What can we learn from the world’s “most humane” prison? Ryan Cox at TEDxSanAntonio 2013

 

Despite its epitomizing illustration of democracy, expression of freedom, and the largest GDP it currently possesses, United States, ironically, at the same time maintains itself as one of the most incarcerated nations throughout the whole planet, even higher than the rates of those in authoritarian states. Out of a population of approximately 315 million people, more than 2.3 million of them are remaining in prisons, and another 8 million are facing probation periods by law. Out of these 2.3 million prisoners, a disproportionate number of them, once released, may possibly commit recidivism (re-offending), or repeating their crimes over and over.

Watch this TEDx talk to find out more what exactly happens inside America’s prisons, particularly those in Texas, one of the most incarcerated states in the US.

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How to build a fictional world – Kate Messner

 

Imagination is an escapade of our real-world problems. Of troubles with our societies. Or that it is intended no more than a reflection of our daily lives, and our interaction with the outside world.

In imagination, we build worlds. We build worlds the way we want to be. Of how our imaginary creations should be about, of how rules are applied, creatures to be presented, and real-life scenarios to be bent down and rewritten, all in accordance to our perception.

There, we can create whatever worlds we want them to be; the whole universe inhabited by countless intelligent civilizations, one where some people are granted immortality, one where some can even defy physics – or any principles alike, or anything.

But for those who are seriously considering making the books out of this, the path is not as simple as it always is. While the commoners like us make beds of roses out of daydreaming, authors, or even novelists, will have to delve down, deep beyond the tip of the icebergs, to structure an entirely different world of ours.

This TED-ED talk, narrated by fellow author Kate Messner, will explain to us how to build an authentic fictional world, like the Middle-earth of J.R.R. Tolkien, or the Harry Potter’s universe of J.K. Rowling.

Listen, and think deeper.

The boom and bust of monster porn literature

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As conventional publishing industry is regarded gradually obsolescent, a great deal of authors have resorted to self-publishing measures, particularly e-books, now in a rate so unprecedented since its initial negative outlook that, given the very little interest readers put in, it would be fated to doom. With the availability of Internet, smartphones, or even computer tablets, the exponential growth of this industry is obviously inevitable.

Hypnotized with its prospects of bringing authors mounts of cash pretty fast, though, it generates a setback for the industry itself: it is critically lackadaisical of quality control. Oftentimes with no reliable editors to examine the drafts back, it can spawn countless low-grade works online, with poor plots, grammatical errors, and improper use of language.

Monster erotica, or widely known as monster porn – that literary prose where young girls, mostly sexy and, expletive to say, bitchy, engage in various abnormal sexual positions with mythological creatures, oftentimes ugly –  is one of the by-products.

Read the full article on Business Insider to know more what the hype this brand-new genre is all about.

 

Excerpt:

 

In October, the online news site The Kernel published an incendiary story called “An Epidemic of Filth,” claiming that online bookstores like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, WHSmith, and others were selling self-published ebooks that featured “rape fantasies, incest porn and graphic descriptions of bestiality and child abuse.” The story ignited a media firestorm in the U.K, with major news outlets like the Daily Mail, The Guardian, and the BBC reporting on the “sales of sick ebooks.” Some U.K.-based ebook retailers responded with public apologies, and WHSmith went so far as to shut down its website altogether, releasing a statement saying that it would reopen “once all self-published eBooks have been removed and we are totally sure that there are no offending titles available.” The response in the U.S. was somewhat more muted, but most of the retailers mentioned in the piece, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble, began quietly pulling hundreds of titles from their online shelves — an event Kobo COO Michael Tamblyn referred to last month as “erotica-gate.” 

The crackdown was meant to target the obvious offenders — ebooks like “Daddy’s Birthday Gang Bang” and others that fetishized incest and rape — but in their fervor to course-correct, the online bookstores started deleting, according to The Digital Reader blog, “not just the questionable erotica but [also]…. any e-books that might even hint at violating cultural norms.” That included crypto-porn. Wade’s sexy Sasquatch, not unlike the elusive hominid beast of legend, vanished without a trace.

