Register now for ‘Wasting time on the Internet’ 101

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You can now get college credit for watching all those cat videos.

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The University of Pennsylvania is offering a class next semester titled “Wasting time on the Internet,” in which students will “focus on the alchemical recuperation of aimless surfing into substantial works of literature.”

“Students will be required to stare at the screen for three hours, only interacting through chat rooms, bots, social media and listservs,” according to the course description on the school’s website.

Sign us up!

Yahoo tech columnist Alyssa Bereznak notes that the course is taught at the Ivy League school by poet and professor Kenneth Goldsmith. The class is a required seminar for those of the English creative writing track and an elective for other English majors.

“In practice, the course will play out a little like this: Students will spend a lot of time chatting with friends, watching YouTube videos, surfing Facebook, exploring Reddit, and, who are we kidding, skimming UPenn-specific BuzzFeed lists,” Bereznak writes. “Eventually, however, they’ll have to take the detritus from that time wasted — tweets, posts, photos, browser history, a painkiller prescription for their carpal tunnel — and turn it into ‘substantial works of literature.’ “

Goldsmith told Motherboard’s Jason Koebler that he wants his students to be distracted, dividing their time between multiple devices including phones, tablets and laptops.

“I’m very tired of reading articles in the New York Times every week that make us feel bad about spending so much time on the Internet, about dividing our attention so many times,” Goldsmith said. “I think it’s complete bulls**t that the Internet is making us dumber. I think the Internet is making us smarter. There’s this new morality built around guilt and shame in the digital age.”

And shame on any student who tries to audit this class.

Dad Gets Massive tattoo of baby on his face

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Some parenting decisions can be reversed; others are a bit more permanent. That’s the case for one father from Texas who recently got an enormous tattoo of his baby son’s face — on his own face.

786eceb13d1074a3f8f680a9b523c563bc7c6032Christien Sechrist, a 20-year-old dad from Deer Park, celebrated the birth of his son Perseus Allen Mitchell by inking a giant black-and-white image of the boy’s face on his left cheek. Sechrist captioned the photo, posted last July, “Thanks Cody Gibbs for doing awesome work on me. Looks just like my son.” One of the reasons it’s gaining coverage now is because Reddit posted it a day ago.

Reaction to the portrait ranged from disbelief to supportive (sort of). “Is this a joke Christien?” wrote one Facebook user. “…Although it is a nice tat, you should have put it somewhere else,” wrote another. Also: “…I can see why you got it but I think the face was just a tad over the top.” Sechrist responded to his naysayers by writing, “Well my son looked at it [and] smiled so that’s all I care about.”

Gibbs (Sechrists’ tattoo artist) was also a source of scorn on Reddit for fulfilling such a “stupid” request. “You’ve gotta have better judgment than that,” the commenter added of the artist.

Yahoo Parenting could not reach Sechrist for comment, however, the budding electrician — who has a skull tattoo (where else?) on his skull — told Buzzfeed that he wanted to commemorate his son after nearly losing him and insisted that the tat won’t affect his ability to keep a job.

One tattoo artist disagrees.

“Although tattoos are more mainstream these days, they’re still not considered the ‘norm,’ so we always give our input when it comes to customers who want riskier designs,” Beau Brady, a tattoo artist at Invisible NYC in New York, tells Yahoo Parenting. “Face, neck, and hand tattoos are called ‘job stoppers’ for a reason so people should give those areas more thought.”

Young adults are increasingly opting for face tattoos and other visible designs, but without forethought, they can be poor choices. Brady says people don’t usually regret commemorative designs but since taste, style, and personality can change drastically over time, it’s wiser to choose classic pieces over trendier ones.

21 Grams is a sex toy that contains the ashes of a dead partner

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Dutch designer Mark Sturkenboom has created a “memory box” containing a dildo with a compartment for storing the ashes of a deceased partner.

21-Grams-by-Mark-Sturkenboom_dezeen_468_0Called 21 Grams, the box is made from layers of wood, which are glued together and hand-sanded to create the final shape then coated with a pale grey matt finish. It opens using a gold-plated brass key that can be worn as a necklace, and incorporates an amplifier for playing music from an iPhone that slots into the base.

