Author: illicitarticles

Targeted shirts on Facebook

Have you ever seen an ad for super specific shirts on Facebook, such as “People with Social Security numbers that start with 123-45 and end with -678 are badasses with hearts of gold!”?

Probably not, because I just made that up. As soon as Facebook manages to somehow harvest the data, however, I’m sure it’ll be the feelgood fashion trend of 2021!

As of right now, Facebook sells the info you readily write on your profiles and posts. But, wait: there are actual merch companies that auto-generate ads based on your info, too! You may have been curiously flattered to see one of these shirts…or laughed, because the algorithms are wonky AF sometimes.

Either way, here are some hilarious ones!

(from Reddit: r/targetedshirts)

“Daddy uses wire strippers, so Mommy doesn’t have to be a REAL stripper!”

“Not One To Mess With?” Hahahaha…wait, HE WAS BORN IN NOVEMBER? Fuck this, I’m not messing with him

This is cringe inducing on so many levels

Those font choices are murder on the eyes

Isn’t it funny how we never see white-collar jobs on these shirts? Like, “Chief Financial Officer: Because Bad-Ass Mother F*cker Isn’t An Official Job Title”

My wife is a Capricorn, and TBH it’s all true

My mom is a special ed teacher, and this is cringe AF

Honestly, this one is probably true…

Uplifting message, terrible graphic layout

“We’re in a co-dependent and toxic relationship, and all we got were these stupid T-shirts!”

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NAMM 2019: What’s new?

NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) is just finishing up this weekend in Anaheim, CA. Although I wasn’t able to make it out there this year (maybe next year?), I still looked forward to reading music mags and trade pubs to find out what was shown. This year’s NAMM had a lot of the new, the same, and the interesting. Here is some gear that I found to be interesting:

Jimmy Page custom Fender Telecaster

This is a collaboration between Fender and Jimmy Page, in attempts to recreate the ’59 “Dragon” Tele that he recorded with on Led Zeppelin’s first album, and played live up until 1969. The Custom Shop guitars will cost $25,000 each, and there will only be 50 made. But, don’t despair: there will be a much cheaper signature version that will be sold by Fender, which is due for release this spring.

Blackstar “Super Fly” guitar amplifier

Blackstar amplifiers have gotten increasingly popular over the past few years, due to their combination of performance and value (I currently use a Blackstar Studio 10 V2 for my practice amp). Now, they have an ideal amp for the performing musician on the go: the Super Fly. It pushes 12W of power through two 3″ speakers, and is powered by eight AA batteries! It has 2 dedicated channels: one for guitars, and one with an XLR jack for microphones or another instrument. It is Bluetooth capable, and also has three-band EQ and reverb. It will retail for around $300, and is currently available to preorder.

Reba Meyers signature ESP Viper

Reba Meyers is in the band Code Orange, which has taken the metal scene by storm the past few years. Now she is the first female musician to get a signature ESP guitar, with her LTD Viper RM-600. It is a beautiful guitar, with its black marble finish and orange accents. But the best part of this guitar is its simple layout: just a single EMG 81 active bridge pickup, a volume knob, and a killswitch. This streamlined layout is perfect for metal guitarists who just want to keep it simple when ripping out some bludgeoning riffs.

Erica Fusion “Plasma Drive” synth rackmount, “Plasma Pedal” guitar distortion pedal

The Latvian company Erica Fusion has come out with some interesting gear lately. They have made a guitar pedal and rackmount for synths that effectively have their own Tesla coils, in the form of a xenon tube, which modulates whenever the guitar or keyboards are played. The guitar pedal is currently for sale, and the rackmount version will be released February 20th of this year.

MXR “Dookie Drive” guitar distortion pedal

In honor of the seminal Green Day album “Dookie”, MXR has made a pedal that promises to recreate Billie Joe Armstrong’s guitar tone on the album. It retails for $199.99, is available for preorder, and features a “Blend” knob which combines the clean and distorted channels. This is an emulation of Armstrong’s sound from the two modded guitar amps that he simultaneously used when recording Dookie.

