941-1945–America enters and wins World War 2 singlehandedly because the French are cowards. Out of necessity, the United States drops atomic bombs on Japan.

1945-1965–A high point in U.S. history, as freedom and prosperity reign over all Americans.

1950–Senator Joseph McCarthy fearlessly highlights how America is infiltrated by communists from Russia and China. Big Hollywood and the liberal establishment are brought to their knees by his brave efforts."
arizona  capitalism  education  history  news  racism  satire  texas  us  classideas 
june 2010 by robertogreco
McSweeney's Internet Tendency: The Only Thing That Can Stop This Asteroid is Your Liberal Arts Degree. FAQ
"I need someone with four years of broad-but-humanities-focused studies, three subsequent years in temp jobs, and the ability to reason across multiple areas of study. ... Sure, you've never even flown a plane before, but with only ten days until the asteroid hits, there's no one better to nuke an asteroid.
mcsweeneys  liberalarts  humor  education  humanities  satire  academia  parody  science  writing 
may 2010 by robertogreco
Increasing Number Of Parents Opting To Have Children School-Homed | The Onion - America's Finest News Source
"According to a report released Monday by the U.S. Department of Education, an increasing number of American parents are choosing to have their children raised at school rather than at home.
homeschool  parenting  theonion  humor  education  schools  satire 
march 2010 by robertogreco
Molleindustria
"Molleindustria aims to reappropriate video games as a popular form of mass communication. Our objective is to investigate the persuasive potentials of the medium by subverting mainstream video gaming clichè (and possibly have fun in the process)."
activism  mcdonalds  videogames  seriousgames  satire  comics  design  culture  politics  religion  gaming  media  netart 
march 2010 by robertogreco
The Gervais Principle II: Posturetalk, Powertalk, Babytalk and Gametalk
"We began this analysis of corporate life by exploring a theoretical construct (the Gervais Principle) through the character arcs of Michael and Ryan in The Office. The construct and examples provide a broad-strokes treatment of the why of the power dynamics among sociopaths, the clueless and losers. This helps us understand how the world works, but not how to work it. So let me introduce you to the main skill required here, mastery over the four major languages spoken in organizations, among sociopaths, losers and the clueless. I’ll call the four languages Posturetalk, Powertalk, Babytalk and Gametalk. Here’s a picture of who speaks what to whom. Let’s use it to figure out how to make friends and influence people, Office style."
theoffice  politics  culture  economics  psychology  capitalism  humor  management  satire  work  business  sociology  people  dilbert  television  tv  life  society  language  communication  power  cv  leadership  administration  gervaisprinciple 
november 2009 by robertogreco
The Gervais Principle, Or The Office According to “The Office”
"Hugh MacLeod’s cartoon is a pitch-perfect symbol of an unorthodox school of management based on the axiom that organizations don’t suffer pathologies; they are intrinsically pathological constructs. Idealized organizations are not perfect. They are perfectly pathological. So while most most management literature is about striving relentlessly towards an ideal by executing organization theories completely, this school, which I’ll call the Whyte school, would recommend that you do the bare minimum organizing to prevent chaos, and then stop. Let a natural, if declawed, individualist Darwinism operate beyond that point. The result is the MacLeod hierarchy. It may be horrible, but like democracy, it is the best you can do. The “sociopath” layer comprises the Darwinian/Protestant Ethic will-to-power types who drive an organization to function despite itself..."

[Full series here: http://www.ribbonfarm.com/the-gervais-principle/ ]

[Of note: "Gervais Principle questioned: MacLeod’s hierarchy, the Technocrat, and VC startups" http://michaelochurch.wordpress.com/2013/02/19/gervais-principle-questioned-macleods-hierarchy-the-technocrat-and-vc-startups/ ]
theoffice  politics  culture  economics  psychology  capitalism  humor  management  satire  work  business  sociology  people  dilbert  television  tv  life  power  society  cv  leadership  administration  gervaisprinciple 
november 2009 by robertogreco
6-Year-Old Stares Down Bottomless Abyss Of Formal Schooling | The Onion - America's Finest News Source
"Basic math—which the child has blissfully yet to learn—clearly demonstrates that the number of years before he will be released from the horrifying prison of formal schooling, is more than twice the length of time he has yet existed. According to a conservative estimate of six hours of school five days a week for nine months of the year, Bolduc faces an estimated 14,400 hours trapped in an endless succession of nearly identical, suffocating classrooms.
education  schools  schooling  humor  compulsory  satire  irony  cynicism  children  society  parenting  kids  theonion  existentialism 
october 2009 by robertogreco
Fool's World Map | Fool's USA Map
"This is a project visualizing the world map which many fools in the world imagine.

