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Michael Menchaca

A Cage without Borders

It was soggy out on Saturday so I took a look my NYC Museums twitter list to see what was going on. Izumi and I settled on visiting the Museum of New York City uptown and with our admission came a free pass to check out El Museo del Barrio which has an exhibit of Latinx contemporary art next door.

There were many thought-provoking exhibits, you can read about them here or here, but the one that captivated me was Michael Menchacha’s video installation, A Cage Without Borders.

Image credit: Michael Palma Mir

From the artist:

A Cage Without Borders hijacks the commercial appeal of motion graphics on social media platforms in order to critique the US carceral state. This three-channel video installation runs a synchronized HD animation on three TV’s that are vertically oriented, mimicking the visual presentation of mobile devices. This installation addresses the ways in which Big Tech is currently operating as a de facto neo-colonial project enabling racialized state surveillance to oppress the most vulnerable communities.

Michael Menchacha

The video (see embed up top) is overwhelming but that is the intent. I dare you to keep up with the commentary while assaulted by glittery animations that scroll by on the screen like a digital slot machine. Little snippets jump out at you and lodge in your brain like morsels of insight, something to chew over and ponder later in your day.

  • State-sanctioned bias bots
  • Your behavior is now their private property
  • The truth does not generate surveillance profits
  • Facebook has created a political whitelist which has exempted over 100,000 officials from fact-checking in order to maximize user engagement
  • A digital caste system
  • Digital re-incarnation
  • Become a digital vegan

With those thoughts jangling around in our heads, we sought refuge across the street and discovered the Conservatory Garden in Central Park, the perfect digestif to the technological assault we just experienced.

Another weekend adventure in our new home.

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Current Events

Social Then, Social Now

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Frothy expectations bring out the cringe. Social Media was all the rage during Web 2.0 and at the crest of that wave brought us this little ditty, Let’s Get Social.

Now it’s crypto. The clip below is a couple years old but I’m putting this here for posterity. Carlos Matos & Bitconnect (which turned out to be a huge scam)

Looks like the crypto scene is taking off in Miami where the Mayor is talking about accepting tax payments in crypto. More on the Miami scene from Coindesk.

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Current Events

Tokyoiter

After moving to NYC, the cover art of the The New Yorker has taken on a new significance as I recognize the buildings and street scenes depicted and appreciate the weekly snapshots of the world around me.

Tokyoiter is an art project which challenges participants to depict the cover of an imaginary Tokyo city magazine in much the same way. As you can see, it takes its inspiration from The New Yorker (except the price, 500 JPY is a bargain). There are many images on the site but here are some of my favorites.

Follow them on Instagram to see new submissions and learn about when they make prints available for purchase.

Thank you dad for introducing me to The New Yorker many years ago and buying me a subscription as soon as I moved here.

insta: @waneella
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Current Events

Prancer

The internet is full of link rot. Things that you point to for their brilliance submerge out of view years later, lost to the sands of time. The wayback machine may be your only salvation but it’s like looking for lost scraps of paper in the attic.

For this reason, I have copy/pasted this bit of internet brilliance below for you to enjoy today and forever. The context is an adoption listing for a 2-year old Chihuahua in a brutally honest Facebook post that went wildly viral.

Ok, I’ve tried. I’ve tried for the last several months to post this dog for adoption and make him sound…palatable. The problem is, he’s just not. There’s not a very big market for neurotic, man hating, animal hating, children hating dogs that look like gremlins. But I have to believe there’s someone out there for Prancer, because I am tired and so is my family. Every day we live in the grips of the demonic Chihuahua hellscape he has created in our home. If you own a Chihuahua you probably know what I’m talking about. He’s literally the Chihuahua meme that describes them as being 50% hate and 50% tremble. If you’re intrigued and horrified at how this animal sounds already, just wait….there’s more. Prancer came to me obese, wearing a cashmere sweater, with a bacon egg n cheese stuffed in his crate with him. I should have known in that moment this dog would be a problem. He was owned by an elderly woman who treated him like a human and never socialized him. Sprinkle in a little genetic predisposition for being nervous, and you’ve concocted a neurotic mess, AKA Prancer. His first week he was too terrified to have a personality. As awful as it sounds, I kind of liked him better that way. He was quiet, and just laid on the couch. Didn’t bother anyone. I was excited to see him come out of his shell and become a real dog. I am convinced at this point he is not a real dog, but more like a vessel for a traumatized Victorian child that now haunts our home. Prancer only likes women. Nothing else. He hates men more than women do, which says a lot. If you have a husband don’t bother applying, unless you hate him. Prancer has lived with a man for 6 months and still has not accepted him. He bonds to a woman/women, and takes his job of protection seriously. He offers better protection than capitol security. This also extends to other animals. Have other dogs? Cats? Don’t apply unless they like being shaken up like a ragdoll by a 13lb rage machine. This may be confusing to people, as he currently lives with my other 7 dogs and 12 cats. That’s because we have somewhat come to an agreement that it’s wrong to attack the other animals. But you know that episode of The Office where Michael Scott silently whispers “I’ll kill you.” to Toby? That’s Prancer having to begrudgingly coexist with everyone when I’m around. We also mentioned no kids for Prancer. I think at this point, you can imagine why. He’s never been in the presence of a child, but I can already imagine the demonic noises and shaking fury that would erupt from his body if he was. Prancer wants to be your only child. So what are his good traits? He is loyal beyond belief, although to tell you a secret his complex is really just a facade for his fear. If someone tried to kill you I can guarantee he would run away screeching. But as far as companionship, you will never be alone again. He likes to go for car rides, he is housebroken, he knows a few basic commands, he is quiet and non destructive when left alone at home, and even though we call him bologna face he is kind of cute to look at. He also “smiles” when he is excited. His ideal home would be with a single woman, a mother and daughter, or a lesbian couple. You can’t live in an apartment or a condo unless you want him to ankle bite your neighbors. We already addressed the men and children situation. If you have people over he would have to be put away like he’s a vacuum. I know finding someone who wants a chucky doll in a dogs body is hard, but I have to try. Prancer is available through Second Chance Pet Adoption League. He is in New Jersey but can be adopted anywhere in the general tri state area. If you’ve always wanted your own haunted Victorian child in the body of a small dog that hates men and children, please email [email protected] Oh, also he’s only 2yrs old and will probably live to be 21 through pure spite, so take that into account if you’re interested.

