Flight Pattern.

A ballet about the plight of refugees, commissioned for the Royal Opera House, has been showered with five star reviews and described with words like potent and sombre. It’s the work of the Canadian Crystal Pite who has built a reputation as one of the most respected choreographers of her generation – and who is the first woman to have created a new work for the Royal Ballet in almost two decades. It’s titled ‘Flight Pattern’ and Kirsty Wark went to speak to her about using dance to engage in a difficult harrowing subject.

Beautiful and so very poignant. I wish I could see this in person.

The Mental Cost of The Regime.

Tucker Viemeister.

Tucker Viemeister.

Before I get started, Snowflakes, melting, yeah, yeah, yeah. If you’re one of those people, stuff it, because you have your safe spaces, triggers, and melting points too. I certainly can’t say I’m happy with the shift into fascism, only fucking idiots are happy about that one, and I certainly answer to Tiny Tyrant Fatigue Syndrome, but outside of that, I’m doing okay. More or less. (Currently escaping into work, as I look down and see I’ve gotten paint all over my keyboard. Pretty!) Anyroad, the Regime is taking its toll on the mental and emotional health of too many Americans, so I guess it’s a really good thing the Fuck You Care Plan failed. If you do find yourself depressed, anxious, panicky, whatever, don’t be silly about it, reach out, and get help.

The White House occupants also remain steadfastly committed to wreaking havoc on our mental states. As Republicans pushed an insurance bill that would have done lasting damage to Americans’ mental and behavioral health well-being, clinicians reported the psychic wages of the Trump war against U.S. citizens. “Add up the additional medications prescribed, extra ER visits, delayed procedures, missed work, plus the fallout from other illnesses being relegated to the back burner, and you have the makings of a major medical toll from this election,” Danielle Ofri, a physician at Bellevue Hospital and professor of medicine at New York University, warned at Slate.

So how exactly is Trump harming our mental states in this moment and for the foreseeable future? Here are five ways, representing just a drop in the bucket, if that bucket were dropped in the middle of the Pacific ocean.

Head on over to Raw Story for the full article.

Facts Be Damned. Oh, And Fuck Women.

White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon listens at right as President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting in the White House on January 31. CREDIT: AP Photo/Evan Vucci.

White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon listens at right as President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting in the White House on January 31. CREDIT: AP Photo/Evan Vucci.

One of the uglier aspects of the ‘new’ Muslim ban is a focus on ‘honor killings’, even though that’s not a massive problem here in uStates, but it’s a convenient thing to rail about when you’re attempting to incite a racial panic. Just how much the Regime does not care about victims of honor killings is highlighted by the fact that the Violence Against Women grants are going to be eliminated, even though roughly 1,500 women are murdered as a result of domestic violence per year. It should not be ignored that both Trump and Bannon have been accused of domestic violence. Nor should Trump’s attitude toward women in general, which is incredibly ugly. The reasoning behind the ban is nothing more than slimy white nationalism, and there isn’t all that much to cover the shit over, they simply don’t care. Well, that’s not quite fair. They do care about any possibility of having this ban legally overturned as well. As usual the problem does not just rest with the Regime’s legislation and executive orders. It also lies on the shoulders of all those Regime voters and supporters.

I am sick to death of people wringing their hands over these poor, poor Trumpians who start crying when the chickens come home to roost. No, I do not have sympathy for them, because they have none for anyone, they were firmly and flatly in favour of bigotry, hatred, and misogyny, and any of them who claim they weren’t, they are liars. Trump’s whole fucking campaign was nothing but a constant litany of bigotry, hatred, and misogyny, as well as a paen to the might of white, and a psalm sung to the filthy rich.

The whole excuse of “well, some of them just wanted to throw a brick at the establisment” is a fucking lie, too. One Big Lie. If those people truly wanted to buck the establishment, Trump would have been dumped and Sanders would have ended up in the white house, and we would be moving towards a properly socialized government. That would have been tossing a brick at the man. Voting for Trump? For fuck’s sake, how could you possibly get more establishment? The excuse of “they thought he was a good business man!” won’t wash either. Trump’s constant failures over the years were not a secret. His incompetency was out there for all to see, during the whole campaign. The regime voters chose to ignore it. The excuse of “oh hey jobs”? No, doesn’t wash either, because what all those white Trumpians meant by that was “stomp all over those brown peoples!”. They never have anything to say when you point out that they don’t want to work cleaning toilets and peoples’ houses.

