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Cyborg America: inside the strange new world of basement body hackers

Cyborg America: inside the strange new world of basement body hackers
Shawn Sarver took a deep breath and stared at the bottle of Listerine on the counter. “A minty fresh feeling for your mouth... cures bad breath,” he repeated to himself, as the scalpel sliced open his ring finger. His left arm was stretched out on the operating table, his sleeve rolled up past the elbow, revealing his first tattoo, the Air Force insignia he got at age 18, a few weeks after graduating from high school. Sarver was trying a technique he learned in the military to block out the pain, since it was illegal to administer anesthetic for his procedure. “A minty fresh feeling... cures bad breath,” Sarver muttered through gritted teeth, his eyes staring off into a void. Tim, the proprietor of Hot Rod Piercing in downtown Pittsburgh, put down the scalpel and picked up an instrument called an elevator, which he used to separate the flesh inside in Sarver’s finger, creating a small empty pocket of space. The implant stayed put the second time. “I’m a cyborg!” Video Part.01 History.01

The Cheapest Generation - Derek Thompson and Jordan Weissmann In 2009, Ford brought its new supermini, the Fiesta, over from Europe in a brave attempt to attract the attention of young Americans. It passed out 100 of the cars to influential bloggers for a free six-month test-drive, with just one condition: document your experience online, whether you love the Fiesta or hate it. Young bloggers loved the car. Young drivers? Not so much. After a brief burst of excitement, in which Ford sold more than 90,000 units over 18 months, Fiesta sales plummeted. Don’t blame Ford. Adulthood, Delayed The Great Recession changed young Americans' attitudes about what it means to be an Derek Thompson In a bid to reverse these trends, General Motors has enlisted the youth-brand consultants at MTV Scratch—a corporate cousin of the TV network responsible for Jersey Shore—to give its vehicles some 20-something edge. Perhaps. Since World War II, new cars and suburban houses have powered the economy and propelled recoveries.

In Search of the Living, Purring, Singing Heart of the Online Cat-Industrial Complex | Underwire A cat wearing a short tie plays music on a cat-shaped keyboard (“Pancake Meowsic Video,” 185,459 views). A woman performs sun salutations with a cat on her back (“Cat Loves Yoga,” 1,539 views). A man slaps two cats on an ironing board to the beat of “Atmosphere” (“Cat Slap Joy Division,” 357,605 views; watch this one). (Now, I mean.) Kittens try to keep up with an accelerating treadmill (“Treadmill Kittens,” 3.4 million views). A fat cat walks on an underwater treadmill (“Fat Cat Walking on Underwater Treadmill,” 133,434 views). Writing that paragraph took more than an hour. Maru, which means “circle” or “perfection” in Japanese, is a Scottish fold with nonfolded ears. But Maru is just one of Japan’s famous Internet cats, and his reign will not last forever. There’s also the famous flying-Pop-Tart cat, of course, Nyan Cat; his tie to Japan remains obscure unless you’ve been made aware, by someone who knows something about Japan and cats, that nya is how Japanese cats say “meow.”

Revolt of the Rich It was 1993, during congressional debate over the North American Free Trade Agreement. I was having lunch with a staffer for one of the rare Republican congressmen who opposed the policy of so-called free trade. To this day, I remember something my colleague said: “The rich elites of this country have far more in common with their counterparts in London, Paris, and Tokyo than with their fellow American citizens.” That was only the beginning of the period when the realities of outsourced manufacturing, financialization of the economy, and growing income disparity started to seep into the public consciousness, so at the time it seemed like a striking and novel statement. At the end of the Cold War many writers predicted the decline of the traditional nation-state. Our plutocracy now lives like the British in colonial India: in the place and ruling it, but not of it. In both world wars, even a Harvard man or a New York socialite might know the weight of an army pack.

