WEDNESDAY | 10 JULY 2013

TORTURE

YASIIN BEY (AKA MOS DEF) FORCE FED UNDER STANDARD GUANT NAMO BAY PROCEDURE


Asif Kapadia | The Guardian | via Hyperallergenic

As Ramadan begins, more than 100 hunger-strikers in Guantánamo Bay continue their protest. More than 40 of them are being force-fed. A leaked document sets out the military instructions, or standard operating procedure, for force-feeding detainees. In this four-minute film made by Human Rights organisation Reprieve and Bafta award-winning director Asif Kapadia, US actor and rapper Yasiin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def), experiences the procedure.

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LAW | LABOR

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NOT EVEN A BOURGEOIS FREEDOM: LIBERTY OF CONTRACT IN JOHN ROBERT’S AMERICA

Corey Robin | Crooked Timber

Now there was always a problem with this thesis: as Karen Orren has argued, up until the twentieth century, public and private power-holders (specifically, employers and judges) often imposed overt and formal constraints upon the worker’s exercise of her independent will. At-will employment was often a myth, not merely because workers were not the economic equals of their employers, but also because of legal liabilities imposed by these judges and employers. For example, when seeking a new job, workers were often required by law to present testimonial letters from their previous employers; without those letters, they were out of luck. That rule effectively kept them in the employ of their previous boss. Conversely, vagrancy laws could be used to force men and women into the workplace.

But now comes this latest report from the Los Angeles Times (h/t Frank Pasquale), suggesting we’re back in a version of the nineteenth century, in which this same nexus of employers and judges is being used to sharply abridge whatever modicum of freedom there is to be found in at-will employment.

Emboldened by a series of Supreme Court decisions and an employers’ job market, many companies are starting to require workers to sign away their rights in return for a job. It is a trend that experts worry could further wear away employees’ power in the workplace. The contracts make it harder for employees to join class-action lawsuits, take their employers to court, or leave to go work somewhere else.

Mazhar Saleem is bound to his employer by a number of contracts that made it hard to earn enough money to live, but also hard to go work anywhere else. He drives a town car for a company in New York as an independent contractor, rather than as a full-time employee. That means he doesn’t get benefits, never gets overtime, and isn’t guaranteed set hours.

But he also signed a non-compete contract when he started working, meaning he can’t drive a car for anyone else in New York. So even if his employer doesn’t give him any work, he’s not allowed to go find it elsewhere, says his attorney, Michael Scimone, with the law firm Outten and Golden.

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DESIGN

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THE ROOM THAT FITS IN A SUITCASE

Alasdair Alan | Make Magazine

Designed by Roberto De Luca and Antonio Scarponi as modular office space—Hotello is portable space. Packed into the bright red trunk is everything you need to create a 6.5 × 6.5 ft square workspace in minutes. From the metal frame, to the furniture, to the curtains surrounding the space itself.

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POLITICS

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WILL CLINTON BE OUR EISENHOWER?

David Warsh | Economic Principles

Three years to the next election is a long time in this fast-paced world. If it turns out to be Clinton’s turn to carry on after 2016, as now seems likely it will, her job likely will be to take over an agenda set by others and broaden its acceptance, much as Eisenhower took over the New Deal reform from Harry Truman and governed peaceably long enough for the divisions to work themselves out – Roosevelt-hating, anti-communist fear-mongering, and the fear of return to depression. Finally above the fray, it would be a very different role than the one she imagined for herself, a lifetime ago, as a trailing spousal newcomer to the White House, channeling Eleanor Roosevelt!

NOT LIKE IKE

Paul Krugman | The New York Times

So, what would a Hillary Clinton presidency be like? She would not be a figure of reconciliation — that would take a moderate Republican. And right now there are no moderate Republicans, more or less by definition: show any signs of moderation, and you are excommunicated.

That will, one hopes, eventually change — but it’s going to take several big electoral defeats, and it’s not going to happen by 2016. If she becomes president, which does look fairly likely, Clinton will almost surely face the same environment Obama has faced all along — a completely obstructionist, hate-filled opposition. The only thing that might change this would be if her victory is really shocking — say, Democrats retake both houses of Congress and Clinton herself carries Texas.

