Monday, December 19, 2016

Whitman, Emerson Artistic Reading and… Female Orgasm: Hysterical Literature

The project, we will present in this post, is quite controversial. While it is quite innocent from the official guidelines – there is no nudity or an adult language, it still reveals the most intimate moment in the women’s life – her orgasm.

The standard plot of each video episode is this: Women enter into a room, sit down at a table, and read an excerpt from a book of their choosing. As time progresses, the pace of their reading begins to change, as does their breathing and body positioning. Under the table, outside of the subject's control, an unseen assistant distracts them with a vibrator. The subjects stop reading when they're too distracted or fatigued to continue, at which point they restate their name, and what they've just read. The pieces vary in length based on the response time of the subjects.

The viewers have the opportunity to see the women faces, postures, gestures, and voice expressions in progression from the initial stimulation to the catharsis and to the post-orgasmic relaxation. And that is amazing transformation, you can see in the human body. That is a great secret every woman keeps – of how much she can be radiant, shining, and beautiful after the orgasm.

In the videos below, a series of women sit at a desk and read a book of their choosing aloud. As their reading session continues, you may notice a quickness of breath, some fumbling over easily legible words, light panting, shivering, giggling and moaning.

Clayton Cubitt, has titled his video artistic presentation as “Hysterical Literature”.

“I sat the readers at a table,” Cubitt admitted, “and I showed what society wants to see on top of the table, and I hid the sex under the table. I wanted to see what people would react to more: what they could see, or what they imagined.”

“Bibliothecaphilia” addresses the quiet, mystical allure of the library — a space of escape, of solitude, of transcendence. With the rise of eBooks and library apps, these strange sacred spaces sometimes teeter on becoming obsolete. The group show features artists who unpack our appetites for libraries in all their physical and mythical glory.

While Cubitt’s video series certainly touches on the love of libraries, it simultaneously explores themes of feminism, sexuality, hysteria and authenticity. The moving portraits, shot in stark black-and-white, are part fine art, part viral click-bait, part literary ode, part pornography.

“I’m quite fascinated with the concepts of control and release when it comes to portraiture, especially in this modern of era of social networking profile self-portraits and Instagram, when everyone has a well-practiced notion of personal branding,“ Cubitt explained. “What’s left for the portraitist to capture? One can shock the sitter out of that plastic smile. I’m attempting to lead them back to something real.”

Despite the obvious erotic appeal of Cubitt’s project, the importance extends beyond just sex. For many of the female participants, the session presented an opportunity for women to proudly express their sexualities and retain their power — a man is never pictured on screen. “This is my revolutionary act of selfishness,” wrote one participant of her experience, “my virtual picket sign... my one-woman rally... my rebel yell... my sedentary march... a call for dialogue and understanding.”

Other participants commented on the biased and frustrating response to the piece, which unapologetically displayed the taboo image of female pleasure. “But despite being a project I’m deeply proud of, it has been challenging to deal with the intense scrutiny by the art world for my participation in this work, while my male counterpart rarely dealt with any,” said photographer and artist Marne Lucas, who appears in session nine.

Videos (all 12 episodes)

Where did the idea for Hysterical Literature come from?

The project is an extension and refinement of earlier Cubitt’s video works that explored the concept of distraction and fatigue in the poses of portrait sitters. Today, everyone has a well-practiced pose for "selfies" and social media, and he was interested in how he might make a portrait that makes it impossible for the sitter to maintain this pose. So he did a video series called "Long Portraits" which filmed subjects just sitting making eye contact with the lens for five minutes or longer.

“But this series, as much as I liked it, and as popular it became, was in many ways too anonymous for me. What did it really say about the sitter? It was interesting, but it was mute. And it was conceptual ground already traveled by Andy Warhol's "Screen Tests." I had also created an earlier video piece called "Hitachi Magic Interview" where I interviewed a woman while she was being distracted by a vibrator. It was also interesting, but it felt too close to an interrogation, and I wanted to remove myself from the process as much as possible. So I asked, what if the women could in some way have a conversation with themselves, through the reading of a passage from their favorite book? This would allow self-expression, without the pressure to pose or sound a certain way in a formal portrait or an interview. It would also remove me from the on-screen experience, make for a fascinating battle between the mind and the body, and create a conceptual contrast by blending two areas that society tends to want to view through different lenses: art, and sex. So I put the art on the table and the sex under the table. That's how Hysterical Literature was born”.

What are you trying to say with Hysterical Literature?

Cubbit: “The series examines the battle between the mind and the body. It also explores the cultural contrast between art and sex, particularly how people react to the mixture of the two, and the battle over female sexuality and society's concepts of shame”.

 Why is it called "Hysterical Literature?"

Cubbit: “The title references the ancient concept of "female hysteria," especially the Victorian-era medical treatments meant to "cure" it. At the time it was a catch-all diagnosis for almost any "disruptive" behavior in women, and a variety of treatments were used to cure it, from isolation, to hydrotherapy, to early electric vibrators. The past's confusion and shame attached to female behavior, especially female pleasure, was something I wanted to explore in a modern context, so referencing it was natural. That the word could also mean "funny" was lagniappe, since the videos are quite funny, and many of the subjects laugh at some point in their reading”.

Sources and Additional Information:

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Top 20 most bizarre Google searches in 2016

We live in an age where if we're unsure of a fact, we can just Google it.

And it appears many people ask the search engine some strange questions and rely on it to provide guidance in the event of an existential crisis, asking 'when will I die?' and 'why are we here?'

