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January 23 2014


January 21 2014

Barbican x SEA – Exclusive Images

Barbican x SEA   Exclusive Images

Barbican x SEA   Exclusive Images

Barbican x SEA   Exclusive Images

Barbican x SEA   Exclusive Images

Barbican x SEA   Exclusive Images

Barbican x SEA   Exclusive Images

Barbican x SEA   Exclusive Images

Barbican x SEA   Exclusive Images

So SEA gave their website a refresh a week or so ago and that was met with a positive response from the design community (the old site was a little buggy) but today we’re not here to talk about their new site ;) . Instead I have some exclusive new shots of their Barbican work for you to enjoy. I also thought I’d mention that SEA are listening, so if you happen to detest this work and want to voice you’re opinion, your comment will only be approved if you have some substance to your criticism – it’s only fair ;)

Thanks again to both Alex and Danny @ SEA for the images and info.

‘SEA were asked to devise a visual identity system for Barbican membership. Through a softer visual approach, the work aims to define how people can contribute to the Barbican, in ways such as sponsorship, gift aid and membership. Membership packs, cards, booklets and posters are currently being rolled out over all tiers of membership.’

If you’re new here, don’t forget to Subscribe & follow SI on Twitter for your weekly dose of visual crack. Spreading the love via FFFFOUND! is also encouraged here. ;)

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Maintenance window June 6th, 01:00 - 08:00 CEST

I'll be doing a little bit of database maintenance, which means soup will be offline during that time.

I hope it won't take the full reserved window though ;)
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"At first I wanted to portray Sherlock as a charming, jovial individual with an earnest, empathic concern for humanity at all times. But then I was like, “aw fuck it."
Benedict Cumberbatch in an interview with the Sunday Telegraphitti
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'Anderson, don't talk out loud. You lower the IQ of the whole street.'
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One Million Yuan to Hire a Girlfriend for Chinese New Year

A Chinese man's offer published online to hire a girlfriend and fly her to his hometown for one million yuan (165,200 US dollars) to avoid celebrating the Chinese New Year alone has gone viral. 

According to Dahe Daily [zh], the man's message online reads: 


I'm too busy with work, mom is pressuring me to get married, so I sincerely plan to hire a girlfriend to take home. I will pay one million yuan and hire a private jet from Shenzhen to Zhenzhou. Requirements: A good-looking girl younger than 25 years old, over 168 centimeters high and weighing no more than 50 kilograms. The girl should have at least a bachelor's degree. Ten percent extra if you are a virgin or have a PhD. 200,000 yuan deposit on the first day, and will pay the rest after the business is over.

The man attached a photo of a guy sitting in front of piles of money. (Photo from Weibo)

The man who wrote a message seeking a girlfriend-for-hire attached a photo of a man sitting in front of piles of money. Photo from Weibo

The message attracted more than 5,000 applicants and over 10,000 comments in one day. Many netizens were not impressed: some thought it's was a publicity stunt, while others doubted his real intentions and wondered why such a rich guy had to hire a girlfriend. 

Still, a few expressed regret at not being an eligible woman.

Reporters contacted the man, who said that his post is genuine but refused to reveal his personal information. 

Although the man's intention is still questionable, hiring a boyfriend or girlfriend to take home for the Chinese New Year is not uncommon in China due to family pressure. On China's most popular online shopping website Taobao, some young people put up ads looking for a boyfriend- or girlfriend-for-hire to bring home, and others offered their services as a temporary boyfriend or girlfriend.  

While some young people hire a boyfriend or girlfriend to satisfy their eager parents, others choose to escape. Earlier last week, a Chinese mom bought a entire page of advertising on Chinese Melbourne Daily to beg her son to come home for the New Year after her repeated attempts to force her son into marriage had scared him away. 

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Michoacán: The Right of Self Defense—Against Drug Cartels or the Mexican Government?

