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October 04, 2009

Brooke Shields naked, age 10: "There is something horrible about the photo."

Brooke Shields is almost exactly my age. And when we were were 14 in 1980, I saw her Calvin Klein ad on Chicago's Channel 7 Eyewitness News. And coming back from the break, I saw that anchor Joel Daley had the same "What the fuck?" expression on his face that I felt. Um, it's not okay to sexualize 14-year-old girls... right? I'm glad Joel and I didn't know about this photo. Naked Brooke Shields photo is an image for which you must write your own commentary | Art and design | The Guardian
Head to one side, the model stares back at the viewer. It is a knowing, adult look, though the naked body appears much younger, as if it is a montage. An uncomfortable image in all sorts of ways, as Richard Prince realised when he first presented it in an otherwise empty gallery in New York in 1983. He borrowed the title, Spiritual America, from a 1923 photograph by Alfred Stieglitz, depicting the nether regions of a gelded workhorse. The disjunction between the images and the title they share is extremely powerful. Throughout his career Prince has borrowed images, from Marlboro Man ads to New Yorker cartoons. It would be too simple to say he is commenting on the American psyche; in fact, he leaves much of the commentary to us. If Spiritual America is a comment on the commodification and premature sexualisation of Brooke Shields, who was complicit in turning her into a 10-year-old sex object? Not Prince. That had happened almost a decade before he re-used the image. There is something horrible about the photo. I feel uncomfortable.

Infamous private land seized for commercial development still sits empty and blighted

The Associated Press: Conn. land vacant 4 years after court OK'd seizure Four years ago the Supreme Court ruled that local governments could use eminent domain laws to take private property (in this case, 100-year-old homes) and give them to commercial developers (associated with Pfizer) in the interest of creating jobs, etc. It was a shitstorm when the ruling came down, and many municipalities and states passed new anti-seizure statutes to protect against it. As a follow-up, the AP went back to look what happened to that seized land and finds that development never occurred. The pro-seizing homes people claim that the delay caused by due process litigation slowed the project too much. The anti-seizure people claim it was a stupid idea in the first place. What do you think?
NEW LONDON, Conn. — Weeds, glass, bricks, pieces of pipe and shingle splinters have replaced the knot of aging homes at the site of the nation's most notorious eminent domain project. There are a few signs of life: Feral cats glare at visitors from a miniature jungle of Queen Anne's lace, thistle and goldenrod. Gulls swoop between the lot's towering trees and the adjacent sewage treatment plant. But what of the promised building boom that was supposed to come wrapped and ribboned with up to 3,169 new jobs and $1.2 million a year in tax revenues? They are noticeably missing. Proponents of the ambitious plan blame the sour economy. Opponents call it a "poetic justice." "They are getting what they deserve. They are going to get nothing," said Susette Kelo, the lead plaintiff in the landmark property rights case. "I don't think this is what the United States Supreme Court justices had in mind when they made this decision."

October 03, 2009

Have anonymous comments become so vile that they need to be eliminated?

Is It O.K. to Blog About This Woman Anonymously? - The Moral of the Story Blog - NYTimes.com Judging by the comments at my city newspaper's website, I'd say hell yes.
Has anonymous posting, though generally protected by law, become so toxic that it should be discouraged? The Argument It has. To promote the social good of lively conversation and the exchange of ideas, transparency should be the default mode. And that goes both for lofty political discourse and casual comments on Amazon. “Says who?” is not a trivial question. It deepens the reader’s understanding to know who is speaking, from what perspective, with what (nutty?) history, and with what personal stake in the matter. It encourages civility and integrity in the writer to stand behind her words. There are times when anonymous posting is necessary, when disclosure is apt to bring harsh retribution — I’ll come to that — but more often, anonymous posting sustains a culture, or at least a hideous subculture, of calumny and malice so caustic as to inhibit the very discourse the Web can so admirably enable. Writers should not do it, and Web site hosts should not allow it. As the writer Katha Pollitt (who is also my ex-wife) puts it: “I get a ton of hostile, misogynous, idiotic comments from anonymous trolls when I blog at The Nation. Sometimes I feel like I am dancing on the table for an audience of drunks. Not only is it dispiriting — and let’s not forget that women writers on the Internet receive vastly more hateful comments than male writers — it has nothing to do with the brisk and vigorous exchange of ideas often said to be the reason for anonymity. Because there are no ideas and no exchange.”
(Via Violet Blue)