It also contains a scent diffuser and a small gold-plated urn that holds up to 21 grams of ashes inside a blown-glass dildo.

“21 Grams is a memory-box that allows a widow to go back to the intimate memories of a lost beloved one,” explained Sturkenboom. “After a passing, the missing of intimacy with that person is only one aspect of the pain and grief. This forms the base for 21 Grams. The urn offers the possibility to conserve 21 grams of ashes of the deceased and displays an immortal desire.”

“By bringing different nostalgic moments together like the scent of his perfume, ‘their’ music, reviving the moment he gave her her first ring, it opens a window to go back to moments of love and intimacy,” he said.

When unlocked, the front of the box forms two panels that fold out. One of these holds a built-in perfume container with a rubber diffuser attached.

A drawer in the base of the box can be used for keepsakes like a handkerchief or small scarf. The inside of the lid also features a round storage compartment for a ring, which is hidden behind two hinged flaps that form the shape of a shield when closed.

21-Grams-by-Mark-Sturkenboom_dezeen_bn01The hollow glass dildo rests at the back of the main compartment, and the small golden urn is slotted in to the bottom of this and closed with a brass seal.

Music from the user’s iPhone is amplified by the box, with the sound transmitted through perforations arranged in the shape of two forget-me-not flowers on the inside of the box.

The device was shown during Milan design week in the Ventura Lambrate district alongside other products by Sturkenboom. These included a table-clock called Watching Time Fly, which has no hands and tells the time with a small model of a fly made from a €500 note that completes a full revolution around a glass dome every minute.

The Utrecht-based designer graduated in 2012 from the Netherlands’ Artez Academy for the Arts, and has since focused on producing limited-edition pieces that reinterpret familiar products to examine themes of love, time and value.

The idea for 21 Grams, which is handmade to order and can be personalised to the requirements of the customer, grew from his relationship with an elderly widow.

“I sometimes help an elderly lady with her groceries and she has an urn standing near the window with the remains of her husband,” said the designer. “She always speaks with so much love about him but the jar he was in didn’t reflect that at all.”

“In that same period I read an article about widows, taboos and sex and intimacy and then I thought to myself: ‘can I combine these themes and make an object that is about love and missing and intimacy?'”

The name of the project refers to a belief that a human soul weighs 21 grams. This is based on a series of early 20th-century experiments by an American doctor that recorded weight loss in people as they died, which have since been widely discredited.

“I tried to open a new window for the way we reminisce about someone and find a dialogue for these feelings people are struggling with when somebody passes,” said Sturkenboom.

“We live in a time where we are able to manipulate life, adjust the way that we look, where the possibilities are endless if it comes to body enhancements, but there is one thing we still cannot answer, the unavoidable passing of life. But I can sure try.”

Woman kills husband over his dark complexion

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A 22-year-old man was today killed allegedly by his wife who was unhappy with his dark complexion, following which she has been arrested.

“Farzanabano (22), a resident of Sundarana village in Petlad taluka of Anand district, was arrested for killing her husband Farukh Malek today, because she was unhappy with his dark complexion,” Deputy Superintendent of Police P R Gehlot of Petlad taluka said.

Though Farzana and Farukh were married two years ago, they did not have any physical relations because the wife hated her husband’s skin colour, which always led to scuffles between them, Gehlot said.

Farzana used to go to his parents’ home to avoid her husband.

However, she returned ten days ago and the couple resumed fighting over physical relations since she returned to her in-laws’ house, he said.

Last night, there was a fight after which Farukh slapped Farzana.

Today, Farukh asked Farzana to accompany him to his farm, where she allegedly smashed his head with a hammer from behind, Gehlot said.

The police has registered an FIR against Farzana under Section 302 (Punishment for murder) of the Indian Penal Code and initiated an investigation.

Paid to watch porn, an Israeli dad insists it’s no dream job

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During working hours, while his 4-year-old son is at nursery school, Jason Fredric Gilbert closes the door to his small home office — less to keep out the noise than to prevent his mother-in-law from walking in on him while he’s watching pornography.