Metal merch: timeless fashion

Even outcasts living on the fringe of society have their own fashion codes. Life shouldn’t be a fashion show, but the reality of it is that every group of people have their own personal style, even those who are consciously anti-fashion.

In my opinion, fans of metal music have the best sense of fashion. Here’s why:

Our clothing allows us to meet new people. Don’t believe me? Try this: put on a Slayer t-shirt, and walk down the street in a reasonably populated area. 9 out of 10 people will probably cringe in horror, but the last person will say “FUCKING SLAYERRR!” and commisserate with you about the bands you like or point you towards the nearest party. Hell, many people across the world have found friends, lovers, and even spouses, simply by wearing metal band t-shirts!

Now, does this happen with any other style of clothing?

“Wow, you like salmon colored Ralph Lauren polo shirts, too? HELL YEAH, THAT’S FUCKING AWESOME! ME TOO!”

Um, no.

You get to dress like Halloween…every day! So go ahead and wear corpse paint and arm spikes on the regular, we won’t judge you.

At least, I won’t judge you, anyway…

Camo pants and shorts are the ultimate in utilitarian fashion. They might camouflage drink stains better than your “dadbod”, but at least they are cheap, comfortable, and durable.

Most metal merch is black, which is the easiest color to accessorize with. Just don’t wear a Metallica watch at the same time as a Metallica t-shirt, because even I know that would be a fashion faux pas.

It is the only mass-produced clothing with obscenities and offensive artwork, if you are into that sort of thing.

It can actually appreciate in value. For example, here is a picture of a 1990’s vintage Tool t-shirt selling on Ebay for $87…pre-owned! The funny thing is, I actually had this EXACT same t-shirt when I was a kid, and I bought it at the mall for like ten dollars.

I ended up trading it to a friend for a Metallica t-shirt, and I still have no regrets.

Instead of supporting faceless corporations, ridiculous fashion trends, and soulless fashion designers, you get to financially support your favorite artists and bands by buying their merch.

And, the best part: most metal band t-shirts sell for $25 or less.

Cost-efficient AND stylish!

Ektomorf: kickass metal music from Hungary

Ever since I met my wife, who is of Finnish descent, ten years ago, I have delighted in sharing with her new metal bands from Finland. Of course, finding metal bands from Finland is like finding a Starbucks coffee shop in the United States: they are everywhere. In fact, I read somewhere that Finland has the most per-capita metal bands of any country worldwide, which I totally believe. Those Scandinavian winters, and tales of Vikings and Norse gods, must be very conducive to metal music.

But, what about me, someone who is of Hungarian and Italian descent? Now, I am aware of a few Italian metal bands, one of the most popular being Lacuna Coil, of course. I was never aware of any popular metal bands from Hungary, however, until a few days ago, when I randomly stumbled onto some Ektomorf videos on YouTube.

And, wow, what a fucking awesome band! Imagine some stripped-down “nu-metal” such as “Roots” era Sepultura, and Soulfly, but with their own Roma (Gypsy) influences on it. Incidentally, they seem to get a lot of hate just for sounding so similar to Soulfly (frontman Zoltán Farkas does sound a LOT like Max Cavalera), but so what? Most metal music is unintentionally derivative as hell nowadays, especially in the United States. There’s only so many riffs that you can play, especially when everyone is downtuning. Sepultura undeniably influenced many bands worldwide. In fact, they were one of the first metal bands outside of the “Big 4” that I had ever heard, when Chaos A.D. was first released.

Think about it: metal is the ONLY musical genre which basically sounds the same no matter where you are from. Rock music is predominantly from the U.S. and U.K., rap music is almost solely a U.S. export that has influenced people worldwide, and pop music has its own certain touches that distinguish its nation of origin, even if the basic formula of writing a popular song remains the same. But, no matter where you come from, if you are checking out a metal band, you can be guaranteed that it’s going to be motherfucking METAL.

