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Current Topic: Society

RE: WikiLeaks disclosures are a 'tragedy' -
Topic: Society 12:20 am EDT, Aug 12, 2010

Decius wrote

I've purposefully avoided taking a position on the "Wikileaks - threat or menace" debate. Here, Rattle does:

I completely agree with Gen. Hayden's comments in this article. Wikileaks has been completely irresponsible. I don't see any positive side to the release of these documents.

Hayden's essay sure throws down a gauntlet at the hacker scene:

And all of this because of some corrupted view of the inherent evils of the modern state, a pseudo-romantic attachment to the absolute value of transparency, a casual indifference to inevitable consequences and a neurotic attachment to one individual's self importance. Rarely have we seen such a dangerous combination of arrogance and incompetence.

This isn't just a challenge to Wikileak's disclosure of this particular set of documents. This is a challenge to the idea of transparency itself. In this regard, Stratfor is wrong. The Wikileaks event isn't really about the war in Afghanistan - its about the Internet.

Apparently, this leak wasn't all that valuable to the general public. The event certainly has focused the public's attention on facts that insiders already know about the war, and the importance of the focus of the public's attention should not be underestimated. However, given that there is no great secret here that insiders were unaware of - this event represents an opportunity to debate the subject of freedom of information in a context where there is nothing to loose from siding with the establishment.

The results of this debate, in terms of public opinion, as well as the resulting legal framework within which the state can respond to public disclosures of this sort, will impact future situations in which the leak does matter to the general public, because it does reveal a secret that insiders weren't aware of.

In the world of the eternity service, ultimately, some things are going to be posted there that you'd rather not have out in the open. If you believe that there should be information resources that are beyond the reach of the state, you have to accept that. If you can't accept it, its all a matter of where and how to draw the line - the events of the past few weeks have circled around that very question.

So it doesn't really matter whether or not Wikileaks was irresponsible. It is inevitable that Wikileaks or someone like them is going to do something irresponsible, or at least something that a lot of people think is irresponsible. The important question is what ought to be done about it.

If you stop at simply deciding that you think Wikileaks was irresponsible, you avoid the opportunity to address the more important question being debated, and you concede the matter to a particular side by association.

The leaders of the Republican party have made their case - they would draw the line in such a manner that the military can use any and a... [ Read More (0.2k in body) ]

RE: WikiLeaks disclosures are a 'tragedy' -

BBC News - In praise of bloody-mindedness
Topic: Society 11:18 am EST, Dec 22, 2009

The way Rage Against The Machine were propelled to the top of the charts in place of the latest manicured X Factor act shows a quality that runs through British life like a stick of rock. But why do people like to be so bloody-minded?

BBC News - In praise of bloody-mindedness

BBC NEWS | England | Somerset | Soldier mocked over loss of legs
Topic: Society 9:10 pm EDT, Oct 15, 2009

A soldier from Somerset who lost both legs and his right arm while serving in Afghanistan has been subjected to cruel taunts over his injuries.

Sapper Matthew Weston, 20, from Taunton, stepped on a bomb while on patrol in Helmand Province on 29 June.

While he was being treated at Selly Oak hospital in Birmingham his mother took him out shopping where they encountered a group of "boisterous" youths.

Rena Weston, 40, said: "They shouted he's lost something... like his legs.

Speaking from the family home Mrs Weston said: "They were laughing at what they thought was a very funny statement to make.

"We continued around the corner and I put my arms around Matthew and said, 'are you okay love?'

"He just went silent. Then he said, 'I suppose I had better get used to it for the rest of my life.'

BBC NEWS | England | Somerset | Soldier mocked over loss of legs

Book Review: 'Bad Girls Go Everywhere : The Life of Helen Gurley Brown' by Jennifer Scanlon -
Topic: Society 8:58 am EDT, May  3, 2009

Look at Michelle Obama: She has segued seamlessly from an active professional life as a highly paid hospital executive to her current incarnation as fashion plate, doting mom and demure sex object, posing for Vogue in a hot fuchsia frock that shows plenty of skin. What's most surprising about this metamorphosis? How few people are objecting to it.
And guess what? In the long battle between the two styles of feminism, Brown, for now, has won. Just look at the culture around us. Ms. Magazine, the earnest publication that defined feminism in the 1970s and '80s, has been replaced on college women's dorm room shelves by sexier, sassier updates such as Bitch and Bust. The four talented, smart -- and feminist -- women of "Sex and the City," who are intent on defining their own lives but are also willing to talk about Manolos and men, look more like Brown's type of heroine than "Sisterhood Is Powerful" readers. The stereotype of feminists as asexual, hirsute Amazons in Birkenstocks that has reigned on campus for the past two decades has been replaced by a breezy vision of hip, smart young women who will take a date to the right-on, woman-friendly sex shop Babeland.
Then third wave feminism came along, critiquing its staid mothers and reinvigorating -- while simultaneously giving some political heft to -- the kind of gestures Brown had set out in her 1962 manifesto. Third wave feminism is pluralistic, strives to be multiethnic, is pro-sex and tolerant of other women's choices. It has led to an embrace of what was once so politically suspect -- the notion that you can be a "lipstick lesbian" or a "riot grrrl" if you want to be, that you can choose your persona and your freedom for yourself.

But that very individualism, which has been great for feminism's rebranding, is also its weakness: It can be fun and frisky, but too often, it's ahistorical and apolitical. As many older feminists justly point out, the world isn't going to change because a lot of young women feel confident and personally empowered, if they don't have grass-roots groups or lobbies to advance woman-friendly policies, help women break through the glass ceiling, develop decent work-family support structures or solidify real political clout.

