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Monthly Archives: August 2016

Dennis Cooper’s blog re-launched after Google censorship criticisms

Artist and author writes that tech firm will provide all Gmail correspondence and gif novel he was working on, and post data from site to new domain post-by-post.

Artist and author Dennis Cooper re-launched his popular blog on Monday after months of legal disputes with Google, who many accused of censorship.

The artist posted a message on the blogs Facebook account on Friday to explain Googles reasoning for erasing his 14-year-old blog, which housed a gif novel he was working on.

According to Cooper, someone had reported a post on DCs Blog, which was hosted on the Google-owned Blogspot, from 10 years ago as they felt it constituted child abuse images, and Google immediately deactivated his account.

The post was part of a Self-Portrait Day series in which Cooper asked users to send him things related to a topic he selected.

In 2006, I did one of those posts where I asked people to send me things they thought were sexy, he wrote on Facebook. Cooper said he placed the post behind an adult content warning after seeing some of the responses.

Coopers DCs Blog had been a prime destination for fans of experimental literature and avant garde writing. It was updated six times a week, highlighting film, fiction and music he enjoyed. Coopers work often depicts sexuality and violence in graphic terms, and some of the writing and images dealt with similar themes.

When his blog was removed without warning, it raised first amendment concerns in the art community, and many were worried he may have suffered censorship at the hands of Google.

Its just yet another means by which certain members of the government or certain internet conglomerates have decided to make it impossible for culture to be produced, Stuart Comer, a curator at MoMA and a longtime fan of Coopers work, told the Guardian when the site was first taken down.

Coopers troubles started two months ago when his Gmail was disabled without reason. He later attempted to log into his blog and received a notice saying it was suspended due to a violation of Googles terms of service. Cooper lost 10 years worth of correspondence in his emails, all his blogposts, and a gif novel called Zacs Freight Elevator, which was slated for release in the coming months.

Cooper told the Guardian that Google originally provided no explanation for taking down his site and didnt respond to the lawyers he enlisted; even Google employees who were fans of his work were unable to uncover what happened.

Cooper received an outpouring of support from fans of his work which resulted in several articles on the issue from international media outlets, a statement of support from PEN America and a petition to recover the blog.

According to Coopers Facebook post, Google began negotiating with his lawyer on 15 July and eventually agreed to provide all the data from his disabled blog, the data from his 10 years of correspondence in his Gmail account and his novel. The data from his site will be put up on a new site, post-by-post on a new domain, starting on Monday.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/aug/31/dennis-cooper-dcs-blog-relaunched-google-censorship

How to actually talk to a woman wearing headphones | Martha Mills

Martha Mills: How to talk to a woman wearing headphones, without seeming like a terrifying harasser.

An article has surfaced from the quagmire of bilge that is The Internet and it has caused, not without reason, a small tornado of outrage. Written as dating advice for The Modern Man (a misnomer if ever there were one), it promises a solution to the hot n horny down-on-their-luck young bucks of the world who face the tedious obstacle of a woman wearing headphones, because how dare she. And no, it isnt a parody.

You can read it in its full entitled glory, or stick with me as I dissect each grubby, jaw-dropping delusion of psychopathic awfulness. Its going to be quite a ride.

How to Talk to a Woman Who is Wearing Headphones

These days, many women walk around playing with a smartphone or tablet device and are often wearing headphones and listening to music at the same time.

Yet, that doesnt mean you cant talk to them.

Of course, not all women are open to being approached because not all women are single and looking.

However, if a woman wearing headphones is single and hoping to meet a boyfriend (or even a new lover), she will almost always be happy to take off her headphones to give you an opportunity to create a spark with her.

The author, one Dan Bacon, could have saved us all a lot of bother here by answering his How to with Dont. Sadly he seems to have missed some basic behavioural science here; you see, the very reason I and many other women wear headphones isnt as a trivial obstacle to some throbbing hormone mountain, nor as a challenge for those blessed with an abundance of ego. Its a defence. A defence against the aural onslaught of modern life and especially the leering advances of said throbbing hormone mountains. In short, we wear them because we dont want to be talked to. Its basic physics really – we fill our ear holes to stop you from getting in.

But back to Dan:

What to Do to Get Her Attention

1. Stand in front of her (with 1 to 1.5 meters between you).

2. Have a relaxed, easy-going smile.

3. Is she hasnt already looked up at you, simply get her attention with a wave of your hand. Wave your hand in her direct line of vision so she cant ignore it.

4. When she looks at you, smile and point to her headphones and say, Take off your headphones for a minute and pretend to be taking headphones off your head, so she fully understands.

If she doesnt understand (most women will), simply gesture that you want to talk to her by briefly pointing back and forth from you to her and say, I want to talk to you for a minute.

In most cases, you wont have to go to that extreme, but some girls are shy and will be hesitant to take the headphones off right away because they are feeling a lot of nervousness and excitement about what is happening.

