Batkid Saves San Francisco

A boy’s wish to be Batman inspired thousands of volunteers to help turn the streets of San Francisco into Gotham City today.

Five-year-old Miles, aka Batkid, has been fighting Leukemia since he was a baby. The Make-a-Wish Foundation helped organize an entire day catered to the caped crusader. Miles, whose cancer is in remission, rode in a Batmobile, rescued a damsel in distress and helped police capture the Riddler and the Penguin. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee even gave Miles a key to the city.

To see more of Miles’s day of crime-fighting adventure, follow @abc7newsbayarea on Instagram or check out the #sfbatkid hashtag

confession: I’ve recently found out two bits of information that has left me feeling… well, I honestly don’t know how I feel. The first bit was from cousin of ours. She decided to pay the money to find out our ancestry and it turns out that our family, on my maternal grandparent’s side, is from Ghana and the Cote d’Ivoire. While I’m excited to know this, I don’t know what to do with this information. The second bit I just found out today. My mom was talking to some family of mine from Cleveland (I don’t know them very well) and apparently I’m related to Tamir Rice. This information hit me harder than I expected. When I first found out about Tamir’s murder, I was angry. Now that I know he was a cousin of mine, I just want to cry. I’m so full of emotions now that I don’t know what to do.

❝Many feel as if it’s impossible for Kanye to operate in the One Percent while speaking for the 99%. Those people are basic, and missing the point. It’s spectacularly natural to participate and relish in a process, especially a capitalistic one, while also realizing that it’s terrible. And who better to realize the machine is inherently flawed and should be destroyed than somebody who’s a prominent cog in it? Subsequently, it’s much easier for that cog to destroy the machine from the inside.

Kanye West might legitimately be the voice of our generation, and I think in the past couple of years he’s started to understand what that’s supposed to mean. America is at a weird point socially, where a lot of dominoes are being set into place, and what happens the next couple of years may very well determine the course of the next ten. Occupy was a push in the right direction, but we can’t let its momentum wear out and become complacent with a society characterized by so much inequality. Kanye understands this. We got a black president, but that didn’t cure racism, and it didn’t stop Kanye from getting unfairly shamed when he spoke out against Taylor Swift, a white woman, unjustly receiving an award over Beyoncé, a black woman. It was a trivial act on the part of Yeezy, yes, but the racist attitudes and words that his actions evoked damn sure weren’t. Kanye West is having a child, and he wants to make that world better before he brings his child into it. Is that egotistical? Of course. Does it make him an asshole? Maybe. But this isn’t about whether or not you’d get a beer with Kanye. It’s about him being an icon with a message that’s greater than himself and a platform from which to spread it. He’s the flawed, egomaniacal revolutionary that our culture deserves, and he’s here to save us from ourselves.

Drew Millard, The Revolutionary Politics of Kanye West

Chimps May Have Personhood Before Some Humans Will
14 August 2013. Anthrocentric.

Earlier in June, the National Institutes of Health’s statement that chimps will be used less in research has come after many years of advocacy for animal rights. This lends to trouble concerning the chimpanzees currently used in biomedical research — not all of them will be put on the retirement track, and even then, not all of the primates will be lucky enough to Chimp Haven or other primate sanctuaries. Phasing out the chimps to these sanctuaries would be the best bet, but primate research institutes, which hosts a large number of primates for biomedical and cognitive research, will be greatly inflating the amount of primates that need a new home. In essence, there’ll be a huge supply, but no demand — or any place to put them. Only the minimum number of chimps will be retained for research (but primarily for breeding purposes). This isn’t to say that phasing out chimps in biomedical research is a bad thing; with new technologies, there’s literally no need to do that to chimps. 

