An artist has been threatened with a lawsuit if she sells a painting of Donald Trump nude with a small penis.

An artist has been threatened with a lawsuit if she sells a painting of Donald Trump nude with a small penis. [Patrick Greenfield – The Guardian]

An infamous nude of Donald Trump has attracted bids of over £100,000 after it went on display at the Maddox Gallery in Mayfair, London, last week, but the artist is being anonymously threatened with legal action if she sells it, due to its resemblance to the Republican presidential hopeful.

The piece by Illma Gore, titled Make America Great Again, depicts Trump with a small penis. It went viral in February after the artist published it on her Facebook page and has since been censored on social media sites and delisted from eBay after the anonymous filing of a Digital Millennium Copyright Act notice threatening to sue Gore.

The Maddox Gallery in London offered to exhibit the painting after galleries in the US refused to host the piece due to security concerns following threats of violence from Trump’s supporters.

There’s a reproduction of the painting at the link above. I haven’t put it here because nobody wants to see a picture of Donald Trump with his Carlos Danger hanging out unless they’ve been warned first.

Trump is abusing the law, with no apparent grounds for a DMCA claim. And sending thugs out to threaten people who criticize or ridicule the candidate is not how we’re supposed to do things in the USA.

Don’t hang up

Listen with headphones on

On the Love + Radio podcast: A woman calls a dating phone line only to find it’s more of a phone sex line.

I listened to this while walking in the park, as I usually do with podcasts. The first part I was self-conscious because I was essentially listening to phone sex in public, even though I had my earbuds in and no one could hear it. Then I was self-conscious because I was laughing so hard.

Rolling off the tracks

The tragic, failed Presidency of Franklin Pierce

President Franklin Pierce moved into the White House in the years running up to the Civil War. The nation needed a strong leader. Instead, it got a President who would have been weak in the best of circumstances, but was broken after he and his wife witnessed the death of their young son in a train accident a few months prior to the inauguration.

The Presidential podcast:

James McPherson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom, guides our exploration of Pierce’s tenure in the White House, between 1853 and 1857; along with Edna Greene Medford, who chairs Howard University’s department of history. They discuss not only the policies that happen on the 14th president’s watch, but also the personal tragedy that unfolds right before he takes office.

Like his predecessors, Pierce supported the alleged rights of slaveowners to own other people.

I’ve been reading a bit about slavery in the past year or two, and it’s giving me fresh appreciation for what a monstrous institution it was.

Police story

Serve & Protect: History of American police

American police departments were founded in the early 19th Century not to control crime but to combat civil dissent, which took the form of riots. Since then, relationships between police and the communities they’re chartered to serve has been fraught.

The Backstory podcast:

For many Americans, the storyline that played out on August 9 [2014] in Ferguson, Mo. — when an unarmed black teenager was fatally shot by a white police officer — is not a new one. But the sustained protests that followed, in which Ferguson police used military equipment for crowd control, have generated a new round of questioning about the role of local police in their communities.

So on this episode, we’re looking at the history of policing in America, and how the police departments we’re familiar with today began to take shape. And we’ll consider what happens when the police don’t protect those they serve….

Scholar Khalil Gibran Muhammad talks with Brian Balogh about how many ethnic groups have shed their criminal reputations through police service, and the more complicated legacy of early African-American officers.

Many ethnic groups, including the Irish and Italians, saw many individuals become police officers, which aided assimilation. African Americans have been blocked from that route.

Also: Technology has shaped the police from the beginning, from the invention of handcuffs to handguns to two-way radios to bodycams.

President Obama is the only person outside of HBO who will see advance screenings of new episodes of “Game of Thrones.” So journalist Vanessa Golembewski filed a FOIA request for them.

President Obama is the only person outside of HBO who will see advance screenings of new episodes of “Game of Thrones.” So journalist Vanessa Golembewski filed a FOIA request for them. [Vanessa Golembewski – Refinery29]

I was surprised that this form also asked me how much I’d be willing to pay for this information. My editor said, “You can expense up to $10.” But then, I thought about how I already owe the government a shit ton of money in student loans. So, I wrote that I was willing to pay nothing, but that if they insist on charging me, they can effectively “put it on my tab.”

