Moments ago, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would grant legal immunity to the telecom companies who helped the Bush administration tap Americans’ telephones after 9/11. The bill marks a major victory for the telecoms lobby, and a major defeat for people with telephones. [via Guardian]
On Wednesday, an ‘Survival Guide’ for interns working for Congressman Don Young (who likely voted for the wiretapping bill) was leaked on the web. The document listed an ‘A-Team’ of lobbyists who received preferential treatment, including one with business connections to an ongoing corruption case against the Congressman. The Survival Guide also reveals that Young’s wife does not like cologne and says pumpkin seeds when she really means sunflower seeds. [via Talking Points Memo]
Los Angeles Judge Alex Kozinski declared a mistrial last Friday in an obscenity case against scatological porn producer Ira Isaacs. Kozinski had come under scrutiny after an irate litigant hacked into a private online storage space maintained by the Judge’s son and found a ‘bestiality video’ therein. The video, which is available on YouTube, shows a man going the bathroom in a field, and then being chased around by a donkey. [Via Lessig, via Fox]
Rebecca Baron’s film explores the history of the Mass Observation Movement, focusing in particular on the role of photographer Humphrey Spender. Working in the late 1930s, Spender photographed people in public places. He preferred to catch his subjects unawares, often making use of hidden cameras, making his images of normal, everyday life feel like a glimpses behind the social veil of others.
In this clip, the narrator discusses the idea that the camera can be used for the objective measurement of human subjects. This notion is found not only in the work of Spender, Baron argues, but also in that of 19th century thinkers, such as anthropologist Francis Galton and crime scene photographer Alphonse Bertillon, as well as in the enthusiasm for CCTV shown by law enforcement officials today.
In 1937, the poet Charles Madge teamed up with filmmaker Humphrey Jennings and anthropologist Tom Harrison to found Mass Observation, a movement dedicated to studying the everyday lives of British people. Their study included field research in settings like pubs, conducted by paid observers who would record behavior such as the cigarette and beer consumption of their subjects. Alongside this, they drew on a nationwide network of volunteers, about 500 of whom submitted regular, personal diary entries that documented life in wartime Britain, from political opinion to the singles scene.
Artist/digital native Brad Troemel has edited together a series of video clips of girls reciting their MySpace ID numbers. According to Troemel, these users are reciting their numbers on camera in order to prove that their profiles are authentic. Apparently, it’s common practice to steal videos and photos from a popular MySpace profile, and use them to create a fake profile page in someone else’s image.