Saturday, October 20, 2012
Unsocial Media: The Uselessness Of Facebook And Google+:
Google+ is apparently a success, according to many tech reporters. Anecdotal evidence suggests that most people are using G+ to post inside Circles. Some 11,000 people have added me to G+ circles – but, apparently, none of the ones they post to. Of the 150+ people I had in circles, precisely three of them posted content I could see. When I posted content, only a thin fraction of those 11000 people could see it, because at some point I got tuned out by the system. G+ is therefore useless to me, and I just nuked my circles.
Facebook Pages allow some 16% of the people who clicked Like on a Page to see the posts from that Page. Regardless of whether or not those people specifically requested those posts in their News Feed. If a Page owner wants to access the eyeballs of more of the people who clicked Like on a Page because they wanted to see that Page’s posts, that Page owner has to pay to Promote those posts. I would currently have to pay USD $10 to ensure that all the people who Liked the official Warren Ellis Page on Facebook actually saw one single post. Facebook Pages are therefore useless to me.
(Of the 150+ people I had as Friends on my personal page, maybe five people were aware I was actually there, so I’ve nuked my friends list there, too.)
None of this is important, you understand. But I’ve not been paying a huge amount of attention to social media this year. Until it became time to start thinking about raising awareness of GUN MACHINE. So I’ve had to dig into this a bit – I’ve been talking about this in the newsletter, too.
Facebook, in search of monetisation, has killed engagement – unless your brand is so big that you are in fact desperate to pay for connection. Because small brands like me can move around, but big brands have to be seen in the big places. The Facebook Page is now completely broken unless you open your wallet.
And who the fuck even knows how Google+ works now. It is, in its way, the most “service-y” of the social network sites – now the dust has settled, it really seems to be a souped-up version of Google Groups, with built-in discovery and significant tech enhancements like Hangouts. A service, not a network.
None of this is important, but it is interesting to me.
Facebook will have to rely on big companies for one of its revenue streams, driving the small-fry like me out of the Pages system and possibly off Facebook entirely. People like me will probably keep a FB account alive, though, and maybe even use it to log into things, thereby sending data back that they can sell in another revenue stream. FB won’t care that I’m not running a Page. In theory, by usurping the “single sign-on” role that things like OAuth were supposed to fill, Facebook gets data to sell without even having to run a social network.
Google doubtless gathers enough data about me in other ways that my non-use of G+ won’t matter a whit. They felt that they had to have a social network, but they are not a social network company, and don’t need to run a social network in order to do their business.
Perhaps you could add “the death of the social network” to “the death of blogging” in the media-headline scare list. Replace it with pervasive digital loyalty, maybe.
Whatever it is, it’s no bloody use for hearing from people, or talking to a crowd.
I beg you to take my child:
In 1869, in response to a sharp rise in the number of babies being abandoned in New York, often in dangerous circumstances, The Foundling Asylum — run by Sister Irene Fitzgibbon, pictured above — opened to the public with a single white cradle on its doorstep, and immediately began to give safe shelter to unwanted infants. In the first two years alone, 2'500 children were taken in.
Babies were often abandoned at the Foundling along with a letter, many of which have since been preserved by the New York Historical Society. Below are just five examples.
Transcripts follow each image.
(Source: The wonderful Ephemeral New York & the New York Historical Society on Flickr; Image above: Sister Irene at the Foundling Asylum in 1888, via Wikipedia.)
New York Tuesday
you will find a little boy he is a month old to morrow it father will not do anything and it is a poor little boy it mother has to work to keep 3 others and can not do anything with this one it name is Walter Cooper and he is not christen yet will you be so good as to do it? I should not like him to die with out it his mother might claim him some day I have been married 5 years and I married respectfully and I did not think my husband was a bad man I had to leave him and I could not trust my children to him now I do not know where he is and he has not seen this one yet I have not a dollar in the world to give him or I would give it to him I wish you would keep him for 3 or 4 months and if he is not claimed by that time you may be sure it mother can not support it I may some day send some money to him do not forget his name.