The Innocence of White People So I’ve just received an email from a reader, asking whether I might have something to say about The Innocence of Muslims. “Is tolerance for satire really a concept that is not compatible with Islam?” he asks. “Is there something about all this indignation that ‘we,’ the West, don’t understand?” When asked to explain Muslim rage, I have an answer, but I already know the response to my answer. A defender of “Western civilization” will tell me, “Yeah, but we aren’t violent. That’s what we send out there, at them. I am not trying to excuse violence. Last week, the day on which my column runs happened to fall on September 11. The reason for my silence on 9/11 is that I am not only Muslim. As a Muslim, however, people do expect me to show evidence of my soul-searching over a single event, and I am regularly instructed by popular media to imagine 9/11 as a cancer within my own self. Yes, there’s something that we, the self-identified “West,” don’t understand: ourselves.

Raise the Crime Rate Is it true that living in America has become riskier? In 2006, the political scientist Jacob Hacker published The Great Risk Shift, a progressive tract that appropriated the vocabulary of wealth management to show how thirty years of privatization and deregulation had abraded the security of the American family. Risks once borne by corporations and the government, Hacker noted, like unplanned health costs, are now the responsibility of Mom and Pop. Hacker focuses on hazards like cancer and credit exposure, but these are not the only perils we face. When it comes to rape, the numbers look even better: from 1980 to 2005, the estimated number of sexual assaults in the US fell by 85 percent. It shouldn’t surprise us that the country was more dangerous in 1990, at the height of the crack epidemic, than in 2006, at the height of the real estate bubble. Crime has not fallen in the United States—it’s been shifted. Hulin’s method for dealing with it was to kill himself. And then came crack.

Magazine - Why Women Still Can’t Have It All The culture of “time macho”—a relentless competition to work harder, stay later, pull more all-nighters, travel around the world and bill the extra hours that the international date line affords you—remains astonishingly prevalent among professionals today. Nothing captures the belief that more time equals more value better than the cult of billable hours afflicting large law firms across the country and providing exactly the wrong incentives for employees who hope to integrate work and family. Yet even in industries that don’t explicitly reward sheer quantity of hours spent on the job, the pressure to arrive early, stay late, and be available, always, for in-person meetings at 11 a.m. on Saturdays can be intense. Indeed, by some measures, the problem has gotten worse over time: a study by the Center for American Progress reports that nationwide, the share of all professionals—women and men—working more than 50 hours a week has increased since the late 1970s. Revaluing Family Values

If My Guy Loses: Confessions of an Anonymous Partisan - Steve King Whichever side triumphs, the response of disappointed partisans is all too easily predicted. If my guy loses I will wake up every morning with the name of my enemy on my lips. The man who beat my guy in the election. The man who hijacked my government and stole my country. My enemy, my president. If my guy loses I will dedicate my life to opposition of the president and his agenda. If my guy loses I will claim that the president is going easy on terrorists while at the same time eroding our constitutional rights. I will protest things I once advocated. If my guy loses I will say to anyone who will listen that the president is destroying the Constitution and is the embodiment of the tyranny that our Founding Fathers fought against. I will warn of some vague, shadowy foreign influence in the president's White House. I will protest things I once advocated. I will vote in the midterms for people who do not have my best interests at heart. If my guy wins?

Chunklet to Go Go - Regular Human Beings Hi there. We’re regular human beings. We’re everywhere. Hey, that reminds us. Music: A little known fact about us regular human beings is we like music just as much as you do! When we hear a song we like, we like that song in the same exact way as you like a song whenever you like a song that you like! Why do you ask? Oh cool, a record store! We just buy CDs at Target and play them in the car. Art: If you ask us if we like art, we will tell you of course we like art. We don’t mean “boring,” it’s just, you know, we don’t know anything about art. Oh, you mean like “modern” art? One time we asked a 12-year-old nephew what he thought of some modern art and he called it “bull (you know what).” Fitness: We don’t always feel like working out, but we feel so much better when we do, it’s just worth it. Nutrition: Dieting is hard! Anyhow, yeah, dieting is hard, but you have to do it. Alcohol: Confession time. We like to be careful, because alcohol can be a real problem when you drink too much. Drugs:

