Amazon.com Widgets
James Frey Official Website
Join the JAMES FREY mailing list
Click

GameStop Spring

from WIRED

What the Arab Spring Can Teach Us About GameStop

Ten years ago, democracy protesters used social media to organize against an oppressor. But ultimately, the powerful came out ahead.

by NOAM COHEN

A collage of images of GameStop and Wall St.

WHEN I FIRST learned of the campaign by folks on Reddit that has wreaked havoc on wealthy hedge funds looking to profit off struggling companies like the video game retailer GameStop, my mind went back in time. Not all the way back to 2008, where many members of the  subreddit WallStreetBets—and those living vicariously through their mayhem—source their anger at the financial system. That was the year, of course, of Too Big to Fail, when many of the most powerful and profligate banks and trading firms were saved from ruin for the sake of keeping the global economy operating. Instead, I thought of the democracy protests in Tahrir Square in Cairo, which began almost exactly 10 years to the date before the GameStop hijinks, January 25, 2011.

These protests, part of a regional movement to overthrow autocratic governments known as the Arab Spring, were a high-water mark for the idea that the internet would free the world. At the time, it was difficult not to get swept up by the belief that a band of activists using social-network tools could topple an oppressive regime. Ten years later, those hopes should have largely evaporated. Rather than bringing democratic institutions to countries, like Egypt, long denied them, the internet often works in reverse, destabilizing democracy around the world and expanding inequality. Yet each time an online group tries to stick it to the Man, we allow ourselves to dream again.

[ click to continue reading at WIRED ]

Posted on January 31, 2021 by Editor

Filed under Weirdness | | No Comments »

Penisnapping

from The Daily Star

Bloke has his penis held to ransom by hackers who took control of digital chastity belt

Qiui, the company which makes the Cellmate cage, says it believes that a true chastity experience is one that ‘does not allow the wearer to have any control over’

By Joshua Smith

Sam was horrified when he realised he’d been hacked (Image: Getty Images)

A man had his penis held to ransom for more than £700 after hackers locked a digital chastity belt he was wearing.

Sam Summers had been wearing a Qiui Cellmate chastity cage, which connects to the internet, when he received a strange message on the product’s app on his phone.

Someone said they had taken control of the chastity belt and that they wanted around $1,000 (£729) in Bitcoin to give him back control of the device.

“Initially, I thought it was my partner doing that. It sounds silly, but I got a bit excited by it,” Sam Summers told VICE.

But when Same called his partner and told her their safe word, he was shocked to find out it wasn’t her.

That’s when he realised, to his utter horror, that he had been hacked.

His penis was locked in the cage, and he had no way to get it out because the belt has no manual override.

“Oh, s**t, it’s real,” Sam said. “I started looking at the thing.

“There’s no manual override at all. It’s a chastity belt, I guess it kind of shouldn’t have an override.

[ click to continue reading at The Daily Star ]

Posted on January 30, 2021 by Editor

Filed under Mirth, Weirdness | | No Comments »

Hacking Helicopters

from AP

Berlin man caught directing flight traffic with radio

(Patrick Pleul/dpa via AP)

BERLIN (AP) — A man has been arrested in Berlin on allegations he made radio contact with air traffic, including police helicopters, and gave fake flight orders while impersonating an aviation official, German police said Friday.

The 32-year-old, whose identity wasn’t released in line with German privacy laws, was arrested Thursday night in the capital’s eastern Koepenick district, police said. 

Police were able to swoop in on his apartment after he made contact with a police helicopter that was dispatched to the neighborhood in the hope of flushing him out.

During a search of his home, police found two radios that transmitted on the frequencies needed to make contact with aircraft.

[ click to continue reading at AP ]

Posted on January 29, 2021 by Editor

Filed under Mirth | | No Comments »

The Reddit Boys Revenge

from Vanity Fair

“You Meet Insanity With Insanity”: The GameStop Redditors Who Upended Wall Street Are Doubling Down

by Jessica Camille Aguirre

Wall Street can seem like a citadel, so it is with unreserved glee that many have kept tabs on the GameStop saga this week. For once, the underdogs were getting flush—and even better, seemingly screwing over hedge funds in the process. On WallStreetBets, the Reddit forum where it all began, retail traders are rallying one another to stay aggressive and hold against downward pressure on the stock, whose value was sinking by Thursday afternoon. An I.T. worker in Atlanta who bought in on Monday after reading about GameStop on the forum said he watched the value of his position lose and then regain around $100,000 over the course of 24 hours, and he’s not abandoning his shares anytime soon.