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FOOD

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FOOD SECURITY WEAKENING ON A SCALE WE HAVEN’T SEEN – EXPERT

Laurie Goering | Thomson Reuters Foundation

full planet empty platesThe essential problem, he said, is that the world’s agriculture “has evolved over 11,000 years to maximize production in a stable system. Suddenly the climate system is changing, and each year it and the agriculture system will be more out of synch with each other.”

In the Amazon, for instance, continued destruction of the forest, in part to feed China’s growing demand for soybeans, appears to be disrupting rain cycles in South America, threatening more frequent droughts and crop losses in important grain growing regions in Brazil and Argentina.

China, one of the world’s largest grain producers, also is struggling with increasingly severe weather, including worsening droughts, and fast-dropping groundwater tables. And the United States just last year saw as much as $200 billion in agricultural losses after a record drought.

Such changes are poised to translate into a deepening of world hunger, Brown said, with the risk that an extreme weather disaster in a major grain-producing country such as the United States, China or India could bring quick and more global famine.

THIS TERRIFYING CHART SHOWS WE AREN’T GROWING ENOUGH FOOD TO FEED THE WORLD

Brad Plumer | Wonkblog | The Washington Post

The world’s farmers will just need to get better at squeezing more productivity out of existing farmland. Crop yields have been steadily improving since the advent of synthetic fertilizer and modern agricultural techniques. So those yields will just need to keep improving in the years to come.

But there’s a big problem: This isn’t happening. Or at least, it’s not happening fast enough. A recent peer-reviewed study in the journal PLOS ONE found that crop yields haven’t been rising at a sufficient pace to meet projected demand by 2050. Here’s the key graph:

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EGYPT

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A YEAR OF DRAWING MORSI

Jonathan Guyer | News Desk | The New Yorker

From the day that Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi took office, on June 30, 2012, opposition cartoonists have been brazen in their attacks on him. Most newspaper editors refrained from mockery of Morsi’s predecessor, Hosni Mubarak, during his thirty-year reign, but in the new Egypt, things are different. A law against “insulting” the President remains in the penal code, but illustrators unabashedly lampoon Morsi on a daily basis.

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Mostafa Salem, Al-Masry Al-Youm, December 7, 2012

“I am the people!” shrieks the President in Mostafa Salem’s cartoon from Al-Masry Al-Youm, Egypt’s largest circulation independent daily. The artist riffs off the popular anti-Mubarak revolutionary chant, “The People Want the Downfall of the Regime.” On Friday, the chants in Tahrir Square were rather different than a year ago. One popular mantra called on Morsi to “Get out, Get out;” others asked the military to take to the streets and oust him.

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Cheb Makhlouf, Al-Masry Al-Youm, June 26, 2013

“The Speech”—published on Wednesday, just before a national address that Morsi gave recounting a year of accomplishments. In Al-Masry Al-Youm, Makhlouf, who is also the paper’s cartoon editor, has taken to drawing a daily anti-Morsi jab, which appears on page three. His rendering of the President grows cruder by the day.

EIGHT THOUGHTS ON WHAT’S HAPPENING IN EGYPT

David Wearing | New Left Project

Some thoughts, in no particular order, on what’s happening in Egypt at the moment. . .

4. Casual racists in the Western commentariat who told us that lifting the autocrat rock in the Arab world would reveal nothing but Islamist bugs underneath need to explain to us where all those people came from yesterday. It was clear to any informed observer, and is now undeniable, that Arab politics is diverse, contested space (which includes Muslims shocked and alienated by the behaviour of the Brotherhood). These societies are no more ideologically homogenous than any others around the world.

6. The multitudes on the streets are a big warning signal for the IMF and Egyptian policymakers of whatever stripe seeking to force the cost of decades of economic mismanagement onto the Egyptian population through structural adjustment and austere loan conditionality. Good luck getting the people to accept any of that, in the current climate.