It’s not as outlandish as it sounds: Watching X-rated films is Gilbert’s day job.

jason-frederic-gilbertGilbert, 37, works for an Israeli company that translates and subtitles foreign television shows and movies — including a sizable pornography portfolio — into Hebrew from English. The movies, once titled, are destined for stations offered by the major cable providers Yes and Hot. Domestically produced offerings, which are generally less popular, tend to end up on the website Pornhub.com, he said.

“The stuff we get for TV is pretty vanilla,” he said of the foreign X-rated offerings, primarily good-looking women having sex with hard-bodied men. “There’s no kinkiness, no fetishes, no bondage.”

Gilbert, who provides subtitles for about 30 X-rated films a year, calls it “healthy” porn, free from misogynistic or abusive behaviors or story lines — to the extent that pornographic films have story lines.

His job for the Tel Aviv company Trans Titles involves reviewing documents from the company’s translators and matching the dialogue’s Hebrew words to the scenes. Much of the translations follow perfunctory, predictable porn dialogue, he said: “Ooh,” “aah,” “Oh, God, Oh, God,” and “Want to go at it again?”

But smut does present some unique translating challenges. Colleagues often ask for Gilbert’s help in devising Hebrew versions for sexually explicit English idioms. When his creative juices aren’t flowing, Gilbert opts for transliterating the terms. 

David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, once quipped that Israel will have become a normal country when Hebrew-speaking prostitutes and criminals roam the streets. He might have added to that list Zionist pornography subtitlers.

The reason Gilbert and others translate and subtitle porn in the first place is the same as why any foreign film or TV show must be translated and subtitled: Israeli law mandates it.

It’s an honest day’s work, perhaps. But titillating, not so much.

“You just zone out for two, three hours and move on” to the next assignment, he said of the X-rated portion of his job.

Gilbert had aspired to a loftier career, having studied film at Temple University in his native Philadelphia. He’s proud of the 2005 film he directed, “The Coat Room,” set in his hometown, and of a documentary he made in 2011 about his first year of marriage. (Both films are in English.) He’s also proud of his wife, Maya, who works for a technology company, and their son.

He became involved in X-rated films in 2003 after landing a position with hotmovies.com, a pornographic-film distribution company in Philadelphia. The work involved watching the movies and penning favorable blurbs for the firm’s website.

“I honed my writing, writing reviews for porn films. If you write 30 a day, you have to be creative — and write quickly,” he said.

Gilbert’s parents moved the family to Israel in 1987, when he was 10. He left for America in 1996 to attend college, then returned to Israel in 2007, serving belatedly in the Israeli army, where he produced, directed and edited recruitment films.

After being discharged, Gilbert interviewed at an advertising agency in Tel Aviv. While in the building he noticed another tenant, Trans Titles, and stopped in. He has been employed there ever since. 

His pay isn’t so hot: just over minimum wage, Gilbert said. (Minimum wage in Israel is about $1,075 monthly.)

Not all subtitling companies want to take on porn, however, since it can alienate family-friendly clients. Israel’s Elrom, which estimates that it dubs 90 percent of all foreign films shown in the country, dropped pornography from its portfolio three years ago after landing Disney as a client.

Trans Titles executives say pornography makes up only a small portion of the company’s work, and that it allows subtitlers opt out when they feel uncomfortable. But Gilbert isn’t fazed by the X-rated content.

He said he’s long been able to disconnect emotionally from all the filmed sex.

“I’ve seen enough porn for two lifetimes: straight, gay, bisexual, transgender, midget,” he said.

But Gilbert sometimes wonders what the point is.

“I can understand why you’d have a storyline leading to the sex scene,” he said, “but why do you have to subtitle the sex scene? No guy … is going to read the dialogue.”

Islamic school principal banned running so girls would not ‘lose virginity’

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40a43924-d68c-4fa3-9c50-9989f075ffe3-bestSizeAvailableThe regulatory body responsible for education standards in Victorian schools is investigating the Al-Taqwa Islamic college, following reports that the principal banned female students from cross-country running because he believed it may cause them to “lose their virginity”.

