September 30, 2002
# Porn + War

Robert Jensen: Blow Bangs and Cluster Bombs (via Daily Churn)

Not for the faint of heart or stomach... a category that apparently doesn't include the hundreds of thousands of American men who get off on the humiliation of women or other "enemies".

One of the facts initially censored from a journalist's report during that war was that on the USS John F. Kennedy, pilots watched pornographic movies before flying missions, apparently to help get them pumped up to drop bombs. The censor told the journalist that the facts were too embarrassing to allow to be published.


What do blow bangs and cluster bombs have in common? On the surface, very little; pornography and war are different endeavors with different consequences. In pairing them, I am not making some overarching claim about the connection between patriarchy and empire.

But I can say this: To be effective, contemporary mass-marketed pornography and modern war both require cruelty and contempt. The pornography I watched in the summer of 2001 was about the cruelty of men and men's contempt for women. The war I watched in the fall of 2001 was about the cruelty of Americans and Americans' contempt for people in other parts of the world.

See also the Israeli soldiers who broadcast porn from occupied TV stations in Ramallah

posted by dru in culture
September 29, 2002
# Hitler!

Salon:Was Hitler human?

Even before it has been seen, the film has set off an angry reaction among people who are offended by the very idea of a movie presenting a figure of such profound evil in human terms. To do so, they charge, renders the monstrous sympathetic and reduces the enormity of his crimes. New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd branded "Max" a cynical exploitation, and the Jewish Defense League is campaigning to block Lions Gate, the film's U.S. distributor, from releasing it. On the group's Web site, JDL official Brett Stone declares that "not only is the film in bad taste, it is also a psychic assault on Holocaust survivors and the entire Jewish community. There is no moral justification for making such a movie. To glorify or humanize Hitler makes a mockery of the 12 million -- 6 million of them Jewish - victims of Hitler's tyranny ... This is not art! This is obscenity!"


Hannah Arendt was attacked for saying something similar, for observing the banality of evil. In her conversations with Eichmann, he told her, "You don't understand, it was all about logistics, I just did the logistical part, I didn't really have a point of view on it." And that's what makes the whole thing terrifyingly plausible.

posted by dru in culture
# Paying for content, part 256

Open Content List: A proposal to Microcontentnews

what if you did a user-base plea, like Kuro5hin's Rusty did recently, and said, ok, love doing this, but it's taking up all my time and keeping me from my paying job, so anyone out there who likes this, contribute to the pool, and every time it hits, say, the $100 mark, I'll commission a new article. You could even have a queue of story ideas to which readers could contribute. The lesson from Kuro5hin and such seems to be, be very honest and transparent, make clear your revenues and expenses, and turn the donating process into a highly visible and dynamic story in itself. (big red progress bar on the page! watch it move!).

posted by dru in politicsoftech
# Protests in London and DC

Global Indymedia has a lot of great coverage of the IMF/World Bank protests in DC (5,000-10,000 turnout, including Monkeyfist's Bijan and Kendall), and the anti-war protests in London (est. 500,000 !).

Five hundred thousand people. Yowza.

posted by dru in activism
# Men of Honor

Newsweek: US soldiers acting like nitwits in Afghanistan

Six paratroopers from the 82d Airborne, also part of Mountain Sweep, were lined up outside the farmer’s house, preparing to force their way in. "I yelled at them to stop," says the captain, “but they went ahead and kicked in the door." The farmer panicked and tried to run, and one of the paratroopers slammed him to the ground. The captain raced back to the house. Inside, he says, other helmeted soldiers from the 82d were attempting to frisk the women. By the time the captain could order the soldiers to leave, the family was in a state of shock. "The women were screaming bloody murder," recalled the captain, asking to be identified simply as Mike. "The guy was in tears. He had been completely dishonored."

posted by dru in us
by Les Dabney

This doesn't suprise me in the least. When I was active duty we had all kinds of nitwits in the infantry. I even had a platoon sargent who couldn't spell his own name correctly.