However, there are groups of animal rights activists fighting for personhood for primates. True, if primates are given the status of personhood, they’d be a person in the same way corporations are considered people (yes, in America, corporations are apparently people, which is rather silly because great apes tend to look better in clothing than a conglomerate of abstract thoughts). Defining what qualifies as “personhood" is an ongoing controversial topic for centuries, and probably for centuries more, since "personhood" is a socially constructed view — not strictly a universally agreed upon truth. Bruce Knauft, along with multitudes of other cultural anthropologists, have noted in his ethnography, following the many changes of the Gebusi, that through social interactions, people achieve “personhood”. Currently many cultures are having debates on abortions that delve deep into topics concerning when exactly does personhood start. But personhood doesn’t necessarily denote “life” or “societal status” or “existence”, having personhood includes all of that, yes, but it extends so much further. Personhood gives voices, communicates ideas and in return are listened to. In our quest for animal rights and animal advocacy, we seem to forget that we humans have largely ignored several large groups of our own species the very same personhood we are fighting for in our primate cousins, in masses of cells developing into a fetus, in our own ever-loving, ever faithful pets whom we have spent hundred of years domesticating particular ways to respond exactly how we want them to respond. Animal rights is extremely important — everything should be treated with respect and care. But large groups of our own conspecifics are suffering, either knowingly, or unknowingly, by the system we have built, conformed to, and continuously shaped. 

It is no surprise that in a poll conducted by Reuters, a high majority of Americans have friends that are exclusively within their own race. It is of no surprise that in Russia, LGBTQA+ people (and families of) are living in fear and LGBTQA+ Olympians of other countries are terrified to compete in the upcoming games. It is of no surprise that women in Ireland would rather perform unsafe abortions than seek medical attention after all the way the government and media presents abortions. Or that people are consistently and systematically hunted down and killed for their beliefs. Or that indigenous peoples all throughout the world are being taken advantage of by their own “nation’s” government and sexualised by society. That identity/cultural diaspora is common among oppressed groups since history has essentially erased minority cultures, voices, and systematically ensured that minority cultures perished. That second, third, etc generation children refuse to speak their parents’ native tongue and the parents are no longer able to communicate or pass on cultural knowledge. That even to this day, people continue to believe in the existence of “biological races”. That you can walk down a street and see shirts saying “Cool story babe, now make me a sandwich" and no one bats an eye or have the critical thinking capabilities to articulate the multiple reasons why that line of thinking is, not merely potentially, but actually is harmful and vapid. That people are ashamed when they find out that a family member is a victim of mental illnessthat people refuse to believe that mental illnesses even exist. That in lines of thought, everything is either white or black. True, there are some instances where it is rather clear that there’s a good outcome and a bad outcome, but I’m sure we can all agree that at least 99.99999999999999% of all situations fall within a grey area because barely any situation is ever self contain and incapable of influencing other decisions/actions.

It doesn’t matter what society, what culture you live in and am a part of. This is the only universal truth. There is only one group that has achieved “personhood” and they will do their damned well hardest to ensure that no one else can achieve that coveted spot. In America, people of Irish descent have been absorbed into the concept of “whiteness”, while people of Eastern European descent are only considered “white” if they look and act like the majority — until of course, they mess up and then their non-whiteness is demonised. In China, people not of the Han majority are treated similar to endangered species of the zoo — marketed and shown to tourists, hyperaccentuating their native beliefs and ceremonies so that the tourist display showcased as “normal, [insert ethnic group name] life” is is grossly different from reality. That transgender and third gender individuals are consistently misgendered and made the butt of in jokes and largely ignored (along with the bisexual and asexual groups), misunderstood, and looked down upon by not just the heteronormative society, but also by the very group that they should feel safe in — extra hatred on ignorant sauce if these groups deviate from heteronormative values (a partner preferably acting as the “complementing gender”, a nice house, and children) that societies like the Human Rights Campaign love to showcase.

No. None of this matters, because an adorable chimp named Hiasl, through the help of the Nonhuman Rights Project, is fighting to attain personhood, which is something still denied to so many groups that are actually, biologically, human. 

