No Hope for Humanity

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Hey guys, I’m terribly sorry to be the bearer of bad news but unfortunately, Civilization is over. Not yet completely collapsed, mind you – for a brief time civilization will lumber onward on sheer momentum – but the event horizon of its destruction has been crossed, the decline well on its way. Prepare yourselves well for the coming collapse.

How do I know this? Behold:

teeny weeny bikinis

sexxxxxy phone

Skimming ebay, I came across this auction for “Sexy Thongs Bikini Briefs Case Cover For Protect iphone 4 / 4S / 5 Home Key”. It’s not just that someone thought up, designed, manufactured and is now selling tiny bikini bottoms for your inanimate portable computer that tolls the bell for humanity, it’s that this very auction has 20 watchers and 22 SOLD“What….why….WHY?!” you might ask. The auction helpfully explains:

“Designed to cover the home button and charging ports whilst giving your smart phone a sexy look.”

There you go. Achewood came surprisingly close to predicting this very day, and I presume if people are paying actual currency to imply their phone has genitalia they’re covering up, the full reveal of phone nuts cannot be far behind. The sheer variety of these rubber gewgaws has disturbing implications of shades and varieties of people who would want this object, from gaming nerds to girly-girls. An appeal to fashionistas with a Comme De Garcons ripoff further suggests this would appeal to all strata of consumer (which again, Achewood called with ChatSack by Karl Lagerfeld).

Look upon what the world has become, and despair.

stretchy

pink

red snake

Red-snake sounds like a terrible double-entendre.

skull

eyes

 

This, this is truly the most disturbing part. I’ve seen it happen before, where a stupid idea is birthed unto the world, takes on a life of its own, and begins mutating. Give it a year or two and the trend becomes so far removed from the original if looked at as a stand-alone the mind boggles at how this object came to be. This is only the beginning, people.

boxer briefs

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Well hello there! If you attempted to visit the site the past few days you may have gotten a 404 message saying the website was ‘Forbidden’. While that certainly adds some sexy danger to my image, it was the result of a site takedown notice from none other than Mariella Shearer, aka The Hare Moon, aka EbayUK’s bythelightofthemoon, aka Etsy’s toknittowoo. Here’s the truly hilarious part – she asked that the site, the entire site, be taken down because I ‘stole’ one of her images. ‘Stole’ it to use – wait for it – in a post demonstrating how she’d very clearly stolen the image from me.

So, to restate – my site was taken down for 5 days because this blatant, unrepentant thief had the sheer balls to claim I stole her image in a post demonstrating “her” image was a badly photoshopped rip from my site.

I’ll wait a moment to let the uproarious laughter die down.

Now, I’ve already called her out for her theft. I’ve made the majority of the vintage knitting community quite aware of it. And I’m pretty sure anyone who reads the post that caused all this bother would agree that the image is clearly stolen. However, we are living in a fearful and litigious society, and while I have generously (and many have warned me, foolishly) shared these patterns with you all, she is selling them. That she stole them from my and several other sites is moot. Because she’s selling them I am ‘infringing on her livelihood’ and therefore I, the one providing content, am the one the hammer comes down upon. Angry Jim wrote a full summation of the situation on his site, including her full contact information, which I’m also reposting below should anyone wish to get in touch with her concerning their own stolen images being sold, or perhaps their sites being threatened with takedown notices for pointing this out.

While I dearly enjoy knitting, this site is far more for me than just a place to share patterns. It’s the platform from which I’ve chosen to speak to the public, a full compendium of over 5 years worth of writing, worrying, animated gifs, research and yes, free patterns. That someone would dare threaten all that over something so petty, not to mention backwards, speaks to an avaricious and narrow mind.

She actually signed a document reading “I, the undersigned, do solemnly declare that the image represented at the following website address is my creation, my intellectual property and copyright and I have not given authorization to anyone, including the owner of rarerborealis.com, to use or display it.” Well, if badly cutting and pasting an image onto a new background and slightly changing its color makes it yours, then I’d like to share some more of my own personal, copywritten, totally my own and not anyone else’s vintage images:

Before Ms. Shearer runs to the nearest keyboard to type out yet another infringement claim, I’d like to point out these follow THE EXACT parameters she’s claimed make the images she stole from ME, HERS. Calling me out will by the same stroke invalidate her own threadbare claims. As an additional gauntlet thrown down, I’d like to ask Ms. Shearer to see a photo, ANY photo, of the vintage knitting books she’s culled her ‘digital scans’ from. I’m more than happy to share photos of my collection; IN FACT, this week I’ll be giving away some duplicates I have in my physical, non-imaginary vintage knitting collection that really exists!