If you can see this map comfortably, you are definitely a fool."
maps  mapping  humor  geography  satire  culture  us  world  ignorance 
september 2009 by robertogreco
i-wood with blazing 3B technology
"a reaction to everyone using their i-phones/blackberries/other devices in the most irritating ways...to use when your friends/enemies/passing acquaintances are being jerks with their hand-held technology." Features: Web: "Hey, didn’t you need to check and see when the movie started? Now with the i-wood’s built in web connectivity you can not only check when your movie starts but when every movie starts ever. Or check when all future movies will start until the end of time because we all need more useless information at the tips of our fingers. In fact use the web for what it’s really for... porn, glorious porn. Go ahead and look at it in public there is no shame left in your soul anyway, just do it." Applications: Meeting ignore: "Now when you are in a meeting you have a reason to ignore everything that is being talked about. Who cares if they are telling you something important. The Meeting Ignore application gives you the right to be as rude as possible."
iphone  humor  sarcasm  meetings  society  etiquette  satire  iwood  technology 
may 2009 by robertogreco
McSweeney's Internet Tendency: Internet-Age Writing Syllabus and Course Overview.
"Writing for Nonreaders in the Postprint Era focuses on the creation of short-form prose that is not intended to be reproduced on pulp fibers. ... Literary works, including the online table of contents of the Huffington Post's Complete Guide to Blogging, will serve as models to be skimmed for thorough analysis. Also, Perez Hilton's Twitter feed. ... Attendance: Unnecessary, but students should be signed onto IM and/or have their phones turned on. ... Evaluation: Students will be graded on the RBBEAW (Raised by Boomers, Everyone's a Winner) system, developed to assess and score students based on their own relative merit.

A+ = 100–90
A = 89–80
A- = 79–70
A-- = 69–60
A--- = 59–50
A---- = 49–0"
facebook  twitter  postprint  online  humor  mcsweeneys  literature  writing  reading  geny  microblogging  satire  internet  blogging  attention  blogs  culture  education  teaching 
april 2009 by robertogreco
When 21st-Century Schooling Just Isn't Good Enough
"One last point. We will of course continue to talk earnestly about the need for a curriculum that features “critical thinking” skills – by which we mean the specific proficiencies acceptable to CEOs. But you will appreciate the need to delicately discourage real critical thinking on the part of students, since this might lead them to pose inconvenient questions about the entire enterprise and the ideology on which it’s based. There’s certainly no room for that in the global competitive economy of the future. Or the present."

