All posts by Dani Hutton

Currently EIC at XPress Magazine, varying levels of staff writer, section editor, etc. at other publications. Senior at SFSU, majoring in journalism, with a focus on commentary, cocktail columns, and random subject blogs.

XPress Magazine’s guide to finals at SF State

Contributed to by Tami Benedict

Step 1: Realize that you have not bought the books for the finals.

baseball fuck
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Step 2: Frantically scour the internet for PDFs of the aforementioned books.

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Step 3: Try to read said books as fast as possible. Two chapters should be enough to write a paper, right? Alternately, SparkNotes.

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Credit: Tumblr

Step 4: Know that you probably won’t sleep for the entire week. Invest in cheap coffee by the bucket.

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Credit: Tumblr

Step 5: Understand that the final project that was given to you a month ago is due in two days. You haven’t looked at the assignment since it was announced.

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Credit: Tumblr

Step 6: Office hours have become your best friend. Beg for mercy and leniency.

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Credit: Tumblr

Step 7: Realize you haven’t eaten all day, proceed to shovel down the cheapest, greasiest fare in existence.

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Credit: Tumblr

Step 8: The barista at the coffee shop knows your name and drink order by now. This may be a good thing.

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Step 9: Stake out a space in the library, preferably next to an outlet. Get your bitch face on whenever someone is talking.

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Step 10: Hear people in library having mental breakdowns, understanding where they are coming from. Commiserate and take relief in the fact you aren’t crying…yet.

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Credit:Tumblr

Step 11: Realize you forgot your laptop charger at home. Give up, decide no work is being done and you’re destined to fail and live a life of mediocrity.

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Credit: Tumblr

Step 12: Look at the final review sheet, don’t understand any of it, and know that you are screwed.

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Credit:Tumblr

Step 13: Follow these steps as your Plan B.

Credit: galenmarek1
Credit: galenmarek1

An open letter to Facebook Analysts, re: Ferguson

Wednesday, November 26, Bay area residents gather in Oakland to protest the decision not to indict Darren Wilson, a policeman who shot and killed an unarmed 18-year-old black boy in Ferguson Missouri on August 9. Here, demonstrators march through the streets of Downtown Oakland, chanting "Hands up, don't shoot" in unison. (Helen Tinna/ Golden Gate Xpress)
Wednesday, November 26, Bay area residents gather in Oakland to protest the decision not to indict Darren Wilson, a policeman who shot and killed an unarmed 18-year-old black boy in Ferguson Missouri on August 9. Here, demonstrators march through the streets of Downtown Oakland, chanting “Hands up, don’t shoot” in unison. (Helen Tinna/ Golden Gate Xpress)

America the free, the beautiful, the progressive.

Unless you happen to be a young black man, then you are automatically a thief. Or a rapist. Or a murderer, and general delinquent who smokes weed, and therefore deserves to die.

Now, that is a strong statement. However, over the course of the past five years, America’s melting pot has reached the point of boiling over, as, time and time again, minorities are murdered in the streets, their killers going free by and large, and profiting as well.

Welcome to post-racial America, where guilty until proven innocent is the new normal, and minor crimes such as theft deserve an on-the-spot death sentence.

The same excuses are trotted out like show ponies, by media outlets and Facebook analysts with degrees in armchair investigation alike. “If this was a black cop shooting an unarmed white male, what do you think would happen then?”  Surely not the same level of media coverage, but this precise incident has happened, with the cop being acquitted of all charges. This cop did not get a fat deal offered to him by a news outlet for an exclusive interview. There are no kick-starters being funded in support of his acts. This particular murder is in equal parts a profiling issue and police state issue, in which cops are granted a level of nigh-immunity for their actions. This is definitely a problem, this also is not the most pressing incident at hand.