Thousands of people ask Google if they are pregnant, whether pigs sweat and where to hide a dead body, every month.

The most popular question on the pictorial chart, created by marketing agency Digitaloft is: 'Am I pregnant?'

A staggering 90,500 women ask the search engine this question every month, presumably hoping it can provide an answer in lieu of a pregnancy test.

The second and third most popular questions on the list are: 'How do I get home?' and 'are aliens real?'
While the first question may seem downright daft, a box pops up allowing users in input their postcode or zipcode, to help them with their journey, but unfortunately the search engine is not able to beat Nasa in its quest to find alien life, which it hopes to do before 2025.

Of course many people use Google as a digital doctor, searching for answers to embarrassing ailments. So it's no surprise users ask it bizarre questions about their body.

According to the chart, 49,500 people a month ask whether passing wind burns calories, but unfortunately the myth this bodily function burns 67 calories is false.

Some 22,200 are curious as to why men have nipples, while a more troubled 4,400 people a month Google 'why does my bellybutton smell?'

Worryingly, 3,600 people a month ask whether men have periods, with another 2,900 querying whether men can become pregnant, displaying a rather poor grasp of biology.

A whopping 49,500 people ask the search engine 'when will I die' every month and it seems users are just as clueless when it comes to animals.

Some 18,100 people ask Google whether penguins have knees every month, 8,100 want to know if pigs sweat and 2,900 are curious whether worms have eyes – they don't.

An insecure 2,900 people every month ask the search engine 'does my dog love me?' every month.

Other popular but worrying questions people ask Google every month, include ' how do I hide the dead body? – with 480 queries and 'what happens if I drink blood?' with 880 queries a month.
Some 800 people a month ask Google 'can I marry my cousin?' according to the infographic, meaning 10,560 people a year might be considering popping the question to a relative.
Others are in search of answers to life's mysteries, with 8,100 people asking Google 'why are we here?' every month and the same number asking if the tooth fairy is real.
A clueless 880 people ask where dinosaurs live every month and a further 5,400 whether the Earth is flat – just a couple of thousand years after Aristotle provided evidence for a spherical Earth in 330BC.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

How Many Pilgrims Came to America on Mayflower?

The Thanksgiving Holidays are coming soon, and thoughts of the Americans are coming back through the Ages to the historical background. We all know that the Pilgrims came to this country on the ship, and this ship is Mayflower. Well, the question is if all the passengers on this historical voyage were Pilgrims, and how many of them were coming to step on the unknown continent. I did not know the answer. Do you?

In September 1620, a merchant ship called the Mayflower set sail from Plymouth, a port on the southern coast of England. Typically, the Mayflower’s cargo was wine and dry goods, but on this trip the ship carried passengers: 102 of them, all hoping to start a new life on the other side of the Atlantic. Nearly 40 of these passengers were Protestant Separatists–they called themselves “Saints”–who hoped to establish a new church in the New World. Today, we often refer to the colonists who crossed the Atlantic on the Mayflower as “Pilgrims.”

Pilgrims Before the Mayflower

In 1608, a congregation of disgruntled English Protestants from the village of Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, left England and moved to Leyden, a town in Holland. These “Separatists” did not want to pledge allegiance to the Church of England, which they believed was nearly as corrupt and idolatrous as the Catholic Church it had replaced, any longer. (They were not the same as the Puritans, who had many of the same objections to the English church but wanted to reform it from within.) The Separatists hoped that in Holland, they would be free to worship as they liked.

In fact, the Separatists (they called themselves “Saints”) did find religious freedom in Holland, but they also found a secular life that was more difficult to navigate than they’d anticipated. For one thing, Dutch craft guilds excluded the migrants, so they were relegated to menial, low-paying jobs. Even worse was Holland’s easygoing, cosmopolitan atmosphere, which proved alarmingly seductive to some of the Saints’ children. (These young people were “drawn away,” Separatist leader William Bradford wrote, “by evill [sic] example into extravagance and dangerous courses.”) For the strict, devout Separatists, this was the last straw. They decided to move again, this time to a place without government interference or worldly distraction: the “New World” across the Atlantic Ocean.

The Mayflower

First, the Separatists returned to London to get organized. A prominent merchant agreed to advance the money for their journey. The Virginia Company gave them permission to establish a settlement, or “plantation,” on the East Coast between 38 and 41 degrees’ north latitude (roughly between the Chesapeake Bay and the mouth of the Hudson River). And the King of England gave them permission to leave the Church of England, “provided they carried themselves peaceably.”

In August 1620, a group of about 40 Saints joined a much larger group of (comparatively) secular colonists– “Strangers,” to the Saints–and set sail from England on two merchant ships: The Mayflower and the Speedwell. The Speedwell began to leak almost immediately, however, and the ships headed back to port. The travelers squeezed themselves and their belongings onto the Mayflower and set sail once again.

Because of the delay caused by the leaky Speedwell, the Mayflower had to cross the Atlantic at the height of storm season. As a result, the journey was horribly unpleasant. Many of the passengers were so seasick they could scarcely get up, and the waves were so rough that one “Stranger” was swept overboard and drowned.

