March 21, 2013
It was no war of ideas at all, and on the ground in 2004 in Iraq, even a slightly retarded child could have analyzed the war more accurately than Packer. The war of ideas existed solely in D.C., and it was a war of cocktail parties. Packer, evidently, never understood the critique of American power - which was that it actually created the dictatorships for its own reasons historically, just as it created the jihadi network used so efficiently by Al Qaeda after the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan, just as it created the idea that hitting a superpower within its borders - hitting the Soviet Union through sabotage in Central Asia, for instance - was an "idea" that was conceived and distrusted by the CIA handlers of the Afghani "resistance" - etc., etc. In other words, American power was not about ideas, but about American interests, which in turn reflected different factions within the American compact – corporations, for instance. And in turn, these interests were not consistent one with another - they compete. So much, then, in two sentences, for the critique of American power. But such a critique went right over his narcissistic liberal head - since Packer evidently understood the entire war as nice people like him vs. not nice people. Who wanted "tyranny".- Mr Gathman. See also.
Sayed told me that it took a team of 12 people four hours to sort through the body parts, try to identify people and gather the dead bodies. ‘We were extremely afraid because three drones continued to fly above and we feared a secondary strike, because it has happened before, where they strike the rescue teams.’ US military slang for a secondary strike aimed at rescue teams, on the logic that first responders must be ‘up to no good’, is a ‘double tap’. When they kill someone, drone operators call it a ‘bugsplat’.- Low-Flying Drones
Although he called Nixon’s actions "treason," LBJ decided not to reveal the sabotage, because of how he knew about it - the FBI had tapped the South Vietnamese ambassador’s phones and LBJ had transcripts of the ambassador’s talks with Nixon’s intermediary, Anna Chenault, and revealing Nixon’s involvement in the scheme would have meant revealing the illegal wiretaps. Oops. Johnson’s administration did pass the information on to the Humphrey campaign, which chose not to use it either, since their polling suggested that they would win. Oops, again.Ah, Democrats...
March 16, 2013
Last December, the Global Times, China's English-language tabloid, ran a story on the local punk band Bear Warrior, which found an ingenious way to measure the audience response to their songs. Its lead singer is a graduate student majoring in precision instruments at a university in Beijing, so he designed a device—"POGO Thermometer”—that measures the intensity of the audience's dancing through a series of sensors embedded in the floor carpet in the music hall. The signals are then transmitted to a central computer where they are closely analyzed in order to improve future performances.- The Curse of “You May Also Like”
According to the Global Times, the band found that fans “started moving their bodies when the drums kicked in, and they danced the most energetically when he sang higher notes.” As its lead singer put it, “the data helps us understand how we can improve our performance to make the audience respond to our music like we intend.”
The upside for Facebook is that by having other websites link themselves in through the Open Graph, they are able to collect information about user habits beyond the confines of their own pages. Whenever the Like button is clicked, Facebook’s data system receives information about the pages their users frequent. In this way the Like button operate as tendrils, passing data back to a central nervous system. From this data, the many and varied pieces of code that make up the website’s brain can decide how to proceed, often making ads relevant to your previous browsing appear on your screen...- How do you like me now?
Apart from the rarely used Share and Report buttons, your options are to Like or Comment. This is an uneven choice. By forcing this dichotomy, Facebook requires that any negativity or disapproval must be expressed through a comment...
By simply providing a Like option, without the opportunity to Dislike, Facebook creates a place of relentless, expected positivity. The inherent ease in liking compared to the effort required to comment means that criticism requires additional commitment. Far from the vacuous mouse-flutter of a Like, commenting requires the thud of fingers on a keyboard, the unmoving motive of a durable thought. As a result, within this space, negativity has to be viewed as more negative than positivity is positive; you have made the extra effort to disagree.
March 09, 2013
I don’t know what happened in Hugo Chavez’s room when he died, 60 years to the very day after Stalin, though I doubt it was anything quite so dramatic. Chavez wasn’t a mass murderer, after all, though he did an enormous amount of damage to his country’s judiciary, to its press, to its public life and to its ever more oil-dependent economy. Like the Soviet dictator, he promised the poor of his country things that cannot be delivered — and still they are expected to turn out in vast numbers for his funeral Friday, while his henchmen begin the battle for succession.- right-wing cretin Anne Applebaum (via, see also, also).
One anecdote alone should be enough to give the lie to the idea that poor Venezuelans voted for Chávez because they were fascinated by the baubles they dangled in front of them. During the 2006 presidential campaign, the signature pledge of Chávez’s opponent was to give 3,000,000 poor Venezuelans a black credit card (black as in the color of oil) from which they could withdraw up to $450 in cash a month, which would have drained over $16 billion dollars a year from the national treasury (call it neoliberal populism: give to the poor just enough to bankrupt the government and force the defunding of services). Over the years, there’s been a lot of heavy theoretically breathing by US academics about the miasma oil wealth creates in countries like Venezuela, lulling citizens into a dreamlike state that renders them into passive spectators. But in this election at least, Venezuelans managed to see through the mist. Chávez won with over 62 percent of the vote.- from Greg Grandin's obit in the Nation.
March 08, 2013
While not going so far as to actually do anything remotely dictatorial, Chávez was far from a democratic leader. Instead of competing honestly in elections, he provided services and raised the standard of living for the people of Venezuela, ensuring their gratitude and thereby gaining an unfair advantage at the polls. Much of the funds for this insidious election tactic of ‘making things better’ were rerouted from the newly nationalised oilfields: through this wanton kleptocracy, billions of petrodollars were withheld from deserving rich white people.- Every Hugo Chávez obituary in the Western press
I'm glad I could lazily link to this. It enables me to avoid posting some wank about Cicero and the Gracchis and how some ruling class schticks apparently never fucking ever get old.
March 03, 2013