[via: http://education.change.org/blog/view/standardized_incoherence ]
alfiekohn  snark  21stcenturyskills  schools  education  economics  21stcentury  competitiveness  satire  skills  humor  tcsnmy 
february 2009 by robertogreco
Reverend Billy & The Church of Stop Shopping
"Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir believe that Consumerism is overwhelming our lives. The corporations want us to have experiences only through their products. Our neighborhoods, "commons" places like stoops and parks and streets and libraries, are disappearing into the corporatized world of big boxes and chain stores. But if we "back away from the product" – even a little bit, well then we Put The Odd Back In God! The supermodels fly away and we're left with our original sensuality. So we are singing and preaching for local economies and real – not mediated through products – experience. We like independent shops where you know the person behind the counter or at least –you like them enough to share a story.We ask that local activists who are defending themselves against supermalls, nuke plants, gentrification – call us and we'll come and put on our "Fabulous Worship!" Remember children... Love is a Gift Economy! — The Rev"
art  culture  politics  economics  consumption  shopping  culturejamming  humor  sustainability  capitalism  consumerism  satire  performance 
november 2008 by robertogreco
McSweeney's Internet Tendency: Atlas Shrugged Updated for the Current Financial Crisis.
""I heard the thugs in Washington were trying to take your Rearden metal at the point of a gun," she said. "Don't let them, Hank. With your advanced alloy and my high-tech railroad, we'll revitalize our country's failing infrastructure and make big, virtuous profits."
politics  economics  bailout  crisis  2008  aynrand  libertarianism  objectivism  atlasshrugged  mcsweeneys  humor  finance  capitalism  satire 
november 2008 by robertogreco
Poe's Law - RationalWiki
"Poe's Law relates to fundamentalism, and the difficulty of identifying actual parodies of it. It suggests that, in general, it is hard to tell fake fundamentalism from the real thing, since they both sound equally ridiculous. The law also works in reverse: real fundamentalism can also be indistinguishable from parody fundamentalism. For example, some conservatives consider noted homophobe Fred Phelps to be so over-the-top that they think he's a "deep cover liberal" trying to discredit more mainstream homophobes."
humor  religion  fundamentalism  creationism  sarcasm  satire  parody  skepticism 
november 2008 by robertogreco
John McCain's Big Acceptance Speech | The Daily Show | Comedy Central
On the echos of George W. Bush's campaign speeches promising change to be found John McCain's acceptance speech
jonstewart  humor  sarahpalin  elections  2008  johnmccain  republicans  politics  thedailyshow  satire  georgewbush 
september 2008 by robertogreco
6-Year-Old Stares Down Bottomless Abyss Of Formal Schooling | The Onion - America's Finest News Source
"Local first-grader Connor Bolduc, 6, experienced the first inkling of a coming lifetime of existential dread Monday upon recognizing his cruel destiny to participate in compulsory education for the better part of the next two decades, sources reported. "I don't want to go to school," Bolduc told his parents, the crushing reality of his situation having yet to fully dawn on his naïve consciousness. "I want to play outside with my friends."...Bolduc faces an estimated 14,400 hours trapped in an endless succession of nearly identical, suffocating classrooms. This nightmarish but undeniably real scenario does not take into account additional time spent on homework, extracurricular responsibilities, or college, sources said."
theonion  humor  satire  schools  schooling  education  learning  unschooling  deschooling  children  society  homeschool 
august 2008 by robertogreco
Art MoCo: Boring boring boring boring boring boring boring
"Boring boring boring boring boring boring boring by Zach Plague is anything but. This first novel is a fanstastic satire of youth in the art world that spoofs artists, art schools, collectors, gallerists, art terrorists and just about everyone else. In addition to being a good read into the world of 19 year olds with attitude to spare, Boring Boring is a visual treat. The typography and graphic design are an integral part of the plot."
books  art  via:regine  education  artschools  satire  novels  literature  unschooling  deschooling  artschool 
august 2008 by robertogreco
Baby’s First Internet - The Morning News
"Not sure how to explain the internet to your young ones? Presenting a series of nursery rhymes to teach children how to comport themselves on the online."
netiquette  internet  humor  comics  culture  parody  blogosphere  blogging  flickr  children  classideas  etiquette  commentary  criticism  satire  kids  online  web  via:russelldavies 
july 2008 by robertogreco
Would you work with micromanaging boss, no salary, and all your work thrown away? ԅ Hacking Startups
"If you think the coming nuclear winter will make job market tough for employees, you need to hear about the job offer my daughter got recently...no job description: just do what you’re told...rigid workweek, but then you’re expected to work from home
humor  schools  schooling  education  homeschool  unschooling  deschooling  work  jobs  learning  reform  lcproject  satire 
july 2008 by robertogreco
YouTube - I'm Voting Republican
"www.ImVotingRepublican.com A satirical look at dedicated republican's reasons for voting their party."
elections  humor  satire  republicans  2008  video  politics  us  government 
june 2008 by robertogreco
Read at Work
"Read At Work turns your desktop into a full screen, realistic PC looking desktop with folders, start button, recycle bin, the works. The kicker is the all the folders contain writings of famous authors and New Zealand locals."
reading  books  literature  subversion  desktop  ebooks  fiction  classics  applications  humor  simulations  satire  powerpoint  parody 
june 2008 by robertogreco
a nonist public service pamphlet: What everyone should know about blog depression
"we here at the nonist have spoken before about the “blog life crisis" which is a natural part of any blog’s life-span. what we turn our attention to now, however, is the more insidious, prolonged strain of dissatisfaction which stays with a blogger, right below the surface, throughout a blog’s lifetime. the diligent and self aware blogger can resist this destructive undercurrent, make changes, adapt, rationalize, but for many, untreated, it can cause much needless suffering in the form of full fledged blog depression.

below you will find a 6 page pamphlet meant as a public service to help educate bloggers about this growing problem. feel free to download the complete pdf and disseminate this work to those you know and love. otherwise click each to see the larger version. “the more you know...”"
blogging  addiction  humor  depression  satire  burnout  productivity  psychology  nonist 
april 2008 by robertogreco
stevenf.com: Trees Reviewed
"Trees. It seems like you see them everywhere these days. But are trees viable in the long-term, or just another flash-in-the-pan fad for the under-30 crowd?"
reviews  trees  writing  satire  via:kottke 
january 2008 by robertogreco
S.O.F.T.
"It's Time to Stand Up For Bad Teachers"
satire  teaching  schools  politics  unions 
november 2007 by robertogreco
I Am Making a Difference (Ftrain.com)
"That barbecue sizzle? Locally raised (ten miles from home), humanely slaughtered heirloom pandas."
humor  politics  satire  environment  green  paulford 
september 2007 by robertogreco

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