The Mayflower Compact

After two miserable months at sea, the ship finally reached the New World. There, the Mayflower’s passengers found an abandoned Indian village and not much else. They also found that they were in the wrong place: Cape Cod was located at 42 degrees’ north latitude, well north of the Virginia Company’s territory. Technically, the Mayflower colonists had no right to be there at all. In order to establish themselves as a legitimate colony (“Plymouth,” named after the English port from which they had departed) under these dubious circumstances, 41 of the Saints and Strangers drafted and signed a document they called the Mayflower Compact. This Compact promised to create a “civil Body Politick” governed by elected officials and “just and equal laws.” It also swore allegiance to the English king.

Plymouth Colony and The First Thanksgiving

The colonists spent the first winter, which only 53 passengers and half the crew survived, living onboard the Mayflower. (The Mayflower sailed back to England in April 1621.) Once they moved ashore, the colonists faced even more challenges. During their first winter in America, more than half of the Plymouth colonists died from malnutrition, disease and exposure to the harsh New England weather. In fact, without the help of the area’s native people, it is likely that none of the colonists would have survived. An English-speaking Pawtuxet named Samoset helped the colonists form an alliance with the local Wampanoags, who taught them how to hunt local animals, gather shellfish and grow corn, beans and squash. At the end of the next summer, the Plymouth colonists celebrated their first successful harvest with a three-day festival of thanksgiving.

Eventually, the Plymouth colonists were absorbed into the Puritan Massachusetts Bay Colony. Still, the Mayflower Saints and their descendants remained convinced that they alone had been specially chosen by God to act as a beacon for Christians around the world. “As one small candle may light a thousand,” Bradford wrote, “so the light here kindled hath shone to many, yea in some sort to our whole nation.”

Who Came with Mayflower?

Detailed below is a list of the passengers on board the Mayflower during its trans-Atlantic voyage of September 6 - November 9, 1620, the majority of them becoming the settlers of Plymouth Colony in what is now Massachusetts. Of the passengers, 37 were members of the separatist Leiden congregation seeking freedom of worship in the New World.

The Mayflower launched with 102 passengers, as well as at least two dogs. One baby was born during the trip and named Oceanus Hopkins. Another, Peregrine (meaning "wanderer") White, was born on the Mayflower in America on November 20, before the settlement at Plymouth. About half of these emigrants List of Mayflower passengers who died in the winter of 1620 - 1621|died in the first winter. Many Americans can trace their ancestry back to one or more of these individuals who, 'Saints' and 'Strangers' together, would become known as the Pilgrim Fathers|Pilgrims.

The names of those which came over first, in the year 1620, and were by the blessing of God the first beginners and in a sort the foundation of all the Plantations and Colonies in New England; and their families.

Mr. John Carver, Katherine his wife, Desire Minter, and two manservants, John Howland, Roger Wilder. William Latham, a boy, and a maidservant and a child that was put to him called Jasper More.

Mr. William Brewster, Mary, his wife, with two sons, whose names were Love and Wrestling. And a boy was put to him called Richard More, and another of his brothers. The rest of his children were left behind and came over afterwards.

Mr. Edward Winslow, Elizabeth his wife and two menservants called George Soule and Elias Story; also a little girl was put to him called Ellen, the sister of Richard More.

William Bradford and Dorothy his wife, having but one child, a son left behind who came afterward.

Mr. Isaac Allerton and Mary his wife, with three children, Bartholomew, Remember and Mary. And a servant boy John Hooke.

Mr. Samuel Fuller and a servant called William Button. His wife was behind, and a child which came afterwards.

John Crackston and his son John Crackston.

Captain Myles Standish and Rose his wife.

Mr. Christopher Martin and his wife and two servants, Solomon Prower and John Langmore.

Mr. William Mullins and his wife and two children, Joseph and Priscilla; and a servant, Robert Carter.

Mr. William White and Susanna his wife and one son called Resolved, and one born a-shipboard called Peregrine, and two servants named William Holbeck and Edward Thompson.

Mr. Stephen Hopkins and Elizabeth his wife, and two children called Giles and Constanta, a daughter, both by a former wife. And two more by this wife called Damaris and Oceanus; the last was born at sea. And two servants called Edward Doty and Edward Lester.

Mr. Richard Warren, but his wife and children were left behind and came afterwards.

John Billington and Ellen his wife, and two sons, John and Francis.

Edward Tilley and Ann his wife, and two children that were their cousins, Henry Sampson and Humility Cooper.

John Tilley and his wife, and Elizabeth their daughter.

Francis Cooke and his son John; but his wife and other children came afterwards.

Thomas Rogers and Joseph his son; his other children came afterwards.

Thomas Tinker and his wife and a son.

John Rigsdale and Alice his wife.

James Chilton and his wife, and Mary their daughter; they had another daughter that was married, came afterward.

Edward Fuller and his wife, and Samuel their son.

John Turner and two sons; he had a daughter came some years after to Salem, where she is now living.

Francis Eaton and Sarah his wife, and Samuel their son, a young child.

Moses Fletcher, John Goodman, Thomas Williams, Digory Priest, Edmund Margesson, Peter Browne, Richard Britteridge, Richard Clarke, Richard Gardiner, Gilbert Winslow.

John Alden was hired for a cooper at Southampton where the ship victualed, and being a hopeful young man was much desired but left to his own liking to go or stay when he came here; but he stayed and married here.

John Allerton and Thomas English were both hired, the latter to go master of a shallop here, and the other was reputed as one of the company but was to go back (being a seaman) for the help of others behind. But they both died here before the ship returned.

There were also other two seamen hired to stay a year here in the country, William Trevor, and one Ely. But when their time was out they both returned.

