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Gender: Female
Hometown: London
Home country: UK/Sweden
Current location: Stockholm, Sweden
Member since: Sun Jul 1, 2018, 06:25 PM
Number of posts: 24,123

Journal Archives

The Rare Experimental Musician to Embrace the Spotlight

On her four new Kick albums, Arca makes music that provokes, invites, and, ultimately, inspires.


Something about listening to Arca, arguably the most important experimental musician working today, reminds me of sitting in a hot car to avoid getting hit by fake bullets. That memory is from adolescence, when my group of male friends would spend whole days playing at a paintball course on the military base near where we lived. I participated, but I did not love the rude thwack of colorful projectiles exploding on my helmet. I did not love the pathetic feeling of missing all my shots. I tended to get eliminated early from matches, head to the car, and encase myself in the headphones of my portable CD player.

Some of those solitary moments were spent listening to Aphex Twin, the influential British electronic musician I, as a budding snob, had read about on the internet. Aphex Twin’s Richard D. James arranged electronic beats in complex designs that stimulated both hypnosis and hyperawareness. His music was disorienting and intriguing and generally inexplicable. Staring at James’s creepy grin on the album art, I didn’t know if I loved all of what I was listening to. But I did love the feeling of escaping a suburban machismo competition for what felt like a rave in another reality.

The music of Arca, the 32-year-old Venezuelan named Alejandra Ghersi, includes a similar blend of twisted rhythms, luminous synths, and lurid vibes. Yet the deeper link to Aphex Twin is in how her music makes me, and clearly many other people, feel. Many experimental artists labor in obscurity, but some gain prominence by creating music whose enjoyment feels like deciphering the code to one’s own identity.

If in the past decade you’ve encountered music in which earthquakes of electro noise overtake all else, it may have been Arca’s doing. She produced songs on Kanye West’s 2013 album, Yeezus, and went on to make pivotal contributions to the work of FKA Twigs and Björk. Both in collaborations and in her own material, Arca’s style is not subtle. She sculpts sound so that it seems to enter the listener from their gut rather than their ears. Her melodies have the quality of summoning spells. I found her first three solo albums—2014’s Xen, 2015’s Mutant, and 2017’s Arca—to be, in a word, terrifying.


Sweet Jesus: 'Benedetta' Is the Steamy Tale of Two Lesbian Nuns and Their Virgin Mary Dildo

The latest from filmmaker Paul Verhoeven (“Basic Instinct,” “Showgirls”) is a bawdy, pot-stirring satire of religious chastity centered on a horny nun who just might be a saint.


Paul Verhoeven is a satiric provocateur who genuinely believes in—and is drawn to—the power and passion of sex. Benedetta is thus an ideal vehicle for the Basic Instinct, Showgirls and Elle director, recounting the inspired-by-real-events ordeal of a 17th century nun who thought herself the bride of Christ and expressed her divine love through a lesbian affair. Pain, piety, sin, and desire all collide in this hot-to-trot import (in theatres now), which critiques the church and its notions of legitimate holiness via a tale that’s as playfully blasphemous as it is erotic—both of which are epitomized by the unforgettable sight of a handheld Virgin Mary wood carving fashioned into a sex toy.

A tempestuous balance between the sacred and the profane is struck by Benedetta, which opens with young Benedetta (Elena Plonka) being transported by her wealthy parents to a convent in Pescia, a small village in the Tuscany region of Italy. Along their journey, they stop to pray to the Virgin Mary and are accosted by a group of soldiers who mock their devotion and attempt to steal a medallion from the girl’s mother. Benedetta warns them that the rustling wind is proof that Mary intends to punish them for their affront and, though they scoff at this idea, they’re proven wrong when one of them receives bird shit in the eye. Benedetta’s saintliness is thereby confirmed from the outset, depicted by Verhoeven with the sort of impish humor that defines his ensuing tale, in which Benedetta is welcomed into the convent and discovers that she’s destined for divine things.

If Benedetta speaks directly to God, her new home’s abbess (Charlotte Rampling) is primarily concerned with running and maintaining her own position at the convent. That she’s introduced haggling with Benedetta’s father over the dowry price he’ll pay to have his daughter admitted marks her as a greedy woman consumed by matters more material (and personal) than heavenly. As embodied by Rampling, the abbess is a stern and shrewd ruler who hews to the church playbook to a tee. Benedetta, however, is anything but conventional, as illustrated by her first night at the convent, during which she stops to pray to a giant statue of the Virgin Mary only to have the figure literally fall on top of her, perched prostrate as if it were a lover, its naked breast exposed—at which the adolescent Benedetta instinctively suckles. Unlike Sister Jacopa (Guilaine Londez), who wishes that her entire body was as wooden as her fake finger (and carved with the name of God), Benedetta’s devotion isn’t cold and dead “like a gravestone” but, rather, flesh-and-blood hot.