Líderes de los grupos de autodefensa en la entrada de Churumuco, un municipio del estado de Michoacán. El grupo ha tomado las armas para protegerse de los carteles de la droga y las pandillas que operan en la zona.Foto de Armando Solís, 29 de diciembre 2013, copyright Demotix

Leaders of self-defense groups at the entrance to Churumuco, a municipality in the state of Michoacán. The group has taken up arms to defend themselves from drug cartels and gangs that operate in the area. Photo by Armando Solís, Dec. 29 2013, copyright Demotix

In an attempt to restore peace in the state of Michoacán, the Mexican government has sent the military to disarm the groups of armed citizens, better known as “self-defenders”, who have taken up arms against organized crime to defend their land, their work, and their families.

The violence is nothing new in Michoacán. For several years this state in western Mexico has suffered the consequences of the lack of security due to the presence of drug cartels and the absence of any authority that can effectively protect its citizens. Added to this is the constant presence of armed forces for the so-called “war on drugs“, initiated by the ex-President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa  and continued by the current President Enrique Peña Nieto, which has not been able to prevent the traffickers from extorting, intimidating, kidnapping and raping the population. All of these factors have fueled the group of self-defenders.

While the civilian forces are operating within the law, the recent effort to disarm these groups by the military is a milestone that could change the course of the armed conflict.

The blog “Hazme el Chingado Favor” [es] sums up the government’s recent action:

Así las cosas finalmente el Secretario de Gobernación vuelve anunciar que se va combatir la inseguridad y se manda al ejército. Se anuncia con bombo y platillo que se dedicaran 250 millones de pesos para reforzar el programa de Prevención del Delito una cifra risible cuando se considera que tan solo para ganar las elecciones del 2012 el PRI regalo 701 millones de pesos en tarjetas Monex… ¡HECF!

So finally the Interior Secretary announces again that it is going to combat the insecurity and sends the army. It was announced with great fanfare that $250 million pesos [approximately US $19 million] would be dedicated to strengthen the Crime Prevention program, a laughable figure when you consider that just to win the 2012 elections, the PRI gave out $701 million pesos [almost US $53 million] in Monex gifts cards…

Twitter user and blogger Mauricio Ceballos [es] blames the politicians for the state in which Michoacán finds itself:

All the political parties, and politics in general in Mexico, are responsible for the situation Michoacán is in.

While the Twitter account ‘No más corrupción’ (“No more corruption”) published this drawing summarizing the situation:

The sad new map of Michoacán thanks to the inability of the government to bring security to the population

And others simply call it a civil war:

Don’t be afraid of the words, Michoacán is in a civil war.

With regard to the raid by federal forces in the area known as Tierra Caliente, the priests have made themselves heard—as they have done in other conflicts, like the Zapatista movement—with strong criticism of the government. The Bishop of Apatzingán, Miguel Patiño Velázquez, wrote an open letter [es] published on the Animal Político website. An excerpt follows:

Los hechos recientes, de este nuevo año 2014, han llenado de indignación a nuestro pueblo al cerciorarse de que ni los políticos, ni el gobierno dan muestras de querer solucionar el problema de Tierra Caliente. En lugar de buscar a los criminales que dañan a la comunidad, el ejército mexicano, por órdenes superiores, fue a desarmar a las autodefensas de Nueva Italia y Antúnez agrediendo a gente indefensa con el resultado de tres hombres muertos. La situación se les salió de control y al verse rodeados por la población comenzaron a disparar, primero al aire y después a las personas. [...] Apatzingán está desde el viernes pasado hundida en el miedo y la zozobra. [...] los enviados del crímen organizado quemaron autobuses, tráilers y camiones de carga sin que los federales ni los militares lo impidieran.  El crímen organizado sigue obligando a la gente a asistir a sus manifestaciones, sus líderes están plenamente identificados y no hay autoridad que los pare. [...] El pueblo está exigiendo al gobierno que primero agarren y desarmen al crímen organizado. El ejército y el gobierno han caído en el descrédito porque en lugar de perseguir a los criminales han agredido a las personas que se defienden de ellos. ¿No han comprendido que nos encontramos en un “Estado de necesidad”?