Second Chance Pet Adoption League

The good news is that Prancer has been adopted and now has his own Instagram account @prancerthechihuahua

Hat-tipping Devon for the pointer.

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Current Events

Biko’s Manna

Biko and Manna Nhlangothi are a sister and brother duo raised by musician parents that perform as Biko Manna. They’ve been dazzling crowds with their street performances in their home county of South Africa for several years but have recently hit it big by covering Japanese pop songs on YouTube.

Biko’s Manna’s cover of Pretender

Apparently the story is the father visited Japan and fell in love with Japanese pop music and brought back some music with him. His kids picked up the lyrics by ear and they’ve made their own cover versions.

I’d love to learn more about them, there’s very little written in English but I could see them touring Japan someday. Biko’s voice will knock your socks off but her brother and younger (friend?) that joins in to ham it up are a kick too.

Here’s a documentary I found that talks a little about their background.

If you want more Biko’s Manna, here’s a good playlist.

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Current Events

George Floyd

The entire nation was listening with a lump in their throat as it could have gone either way. When the verdict was read, guilty on all charges, I had the window open and could hear the car horns on the street all go off at the same time. It was the same when they called Pennsylvania for Biden – like seeing the sun rise over the horizon.

The defense was unable to surmount the overwhelming video evidence of George Floyd’s murder. We all saw it and nothing could change our minds from what we saw on camera. There was no other way to “frame” the story, no broader narrative could justify what we all saw before us.

Today’s The Daily podcast had a good wrap-up of the significance of this verdict along with excerpts from the Floyd family speaking at a post-trial press conference which really brought home the emotional significance of the judgement for the Floyd family and really, all of us.

Excerpts from Floyd Family post-trial press conference, April 20, 2021

The healing for George Floyd’s family can begin but the struggle will continue.

Today America took an important step. It is but one step and many more remain. It is no assurance that we will continue to stride forward in justice. But it is also a day to pause and reflect that a better, more just, more equitable America, a more perfect union for all our citizens, is indeed possible. We cannot, will not, be perfect. We can, we must be better – ever improving. Today’s verdict has made the embers of hope glow a little brighter.

Dan Rather – Guilty on All Charges
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Current Events

Alps Raw Run

Grace under pressure, poetry in motion. I do not recommend you attempt skateboarding down the Alps but I do suggest you witness Josh Neuman’s 11:27 minute crazy-ass decent.

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Current Events

Computer Simulation

This ad for Pocari Sweat, a Japanese sports drink, simulates computer graphics but is actually shot almost entirely analog. Check out the second video for a look at the behind the scenes magic.

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Current Events

Vaccine side effects

Business Insider pulled together data from the FDA and put together a visualization that’s the answer to the question on everyone’s mind. I’ve been forwarding the article to everyone and then telling them to scroll down to the graphic but it’s easier to just highlight it here.

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Current Events

Fairness

NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt gave a talk upon accepting the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication. In his televised speech, he spoke not only of his career in broadcast journalism but also gave his perspective on recent events and the importance of distinguishing between balanced and truthful coverage.

The idea that we should always give two sides equal weight and merit does not reflect the world we find ourselves in. That the sun sets in the west is a fact. Any contrary view does not deserve our time or attention. I know recent events assure that you won’t have to look far to find more current and relevant examples, I think you get my point.

Decisions to not give unsupported arguments equal time are not a dereliction of journalistic responsibility or some kind of an agenda. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Providing an open platform for misinformation, for anyone to come say whatever they want, especially when issues of public health and safety are at stake, can be quite dangerous.

Lester Holt, March 30, 2021