5. Then, do what we call Acknowledging the Awkwardness by quickly mentioning something about the awkwardness of the moment (see the conversation example below), to demonstrate you understand that approaching a woman in this way isnt the most common of experiences for either party.

This helps put her at ease and know that you are a cool guy who she can relax and open up to.

I dont know if these five steps are a common thing, but I have personally experienced this several times. At step 1 I know what you are doing and Im ignoring you, hoping the ground will open up and take one of us to the depths of somewhere Hellish, which would be more pleasant than this situation is developing to be. By step 3 Im not feeling excited and Im not feeling flattered as Dan later tells his readers I will be – Im feeling harassed. Straight up, dictionary definition harassed.

By step 4 Ive learnt that you cant understand a basic body language brush-off and are therefore a direct threat to my personal safety. My brain is in fight or flight, checking for escape routes, its trying to figure out just how aggressively youre going to react to any further action I take to extract myself from a situation entirely not of my own making and it is praying they use a flattering photo of me on the news, not that one when my front-facing camera went off accidentally that time.

According to step 5, the fact you have bullied me into one of the most awkward and scary moments of my life makes you a cool guy. Mr Bacon clearly has trouble spelling. It begins with a t, Dan.

Heres Dans interpretation of how the conversation goes once a man has used his infallible five-point Jedi mind trick to bludgeon a woman from her blissful state of aural security:

You: [Smile in a friendly, confident manner] Hey I know its not normal for people to talk to someone with headphones in, but I was walking along and saw you and thought wow, shes a cutie, I have to say hi. Im Dan, whats your name?

Woman: [Usually flattered by the compliment and impressed by your confidence to approach her like that] Jessica.

You: [Add in some humor] Coolnice to meet you Jessica. I dont normally talk to girls with headphones, but your big green headphones were just calling out to me.

Woman: [Most likely laughing, smiling and enjoying the interaction].

You: [Let her know that you have something to do/somewhere to go, so she understands that youre not going to stand there talking to her for 30 minutes] Anyway, so Im just out doing a bit of shopping at the moment. Im on my way to a store up the street. Hows your day going so far?

In his scenario, Jessica has just been waiting her whole life to be blessed with the attention of a complete stranger who mistakes hunched shoulders, darting eyes and rictus for laughing and smiling.

Heres how it plays out in real life. Trust me, Ive been it, seen it and spoken to the survivors:

Him: I see you dont want to be talked to but I find you physically attractive and Im making that your problem.

Her: Please leave me alone.

Him: F*** YOU, YOU STUCK UP B****, I DIDNT FANCY YOU ANYWAY.

With advice like this out there, its hardly any surprise, is it? These lonely men so desperately in search of conquests have been given permission, blessed with the entitlement to go forth and pluck their bounty using but five humble steps. So imagine their horror and indignation when that which has been promised doesnt want to be plucked and tells them to sling their greasy hook.

Next Dan lists the five mistakes men make when approaching a woman who is wearing headphones. Sadly not one of them is to sod right off.

Points 1, 4 and 5 are fairly inoffensive, generic dating guff (be confident, be engaging, be flirty), but oh boy, just try and get your noggin round points 2 and 3.

2. Allowing her to ignore him

Headphones are a great barrier between a person and the rest of the world.

That being said, if a guy wants to get a womans attention he needs to show confidence by being determined to get her to stop listening to the music and chat to him to him.

If a guy has a weak vibe or presence about him, a woman usually wont give in to his request for her to remove the headphones.

Women love to test guys to see how confident they really are and a favorite test of women is to ignore a guys attempts to converse with her and see what he will do next. Will he walk away in shame, or will he remain calm and continue talking to her in a confident, easy-going manner?

This is her way of gauging his interest in her and also a way of determining whether he is mentally and emotionally strong enough for a girl like her.

If a guy gives up at the first sign of resistance, most women will be turned off by his mental and emotional weakness as a man.

3. Allowing her to take control of the interaction

No matter how confident or challenging a woman might behave, she still dreams of meeting a guy who is more confident than her. A woman doesnt want to be forced to control an interaction with a guy (i.e. call the shots, boss him around), but she will if she has to.

Controlling an interaction with a woman is not about bossing her around, being arrogant or being too assertive. Instead, you simply need to assume the role of the man and let her be the woman. In other words, make her feel girly around you because you think, behave and feel (your vibe) so masculine.

The advice here is basically No doesnt mean no, it means keep going until you get what you want – the screaming will stop eventually. Because apparently thats what women want – and forms the basis for a million rape defence cases. Trust me, when we tell you to go away we arent testing your measure as a man, were testing how quickly your legs can carry you in an offward direction.

Put Dans advice into any other scenario for the true jaw-drop factor: Shopkeepers may lock their doors at night, but if you want a pint of milk, just hammer on the door until they open up. Theyll be flattered.