 

The Internet’s king of evil

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A profile of Hunter Moore, the guy behind Is Anyone Up?, a specialized revenge porn site where nude photos are posted – altogether their complete identities – for the sake of online humiliation.

Read the full article, originally published in April 2012, on The Village Voice.

Excerpt:

Although Moore isn’t giving out his home address or cell-phone number, which he has changed every month this year, the self-employed entrepreneur isn’t hiding. The opposite, actually: Moore travels across the country DJ’ing clubs, widely promoting his personal appearances. This is partly because he insists he’s a straw man. “People want to point the finger at me, but I didn’t fucking raid your house and take your phone,” he says. “I don’t see how I’m supposed to be sorry.” But more so, it’s because he’s constantly playing chicken. Threaten a lawsuit, and Moore will post your threat. Cry about the emotional distress he has abetted, and he will belittle your concern. “After a couple of days, literally, nobody gives a fuck,” he says. “We’ve all masturbated to you or laughed at you, and it’s done. It can’t get any worse.” Confront him for posting your nudes on Anderson Cooper’s show, and he will just repost your boobs the following day with the headline, “The Girl Who Confronted Me on the Anderson Cooper Show.”

This behavior is classic trolling, which has drawn him an online army of adoring defenders. Moore has 35,000 Twitter followers; his site has more than 91,000. One woman named her child after him. Three things fangirls have tweeted at him in the past week: “If you had aids, id still fuck you just to say i have aids and that i got aids from you”; “One day I’m going to have Hunter Moore tattooed on my stomach with an arrow pointing down that says ‘God Was Here'”; “I wonder how many girls have tried to steal @Huntermoore used condoms.”

“We all want to be him,” insisted Charlie Rittenhouse, a 25-year-old fanboy acquaintance from Islip, Long Island, minutes before we all climbed into the limo hailed outside Moore’s Webster Hall birthday party. “We all fucking do.”

Internet, this is what you’ve created.

Note: Moore, and one hacking partner who sneaked into emails to steal their pictures and post them on his website, has been captured by FBI. Read the report here.

What it takes to be a true author

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A worthwhile piece of advice from John Updike for aspiring writers:

Try to develop actual work habits and, even though you have a busy life, try to reserve an hour, say, or more a day to write. Very good things have been written on an hour a day. . . . So take it seriously, set a quota, try to think of communicating with some ideal reader somewhere. . . .

Don’t be contentious to call yourself a writer and then bitch about the crass publishing world that won’t run your stuff. We’re still a capitalist country and writing, as some would agree, is a capitalist enterprise… It’s not a total sin to try to make a living and court an audience.

Read what excites you… and even if you don’t imitate it, you will learn from it. . . .

Don’t try to get rich. . . . If you want to get rich, you should go into investment banking or be a certain kind of lawyer. On the other hand, I like to think that in a country this large and a language even larger, that there ought to be a living for somebody who cares and wants to entertain and instruct a reader. 

 

You can watch his interview videos by Academy of Achievement in Brain Pickings.

Violence – A Family Tradition: Robbyn Peters Bennett at TEDxBellingham

 

One major problem parents always face everywhere is spanking.

As a repressive, and oftentimes ‘last resort’ method, to constrain children from committing their misdeeds, spanking, or other forms of physical punishment, have often been utilized to ‘straighten up’ them. Nevertheless, as scientific research has advanced, new reports have suggested that despite the benefits these violent methods bring to solve children’s problems, so are the drawbacks: these children become more aggressive, more emotionally provoked, and develop higher tendencies to solve problems primarily through violence, all as by-products of such upbringing.

Robbyn Peters Bennett, a psychotherapist, educator, and child advocate, shares her thoughts on TEDxBellingham on what it takes to develop a wise upbringing to children, all without the necessity to always resort to violence.

Her solutions are radical, but at the same time, uneasy. Listen to her talk to know more why.