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Archive for December 18th, 2011

Banksy’s sculpture dedicated to abusive priests

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Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

Street artist Banksy has installed a vandalised sculpture of a priest in a gallery in Liverpool.

Cardinal Sin is a bust with its face sawn off and replaced by blank tiles, designed as a response to the child abuse scandal in the Catholic church.

In a statement, Banksy said: “I’m never sure who deserves to be put on a pedestal or crushed under one.”

The sculpture was unveiled at the Walker Art Gallery, where it is sitting alongside 17th Century religious art. The bathroom tiles have been put in place of the priest’s face to create a pixelated effect…

The statue? I guess you could call it a Christmas present. At this time of year it’s easy to forget the true meaning of Christianity – the lies, the corruption, the abuse…”

This is only the second time that the secretive artist, known for his subversive images on street walls, has created work for a gallery…

Cardinal Sin has been loaned indefinitely by the artist to the Walker Gallery.

As much as I dislike graffiti, I love Banksy.

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Written by Ed Campbell

December 18, 2011 at 10:00 pm

Enduring relationship – China’s longest marriage, oldest couple

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A man and woman who have been married for 90 years say the secret to a happy union and long life is harmony and working every day.

Yang Shengzhong, 109, and his 106-year-old wife Jin Jifen, celebrated their 90th wedding anniversary earlier this year in their wooden house in a village surrounded by mountains and terraced fields in Pingtang county, Guizhou province.

“My husband and I have seldom exchanged angry words,” she said. “It is important that the family maintain a peaceful and happy life together and understand each other.”

Though they have both lost teeth over the years, they still have a good appetite. Yang does most of the cooking and Jin helps out. It takes more than an hour for them to prepare a meal of steamed rice, vegetables, soup and preserved pork…

“I married Yang when I was 16,” Jin recalls. “And that time, I thought to myself, if this man loves me and will always treat me well, I will stay with him for all my life…”

The couple believes that the keys to longevity are working every day, keeping a harmonious family and having “inner peace and a grateful heart”.

The family grows rice and corn. Yang sometimes works in the cornfield while his wife insists on doing housework by herself every day.

A good natural environment and clean water have contributed to increased life spans in the area, according to Wang Feng from the Gerontological Society of China.

By official accounts, there are six men and women above the age of 100 in Pingtang’s Tongzhou township, with the oldest a 111-year-old woman…

Last year, the society discovered 27 couples where both spouses were centenarians.

Wang has visited many of them. He said couples who have been married for a long time have characters that complement each other, boast of a peaceful mindset, keep themselves busy and have a simple diet.

A goal worth striving for. A couple I try to emulate.

Even though I holler a lot at the rest of the world. :)

Written by Ed Campbell

December 18, 2011 at 6:00 pm

IT firm thinks it will boost productivity by eliminating email – WTF?

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Global technology giant Atos, which plans to stop using email internally by 2014, says it is already seeing the benefits of the initiative.

Atos, a French firm with 80,000 employees around the world, first announced the plan — described by some critics as “stupid” and by others as “ingenious” — in February.

The company said an internal review found that on average, employees spend 15 to 20 hours a week on email, and only 15 per cent of the emails are actually useful. It also found that younger workers barely used email, relying more on social media, said Holger Kormann, general manager of Atos Canada, which has 250 employees.

The company is currently in the early stages of creating awareness of the initiative and introducing replacement tools such as instant messaging, video conferencing, Facebook, and collaboration software such as Live Meeting, Kormann told CBC’s The Current…

Already, he said, instant messaging has proven to be more effective for time-sensitive communications, and Kormann has reduced his own email load by 20 per cent.

Over time, the initiative will help balance people’s personal and professional time, he said, as people are no longer contacted while they are away from the office…

William Powers…said Atos isn’t the first company to consider phasing out email. “Other companies including Intel the chip-maker have been doing experiments of this kind for a decade or more,” he said. “In fact, the tech companies have always been leading the way in rethinking the very tools that they make.”

And after “a decade or more” they’ve added additional services and do a better job of filtering email.

The fact remains that for legal reasons – ranging from truthful accounting practices to recording relevant dates on the creation of intellectual property – email will be preferred either as the time-line record or some replacement which does the same thing.

Communications over social networks add nothing to record-keeping and probably open up information about procedures and decisions to competitors. Yup – let’s make communications more efficient by blocking them. Absurd!

Thanks, Cinaedh

Written by Ed Campbell

December 18, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Republicans would never behave like Tories, right?

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Friends of a high-flying Tory MP are ‘facing prosecution’ for chanting offensive Nazi slogans in a crowded restaurant at a French ski resort – where one of the party dressed in an SS uniform.

Aidan Burley, MP for Cannock Chase in Staffordshire, was with 12 friends, some of whom chanted ‘Hitler, Hitler, Hitler’. One toasted the ‘Third Reich’ and one taunted a waiter for being French.

