Imagine you’re confined to a dark, windowless space, and a piece of music you find especially disagreeable is piped into the room at a volume so piercing it seems to be throbbing inside you. You might call this excruciating. Now imagine the music on a round-the-clock loop, with no indication of when or whether it will stop, and no escape. You might call this torture.
That’s how Binyam Mohamed spent his time in the secret CIA-run prison outside Kabul, where he was forced to listen to Eminem and Dr Dre, without pause, for 20 days. He’s just one of possibly thousands of detainees in the ‘war on terror’ who have been subjected to protracted, lacerating barrages of heavy metal, gangsta rap, disco (the Bee Gees’ ‘Stayin’ Alive’) and numbingly repetitive children’s tunes (Barney the Purple Dinosaur’s ‘I Love You’) – what American military interrogators call ‘futility music’.
There’s some debate as to whether this practice is a form of torture (as the UN Committee against Torture decided in a 1997 ruling against Israel’s practice of keeping Palestinian prisoners awake for days with loud music) or of ‘inhuman and degrading’ treatment (as the European Court of Human Rights decided in the case of the RUC’s use of white noise against IRA prisoners in the 1970s). In both cases it’s forbidden under international law. In the last year or so a movement to ban this practice has attracted the support of a number of artists whose work has been on the interrogation playlist, including David Gray, Massive Attack and Rage against the Machine. Reprieve, the group that provides legal representation for detainees at Guantánamo, has joined with a group of musicians to form Zero dB, an initiative whose goal is ‘to end the suffering caused by music torture’. Read more (via London Review of Books)
Filed under: Essays, disturbing, policy, sound, torture, USA
The Japanese seem to have a long-running love affair with cats. The myth of the Maneki Neko (the “Beckoning Cat”) has been around for at least a few hundred years.
“The Maneki Neko (招き猫, literally “Beckoning Cat“; also known as Welcoming Cat, Lucky Cat, Money cat or Fortune Cat) is a common Japanese sculpture, often made of porcelain or ceramic, which is believed to bring good luck to the owner. The sculpture depicts a cat (traditionally a Japanese Bobtail) beckoning with an upright paw, and is usually displayed—many times at the entrance—in shops, restaurants, pachinko parlors, and other businesses. Some of the sculptures are electric or battery-powered and have a slow-moving paw beckoning. In the design of the sculptures, a raised right paw supposedly attracts money, while a raised left paw attracts customers.”
Then there’s the bakaneko, a fire-breathing ghost-cat that can reanimate corpses by jumping over them. Sounds pretty scary. Where do they come from, and how do I avoid them!? Well, a normal cat may become a bakaneko if its tail grows to a certain size — one possible explanation for why short-tailed cats are so common in Japan.
In a previous post, I talked about a Japanese photo contest for cats that sit like humans. The contest has concluded, and here is the winner:
Filed under: Uncategorized, bakaneko, belief, cats, culture, entertainment, humor, Japan, japanese, luck, maneki neko, myth, mythology, photos, suko-zuwari
This made it on the news.
It is a sad day for news. Δ
Filed under: TV, Videos
North Korea’s latest launch is not missiles, but a TV advertising campaign for a locally-brewed beer.
In a rare nod to commercial motives in the resolutely communist nation, the TV advert features a thirsty worker holding a mug of frothy beer. Young women in traditional Korean dress are shown serving trays of beer to men in Western suits. Billed as the “Pride of Pyongyang”, the advert promises drinkers that the beer will help ease stress. “It represents the new look of Pyongyang,” the two-and-a-half minute advert says. “It will be a familiar part of our lives.” … (via news.bbc.co.uk)
Well, they may be a backward nation run by a crazy little troll, but at least they’ve got relaxing beer. Δ
Filed under: Ads, Products, TV, Videos, ad, beer, commercial, North Korea
Supersystem was a band from Washington, D.C. described as a mix of rock, punk, pop and dance music. Here’s a sample:
This video shows what happens when you play too many video games. First, you being to see neon afterimages. Then, they fly around and attack you, and your drum set turns into Space Invaders.