New York April 6th
My dear good Sister,
Please accept this little outcast son of mine trusting with God's help that I will be able to sustain it in your institution. I would not part with my baby were it in any way possible for me to make a respectable living with it, but I cannot, and so ask you to take my little one, and with the assistance of Our Blessed Lady I promise to place in the contribution box, each month all that I can spare from my earnings, and to bring it clothes as often as my means will allow. This is no idle promise Good Sister. I know how often such are made and broken, but I will do my duty. Its name is Joseph Cavalier.
I am a poor woman and I have been deceived under the promise of marriage, I am at present with no means and with out any relatives to nurse my baby. Therefore I beg you for god sake to take my child until I can find a situation and have enough means so I can bring up myself. I hope that you will so kind to accept my child and I will pray god for you.
I remain humble servant
New York, Dec. 3rd 1874
New York July 3rd 1872
Kind Sisters of Charity
This worthy man Mr. Edward Keefe has had the misfortune to lose within about a week, both daughter and wife. The mother of his child died today, leaving upon his hands a tender infant but a few hours old.
He prays of you to care for it and sustain in it the feeble spark of life which God has placed there.
F.E. Donlin MD
No 1 Ludlow Place
Dear Sister of Mercy,
Please take care of my baby as I can not do it my self. I trust God will reward you. I do not know if I live or die. I give it in charge of you and the Almighty. I have sinned can not expect much good luck. It will not be christened as I know you will attend to that. If I live I hope to claim it some day. Its fathers name is Hudson. You call it as you think best. I am not able to write any more. I call it Julia R Hudson.
RSS Feed proudly sponsored by TinyLetter, a simple newsletter service for people with something to say.
Sent to you via Google Reader
Since 1997 Brazilian artist Andre Muniz Gonzaga has been turning haphazard, porous, or cracked surfaces into bizarre, misshapen faces in his unique style of street art portraiture. His site-specific paintings have appeared around the world this year in places like Senegal, Portugal, Berlin, Amsterdam and of course his native Brazil, and he's also known for much more elaborate and polished
In 1969, publisher John Martin offered to pay Charles Bukowski $100 each and every month for the rest of his life, on one condition: that he quit his job at the post office and become a writer. 49-year-old Bukowski did just that, and in 1971 his first novel, Post Office, was published by Martin's Black Sparrow Press.
15 years later, Bukowski wrote the following letter to Martin and spoke of his joy at having escaped full time employment.
(Source: Reach for the Sun Vol. 3; Image: Charles Bukowski, via.)
Thanks for the good letter. I don't think it hurts, sometimes, to remember where you came from. You know the places where I came from. Even the people who try to write about that or make films about it, they don't get it right. They call it "9 to 5." It's never 9 to 5, there's no free lunch break at those places, in fact, at many of them in order to keep your job you don't take lunch. Then there's OVERTIME and the books never seem to get the overtime right and if you complain about that, there's another sucker to take your place.
You know my old saying, "Slavery was never abolished, it was only extended to include all the colors."
And what hurts is the steadily diminishing humanity of those fighting to hold jobs they don't want but fear the alternative worse. People simply empty out. They are bodies with fearful and obedient minds. The color leaves the eye. The voice becomes ugly. And the body. The hair. The fingernails. The shoes. Everything does.
As a young man I could not believe that people could give their lives over to those conditions. As an old man, I still can't believe it. What do they do it for? Sex? TV? An automobile on monthly payments? Or children? Children who are just going to do the same things that they did?
Early on, when I was quite young and going from job to job I was foolish enough to sometimes speak to my fellow workers: "Hey, the boss can come in here at any moment and lay all of us off, just like that, don't you realize that?"
They would just look at me. I was posing something that they didn't want to enter their minds.
Now in industry, there are vast layoffs (steel mills dead, technical changes in other factors of the work place). They are layed off by the hundreds of thousands and their faces are stunned:
"I put in 35 years..."
"It ain't right..."
"I don't know what to do..."
They never pay the slaves enough so they can get free, just enough so they can stay alive and come back to work. I could see all this. Why couldn't they? I figured the park bench was just as good or being a barfly was just as good. Why not get there first before they put me there? Why wait?
