Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Anonymous posted this in a comment below. I think it is important enough to bring it up front. It turns out Steven Kurtz of the Critical Art Ensemble is being indicted.

Art Professor Indicted for Illegal Medium

The Associated Press
Tuesday, June 29, 2004; 6:08 PM

BUFFALO, N.Y. - An art professor whose use of biological materials made him the target of a federal terrorism investigation - which sparked an outcry in the world art community - was indicted Tuesday on charges he obtained the materials illegally.

Steven Kurtz, a University at Buffalo professor, was charged along with Robert Ferrell, chairman of the University of Pittsburgh's Human Genetics Department, in a four-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury seated earlier this month.

Prosecutors said Ferrell used his University at Pittsburgh account with a biological supply company to order potentially harmful organisms for Kurtz, which colleagues said Kurtz intended to use in an art project.

"The charges do not relate to bioterrorism," U.S. Attorney Michael Battle said. "Very simply, this is a case about fraud."

Kurtz is a founding member of the Critical Art Ensemble, which has used human DNA and other biological materials to draw attention to social issues, such as genetically altered foods.

As a private individual, Kurtz was not eligible to order the materials allegedly obtained for him by Ferrell, authorities said.

A call to Kurtz's attorney was not immediately returned.

Outraged by the investigation of Kurtz, artists and academics earlier this month held simultaneous rallies in Buffalo; Vienna, Austria; Amsterdam, Netherlands; and Berkeley, Calif.

A colleague of Kurtz's who was among several people subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury, called the indictment "a total joke."

"It sounds like they're trying to keep face because they overreacted and made fools of themselves," the colleague, speaking on condition of anonymity, said.

The investigation began in May after Kurtz called 911 to report the death of his wife, Hope, in their home. Firefighters who responded noticed the biological materials and notified Buffalo police, who then contacted the Joint Terrorism Task Force. The JTTF spent two days removing materials from the home.

The University at Buffalo, in a statement, said it would review the charges before considering any action, while stressing its commitment to the academic freedom of faculty members to pursue research.

As for Ferrell, "He is still a faculty member at the university and a distinguished scientist," spokesman Robert Hill said. "We do hope for a swift and positive outcome."

Both men face 20 years in prison if convicted.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Ray Charles, Steve Lacy, and Robert Quine should be getting the real state funerals.

Monday, June 07, 2004

I've officially had it up to HERE with Ronald Reagan. His presidency may or may not have made our lives worse in all kinds of ways while he was still alive (I lean towards the former), but he's made my life very inconvenient with his death. I spent 45 minutes waiting in traffic on my way to work today while his presidential funeralcade made its way across an overpass on the 405 freeway. Los Angeles firemen, who should know better, lined the overpass in full view, fists in the air, and draped giant American flags from three-story-high extended fire-ladders, causing all the traffic on the freeway to slow to a crawl as motorists took a look. If car horns are any measure of approval, only the big-rigs seemed to enjoy this spectacle. The rest of us were left to curse this total waste of city resources. I want that 45 minutes of my life back, including reimbursement of the cost in wasted gasoline (which is now at $2.49 a gallon in Los Angeles).

UPDATE: Now is the time to remember J.G. Ballard's short story "Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan".