Mr Burley has since apologised for the ‘clearly inappropriate behaviour’, but members of his party now face prosecution after it was revealed examining judges were set to look at video footage of the incident. This is because under the French penal code it is a crime, unless required for a film, a play or a historical exhibition, to wear or exhibit in public anything reminiscent of what was worn or used by the Nazis…

…Another guest, sitting beside the MP at the restaurant in the ski resort of Val Thorens, was caught on film making a speech in which he said: ‘Let’s raise a toast to Tom for organising the stag do, and if we’re perfectly honest, to the ideology and thought process of the Third Reich…’

A French police spokesman confirmed that an investigation could be launched, and said: ‘Anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi crimes are taken extremely seriously in France. Anyone suspected of breaking the law in this respect can and will be prosecuted.’

RTFA. Lots more detail. Nothing that would surprise anyone who knows anything about the history of fascism.

Though the breed that produced demagogues from Mosley to Quisling, Joe McCarthy to George Wallace, often depends on deluded working people as cannon fodder, at root and heart, all their values are ultimately focused on providing support for political power to reside with corporate wealth.

Republicans, like Tories, leap to provide excuses for behavior like this. Just funning around, playfulness, joking about history – even if it’s a history that meant the murder of millions.

Written by Ed Campbell

December 18, 2011 at 10:00 am

Young, Black — and automatically profiled by the NYPD

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Nicholas K. Peart is a student at Borough of Manhattan Community College
He has been stopped and frisked by New York City police officers at least five times

When I was 14, my mother told me not to panic if a police officer stopped me. And she cautioned me to carry ID and never run away from the police or I could be shot. In the nine years since my mother gave me this advice, I have had numerous occasions to consider her wisdom.

One evening in August of 2006, I was celebrating my 18th birthday with my cousin and a friend. We were staying at my sister’s house on 96th Street and Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan and decided to walk to a nearby place and get some burgers. It was closed so we sat on benches in the median strip that runs down the middle of Broadway. We were talking, watching the night go by, enjoying the evening when suddenly, and out of nowhere, squad cars surrounded us. A policeman yelled from the window, “Get on the ground!”

I was stunned. And I was scared. Then I was on the ground — with a gun pointed at me. I couldn’t see what was happening but I could feel a policeman’s hand reach into my pocket and remove my wallet. Apparently he looked through and found the ID I kept there. “Happy Birthday,” he said sarcastically. The officers questioned my cousin and friend, asked what they were doing in town, and then said goodnight and left us on the sidewalk…

RTFA. Learn something about life outside your neighborhood, your community – unless, like Nicholas Pearl, you are non-white in a white-ruled American city.

Incident follows incident as night follows day in America. Though I grew up in the white end of a New England factory town, I walked away from that world before the civil rights movement became a political phenomenon in the late 1950′s. Excepting time spent in the plant where I worked, I mostly lived, mostly spent my waking creative hours as musician and poet, singer and essayist, part-time student and full-time hipster [in Norman Mailer's terms] on Black streets, in Black bars, in a Black American Legion club, immersed in the lives of my brothers and sisters in song and spirit.

Ain’t nothing much changed. The big stuff, the official crap, the “legal” crimes against Americans are gone. Daily practices ain’t especially changed. And what happened to Borinquen brothers in Bridgeport happened to Chicano brothers on Chicago’s near North Side – and still does in whatever side of whichever town folks are relegated to by skin color and accent.

Here are a few other facts: last year, the N.Y.P.D. recorded more than 600,000 stops; 84 percent of those stopped were blacks or Latinos. Police are far more likely to use force when stopping blacks or Latinos than whites. In half the stops police cite the vague “furtive movements” as the reason for the stop. Maybe black and brown people just look more furtive, whatever that means. These stops are part of a larger, more widespread problem — a racially discriminatory system of stop-and-frisk in the N.Y.P.D. The police use the excuse that they’re fighting crime to continue the practice, but no one has ever actually proved that it reduces crime or makes the city safer. Those of us who live in the neighborhoods where stop-and-frisks are a basic fact of daily life don’t feel safer as a result…

I’m doing what I can to help change things and am acting as a witness in a lawsuit brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights to stop the police from racially profiling and harassing black and brown people in New York.

Keep on rockin’ in the Free World.

Written by Ed Campbell

December 18, 2011 at 6:00 am

Rwanda’s poop-powered prisons

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Prisoner poop + cow poop

In order to reduce energy costs and protect Rwanda’s forests, the country’s 14 prison have introduced biogas burners, so they are now 75% powered by the inmates’ own waste. The burners need one thing – a regular, reliable supply of waste – and jails are perfect.

The biogas is produced by combining the inmates’ waste from Nsinda Prison’s 24 toilets with cow dung from the jail’s farm cows and water. The prisoners’ diet is not rich enough to produce top quality gas on its own but the pungent cocktail of human and animal waste produces premium gas.

Way too smart for anyone running a prison in the US to adopt.

Written by Ed Campbell

December 18, 2011 at 2:00 am

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