No, no more fucking excuses. The assholes who voted in the regime who are now crying? They’re only crying because they weren’t supposed to get bitten on the arse. They wanted all those others to get fucked over. Anyroad, back to the fucked up, shit-caked ban…

President Trump’s second Muslim ban, signed on Monday, includes a provision directing the Department of Homeland Security to collect and make public “information regarding the number and types of gender-based violence against women, including so-called ‘honor killings,’ in the United States by foreign nationals.”

According to numbers from a Department of Justice-sponsored study conducted in 2014, there are less than 30 such “honor killings” in the country each year. The killings — which are “perceived by the perpetrator to be a way to restore honor to the family in the face of a perceived damage,” according to the report — are sometimes “motivated by a radical and dark interpretation of Islam,” as Fox News wrote in late 2015.

The inclusion of the “honor killings” provision in the new Muslim ban marks the second time in a week the Trump administration has outlined a plan to use federal resources “to whip up as much racial panic as possible,” as Matt Yglesias of Vox puts it. The first instance was Trump’s vow to create the Victims Of Immigration Crime Engagement office, or VOICE, during his speech to Congress last week, even though immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans.

In a similar vein, the number of “honor killings” in the U.S. stands in stark contrast to the roughly 1,500 women who are murdered as a result of domestic violence in a given year. But according to numerous reports, Trump’s budget proposal will eliminate the Department of Justice’s Violence Against Women grants. Those grants had a $480 million budget last year and funded 25 grant programs helping domestic violence victims, according to Mother Jones. Trump and chief strategist Steve Bannon have both been accused of domestic assault.

[…]

But the “honor killing” provision is just the latest example of Trump trying to portray Islam in a violent light. Despite the fact that a person in America is much more likely to be killed by a right-wing extremist than a Muslim terrorist, the Trump administration has signaled it wants a federal counter-terrorism program to stop focusing on violent white supremacists and any other extremist groups not comprised of Muslims. And after the Department of Homeland Security released a report last month undermining the administration’s core rationale for the Muslim ban  — “citizenship is unlikely to be a reliable indicator of potential terrorist activity,” it found — the administration tried to downplay the report.

“The president asked for an intelligence assessment,” the a senior administration official told the Wall Street Journal. “This is not the intelligence assessment the president asked for.”

Right. An accurate assessment is provided, but the Tiny Tyrant doesn’t want that, and neither does shadow tyrant Bannon. They want shit shoveled onto a platter, and shaped into the form of whatever they asked for, providing them with a basis for the regime.

Think Progress has the full story.

Also see: The mass deportation of African immigrants that isn’t getting media attention. Nobody noticed.

Not Quite A Babelfish…

A science-fiction staple has inched closer to reality with the reveal of a prototype in-ear wearable that translates languages almost instantly.

Acting in a similar manner to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’s babelfish or Star Trek’s Universal Translator, startup company Waverly Labs‘ Pilot earpiece sits in the ear to translate spoken foreign languages to the wearer.

This is pretty exciting! You can read much more at Dezeen.

This Is Our Land.

Water Protectors Leave Oceti Sakowin Reluctantly.

‘Absolutely False’: No Contact From Trump Administration, Archambault Says.

marty-two-bulls-cartoon-dapl-020717
NODAPL; The Last Stand © Marty Two Bulls.
 
marty-two-bulls-cartoon-dapl-020117_WEB
No DAPL; Beware the Early Thaw © Marty Two Bulls.

Oh. So. Cool.

I want one!

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Made for Ikea’s Space10, this is the Growroom, specifically made for cities, it can grow a communities worth of food and herbs. I’m not urban, but I still want one. The best news? Space10 and architects Sine Lindholm and Mads-Ulrik Husum have open sourced this, so anyone can make one.