There was also a field that asked me if I’d like this request to be expedited. According to the guidelines, you should only select “yes” if it’s a timely, life-threatening matter. And while I am not in any physical danger myself, I thought about how Jon Snow’s life is very much in question and decided that was close enough.

Golembewski notes that Obama is now in the “IDGAF years” of his administration and therefore might be “delighted to help a girl out.”

The Silver Dollar


“How can you hate me when you don’t even know me.”

The Love + Radio podcast:

Music is Daryl Davis’ profession, but extreme racism is his obsession.

Daryl’s book is Klandestine Relationships, and his website can be found here.

Produced by Nick van der Kolk and Brendan Baker. A version of this interview originally aired on the excellent NPR/PRX show Snap Judgment.

Photo credit Adrianne Mathiowetz.

Hell of a photo. Says it all.

Davis’s courage is amazing.

The Voyeur’s Motel

“I’m thoroughly disgusted that I alone must bear the burden of my observations.”

“The Voyeur’s Motel” is a brilliant and disturbing “New Yorker” article from 84-year-old journalist Gay Talese:

I know a married man and father of two who bought a twenty-one-room motel near Denver many years ago in order to become its resident voyeur. With the assistance of his wife, he cut rectangular holes measuring six by fourteen inches in the ceilings of more than a dozen rooms. Then he covered the openings with louvred aluminum screens that looked like ventilation grilles but were actually observation vents that allowed him, while he knelt in the attic, to see his guests in the rooms below. He watched them for decades, while keeping an exhaustive written record of what he saw and heard. Never once, during all those years, was he caught.

The voyeur, Gerald Foos, says in his 30 years as a peeping Tom, he witnessed a murder that he unwittingly instigated. He never reported it to police.

30 years of voyeurism made Foos a cynic.

… basically you can’t trust people. Most of them lie and cheat and are deceptive. What they reveal about themselves in private they try to hide in public. What they try to show you in public is not what they really are.”

Foos considers himself a scientist.

“I hope I’m not described as just some pervert or Peeping Tom,” he said. “I think of myself as a pioneering sex researcher.”

Talese also did a little peeping while visiting Foos to verify the story, although he does not describe himself as being aroused by it. Like Foos, Talese no doubt considers himself a dispassionate observer working for a greater cause. The difference between the two is that Foos worked in secret, while Talese has as worldwide audience, respect, and acclaim.

Bricked shithouse

Automatic cat litter box has DRM protection to prevent you from refilling cleaning solution cartridge. [Jorge Lopez – Medium]

The CatGenie scoops, cleans, and disposes of waste automatically, but requires CatGenie Washable Granules instead of regular litter, and a SaniSolution SmartCartridge to wash the granules. In this 2014 article, Jorge Lopez describes how he one day discovered that he needed a fluid refill but had neglected to order new fluid. So he figured he’d refill with water to make do. That’s when he discovered that the cartridge has built-in DRM to prevent consumers from refilling it on their own, and the litterbox won’t run without solution in the cartridge – in other words, it’s a “bricked shithouse”.

Fortunately for Jorge, there’s a community of CatGenie hackers on the Internet (of course there is!) that have released custom firmware that lets you use whatever solution you want.

Yes, custom firmware for your smart catlitter box.

And the CatGenie user community reports that the machine runs better anyway without the solution. Which costs $350/year.

We’re all living in a Charles Stross novel now.

Vox ex machina


The Allies used an incredible Rube Goldberg contraption to encrypt voice during World War II.

The 99% Invisible podcast:

In 1939, an astonishing new machine debuted at the New York World’s Fair. It was called the “Voder,” short for “Voice Operating Demonstrator.”  It looked sort of like a futuristic church organ.

An operator — known as a “Voderette” — sat at the Voder’s curved wooden console with a giant speaker towering behind her. She faced an expectant audience, placed her hands on a keyboard in front of her, and then played something the world had never really heard before.

A synthesized voice.

The voder didn’t store recorded words and phrases. It synthesized sounds – phonemes – and the operator created words by operating the controls in realtime.

The voder begat the vocoder, which became a key component in an unbelievably complicated multiton device used by the Allies to encrypt voice communications during World War II.

Vocoders – or their descendants – continue to be used today in cell phones, and pop music.

Chimps are cool

Opening credits for the 70s kiddie show “Ark II,” about a high-tech RV that roams the Earth bringing science to the natives after an environmental apocalypse.

