I usually feel guilty about not getting these ‘Maiden Voyages’ posted in a timely manner, but this time I’m glad I delayed because early this morning a podcast dropped that illustrates a concerning development near and dear to Pigtails’ history.
A.I. and Corporate Tyranny: In this story, a father noticed a rash on his toddler’s penis which seemed like more than the normal diaper rash. Contacting the pediatrician and being under lockdown, the doctor advised him to send a picture. Because it was a closeup of the boy’s penis, it triggered a hit in a routine Google AI algorithm which goes through a standard reporting process reaching law enforcement and triggering an investigation. The problem here is that even though the police exonerated the man, Google refused to reinstate his account and was recently informed him that the account would be completely deleted soon. Google seemed completely uninterested in explanations or the fact that he was completely exonerated by the police. This is especially tragic because this man saved a lot of personal material on the cloud which will be lost permanently if the account were deleted. That includes important family memories. As much as this was an inconvenience, it is remarkable that Google refused to change its position and reinstate the account or allow him to at least rescue his files. Also concerning is the fact that pediatricians (and other relevant specialists) are unaware of the risk they put their patients in when requesting these photos. (I personally have sent photos of my forehead to my dermatologist, for instance.) There are a lot of important twists and turns to this story that informs the experiences Pigtails has had in getting “cancelled” and how middle managers err on the side of conservatism so that the company won’t have to expend resources dealing with this fairly. Apple and Facebook also use automated AI algorithms generating thousands of reports, but so far such an extreme case has not come to light. I strongly urge readers to listen to this particular podcast episode because it says so much about abuse of corporate power, why we have had so much trouble keeping this site up and why we have to protect certain images from public scrutiny to stay online.
Refugees and the Human Condition: While we’re on the subject of podcasts, another one really struck me. The entire episode was about why people have personally sponsored refugees whether they were from Nazi Germany, war-torn Vietnam or Assad’s Syria. One of the concerns about taking in refugees is that they may exhibit so-called bad behavior and endanger society. What is not often taken into account is the trauma these people are experiencing and how much their behavior is motivated by survival instinct. One of the most heart-warming stories was about a little Syrian girl who kept wailing and seemed inconsolable. Even the parents didn’t know what to do. Finally, one of the volunteers decided to pick her up and just hold her as long as she needed. She finally calmed down and there was a strong bond between the man and the little girl for a long time after that. Even recalling the story, one could hear the emotion in the man’s voice even now. It is so disheartening to hear how in our dysfunctional society, few people have the instinct to simply comfort a child with touch: hold and perhaps gently stroking him/her. I have personally had to show new parents by example how to soothe their own children when putting them down for a nap! Indeed, we tend to expect the worst when we hear there is an interaction between a grown man and a vulnerable child. Yes, bad things do sometimes happen but the push for media sensationalism has conditioned most of us that this is much more common than it really is.
A Secluded Beauty: Pip sends me interesting leads from time to time. This one is about Walt Disney who brought fantasy and adventure to generations of children. It seems obvious that his grave might depict children in some way, but it is surprising—even to me, a self-proclaimed expert—that one is of a seated nude girl. Pip discovered it while reading an article about how people still visit his gravesite more than 50 years after his death.
Sublimated Sexuality? A lead from Christian reminded me of Pip’s series on ‘Sublimated Sexuality’. But sometimes the sexuality has more explicit elements. I have not decided if this artist should have a dedicated post at some point, but it is natural in the male and female psyche to explore these ideas and thus I share the work of Gea Philes. I find it hard to say if the work is truly transgressional or simply a frank exploration of sexual fantasy. Readers know when I use the word erotic or sexual, that I am not being provocative. It is a fact of life which children must figure out in their own way and necessarily has to be a part of what we examine on this site. Almost inevitably, artforms on this subject will have symbolic elements that help convey the attitude. There is also an article in French on this artist.
Video Archive: An associate offered this lead which is an archive of vintage videos. This discovery came in the wake of last month’s lead about a YouTube account focusing on children. The Prelinger Archives range all over the place as far as subject matter is concerned but I was told that quite a few do involve children and should be on Pigtails readers’ radar. Naturally, I would hope readers who discover important gems on this site let us know the specifics.