I just wrote in disgust against it all, it was a relief to get the shit out of my system. And now that I'm here, a so-called professional writer, after giving the first 50 years away, I've found out that there are other disgusts beyond the system.
I remember once, working as a packer in this lighting fixture company, one of the packers suddenly said: "I'll never be free!"
One of the bosses was walking by (his name was Morrie) and he let out this delicious cackle of a laugh, enjoying the fact that this fellow was trapped for life.
So, the luck I finally had in getting out of those places, no matter how long it took, has given me a kind of joy, the jolly joy of the miracle. I now write from an old mind and an old body, long beyond the time when most men would ever think of continuing such a thing, but since I started so late I owe it to myself to continue, and when the words begin to falter and I must be helped up stairways and I can no longer tell a bluebird from a paperclip, I still feel that something in me is going to remember (no matter how far I'm gone) how I've come through the murder and the mess and the moil, to at least a generous way to die.
To not to have entirely wasted one's life seems to be a worthy accomplishment, if only for myself.
RSS Feed proudly sponsored by TinyLetter, a simple newsletter service for people with something to say.
For many people, a drone wouldn't even be called music, just an irritating noise, like the buzzing of a refrigerator, the hum of traffic, the sound of bees in a hive. For others, it is OMMMM, the sound of the universe in Hindu cosmology, or, put in the language of modern physics, an expression of the fact that everything vibrates, everything is a wave. Yet a recent packaged-for-mainstream double CD compilation called Roots of Drone confirmed what I already suspected: that in the last decade or two, drone has become a musical genre. This may seem odd since after all, a drone is basically a tone, or set of tones that are sustained over time. And in a consumer marketplace driven by a craving for endless but often trivial kinds of novelty, making the same sound for a long time is a powerful gesture of refusal. Even so, there's now drone rock, drone metal, drone-based techno, drone within the classical tradition, drone-folk and so on. And now, the varieties of drone too are apparently inexhaustible. Here then is a sampling of drone's diversity...
• La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela: "Sound and Light Environment" (Church Street, NYC)
Whether or not he invented drones as a musical or artistic project, the work of New York based composer La Monte Young is still the best place to begin an exploration of drones, and the best place to hear his drone-music is not a recording (Young has been notoriously recalcitrant in issuing his recordings) but a visit to The Dream House, where his drone installation The Base 9:7:4 Symmetry in Prime Time When Centered above and below The Lowest Term Primes in The Range 288 to 224 ...has been resounding since 1991, accompanied by Marian Zazeela's shadow sculptures and light environment. As you enter the top floor loft on Church Street in New York's Tribeca, above the space where Young and Zazeela have lived for many years, you are hit by a wall of sound and a dense magenta visual field. It's loud, thick, and it immediately feels as though it's inside your skull, rather than outside. The dense sound is composed of a set of tones generated on a synthesizer that are tuned in just intonation according to certain ratios of prime numbers that are in accord with the natural harmonics of sound. Having said that, it is likely that the particular combination of tones that Young is working with have never been heard before, and if each tone combination in just intonation is also associated with a mood or feeling, Young can claim that his work is literally producing new states of feeling in those who listen. Some people sit and meditate in the room, focusing on particular tones which open up into further tone clusters as you focus; others move, exploring the way that different sets of overtones appear as you shift your head. It is like a sea of sound.
• The Chora(s)san Time-Court Mirage: "Blues Dhkir Al-Salam (Blues Al Maqam)" from Live at the Grimm Museum Vol. 1 (Important)
Many of Young's proteges have developed their own varieties of drone sound. Jon Hassell and Terry Riley developed lush, sensuous forms of improvisation. His influence also echoes in drone masterworks like Eliane Radigue's Adnos, Pauline Oliveros' gorgeous accordion pieces, or Annea Lockwood's glittering compositions. More recently, Catherine Christer Hennix's 1976 drone masterpiece The Electric Harpsichord, a 25 minute pulsating sound field created on a Yamaha organ that is the equivalent of an abstract expressionist canvas, has finally been issued. Hennix, who lives in Berlin, now has a band called the Chora(s)san Time Court Mirage that plays remarkable four hour drone concerts that feature voice, brass and her mathematically composed computer drones. Hennix's work is uncanny and often profoundly disorienting: at times the tones stir up very deep, often barely recognizable feelings, at other times, the external world starts to melt around one. Philosophers in recent years have argued that Being itself is fundamentally mathematical. What this means, if true, is a matter of great dispute, but Hennix, a former professor of mathematics, amongst many other things, offers startling propositions as to what the deeper possibilities of a mathematically ordered sound are.