I appreciate the world of mating is hard but please, for the love of humanity, learn this: just because you want, doesnt mean you can have. Women are not commodities to be hunted and won, and if you have no luck finding someone to bump pink bits with, thats your problem, not our fault for not adhering to the playbook rules. Its a playbook we never signed up for and its only a game if both teams actually know theyre playing.

Nowhere in his advice does Dan tell his frustrated man-babies how to handle rejection with grace, because the advice is simply not to accept it. This attitude is why I and countless other women have been been chased down the street, followed home, physically restrained, spat at, verbally abused and generally made to feel like garbage, merely for trying to exist.

So when, I hear the whiny pissbabies ask, when am I allowed to approach hot single women? Simple.

If a woman has her headphones in, the answer is never – and before you bleat on about ooh, what if theres a fire?, shell smell it, even through all your bulls**t. If youre in a bar or party, her flirtatious smile may be the come-on youre looking for, but be prepared to accept that you read it wrong, politely wish her a good evening and toddle back off out of her life without 20 minutes of awkward pawing, insisting she let you buy her a rohypnoltini. But how about this; take up a hobby, ask your friends if they know of someone looking to date or (brace yourself for a whopper of a revelation) if youre looking for a horde of single, eligible women all looking for friendship-maybe-more in one convenient place, try a dating site.

Anyway, coming soon from Dan Bacon, How To Talk To A Woman Through A Fog Of Pepper Spray. Probably.

Martha Mills is on Twitter as @mittendamour

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/science/brain-flapping/2016/aug/30/how-to-actually-talk-to-a-woman-wearing-headphones

The Anthropocene epoch: scientists declare dawn of human-influenced age

Experts say human impact on Earth is so profound that Holocene must give way to epoch defined by nuclear tests, plastic pollution and domesticated chicken.

Humanity’s impact on the Earth is now so profound that a new geological epoch the Anthropocene needs to be declared, according to an official expert group who presented the recommendation to the International Geological Congress in Cape Town on Monday.

The new epoch should begin about 1950, the experts said, and was likely to be defined by the radioactive elements dispersed across the planet by nuclear bomb tests, although an array of other signals, including plastic pollution, soot from power stations, concrete, and even the bones left by the global proliferation of the domestic chicken were now under consideration.

The current epoch, the Holocene, is the 12,000 years of stable climate since the last ice age during which all human civilisation developed. But the striking acceleration since the mid-20th century of carbon dioxide emissions and sea level rise, the global mass extinction of species, and the transformation of land by deforestation and development mark the end of that slice of geological time, the experts argue. The Earth is so profoundly changed that the Holocene must give way to the Anthropocene.

Geological periods

The significance of the Anthropocene is that it sets a different trajectory for the Earth system, of which we of course are part, said Prof Jan Zalasiewicz, a geologist at the University of Leicester and chair of the Working Group on the Anthropocene (WGA), which started work in 2009.

If our recommendation is accepted, the Anthropocene will have started just a little before I was born, he said. We have lived most of our lives in something called the Anthropocene and are just realising the scale and permanence of the change.

Prof Colin Waters, principal geologist at the British Geological Survey and WGA secretary, said: Being able to pinpoint an interval of time is saying something about how we have had an incredible impact on the environment of our planet. The concept of the Anthropocene manages to pull all these ideas of environmental change together.

High
High levels of nitrogen and phosphate in soils, derived from artificial fertilisers, could be taken as evidence of the onset of the Anthropocene. Photograph: Pascal Rossignol/Reuters

Prof Chris Rapley, a climate scientist at University College London and former director of the Science Museum in London said: The Anthropocene marks a new period in which our collective activities dominate the planetary machinery.

Since the planet is our life support system we are essentially the crew of a largish spaceship interference with its functioning at this level and on this scale is highly significant. If you or I were crew on a smaller spacecraft, it would be unthinkable to interfere with the systems that provide us with air, water, fodder and climate control. But the shift into the Anthropocene tells us that we are playing with fire, a potentially reckless mode of behaviour which we are likely to come to regret unless we get a grip on the situation. Rapley is not part of the WGA.

Martin Rees, the astronomer royal and former president of the Royal Society, said that the dawn of the Anthropocene was a significant moment. The darkest prognosis for the next millennium is that bio, cyber or environmental catastrophes could foreclose humanitys immense potential, leaving a depleted biosphere, he said.

But Lord Rees added that there is also cause for optimism. Human societies could navigate these threats, achieve a sustainable future, and inaugurate eras of post-human evolution even more marvellous than whats led to us. The dawn of the Anthropocene epoch would then mark a one-off transformation from a natural world to one where humans jumpstart the transition to electronic (and potentially immortal) entities, that transcend our limitations and eventually spread their influence far beyond the Earth.