Ektomorf is seriously great, though. I’ve always been partial to simple, stripped down hardcore, punk rock, and metal music, which they effortlessly deliver. Now, don’t get me wrong, they can play. They can rip out some nasty guitar leads. Farkas is even endorsed by guitar manufacturer ESP, and has one of the most awesome signature guitars that I’ve ever seen. Daniel Szabo, the drummer, locks into some killer grooves and beats his drumkit like it stole something (their former drummer Robert Jaksa was also awesome). The entire band plays with such passion and energy that I can’t help but like them.

Zoltàn Farkas holding his signature ESP guitar

Admittedly, I haven’t heard all of their music yet, but the albums “Black Flag” and “Fury” are fucking fantastic. Some songs in particular of theirs that I like are “War Is My Way”, “Aggressor”, “You Can’t Control Me”, “Black Flag”, and “Souls On Fire”. They have many songs and videos on YouTube to check out, but almost no Internet presence otherwise, beyond a Wikipedia page and random articles. That, more than anything, is what pushed me to write this article (even though I only write sporadically nowadays, I still get a considerable amount of viewers from Hungary, and Europe in general). If you are an Ektomorf fan reading this, I salute you. And, in the off chance a member of the band reads this, I want to thank you, for giving me some kickass metal music from Hungary to listen to!

"A fém soha nem fog meghalni!"

P.S. pardon the loose Google Translate transliteration 🙂

P.P.S. If anybody wants to recommend other bands from Hungary to check out, I’d appreciate it!

The funniest music videos on YouTube

 

The 2 Live Crew: “The Funk Shop”

Back in 1989, The 2 Live Crew had just released their infamous album “As Nasty As They Wanna Be”. It was the first album to ever have a Parental Advisory – Explicit Lyrics sticker, and the album was so controversial that it was outlawed in many places, including their home state of Florida (where The 2 Live Crew would then record a new record called “Fuck Martinez”, dedicated to Florida governor Bob Martinez and Broward County sheriff Nick Navarro). Not only did 2 Live Crew fight and win for 1st Amendment rights for musicians, they also fought for fair use in parodies with their “Pretty Woman” song where they sampled and interpolated Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman”. They fought it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court…and won. It was a groundbreaking album lyrically, but not enough credit goes to their DJ and producer Mr. Mixx, who was one of the first rap producers to fully utilize the Roland 808 sequencer. His mix of Kraftwerk samples, samples from comedy records, and samples from rock bands such as Van Halen, Guns N’ Roses, The Beatles, and The Kinks, helped lay the foundation for modern rap music.

Also back in 1989, they were on the Phil Donahue Show (a groundbreaking show itself), for an episode about explicit lyrics in music. From the performance itself to the video editing, it is hilarious:

 

HIGHLIGHTS:

0:18 — “Oh, my God…”

0:20 — Luke talking shit to the audience. “Now we know what kind of audience we got!” “Tell some of these narrow minded people what’s going on…”

0:42 — Fresh Kid Ice (R.I.P.) starts rapping. His verse is censored, which is a perfect setup for the next verse by Brother Marquis…

0:43 — “Did he just call us narrow-minded?”

0:55 — Luke doing the chicken dance with a shit-eating grin on his face

1:25 — “Now how many of y’all ever been to a hotel, and y’all had sex at a hotel? Put your hands up!” *nobody puts their hands up* “The whole lot of y’all out there lying!”

1:39 — Brother Marquis starts rapping the uncensored version. The 2 Live Crew immediately laugh their asses off when they hear him cussing

2:15 — Lady with the Sarah Huckabee Sanders screw face

2:27 — “Now how many of y’all have Penthouse magazines in your house? Put your hands in the air!” *nobody puts their hands up* “Y’all lying again!”

2:56 — “What does ‘Splak’ mean?”

3:04 — Luke pointing at the audience and calling them hoes. AT THE 3:04 MARK! That is some brilliant editing.

3:27 — “What the hell did I just see?”

