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Laser Collage Article

August 22, 2014 3 comments

Art Sharks by Shellie Lewis, paper collage and laser cutter, 6x8 inches, 2014

Art Sharks by Shellie Lewis, paper collage and laser cutter, 6×9 inches, 2014

I came up with a new method for collage or at least a variation on the process which I published here. The intended audience is people within the hacker/maker community and are more likely to have access to laser cutting technology.

If you are enrolled at a college or university and you are not learning how to use current tech in laser cutting and 3-D printing, see if there is an available hackerspace / makerspace in your area. Laser cutting and 3-D equipment was on the campus I graduated from in 2010, in one department and locked behind closed doors, the private playthings of the professors. Students did not even know this equipment existed on campus. Demand education and access to this technology if your campus is missing it or is restricting access to the equipment. Robotics, rap rep [rapid reproduction] and being able to prototype creations on your own are current technologies that a wide range of creative and technical fields are using now. For me, becoming proficient with a laser cutter has opened new doors creatively, has been interesting and a lot of fun.   

“Waiting” by Thadra Sheridan

June 23, 2014 1 comment

Upworthy.com put this video poem up which is done as a brilliant theater piece. It is wonderful and only four minutes. 

Not-so-fun fact: A waiter’s minimum wage in America is $2.13 per hour plus tips. Waiters are three times more likely to fall under the poverty line than average workers, and women are three times more likely to be a waiter. They average $18,590 annually in income. Which ain’t much to live on. Which is why this waitress has something blunt and kind of hilarious to say.

 

Categories: Rant, Video

Woman versus Facebook

March 4, 2014 2 comments

I am archiving this by re-blogging it here. Many thanks to author Alexandra Rosado for her courage and clarity.

 

Alexandra Rosado portrait

 

February 27, 2014

Even though most of my profile is private, I’m making this post public on the off chance that the person who reported me will see it if they aren’t on my friends list (I am still unsure about that).

Today I changed my Facebook profile picture to a self portrait that I took in September of 2013 as part of a photo project that I ended up abandoning eventually. Even though I gave up on the project, I liked the picture. It holds important significance for me. Just moments after I changed it, however, I received a notification stating that it had been reported to Facebook for “nudity and pornography”. Someone had seen the photo of my bare torso and had immediately been so offended by it that they decided it needed to be removed from Facebook within seconds of it showing up. To the person who reported my photo, I would like to say I am sorry.

I am sorry that you have been conditioned to believe that a woman’s bare skin is pornographic and obscene by default. I am sorry that you cannot separate my skin from sex. I am sorry that you believe the flesh I was born in, that I learned to walk and dance and swim in, that I scraped my knees on the playground in, that I carried my daughter in, that has been held and hurt and rejected and sunburned and painted on and pierced and filled with too much food or too little food and bruised at punk shows, is lewd and meant for the consumption of others and not for my own use.

I am sorry that I was not born male. If I had been, I could walk down a public street showing the same amount of flesh pictured here and no one would bat an eye, because the only sexuality that needs to be silenced is female.

I am sorry that you couldn’t bear to go about your day without correcting my behavior.

I am sorry that a photograph that was meant to be a statement about myself became a target for your own discomfort, that you couldn’t look past my tits and try to see what I was saying.

In this photo I’m crying. In this photo I am 105 pounds and I am tugging and squeezing and pinching at my body to make it smaller, smaller than it was ever meant to be because I have days sometimes when I feel like I am too much, that I take up space that I don’t deserve. I have days sometimes when I want to shrink so far inside myself that no one else can see me. I have days sometimes when I don’t eat enough. I have days sometimes when I don’t want to eat at all. I took this photo to illustrate a part of myself that I don’t have the courage to talk about even with the people I trust the most.

Thank you for reporting me, because until now I haven’t said these things to anyone. I hope that you come to terms with your own issues about bodies and sexuality and skin.

Since this photo was taken I’ve gained ten pounds. I’m healthier now. I still want to disappear a lot of the time, but I can’t yet. I still have things I want to say.

Categories: Rant

Gateway SX2110-UB25 PC, Windows 8, Best Buy ALL Totally Suck

October 28, 2013 2 comments

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If you are reading this because you are trying to learn something about a Gateway SX2110-UB25 PC, put that thing back in the box and return it to where you bought it right now! This PC and Windows 8 are garbage. The Gateway Gateway SX2110-UB25 Windows 8 PC does not have wireless internet. (It has a port for an ethernet cable. How very 1990s!) I spent many hours trying to help someone access the internet since her service is wireless and she bought this computer.