# Length

I think I've been conditioned by writing a column for a year. I either have one line of comments, or 800 words. (I've got a few other bits on the go, and they're long too.) There doesn't seem to be any in between.

posted by dru in blog
# Direct Action and Free Speech

I've been discussing free speech again, and thinking about what is legitimate direct action.

Recently, the cover of the Globe and Mail featured an incident at Concordia University in Montreal, where Benjamin Netanyahu (former Israeli PM), was scheduled to speak.

About 200 protesters -- including a small number of Jewish students, though who knows who was doing what -- suceeded in shutting down the Netanyahu's talk by crowding around the building and blocking the entrance. After police tried to move them with tear gas and pepper spray, some chairs were thrown and windows were broken. No one explicitly threatened Netanyahu with violence, but he decided not to speak. The Canadian press reported:

Mr. Netanyahu was never in the building and his handlers had said he would not give his speech unless his safety could be guaranteed.

Following the incident, there was a bit of an uproar about freedom of speech, and how Netanyahu's right to speak had been violated. This seems a little of bizarre on the face of it, since he chose not to speak, and I haven't seen any report of a credible threat to his safety.

But I'm interested in whether intending to keep someone like Netanyahu from speaking can be morally (and tactically) justified. I haven't reached a conclusion yet, but what follows is a sketch of the tools I think are useful in thinking about freedom of speech and direct action.

Would freedom of speech in this case (a speech on a university campus) apply to everyone? Would a neo-nazi who advocated the removal of Jews from Israel be allowed to speak, and if he was, would it be justifiable to use nonviolent direct action to keep him from speaking?

Answer: if hate speech is intolerable, then yes. So is it hate speech or intolerable?

If it was legal for someone like the hypothetical neo-Nazi to speak, but I knew/was convinced that it was politically unacceptable (i.e. greater harm would come from giving him a space to spread hate than would come from establishing an exception to free speech), then what course of action is available to me, politically?

Answer: write a letter opposing his right to speak, demonstrate, hold a counter-speech, petition the proprietors not to let the speech happen, or organize to physically prevent him from speaking or prevent the space being used without hurting anyone.

How much less legitimate is physical prevention compared to more "civil" means?

This raises some other interesting questions. What the protesters did was create a situation in which it was undesirable for Netanyahu to speak. This happens all the time. Notably, at Izzy Asper's newspapers, where all but the bravest columnists are afraid to criticize Israel or Jean Chretien for fear of losing favour with their employer, and even the brave ones have been fired in a few notable instances. Interestingly enough, Asper was the man responsible for bringing Netanyahu to Concordia.

Clearly, there is a difference between Asper creating conditions in which columnists are extremely likely to choose not to criticize Israel and some students creating conditions in which it is undesirable or more difficult for Netanyahu to speak. But I think the difference is one of the right of ownership and the fact that there are no laws against controlling the content of a newspaper you own, no matter the public importance.

The answer, then, is that to some extent, everyone is involved in making some positions more or less desirable for other people. The question is of degree, and whether the likely ends justify the means.

Next question: is Netanyahu worthy of censure, and to what extent?

Netanyahu is worthy of censure to the extent that his views are politically abhorrent. According to more than a few sources, he is a leading advocate of toppling the Palestinian authority, and was instrumental in stepping up the building of settlements in the west bank, escalating tensions between Palestinians and Israelis to a large degree. Some might emphasize other things or call the aformentioned sources anti-Semetic. I'll leave the question open.

A few questions remain.

Is direct action (especially if it is successful) worth setting the precedent for other dedicated groups with strongly-held opinions to do the same?

If I take part in a protest against Israeli policies, will I be inadvertantly supporting people who really are anti-semetic?

The gain in media exposure is indisputable (100-student passive, peaceful protests don't make the cover of the Globe), but are perceptions of the cause being spoken for skewed by perceptions of it being against freedom of speech (thanks in no part to punditry and skewed reporting)?

posted by dru in activism
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September 28, 2002
# Drugs

The New Scientist has a story about how ecstacy (MDMA) can cause nerve damage which can lead to Parkinson's disease, as well as a whole section on Marijuana.

posted by dru in culture
# Media de-stortion looks like a decent (lefty) media analysis site.

posted by dru in sites
# Life on Venus

New Scientist: Acidic clouds of Venus could harbour life

Solar radiation and lightning should produce large quantities of carbon monoxide in the planet's atmosphere, but instead it is scarce, as if something is removing it. They also found hydrogen sulphide and sulphur dioxide. These two gases react with each other, and so are never normally found together unless something is producing them.