The problem at hand is the fact that these killings are happening in higher frequency in minority neighborhoods, and, in the case of Ferguson, the straw that broke the camel’s back. Mike Brown, whether or not he committed that robbery, did not deserve to be gunned down , nor did his body deserve to lie in the street for four hours, a half-assed attempt at blocking the crime scene erected around him.

Take into consideration one of the more recent incidents – the Tamir Rice shooting. Reports of a twelve-year-old playing with a pistol in a gazebo were phoned in to the Cleveland Police Department. The caller stated that he believed the gun was a fake one in the call to 911. That much can be agreed on by the general public. From there, facts deviate into “they said” versus video evidence. The gun in question was in fact a pellet gun, sans orange toy indicator cap.  Police reports versus surveillance video paint two different tales: testimony from the cop claims that he did not follow orders to put his hands up.

Two seconds. That is the approximate amount of time between the cop car coming to a stop and the police firing on him. Then there is the three minutes and forty-nine seconds between the call for help and first-aid being administered. Did those almost four minutes have that much of an impact on his survival? It may have. That is not stopping public reaction, however. How can you justify the murder of a twelve-year-old because his father has previous convictions for domestic abuse? You cannot, full-stop. Tell that to the news sites that are trotting out this story, however, dragging his name through the mud.

There is also Eric Garner and Oscar Grant, if you want to check out a couple of the more high-profile cases over the past few years. Michael Brown is not an isolated case, a one-off.

The trending hashtag, #BlackLivesMatter is another sticky topic and it has been hijacked to push a number of agendas. Looking at you, Matt Walsh and your incredibly shitty opinion piece on outlawing abortions to preserve black lives. This is not an opportunity to piggyback on a larger cause to push your own questionable agendas. We know that black-on-black crime is a problem, thanks for the reminder. It needs work, but what it does not need is commentary from the cheap seats. Abortion is a whole other ball game, but we will not even delve into pro-life versus pro-choice, with a healthy dose of bootstrapping and not wanting to help contribute to the upbringing and care of a child whose life you forced to happen by not allowing an abortion.

The counter-hashtag/trending topic “All Lives Matter” is another issue in which people attempt to hijack a conversation that needs to be held. Yes, all lives matter, and no one is disputing that, but now the issue at hand is that minority lives are being severely undervalued in comparison to non-minorities. The same people championing this counter-hashtag are undoubtedly the same ones who take offense to being told “Happy Holidays,” rather than “Merry Christmas.” No one is valuing one above another, this is the focus that needs to be addressed because it is most prevalent.

Stop trying to make everything directly relevant to yourself.

Fact of the matter is that the Michael Brown shooting was not one isolated event. This is one shooting in a long line of many, both law enforcement and otherwise. No case is ever black and white, or black versus white, in these cases. Some go punished, many more do not. Protests are being labelled as riots, because this is what the news outlets pick up on—not the quiet protests, but the disruptive, destructive elements that are a small part of a whole. No, not every protestor is out there breaking windows and looting stores. This level of protest creates an unsafe environment and an intense level of civil unrest, no one is lauding this. What the ultimate goal is to bring attention to these occurrences in a time where we have supposedly progressed past our bigotry and racism because there’s “equality” in the world.

If your Black Friday shopping is disrupted by BART being blocked, imagine how Thanksgiving must have felt for the Brown family—their whole lives have been disrupted while Darren Wilson walks away. These minor breaks in your routine are not hurting you, save for causing annoyances. What is hurting is the public sentiment of anti-protestors, the pro-Wilson supporters. The fact that Brown’s mother never married his father, and that his grandma raised him means that dysfunctional minority family units are the issue to these people. The lack of family values creates thieves. Because, you know, criminals are never spawned when born in wedlock.

You may not like how people are reacting to this incident, and the resulting court decision. However, by opening your mouth, and regurgitating quotes from off-brand “news” sites such as “Right News Daily,” or “Conservative Now,” you are not helping the issue. Nor are you helping with blanket statements such as calling protestors “uneducated, welfare-grubbing idiots” and scoffing that they need “real jobs.” Stop undervaluing the problems of others because they do not apply to you, nor do they fall in line with your own social/political agenda.