Even better, Windows 8 was not working with various USB wireless adaptors (aftermarket devices sold separately) and kept kicking the USB wifi offline.  Windows 8 would not, no matter what I did, recognize the PCI Express card I installed internally. Best Buy was a total misery, refusing to take back the PC because it was 2 days past the 15 days allowable for the return, a screw was missing from the back of the tower and there was a small dent in the bar between the break-out sections for the slots including the slot for PCI Express wireless card that did not work. The manager was a real dick about our complaints regarding the system’s problems and the bottom line is that Best Buy takes your money, only takes your money, and will only take your money. I personally would neither give any money to either Gateway or Best Buy myself, and sadly the person I was helping who only wanted an affordable PC is now stuck with this lemon.

Categories: Digital Design, Rant

College for Profit: Poised to Break the Tenure System

October 1, 2013 Leave a comment

Something that really has me disgusted is the degree to which colleges have been corporatized in the past ten years. The costs of tuition have increased tremendously and the product is not essentially different or better in any way. The expensive, private, for-profit art and media college I attended was years to decades behind current technology and best practices in the various programs. The cinema program literally has kids still running around with 16mm film cameras because the school won’t buy digital equipment! That was how that program was in the 1990s. The ongoing economic recession or depression gives colleges and universities further excuses to corporatize, especially downsizing staff and faculty, and the college I graduated has taken this a step further by figuring out how to eliminate tenured staff.

Getting rid of tenured staff is simple: they just are not going to hire them anymore.  From the 1990s to present they shifted tenured instructors in favor of adjunct instructors. The last published number I had for Columbia College placed adjunct faculty at 77% for the whole campus. That is 77% of a college workforce for instruction that is part-time, has no insurance, no vacation time, no sick leave, no retirement or investment benefits, can be eliminated at any time and is paid substantially less than the tenured professors. The adjunct instructors are unionized but the college was able to roll them for three years without a contract and little improvement in their current employment contract. They probably should have gone on strike yet the same time there was “prioritization” downsizing of staff and faculty. (SAIC took downsizing a step further and just outright broke tenure and fired a bunch of tenured professors to get them off their payroll.) No one at Columbia wanted to strike when the college was eliminating positions and everyone was at risk of losing their jobs. For many, their adjunct teaching job became their only or their primary source of income. The reason why a lot of people were and are willing to bite the bullet on being an adjunct professor was under the belief of paying one’s dues and proving one’s worth in hopes of getting hired into a tenure track position. Also, white collar, professional jobs are few and far between in Chicago and especially in this ongoing downturn economy. Now that the college administration appears to have firm dominance, the word is the administration is going to now open full-time positions but things will be different. With other schools following this pattern, it is not like people can shift to jobs elsewhere.

The new word invented for tenure dodging is “lectureship”.  Adjunct professors, who can find themselves out of a job from semester to semester, will have an opportunity to apply for lectureship positions instead of tenure track professor positions. A lectureship is basically a one year contract for employment and some full-time benefits but without the full benefits of tenure track or tenured professors. I had my share of lazy, do-nothing and unaccountable tenured professors but I also had my share of good ones. This system maybe would help to oust under-performing professors but I see it as holding more power in union breaking by undermining and ultimately eliminating the tenure system for profit. Maybe the school will try to spin lectureship jobs as an innovation or an improvement but for me the bottom line is that administration has figured out that the highly educated sector of the workforce is as desperate for employment as the workforce in general.

College for profit is demonstrably in existence in all colleges, even “non-profit” colleges. Illinois States Attorney Lisa Madigan looked at the books for UIC and Northwestern and asked how they can be non-profit when UIC had over $300 Million in trust and Northwestern had over $800 Million in trust. These non-profit schools with their massive resources, having legal programs and medical programs with hospitals are not in the business of handing out free educations to the children of the poor, legal aid or medical help to those in need. On top of that, they hold billions of dollars in prime real estate and buildings, none of which is taxed. Lisa Madigan advised that both universities should consider “doing more for the community” or be taxed. I wish more investigation and pressure to change would come from this line of thinking. Just because college and universities have non-profit status does not mean they have justifiable reasons for having that status when in fact they are highly profitable operations.

Colleges and universities also love to “cry poor” as much as they can, stating loss of government funding and lower student enrollment as proof they are in financial hardship. Mathematically, about three or four students in a class pays for the class itself, especially if taught by an adjunct professor as per some of the numbers I have learned about. The schools hide how many people in a class actually make the class break even. Colleges and universities are not in the business to be self-sustaining; they are in the education business for profit.  Schools have been packing in twenty to thirty students a class and getting side money on online classes. Columbia owns at least 17 high rise buildings in downtown’s South Loop area and a mansion for the school President, but the school claims poverty from lower enrollment.