The recent events of this new year of 2014 filled our people with indignation to realize that neither the politicians nor the government show signs of wanting to solve the Tierra Caliente problem. Instead of looking for criminals who harm the community, the Mexican army, on orders from above, went to disarm the self-defense groups of Nueva Italia and Antúnez, leaving the people defenseless which resulted in the deaths of three men. The situation got out of their control and seeing themselves surrounded by people they opened fire, first in the air and then at people. […] Since last Friday, Apatzingán is mired in fear and anxiety. […] The envoys from organized crime burned buses, trailers and cargo trucks without the federal police or military doing anything to stop them. […] Organized crime continues to force people to attend their events, their leaders are fully identified and there is no authority to stop them. […] The people demand that the government first catch and disarm the criminals. The military and government are becoming completely discredited because instead of pursuing criminals they have attacked people who are defending others. Do they not understand that we are in a ‘state of necessity’?

Father Gregorio López, in charge of the Nuestra Señora de la Asunción parish of the same diocese, went ever farther in an interview with Red Noticiero quoted by the digital daily Sin Embargo [es] where he mentions the main bosses of the Templar Knights cartel by name, and accuses the government of knowing their whereabouts and protecting them:

Nazario Moreno ayer comió con ‘La Tuta’ [Servando Gómez Martínez] en un rancho que se llama La Cucha, aquí a unos kilómetros de Apatzingán, y el gobierno lo sabía. [...] La estrategia de enviar fuerzas federales a Apatzingán, Michoacán, es “una farsa, un teatro” porque incluso los elementos de la Policía Federal (PF) reciben su nómina del crimen organizado y el gobierno federal y estatal lo saben.

Yesterday Nazario Moreno ate with ‘La Tuta’ [Servando Gómez Martínez] at a ranch called the La Cucha, a few kilometers from Apatzingán and the government knew it. […] The strategy of sending federal forces to Apatzingán, Michoacán, is a “charade, it’s theater” because even members of the Federal Police get their pay from organized crime and the state and federal governments know it.

Many Twitter users share the priests’ point of view:

The Michoacan self-defenders are defending from kidnapping and extortion, Sr. Vallejo is defending the Templars.

Self-defense groups are the people defending their lives and their families. It’s criminal that the military is supporting the Templars in Michoacán.

Others went so far as to say that the “self-defenders” could be the start of a revolution:

#Yosoy132 [note: student movement] was chaos at the national level and it was peaceful; armed self-defense groups in Michoacán are going to be a revolution.

The actions of the federal forces caused doubt among netizens about the true reasons for disarming the ‘self-defenders’.

It doesn’t suit the government for us to attack their drug business, so they want to disarm the people.

On the other hand, several have expressed doubt about the financing and origin of the ‘self-defenders’:

It shouldn’t be possible for groups of dubious origin and sophisticated weaponry like the ‘self-defenders’ to be considered heroes by [journalist Carmen] Aristegui.

The self-defense groups, however, are gaining support from the public, mainly through actions like the one reported by the magazine Proceso: “Self-defense groups returned 265 hectares (654 acres) to their owners that the traffickers had taken from them.”

It’s not about making the self-defense groups of Michoacan martyrs or heroes, but as a group of human beings, they are a lot more respectable than the Mexican government.

For those interested in knowing more about the reasons that led to the creation of the self-defense group and its history, José Manuel Mireles, their leader, explains them in this interview [es].

[Translator's note: This interview is in Spanish. Here is another longer interview with subtitles in English, including one with Dr. Mireles on the same theme:]

To follow the latest events, follow the hashtags #Michoacán, #autodefensas y #MichoacánEnGuerra on Twitter.

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Blogger and Commando Argue Russian Terrorism

Anti-establishment  journalist Kungurov (left) vs. special forces blogger hardingush (right). Image remixed by author.

Anti-establishment journalist Kungurov (left) vs. anonymous special forces blogger hardingush (right). Image remixed by author.