• Ali Akbar Khan: "Raga Piloo" from Music of India: Morning and Evening Ragas (Angel Records)
One of the key sources for Young's drone fascination (as well as others in the classical tradition who use drone-like structures such as Debussy, Bartok and Lou Harrison) was the world of traditional music. In 1957, Young bought the first long playing Indian classical record to be released in the West, Ali Akbar Khan's Music of India: Morning and Evening Ragas and was struck not so much by Khan's virtuoso sarod playing but by the buzzing hum (almost buried in the mix) of the tambura that accompanied him. Tamburas provide a harmonic grid in which singers and musicians play -- you can hear something similar in Scottish bagpipe music or Laotian khaen or that other key traditional form, for the Japan obsessed US hipster of the late 1950s, the slow, stately court music called Gagaku.
• Earth: "Like Gold and Faceted" from Earth II (Sub Pop)
John Cale, who played in the Theater of Eternal Music with Young in the 1960s, famously brought his viola drone to the Velvet Underground and rock songs like "Heroin." Certain versions of the Blues, notably the north Mississippi style associated with Mississippi Fred McDowell and more recently Fat Possum Records, involve rapid repetitions of single chords or notes that effectively form a drone. From the Velvets through Krautrock favorites such as Can, to shoegazers like My Bloody Valentine, drones have been an important part of rock. Probably the heaviest rock drone can be found on Earth's classic Earth II. The thirty minute "Like Gold and Faceted" is pure, surging, barely contained but almost static electric power, the ur-drone or doom metal sound par excellence. Earth gave birth to giving birth to monstrous, progeny like Sunn O))), who have developed the raw blast of sustained metal guitar tones into something new and strange.
• Sarah Peebles: "Bumble Domicile" from an installation at *new* Gallery, Toronto, 2008
Toronto based composer Sarah Peebles began exploring drones by studying, playing and composing for the Japanese sho, a just intonation tuned pipe, often using Max/MSP to process recordings of the pipes, producing warm, resonant pieces collected on two important CDs, Suspended In Amber and Insect Groove and her beautiful installation piece, "Music for Incandescent Events: Sunset" which uses light sensitive triggers to choreograph blocks of drone sound to the setting sun. Her recent work has focused increasingly on bee culture installations, that she sets up in galleries and other spaces, amplifying their sound, and transforming it digitally on occasion. The natural world is of course alive with drones, and there's an important history of sound art that engages and amplifies this hum, from Walter De Maria's recordings of insect sound, to Annea Lockwood's rivers, to various acoustic ecologists' explorations of seismic activity,.
• Clams Casino: "Waterfalls" from Rainforest (Tri Angle)
Digital technologies have transformed the production of drones. All kinds of looping software offers the ability to sustain a sound indefinitely, allowing the exploration of almost any combination of tones. Hiphop was a key laboratory of looping and one way to make a drone is simply to slow down a sound and stretch it out -- a practice perfected by Houston's late and lamented master of "chopped and screwed" beats, DJ Screw. In the last few years, New York's Tri Angle Records has emerged as key purveyors of dreamy drone pop, matching hip-hop style beats, subsonic bass with hazy synth drones and pitch-shifted heliumized female vocal samples, in a style similar to witch house. Again, even within this style, the moody ambient sound of Balam Acab's "See Birds", is different from the punchy hiphop drone combinations of Evian Christ's "Fuck It, None Of Y'all Don't Rap" or the remarkable Clams Casino, celebrated for providing the beats and sounds behind Lil B's classic "I'm God." Clams' "Waterfalls" has an incredibly melancholy punch to it. Some might argue that an endlessly looped melody is not a drone, even if it's slowed down, but a drone is after all nothing but sustained tones, and the gap between the end of a loop and its return doesn't change that, it just introduces the possibility of rhythmic breaks as an endless variable within the sustained tones.