What an amazing day it is to be alive and technically human. Unless you are a white, cishet male of course. Then you actually are human.


Capturing the 2014 Holi Festivals on Instagram

To view more photos and videos from Holi festivals, browse the #holi and #holi2014 hashtags on Instagram.

On Monday, Hindus everywhere celebrate Holi, an annual festival of colors that marks the beginning of spring. The festivities start out with bonfires held on the eve of Holi, which symbolize the victory of good over evil in Hindu mythology.

On the day of Holi, thousands of people take to the streets to celebrate the abundant colors of spring by throwing colored powder and water at one another in mass gatherings. In Hindu temples, devotees enter into a shower of colors as they gather for holiday prayers. The festivities are traditionally held by Hindu communities in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal, and nowadays are spreading across non-Hindu communities as an opportunity to engage with the Hindu culture. Drawn by the vibrant colors, many Instagrammers taking part in the celebration are capturing and sharing this joyous and colorful day with the world.

I really wish tumblr will one day present all of the facts and not just a selection of them.

The gun attack at the synagogue in Copenhagen happened after another attack on a cultural gathering yesterday… which discussed freedom of the press, especially in light of the recent terror attack in Paris in January (the French ambassador was present). The attack seems to have targetted a cartoonist who had been receiving death threats for depicting and “making fun of” the prophet Mohammed. 4 police officers were injured and one civilian died. It appears that this was yet another attack on freedom of expression.

Today, a person who is believed to be responsible for the first attack, walked towards a synagogue in Copenhagen with what we can assume the intent to kill as many people as he could with his semi-automatic riffle (same one he used the day before). He shot and killed a Jewish guard - making for the second civilian fatality in this series of attacks. The gunman was then shot down by the police. As of yet, we still aren’t 100% sure both attacks were perpretrated by the same man, so the first shooter might still be at large. It is however very likely that the same man was responsible for both shootings.

The attacks haven’t been claimed by anyone as of yet. The police are suspecting this was the action of a lone wolf. Latest news is that he was trying to copy the Paris terror attacks. Great. Not allarming at all.

What I’m trying to say is that I get why you would talk about the second shooting, but in this case that’s only delivering partial information. And while I applaud the fact that the information you are in fact spreading isn’t wrong (which can’t be said for many tumblr users), it is strange that you shoose to omit crucial information.

The fact that the gunman had also shot and killed another man who was debating about the freedom of the press and freedom of speech does in no way diminish the sadness of the Jewish man’s death. It doesn’t make the second shooting any less antisemetic. Was the first man’s life any less valuable than the life of the Jewish man who has also been killed? It’s logical we can’t talk about every single murdered person, we simply wouldn’t have the time. But these two men were both killed by the same man; so why would you completely ignore one of the victims?


Long Island City Says Goodbye to 5 Pointz

To view more photos and videos of 5 Pointz both before and after the whitewashing, be sure to visit the 5 Pointz location page.

For over 20 years, the 5 Pointz building in Long Island City, Queens, has been a hub for street artists from around the world to showcase their work. Many Instagrammers in New York have visited 5 Pointz to document the dynamic, vibrant graffiti on its exterior.

The building is privately owned by Long Island developer Jerry Wolkoff who has plans to raze 5 Pointz at the end of this year. Early Tuesday morning, the structure’s artwork was quietly painted over with white paint. In the wake of this news, locals and visitors alike are documenting the changes that herald the building’s final days.


80th Anniversary of the Drive-in Movie Theater

On this day in 1933, the very first drive-in movie theater opened in Camden, New Jersey, USA. The phenomenon quickly caught on with drive-ins numbering nearly 5,000 at its peak popularity peak popularity. Now, eighty years later, only a few hundred of these relics currently operate in the United States.

Many of these remaining theaters are celebrating the 80th anniversary with special showings. Will you be going to a drive-in tonight? Share your experience with the #drivein and #driveinmovie hashtags!