A Day In The Life: this espresso cup artwork about wartime tragedies and John Lennon’s death is actually an ingenious biography of his life

‘Mended Cups’ was released in 2015 – but for over a year no one saw its story of life and love, artfully hidden in six dates

“Oh no – did they get the year wrong? That would be a proofreading disaster….”

I was looking online at a photo of Yoko Ono’s set of espresso cups, artwork that she had created for the illycaffè espresso company in 2015 as part of an ongoing artist series, which had been released to coincide with her exhibit Yoko Ono: One Woman Show, 1960–1971 (May 17-September 7, 2015) at The Museum of Modern Art in New York. The set ‘Mended Cups‘ consists of six “shattered and mended” cups, and six individual saucers, each with the place and date of a catastrophic war event written on them, along with the words “…mended in 2015.” A seventh cup and saucer, ‘Unbroken Cup’, remains undated and unbroken, and is inscribed with the words “This cup will never be broken as it will be under your protection.”

Due to the way the photo was composed, on one of the cups I couldn’t read the name of the event, just a slightly blurred date: April 26, 1987. But wait: didn’t the Chernobyl nuclear disaster happen in 1986? I looked it up…yes, the Chernobyl disaster occurred April 26, 1986. But that last number in the photo was clearly a “7”. That can’t be right. Continue reading

Why did the Ferguson grand jury take so long to decide? Was someone giving Darren Wilson enough time to hide his assets?

Updated 11/26/2014 to remove information that directly identified the property.

After a tense weekend when speculation about an imminent announcement heightened concerns about protests, on Monday morning the grand jury that had been hearing unusually detailed evidence and testimony for over 3 months announced that it had reached a decision as to whether there was probable cause to indict Ferguson, MO police officer Darren Wilson – who is white – for the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown – who was black.

Just before the start of that weekend, at 4:41pm on Friday, November 21st, property owned by Darren Wilson and his now-wife Barbara Spradling was transferred into a trust, according to St. Louis County land records.

The timing is awfully suspect. Some key dates:

August 9 – During a confrontation, a police officer who was not identified shoots black teenager Michael Brown 6 times in rapid succession. Brown dies on the street almost immediately, but his body is not removed from the scene for over 4 hours. Extended protests ensue over the following weeks.
August 15 – Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson identifies Darren Wilson Continue reading

There are 634 runways where Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 could have landed; 4 airports deserve careful scrutiny

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has now been missing for 10 days. Ten days without a physical trace. The last evidence of the flight was a “data ping” – an electronic connection or “handshake” made by a satellite more than 7 hours after takeoff. A summary of events to date is here.

Malaysian officials no longer consider the disappearance of the flight to be an accident, but a deliberate diversion. In addition to the needle-in-a-football-field ocean search, the possibility of a ground landing somewhere is now being considered. Within the arc of the area where it is believed the plane could have flown, it has been estimated that there are 634 airports that met the length requirements for a Boeing 777 to land. Three of those airports may warrant some closer examination, along with a 4th that is outside the area currently being searched.

There are 4 airports outside of Malaysia that have close connections to Malaysia Airlines. Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) is a Malaysian airport company that manages most of the airports in Malaysia, and recently began to manage airports in international destinations. They have partnered in varying ways on the development and management of these airports with GMR Group , an infrastructural company based in India that has interests in the areas of Airports, Energy, Highways and Urban Infrastructure.

MAHB currently manages 3 international airports outside Malaysia. They are: Continue reading

Security, spycraft, beating the system: what fascinates us about the Malaysia Airlines disappearance

In a world where the doors to schools and government buildings and even baseball parks are guarded with metal detectors, where security cameras are recording in routine places, where massive government agencies are storing call metadata and tapping the backbone of the internet, where wireless carriers can pinpoint a cellphone location to within a few feet, and where the CIA can read a license plate from outer space, how in the hell can you lose a 300,000 lb plane with a 200-foot wingspan?

The world is riveted by the unfolding story of the Malaysia Airlines disappearance. Over a week ago, on March 8th, Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 – a large Boeing 777-200ER – disappeared from radar and air traffic control screens just as it was about to pass from Malaysian to Vietnamese airspace on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. It sounded no distress call; it left no physical evidence. It seemed to have literally vanished into thin air.

The flight’s disappearance flies in the face of our post-9/11 experiences with TSA x-rays, 3-1-1 liquids bags, and remove-your-shoes rules that slow down the process of flying in the name of security. How, with all of that terror prevention policy and procedure, could something like this have happened? Clearly it must be a tragic accident. But an accident should have left evidence, Continue reading

Going out on a limb: theorizing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 did not crash & is currently hidden somewhere in western China

I am going to go out on what I think is a safe limb and theorize that the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 did not crash and is currently hidden somewhere in western China.
Today Reuters published the article “From his Pakistan hideout, Uighur leader vows revenge on China”:

Entrenched in secret mountain bases on Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, Uighur fighters are gearing up for retribution against China to avenge the deaths of comrades in Beijing’s crackdown on a separatist movement, their leader told Reuters.

China, Pakistan’s only major ally in the region, has long urged Islamabad to weed out what it says are militants from its western region of Xinjiang, who are holed up in a lawless tribal belt, home to a lethal mix of militant groups, including the Taliban and al Qaeda. …

There has been almost constant tension between the Han Chinese and the Uighurs since the 1750s. This NPR interview provides a very brief summary of the region’s geopolitical and economic importance and its cultural/religious differences. A chronology of key events related to the region covering from the 2009 riots to the March 2014 terrorist knife attack in Kunming shows a sharp increase in serious incidents since the beginning of 2013.