You are justified to your opinion and free to voice them, but you need to not freak out and throw out shitty infographics that boil down to a lot of stupid text over a photo as your “checkmate, protestors” offensive to being questioned. While you are at it, stop side-stepping around the valid questions posed to you, and patting yourself on the back when you manage to turn the debate inward, to black-on-black crime, or questioning why Obama is not promoting healthy family ideals in minority families. Pretty sure we all know what the reaction would be if Obama started a campaign to encourage family togetherness in minorities.

You may not be part of the “problem” as it is. You may say you are “color-blind” and claim that “facts are facts,” behind your phone screen, sharing articles you barely skimmed just to look as if you are aware of current events, but you definitely are not helping in moving toward resolution.

*This is an editorial piece and does not necessarily reflect the views of the staff or the publication.

Kim Kardashian and the photo that broke the haters

Kim Kardashian's Paper Magazine cover shot by  Jean-Paul Goude
Kim Kardashian’s Paper Magazine cover shot by Jean-Paul Goude cut short

Kim Kardashian’s November Paper cover is getting a lot of attention—and not all of it is positive.

The photos of a nude, oiled Kardashian are being referred to as “the photos that broke the Internet” by fans and news outlets alike, but not everyone is in awe of her behind. With reactions ranging from the heart-eyed emoji, to sexist slurs and comments, the Internet is a firestorm of drama, and both sides are doing their best to prove their points.

They are also keeping this Kardashian relevant. In case you have been living under a rock, Kim’s fame comes at the hands of an oft-mocked sex video with Ray J, followed by a reality TV show, Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Said TV show threw her violently into the spotlight, but at a cost: the lost of respect or anything that remotely resembles mental capability, at least in the public’s mind.

Since then, Kim had kept herself in the news with a short-lived wedding to a basketball player, made equally famous by the expensive wedding and rapid divorce which followed just seventy-nine days after the fact. Then her relationship with fellow self-absorbed celebrity, Kanye West, culminated in an engagement, pregnancy, child and wedding, in that order.

So, she has the odds stacked against her as far as the public eye is concerned. West is known for his ego, arrogance, and spouting off from time to time. That being said, why do so many people care if they hate her? Scrolling through Facebook is a battlefield of Kim fans and haters alike—but the fact of the matter is that both factions are keeping her relevant, the anti-fans more so than her supporters.

You may not love her – you might despise her – but Google those photos, keep reading the articles, and leaving those bitter comments – this does nothing but create more clicks and keeps these sites in business, and Kim’s well-oiled body relevant. Is her ass fake, or her waist Photoshopped? Maybe. But, for someone who does not care, a lot of emotional energy surely goes into making sure the Internet knows just how ugly and how much of a slut one might think she is.

It is 2014, and honestly, the reaction to these photos is both over-the-top and disgusting. When society is shaming one woman for choosing to show her body in a full-color spread, but applauding Keira Knightley for posting her own un-Photoshopped nudes or Alyssa Milano’s breastfeeding selfie in protest and response to these much-hyped, there is a severe problem that needs to be addressed. Comments shaming her for posting these photos “as a mother” are not only harmful, but distasteful as they insinuate that once giving birth, mothers are not allowed to be sexual beings.

There is an undertone of jealousy present in criticism to anything done by the Kardashians, namely in correlation to the Kardashian girls, all being in the limelight. Call them stupid whores, refer to Kris Jenner as their overbearing pimp mother, but keep one thing in mind: this family is capitalizing on the attention showered upon them by the media-consuming public, and profiting from it more than the average person does with whatever supposedly marketable skills they have to offer. 

These “stupid whores” are making more in a month or two than you probably will in five or six years of working forty-hour work weeks, and are generally unaware of your existence, nor of your bitterness and petty comments.