 

Cordier Street Beatdown

Somewhere in France, there is a street called Cordier, which is known for its beatdowns. Beatdowns of comedy, that is! I’m not sure if this video is a parody, but it has to be, right? It contains all the hardcore cliches of spin-kicks, tough guy stances, and circle pits, but I’m not entirely convinced. Here we go…

 

HIGHLIGHTS:

0:03 — I don’t know what the hell he is saying, but he’s holding a baseball bat, so I’m guessing he’s talking about baseball?

0:12 — Requisite gang vocals

0:13 — Requisite walk down the train tracks. Holy shit that vocalist’s voice is shot

0:18 — Requisite spin-kicking

0:31 — This vocalist sounds like Jamey Jasta from Hatebreed, if he had a French baguette shoved up his ass

0:48 — Vocalist spin-kicks the crowd. That’s not how it’s supposed to work, guys…

0:52 — Who the hell are these people in the cages?

0:56 — Requisite spoken word part

1:08 — Whoa…this vocalist’s voice is super shot!

1:10 — Requisite performance in a cemetary. You’re not supposed to actually stand on someone’s grave marker though, guys…

1:26 — 10 wannabe thugs in a Renault

1:48 — Ghost ride the whip

2:02 — Someone gets hit over the head with a piece of wood

2:03 to 2:45 — What in the actual fuck…

2:45 — Uh, guys, you left a bottle of water on that dude’s grave…

 

 

25 Ta Life Backyard Extravaganza

Well, it does take place in a backyard, but I wouldn’t call it an extravaganza, except perhaps ironically…

 

HIGHLIGHTS:

 

0:10 — Is Rick Ta Life actually going to perform without a drummer or a backing track? Why yes, of course he is.

0:35 — “Everybody sing along!” *nobody sings along*

0:46 — “WHFIOUFHGDHHFGHDH BLECH!”

1:00 — “Everybody sing along!” *where the hell is everybody?*

1:25 — “Straight-edge!”, next to somebody holding a beer

1:30 — Random chicks walking by and laughing

1:38 — “VCMBFBJMBSBSBMBSM BLECH!”

 

 

 

 

Street Fighting Man

We live in a world where even the biggest political scandals are largely forgotten after the typical 72-hour news cycle. This is partially by design, because Donald Trump and the White House want as many distractions as possible, in hopes that his corruption goes unnoticed. It is also by accident, since almost every single thing the Trump administration does, from the First Lady wearing an “I DON’T CARE DO U?” jacket to a U.S. concent…er, immigration camp, to a White House that lies on, plagiarizes, and/or misspells almost every social media post and every news release that they publish, is marked by an astounding level of incompetence and ignorance.

It is important to remember all of the times they have screwed up, because they have been gaslighting us all for quite some time. The current White House talking points are focused on the “dangerous left”, and the supposed violent liberal agenda, which was started when (soon to be fired) Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was kicked out of a Virginia restaurant because the staff were uncomfortable with her being there.

Considering that Sanders is the mouthpiece for an administration that is utterly hostile to Hispanic immigrants, and considering that Hispanic immigrants make up a large part of the staff in the restaurant industry, it is understandable that the staff were uncomfortable with her presence.

What is NOT understandable is the fact that American white conservative “Christians” on Fox News, the Sinclair Broadcasting news stations, and far-right news websites funded by the Koch and Mercer families (and let’s not forget about all of the Eastern European social media bots) are mostly responsible for the disinformation and lies in America. The far-right media would have us all believe that immigrants will take our jobs and murder our families. The Trump administration WANTS us to believe that, and they are largely responsible for the climate of fear and hostility in our country, all while they live in their incestuous swamp of nouveau riche nimrods. They profit off of the working class to enact policies to hurt the working class. That is what Donald Trump and the Republicans want, and it is what they have been doing for the past two years.

Immigrants are not to be feared, however. The vast majority of crime in this country, including gun violence, is committed by U.S. citizens, not immigrants. In fact, immigrants are absolutely vital to the U.S. economy, especially in the farming and restaurant industries. Donald Trump himself relies on immigrant labor for his hotels and restaurants, and managed to get visa exemptions for his companies even after he became president. Immigrants are responsible for almost all of the produce picked on our farms and sold in our stores. Whenever you go out to eat at a restaurant, it is probable that an immigrant is either cooking your food or washing your dishes afterwards. If we want to talk about immigrants abusing the visa program, we should start at the top with Melania Trump, who as an obscure model was able to enter the U.S. on a “genius” visa normally reserved for those with “extraordinary ability”.