Even more mysterious is the presence of carbonyl sulphide. This gas is so difficult to produce inorganically that it is sometimes considered an unambiguous indicator of biological activity.

posted by dru in blog
by Robert Fritzius

We may already have strong circumstantial evidence of Venus microbes (bacteria and viruses) reaching Earth courtesy of the Solar Wind.

Please see the article hiding under the URL.

by Robert Fritzius

The URL was doing the hiding.

Please see:

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# Samizdat

American Samizdat is another hard-working lefty blog.

posted by dru in sites
# Technology and Revolution

Rabble's essay on Militancy and the Sovereignty of Technology, which I finally got around to reading all the way through, has a lot of good ideas about what it means to be a revolutionary software engineer.

posted by dru in politicsoftech
September 27, 2002
# AR, WOT?

Robert Wright: A Real War on Terrorism. A series of nine long essays with some interesting (and other less interesting) ideas about US foreign policy post-911.

posted by dru in us
# Into The Gap

In the recent NetFuture, Kevin Kelly and Steve Talbott try to bridge the gap between humanists and engineers.

posted by dru in politicsoftech
September 24, 2002
# Equador

Evan's project got some good press from Salon. "Anti-globalization activists in Oakland, Calif., are recycling old machines, loading them with free software and shipping them off to Ecuador."

The project seems like a perfect example of mutual aid (or something along those lines)... People volunteer and learn how to build and set up a cheap linux box, and people in Equador get free computers.

People come to Free Geek because they want to "remove the mystery" of how computers work, Sano says. "And that's the thing that prevents many people from interacting with computers, that mystery. It's what keeps them on that side of the digital divide." After a volunteer has assembled five computers, or "Freek Boxes," he gets to take the sixth one home.

posted by dru in activism
# Mainstream Racism

Neale put together a rather unsettling selection of racist madness from the Little Green Footballs weblog (which has been plugged by columnists in the National Post, among others).

posted by dru in race
September 23, 2002
# blogs added

I added Kellan's Laughingmeme, Sylvia Nickerson's site, and Brooke Shelby Biggs' Bitter Shack of Resentment to the sidebar of links.

posted by dru in sites
# hyphenated american

Anil Dash on why he "makes an issue" out of race.

"Where are you from?"


"No, but I mean, where are you from?"

I grew up near Harrisburg, it's towards the middle of the state.

"Okay, but where are you, ya know... from?"

My parents were born in India.

"Oh, okay."

posted by dru in race
September 20, 2002
# Casualties

Alternet: We, the people, can stop a war

We've got to convince them that the United States has absolutely no justification for a preemptive strike that could, according to Pentagon figures, kill some 10,000 Iraqi civilians and many of our own young men and women.
I really want to find the source for this, if only to find the web site where the Pentagon talks about how many civilians it is going to kill before it flat out denies doing so. 100,000 Iraqi soldiers were killed in the first gulf war, though information on civilian casualties is not as easy to find. Lots of news outlets reported on "reports of civilian casualties," but there doesn't appear to have been a lot of follow up coverage.

posted by dru in us
# The Election

Clearing up the election that won't die

Q: Who actually received the most votes in Florida's 2000 presidential election?

A: Al Gore. State election officials ultimately declared George W. Bush the winner by a margin of 537 votes, but during and after the election dispute, questions remained about the uncounted ballots of 175,010 voters, ballots that had been rejected by error-prone tabulating machines employed in many Florida counties. Confusion and conflict, much of it generated by partisan intrigue, prevented these ballots from being counted during the election controversy. However, in 2001 every uncounted ballot was carefully examined in a scientific study by the University of Chicago, which concluded that when all the votes were counted, more votes had been cast for Gore than for Bush.

Q: Why did some earlier post-election studies say just the opposite, that is, that Bush had actually won after all?