But hey, go ahead and fill your Facebook with vitriol if that makes you feel any better about the life you lead.

*The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the publication.

Chatroom Intimacy

Dani Hutton gazes at the computer she uses to interact with peers on ICanHazChat. (Jenny Sokolova/ Xpress Magazine)
Dani Hutton gazes at the computer she uses to interact with peers on ICanHazChat. (Jenny Sokolova/ Xpress Magazine)

What’s open on your computer screen at this moment?

Maybe there is a Word document with nothing but a rough attempt at an essay waiting for you behind the full-screen Netflix tab on Chrome. Or maybe you have got Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit open, constantly rotating through the tabs.

So, all “normal” things by your estimation, right? I have the same things open too. And then there’s the fourth tab, containing fifteen webcam slots and approximately one hundred fifty plus people lurking and discussing everything from whatever new mixtape is dropping to their porn preferences in a text chat next to these cams.

But what is going on in those fifteen cam slots? There is topless girl cooking, the resident hip-hop head well into his usual day-drinking, a bearded man doing what can only be some sort of weird dance ritual in the shower, and a couple cuddling and engaging in a conversation with people admiring them. Then, because it is the internet, there is always a penis (or in this case, four).

“Is she into some weird voyeurism porn site?” you are probably asking yourself right about now. Not entirely. This just happens to be an average afternoon in just one of the many rooms hosted on the video chat site ICanHazChat.

ICanHazChat came about as the brainchild of several regular users of the Gonewild subreddit, following the inevitable monetization of TinyChat, a service in which users are able to open up a room and invite others to join a video chat.

The site, in its current format, is a cross between group video chats and a Reddit-style community. Like Reddit itself, where a user can create a subreddit in minute for virtually any topic under the sun, ICHC users can create their own rooms, choose moderators, and ban rude or disruptive users. The site has even instituted its own ‘karma’ system, similar to Reddit’s—you gain karma by camming and participating in the chat. Much like Reddit’s system, the karma is nothing but imaginary internet points, but a fun feature regardless.

As the site features rooms that are rated both ‘15+’ for the average user, and ‘18+,’ for rooms with a more adult theme, site admins have created an age-checking process to minimize underage camming.

Funplay and Rhenium are just two of the age-checkers in chat, who also happen to be married.

“I ran across a post on /r/sex about a couple that just had sex on cam for a bunch of other people and thought it was great,” Funplay says, who is coming up on his second year anniversary of being in chat. He ended up lurking for several weeks before bringing the idea up to his wife, who was receptive to the idea.

Since joining chat, they have become a familiar pair in the community, moving from being normal users to ‘self-mods’ (users who can mod up at will and help to moderate the chat.) Eventually, they moved up to being age-checkers along with self-mod duties.

“I’m not sure exactly by who or why we were nominated, but we apparently earned a level of trust with the site moderators and other age-checkers for them to do so,” Funplay says of their recent duties. As age-checkers, they are responsible for not only checking potentially underage chatters in the GW room, but on all rooms in the site.

In their capacity as age-checkers, Funplay and Rhenium tend to end up visiting several other rooms on the site to check on camera reports—although they consider the GW room to be home base for them.

The room also employs a bot to assist with moderating when there aren’t many active moderators available. ‘Modbot,’ along with Triviabot and DjBot are all the creation of Marc, one of the site moderators who has found himself wandering into the site like so many others, and staying, to eventually become an integral part of the community.

“Modbot took a lot of work,” Marc says of the bot which is currently running in four different rooms. Estimating that about eighty or more hours went into the creation of the bots, Modbot works via a combination of stats and trigger words in the room its employed in.

To create an atmosphere that’s welcoming to all (or as much as can be, considering the content of the room), Modbot has an ‘auto-silence’ feature. Words that can be considered offensive, via being racist, homophobic, etc. are cleared from the screen by the bot and the user silenced for thirty seconds, in which anything they say in chat will not be sent through for other people to see.