Eighteen years later, Benedetta (Virginie Efira) hasn’t cooled off. On stage, she speaks about coveting Jesus’ “bodily presence” and then has a vision in which she runs to Christ as he tends to his flock of sheep. The plague may be ravaging Italy, yet Benedetta’s sole interest is betrothing herself to the Lord. She finds a perfect vehicle to create a sultry holy union when Bartolomea (Daphne Patakia) bursts into the convent while fleeing her abusive and incestuous father, and—after the abbess convinces Benedetta’s father to pay for this unfortunate soul to stay—becomes Benedetta’s ally and friend. Their bond is strengthened by various flirtatious and sacrilegious incidents, including Benedetta taking Bartolomea to the commode (where she delightedly poops and farts), and Bartolomea sneaking a naughty peek at Benedetta’s nude body around (and through) the transparent sheet that separates their beds. At the same time that the couple’s temperature rises, Benedetta also draws closer to Christ, climaxing with a vision of him on the cross that leaves her with incessantly bleeding stigmata wounds.


Conservatives prepare new push for constitutional convention


SAN DIEGO — Conservative lawmakers will mount a new push to call a constitutional convention aimed at creating a balanced budget amendment and establishing term limits for members of Congress in an effort to rein in what they see as a runaway federal government.

State legislators meeting at the American Legislative Exchange Council’s policy conference here last week hope to use Article V of the Constitution, which allows state legislatures to call a convention to propose new amendments.

“It’s really the last line of defense that we have. Right now, the federal government’s run away. They’re not going to pull their own power back. They’re not going to restrict themselves. And so this Article V convention is really, in my opinion, is the last option that we have,” said Iowa state Rep. John Wills (R), the state’s House Speaker pro tempore who backs the convention.

At least two-thirds of states must pass a call to force a convention; so far, 15 states have passed the model legislation proposed by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative group that backs free markets and states’ rights.


Rep. Pressley to introduce resolution to condemn Rep. Boebert and strip her committee assignments

Nearly a dozen House liberals want Democratic leadership to act against the Colorado Republican for anti-Muslim remarks


Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) plans to introduce a resolution Wednesday to strip Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) of her committee assignments for repeatedly making anti-Muslim remarks aimed at Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), hoping the action forces House Democratic leadership to punish the lawmaker before the end of the year.

Pressley’s resolution, first obtained by The Washington Post, comes amid mounting pressure by House Democrats for Boebert to be reprimanded for her Islamophobic attacks that surfaced via video of the Colorado Republican suggesting at an event in her district over Thanksgiving break that Omar was a suicide bomber.

Nearly a dozen House liberals, including Democratic Reps. Jamaal Bowman (N.Y.), Cori Bush (Mo.), Judy Chu (Calif.), Jesús “Chuy” García (Ill.), Jimmy Gomez (Calif.), Pramila Jayapal (Wash.), Barbara Lee (Calif.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), have co-sponsored the resolution.

“For a Member of Congress to repeatedly use hateful, anti-Muslim rhetoric and Islamophobic tropes towards a Muslim colleague is dangerous. It has no place in our society and it diminishes the honor of the institution we serve in,” Pressley said in a statement.


House Passes $768 Billion Defense Policy Bill

Lawmakers tossed out some bipartisan provisions as they rushed to advance the bill, which would increase the Pentagon’s budget by more than what President Biden had requested.


WASHINGTON — The House on Tuesday overwhelmingly passed a $768 billion defense policy bill after lawmakers abruptly dropped proposals that would have required women to register for the draft, repealed the 2002 authorization of the Iraq war and imposed sanctions for a Russian gas pipeline, in a late-year drive to salvage a bipartisan priority.

The legislation, unveiled hours before the vote, put the Democratic-led Congress on track to increase the Pentagon’s budget by roughly $24 billion above what President Biden had requested, angering antiwar progressives who had hoped that their party’s control of the White House and both houses of Congress would lead to cuts to military programs after decades of growth.

Instead, the measure provides significant increases for initiatives intended to counter China and bolster Ukraine, as well as the procurement of new aircraft and ships, underscoring the bipartisan consensus on Capitol Hill for continuing to spend huge amounts of federal money on defense initiatives, even as Republicans lash Democrats for spending freely on social programs.

On the heels of winding down the nation’s 20-year war in Afghanistan, Mr. Biden declared the end of an era defined by ground wars with large troop deployments and pledged that the United States instead would counter threats through military technology and cybersecurity competition. But citing new threats from Russia and China, lawmakers rejected the president’s request to keep military spending essentially flat, and instead overwhelmingly called for increasing it substantially.