• Phill Niblock: "The Movement of People Working" (Extreme)
While drones are a sonic staple in horror movies where they instantly evoke an atmosphere of brooding menace, there's an interesting history to be written about sonic drones and the cinematic avant garde. Michael Snow's beautiful single shot 45 minute film Wavelength is accompanied by a very slowly rising glissando. Another Theater of Eternal Music participant, Tony Conrad's film The Flicker is also built around a more abrasive shifting electronic drone sound. Phill Niblock has been composing and performing drones for decades: he has no grand tuning theory and prefers to experiment with pitch. The Movement of People Working is his masterpiece: a collection of films of ordinary people around the world, working at mostly physical tasks, juxtaposed with Niblock's drones. Often multiple films are shown at once while Niblock improvises particular tone clusters. The tension between the repetitive, meditative everyday movements of bodies, often close up, with the surging, ocean deep sound is enigmatic, going against the often Orientalist spirituality associated with drones, yet still evoking a profound sense of mystery concerning what work, time, the body are.
• Laurel Halo: "Hour Logic" (Hippos in Tanks); "Floridian Void" from Hive Mind (Planet Mu)
A trace of drone runs through disco and its various permutations, beginning with the synthesized hums of Donna Summer's "I Feel Love", the "chicken-scratch" single chord guitar runs of James Brown's guitarist Jimmy Nolen, and Kraftwerk's minimalist synth excursions, feeding into electro, house, techno and other styles. The latest intensifications of the drone-disco continuum are coming from musicians associated with labels like Los Angeles' 100% Silk (and it's elder sister label Not Not Fun) and some of the proteges of Brooklyn based ambient noise drone master Oneohtrix Point Never, notably the amazing Laurel Halo. Ital, who has also recorded under the name Sex Worker, produces slowish, drawn out, hypnotic proto-house music , notably on his recent Hive Mind. It's sexy, throbbing in a non-gender specific kind of way, and harks back to Moroder and Sylvester producer Patrick Cowley . It's sensual, the drone here the drone of sexual energy, mental energy, building up to peaks, falling back and building again. Or, like a lot of drone music, it is facilitated, both for performer and listener, by the use of various psychoactive substances that facilitate state of sustained attention. Halo is something else again. Like Oneohtrix, she is fascinated by sounds that are half-noise, half recognizable pitch, and on Hour Logic and the newer Quarantine, she builds dance music out of these sounds, creating drones out of plateau-like blocks of sound and noise that lock into each other for varying periods of time and giving a startling experience of sonic density.
• Windy and Carl: "The Dream House/Dedications to Flea" (Kranky)
There's a lineage of drone music that comes out of punk (the minimalism of New York no wave and Wire's post-punk riffing) and runs through the alternative and independent music scenes to today. Sonic Youth's Lee Renaldo and Thurston Moore played with Glenn Branca, who mixed minimalist composition practices, including the use of sustained tones with rock guitar amplification. Groups like New Zealand's Dead C pioneered cavernous walls of improvised sonic sea-like squall in the 1990s. For the last decade, Chicago's Kranky Records has been the home of indie drone rock, from Tim Hecker's glacial samples on Ravedeath 1972, to Deerhunter's drone pop, to Keith Fullerton Whitman's stunning assemblages of analog and digital on tracks like the 41 minute Lisbon. Windy and Carl take a lofi approach, basically a keyboard and a guitar, weaving shimmering layers of warm, almost pastoral sound, accompanied on "Dedications to Flea", by recordings of the breath and movement of a departed pet.