Users find themselves forming bonds and discussing common interests beyond sex and voyeurism. The chatters come from all walks of life. There are professional therapists, techies and tattoo artists. Students and housewives are also counted among the numerous users to pass through the room on a daily basis.

People from multiple walks of life come together over common interests and form lasting friendships. Two users, yieldtomytemptation and nighttrain_jambalaya are just one of the relationships formed from ICHC.

“I think I was in chat for just over a year, and he was in for about eight months when we first met,” says yieldtomytemptation, of her now-fiance. The pair bonded over shared interests and eventually made the decision to meet in person.

“I was excited more than anything, but nervous that she would realize what a dork I really am,” nighttrain_jambalaya said. Luckily, for him, the ‘dorkiness’ was part of the appeal for the couple who met in October of 2012 and were dating by January the next year. Both of them had met and been intimate with others in the past, which has come up in their relationship.

“I think the hardest part is the fact that we know who we’ve been with and who we talked to. It brings feelings of jealousy sometimes when it comes up,”yieldtomytemptaion says. “The easiest is being able to be frank with each other. I don’t think I was like that before chat.”

While not all couples have a success story like the one shared between these two, this room alone has resulted in multiple relationships and marriages.

So, after all of this, there’s the question that comes to mind: Why? Why do you hang around this room and chat with virtual strangers from around the world, most of whom are lurkers that come in expecting to see naked women?

You know, sometimes I ask myself that same question. And then a user that I’ve connected with and come to appreciate as an amazing person comes in, and they’re genuinely excited to see me. That’s why I come back to the room on a regular basis.

I came in on a whim through Reddit and I lurked, unsure about the whole experience. Then I swallowed the qualms I had and never looked back. I’ve been a part of this community for a year and a half at this point, and I don’t see myself leaving any time soon. I love the community and the people I’ve met in the room. I’ve bonded, I’ve become a self-mod, and enjoy hanging out and joking with everyone.

Interacting with me in person leads to me being seen as this ‘quiet’ type, mainly because I do not often speak up around people I am not familiar with, because I feel uncomfortable and consistently judged for no apparent reason. In this room? I can open up, I’m free to strike up a conversation or jump into an existing one, without feeling as if I’ll be ignored. I’ll come in with some comment or joke ready, and I’m happy. There’s people that share my common interests, people I find attractive and who find me attractive. There are people in here I can open up to and share things with that I’m not even comfortable sharing with my closest friends.

It is not just all purely online contact either. Users form friendships and eventually meet in real life, both for sexual and non-sexual reasons. I have met a number of users and have enjoyed every experience. I have drank with them, wandered around the city with them,  and they have pitched in to help me with photo projects. During my first meeting with one of my favorite chatters from the site? I ended up nearly choking during lunch—it has developed into an inside joke between us.

You know how people will say ‘just imagine them naked,’ to someone who is nervous of speaking in front of crowds? As it turns out, it actually is a hell of a lot easier to relax and joke with someone when you have seen their butt.

It is a weird thing to begin with, but even weirder to open up to the world at large and write this. When I do bring it up, I am drunk about seventy-five percent of the time, and terrified as a result. You know what happens? People are receptive to the idea. It can be weird, and when you openly acknowledge that, it takes most of the pressure off the situation. It becomes entertaining, and then you move on. Suddenly, you’re not stepping around the topic with these friends you spend a lot of time with. You can simply say “Yes, so-and-so from chat mentioned that too…,” and it is okay. They may not join the site or even understand why you do it, but generally speaking people will not be rude about it or judge you.

The community is an amazing place, filled with people from all walks of life.. If you see it from the outside, you see a bunch of perverts. Yeah, maybe by normal estimates it is perverted. For people in this community? For whatever reason, we do not like wearing pants, or enjoy being watched and interacting with people as we go about our lives, whether it be the mundane, everyday activities or the more explicit moments in our lives.

Your weird is our normal, and it is all relative.