You can see the specs at two places: one, two.

On National Strike.

On strike today. See you all on Saturday!

 

Demonstrators block an escalator at the international terminal as protests against President Donald Trump's executive order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries continue at San Francisco International Airport, Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017. (AP Photo/Olga Rodriguez).

Demonstrators block an escalator at the international terminal as protests against President Donald Trump’s executive order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries continue at San Francisco International Airport, Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017. (AP Photo/Olga Rodriguez).

In a column for the Guardian on Monday, American writer Francine Prose called for a “nonviolent national general strike” to demonstrate “how many of us there are, how strong and committed we are, how much we can accomplish.”

She wrote: “Let’s designate a day on which no one (that is, anyone who can do so without being fired) goes to work, a day when no one shops or spends money, a day on which we truly make our economic and political power felt.”

Calls to do just that have been circulating online recently, with activists setting Feb. 17 — the Friday before President’s Day — as the day for a #nationalstrike against the presidency of Donald Trump.

No one working, no one buying anything, for one day. I realize not everyone will be able to blithely ignore their job for one day, but if you can get away with it, please, please, do. Affinity will be closed for the strike on Friday, February 17th, and I will post a reminder prior to the day. Pretty sure most people can manage to forgo shopping for one day. Be ungovernable.

The full, in-depth story is at News.Mic.

The Bias of Devices.

Getty Images.

Getty Images.

A lot of people are enamored with the idea of artificial intelligence, imbued with the rosy hues of optimism, eternal life, and other amazing feats. What you don’t hear about so much are all the little problems which creep in, like the very real biases and bigotry of humans infecting devices which are made to learn. The term artificial intelligence has always struck me as inherently biased, underlining the point that organic intelligence is always superior. Why not machine intelligence, or some other actually neutral term? Anyroad, we aren’t that far along that terminator fears need be realized, but Wired has a good article up about how good humans are at providing devices with the very worst of our intelligence.

Algorithmic bias—when seemingly innocuous programming takes on the prejudices either of its creators or the data it is fed—causes everything from warped Google searches to barring qualified women from medical school. It doesn’t take active prejudice to produce skewed results (more on that later) in web searches, data-driven home loan decisions, or photo-recognition software. It just takes distorted data that no one notices and corrects for.

It took one little Twitter bot to make the point to Microsoft last year. Tay was designed to engage with people ages 18 to 24, and it burst onto social media with an upbeat “hellllooooo world!!” (the “o” in “world” was a planet earth emoji). But within 12 hours, Tay morphed into a foul-mouthed racist Holocaust denier that said feminists “should all die and burn in hell.” Tay, which was quickly removed from Twitter, was programmed to learn from the behaviors of other Twitter users, and in that regard, the bot was a success. Tay’s embrace of humanity’s worst attributes is an example of algorithmic bias—when seemingly innocuous programming takes on the prejudices either of its creators or the data it is fed.

Tay represents just one example of algorithmic bias tarnishing tech companies and some of their marquis products. In 2015, Google Photos tagged several African-American users as gorillas, and the images lit up social media. Yonatan Zunger, Google’s chief social architect and head of infrastructure for Google Assistant, quickly took to Twitter to announce that Google was scrambling a team to address the issue. And then there was the embarrassing revelation that Siri didn’t know how to respond to a host of health questions that affect women, including, “I was raped. What do I do?” Apple took action to handle that as well after a nationwide petition from the American Civil Liberties Union and a host of cringe-worthy media attention.

One of the trickiest parts about algorithmic bias is that engineers don’t have to be actively racist or sexist to create it. In an era when we increasingly trust technology to be more neutral than we are, this is a dangerous situation. As Laura Weidman Powers, founder of Code2040, which brings more African Americans and Latinos into tech, told me, “We are running the risk of seeding self-teaching AI with the discriminatory undertones of our society in ways that will be hard to rein in, because of the often self-reinforcing nature of machine learning.”

