high tide and low tide in great britain. photographs by michael marten
For decades in art circles it was either a rumour or a joke, but now it is confirmed as a fact. The Central Intelligence Agency used American modern art - including the works of such artists as Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko - as a weapon in the Cold War. In the manner of a Renaissance prince - except that it acted secretly - the CIA fostered and promoted American Abstract Expressionist painting around the world for more than 20 years.
THIS IS THE COOLEST THING I HAVE READ IN FOREVER
AlexCF: Hello, my name is Alex. I call my work “cryptozoological pseudoscientific art”, which is a longwinded way of describing what i do, but it is pretty specific. I make items, artifacts and specimens from a past that never happened – the remains of extinct species, scientific discoveries, nefarious characters from ancient continents, relics of mysterious cultures – the things you wish you could find in your grandparents attic, or a secret room in an abandoned house. I have created a fictitious history in which certain rich collectors have spent their lives exploring and discovering, and it is my job to present these items to the public. Each piece has a story, and in time all will connect, and I will release a collected monograph of these items and the tale of their discovery. I take influence from maddening horror, Victorian aesthetic, sci-fi pulp and Darwinian biology.
Philadelphia-based tattoo artist Vinnie Myers only inks one kind of tattoo these days. Seeing at least three clients per day, Myers keeps busy tattooing incredibly life-like nipples on post-mastectomy patients’ breasts. Often, surgery to remove cancerous breast tissue leaves women without nipples, which can understandably lead to feelings of lost femininity, diminished sexuality and lowered body confidence. Enter Myers’ specialized tattoo skill set.
Kenyan Susan Oguya created an app to help farmers in her homeland. Shown here in the office of her company, M-Farm, she also belongs to the group Akirachix, which seeks to bring more Kenyan women into the tech world.
Kenyan Women Create Their Own ‘Geek Culture’
When a collective of female computer programmers in Kenya needed a name for their ladies-only club, they took their inspiration from the Japanese cult film Akira.
“So akira is a Japanese word. It means energy and intelligence. And we are energetic and intelligent chicks,” says Judith Owigar, the president of Akirachix.
A group like Akirachix would have been unthinkable even five years ago. But Kenya is making a big push toward IT — part of a plan to create a middle-class country by the year 2030.
Kenya has laid hundreds of miles of fiber optic cable. Google and IBM set up shop here. The city even has plans for a $7 billion technology hub just outside the capital, Nairobi.
But you need more than tech giants and broadband and even money to launch a local tech industry. You also need a culture of computer geeks. That’s where Owigar and her collective Akirachix come in. They want to make sure that the girl geeks are encouraged as much as the guys.
Bridging The Gender Gap
“You know you’re the oddball just because of your gender,” Owigar says.
It turns out that in Kenya, exactly as in Silicon Valley, the problem with getting more women in tech is that there aren’t more women in tech.
“There are probably other women in tech who are alone, and they think they’re the weird ones, but if enough of us meet together, you know, it won’t be so weird anymore,” Owigar says.
Susan Oguya is also an Akirachick. She grew up on a farm in western Kenya without a computer. But she was lucky enough to have an uncle who worked in Nairobi.
When he came home for the holidays, he would haul his entire workstation in the car back with him — the monitor, the CPU, the keyboard, the mouse — and set it up in Oguya’s living room. Oguya was 15.
“So he’d bring it over, we’d use it, and then he would go back with it,” Oguya says. “So in the times when I didn’t have a computer, there were books that he left. Books about what is a computer, parts of a computer, what is a ROM, what is a RAM. It’s really basic.”
When she got to a university, she majored in IT. She had an idea for a mobile phone app that would help farmers like her parents.
One of the striking things about Kenya is that even impoverished farmers have cellphones. For decades, Kenya was too poor to lay copper telephone wire in the ground, so the vast majority of Kenyans use cellphones as their primary phone.
Now, all those Kenyan cellphone users are set to take advantage of an increasingly mobile world. Oguya’s app would allow farmers to check the crop prices with text messaging, skipping the middleman.
“Yeah, corrupt middleman,” Oguya says. “Let’s say skipping the corrupt middleman.”
But Oguya was one of only 10 women in her department of 80 — about the same ratio you’d find in a computer science class at Stanford. Her teachers doubted her ability to actually program this app she’d thought up.
“In my culture, it’s like men can only communicate with men. And I was like, ‘OK.’ Then if I could share this passion, like try and explain to the person, this is what I want to do? It’s only a woman who could understand me better,” Oguya says.
It wasn’t until her third year that she met a computer researcher at the same university, Jessica Colaco, who says she bumped into Oguya in the hallway. “I remember when I met her in the corridor, Susan was really shy. She was like, ‘Excuse me, are you Jessica Colaco?’ ” she says.
“So she invited me and was like, ‘Come meet other women who also have a passion like you, but they want to relate to other women who don’t know that this exists,’ ” Oguya says.
Oguya started spending some Saturday mornings with Colaco and other women, snipping code and poring through hacker cookbooks. These informal gatherings became the Akirachix.
Oguya graduated and turned her mobile phone idea into a company called M-Farm. At 25 years old, she now has a staff of 18. And 7,000 African farmers use her app.