These being about a hundred souls, came over in this first ship and began this work, which God of His goodness hath hitherto blessed. Let His holy name have the praise.

(From William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation,1650).

Sources and Additional Information:

Friday, October 14, 2016

Why You Do Not Use Pluto.TV – the Best Cord-cutting App?

Pluto TV, a video streaming service targeting cord cutters by offering a TV-guide like experience that connects you to hundreds of online channels, has raised $30 million in Series B funding, valuing the business at $140 million. The new funding comes from ProSieben of Germany, one of Europe’s largest independent media companies, and lifestyle media company Scripps Networks Interactive. The additional capital will help to fuel Pluto TV’s expansion into the European market, the company says.

Pluto TV is a free service that tries to mimic the cable box experience, only with Internet channels instead of traditional ones. Pluto’s website and apps offer dozens of channels, ranging from mainstream news to stand-up comedy to extreme sports, all strung together from web sources such as YouTube and Vimeo. There’s even an entire channel dedicated to cat videos (and another one for dogs). It has a desktop website and dedicated apps for Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, iOS, Android, and PC, and it also supports Chromecast.

Unlike other online streaming services, which also cater to those who still subscribe traditional television, Pluto TV from the start has more narrowly focused on acquiring consumers who are abandoning their cable and satellite TV subscriptions. However, instead of offering on-demand TV and movies like Netflix, Pluto TV attempts to replicate the TV experience through online streams that you can “tune into” much like TV broadcasting.

So where is Pluto TV getting all of this content?

As it turns out, Pluto TV is getting its content from the same places that cord cutters do. They’re supplying videos from YouTube, Vimeo, DailyMotion, and other streaming sites. All Pluto TV is doing is saving you the legwork of finding your next favorite show. They’re restoring the simplicity of channel surfing (without restoring your hefty cable bill).

That said, Pluto TV doesn’t only use freely available content. They also have a bunch of agreements with other content providers. In the U.S., the company has over 75 content partnerships with TV networks, studios, publishers and digital media companies, including Sky, NBC, A&E, CBSi, Bloomberg, Paramount and others.

On a basic level, using Pluto.TV is as simple as launching the app or heading to the website. The last channel you visited starts playing automatically, with a channel guide you can scroll through on the bottom half of the screen. Pluto’s website and mobile apps let you bookmark channels, so you can view your favorites without sifting through the full guide.

The web and PC versions also include a save button, so you can go back and re-watch anything from Pluto.TV’s linear programming schedule. It’s basically just a bookmark, but in this context it’s sort of like a descendant of DVR.

You may download applications for may platforms, or watch live through the Web Interface without downloading any software to your electronic devices:

Sources and Additional Information:

Saturday, October 8, 2016

How to Have Secret Conversation on Facebook?

After WhatsApp, Facebook has now implemented end-to-end encryption option in its Messenger app. Users need to enable the Secret Conversation option to get started. This feature also comes with a self-destruct option for extra security. By following some simple steps, you can enable this option on your device.

Anyone using the Facebook Messenger app now has access to a feature called Secret Messages. Just like WhatsApp, users will now be able to activate end-to-end encryption, meaning outside sources like the government and even Facebook itself can't read the chats.

The feature was announced back in July but has taken time to roll out to Facebook Messenger's one billion users.

How to activate Facebook's secret messages?

1. Open the Facebook Messenger app and tap the "compose message" icon in the top right of the screen.
2. Tap on the Secret Conversation option.

3. Toggle the Secret Conversations On. It’ll show a small popup telling that “This will be the only device you can send and receive messages.” This means that you can set up the encrypted messages on only one device. To proceed, tap Turn On in the pop-up. So, the app will ask you to set the phone you're using as your default device - meaning the conversation won't show up on any other phones or tablets you've got linked to your Facebook account. Hit the "Make Default" option to continue.

4. Now come back to the Messenger home screen and tap on the Write Message bottom. This option might be present at top or bottom locations, depending on your device (Android or iOS). You'll now be able to have a conversation that is encrypted end-to-end. You'll know it's secret because Facebook has given the chat window a natty black makeover.

5. From the top right corner, choose the secret message option. Turn it on. Now you are ready to chat with a friend. Select a friend and get started.
6. Please note that if your friend hasn’t enabled the Secret Conversations option, he/she won’t be able to see them. So, ask them to turn it on.
7. Encrypted messages on Messenger also come with an option to self-destruct the texts. You just need to tap on the clock icon to send the message with self-destruct option.
8. From the top right corner in a Secret Conversation, you can see the Device Keys and compare it with the ones on your friend’s device to ensure the security of the chat.

How to switch devices?

To change which device you use for secret conversations, start a new secret conversation from the new device. Be warned though that by changing devices, previous secret conversations will no longer be visible on your old device or your new device.

How to delete Secret Conversations?

To delete all secret conversations, tap the profile icon, select Secret Conversations and choose Delete Secret Conversations and Delete All. The messages will still be visible on your friend's device.

How to check your messages are encrypted?

When Secret Conversations are enabled, both people in the secret conversation have a device key. This can be compared to verify that the messages are end-to-end encrypted. Facebook said that this verification process is optional and the messages will be encrypted whether or not you compare device keys.

To view a conversation's device keys, open a conversation, tap their name and tap Device Keys.

Sources and Additional Information:

Friday, September 9, 2016

50$ - a new cyber weapon – USB Computer Killer

Yes, you got it right. For just a few bucks, you can pick up a USB stick that destroys almost anything that it's plugged into. Laptops, PCs, televisions, photo booths -- you name it.