A: They did not really say this. They reported, instead, that Bush might have kept his lead if the manual recounts of machine-rejected ballots had been completed along the lines either requested by Gore or initially mandated by the Florida Supreme Court. In these recount scenarios, not all of the machine-rejected ballots would have been included. However, just before the U.S. Supreme Court intervened, the judge overseeing the final statewide recount was preparing to announce that the recount would cover all of the previously uncounted ballots.

posted by dru in us
# Why?

In their own words: Why we fight America, by an Al-Qa'ida spoke "spokesman."

posted by dru in us
# The world according to Said

A long, comprehensive article about the Palestinian situation written by Edward Said in 2000. It's a good overview of what the western press basically ignores.

posted by dru in us
September 18, 2002
# an evil, evil man

Sean Gonsalves: You call that a case? (via testify!)

Of course, what ought to tone down the self-righteousness coming out of Washington, D.C., these days is the fact that, according to our own Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, under the administrations of Reagan and Bush No. 41, we sold Iraq anthrax, VX nerve gas, West Nile fever germs and botulism.

And we didn't stop when word got out about the gassing of the Kurds in the town of Halabja that claimed the lives of 5,000. Nope. We sold them this stuff right up until March 1992. That's March 1992 -- a year after the Gulf War was over.

Whenever I get worried that I'm just choosing facts that are ideologically convenient instead of informing myself and then taking a stand, I find out that it's much worse than I think. I'll try to stay worried, but it ain't easy.

posted by dru in us
September 16, 2002
# /.

Slashdot has added some interesting friend, foe and friend of a friend features. It'll be interesting to see if those can be tied into comment moderation.

posted by dru in interface
# more conspiracy theory

Disinformation has a breakdown of the "evidence" that the US govn't knew about 9-11 ahead of time. What's nice is that it only uses sources from mainstream media. I don't see too much wrong with asking why these things occurred, which doesn't seem to be happening.

posted by dru in us
# Bush's plan

Sunday Herald: Secret blueprint for US domination uncovered (via daily churn)

The blueprint, uncovered by the Sunday Herald, for the creation of a 'global Pax Americana' was drawn up for Dick Cheney (now vice- president), Donald Rumsfeld (defence secretary), Paul Wolfowitz (Rumsfeld's deputy), George W Bush's younger brother Jeb and Lewis Libby (Cheney's chief of staff). The document, entitled Rebuilding America's Defences: Strategies, Forces And Resources For A New Century, was written in September 2000 by the neo-conservative think-tank Project for the New American Century (PNAC).

The plan shows Bush's cabinet intended to take military control of the Gulf region whether or not Saddam Hussein was in power. It says: 'The United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.'


[the report] hints that, despite threatening war against Iraq for developing weapons of mass destruction, the US may consider developing biological weapons -- which the nation has banned -- in decades to come. It says: 'New methods of attack -- electronic, 'non-lethal', biological -- will be more widely available ... combat likely will take place in new dimensions, in space, cyberspace, and perhaps the world of microbes ... advanced forms of biological warfare that can 'target' specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool';

If this report is accurate, and this document exists, I challenge anyone to argue that the US is not governed by insane maniacs.

Project for the New American Century is the (need I say right-wing) think tank that the Herald says authored the report.

posted by dru in us
# Royalty Buffet

SFGate: Jimmy Buffett rocks the major-label boat

The record industry may have more to fear from Jimmy Buffett than the Internet. Buffett picked up his marbles and walked away from the game last year -- putting out an album on his own Mailboat Records that sold more than a half million copies and hit the top five. Now he's inviting others to join him, sharing proceeds like a pirate splitting up spoils instead of paying measly royalties.

He has already signed big-hair rockers Poison, an alliance that cuts across stylistic boundaries about as far as you can go.

"We make as much money if we sell 100,000 copies this way as we made when we sold a million copies through a major label," Poison bassist Bobby Dall told Billboard magazine.

posted by dru in politicsoftech
by Les Dabney

Good for Jimmy. It is a wonder someone hasn't done this sooner.