Solving Local Problems
One floor up from Oguya’s office is a kind of oasis of geekdom — a gathering space for Nairobi’s tech community called the iHub. It feels like any sort of hacker space in Silicon Valley or New York, with comfy couches, fast Wi-Fi and cappuccinos served by a barista named Miss Rose.
But the techies you meet here aren’t trying to come up with the next Facebook or another app to share your photos. They’re solving local problems.
There’s one app that brings math and reading help by cellphone to village schools.
There’s an app that lets Kenyans who don’t have computers do their online shopping by cellphone.
There’s a micro-insurance product that measures the rainfall at cellphone towers and automatically distributes money to farmers in drought.
These are all applications started by women. Akirachix’s Owigar says they’re sending a message to the next wave of girl geeks. “We need them to see that we are doing it and we enjoy it. You know, you don’t find many African women looking for the spotlight. Most of them tend to hide their awesomeness,” Owigar says.
The best time to carve a spot for women in geek culture, she says, is when there isn’t much geek culture yet.
Aotearoa/New Zealand, 1280.
The maritime plan of most of human civilization during our period went as follows:
- Get boats.
- Put weapons on boats.
- Conquer neighboring countries either by military force or by overwhelming trade dominance.
- Instagram shots of you in front of London/Indrapura/Mogadishu.
- Go home.
The Polynesians, on the other hand, appeared to have a different plan:
- Build canoes.
- Sail out into the open ocean for four thousand miles.
- Sweet, Hawai’i!
As the world looked on in tolerant, baffled wonder for thousands of years [sidebar on Vikings], Polynesians repeated steps 1-4, especially step 3, which when you peeled off the little sticker with the question marks turned out to be “employ an array of sophisticated navigational techniques which remain in cultural transmission and even active use today. Also, when you reach an island, use an equally sophisticated array of terraforming techniques to make an unfamiliar landscape ecologically viable for human life. Also, eat a balanced diet, because scurvy is for white people.”
The Polynesians did their eastern Pacific exploration around our period, and may have settled Easter Island and Hawai’i around then, too, if not a little earlier. Polynesian colonies were set up on little stubs of volcanic rock, hideously isolated archipelagos, even sub-polar islands. They probably hung out with medieval Peruvians, or at least, they made enough American contact to get ahold of sweet potatoes. [Sidebar on sweet potatoes.] And they found New Zealand, and settled in, and those who stuck around became the Māori.
And then hundreds of years later the islands of the Polynesian triangle were conquered by Europeans and the Europeans did their damndest to put that little ??? sticker back on the four-part plan, because, you know, people without shirts could not possibly be world explorers. But we do not have to listen to them. When I said those navigational techniques are still in use today, I mean literally, today, because in August of this year a group of Maori sailors took off from New Zealand for Rapa Nui, the last leg of the Polynesian triangle that no one’s completed in the modern era, and according to their website they should be landing, in, like, twelve hours, if they haven’t already.
Prisoners do science, help to save endangered butterfly
At the Mission Creek Corrections Center for Women in Belfair, Washington, inmates are helping to save the endangered Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha taylori). Under the supervision of guards and graduate students, a small group of prisoners is breeding the beautiful orange-and-white insects in a greenhouse outside the prison. They have even carried out research to show what plants the butterfly prefers to lay its eggs on — information that will be crucial for boosting its dwindling numbers.
These efforts are part of the Sustainability in Prisons Project (SPP), the brainchild of Nalini Nadkarni of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. “A lot of her work is about coming down from the ivory tower and involving under-served audiences in science,” says Dennis Aubrey, a student who works in the checkerspot initiative. He spoke about the project at the 2012 Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting in Portland, Oregon.
The SPP works with prisons throughout Washington, and treats the inmates as collaborators rather than labourers. They apply for the positions and get training, education and a small wage. Together, they have helped to conserve endangered butterflies, frogs, flowering plants and moss.
Prisons may seem to be an unorthodox location for conservation work, but Carri LeRoy, project co-director of the SPP, says: “There’s a lot of clean, controlled space, and people with time on their hands, looking to do something valuable and change their lives.”
“Most people are in the prison yard talking about who did them wrong,” says Aubrey. “Then, all of a sudden, guards will tell us they hear people saying, ‘Hey did you see how that moss was growing?’ ”
The women in the checkerspot project have already reintroduced more than 800 of the butterflies into the wild, and raised more than 3,600 caterpillars for next year’s release. The Taylor’s checkerspot is found in just four small populations in Washington and Oregon, and it now lays its eggs on plantain, an introduced species. No one knew what the butterfly’s original host plants were. The inmates found out by allowing the adults to choose between three candidates and showed that they prefer to lay eggs on two native species — the harsh paintbrush and golden paintbrush — rather than the exotic plantain.
The golden paintbrush might be the butterfly’s original host, but it is also threatened. With the information from the inmates’ project, efforts to conserve both the plant and the butterfly could be combined. “That would eliminate the need to plant the exotic plantain at reintroduction sites,” says Aubrey. When the results are finally published, the inmates will be contributing authors on the paper.