What is NOT understandable is the dichotomy of soundbites coming from these so-called Christian conservatives. Are liberals a bunch of weak snowflakes who tremble at the thought of Trump supporters driving up next to them in their American-badged but foreign parts-sourced pickup truck? Or, are liberals the violent “ANTIFA” anarchists (Antifa: anti-fascist, which is supposed to be a good thing!) who terrorize the peaceful Trump supporters?

Well, I am neither weak or violent, that I can assure you. I don’t consider myself a Democrat. I sure as hell don’t consider myself a Republican. In fact, I will admit to being a moderate and an independent, which is as unpopular nowadays as being a Trump supporter on a dating site. But if having an open mind and not being constrained to partisan rhetoric makes me unpopular, then I will gladly fly the freak flag high, goddammit.

The GOP wants to censure congresswoman Maxine Waters for asking citizens to “stand up” to members of the Trump administration, because they believe she is inciting violence. The GOP was unsurprisingly silent when Donald Trump incited violence on his rallies and on his Twitter account, however. They were silent when Republican congressman and Trump family friend Greg Gianforte assaulted a journalist. In fact, Trump and the GOP campaigned on Gianforte’s behalf. They were largely silent when a white supremacist drove through a crowd of Charlottesville, Virginia protesters in his car, killing a woman (who was recently indicted for murder). They decried the uncivility of Sarah Sanders getting kicked out of a restaurant, while they happily defaced the same restaurant (and other non-affiliated restaurants with the same name) with graffiti and slanderous internet reviews.

They accuse Democrats of being “paid protestors” and operatives of Hungarian businessman George Soros (Hungary’s president, Viktor Orban, a populist fascist symphathizer like Donald Trump, recently passed a law in Hungary which makes it illegal to support immigrants in any form or fashion). What they won’t admit, however, is the fact that Donald Trump routinely uses paid protestors himself. His staff advertises for them on Craigslist, and you actually can see low-level White House interns at many of these protests with pro-Trump agendas (such as the SCOTUS ruling on Janus, which is anti-union).

Remember when someone held up a sign that said “Rape Melania” outside of Trump Tower during the election, and the blame was immediately placed on liberals? It turned out that the person responsible for the sign was Jack Posobiec, a pro-Trump Twitter troll. In fact, despite Posobiec condoning the rape of his wife, Donald Trump has since retweeted some of Posobiec’s tweets, and even invited him to the White House after the election.

My point is this: we need to take our country back. One election at a time. We have already flipped close to 50 Republican held offices with Democrats since Trump illegitimately became president. The GOP speaks of a “red wave” (which brings to mind bloodbaths and certain times of the month), but the blue wave of Democrats and independents who support Democrats has shown no sign of declining. In fact, it has gotten larger and larger, like a giant wave about to crash down on the GOP swamp of corruption.

Being nice has gotten us nowhere. When we go “high”, they go “low” and they undermine all of the progress we have made. The Trump administration has made a mockery of all that we stand for. Their economic ignorance has already made us international pariahs, and has led to thousands of job layoffs, including companies that Trump himself used as propaganda, such as Carrier and Harley-Davidson. Their hostility to journalists has made ignorance of the truth a virtue in MAGA-moron la-la land. Being the better person does nothing when the world is slowly burning down around you. It’s time to fight fire with fire.

Michael Avenatti, currently famous for being the attorney for one of Donald Trump’s affair partners, just posted this on Twitter:

We need politicians who aren’t afraid to fight back.

We need citizens who aren’t afraid to fight back.