“It does feel like a gang-up on Wall Street, which has suffered no repercussions from the pandemic,” the I.T. worker said. “Jobless claims, jobless claims, every week we see them going higher and higher, all the chaos with Brexit, all the stuff that’s happening. Like, we can’t go outside, but you guys are making a profit. What the fuck?” On WallStreetBets, it’s to no small amount of admiration that DeepFuckingValue, one of the first users to go bullish on GameStop, who has since been identified by the Daily Mail as 34-year-old financial adviser Keith Patrick Gill, continues to post his daily tally from staying long on the video game store chain. Midweek, that was almost $50 million (from a reported initial investment of some $53,000), but the next day, it had dived by more than $14 million

What happened was this: A few hedge funds, reading what they thought was the writing on the wall, bet against GameStop by shorting its stock, predicting that a brick-and-mortar store had no future in the COVID-delineated online economy. So retail traders bought the stock in droves and pushed its value up, knowing that traders would eventually have to buy the stock back at the higher price in order to cover their positions, losing money in the process. GameStop isn’t the first short squeeze Wall Street has seen, but it’s one of the first that originated in the online forums where day traders using popular platforms like Robinhood have coalesced during the pandemic. Some major funds were caught in the squeeze, including Melvin Capital and Citron Research, and total losses from the short positions in U.S. companies were estimated to be more than $70 billion as of Thursday. Redditors rejoiced over Wall Street’s pain, and CNBC’s Jim Cramer said the masses ganging up against institutional money could be finance’s new paradigm. “There is definitely a level of nervousness here,” said a hedge fund manager named Westley, who asked not to have his last name published. 

[ click to continue reading at VF ]

Posted on January 28, 2021 by Editor

Filed under Culture Music Art, Weirdness | | No Comments »

Life on Eartha

from Vanity Fair

Transformative Life

Kitt’s 1989 autobiography, Confessions of a Sex Kitten, tracks an icon’s incredible journey from abused child to outspoken star.

BY HADLEY HALL MEARES

Eartha Kitt Performing in London November 1989
GERAINT LEWIS/ALAMY.

Eartha Kitt was many things: a nightclub chanteuse who could sing in seven languages; a movie star; an activist, dancer, singer, comedian…and Catwoman. She created iconic cultural moments, purring hits like “Santa Baby,” “I Want to Be Evil,” and “C’est Si Bon.” Her lovers were American aristocrats like Charles Revson, the founder of Revlon (he even created a lipstick shade for her) and film industry scion Arthur Loew Jr. An eccentric grand dame, swathed in Balmain and sipping champagne, she was a cabaret legend, creating magic on the stages of The Carlyle and the Persian Room.

But Kitt’s greatest creation was herself. In her 1989 autobiography, Confessions of a Sex Kitten, she tells the epic story of her self-made life in poetic, precise prose. “I have no idea how old I am. Believe it or not, I have no paper that says I was ever born,” she wrote. “Maybe that’s why they call me a legend, because I don’t really exist.”

[ click to continue reading at VF ]

Posted on January 22, 2021 by Editor

Filed under Culture Music Art | | No Comments »

Bernie Sits

from WIRED

He Made a Viral Bernie Meme Site. Now He Has to Keep It Going

Nick Sawhney’s “Bernie Sits” puts Sanders anywhere on Google Street View. 

by BRIAN BARRETT

Bernie sitting with a mask on

BY 9 PM ET last night, Nick Sawhney knew he was in trouble. 

Just a half hour earlier, still steeped in the afterglow of Joe Biden’s inauguration, Sawhney had pushed live a website that lets you put a viral image of Bernie Sanders—seated, mittened, alone—atop any Google Street View image. The meme had already reached a fever pitch, with the Photoshop faithful placing the senator from Vermont in everything from Mortal Kombat to Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. But Sawhney’s creation, born out of a group chat with friends, added layers of personalization, ease of use, and absurdity; because it fixes Sanders in the same coordinates regardless of his location, he occasionally looks as though he’s floating, or sitting on a car, or in an otherwise unlikely orientation.

The site gained traction on Twitter slowly at first; friends retweeting, then friends of friends. A few verified accounts joined in. And then, as wonderful and perfectly timed internet creations do, it snowballed.