September 15, 2002
# Anti-War

A bunch of good reasons not to attack Iraq.

posted by dru in us
by R. Thomas

I feel that most United States Citizens believe in God. It is my hope that with that belief comes the knowledge that God hears and answers prayers, both individually and collectively. The following are words that our Father in Heaven has to say about war: "...this is the law that I gave unto my ancients (prophets and holy people of God) that they should not go out unto battle against any nation, kindred, tongue, or people, save I, the Lord, commanded them. And if any nation, tongue, or people should procalim war against them, they should first lift a standard of peace unto that people, nation, or tongue; and if that people did not accept the offering of peace, neither the second nor the third time, they should bring these testimonies before the Lord; then I, the Lord, would give unto them a commandment, and justify them in going out to battle against that nation, tongue, or people. And I, the Lord, would fight their battles, and their children's battles, and their children's children's until they had avenged themselves on all their enemies, to the third and fourth generation. Behold, this is an ensample unto all people, saith the Lord your God, for justification before me. (Doctrine and Covenants 98:33-38)

Has anyone involved with the administration of this country asked God if this war is sanctioned by Him? Have you or I? The Lord knows what is best for all people and wants what is best. After all, He is our Father. All we need to do is humble ourselves, ask and then listen for His answer. We might all be surprised by what He has to tell us.

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# Bhopal

BBC: Bhopal gas disaster fugitive 'found'
A greenpeace activist found Warren Anderson -- the man people claim to be ultimately responsible for a leak at a Union Carbide pesticide plant in India which killed over 20,000 people in all -- living in the Hamptons. US officials had claimed for years that they did not know his whereabouts.

posted by dru in us
# Air Hitch

Air Hitch provides cheap fares (USD$150-300) to Europe, provided you're willing to fly on short notice, and not have much control over where you leave from or land in.

posted by dru in sites
September 14, 2002
September 11, 2002
# Politics, newspapers, participation

The Estonian newspaper Päevaleht conducts web interviews with politicians using questions submitted by readers. (link is in Estonian)

Also, Estonian newspaper sites almost all allow easy comment posting on every article, and its not uncommon to see an article with 300 comments.

posted by dru in interface
by kendall

So, dru, have you abandoned us #mf-ers because we don't speak Estonian?! :>

by dru

Nah. I've just been spending very little time online, and I'm on dialup now. I'll be back soon enough.

I have been trying to spend a lot more of my reading time on Estonian and French news, though, and I don't really know how to work that into misnomer. Right now it means I post a lot less, since posting in French or Estonian seems just a bit pretentious.. :>

by smj

Kas Sa lugesid Ilvese interviud? Lugesin lAbi, vAgagi huvitav - ta tuli meile siia Chimacum'i ykskord kylla seoses luule t6lkega,

(Did you read the interviews with Ilves? I read them all, quite interesting - he visited us here in Chimacum years ago regarding poetry translation).

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September 10, 2002
# How two

How to write like a pundit

Some people take finding recipes with google to the next level, and do a search for all the ingredients they have available. Then they can look for a recipe that looks good.

posted by dru in culture
# ABE Books

ABE Books lets you search the catalogues of thousands of used booksellers worldwide, which is great for finding old or rare stuff for a better price than Amazon will give you.

posted by dru in sites
by smj

Curiously, I had just recently heard of Abe Books and had occasion to order an out of print book from them. They had several copies available, catalogued according to condition and price which gives the customer a range from which to choose. I received the book promptly. What a great resource!

# Recipe for fewer posts

It's time to go back to school, and I'm taking seminars on Kant, Feminist Epistemology/Methodology and Philosophy of Science, and an independent study on Foucault. I'm also still trying to finish painting and arranging the appartment.

Which means fewer updates (as you have probably already noticed). Although, one should never underestimate the utility of the weblog as a procrastination tool, and there will be plenty of opportunities for that while I try to plow through the Critique of Pure Reason and secondary sources in one term (leaving aside the other courses for the moment).

Two good recipes that Syl and I recently used with some success:

Vegetarian Lentil Soup

Carrot Cake

That's two for two from giving Google a recipe name and getting a good recipe back.

posted by dru in culture