I don’t understand why anyone would assume tech to be more neutral than we are, after all, this is not a scenario where machines and devices are having a board meeting and figuring out how to maintain neutrality and purge biases. All the code, it comes from us naked apes, who truly suck at neutrality en masse. Even when we think we are neutral about this or that, implicit bias tests often show us deep biases we weren’t altogether aware of, and how they influence our thinking.

As the tech industry begins to create artificial intelligence, it risks inserting racism and other prejudices into code that will make decisions for years to come. And as deep learning means that code, not humans, will write code, there’s an even greater need to root out algorithmic bias. There are four things that tech companies can do to keep their developers from unintentionally writing biased code or using biased data.

I imagine the suggestions will give all the bros serious indigestion, but they are suggestions which need wide implementation, given the human penchant for racing ahead in technology while lagging woefully behind in social evolution. Wired has the full story.

Oh, that fucking wall.

An agent of the border patrol, observes near the Mexico-US border fence, on the Mexican side, separating the towns of Anapra, Mexico and Sunland Park, New Mexico, on January 25. CREDIT: AP Photo/Christian Torres.

An agent of the border patrol, observes near the Mexico-US border fence, on the Mexican side, separating the towns of Anapra, Mexico and Sunland Park, New Mexico, on January 25. CREDIT: AP Photo/Christian Torres.

The projected cost for President Donald Trump’s border wall continues to rise, and Trump has no good plan to contain it.

On Thursday, Reuters reported that the border wall will be much more expensive than the $10 billion figure Trump repeatedly cited during his campaign or the $12–$15 billion cited by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) last month.

“Trump’s ‘wall’ along the U.S.-Mexico border would be a series of fences and walls that would cost as much as $21.6 billion, and take more than three years to construct,” Reuters reported, citing a U.S. Department of Homeland Security document the outlet obtained.

And it could end up costing even more than that.

“Bernstein Research, an investment research group that tracks material costs, has said that uncertainties around the project could drive its cost up to as much as $25 billion,” Reuters reports.

On Saturday morning, Trump responded to that news by assuring Americans that costs of constructing the wall will come “WAY DOWN” as soon as he gets involved in the negotiations.

<Tweets snipped.>

But Trump’s citation of the reduced cost of F-35s should give no one confidence he’ll be able to bring down the exorbitant cost of his border wall.

That’s because on January 30, Trump took credit for cost cuts to the fighter jets that were already put in place before he got involved. A Washington Post fact-check gave Trump’s claim that he was responsible for cutting $600 million from the F-35 program “Four Pinocchios.”

[…]

Trump has repeatedly taken credit for deals that were in the works long before he won the election or became president. For instance, he’s overstated his role in deals with Intel, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, and Sprint to take credit for saving American jobs.

[…]

Last year, Reuters reported that U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents don’t think the type of border wall Trump has long supported is necessary for national security. Instead, they seek better equipment and technology.

Not only is this wall idea the epitome of idiocy, people tend to forget a different cost of such idiocy – the high cost imposed on animals, the environment, and various ecologies. This sort of arrogant assholery is little more than a chest-pounding display of cruelty, a game for bully boys. Unfortunately, such people don’t much give a shit about the planet which gives them life, or the diversity of life on our earth, which has no use for the concrete idiocy of naked apes intent on warring with their neighbours. You can read a bit about this high cost here.

Full story at Think Progress.

NO DAPL Roundup.

Malia Obama (Pinterest)

Malia Obama (Pinterest)

Malia Obama has chosen to stand with Standing Rock.

A group of 100 people gathered in Park City to protest the revival of the project by new U.S. President Donald Trump. Despite freezing temperatures and heavy snowfall, Malia Obama joined the protester who were holding up signs that read: “Exist. Resist. Rise.” and “Impeach corporate control,” according to the Daily Mail.

Along with protesting the construction of the pipeline, which will disturb sacred grounds and introduce contaminants into the local water supply, the group was protesting the festival sponsorship by Chase Bank, which is invested in the pipeline. The rally was held in front of the Chase Sapphire on Main lounge.

Courtesy MSNBC via YouTube.

Courtesy MSNBC via YouTube.

Chairman Archambault on MSNBC: ‘President Is Circumventing Federal Law’.

Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault II was more surprised at the rapidity with which Donald Trump signed presidential memoranda purporting to speed up the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and reinstate the Keystone XL pipeline than he was by the act itself.

“We were prepared for President Trump take a run at everything we have accomplished in the last two years,” Archambault told Tamron Hall on MSNBC on Wednesday January 25, the day after Trump signed a Presidential Memorandum attempting to move DAPL along. “This nation better start bracing itself for what’s to come if in the first four days we’re witnessing him using an executive order to circumvent federal laws. It’s not right, and it’s something we better get ready for. I was disappointed that it came this soon, because we had worked so hard for the last two years.”

The tribe wants closer study of the pipeline’s potential effects on water supply, sacred sites and treaty rights, he said, and Trump is trying to do an end run around such statutes as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

“The troubling thing is that this president is circumventing federal law,” Archambault said. “We have Treaty rights, we have water rights with our Winter’s Doctrine, we have NEPA.”

The Keystone XL Pipeline Will Create Just 35 Permanent Jobs. Don’t Believe the Lies.

For those who still insist fossil fuels are the future, the Trump administration represents a new day for some old ideas. In an early sign of things to come, the president showed his faith in big oil when he signed documents Tuesday pressuring federal agencies to support construction of the Dakota Access and Keystone XL oil pipelines. Each of these projects faced enormous protests and was put on hold by the Obama administration because of legitimate environmental and due process concerns.

Congressional Republicans frequently howled at far less heavy-handed exercises of executive power under the previous administration. Today, they applaud Trump’s move on the mistaken premise that these pipelines are good investments. Not only will these projects not create long-lasting jobs – as CNBC, not exactly an anti-corporate mouthpiece, has noted: “Pipelines do not require much labor to operate in the long term” – they will further delay the inevitable transition to clean, renewable energy our economy needs and the American people demand.

Standing Rock Chairman Archambault Sends Strong Letter to Trump.

Editor’s note: Reaction was swift and strong when President Donald Trump signed a series of Presidential Memoranda and Executive Orders designed to move the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) forward and revive the Keystone XL pipeline. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe responded immediately, and on January 25 Standing Rock Chairman Archambault wrote a letter to Trump explaining the legal constraints, the support that the Environmental Impact Statement and the tribe have, and the need for a leader-to-leader meeting. The full text is below.

DAPL Profiteers Steal Marty Two Bulls Designs.

You’ve probably seen and shared at least one of the many brilliant political cartoons by Marty Two Bulls at some point in time. Marty Two Bulls—an artist from the Oglala Lakota Nation—has been drawing political cartoons with great success for many years. His work has long been a staple on the pages of ICTMN. He’s known for bringing clever humor and hilarious imagery to hot, controversial issues: most recently the anti-DAPL movement in Standing Rock.

But now, you might see his work in places it shouldn’t be: dozens of t-shirt sellers who are hoping to make a buck from the #NoDAPL campaigns have ripped off Marty Two Bulls designs and been using them to sell t-shirts of their own with no credit, profit, or acknowledgement offered to the artist. Now, Two Bulls has taken the matter into his own hands. In addition to filing dozens of reports to stop production of the rip-offs, he has decided to sell t-shirts of his own.

The design thieves are mostly from overseas with no connection to Native country.
“So far I caught over 20,” Two Bulls said, “I go online, I search terms like #NoDAPL and Water is Life on Facebook, and there they are.”

Marty is an amazingly talented artist, and one of the best political cartoonists in the world, he’s brilliant. Please, if you want to show support for Standing Rock, take the time to make sure your item is coming from the actual artist. Most artists aren’t rolling in money, and this theft hurts, one more than one level. Marty is trying to do something for his people, and if you want to help, and like his artwork, please buy from Marty Two Bulls.

A Different Kind of Alt.

CREDIT: Images via Twitter.

CREDIT: Images via Twitter.

There’s a good alt on the rise!

…If anyone should know that it is, as a practical matter, impossible to force a willful individual to stop tweeting, it’s President Donald J. Trump. So perhaps he was least shocked of all to see that, on Tuesday night, a new handle popped up on Twitter: @AltNatParkSer.