Ms. Shearer claims I have infringed her copyright. Well, she has infringed on my now-lessened belief in the decency and thoughtfulness of humanity by persisting in her greedy, dishonest ‘business’ venture. If anyone out there feels similarly, please do let her know. Also, please do link to and repost this; I would love it if one of the first things that came up searching for vintage patterns was a warning away from her sites.

Mariella Shearer
Telephone number: +44 (1424) 819224
email addresses: mariella@coolers.fsbusiness.co.uk mariellashearer@yahoo.co.uk
address:
39 Station Road
Bexhill-on-Sea
East Sussex
TN40 1RG
England

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How much do I want to avoid working from home? Enough to take a lengthy break to rectify finding only one animated GIF of the infamously goofy Tompkins Park rave. Flimsy excuse, or God’s work?


Go Santa, go Santa, go Santa…

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Memes are funny things. Once a niche term of social sciences, they’ve become part of our national lexicon, something even mom knows about.

Of course, variations on a theme existed long before they were defined by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book, ‘The Selfish Gene’(thanks, Wikipedia), but this was a perfect confluence of a phenomenon needing a name and a word floating around sounding all sciency: the meme. Now, one cat picture passed around does not a meme make. A hundred variants of Nyancat (Mexican, Rasta, Nazi, flying over various cities, IRL, sans cat, plus Bollywood) however, is the very essence of the thing. Something grabs hold of the collective’s attention and mutates outward to all possible permutations. The result: something so far removed from the original, so rich and saturated with humanity, it becomes as strange as a fairy tale (themselves the burnished results of many hands).

Now that the lecture’s out of the way, may I have the honor to present: THE RESULTS ARE IN, a site devoted to the best moments of Maury Povich. Many of these chosen moments are not those of revelation, immediate physical violence, or fat babies stuffing their face with M&Ms. That’s far too easy (plus they have a separate site devoted to just that). No, whoever crafted (and I do use that word with care; these images were lovingly chosen out of thousands in an episode and placed together for maximum effect) these went out of their way to select that which we might have otherwise overlooked.

Several articles have cropped up touting the GIF as THE medium of the decade. I beg to differ as I’ve been a fan of the animated GIF since I found out they existed. Sure, it’s awesome now that people are using them to make wizard photos (seriously it’s like Harry Potter except shouting ‘accio remote’ still doesn’t work), but the GIF’s true genius lies in repeating a moment in time much as it might play in our heads over and over, allowing all the strangeness, harshness, silliness to play fully before our eyes. GIFs bring back that which everyone claims the internet takes away from us- that everyone sees only surface and plumbs no depths. With the GIF, all viewers become expert in a chunk of time, stretched to infinity.

And so I’d like to thank the fellow behind THE RESULTS ARE IN! for choosing only the best audience reactions, eye rolls, and weird freeze-frame facial expressions and sharing them with the world.

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Envisioning your trip to Rome, you may picture yourself swanning around from swanky club to fancy party, devil-may-care, looking like this:

…when in a city where even the police uniforms are impeccably tailored and you’re from the country that invented the X-Treme Gulp, they picture you like this:

That’s the unfortunate reality in Rome; no matter how hard you try, you are a tourist. It’s surprising how similar New York City and Rome are in that respect; many people who live and work in both cities come from somewhere else, and yet the constant influx of more temporal visitors turns the ‘locals’ against them. New Yorkers are more defensive about it; one of the rudest insults you can say to someone who lives here is they’re acting like a tourist. It’s why most people who pay too much to stay in NYC still haven’t seen the Empire State Building or Ellis Island, and avoid Times Square like the plague. ‘That’s not New York’, they say, and yet it is. If I went to Rome and studiously avoided every famous landmark, would that mean I’d really gone to Rome somehow?

Being from the city where genuine excitement equals lameness made being a tourist all the more acutely painful – now I was the out-of-town yokel impressed by the 45th street Sunglass Hut (true story; the whole beflip-flopped family stopped dead in their tracks and pointed like Jesus just appeared). What’s worse, I was surrounded by thousands of the above stereotypes in the flesh, sandals, socks, visors and all. Were sharp-dressed Romans looking at the swarming mass and lumping me in with them? Probably not because they were on their way to work and/or didn’t care. My ego competes only with my paranoia in scope and size.