• Chandra X-ray Observatory: "Sound Waves from a Black Hole" (NASA)
A press release from NASA dated Sept. 9, 2003 announces:
NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory detected sound waves, for the first time, from a supermassive black hole. The "note" is the deepest ever detected from any object in our Universe. ... The black hole resides in the Perseus cluster of galaxies located 250 million light years from Earth. In 2002, astronomers obtained a deep Chandra observation that shows ripples in the gas filling the cluster. These ripples are evidence for sound waves that have traveled hundreds of thousands of light years away from the cluster's central black hole ... In musical terms, the pitch of the sound generated by the black hole translates into the note of B flat. But, a human would have no chance of hearing this cosmic performance because the note is 57 octaves lower than middle-C ... At a frequency over a million billion times deeper than the limits of human hearing, this is the deepest note ever detected from an object in the Universe."What does such a drone do? Given that sonic vibrations generate heat, the sound waves emanating from the Perseus black hole potentially contain "the combined energy from 100 million supernovas", enough, astrophysicists believe, to stop the gaseous matter around black holes from cooling and forming stars. It is thought that this sound wave has "remained roughly constant for about 2.5 billion years."
Friday, October 19, 2012
Sent to you via Google Reader
a feature article inside, written by writer and jewelry J.L. Schnabel (aka Bloodmilk).
i scanned the writing here. 1 . 2 . 3 . 4
the special cover (on left above) was a limited edition of 500, which has sold out on their site.
the regular edition is still available HERE.
be sure to subscribe to this quarterly art magazine! its great!
Sent to you via Google Reader
Brilliant new street installations from Slinkachu. His creations are collected in several books now, including the brand new Global Model Village: The International Street Art of Slinkachu.
Sent to you via Google Reader
In a presentation at the BreakPoint security conference in Melbourne, IOActive researcher Barnaby Jack described an attack on pacemakers that could, he says, deliver lethal shocks to their owners. Jack claims that an unspecified pacemaker vendor's devices have a secret wireless back-door that can be activated by knowledgeable attackers from up to 30 feet away, and that this facility can be used to kill the victim right away, or to reprogram pacemakers to broadcast malicious firmware updates as their owners move around, which cause them to also spread the firmware, until they fail at a later time. Darren Pauli from Secure Business Intelligence quotes Jack as saying,
"The worst case scenario that I can think of, which is 100 percent possible with these devices, would be to load a compromised firmware update onto a programmer and … the compromised programmer would then infect the next pacemaker or ICD and then each would subsequently infect all others in range," Jack said.
He was developing a graphical adminstration platform dubbed "Electric Feel" which could scan for medical devices in range and with no more than a right-click, could enable shocking of the device, and reading and writing firmware and patient data.
"With a max voltage of 830 volts, it's not hard to see why this is a fairly deadly feature. Not only could you induce cardiac arrest, but you could continually recharge the device and deliver shocks on loop," he said.
Manufacturers of implanted devices have been resistant to calls to publish their sourcecode and to allow device owners to inspect and modify that code, citing security concerns should latent vulnerabilities be exposed, and put implantees at risk. But as Jack's presentation demonstrates, vulnerabilities can be discovered without publication -- and if they are discovered and not disclosed, they may never be patched (or may not be patched until coming to light in some kind of horrific attack). In other words, secrecy helps bad guys, but keeps good guys and innocent bystanders in the dark.
Hacked terminals capable of causing pacemaker deaths
Thursday, October 18, 2012
The MouSensor is a lab mouse genetically-engineered to sniff out land mines. Mice have already been trained to find explosives by scent but according to Hunter College biologist Charlotte D'Hulst, the MouSensor is ultra sensitive to the odor of TNT. From The Guardian:
Given its extreme sensitivity to TNT, the mouse would probably have some sort of seizure when it sniffed explosives, said D'Hulst, because so many neurons in its olfactory bulb would be firing at once. And that seizure might be detectable by some device implanted into the mouse."GM mouse created to detect landmines"
"We are thinking along the lines of implanting a chip under the skin of these animals that would wirelessly report back to a computer when the animal's behaviour is changing upon being triggered by a TNT landmine," said D'Hulst. Once the location of a landmine had been identified, a bomb-disposal expert could go in and neutralise it in the normal way. The mouse itself would be safe from the landmine, since it would be too small to trigger an explosion.