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TURKEY

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THE FASCINATING MAKESHIFT SHELTERS THAT OCCUPIED TURKEY’S PROTESTS

Sammy Medina | Co.Design

Like recent protest movements that inspired it, #OccupyGezi seemed to have come out of nowhere. What began as an environmental demonstration to dispute the development of Istanbul’s Gezi Park transformed into nationwide protests involving hundreds of thousands. The crowds voiced their discontent with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s leadership, his authoritarian impulses, and the creeping defeat of secularism in Turkey.

By June 1, Gezi Park–one of the last public green spaces left in central Istanbul–was littered with small, informal encampments that the protesters erected with all the spare materials they could get their hands on. The camps were short-lived, but Turkish architect collective Herkes Icin Mimarlik (Turkish for “Architecture for All”) took the initiative of recording, on paper, the spontaneous constructions.

#OCCUPYGEZI ARCHITECTURE

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occupygezi communal table - drawing
occupygezi communal table - photo

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INNOVATION

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SILICON VALLEY CAN’T BE COPIED

Vivek Wadhwa | MIT Technology Review

New Jersey’s business and government leaders, led by Bell Labs, decided that the solution was to build a university much like Stanford. And that is what they hoped Terman would do.

Terman drafted a plan, but he could not get it off the ground, largely because industry would not collaborate. This history was documented by Stuart W. Leslie and Robert H. Kargon in a 1996 paper titled “Selling Silicon Valley.” They tell of how RCA would not sign up for a partnership with Bell Labs, how Esso didn’t want to share its best researchers with a university, and how Merck and other drug firms wanted to keep their research dollars in house. Despite common needs, companies would not work with competitors.

. . . Note that from 1995 to 2005, 52.4 percent of engineering and technology startups in Silicon Valley had one or more people born outside the United States as founders. That was twice the rate seen in the U.S. as a whole. Immigrants like me who came to Silicon Valley found it easy to adapt and assimilate. We were able to learn the rules of engagement, create our own networks, and participate as equals. These days, the campuses of companies such as Google resemble the United Nations. Their cafeterias don’t serve hot dogs; they serve Chinese and Mexican dishes, and curries from both northern and southern India.

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CINEMA

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ASTONISHING LOOK AT THE GREAT GATSBY BEFORE AND AFTER THE VFX WORK

Maisie Skidmore | It’s Nice That

The film shows how the set looked before and after VFX work was added to the shots, revealing how the art deco palaces, stunning sunsets and towering New York skylines were conjured out of a sea of green screens and blue sheeting, and then manipulated to make happily bewitched viewers like myself believe that they were real. Set design fanatics should also check out the comments section for detailed explanations from Chris as to how the unbelievable effects were achieved; the amount of work that has gone into shaping the film into the VFX masterpiece it turned out to be is absolutely staggering.

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DESIGN

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S. JOÃO STRUCTURE: STREET PARTY INSTALLATION BY FAHR 021.3

DesignBoom

This temporary installation ‘S. João Structure’ is a result of a community workshop by Portugal-based FAHR 021.3 architects. The design reflects a typical Portuguese street party – locally known as ‘S. João’. one of Europe’s liveliest street festivals, the people of Porto pay tribute to Saint John the Baptist by traditionally hitting each other with garlic flowers or soft plastic hammers. Characterized by the color of ribbons and flags that populate the streets and the fireworks that are launched throughout the night, the ‘S. João Structure’ reinterprets this atmosphere with hanging balloon-like forms that have a reflective, shiny material.

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ARCHITECTURE

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SUITCASE HOUSE BY GARY CHANG

For ‘Suitcase House,’ a commission from the commune by the great wall, the proverbial image of a house is inverted in that specific programming transforms readily with a concealed landscape of pneumatically assisted floor panels. These metamorphic notched spaces can be are revealed as a music chamber, library, study, lounge, glazed-floor meditation chamber and fully-equipped sauna. Drawing from the boundless and stretched built mass of the nearby great wall, the domestically-proportioned hotel and event space is infinitely configurable. Surfaces and planes multitask, while large sliding partitions make use of the building’s north-south axis to maximize views of the great wall and bucolic Nangou Valley as well as enjoy solar exposure. Working under the premise that options are a prerequisite of luxury, the customizable planes also liberate interiors of furniture and activate the open-plan room. The space can comfortably house 14 people and is bolstered by the use of full height folding glass doors.