Ronald Reagan and the conceptual auto disaster. Numerous studies have been conducted upon patients in terminal paresis (GPI), placing Reagan in a series of simulated auto crashes, e.g. multiple pileups, head-on collisions, motorcade attacks (fantasies of Presidential assassinations remained a continuing preoccupation, subject showing a marked polymorphic fixation on windshields and rear trunk assemblies). Powerful erotic fantasies of an anal-sadistic surrounded the image of the Presidential contender. Subjects were required to construct the optimum auto disaster victim by placing a replica of Reagan’s head on the unretouched photographs of crash fatalities.
In 82% of cases massive rear-end collisions were selected with a preference for expressed fecal matter and rectal hemorrhages. Further tests were conducted to define the optimum model-year. These indicate that a three year model lapse with child victims provide the maximum audience excitation (confirmed by manufacturers’ studies of the optimum auto disaster). It is hoped to construct a rectal modulous of Reagan and the auto disaster of maximized audience arousal.
Motion picture studies of Ronald Reagan reveal characteristic patterns of facial tones and musculature associated with homoerotic behavior. The continuing tension of buccal sphincters and the recessive tongue role tally with earlier studies of facial rigidity (cf., Adolf Hitler, Nixon). Slow-motion cine films of campaign speeches exercised a marked erotic effect upon an audience of spastic children. Even with mature adults the verbal material was found to have a minimal effect, as demonstrated by substitution of an edited tape giving diametrically opposed opinions...
Incidence of orgasms in fantasies of sexual intercourse with Ronald Reagan. Patients were provided with assembly kit photographs of sexual partners during intercourse. In each case Reagan’s face was super imposed upon the original partner. Vaginal intercourse with "Reagan" proved uniformly disappointing, producing orgasm in 2% of subjects. Axillary, buccal, navel, aural, and orbital modes produced proximal erections. The preferred mode of entry overwhelmingly proved to be the rectal. After a preliminary course in anatomy it was found that the caecum and transverse colon also provided excellent sites for excitation. In an extreme 12% of cases, the simulated anus of post-costolomy surgery generated spontaneous orgasm in 98% of penetrations. Multiple-track cine-films were constructed of "Reagan" in intercourse during (a) campaign speeches, (b) rear-end auto collisions with one and three year model changes, (c) with rear exhaust assemblies...
Sexual fantasies in connection with Ronald Reagan. The genitalia of the Presidential contender exercised a continuing fascination. A series of imaginary genitalia were constructed using (a) the mouth parts of Jacqueline Kennedy, (b) a Cadillac, (c) the assembly kid prepuce of President Johnson...In 89% of cases, the constructed genitalia generated a high incidence of self-induced orgasm. Tests indicate the masturbatory nature of the Presidential contender’s posture. Dolls consisting of plastic models of Reagan’s alternate genitalia were found to have a disturbing effect on deprived children.
Reagan’s hairstyle. Studies were conducted on the marked fascination exercised by the Presidential contender’s hairstyle. 65% of male subjects made positive connections between the hairstyle and their own pubic hair. A series of optimum hairstyles were constructed.
The conceptual role of Reagan. Fragments of Reagan’s cinetized postures were used in the construction of model psychodramas in which the Reagan-figure played the role of husband, doctor, insurance salesman, marriage counsellor, etc.
The failure of these roles to express any meaning reveals the nonfunctional character of Reagan. Reagan’s success therefore indicates society’s periodic need to re-conceptualize its political leaders. Reagan thus appears as a series of posture concepts, basic equations which reformulate the roles of aggression and anality. Reagan’s personality. The profound anality of the Presidential contender may be expected to dominate the United States in the coming years. By contrast the late JFK remained the prototype of the oral subject, usually conceived in pre-pubertal terms. In further studies sadistic psychopaths were given the task of devising sex fantasies involving Reagan. Results confirm the probability of Presidential figures being perceived primarily in genital terms; the face of LB Johnson is clearly genital in significant appearance--the nasal prepuce, scrotal jaw, etc. Faces were seen as either circumcised (JFK, Khrushchev) or uncircumcised (LBJ, Adenauer). In assembly-kit tests Reagan’s face was uniformly perceived as a penile erection. Patients were encouraged to devise the optimum sex-death of Ronald Reagan.

UPDATE II: Christopher Hitchens on Ronald Reagan.

Ronald Reagan claimed that the Russian language had no word for "freedom." (The word is "svoboda"; it's quite well attested in Russian literature.) Ronald Reagan said that intercontinental ballistic missiles (not that there are any non-ballistic missiles—a corruption of language that isn't his fault) could be recalled once launched. Ronald Reagan said that he sought a "Star Wars" defense only in order to share the technology with the tyrants of the U.S.S.R. Ronald Reagan professed to be annoyed when people called it "Star Wars," even though he had ended his speech on the subject with the lame quip, "May the force be with you." Ronald Reagan used to alarm his Soviet counterparts by saying that surely they'd both unite against an invasion from Mars. Ronald Reagan used to alarm other constituencies by speaking freely about the "End Times" foreshadowed in the Bible. In the Oval Office, Ronald Reagan told Yitzhak Shamir and Simon Wiesenthal, on two separate occasions, that he himself had assisted personally at the liberation of the Nazi death camps.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

A scientist believes he has discovered the lost city of Atlantis in southern Spain.

Satellite photos of southern Spain reveal features on the ground appearing to match descriptions made by Greek scholar Plato of the fabled utopia.
Dr Rainer Kuehne thinks the "island" of Atlantis simply referred to a region of the southern Spanish coast destroyed by a flood between 800 BC and 500 BC.

Quote of the day: "People knew he was building the armored bulldozer, but they didn't know why he was building it."

Runner-up: "Are we sure he's dead? Stake in the heart! Chop off his head!"
Loyd Sigmon, inventor of the SigAlert traffic warning, has died. If you're not from Los Angeles, you might be wondering, "What's a SigAlert?" It's not quite a traffic jam: an unplanned lane blockage of at least half an hour.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

The sad (and disturbing) story of Steven Kurtz of the Critical Art Ensemble.
GrepLaw has posted some hilarious (and disturbing) political remixes of FOX News and US Army commercials.