Sen. Joe Manchin Holds Back Support for Social-Spending Bill

West Virginia Democrat says at WSJ’s CEO Council Summit that he is wary of the government putting more money into the economy


WASHINGTON— Sen. Joe Manchin declined to commit to voting for Democrats’ roughly $2 trillion social-policy and climate package, citing concerns about inflation and the length of programs, weeks before the Christmas deadline party leaders are racing to meet.

Mr. Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, made the remarks during The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council Summit at a pivotal moment for Democrats in Washington—and one where he has been a key figure. Because Senate Democrats are using a special budget maneuver to pass their education, healthcare and climate package without any GOP support, they can’t lose a single senator from their own party.

Mr. Manchin has supported the other two pillars of President Biden’s agenda this year. But the senator, who represents a state former President Donald Trump won by 40 points in 2020, continues to express concern about the bill’s impact on inflation and the deficit.

“The unknown we’re facing today is much greater than the need that people believe in this aspirational bill that we’re looking at,” Mr. Manchin said Tuesday. “We’ve gotta make sure we get this right. We just can’t continue to flood the market, as we’ve done.” “We’ve done so many good things in the last 10 months, and no one is taking a breath,” he said.

snip (video at the link)

Research Announcement: Moody's - US Build Back Better bill would support sustainable growth with limited impact on inflation


The $1.7 trillion spending package passed by the US House of Representatives would bolster US economic growth, employment and productivity. The additional federal spending would occur over 10 years, include significant revenue-raising offsets, and would likely only start to flow into the economy later in 2022. While the bill would support growth and employment, the Build Back Better spending package is expected to have a limited impact on inflation, says Moody's Investors Service in a report published today.

"The additional federal spending would occur over 10 years, include significant revenue-raising offsets, and would likely only start to flow into the economy later in 2022 at a time when inflationary pressures from disruptions to global supply chains and US labor supply likely will have diminished," said Rebecca Karnovitz, Vice President-Senior Analyst and lead author of the report. "In addition, the planned investments in childcare, education and workforce development have the potential to boost labor force participation and increase productivity over the medium and longer term."

The version of the Build Back Better Act approved by the House includes about $555 billion in investments in clean energy and climate resilience, including tax credits for consumers to purchase electric vehicles, and financial incentives for electric utilities to produce electricity from renewable energy sources.

"These investments are key to the Biden administration's targets for a rapid reduction of carbon emissions in the transportation and power sectors," Karnovitz added. "The bill also includes about $585 billion in spending for childcare, universal prekindergarten, and paid family leave, as well as an estimated $200 billion in tax credits that would benefit low-income families the most. Offsetting revenue measures include raising taxes on corporations and high-income individuals, and lowering the prices that Medicare pays for certain drugs."


Max Rose, on MoJo, just accused Dems of 'acting like masks are fun', and ripped the NYC vax mandate

that de Blasio just announced for private businesses. He also called de Blasio's time as mayor a failed administration.


Reindeers' eyes are golden in the summer, but turn a deep blue in the winter to capture more light

making them the only mammal that does this.


Lars-Johan Larsson
Entreprenör inom medicinteknik och bioteknik. Ph.D. in medical and physiological chemistry. I tweet my own opinions about various subjects in Swedish or English
Stockholm, Sweden

Rise in U.S. house prices to halve next year, affordability to worsen - Reuters poll


The rise in U.S. house prices will slow to half its double-digit rate next year but still outstrip increases in consumer prices and wages, according to a Reuters poll of property analysts, who said affordability would worsen over the next two to three years.

Often viewed as the bedrock of financial wellbeing and consumer confidence, the U.S. housing market has not only weathered the pandemic-induced economic slowdown, it has outperformed the broader economy.

Ultra-low interest rates and initial pandemic-related demand for more spacious accommodation to allow for home offices has pushed up property prices at a blistering pace.

The S&P Case-Shiller index of 20 metropolitan areas has risen at a double-digit rate over the past 10 months, a pace the Nov. 17-Dec.6 poll of over 25 property analysts said would continue for the rest of the year to average at 16.8%. That was expected to drop to 8.0% in 2022, according to the poll. Forecasts were in a 3-15% range.


Red-hot Canadian property market to lose some steam in 2022: Reuters poll


Canada's double-digit house price inflation will lose steam next year, but affordability is still almost certain to worsen in one of the world's hottest property markets, according to a Reuters poll of analysts.

A rush to purchase homes ahead of expected increases in Canadian interest rates next year is boosting the housing market in the final quarter, with prices skyrocketing 18.2% in October compared to the year-earlier period.

Extra froth in the market, driven by investors fueling perceptions that prices will keep rising, has prompted the Bank of Canada to recently warn of an increased risk of a correction.

"Affordability is unlikely to improve next year as prices should march higher, even as interest rates creep upwards as well," said Rishi Sondhi, economist at TD Economics, who expects house price inflation to slow considerably next year.

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