[ click to continue reading at WIRED ]

Posted on January 21, 2021 by Editor

Filed under Culture Music Art, Mirth | | No Comments »

Space Smuggling

from Reason

Space, the Final Smuggling Frontier

In a glimpse of a gloriously rule-breaking future, contraband has boldly gone where more is sure to follow.

by J.D. TUCCILLE

zumaamericasseven497531
(Reg. Innell/ZUMA Press/Newscom) 

On Christmas day, we learned that the ashes of James Doohan, the actor who played Scotty in the original Star Trek series and several movies, were surreptitiously brought to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2008. For fans of the classic science fiction franchise, it was a fitting extraterrestrial resting place for the man who played a beloved character. For those with dreams of a free life beyond Earth’s gravity, though, it was also a hint that the roguish spirit of Han Solo and Malcolm Reynolds has already taken root in humanity’s ventures into space.

“Now it can be revealed that in death the actor who played the starship’s chief engineer has travelled nearly 1.7 billion miles through space, orbiting Earth more than 70,000 times, after his ashes were hidden secretly on the International Space Station,” the Times of London reported on December 25. “‘It was completely clandestine,’ said Richard Garriott, a video game entrepreneur who smuggled James Doohan’s ashes on to the ISS in 2008 during a 12-day mission as a private astronaut.”

[ click to continue reading at Reason ]

Posted on January 5, 2021 by Editor

Filed under Weirdness | | No Comments »

The Death of Flash

from The LA Times

Why the end of Flash animation marks the end of an era for creativity on the web

By CAROLINA A. MIRANDA

A message to uninstall Flash appears above a Flash-based work of art by Rafaël Rozendaal titled "Future Physics," from 2007.
A message to uninstall Flash appears above a Flash-based work of art by Rafaël Rozendaal titled “Future Physics,” from 2007.(Screengrab by Carolina A. Miranda / Los Angeles Times)

It was a tale of sex and death and Teletubbies.

In 1998, programmer and animator Tom Fulp released an online video game titled “Teletubby Fun Land” that featured the characters from the British children’s television program getting drunk and stoned and engaged in acts of devil worship. One of the game’s narratives showed a version of Po (the red one) getting it on with a sheep. 

As the site grew in popularity, the BBC, which aired “Teletubbies,” grew appalled. In 1999, the British broadcaster demanded that Fulp, then a college student, take the site down. He initially acquiesced, but within days, “Teletubby Fun Land” was right back up — with Fulp noting that parody was protected under laws governing free speech.

“As far as I have always known, Mad magazine makes a living out of doing the same thing,” Fulp told Wired at the time. “I am pretty sure U.S. laws protect me.”

[ click to continue reading at LAT ]

Posted on January 4, 2021 by Editor

Filed under Culture Music Art | | No Comments »

Fripp & Toyah Do Black Dog

Posted on January 3, 2021 by Editor

Filed under Culture Music Art, Mirth, Weirdness | | No Comments »

THE ODYSSEY Cancelled

from The Wall Street Journal

Even Homer Gets Mobbed

A Massachusetts school has banned ‘The Odyssey.’

By Meghan Cox Gurdon

A sustained effort is under way to deny children access to literature. Under the slogan #DisruptTexts, critical-theory ideologues, schoolteachers and Twitter agitators are purging and propagandizing against classic texts—everything from Homer to F. Scott Fitzgerald to Dr. Seuss.

Their ethos holds that children shouldn’t have to read stories written in anything other than the present-day vernacular—especially those “in which racism, sexism, ableism, anti-Semitism, and other forms of hate are the norm,” as young-adult novelist Padma Venkatraman writes in School Library Journal. No author is valuable enough to spare, Ms. Venkatraman instructs: “Absolving Shakespeare of responsibility by mentioning that he lived at a time when hate-ridden sentiments prevailed, risks sending a subliminal message that academic excellence outweighs hateful rhetoric.”

The subtle complexities of literature are being reduced to the crude clanking of “intersectional” power struggles. Thus Seattle English teacher Evin Shinn tweeted in 2018 that he’d “rather die” than teach “The Scarlet Letter,” unless Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel is used to “fight against misogyny and slut-shaming.”

[ click to continue reading at WSJ ]

Posted on January 2, 2021 by Editor

Filed under Literary News, Weirdness | | No Comments »

Hello 2021

Goodbye

Worst

Fucking

Year

Ever

Posted on January 1, 2021 by Editor

Filed under Site News | | No Comments »