Here is another song by Supersystem: Born Into The World. Δ
Filed under: Music, Videos, culture, dance, defunct bands, entertainment, music videos, pop, punk, rock, Supersystem
Here’s an awesome music video from Brighton’s disco quartet Transformer:
“We are geeks!” – Johny Giles, lead vocalist
These self-described geeks say their sound is “full on dance music, but live, trying to fit in stuff from the 70s and late 60s, disco stuff, early 80s new wave, post-punk, all squished together to make a big banging sound with grooves.” Further evidence that geek is the new cool. Δ
Filed under: Music, Videos, addictive, Brighton, culture, dance, disco, entertainment, fashion, geeks, indie, media, music videos, post-punk, punk, Transformer, up-and-coming
Great advertisements — but can you guess what they’re for?
That’s right: these ads are promoting the new version of Scrabble that comes with LSD-coated letters. The game gets increasingly surreal as you play. About halfway through, the words you’ve spelled start coming out of the board and dancing around you. People usually leave the game at this point to go outside and look at trees.
If you want an easy advantage, wear gloves while handling the pieces 😉
See the rest of the ads here. Δ
Filed under: Ads, Music, Products, Videos, advertising, animated, animation, board games, culture, drugs, entertainment, games, hula, humor, LSD, media, Scrabble, sumo, yoga
Last night I went down to Crab Park to watch the Canada Day fireworks. There were so many colors and loud booms and all the people were being drunk at each other… it was great. After the finale, I suddenly thought why not have fireworks every day of the year? So I rushed home, put on my inventing hat, and rolled up an inspiration stick. Two hours later I had a working prototype. Only problem is, the godamn Japanese beat me to the punch. Just look at this!
Sega Toys makes indoor fireworks
Sega Toys Japan has heard your prayers and answered ’em in the form of the Uchiage Hanabi. This is essentially a projector that displays “fireworks” on the walls and ceilings, with realistic movement and sound. And if that weren’t enough, you can create your own fireworks and program your own shows. Now you can have Bastille Day, every day, in the privacy of your apartment! Out August 1, with a list price of $168.
Needless to say, I’m pissed off that SEGA jumped on this goldmine before I had the chance. But I have a plan to steal market share: I’ll make a version with real fireworks that shoot out of a tiny canon, and while it’s shooting flaming objects around your house, The Final Countdown will blare from two little speakers on the side of it. The device will come with safety goggles (for the children) and pet armor (in case you own a cat):
Filed under: Ads, Design, Products, Videos, Arrested Development, bizarre, British Columbia, Canada, Canada Day, crap, culture, dumb ideas, entertainment, expensive, fireworks, gadgets, humor, idiotic, indoor, inventions, Japan, new, noteworthy, random, Sega, Sega Toys, toys, Vancouver
littleBits are Lego-like circuit components that fit together magnetically. The Japanese used them to build Optimus Prime. Here is a video demonstrating an intriguing use of the littleBits technology:
Vodpod videos no longer available.
Note that the beverage produced by this ultra-futuristic coffee maker was invisible. Why is that? In the future, we will live so much inside our minds that it won’t matter whether the things we eat and drink actually exist. The guys at littleBits understand this. They recognize that existent food items are overrated: hot coffee can scald people, burnt toast causes cancer, eggs have salmonella. But if we eliminated the physical incarnation of these troublesome edibles, leaving only the idea of them — well, all our problems would be solved.
This video really does justice to the de-physicalization concept, and as a bonus it was set to the snazzy Hot Chip song “Ready For The Floor”.
Filed under: Ads, Design, Products, Videos, abuse of facts, burnt toast, circuit boards, circuitry, coffee, culture, de-physicilization, drinking, eating, eggs, electronics, entertainment, future, Hot Chip, humor, Japan, Lego, littleBits, Optimus Prime, predictions, Ready For The Floor, reality