8 Signs You've Found Your Life's Work This month marks the nine-month anniversary of the most natural and obvious, most joyful and energizing decision of my life: to fully commit 100% to my life's work. I've spent every day falling more madly in love with how I live my life and spend my time, the contributions I'm making to society, and the discomfort and growth that I feel each day. My journey getting here was both arduous and enthralling. It was not at all straightforward. I had numerous experiences that collectively brought me here, teaching me what I'm capable of and showing me what does and does not resonate. Though I've known for many years that my purpose is to unlock human potential, it took me some time to fully embrace my intuition, to figure out how to actualize this vision, and to build the courage to lean into my fears. I've made the mistake of plunging headfirst into a business commitment that wasn't fulfilling, spending more time trying to make it work than actually getting stuff done. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

TV, Movies, and Anonymous If you’re the kind who ventures out on foot after dark, you’ve almost certainly noticed a hypnotic blue glow flashing inside windows throughout the neighborhood. And when you see people held captive by a box of moving light, you can’t help but think that humans seem complicit in their own capture—even if you’re no stranger to a great episode of Planet Earth or Arrested Development yourself. Does it matter whether they’re watching American Idol, Mad Men, or Real Housewives? For decades, people have worried that television and movies would take away the public’s agency, the collective drive to do anything but work and buy things advertised on TV. Of course, there’s also a history of resistance to this prescribed lifestyle, and not just among academics. But money has a way of rendering its critics useless. Some have attempted to fight fire with fire. Enter Anonymous. failed plot to assassinate King James in 1605. The meaning of the mask was influenced by many, but controlled by none.

Tips for Selling the 'Urban' Experience to Suburbanites - Housing Today’s article is by my friend Lee Epstein, an attorney and land use planner working for sustainability in the Mid-Atlantic region. Lee’s last contribution here was The fall - and rise - of small downtown America. Many of us involved in the creation or advocacy of "sustainable" cities, neighborhoods and metro regions know what we’re mostly for. That would be communities that: Grow first within the existing development footprint, taking advantage of existing public infrastructure Integrate functional green space for air, light, recreation, beauty, and stormwater management Improve public transit, bike accessibility and walkability Encourage a healthy mix of land uses and activities – and Embrace a somewhat higher (though not necessarily high, depending upon location) residential and commercial density. And we also know what we’re mostly against. Suburban preferences are real, if also sometimes elusive But oftentimes suburbanites are equally committed to their lifestyles.

Feast of Fools - Politics by Lewis H. Lapham This post originally appeared on TomDispatch. [A longer version of this essay appears in "Politics," the Fall 2012 issue of Lapham's Quarterly; this slightly shortened version is posted at with the kind permission of that magazine.] All power corrupts but some must govern. -- John le Carré The ritual performance of the legend of democracy in the autumn of 2012 promises the conspicuous consumption of $5.8 billion, enough money, thank God, to prove that our flag is still there. Best of all, at least from the point of view of the commercial oligarchy paying for both the politicians and the press coverage, the issue is never about the why of who owes what to whom, only about the how much and when, or if, the check is in the mail. The campaigns don’t favor the voters with the gratitude and respect owed to their standing as valuable citizens participant in the making of such a thing as a common good. Democracy as an ATM Postponing the Feast of Fools Lewis H.

Barack Obama: Indie Rocker Indie-rock frontman Jeff Tweedy recently played a benefit concert for Barack Obama with a whopping ticket price of at least $250. (Let’s hope Republicans don’t find out that Tweedy’s band, Wilco, recorded a song called “Ashes of American Flags”.) As an indie-rock artist who supports Obama, Tweedy is in good company. Arcade Fire, the Decemberists, Superchunk, the Cool Kids, Bright Eyes, Andrew Bird, and others have also rocked for Barack. The fact that Tweedy’s fans are expected to cough up $250 says something about the state of indie rock, but Obama’s status as an indie-rock heartthrob tells us something about his candidacy as well. In the mid-1970’s, French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu coined the term cultural capital to refer to the knowledge, values and skills required to, among other things, appreciate “high art.” To get an idea of how indie-rock serves a social function, imagine you’re a Yale undergrad circa 1990. So why is the indie crowd flocking to Obama?