The details of who, exactly, is behind the project are somewhat murky and confusing, suggesting that the full background is yet to be clarified. Originally, the USB Killer was demonstrated on video by a Russian hacker known only as Dark Purple on his/her Habrahabr blog October 8, 2015.

Now, the consumer model of the full functional device is being sold be a new Hong Kong company as “USB Kill 2.0”, claiming on the manufacturer website as being able to fry any computer, or another USB connected device, it's plugged into, by introducing a power surge via the USB port.

The price for the device itself is around $50, and it also comes with a protection shield sold for $13.95 that allows users to test their devices without destroying their computers or electronics.

The company claims it developed the product for the sole purpose of allowing companies to test if their devices are vulnerable to USB power surge attacks. Removing this protection shield allows to weaponize the device, which will then be able to fry the electronic devices it's being plugged into. The company says on its websites that it "strongly condemns malicious use of its products."

When asked about the potential for abuse, USB Killer responded that they're aware of the risk, but they compare hardware vulnerabilities to software security holes, claiming that raising awareness about these issues will force companies to use better protection for their hardware.
"This vulnerability has been in the wild for years: education of both fronts, consumer and manufacturer, is necessary," the spokesperson responded.

The new product launch has been announced just last month, but it is already out of stock.

According to its own set of tests, the company claims that 95 percent of all devices available on the market today are vulnerable to power surges introduced via the USB port.

So what can individuals do to protect their equipment from such an attack? USB Killer has three possible solutions, the most important being: Don't trust unknown hardware. Alternatively, you can use a USB-protection device, or physically cap your USB ports when you're away from the device.

Sources and Additional Information:

Friday, August 26, 2016

How are you celebrating the GoTopless Day?

This National Holiday is NOT on the Top News of the leading news agencies, however, it is on TOP of the people’s searches. No wonder, why! That is day, promoting gender equality, fairness, and freedom! It is a nice event to participate, and it is dedicated to a good cause.

GoTopless Day always falls at the Sunday closest to Women's Equality Day, Aug 26. Almost 100 years ago, on August 26, 1920 women earned their legal right to vote on the basis of Gender Equality. 35 years ago, in 1971, the US Congress has made August 26 into a nationally recognized date and named it "Women's Equality Day". The president of the United States is summoned to commemorate this date each year.

It is only logical that GoTopless Day protests (or celebrations depending on the legal status of your city) would fall around Women's Equality Day since the right to go topless for women is based on gender equality as their right to vote once was.

On Sunday Aug. 28, people in cities around the world are invited to stand up for women's right to go topless in public.

It is not about feminism. In the past, women often had to act like men when fighting for their rights, so they repressed their femininity. Today, GoTopless women see their femininity as a powerful asset as they struggle for equal rights in male-dominated society.

GoTopless is committed to helping women perceive their breasts as noble, natural parts of their anatomy (whether they are nursing or not). Breasts shouldn't have to be "modestly" or shamefully hidden from public view any more than arms, legs or feet. GoTopless is also committed to helping men differentiate between nudity and sexuality. If the presence of a topless woman in public triggers a sexual impulse, it can easily be controlled in the same way men control themselves when they see a woman wearing a mini skirt or revealing ample cleavage. Men manage to appreciate these things while still showing respect! Choosing consciousness above hormones leads to a peaceful, respectful society providing additional freedom and beauty.

This year, rallies are planned in 54 cities around the world, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Denver, Miami and Washington, D.C.

Go Topless spokeswoman Rachel Jessee said the principle of the protest is to promote “equal rights and respect for each other.” “The idea that women should cover up is shameful,” she told The Huffington Post. “We should not feel ashamed. We want to instill self-love and a love for each other.”

In the US, three states, Utah, Indiana, and Tennessee, outright ban toplessness, while laws in 14 other states are murky on the topic.

Sources and Additional Information:

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Devils' Alliance: Hitler's Pact with Stalin, paving the road to World War II

Article I. In the event of a territorial and political rearrangement in the areas belonging to the Baltic States (Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), the northern boundary of Lithuania shall represent the boundary of the spheres of influence of Germany and U.S.S.R. In this connection the interest of Lithuania in the Vilna area is recognized by each party.

Article II. In the event of a territorial and political rearrangement of the areas belonging to the Polish state, the spheres of influence of Germany and the U.S.S.R. shall be bounded approximately by the line of the rivers Narev, Vistula and San.

The question of whether the interests of both parties make desirable the maintenance of an independent Polish States and how such a state should be bounded can only be definitely determined in the course of further political developments.

In any event both Governments will resolve this question by means of a friendly agreement.

Article III. With regard to Southeastern Europe attention is called by the Soviet side to its interest in Bessarabia. The German side declares its complete political disinteredness in these areas.

Article IV. This protocol shall be treated by both parties as strictly secret.
Moscow, August 23, 1939.

For the Government of the German Reich v. Ribbentrop
Plenipotentiary of the Government of the U.S.S.R. V. Molotov

With the stroke of a pen 77 years ago, two men changed the world and sealed the fate of millions. Those two men were the foreign minister of Nazi Germany, Joachim von Ribbentrop, and his Soviet counterpart, Vyacheslav Molotov. On August 23, 1939, they signed a non-aggression pact, promising not to interfere in case the other went to war.