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Sent to you via Google Reader
On New Years Eve 2011 I was in Geelong at a restaurant, 800km from my home in Adelaide. This year I happened to be away from my children, who were staying elsewhere in Adelaide while I was interstate. My home was supposedly vacant. However I knew it was very hot in Adelaide that day (40C) and I wondered if this would affect my power consumption, for example an increased duty cycle on the fridge. I am just that sort of power-geek.
So I checked my Fluksometer via my 3G android phone. I was surprised to see 1000W being used since 1pm – about what my Air-con uses. I also noticed that around 7pm the power jumped by a few 100W, just like the lights had gone on, or perhaps the TV.
Looked like some one was in my home. On New Years Eve. Hmmmmmm.
Monday, October 15, 2012
Parody of anti-gay pamphlets offers detailed, behind-the-scenes view of how liars misuse real citations
Parody of anti-gay pamphlets offers detailed, behind-the-scenes view of how liars misuse real citations:
The Box Turtle Bulletin has put together a great parody of anti-gay, fear-mongering pamphlets. Entitled, "The Heterosexual Agenda: Exposing the Myths", it includes important revelations about the heterosexuals and their plans for your children and our country. Here's a quick excerpt from a section that documents some of the depraved behaviors that heterosexuals are known to engage in:
... unsafe behavior is often compounded by drug use, which is an integral part of the heterosexual lifestyle. College students who engage in heterosexuality are 30% more likely to use marijuana than gay students, and they are nearly 40% more likely to use other drugs. (71) Among Redbook readers, 90% of heterosexual women admitted to initiating sex while under the influence of alcohol, and 30% had sex after smoking marijuana. For women under twenty, marijuana use before sex skyrocketed to 63%, with 45% of them using it often. (72)
Those numbered citations are important. In fact, this slim booklet contains more than 100. And it's not just part of the parody. Instead, author Jim Burroway uses these ostensibly unbiased sources of information as a way showing how people can use real information to corroborate a lie. Follow up on his citations at the end of The Heterosexual Agenda, and you'll find a breakdown of how, exactly, he contorted the cited source to fit his own goals.
For instance, consider these facts about how heterosexuals are always getting stoned and drunk before engaging in their filthy heterosexual encounters. Here's what Burroway had to say about it:
This study was a based on the Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study (CAS), a randomsampled survey. But notice the phrase “those who engage in heterosexuality.” This is a very deliberate choice of words, and an alarm should go off whenever you see it. When anti-gay writers talk about people “who engaging in homosexuality”, they often include bisexuals, who may have been previously (or currently) heterosexually married, or they may have been essentially heterosexual but experimented once or twice with homosexuality at some point in their lives. All of this depends on the definitions used in the particular study. Many anti-gay writers exploit these inconsistent definitions, sometimes including bisexuals in their statistics for homosexuality, while other times including them with heterosexuals. This choice is typically done on a statistic-by-statistic basis, driven by which set of numbers will portray gays and lesbians in the worst light. For this study, the actual breakdown of marijuana use is: heterosexual, 19% (of 8816); homosexual, 14.6% (of 225); and bisexual, 33.3% (of 348). For other drug use: heterosexual, 7.1%; homosexual, 9.9%; and bisexual. 18%. As you can see, when you work from a paradigm that divides everyone along heterosexual and homosexual lines, you can make a huge difference based on how you deal with bisexuals.
Changing the context, removing the context, and generally cherry-picking the data that shows what you want it to show is a great way to make spurious claims look more legitimate. It's a tactic that's used in homophobic hate tracts, but it's not ONLY used in those places.
The value of Burroway's work goes far beyond the topic of sexuality and GBLTQ rights. If you want a better idea of how "authoritative" sources lie, this is a great place to start. It'll get you looking for the context and asking the right questions. In general, it's a great primer in learning how to be skeptical.
Read the full pamphlet, including Burroway's follow-up, "How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract in 15 Easy Steps."
Image: Rally to Restore Sanity - [Citation Needed], a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from jabella's photostream