The evidence of humanitys impact on the planet is overwhelming, but the changes are very recent in geological terms, where an epoch usually spans tens of millions of years. One criticism of the Anthropocene as geology is that it is very short, said Zalasiewicz. Our response is that many of the changes are irreversible.

Human
Human activity has left a permanent layer of airborne particulates in sediment and glacial ice. Photograph: Pool/Reuters

To define a new geological epoch, a signal must be found that occurs globally and will be incorporated into deposits in the future geological record. For example, the extinction of the dinosaurs 66m years ago at the end of the Cretaceous epoch is defined by a golden spike in sediments around the world of the metal iridium, which was dispersed from the meteorite that collided with Earth to end the dinosaur age.

For the Anthropocene, the best candidate for such a golden spike are radioactive elements from nuclear bomb tests, which were blown into the stratosphere before settling down to Earth. The radionuclides are probably the sharpest they really come on with a bang, said Zalasiewicz. But we are spoiled for choice. There are so many signals.

Other spikes being considered as evidence of the onset of the Anthropocene include the tough, unburned carbon spheres emitted by power stations. The Earth has been smoked, with signals very clearly around the world in the mid-20th century, said Zalasiewicz.

Another
Another candidate to be considered as evidence of the Anthropocene is plastic pollution. Photograph: Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images

Other candidates include plastic pollution, aluminium and concrete particles, and high levels of nitrogen and phosphate in soils, derived from artificial fertilisers. Although the world is currently seeing only the sixth mass extinction of species in the 700m-year history of complex life on Earth, this is unlikely to provide a useful golden spike as the animals are by definition very rare and rarely dispersed worldwide.

In contrast, some species have with human help spread rapidly across the world. The domestic chicken is a serious contender to be a fossil that defines the Anthropocene for future geologists. Since the mid-20th century, it has become the worlds most common bird. It has been fossilised in thousands of landfill sites and on street corners around the world, said Zalasiewicz. It is is also a much bigger bird with a different skeleton than its prewar ancestor.

The 35 scientists on the WGA who voted 30 to three in favour of formally designating the Anthropocene, with two abstentions will now spend the next two to three years determining which signals are the strongest and sharpest. Crucially, they must also decide a location which will define the start of the Anthropocene. Geological divisions are not defined by dates but by a specific boundary between layers of rock or, in the case of the Holocene, a boundary between two ice layers in a core taken from Greenland and now stored in Denmark.

The
The domestic chicken is a serious contender to be a fossil that defines the Anthropocene for future geologists. Photograph: Alamy

The scientists are focusing on sites where annual layers are formed and are investigating mud sediments off the coast of Santa Barbara in California and the Ernesto cave in northern Italy, where stalactites and stalagmites accrete annual rings. Lake sediments, ice cores from Antarctica, corals, tree rings and even layers of rubbish in landfill sites are also being considered.

Once the data has been assembled, it will be formally submitted to the stratigraphic authorities and the Anthropocene could be officially adopted within a few years. If we were very lucky and someone came forward with, say, a core from a classic example of laminated sediments in a deep marine environment, I think three years is possibly viable, said Zalasiewicz.

This would be lightning speed for such a geological decision, which in the past would have taken decades and even centuries to make. The term Anthropocene was coined only in 2000, by the Nobel prize-winning scientist Paul Crutzen, who believes the name change is overdue. He said in 2011: This name change stresses the enormity of humanitys responsibility as stewards of the Earth. Crutzen also identified in 2007 what he called the great acceleration of human impacts on the planet from the mid-20th century.

Despite the WGAs expert recommendation, the declaration of the Anthropocene is not yet a forgone conclusion. Our stratigraphic colleagues are very protective of the geological time scale. They see it very rightly as the backbone of geology and they do not amend it lightly, said Zalasiewicz. But I think we can prepare a pretty good case.

Rapley also said there was a strong case: It is highly appropriate that geologists should pay formal attention to a change in the signal within sedimentary rock layers that will be clearly apparent to future generations of geologists for as long as they exist. The great acceleration constitutes a strong, detectable and incontrovertible signal.

Evidence of the Anthropocene

Human activity has:

  • Pushed extinction rates of animals and plants far above the long-term average. The Earth is on course to see 75% of species become extinct in the next few centuries if current trends continue.
  • Put so much plastic in our waterways and oceans that microplastic particles are now virtually ubiquitous, and plastics will likely leave identifiable fossil records for future generations to discover.
  • Doubled the nitrogen and phosphorous in our soils in the past century with fertiliser use. This is likely to be the largest impact on the nitrogen cycle in 2.5bn years.
  • Left a permanent layer of airborne particulates in sediment and glacial ice such as black carbon from fossil fuel burning.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/aug/29/declare-anthropocene-epoch-experts-urge-geological-congress-human-impact-earth

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