The twin explosions in Volgograd [Global Voices report], which killed dozens of people in late December 2013, still remain an important topic of conversation on the RuNet. Out of the multitude of opinion, analysis, and commentary, one polemic is particularly interesting — an online argument between two popular bloggers, the anti-establishment journalist Alexey Kungurov and the anonymous special forces commando operating in Ingushetia, hardingush [Global Voices report].

After the first December blast in the Volgograd train station, Kungurov, who boasts 11,000 followers on LiveJournal and is ranked 66th in LiveJournal's blogger rankings, made a provocative statement in a blog post [ru]:

В очередной раз говорю очевидное: никакого теракта в Волгограде не было.

I will once again say something obvious: there was no terrorist attack in Volgograd.

Kungurov's logic is, according to him, straightforward. The Russian criminal code defines an act of terror as “An explosion, arson, or other actions aimed at intimidating the population, harming humans, or property [...], with the goal of influencing decisions made by the authorities or international organizations [...].” Since the parties responsible for the Volgograd bombs did not make any demands of the authorities, since there were no threats or attempts to influence anyone, since no one took responsibility for the attacks, and since no one appears to be using them as a way of promoting their ideology, Kungurov says, the explosions were simply:

«убийство двух или более лиц, совершенное общественно опасным способом» (ч.2 ст. 105 УК РФ). Квалифицирующего признака теракта в упор не вижу.

“a murder of two or more persons, perpetrated by publicly dangerous means” (Part 2, Article 105, Russian Criminal Code). I point-blank don't see any qualifying signs of terrorism.

Kungurov could be suspected of being facetious — the concept of an “act of terror” is near universal, i.e. most people would agree that blowing up a train station and killing dozens of people isn't simply “murder,” regardless of demands made or not made by the perpetrators, or how terror is defined in criminal codes. He goes further, however, claiming that all suicide bombings committed in Russia are in fact done at the behest of Russian “special agencies” and the silovikiwho stand to gain from an inflated security state and frightened population:

Выгоду  от «теракта» при любом раскладе извлекает государство, точнее отдельные лица, государство приватизировавшие.

Under any circumstances the state stands to benefit from an act of terror, more specifically, persons who have privatized the state.

Kungurov's post made somewhat of a stir on the RuNet, making it to many of the top lists of popular posts, and gathering 2,281 comments, many of which agreed with his arguments. The response [ru] came two weeks later from a LiveJournal blog that is subtitled “Combating terrorism. A view from the inside.” The special forces commando behind the blog hardingush [ru] (13,600 followers, ranked 23rd on LiveJournal) has made a name for himself on the RuNet describing anti-terrorist operations in the North Caucasus in vivid, gory detail.

hardingush takes issue with the labeling of a terrorist attack “murder,” and with the idea that demands are necessary for a crime to be classified as “terrorism.” Interestingly, just as Kungurov, he quotes from the official definition of a terrorist act (see above). Only, he concentrates on the “intimidating the population” part. According to hardingush, it's a “mistake” to view each suicide bombing separately. In fact the terrorists are running a protracted campaign. They don't have any specific demands (which they know won't be met in any case), but they do have the aim of “frightening” the Russian voters. These voters will then say:

“Нет, нам Кавказ не нужен, давайте отделим”. Нужно быть полным кретином, чтобы требовать отделения территории от руководства страны с помощью терактов. Но можно воздействовать на население, которое возьмет да и проголосует за придурка, который пообещает отделить Кавказ.

“No, we don't need the Caucasus, lets cut it loose.” You have to be a complete moron to make separatist demands from a government using acts of terror. But you can influence the populace, which will then go and vote for the idiot that promises to cut the Caucasus loose.

Meanwhile, Kungurov has published a series [ru] of posts [ru] that call hardingush out as a government PR project and a liar, part of the machine that creates demand for “acts of terror” and keeps Russians docile. hardingush has not responded to the accusations. As the Sochi Olympics approach, and as the Russian government looks to toughen up on anti-terrorist measures [ru], such online conflicts will probably heat up. Here's hoping they will stay online.

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January 20 2014

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