That public announcement was shocking enough: The two totalitarian states had been at loggerheads for years. But they also signed a second, secret agreement that carved up Eastern Europe between them.

“In fact, the Nazi-Soviet Pact as the kick-off for World War II is probably the most surprising scenario that anyone could have imagined," historian Roger Moorhouse says. "That’s how you have to view it from the perspective of August 1939. The world was absolutely dumbstruck by this deal.”

Those twin agreements did in fact set the stage for the start of World War II. Within days of signing the pacts, now confident that the Soviets would not oppose him, Hitler invaded Poland. Britain and France declared war on Germany, and the war was underway.

A couple of weeks later, the Soviet Union invaded Poland from the east to grab its share of the spoils. In 1940 it followed up by occupying Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the Romanian province of Bessarabia. Britain and France protested, but with their forces already taking on Germany, they couldn't afford to fight Stalin as well.

After Poland surrendered, Stalin and Hitler issued a joint statement calling for Britain and France to accept the new order and make peace, stating, “If, however, these efforts of both governments remain unsuccessful, it will be established thereby that England and France bear the responsibility for the continuation of the war.”

In December 1939 Stalin assured Hitler that the alliance between Russia and Germany was “cemented in blood”. Attacks on fascism ceased to appear in the Russian press and the world’s Communist parties switched from supporting a “people’s war against fascism” to opposing “imperialist war” in the wake the pact.

Eight hundred exiled German communists were transferred across the Soviet border into the welcoming hands of Third Reich’s Gestapo.

A map showing Eastern Europe was divided between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany by their secret pact in 1939.A map showing eastern Europe was divided between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany by their secret pact in 1939.

For a time, the pact worked well — and showed how similar the two states really were.

In the areas of Eastern Europe that they did occupy, the Nazis and Soviets set up occupation zones. Interesting is that both occupation regimes governed in remarkably similar ways, targeting remarkably similar groups of people. Army officers and officials of the old regimes, intellectuals, priests and community leaders were detained en masse. Thousands were executed or deported to gulags and concentration camps.

The Nazis obviously also targeted Jews, but many Jews fled Stalin’s control as well — even seeking sanctuary in Nazi areas. In one remarkable moment, two trainloads of refugees going opposite ways met at a border. They were equally astonished that anyone should want to head in the other direction.

But indeed, both Moscow and Berlin indulged in massive population transfers, each trying to recreate Eastern Europe in their preferred image. Thousands of ethnic Germans were moved from the Soviet zones to the German ones, while thousands of Poles were deported from areas now designated "German." Still others were shipped off as slave laborers to Germany proper. Many people simply moved of their own accord to escape the new states where they were denied basic rights, and some of them eventually came to America.

For both regimes, the pact was advantageous beyond the political realm. Between August 1939 and June 22, 1941, Moscow delivered petroleum products, grain, nickel, manganese and chromium for steel production, phosphate, wood and other materials.

In return, the Third Reich delivered fighter jets, explosive chemicals and bombs, radio stations, industrial facilities and even the cruiser L├╝tzow, which the Soviets renamed Petropavlovsk. In addition, the Soviet Union received a loan of 200 million reichsmarks.

The most important element in German-Soviet cooperation between 1939 and 1941 wasn't the cooperation between the armies at all, but rather the economic deliveries on a large scale that resulted. There are reports, even from June 22, 1941 - the day the Wehrmacht invaded the Soviet Union - that the soldiers encountered trains with Soviet deliveries. The Soviets were true to the contract until the end.

Another "partnership" existed between the NKVD - the Soviet secret police - and its German counterpart, the Gestapo. A secret agreement approved by the Soviet leadership gave anti-fascist Germans and Austrians who had fought against Hitler to the Gestapo. Many dozens of them, including well-known German communist Margarete Buber-Neumann, were handed over. The majority were murdered.

But the Nazi-Soviet pact didn't last. In late 1939, the Soviets also tried to invade Finland. The Finns refused to roll over. Despite being tremendously outnumbered and outgunned, they improvised a defense and made the best of the terrain and the ferocious winter weather.

One innovation of that campaign was the gasoline bomb, designed for use against the air intake ducts on Soviet tanks. Molotov, the Soviet foreign minister, had called the Russian invasion a "humanitarian" move; Soviet propaganda even claimed that bombs dropped by Soviet planes were food aid. In a sarcastic tribute, the Finns christened their homemade weapons "Molotov cocktails," joking that they should have drinks along with the Soviet-provided "meals." In the end, the Soviets suffered a brutal loss in the "Winter War" with the Finns.

The Germans were astonished at how badly the Soviets performed in the Winter War, a performance that made them believe they could turn on Stalin before finishing off the stubborn Brits in the west. In June 1941, Hitler attacked. Many historians claim that Stalin was stunned by the invasion and refused to accept that the news was true, leading to disastrous losses by the Red Army in the early days of the war.

Once the Soviet Union recovered and defeated the Nazis, Moscow re-wrote history. The Nazi-Soviet Pact morphed from a delusion to a clever way to buy time, which allowed the Soviet Union to re-arm. Britain and America also tended to airbrush the Nazi-Soviet pact out of mainstream history, afraid that it would damage the popular narrative of the "Grand Alliance" that beat the Nazis.

And that's only the public half of the alliance: the existence of the secret protocol was officially denied by the Soviet Union until its dying days in 1989.