The crew of the vehicle includes a chimp. Because chimps are cool.

Mentioned on a recent Back To Work podcast.

It seemed like the thing to do at the time

“The older and wiser we get, the more bewildering our past decisions can seem.”

This American Life tells stories about people who revisit past decisions, including a story it did a year ago about a groundbreaking study that was discredited, but seems to have some truth to it anyway:

A year ago, we did a story about a study that found that a simple 20-minute conversation could change someone’s mind about controversial issues like gay marriage and abortion. But a few weeks after we aired the story, the study was discredited. A couple of researchers decided to redo the experiment the right way, and released their results this week.

The initial study was done in two parts, with political canvassers gathering data about their methods and a researcher compiling it. The researcher was discredited, but the initial data is still good. A new researcher looked at the findings and determined:

… a single approximately 10-minute conversation encouraging actively taking the perspective of others can markedly reduce prejudice for at least 3 months.

This American Life played tapes of the canvassers’ work. Changing minds starts with respecting the perspective of the person who disagrees with you.


Comedian Chris Gethard has a new podcast called Beautiful Stories by Anonymous People, where people can call in to talk to him about anything for an hour. Our editor, Joel Lovell, tells us about his favorite episode thus far – featuring a man who calls in desperately seeking Chris’ guidance.

And this cringeworthily hilarious segment:

Senior Producer Brian Reed tells Ira about a book entitled “Now I Know Better,” where children write cautionary tales recounting horrific accidents they’ve endured. He also interviews one of the book’s contributors about his childhood mishap.

“Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever. “

“The legacy of the Wallace campaign is one that we wrestle with today.”

Slate’s Whistlestop podcast is a lively discussion of Presidential campaigns throughout history. The latest installment:

In 1968, Alabama Gov. George Wallace appealed to segregationists and blue-collar workers during his presidential bid as a third-party candidate.

Wallace set the state for the Republicans to peddle racism and ignorance for nearly 50 years.

And Donald Trump owes a lot to the Wallace playbook.

Sufferin’ Sasquatch!

“Any lake that doesn’t have a sea monster is basically unworthy.”

The Tank Riot podcast tackles cryptozoology in this 2008 episode from Madison, Wisconsin, a surprisingly fertile ground for cryptozoological critters:

The team discuss their favorite hidden animals: Bigfoot, Loch Ness Monster, Chupacabra, Minnesota Iceman, Champ, Kraken, Bozho, Bloop and more!

If you have any proof of a hidden animal we would like to know about it. Send us the proof and if it passes the Tank Riot scrutiny, we will do a special show on the new discovery.

Cut me some slack

Mossberg: Slack users complain about fear of missing out, messaging overload

I’m an email evangelist. Dismissing it as old people’s technology, as many people do, undervalues what email is good at. You can either check it right away or let it wait, whatever is more convenient. It’s vendor-neutral – you’re not locked in to a single provider. It’s archivable and searchable. Emails can be any length, as short as text messages or as long as a Game of Thrones novel. They can include multimedia. And they’re portable to any device, from mainframe to iPhone.

I’m not allergic to other channels. I use iMessage and Lync daily, and Messenger and other messaging services sometimes. And I’m intrigued by Slack.

But don’t count email out.

And moreover, whatever we use to replace email will take on email’s problems – too much noise, and too much need to keep on top of it. As Walter Mossberg’s column, above, demonstrates.

Different world

Meet the men of PR: ‘It is a different world for us’ [Yuyu Chen – Digiday]

It can get lonely for a guy in PR.

One senior exec with more than 15 years experience has often found himself to be the only man in the room. He recalls one meeting in particular when, while waiting for things to get started, a female colleague gushed about Tory Burch. Others joined in. “I had no idea what in the world they were talking about,” he said. “She responded, ‘You don’t know what Tory Burch is?’ And the rest of the women were like, ‘Really?’”

Sure, the smallest violin in the world plays the saddest song for this fellow. And yet, at some of the companies he’s worked for, he was often excluded from happy hour because the rest of his colleagues wanted a girls night out. He’s been left out of office perks, like manicures, when there was no macho equivalent.

I’m curious what my friends in PR think of this.

I have no idea who Tony Burch is. I don’t remember ever hearing the name before.