Part of my concerns is that these changes in higher academia are coming out of the greater culture of Chicago which has been systematically dismantling public education on the grammar school level and shifting the tax dollar resources into private enterprises. The city did that with recycling and our street parking meters and a thousand other things I don’t know enough about recent history and politics to name. This is the city of expert corruption, the buddy system and the income based kick-back through contracts. Trying to understand all of it is numbing. This is the city that since The Rahmfather has shut down 50% of mental health services closing two of the four available facilities, took 49 schools in poorer neighborhoods and shut them down (originally slated to be 54) and has the highest sales tax in the nation. If tax money can be gift-wrapped and handed to private industry, Chicago knows how to best tie the bow on top. Colleges and universities in my city are suspect because they are in the business of learning and have a great seat to watch just how much people will put up with and how far profit motivation can go unchecked. It seems the game is won by those who will be boldest in their greed at the expense of the public good, their own students and their own faculty.

Categories: Chicago, Rant, Uncategorized

Petition to Remove the Location Restrictions for the Peddler’s License

map-of-banned-areas-2013-WEB

 

Please sign this petition and please forward to others to sign. Let city government know people want change:

City of Chicago: Remove sections 4-244-130 through 4-244-140 from the Municipal Code.

 

Panhandling was made illegal in Chicago until the A.C.L.U. sued the city and won on the basis of those laws being a restriction on Free Speech.  The A.C.L.U. lawsuit only covered panhandling and left out artists, musicians and street merchants.  This has led to the current laws which radically restrict peddling.  What is worse for the city’s economy and image: someone offering to sell you something or someone panhandling?  The current laws make paying for a Peddler’s License less beneficial than begging.  Begging costs nothing to begin as it requires no investment in goods, it offers no revenue to the city in licensing fees, is outside of the systems of state and city taxation and is a deterrent to visitors.  Ongoing reform to the Peddler’s License, starting with removing the regional bans, will offer a legal alternative through micro-business start ups that wish to vend merchandise to the public.

 

How To Save Money on Eye Glasses

My eyeglasses gave out and they were in bad shape for months.  First off, the glasses came from VisionWorks and it wound up being my experience that their factory and products are really bad.  Both pair I purchased were poorly made: the coloured layers on the frames split apart and separated, the lenses had to be remade over and over because they kept screwing up the Transitions photo-coating, which cracked and peeled off the lenses.  Buying the two pairs ran about $400 at the time.  I just had single vision, polycarbonate lenses with the Transitions / photochromic sunlight coating – no anti-glare or scratch resistant treatment.
I just bought another two pairs for $368 from America’s Best chain company and I should be happier since I’m getting new frames, Transitions photo-coating, anti-glare AND scratch resistant coatings.  The thing about VisionWorks, America’s Best and many other chain retailers is that they really strong arm upselling people to buy two pairs.  Also, my prescription has not changed at all.  If I bought only one pair, discounts disappear and a fee for the eye exam kicks in and it was about a $68 saving for only getting one pair.  Many other stores without the ‘bargain’ marketing are targeted at people who can pay $350 – $400 for one pair of eyeglasses.  My mother helped me pay for the replacement glasses, so the purchase was afforded by two people.  The chains and stores that charge closer to $350 – $400 for one pair of glasses helps drive lower income people further into the arms of the “two for one” pricing scheme chains.  I say pricing scheme because it turns out that the price controller of the eyeglasses manufacturing and retail sales industry is all one multi-national corporation.  Definitely watch this:

60  Minutes newscast:  “Sticker shock: Why are glasses so expensive?”  http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=50149025n

“One factor: the world’s largest eyewear company, the Italian firm Luxottica, controls a big chunk of the business. Lesley Stahl reports.”
The only way you can avoid the wide net of control cast by this monopoly is to buy from Costco, Wal-Mart or an online retailer.  Buying online is a slight problem since you can’t really try on the frames.  I was recommended to Zenni Optical [www.zennioptical.com] which is a USA company with manufacturing in China.  You can get plain plastic lenses and frames for as low as $9.99 with $4.95 shipping.  If you are too poor to afford prescription eye glasses right now, you can probably find a charity to give you an eye exam and come up with $15 to $20 to order online and even have some semblance of a selection.
Eyeglasses with more features such as scratch coating, anti-glare or Transitions / photochromic sunlight coating can cost closer to $35 – $50 at Zenni online, which is a far cry from the $184 each I just paid for two pairs from America’s Best.  You need to input your prescription information and have your pupil distance in millimeters, preferably from the eye exam.  Zenni Optical has a wide selection of frames and the sizes of everything is in metric which can be helpful if you measure your current frames for comparison.  I want a low cost pair of eyeglasses to wear for sports and ice skating, so I plan to order a pair online some time and see how much I like them.  I think myself and possibly other people, once they start having more informed and positive experience buying from online retailers can break through the price setting monopoly that controls eyeglasses now.  Also, I want this pair of glasses because they are really freaking adorable:
zenni-glasses-2013
Categories: Rant
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