Protest. Organize. Run for office. Keep the blue wave going. Patriotism isn’t demanding professional football players “stand for the national anthem” while not even knowing the words to the anthem, such as Donald Trump. Patriotism isn’t blindly supporting anything Donald Trump does or says out of spite towards Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, liberals, or the “fake news media”. Patriotism is standing up for our country’s ideals…a country that is successful BECAUSE of diversity, the working class, and immigration.

If Trump supporters want to cry about “librul teers”, then let’s REALLY give them something to cry about.

Let’s take the power back. Our country’s future, and our children’s future, depends on it.

How Facebook manipulated voters

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Facebook co-founder, chairman, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, standing on Red Square in Moscow, Russia.

In a contentious 2016 U.S. presidential election, social media proved to be the most important factor. How important? Brad Parscale, who was Trump’s digital director for the campaign, stated that Twitter was important, and that Facebook was “100 times more important”. Why was, and is, Facebook so important? Social media allowed (and still allows, despite the obvious conflict of interest) Donald Trump to reach out to his supporters, and they reached back in the form of millions of dollars in donations. In fact, he is still using social media to get donations for his 2020 re-election PAC fund, which is currently being used to pay the dozens of lawyers for him and his staff.

Social media, Facebook in particular, also allowed “dark ads”, which are paid advertisements tailored to specific segments of account holders. For instance, if I wanted to create a Facebook advertisement promoting myself as a political candidate, I could specify that the ad would only be shown to white males on Facebook between 21 and 45 who live in the Midwest. These “dark ads” aren’t commonly known, but many of us have seen them. Many of these ads weren’t used to promote anyone, but they were used to portray people in an extremely negative fashion, and either outright lied or exaggerated the truth. Most of them depicted Hillary Clinton as a corrupt traitor who worked with foreign powers and terrorists to undermine our democracy…which, ironically, was what Donald Trump exactly did to secure the election.

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The election itself was extremely close. Hillary Clinton, despite winning the popular vote (and winning it with the second highest ever number of votes), lost to Donald Trump in electoral college points. Here in Michigan, Donald Trump only won by a little over 10,000 votes, which is an extremely small number in a presidential election.

As for Twitter, Oxford University released a study of how voters in Michigan were manipulated by “fake news” on Twitter. The researchers found out that the fake news was much more prevalent than real news, and hit its peak of manipulation one week before the election. Could this have been the difference in Michigan, where Trump only won by 10,000 votes? It certainly played an influential part.

Here is the study, in PDF format:

What-Were-Michigan-Voters-Sharing-Over-Twitter-v2

Now, we have learned that “Russiagate” head investigator Robert Mueller obtained a search warrant for all Facebook ads that were linked to Russia, in particular a Kremlin-linked company called the Internet Research Agency. Facebook alone has reported over 3,000 of these ads in the past 2 years, but this number is believed to be exponentially higher. This was a mutually beneficial relationship: Facebook made extra money, and political operatives in Russia were able to manipulate people on Facebook without being traced, for a fraction of the cost of traditional advertising, and they could use blatant lies that could not be easily traced to their creators.

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Here is a screenshot of Facebook explaining unpublished page post advertisements, which are also known as “dark ads”.

We have already learned of the vast manipulation that Russia had undertook to undermine the 2016 election. All U.S. intelligence agencies, and intelligence agencies across the world, have said this. In fact, the only people denying any Russian manipulation are…Russia, and Donald Trump’s administration.

Of course, these intelligence agencies (in particular, “5 Eyes”, an alliance of the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand) were already monitoring all communications that were suspected to come from Russia, long before the 2016 campaign even started. This type of social media manipulation has been going on for many years. The Cold War technically ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall, but I would argue that it never really ended. We now have a new Cold War, which is being fought with the Internet. Instead of nuclear weapons, we now have computers to fight asymmetrical warfare.

As citizens, we are only scratching the surface as to what we know about voter manipulation through social media. I would wager that within the next year, we will learn the disturbing truth: that social media and “backchannel” communications were instrumental in securing the results of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. In fact, I already believe it.

It has been rumored that Mark Zuckerberg may actually run for president in 2020. At this rate, he will be lucky not to be charged with any crimes for his complicit actions as the head of Facebook.