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Findings from around the Internet.

 

“eliminate all reasons from a decision, scrubbing away any kind of unwanted influence”

July 14, 2014

 

Like other swidden farmers, the Kantu’ would establish new farming sites ever year in which to grow rice and other crops. Unlike most other swidden farmers, the Kantu’ choose where to place these fields through a ritualised form of birdwatching. They believe that certain species of bird – the Scarlet-rumped Trogon, the Rufous Piculet, and five others – are the sons-in-law of God. The appearances of these birds guide the affairs of human beings. So, in order to select a site for cultivation, a Kantu’ farmer would walk through the forest until he spotted the right combination of omen birds. And there he would clear a field and plant his crops.

Dove figured that the birds must be serving as some kind of ecological indicator. Perhaps they gravitated toward good soil, or smaller trees, or some other useful characteristic of a swidden site. After all, the Kantu’ had been using bird augury for generations, and they hadn’t starved yet. The birds, Dove assumed, had to be telling the Kantu’something about the land. But neither he, nor any other anthropologist, had any notion of what that something was.

He followed Kantu’ augurers. He watched omen birds. He measured the size of each household’s harvest. And he became more and more confused. Kantu’ augury is so intricate, so dependent on slight alterations and is-the-bird-to-my-left-or-my-right contingencies that Dove soon found there was no discernible correlation at all between Piculets and Trogons and the success of a Kantu’ crop. The augurers he was shadowing, Dove told me, ‘looked more and more like people who were rolling dice’.

Read More | “How to choose?” | Michael Schulson | Aeon 

 

“injecting a Silicon Valley executive with a lethal dose of heroin”

July 11, 2014

People at the Santa Cruz Harbor thought Hayes’ death was caused by a suicidal overdose until the details of this case emerged.

Sailing instructor Max Murray said Hayes’ yacht was “a really big, nice boat. It’s a nice power boat. It was a very nice power boat.”

People at the harbor only knew the owner of the luxury yacht, “The Escape,” died onboard from an overdose last November. However on Tuesday the real story emerged.

Santa Cruz Police Dep. Chief Steve Clark said, “We eventually uncovered the video that was available.”

Police say they watched surveillance video of Hayes, the former senior director of Apple’s worldwide operations, as he was injected with heroin supplied and administered by Tichleman.

Hayes was working on “Google X” at the time of his death. Police say Tichelman never tried to help him or call 911.

Read More | “Santa Cruz Police: High Tech Mogul Murdered by Prostitute” | Alan Wang | ABC 7 News 

 

“What’s funnier than $37,115 for potato salad?”

July 8, 2014

potats

Potato salad…is humor-shaped and perfectly optimized. If it was ever whimsical it isn’t anymore—there is too much money, too much potential, tied up with this salad. But this foundation of whimsy has created circumstances in which more capital is equated with more humor, which is too horrible an idea to even joke about: It is a transcendence that is out of our control, a villain, an invader, an awakening of The Old Ones, a Dire Event, or at least a Portent. What’s funnier than $37,115 for potato salad? $47,115 for potato salad, ha ha. What’s funnier than $47,115? $100,000. With every new dollar it feels more urgent to a viewer that he attach his name and his dollars to the thing, which is now obscured entirely by noise—a fee for ensuring that you’re in on the joke.

It’s an investment compulsion, and the investment is a scam. (It’s fun to imagine all business opportunities as jokes: They are temporary and dependent entirely on context; they are taken advantage of at the expense of someone or something that is often neither aware nor present; they are—necessarily?—cruel; they inspire the same embarrassing urge for inclusion, and the same shameful regret upon misapprehension or exclusion. Jokes! Look around you: Isn’t it nice, that it’s all just jokes?). If the campaign keeps going, some people may start to claim that, at some specific level of investment, the joke is no longer funny. It will be too much—the money could be better used on another campaign, or in another context entirely. This will be true but it will have always been true. None of these people will be able to explain to you what exactly changed.

Read More | “The Potato Salad Kickstarter is the Science Fiction Villain We Deserve” | John Herrman | The Awl

 

“punishing the students by having them write long essays on why civil disobedience is a crime”

July 7, 2014

drescde

A group of Georgia middle school students decided they had enough of the school dress code and would violate it together in an act of civil disobedience. The school, Cowan Road Middle, found out about the plan and suspended the students for…terrorism.

According to WSB-TV (emphasis added):

“To me it was just a bunch of 13-year-olds acting crazy,” said Christopher Cagle, the father of a suspended honor roll student.

Cagle said the principal called the students’ actions terroristic threats. He said the principal was too swift and severe with the punishment.”

Read More | “Middle School Students Plan to Break Dress Code, Principal Screams Terorrism” | Dan Johnson | Panda

 

“is that really what people are saying when they say they are sad about their parrot?”

July 7, 2014

Halberstam kind of makes a big deal of this generational gap, pointing to the “friendly adults” who erroneously install “narratives of damage that they [the youth] themselves may or may not have actually experienced.” It’s as if young people are stealing an earlier generation’s trauma, claiming it as their own when really they have it so good. In this bizarrely counterfactual linear temporality, the past is not only past but also dead, and you do not have the right to be traumatized by historical memory, only by things that have literally happened to you—even if you are eighteen and it’s all—all—news to you. We (the older generation) were there, and are over it, and so you (the younger generation) should root yourselves entirely in the ameliorated present and get over it, because it is over.

The result is an odd polemic against coddled millenials and their too-sensitive feelings, as if it were somehow ridiculous to be young and too sensitive, or for that matter, old and too sensitive. This cross-generational call to “get over it” is an example of what Sara Ahmed has called “overing”: “In assuming that we are over certain kinds of critique, they create the impression that we are over what is being critiqued.” It’s particularly perverse to demand that young people be “over it,” when they have perhaps only just left their parents’ homes, and have perhaps only recently come to any political consciousness at all. There’s a very good reason college students aren’t “over it”; they just got there. Have you met a college student? It’s all, all new.

It is its own kind of shock to learn about how you have been historically, rather than personally, hated. It is not about “trauma” but about developing a political consciousness that is also historical, a fundamentally utopian impulse to exist in solidarity with the dead. There is, to be sure, a fine line between identifying with the past and appropriating it, but I think we can allow our students some leeway in figuring out where this line is, and not getting it right every time. Certainly grown-ups need the same leeway.

Read More | “On the ‘neoliberal rhetoric of harm’” | Natalia Cecire | in response to “You Are Triggering me! The Neo-Liberal Rhetoric of Harm, Danger and Trauma