In 2014, the Russian president Vladimir Putin made the comments at a meeting with young historians in Moscow that there was nothing bad about the Nazi-Soviet Pact, calling it “ the great achievement of Soviet diplomacy” and suggesting Britain and France were to blame for Adolf Hitler's march into Europe.

No comments.

Sources and Additional Information:

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Sodomy Laws in the US and around the World

A sodomy law is a law that defines certain sexual acts as crimes. The precise sexual acts meant by the term sodomy are rarely spelled out in the law, but are typically understood by courts to include any sexual act deemed to be "unnatural" or immoral. Sodomy typically includes anal sex, oral sex and bestiality. In practice, sodomy laws have rarely been enforced against heterosexual couples (Wikipedia)

Sodomy arrest sparks controversy… 34 years ago

Michael Hardwick is arrested for sodomy after a police officer observes him having sex with another man in his own bedroom in Georgia. Although the district attorney eventually dropped the charges, Hardwick decided to challenge the constitutionality of Georgia’s law.

“John and Mary Doe,” who joined in Hardwick’s suit against Michael Bowers, the attorney general of Georgia, maintained that the Georgia law “chilled and deterred” them from engaging in certain types of sex in their home. But in 1986, the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Bowers v. Hardwick, ruling by a 5-4 vote that states could continue to treat certain types of consensual sex as criminal acts.

Apparently, Justice Byron White had characterized the issue not as the right to privacy in one’s own bedroom, but rather as the right to commit sodomy. Viewed in this narrow manner, it was no surprise that he was unable to find such a clause in the Constitution. Justice Lewis Powell, who also voted to uphold the law, later called his vote a mistake.

In June 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a Texas law under which two men had been arrested for having consensual sex at home. The 6-3 Lawrence v. Texas decision reversed the infamous 1986 Bowers decision and finally dealt a death blow to sodomy laws throughout the country.

In its landmark ruling Lawrence v. Texas, the Supreme Court ruled that anti-sodomy laws —sometimes referred to as “crimes against nature” laws — are unconstitutional. But 12 states continue to keep such laws on their books. Of 14 states that had anti-sodomy laws, only Montana and Virginia have repealed theirs since the Supreme Court ruling, while anti-sodomy laws remain on the books in Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Utah.

You may believe anti-sodomy laws are not harmful because they can’t be enforced. But they are an important symbol of homophobia for those who oppose LGBT rights. What’s more, the laws create ambiguity for police officers, who may not be aware they are unconstitutional.

If a policeman looks it up, he will see that sodomy is a violation of Louisiana state law, for example, according to Marjorie Esman, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana.

Sodomy Laws around the World

In the recent years, sodomy related laws have been repealed or judicially struck down in all of Europe, North America, and South America, except for Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago.

There have never been Western-style sodomy related laws in the People's Republic of China, Taiwan, North Korea, South Korea, or Vietnam. Additionally, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia were part of the French colony of 'Indochine'; so if there had been any laws against male homosexual acts in those countries, they would have been dismantled by French colonial authorities, since male homosexual acts have been legal in France and throughout the French Empire since the issuing of the aforementioned French Revolutionary penal code in 1791.

This trend among Western nations has not been followed in all other regions of the world (Africa, some parts of Asia, Oceania and even western countries in the Caribbean Islands), where sodomy often remains a serious crime. For example, male homosexual acts, at least in theory, can result in life imprisonment in Barbados and Guyana.

In Africa, male homosexual acts remain punishable by death in Mauritania, Sudan, and some parts of Nigeria and Somalia. Male and sometimes female homosexual acts are minor to major criminal offences in many other African countries; for example, life imprisonment is a prospective penalty in Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda. A notable exception is South Africa, where same-sex marriage is legal.

In Asia, male homosexual acts remain punishable by death in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Brunei, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen; but anti-sodomy laws have been repealed in Israel (which recognizes but does not perform same-sex marriages), Japan, Kazakhstan, the Philippines, and Thailand. Additionally, life imprisonment is the formal penalty for male homosexual acts in Bangladesh, the Maldives, Myanmar, Pakistan, and Qatar.

Sources and Additional Information:

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Why the Black Dot Campaign is NOT the Solution for Battered Women?

Once a while, I briefly review my Spam folder in the email manager, and chose selectively to read some emails. This is the email I got yesterday:

If you see a person that has a black dot on the palm, please call the police immediately. The black dot means that the person is in trouble.

“Black Dot Campaign” started on Facebook and it’s a campaign to recognize the victims of domestic abuse. That simple black dot on their hand signifies a call for help.

“The black dot on the hand lets professionals know you’re a really vulnerable domestic violence survivor, and that you need help but can’t ask because your abuser is watching your every move. In just 24 hours, the campaign has reached over 6,000 people worldwide, and has already helped 6 women. Please spread the campaign, and post a picture of your hand with the black dot, to show your support to all survivors of domestic violence,” stated the organizers behind this campaign.


Story From Survivor of Domestic Violence:

“I’m heavily pregnant and the baby’s father is very abusive. With words, his hands. I’ve been petrified for so long and even more with the baby coming soon. I was at the hospital yesterday, he was with me, he never leaves my side anymore. I had to have an examination so the consultant asked me to lie on the bed and drew the curtain. I leant over and took the pen out of his pocket, pulled his hand over to me and wrote HELP ME. I didn’t have to say a word. “This campaign gave me the strength and the idea how to ask for help. I am now safe somewhere else thanks to that consultant and the black dot campaign. Thank you, 1 week to go until my due date and I am finally safe.”