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SPEAKING OF GARY CHANG

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SIBLING SPACES: MODULE ROOMS MADE FOR BROTHER AND SISTER

WebUrbansist

For getting things done: a static, serious and refined work space is shared by the siblings. For everything else: there is a playful flexibility to be found in movable modules, hanging hammocks, cozy nooks and hidden ladders.

Designed by Ruetemple for a family in Moscow, Russia, this children-centric interior balances the need for serious engagement with studies and self-determination outside of school-related activity (plus perhaps lessons in sharing and diplomacy all around).

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PHOTOGRAPHY

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CRAIG SCHLEWITZ

Not Shaking the Grass
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craig-schlewitz

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ART

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EVAN EISEL

Jeff Hamada | Booooooom!
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ANIMATED SHORT

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DOVE SEI, AMOR MIO

Bonobostudio | Vimeo

Is the comfort of routine and the happiness it provides enough to keep us its slaves forever?

direction, script, design: Veljko Popović
lead animation: Marin Kovačić

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MUSIC

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PAUL BANKS: BANKS

Al Horner | New Music Express | amazon

“One of these days they’ll destroy this whole fucking town”, warns Interpol frontman Paul Banks on ‘No Mistakes’, the twisted, ’80s-tainted epic that is at the heart of his second solo album. There was a time when the New Yorkers seemed that powerful, a force of nature capable of tearing up towns and cities on their way to Radiohead status. But since the band’s debut, 2002’s ‘Turn On The Bright Lights’, they’ve done exactly the opposite of what the title told them, and the mood for the three albums that followed was as dark as a pair of cheap DIY-store patio lanterns.

. . . Opener ‘The Base’ sets the pace, as its bass twang and cinematic electronics snake around a deep, free-flowing groove. Elsewhere, the spirit of Talk Talk looms large over ‘Lisbon’, while ‘Over My Shoulder’ displays Banks’ knack for knockout poignancy: “You only hold me like the canyon holds the stream”, he sings with a wounded rasp.

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LAURA MARLING: ONCE I WAS AN EAGLE

Rachel Maddux | Pitchfork | amazon

Eagle was made over 10 days, with just a cellist and Johns (on carefully-placed drums, piano, organ) providing accompaniment; Marling recorded her vocal and guitar parts in a single take each, and in one day, though it somehow sounds even more immediate. Present in both her singing and her playing is a ferocity that now seems to have been lurking there all along; at times, too, she’s possessed by a newly emergent serenity, and an astonishing ability to shift between the two modes. This is especially evident on Eagle’s opening tracks, four songs written as a proper suite and a fifth that feels equally of a piece. Together they seamlessly, almost imperceptibly, build from somnambulant finger-picked acoustic to a wild fury of howling cello and frantic tabla-style percussion, “Take the Night Off” leading it off the way a rainshower usually precedes a hurricane; by “Master Hunter”, the suite’s cap, Marling is inhaling relationships and spitting them back out as heaving piles of splinters and ash.

The rest of the album is spent digging through the rubble, out of which creatures and names and scraps of ideas turn up over and over: birds and beasts, the devil, water– and, most prominently, the unnamed “you.” All through Eagle’s first half, this seems to be the same person, the same man: her “freewheeling troubadour,” the dove to her eagle. Some amount of drama has transpired offstage, though the specifics are not made clear, are perhaps too mundane to bother with; what’s extraordinary is how Marling handles the fallout. On these songs she interrogates him, indicts him, admits her own cruelty towards him, always stopping short of apology, not even allowing herself to playact the rites of guilt.

Laura Marling - Once I Was An Eagle