Could Uighur rebels be behind this? But why hijack a Malaysian plane? Were the large number of Chinese citizens on the plane a terrorist target? And just how did the hijackers – whoever they are – do it and get away with it?

AP reported that a Malaysian official, who declined to be identified because he is not authorized to brief the media, said only a skilled aviator could navigate the plane the way it was flown after its last confirmed location over the South China Sea. Reuters reported that whoever was piloting the plane seemed to be familiar with navigational routes. A map showing points where the plane was detected is here.

The now-high likelihood that the plane was being piloted by someone with enough skill to both avoid radar detection and maneuver through steep rises, dives, and turns, taken together with what appears to have been a sophisticated, systematic dismantling of transponders and tracking systems, and the new knowledge that the plane was flown for at least several hours after its radar disappearance, is strong evidence that the plane was under control and did not crash, and that points to a deliberate action Continue reading

“Yahoo webcam images from millions of users intercepted by GCHQ” gasped the Guardian. But that’s not really the problem.

“Yahoo webcam images from millions of users intercepted by GCHQ” gasped the Guardian headline.

The system, eerily reminiscent of the telescreens evoked in George Orwell’s 1984, was used for experiments in automated facial recognition, to monitor GCHQ’s existing targets, and to discover new targets of interest. Such searches could be used to try to find terror suspects or criminals making use of multiple, anonymous user IDs.

This is not reporting, it is manipulative commentary. “[E]erily reminiscent of the telescreens evoked in George Orwell’s 1984” is a prairie dog-whistle phrase designed to make you pop up out of your hole in fear. Which in and of itself is kind of Orwellian manipulation, if you think about it.

The privacy risks of mass collection from video sources have long been known to the NSA and GCHQ, as a research document from the mid-2000s noted: “One of the greatest hindrances to exploiting video data is the fact that the vast majority of videos received have no intelligence value whatsoever, such as pornography, commercials, movie clips and family home movies.”

That’s a pretty neat trick: what they say they’re saying is that the videos have no intelligence value, but what the article is really trying to communicate is: they can see your naughty bits. Although only between 3% and 11% of the Yahoo webcam imagery harvested by GCHQ contains “undesirable nudity”, most of the rest of the article is devoted to discussion of the policies and restrictions around viewing it. The article is preying on people’s fears of having their homemade porn discovered in order to gin up protest that this kind of surveillance is utterly intolerable and must be stopped.

Don’t take this personally, people, but your webchat porn – no matter how talented you think you are – Continue reading

What better day to demonstrate readiness to handle disaster than to hold a disaster training exercise on 9/11?

In another example of the my-outraged-sensitivity-is-bigger-than-your-outraged-sensitivity trend, there was the by now predictable sad and media-fanned moral outrage at the reports of a fire training exercise being conducted at Boston’s Logan Airport yesterday, the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Logan Airport is where American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175, the two flights that hit the World Trade Centers in 2001, originated from that morning, and since then Massport employees have had to fight an embarassed defensive shame that somehow, there was some way they could have foreseen, and something they could have done better or differently to prevent, something that was at that time utterly unthinkable.

Eric Lowrey, president of the Massachusetts 9/11 Fund, said, “I could very much see it being an issue and very worrisome for anyone who saw that smoke and fire, knowing this date has some significance.” Oh, the insensitivity! How DARE they conduct realistic training exercises when people are busy gathering in large groups to remember the day, or perhaps raptly watching their favorite media outlet’s Special Edition Coverage Of The Twelfth Anniversary Of The 9 | 11 Attacks complete with haunting soft-focus still-shots and segue music to commercials set in a heart-touching plaintive minor key.

There’s a secondary story here about the media milking of our public tragedies, but that pretty much writes itself, and in itself would be a diversion from the real issue, which Continue reading

It’s not enough to do what you love: Russell Wilson, Keith Olbermann, and the importance of organizational fit

Last night in his interview of Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson on ESPN’s new sports show ‘Olbermann’, Keith Olbermann noted admiringly that Wilson went in last year as a rookie and, before playing a single game, provided a list of goals to his coaches, including a goal of winning multiple Super Bowls. “Where,” Olbermann asked, “does the confidence come from to do that, before you’ve played a game in the NFL, and did you give them a new list this year?” Wilson’s response:

“Well, I think, for me, I’m a self-motivator. At the end of the day, you have to be a self-motivator if you want to do something great and, I’ve got a long ways to go. You just take one day at a time, you take those steps, and just continue to climb and continue to grow. And so, I think, you know, I definitely want to win multiple Super Bowls, but to do that you have to win the first one first and…to do that too you have to win the first game, the second game, and keep going on from there, and when you get those opportunities, when you have those game-altering plays – I call them GAP plays – when you have those GAP plays, you’ve gotta capitalize on them and when you have those game-altering situations throughout the season, you have to, you know, do the best that you can to be successful and that gives you a chance, and that’s where I’ve started, that’s where our football team starts.” (The full interview can be heard here starting at 31:30.)

Break your goals down into shorter goals, and break those down into action steps. Develop discipline. Motivate yourself. Plan your work, work your plan. Capitalize on opportunities. It’s all true. Hearing the words, you know he’s right. He’s an inspiration. You want to believe. **I** want to believe. But many of us – Olbermann included – have the career scars to demonstrate that talent and discipline are not always enough to carry the day. As it turns out, there’s more to Wilson’s story.

It goes without saying that talent – or at least decent competence – is the first requirement for any amount of success at what you do. (Note that I said success. Let’s set aside for now any snarky discussions of people who get jobs solely based on connections or favors; by definition, they’re not performing well.) And discipline and motivation are the oil and gas that get the engine running. But there is a third critical factor: the work environment. If there is a mismatch Continue reading