Still, the New Yorker in me shuddered to think, and remained irritated by the slow-moving, gawky crowds despite being one of them. One of our early stops was the famous Trevi Fountain:


Surprisingly not pictured: A MILLION PEOPLE, including numerous Nigerian and Indonesian men selling balls that would splat and reform, glowsticks, and something you could stick in your mouth to make irritating duck noises. I have no idea how every single person vying for a photo opportunity with lenses rivaling the Hubble’s sticking hither and yon managed to avoid my framing. And this was at night, during moderate rain; I hate to imagine what the crowd’s like on a pleasant day. I was going to say the surrounding circus cheapened the fountain’s beauty, but look at it. It’s a giant, over-the-top baroque fountain. If anything the circus atmosphere sort of heightened its original intent of being a ridiculously ornate fountain.


As stated previously, it felt useless trying to capture well-lit images, forget the emotional grandeur, of most tourist areas. Instead I focused on smaller, more tangible details like these love-locks. They’re usually found in abundance on well-trod bridges; romantic couples click a lock on something and toss the key into the water to symbolize as literally as possible their eternal, undying, thief-proof love. These were tucked far up in a darkened corner of an ornate wave-swirl, hidden away in plain sight.


Seriously. Baroque. Let’s just have the sculpture look like a jagged rock with a root growing a shield with a lion on it as one tiny fraction of the whole shebang, because why not. And throw some tassels in there while you’re at it.

A few days later, Angry Jim and I decided to brave the crowds at the Spanish Steps.

Jim was not impressed.
And understandably so! They’re steps. Maybe if they weren’t covered in a thousand tired families yelling to each other I could perhaps walk down them quietly musing on the famous footsteps that once trod the same. Or I could buy a fake PRADA purse; there were plenty enough sellers shouting about that too.


Now THIS is a fountain. It’s also a half-submerged boat! Whee, baroque!

And what awaits you at the top of the fabled steps? More fake PRADA-pushers. Also a church, because I think Roman law states it’s illegal to go 10 steps without being able to run in somewhere and confess your sins.

Inside the church confused tourists milled about, perhaps expecting some sort of light show about the steps they just walked up. Per historical custom important members of the church were buried as close to the alter as possible, so everyone walked over decades of Medieval Roman high society, not that many seemed to notice.


Not noticing was fairly understandable; the markers were of the same marble as the rest of the floor and most were worn down to illegibility from thousands of feet shuffling over them every day. I’m sure there’s something very deep to write about the juxtaposition of tourist feet wearing away that which marked a local’s hopes for the eternal, but that’s why a picture’s worth a thousand words.

What do you think, horned Moses?

S’aright? “S’aright!”

We missed the Bocca della Verita the first few times around, as I expected it out in the open (as seen in ‘Roman Holiday’). Where a buck can be squeezed, so it shall be, and the Bocca was no exception. Hidden at the end of a gated atrium, tourists can queue up and ‘donate’ a few euro to take their picture in front of the face, and if they feel like it check out the church it’s attached to. Jim and I were so peeved at this blatant tourist tax we took pictures of other people taking pictures instead. This greatly confused the man directing the line.

The church itself was no small shakes; the Basilica di Santa Maria in Cosmedin is an older church (which is saying something in a city featuring the Coliseum) in a mostly Byzantine style, with layers of history visible on its walls from the various era’s restorations.

Plus, for another euro, you could check out a crypt where they kept…someone….someone important…I forget, maybe Constantin? Hey, there were a lot of crypts and saints and historical personages to remember.


AAAAAAAAH! DEAAAAAAAATH! Oh, it’s just Jim.


AAAAAAAAAH! DEAAAAAAAAAAAATH! Yes, look over your guidebooks young ladies. There’s nothing in there on stopping the inevitable reaping of each and every one of you.


And right across the street from all this history, more history! This is a Roman mini-temple to a minor deity. The god of proper turn signals or something.


As we delighted in walking past crumbly ruins in the bright sun, a noise so vulgar and familiar I didn’t even register it snuck up behind us. Yes, this is why that caricature above is how Italians see us: a pile of American tourists zipping by on SEGWAYS shouting at the top of their lungs.

To forcibly prevent me from lunging at them, Jim suggested we walk around soaking in some more history. After a bit, we knew we were in the vicinity of the Pantheon but were shocked to see it right there after turning a corner.

(It’s right there!) This church has been in constant use since Roman times, with the only big change being a statue rotation from Roman gods to Catholic saints. IT’S SO OLD! Also quite well-preserved, and filled with famous folk, but more on that later. This was one of the few places so stunning on its own the horde of shouting, shoving, cell-phone waving tourists from all parts of the globe couldn’t diminish it.


Out in front, a Tom Waits fountain.


NO HANDRAIL?!?! Oh, Il Vittoriano, that is the least of your tacky, tacky problems.

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