The idea seemed really creative, since we know how many people, mostly women, are subject of the severe domestic violence, both physical and emotional.

The idea of a black dot on victims' hands, to help tackle domestic violence, has been widely spread on Facebook - but also heavily criticized.

The idea behind the Black Dot campaign is this: victims of domestic violence can draw a black dot on their hand as a silent signal. Once it becomes widely enough understood, people who see the dot on their friends' hands can approach them and have a conversation about abuse.

It's certainly now widely known: the campaign page racked up 40,000 likes, with many of its posts shared even more widely than that, and the founder says Facebook's statistics indicate it's been seen by millions (although the page was later taken down).

But as the Black Dot has garnered media attention, it's also been criticized by people who worry that a specific symbol highlighting domestic violence would draw unwanted attention to victims - and thus risk the wrath of their abusers. Others have pointed out that professionals and support agencies won't have received training on what to do when spotting someone with a black dot on their hand.

"It seems a good idea but with wide coverage then the abusers will know what this thing means," one man wrote on the campaign's Facebook page. Now, the woman behind the campaign says critics have missed the point. In fact, she never meant for people to post selfies of their hands with a dot.

The founder is a British woman who wishes to remain anonymous because of her history as a domestic abuse victim. She told that although it started on Facebook, the campaign was never about encouraging abuse victims to post pictures of themselves online.

"I imagined it as a tool to start face-to-face conversations between friends, or with professionals," she told BBC Trending. "I was basing it on my experiences and I was thinking, how could I prompt people to talk about domestic violence? A black dot is easy to make, and easy to erase. As a female, you could go to the toilet, draw one on with mascara, and then later wipe it out. Being in the center of your palm, you could close your palm and hide it from view.
"As a way of seeking help, it's not going to be a solution for everybody. As a victim, you know what triggers your abuser," she says. "So if it's not safe to draw a black dot, don't do it. Just because you're a victim doesn't mean you're stupid - you know yourself what is safe and what is not safe."

So, the campaign had reportedly helped 49 women to leave abusive relationships, but received criticism from some arguing that, if the symbol started to be recognized by perpetrators, it would risk making situations worse for victims.

The Facebook page has been closed.

Sandra Horley, chief executive of domestic violence charity Refuge, explained why she believed the campaign might be dangerous for some women to take part in. “We are concerned that the Black Dot campaign has become very public and well-known, so therefore it may be dangerous for some women if they take part,” Ms Horley said. “Women who mark themselves with a black dot could unintentionally inform their abusive partner that they are trying to reach out and access support. This could have grave consequences – two women a week are killed in England and Wales by a current or former partner, 70 per cent of domestic homicides occur at the point at which a woman separates from a man. Refuge would encourage anyone planning to leave an abusive partner to contact a specialist organization for support”.

Other experts say that today the campaign has taken the form of a potentially dangerous scam: If a domestic violence perpetrator learned of the campaign and then saw the black dot, they might lash out in response. Additionally, the vast majority of “professionals” referred to in the viral post is likely unaware of the campaign and how to deal with a black dot should they see one.

For example, domestic violence prevention organization Project Sanctuary had officially announced its refusal to endorse the campaign:

“The Black Dot Campaign is a very well-meaning idea, but a bad idea nonetheless,” said Dina Polkinghorne, executive director of domestic violence prevention organization Project Sanctuary in a statement. “The campaign is getting a lot of attention, so abusers may also be aware of it. They might question why their partner would have the dot on their hand. A well-meaning family member could also see the dot, and inadvertently compound the violence.”

“When would it be appropriate to use it?” she continued. “At the grocery store? At the doctor’s office? Someone who was being completely controlled would be told by the abuser that they want to be in the exam room, so the victim would not be able to tell their doctor that they were in a domestic violence situation.”

In an interview with a local ABC affiliate, Peninsula Mental Health Services’ Dr. Michael Finegan agreed: “The factor [for the campaign’s seeming disintegration] was that the abuser, highly controlling, would see the black dot and that that would facilitate more violence or more abuse.”


While the Black Dot Campaign may have been started with good intentions, it does not yet offer a safe and reliable way for victims of domestic violence to get help. It is not supported by any official organizations, and the campaign on Facebook has been closed. Therefore, please do NOT follow the original campaign guidelines, and find more reliable ways to inform the authorities, that you are a victim of the domestic violence. For your sake! For sake of your kids! Do not let a domestic violence to become a norm in your family. You deserve better than that!

How to Report?

First established in 1996 by the Violence Against Women Act and supported in part by funding from the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is the only national organization that directly serves victims of domestic abuse, their friends and family.

Highly-trained, expert advocates are available 24/7 by phone 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) to talk with anyone who is affected by physical, emotional, sexual or financial abuse. To date, The Hotline has answered more than 3.5 million calls, chats and texts from people seeking assistance.

The Hotline also offers an online chat service at that is available Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. – 2 a.m. CT. The chat feature provides another lifeline for those who do not feel safe speaking by phone.

To respond to the unique needs of teens and young adults, loveisrespect was launched in 2007. Through loveisrespect, The Hotline provides direct peer advocacy 24/7 to youth ages 12–24 by phone (1-866-331-9474), online chat at, or by texting “loveis” to 22522.

The services are completely free and confidential, and we have the largest and most comprehensive database of local and national resources in the country. Along with these resources, we offer lifesaving tools, immediate support and hope to empower victims to break free of abuse.

Sources and Additional Information: