Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Seven Anecdotes from a Photographer
of Vanishing Cultures

via Boing Boing

Jimmy Nelson is a legendary photographer of humanity. He shares seven insights gleaned from his 48-year career, each one backed up with an interesting anecdote about how he got better at his craft.

From peeing the bed in a Mongolian tent in the dead of winter, to seeing his own reflection in the eyes of his subjects, Jimmy shares some fascinating tidbits of hard-earned wisdom about art and connecting with others.

7 Lessons I Learnt From Photography (feat. Jimmy Nelson) via Cooperative of Photography

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Some old portraits recently posted to my instagram

Neil Blender early 80's #skateboarding #artist #abstract #alienworkshop #G&S #Tracker #inspiration #integrity

A photo posted by glen E. friedman Ⓥ (@glenefriedman) on

GLENN DANZIG circa 1985. We made this photograph sometime after the MISFITS, between SamHain and the start of Danzig. I don't remember the exact reason for doing this session but perhaps Glenn had contacted me to do it since he was getting ready to go solo? We took this roll at my fathers apartment in Fort Lee, NJ on the floor by the kitchen, there was this little carpeted wall with one of those adjustable drafting table type light fixtures attached to the top, so i was able to point it in just the right way for our photographs. One similar to this was used in my FUCK YOU TOO book. Glenn of course was still living in Lodi, NJ at the time, so it was a simple quick evening. It's definitely my favorite solo "Elvis" portrait i made with him. I guess we used to get along pretty well back then, since i introduced him to Rick Rubin around this time and was helpful in getting Chuck Biscuits to be a part of the new project. #DANZIG #misfits #WeAre138 #Mother #20EyesInMyHead #AllHellBreaksLoose #NewJersey #dirtyJerz

A photo posted by glen E. friedman Ⓥ (@glenefriedman) on

JAM MASTER JAY of Run-DMC (R.I.P.) "Jam Master Jay" Jason Mizell ... Every day without him in this world is our loss. He was a great friend and an awesome talent. The backbone behind Run-DMC, as if you didn't already know. We made this photo the first time i traveled out to Hollis with him back in the fall of 1985. The goal was to shoot RUN-DMC's "photo tour book" for the upcoming "Raising Hell" tour. We did that and more, we got a ton of great stuff this day that you see all over my books... HONOR & RESPECT to the family man, friend, and musician. #jammasterjay #goddamnthatdjmademyday #RUNDMC #rip #friend #DJ #hiphop #integrity #inspiration #oldschool #HollisQueens #NYC #peterpiper #jacksonjaysdick #MyRules #JAYarethelteersofhisname This portrait appears huge in the MY RULES book. In fact Rick Rubin thought it should have been the cover 😬 .

A photo posted by glen E. friedman Ⓥ (@glenefriedman) on

Monday, August 22, 2016

School of Life Monday:

In the course of history, work has gone from being something people only ever did for money to being the source of ultimate meaning, creativity and identity. Satisfying work has become a democratic expectation.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Friday, August 19, 2016

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

One of the Best Explanations
For Why We Haven't Found Alien Life

from Gizmodo

So far, the only examples of sentient life we’ve found are right here on our own planet. It’s not for lack of trying, though—we’ve sent out spacecraft deep into our solar system and, so far, still remain alone. What if the problem isn’t where we are looking, though, but when?

A forthcoming study in Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle looks at the possibility that life as we know it may not require a star similar to our sun but could emerge on planets orbiting much smaller, weaker stars. If we do allow for the possibility of life around non-sunlike stars, then it turns out that the universe is likely to be much more habitable in the distant future than it is today.

“It’s natural for us to think that we are the most common form of life, simply because that’s the only one that we know of,” lead author of the paper, Harvard University’s Avi Loeb, told Gizmodo. “Therefore, people assumed that being next to star like the sun was the most likely place for life to emerge.”

If you throw out the assumption that we need a sun-like star, though, then there’s a whole new class of stars—smaller and less powerful than the sun, but far more common—that suddenly start to look like good candidates. They’re called low mass stars.

Although these stars throw out less light and heat than our powerful sun, they still emit enough to create potentially habitable zones that could support liquid water on close-orbiting rocky planets. Not only are these types of stars more common in the universe than sun-like stars, but they also have much considerably longer lifespans of more than 1,000 times that of the sun.

Using this information, Loeb calculated that it was much more likely for life to have emerged in the distant future around one of those low mass stars than to have emerged in our time on a sun-orbiting planet like Earth.

“If you allow low mass stars to have life, just like we find here on Earth, then the probability of life emerging in the future 10 trillion years from now is one thousand times bigger to find life,” noted Loeb.

And yet, we are not orbiting a low mass star, trillions of years in the future. We are here and now, orbiting our Sun—and this is the only place we’ve ever found sentient life. That suggests an intriguing explanation. Perhaps we are simply searching way too soon.

In other words, we may be alone in the universe right now. But that’s only because we showed up long before life really started to get going. If this hypothesis is the correct one, then the real explosion of life in the universe hasn’t yet happened—and likely won’t happen for trillions of years after us.

There’s also a second, alternate explanation that would account for all the facts. Perhaps there’s something about low mass stars which, even in zones that are technically habitable, suppresses life from ever forming.

“We still keep the notion that, perhaps, we are at the center of the biological universe, that we are really the only ones or special in that regard, or in terms of intelligence,” Loeb said. “If it turns out that we are rare and early on in the game then that would be really surprising to me because, so far, whenever we look we have found that we are not special and we are not the center of the universe.”

Figuring out which of these two possibilities are correct hinges on the question of whether low mass stars can indeed support life. We won’t necessarily have to wait several trillions of years to find out, though. Instead, Loeb suggests that the answers could be found in the next decade or so.

By sampling the atmospheres of planets around nearby low mass stars, researchers can search for biomarkers that would suggest whether these planets are capable of supporting life. If they keep finding atmospheres devoid of signs that they are capable of supporting life, then it’s likely that something about these low mass stars—perhaps their frequent solar flares or some other attribute—renders the planets orbiting them sterile.

If, however, they find that these planets do appear able to support life then it may be that the lack of other life in the universe is simply because we showed up too soon to see any of it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Riders of the Well of Death

A personal project shot in northern India. It's a short documentary about stunt drivers taking part in the daredevil sport known as "Maut ka kuan" (Well of Death).

The men risking everything for the thrill of the ride

Director Erik Morales of filmmaking collective Canada talks about Riders of the Well of Death, a film documenting stunt drivers taking part in the daredevil sport in Northern India:

“When people ask why I made this film my answer is always, ‘because it’s cars driving on the fucking walls!’ The well of death (or Maut ka kuan) is an incredible mix of acrobatics and sheer engine power, where the brave defy gravity and drive cars and bikes on the walls of a wooden pit. These arenas are a popular attraction at travelling fairs, where the tickets are cheap and the crowds are plenty. Viewers watch the action from a metal platform above the pit, while the magic unfolds beneath them—the riders, the cars, the bikes, the lights and the noise.

“It’s cars driving on the fucking walls!”
“I still remember the first time I saw this live. The show lasts for a few minutes but the experience you live through is intense. I was blown away by these guys who were risking their lives in this wooden pit—it was pure adrenaline. The purity of the riders fighting the laws of nature with these old vehicles and immense amounts of courage was what made me want to do this film; I wanted to know these ordinary guys who risk it all to do extraordinary things.”

Thanks Seth!

Monday, August 15, 2016

School of Life Monday
HISTORY OF IDEAS - Romanticism

Romanticism is a historical movement that still hugely colours how we tend to feel and look at the world: it’s responsible for the way we approach love, nature, business and children. This is its history

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Sunday Think Tank:
Noam Chomsky's 8-Point Rationale for Voting for the Lesser Evil Presidential Candidate

Critics of "lesser evil voting" should consider that their footing on the high ground may not be as secure as they often take for granted.

By John Halle [1], Noam Chomsky [2] / Noam Chomsky's Official Site [3]
August 6, 2016

Among the elements of the weak form of democracy enshrined in the constitution, presidential elections continue to pose a dilemma for the left in that any form of participation or non participation appears to impose a significant cost on our capacity to develop a serious opposition to the corporate agenda served by establishment politicians. The position outlined below is that which many regard as the most effective response to this quadrennial Hobson’s choice, namely the so-called “lesser evil” voting strategy or LEV. Simply put, LEV involves, where you can, i.e. in safe states, voting for the losing third party candidate you prefer, or not voting at all. In competitive “swing” states, where you must, one votes for the “lesser evil” Democrat.

Before fielding objections, it will be useful to make certain background stipulations with respect to the points below. The first is to note that since changes in the relevant facts require changes in tactics, proposals having to do with our relationship to the “electoral extravaganza” should be regarded as provisional. This is most relevant with respect to point 3) which some will challenge by citing the claim that Clinton’s foreign policy could pose a more serious menace than that of Trump.

In any case, while conceding as an outside possibility that Trump’s foreign policy is preferable, most of us not already convinced that that is so will need more evidence than can be aired in a discussion involving this statement. Furthermore, insofar as this is the fact of the matter, following the logic through seems to require a vote for Trump, though it’s a bit hard to know whether those making this suggestion are intending it seriously.

Another point of disagreement is not factual but involves the ethical/moral principle addressed in 1), sometimes referred to as the “politics of moral witness.” Generally associated with the religious left, secular leftists implicitly invoke it when they reject LEV on the grounds that “a lesser of two evils is still evil.” Leaving aside the obvious rejoinder that this is exactly the point of lesser evil voting-i.e. to do less evil, what needs to be challenged is the assumption that voting should be seen a form of individual self-expression rather than as an act to be judged on its likely consequences, specifically those outlined in 4). The basic moral principle at stake is simple: not only must we take responsibility for our actions, but the consequences of our actions for others are a far more important consideration than feeling good about ourselves.

While some would suggest extending the critique by noting that the politics of moral witness can become indistinguishable from narcissistic self-agrandizement, this is substantially more harsh than what was intended and harsher than what is merited. That said, those reflexively denouncing advocates of LEV on a supposed “moral” basis should consider that their footing on the high ground may not be as secure as they often take for granted to be the case.

A third criticism of LEV equates it with a passive acquiescence to the bipartisan status quo under the guise of pragmatism, usually deriving from those who have lost the appetite for radical change. It is surely the case that some of those endorsing LEV are doing so in bad faith-cynical functionaries whose objective is to promote capitulation to a system which they are invested in protecting. Others supporting LEV, however, can hardly be reasonably accused of having made their peace with the establishment. Their concern, as alluded to in 6) and 7) inheres in the awareness that frivolous and poorly considered electoral decisions impose a cost, their memories extending to the ultra-left faction of the peace movement having minimized the comparative dangers of the Nixon presidency during the 1968 elections. The result was six years of senseless death and destruction in Southeast Asia and also a predictable fracture of the left setting it up for its ultimate collapse during the backlash decades to follow.

The broader lesson to be drawn is not to shy away from confronting the dominance of the political system under the management of the two major parties. Rather, challenges to it need to be issued with a full awareness of their possible consequences. This includes the recognition that far right victories not only impose terrible suffering on the most vulnerable segments of society but also function as a powerful weapon in the hands of the establishment center, which, now in opposition can posture as the “reasonable” alternative. A Trump presidency, should it materialize, will undermine the burgeoning movement centered around the Sanders campaign, particularly if it is perceived as having minimized the dangers posed by the far right.

A more general conclusion to be derived from this recognition is that this sort of cost/benefit strategic accounting is fundamental to any politics which is serious about radical change. Those on the left who ignore it, or dismiss it as irrelevant are engaging in political fantasy and are an obstacle to, rather than ally of, the movement which now seems to be materializing.

Finally, it should be understood that the reigning doctrinal system recognizes the role presidential elections perform in diverting the left from actions which have the potential to be effective in advancing its agenda. These include developing organizations committed to extra-political means, most notably street protest, but also competing for office in potentially winnable races. The left should devote the minimum of time necessary to exercise the LEV choice then immediately return to pursuing goals which are not timed to the national electoral cycle.


1) Voting should not be viewed as a form of personal self-expression or moral judgement directed in retaliation towards major party candidates who fail to reflect our values, or of a corrupt system designed to limit choices to those acceptable to corporate elites.

2) The exclusive consequence of the act of voting in 2016 will be (if in a contested “swing state”) to marginally increase or decrease the chance of one of the major party candidates winning.

3) One of these candidates, Trump, denies the existence of global warming, calls for increasing use of fossil fuels, dismantling of environmental regulations and refuses assistance to India and other developing nations as called for in the Paris agreement, the combination of which could, in four years, take us to a catastrophic tipping point. Trump has also pledged to deport 11 million Mexican immigrants, offered to provide for the defense of supporters who have assaulted African American protestors at his rallies, stated his “openness to using nuclear weapons”, supports a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. and regards “the police in this country as absolutely mistreated and misunderstood” while having “done an unbelievable job of keeping law and order.” Trump has also pledged to increase military spending while cutting taxes on the rich, hence shredding what remains of the social welfare “safety net” despite pretenses.

4) The suffering which these and other similarly extremist policies and attitudes will impose on marginalized and already oppressed populations has a high probability of being significantly greater than that which will result from a Clinton presidency.

5) 4) should constitute sufficient basis to voting for Clinton where a vote is potentially consequential-namely, in a contested, “swing” state.

6) However, the left should also recognize that, should Trump win based on its failure to support Clinton, it will repeatedly face the accusation (based in fact), that it lacks concern for those sure to be most victimized by a Trump administration.

7) Often this charge will emanate from establishment operatives who will use it as a bad faith justification for defeating challenges to corporate hegemony either in the Democratic Party or outside of it. They will ensure that it will be widely circulated in mainstream media channels with the result that many of those who would otherwise be sympathetic to a left challenge will find it a convincing reason to maintain their ties with the political establishment rather than breaking with it, as they must.

8) Conclusion: by dismissing a “lesser evil” electoral logic and thereby increasing the potential for Clinton’s defeat the left will undermine what should be at the core of what it claims to be attempting to achieve.