Feminism had to reinvent itself -- there was no way to sustain the uber-seriousness and sometimes judgmental tone of the second wave. But feminists are in danger if we don't know our history, and a saucy tattoo and a condom do not a revolution make.

The fact is, we know the answers to Western women's problems: The way is mapped out, the time for theory is pretty much over. We know the laws and the policies we need to achieve full equality. What we lack is a grass-roots movement that will drive the political will. "Lipstick" or lifestyle feminism won't produce that movement alone.

review by Naomi Wolf

Book Review: 'Bad Girls Go Everywhere : The Life of Helen Gurley Brown' by Jennifer Scanlon -

Op-Ed Columnist - Is Rape Serious? -
Topic: Society 7:24 am EDT, Apr 30, 2009

When a woman reports a rape, her body is a crime scene. She is typically asked to undress over a large sheet of white paper to collect hairs or fibers, and then her body is examined with an ultraviolet light, photographed and thoroughly swabbed for the rapist’s DNA.

It’s a grueling and invasive process that can last four to six hours and produces a “rape kit” — which, it turns out, often sits around for months or years, unopened and untested.


“If you’ve got stacks of physical evidence of a crime, and you’re not doing everything you can with the evidence, then you must be making a decision that this isn’t a very serious crime,” notes Polly Poskin, executive director of the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

It’s what we might expect in Afghanistan, not in the United States.

Op-Ed Columnist - Is Rape Serious? -

BBC NEWS | Scotland | Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West | Force is strong for Jedi police
Topic: Society 11:40 pm EDT, Apr 16, 2009

Eight police officers serving with Scotland's largest force listed their official religion as Jedi in voluntary diversity forms, it has emerged.

one of my friends is a police officer in Leicester UK and I know has also listed Jedi as his religion on official diversity forms

BBC NEWS | Scotland | Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West | Force is strong for Jedi police

Rachel Maddow on conservative "teabagging"
Topic: Society 3:44 am EDT, Apr 12, 2009

This is almost unbelievable. Rachel Maddow of MSNBC reporting on the new conservative movement (and I'm not making this up):

... "Teabagging"

Best Quote:

"Well, who wouldn't want to teabag John McCain?"

are they really not aware of this widely known meaning of teabagging?
I saw John Waters explaining this meaning of the word a few years ago on TV so if the word can make it across the Atlantic and onto British TV then ...

my favourite is the presenter positing the suggestion that teabagging via the postal service is clearly impossible --- class

Rachel Maddow on conservative "teabagging"

Saying Yes to Mess
Topic: Society 9:30 am EDT, Apr  7, 2009

"Superficial is the new intimate."

From the archive, a selection:

Like is the New Say, or How I Learned to Love The Quotative Like.

Fear is the new Comfort.

Data is the new Singularity.

Gray matter is the new black of the hip social scene.

In Cyberwar, Coding is the New Maneuver.

Wardriving is the new pop.

Jihad is the new punk.

The Internet is the new Afghanistan.

Muscular idealism is the new American realism.

Also, a variation on the theme:

Barack Obama is your new bicycle.

Saying Yes to Mess

Op-Ed Columnist - The Great Shame -
Topic: Society 8:41 am EDT, Mar 21, 2009

I had a conversation several weeks ago with a former Army officer, a woman, who had been attacked in her bed a few years ago by a superior officer, a man, who was intent on raping her.

The woman fought the man off with a fury. When she tried to press charges against him, she was told that she should let the matter drop because she hadn’t been hurt. When she persisted, battalion officials threatened to bring charges against her.

Op-Ed Columnist - The Great Shame -

Basics - In a Helpless Baby, the Roots of Our Social Glue -
Topic: Society 8:18 am EST, Mar  4, 2009

In the view of the primatologist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, the extraordinary social skills of an infant are at the heart of what makes us human. Through its ability to solicit and secure the attentive care not just of its mother but of many others in its sensory purview, a baby promotes many of the behaviors and emotions that we prize in ourselves and that often distinguish us from other animals, including a willingness to share, to cooperate with strangers, to relax one’s guard, uncurl one’s lip and widen one’s pronoun circle beyond the stifling confines of me, myself and mine.

As Dr. Hrdy argues in her latest book, “Mothers and Others: The Evolutionary Origins of Mutual Understanding,” which will be published by Harvard University Press in April, human babies are so outrageously dependent on their elders for such a long time that humanity would never have made it without a break from the great ape model of child-rearing. Chimpanzee and gorilla mothers are capable of rearing their offspring pretty much through their own powers, but human mothers are not.

Human beings evolved as cooperative breeders, says Dr. Hrdy, a reproductive strategy in which mothers are assisted by as-if mothers, or “allomothers,” individuals of either sex who help care for and feed the young. Most biologists would concur that humans have evolved the need for shared child care, but Dr. Hrdy takes it a step further, arguing that our status as cooperative breeders, rather than our exceptionally complex brains, helps explain many aspects of our temperament. Our relative pacifism, for example, or the expectation that we can fly from New York to Los Angeles without fear of personal dismemberment. Chimpanzees are pretty smart, but were you to board an airplane filled with chimpanzees, you “would be lucky to disembark with all 10 fingers and toes still attached,” Dr. Hrdy writes.

Basics - In a Helpless Baby, the Roots of Our Social Glue -

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