By way of introduction, the anonymous founders tweeted: “Hello, we are the Alternative National Park Service Twitter Account activated in time of war and censorship to ensure fact-based education.”

The account is less than a week old. It has issued over 300 tweets — on the Trump White House, on climate change, on the importance of peer-reviewed and factually-accurate science — and racked up 1.24 million followers in the process.

Within days, at least a dozen Twitters claiming to be the rogue employees of the government agencies for which they work appeared, describing themselves as the “unofficial resistance”: @RogueNASA, which already has 628,000 followers; @altUSEPA whose bio reads “Environmental conditions may vary from alternative facts” already has 184,000 followers; @RoguePOTUSStaff, allegedly tweeting from “inside the White House,” has a follower count of nearly 60,000. The National Weather Service, the State Department, the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Education, the U.S. Forest Service, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Agriculture, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services,: all have alternative accounts with thousands of followers a pop.

The tone is tongue-in-cheek, but the messaging is clear: Climate change is real. Facts are facts. The public has the right to know the truth. Science should not be dictated by politics. Attempts to silence official means of communication will only spark alternative means of communication. It’s a fitting act of rebellion under a president so taken with Russia: Resistance to Trump, via samizdat-com.

There’s also something satisfying about seeing the word “alternative” used against Trump and not for him, seeing as it was recently adopted by Kellyanne Conway as a modifier for “facts” (her way of defending White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s blatant falsehoods about, of all things, the size of the crowd at Trump’s inauguration) and co-opted by neo-Nazis as half of their more media-friendly, less-obviously-fascist title of choice, “alt-right.” The alt-NPS Twitter teams give “alternative” back to the public, for its correct use.

[…]

Trump and his ilk, like Breitbart-alum-turned-chief-strategist Steve Bannon, stoke distrust in the mainstream media like an abusive boyfriend insisting that no one else in your life really wants what’s best for you like he does. When the president is a pathological liar who does everything within his power to prevent government agencies from arming the public with accurate information, something as simple as telling the truth becomes a radical act.

The Trump administration’s efforts to deny readily apparent truths is, as Masha Gessen writes, a means of “assert[ing] power over truth itself.” But these rogue Twitter accounts are a means of asserting truth over power itself. They are a way of announcing to the president — who is surely paying attention, considering how much time he spends on Twitter — that facts will not quietly be dethroned by fiction.

VIVE LA RESISTANCE!

Think Progress has the full story.

400 Sparkling Nipples.

nip1

nip2

In a new artistic statement against censorship, this time in response to Facebook’s anti-nipple legislation, the Madrid-based artistic group Luzinterruptus lit 400 plastic breastfeeding nipples with LEDs at the entrance of Facebook’s Madrid headquarters. For an hour, the 400 nipples shone brightly outside of the office, beautifully illuminating the sidewalk and reminding passersby of just how harmless nipples are.

[…]

The project took five hours to set up and was removed completely after the exhibition was finished. Luzinterruptus wrote on their website that they now have 400 nipples available for any artists who would like to install a related project. And, it is possible that this project will morph into related anti-censorship statements, just as Luzinterruptus’ environmentalist projects have continued to make powerful statements about global warming in different incarnations, filling the fountain in Trafalgar Square with glowing garbage and raining condoms.

In addition to protesting the censorship of Facebook policies, Luzinterruptus wants to call attention to other elements of the restrictive policies. Specifically, they are reacting to what they see as a hypocritical stance on potentially disturbing images. While Facebook removes photographs of breastfeeding women, they allow violence, racism, and misogynistic content to roam free. Finally, Luzinterruptus wants to make viewers aware of the third-world workers who they believe are exploited by Facebook to as they work for very low wages to censor Facebook content. Even in reactions to the installation, Luzinterruptus has seen backlash. “Many magazines commented that they couldn’t publish articles [about the installation] because of editorial politics,” Luzinterruptus tells the Creators Project. The reactions to the installation have shown the artistic group just how much influence Facebook has. Will 2017 be the year we finally #freethenipple? We’ll have to wait and see.

The Creators Project has the full story.