Meanwhile, prisoners at the Stafford Creek Correctional Center have been raising 40 species of endangered prairie plants for planting all over the state. In the process, they found that several species germinate better after being grown in smoke-infused water, which mimics the fires that the plants experience in the wild.
Other prisoners at Cedar Creek Corrections Center are rearing the endangered Oregon spotted frog (Rana pretiosa). For 3 years running, they have been voted the best rearing facility in the state, surpassing the zoos that trained them in the size and health of the frogs they raise. “They’re adaptively changing the protocols, and providing information to the restoration community of tweaks that would increase success,” said LeRoy.
LeRoy also presented preliminary evidence that the SPP was helping to reduce the rates of recidivism among the inmates. Of the 238 prisoners who attended a single lecture and were later released, only two returned to prison within a year — a rate of 0.8%, compared to the usual average of 10.4%. Of the 78 prisoners who took part in actual conservation work, 18 have been released, none have re-offended and one-third are employed.
LeRoy cautions that these numbers are small, given the low number of people who have been through the programme. But it is clear to her that the inmates are learning new skills and are empowered by actively contributing to society.
Others benefit too. Graduate students get management experience on a real conservation project. Conservation partners learn how to better breed their target species. The Department of Corrections saves money because recidivism goes down, as do violent infractions within the prison walls. And local media coverage has “improved public perception of prisons”, says LeRoy, by changing the way people see prisoners and what they can do. “It’s win-win-win-win-win.”
“When a whale dies in shallow water, its carcass is typically devoured by scavengers over a relatively short period—within several months. However, in deeper water (depths of 2,000 m/6,600 ft or greater), fewer scavenger species exist, and the carcass can provide sustenance for a complex localized ecosystem over periods of decades.”
They’re called “whale falls” and the most interesting thing, to me, is that there’s an entire genus of worms (Osedax) that exist just to eat the bones of whale falls.
They are creepy as hell and you can read about them here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osedax
A Self-Portrait of Opportunity
I want you to stop and think about something. This is a picture of another planet. Where this robot is. Right now.
As we sit here on Earth in this or any moment, we each have in our heads a flurry of worries and questions and ideas. And most of them pertain to our own lives. That’s okay, it’s human nature. We are each the center of our own universe.
I often think about this in crowded places, like while in traffic, as the place I’m going is far more important than the place all of these other people are going. I’m convinced that they feel the same way. And so we sit.
But that means that there are seven billion mental universes walking around on this planet. We are staring into them through little digital windows that we carry in our hands, and certain that this decision is the most important decision. Everything that is happening is happening to us.
Yet for the past eight years, there has been a dusty, six-wheeled rover crawling around the surface of Mars, completely alone. Incidentally, that rover has exceeded its expected mission of 90 days by thirty-two times over. That’s admirable, and I can’t help but personify the little guy. Like a sort of scrappy, diligent explorer, quietly working hard for the benefit of someone else. “No complaints, boss!” Like Johnny 5 meets Wall-E.
And so we get images like this, reminding us that every day we can look beyond our personal universe. What a thought! Look at how much is out there. Think of what else we could see! Let’s go.
This is Makpal Abdrazakova, she is 25, and she lives in Aksu-Ayuly, central Kazakhstan. She cuts an awesome figure, doesn’t she? She is making headlines for something she’s been doing since she was 13. Makpal is a golden eagle hunter, a berkutchi, and participates in competitions that evaluate how well her eagle, 10-year-old Akzhelke, can catch and kill prey. She has won several of the local contests, which also demonstrate the bond between the bird and its master.
The bond in her case began with feeding the golden eagle when her father Murat was away. He taught her the ancient sport after getting the approval and blessing of the local elders, since it has traditionally been practiced only by men. Since 2003, they and the professional hunters have welcomed her, and she remains the only woman in Kazakhstan to compete.
She does not, however, want to be the last: “I hope that in the future there will be more berkutchi-girls,” she says in her native language (see video here). Golden eagles have been used in falconry for centuries (see slideshow here) and are among the world’s fiercest birds, with the ability to fly at their prey at 190mph with their razor-sharp talons. They weigh up to 15lbs, grow up to 3’ tall, and have a wingspan of up to 7’.
Makpal describes, “The bird can be difficult, but if she gets used to her master, who tames her, she learns. She begins to understand human language, and further training is easy. If the bird has a good relationship with someone, she begins to see the person within her master.”
A traditional saying in Kazakhstan states, “As a man trains his eagle, so too does the eagle train his man.” Makpal and her bird may have trained each other, but the woman has also been training in law. “I don’t need to give up being a berkutchi. I will do both things at once.”
How completely awesome!
[via Quigley’s Cabinet]
okay guys someone the other day asked for a bow tutorial so here it is! :> I hope it is helpful.
It’s not exactly the most precise archery information but I included what was relevant in terms of actually drawing—and remember as always, references are great in addition to looking through tutorials
am I even qualified enough to make a tutorial? oh well it was fun
Tumblr made them weeny but the magnifying glass will take you to full view
I am an archer. I like this.
Oh neat, I’ll have to add this to my reference folder.