The deputy premier and education minister, James Merlino, confirmed on Thursday morning that the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority was investigating the claims.

Guardian Australia has contacted the college, in the western Melbourne suburb of Truganina, for comment.

According to Fairfax, a former teacher said the ban was implemented because of principal Omar Hallak’s belief that if females ran excessively, they could “lose their virginity”.

The teacher reportedly wrote to the state and federal education minister, saying; “The principal believes that there is scientific evidence to indicate that if girls injure themselves, such as break their leg while playing soccer, it could render them infertile”.

Female students at the school also wrote a letter to Hallak following the ban.

Fairfax reports that the students wrote: “This letter is about the cross country that has been cancelled. Aparantly [sic] it is because girls can’t run and that is really offensive to all the girls that were going to participate in the event.

“As long as girls are wearing appropriate clothes, we can run. As a principal you should treat all subjects equally.”

Guardian Australia has contacted the office of the federal education minister, Christopher Pyne, for comment.

Earlier this month, Pyne demanded an explanation from Hallak after he told students at the school that the terrorist organisation Islamic State was a western conspiracy led by the US, and that Israel did not exist.

The school is Victoria’s largest Muslim college. The My School website indicates it received more than $11m in commonwealth funding and $4.7m from the state government in 2013, the last year for which figures are available.

Sex club seeks Nashville blessing by vowing to be a church

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460xA Nashville swingers club has undergone a conversion — it says it’s now a church — in order to win city approval so it can open next to a Christian school.

The story began last fall, when a fixture in downtown Nashville called The Social Club sold its building and purchased a new one in a run-down office park several miles to the east.

The new building is geographically isolated at the end of a dead-end street, but it is near the back of Goodpasture Christian School, a large private school serving pre-school through high school children.

It might have been years before school officials and parents learned what was going on inside The Social Club — its website says it is “a private club for the enjoyment of both men and women … to engage in any sexual activity” — if someone had not sent anonymous letters to the school president and the local councilwoman. Both say the person who tipped them off claimed to be a concerned club member, although they don’t know that for sure.

Parents and religious leaders were called on to pack the Metro Nashville Council chambers to support a zoning change to prevent the club from opening. That’s when the club, which had spent $750,000 on the building and begun renovations, suddenly transformed into a church.

The United Fellowship Center’s plans are nearly identical to those of The Social Club but with some different labels. The dance floor has become the sanctuary. Two rooms labeled “dungeon” are now “choir” and “handbells.” Forty-nine small, private rooms remain, but most of them have become prayer rooms.

Larry Roberts is the attorney for the club-turned-church. He previously vowed to take the city to court. Now, he says, it’s the city that will have to sue.

“The ball is in Metro’s court … We’ve now gotten a permit to meet as a church, and a church is something that cannot be defined under the U.S. Constitution,” he said.

Roberts said church members will “meet and have fellowship” in the new building, but no sex will take place there. “If people have something else in mind, they will go somewhere else.”

Several of those who opposed The Social Club say they are skeptical of the change.

“I find it hard to believe that they’ve invested that kind of money and they’re just going to change the activity,” Goodpasture President Ricky Perry said. “I really hope that it’s true.”

Metro Zoning Administrator Bill Herbert said the department takes applicants at their word, so inspectors are treating the building as a church. As long as the United Fellowship Center is in compliance with codes, it will receive permission to operate.

“If it is not operating as a church, that’s an enforcement issue,” he said. “We can tell them to cease and desist, and if they refuse we can enforce it through the courts.”

If it turns out to continue operating as a swingers club, it could also face trouble with the state after lawmakers passed a bill last month disallowing private sex clubs within 1,000 feet of schools, parks, day cares and houses of worship.

Metro Councilwoman Karen Bennett is a Goodpasture graduate who sponsored the legislation to change the zoning for private clubs. She said she will be watching to make sure the United Fellowship Center truly does operate as a church.

“I’ve heard many, many people say they’re planning to attend when it opens,” she said.