twitter
facebook twitter tumblr newsletter

Findings from around the Internet.

 

“We were soldiers in a wide variety of units and positions in the Israeli military—a fact we now regret”

July 23, 2014

Israeli Defense Forces tweeted this picture of rockets over London to justify its Gaza invasion.

In our service, we found that troops who operate in the occupied territories aren’t the only ones enforcing the mechanisms of control over Palestinian lives. In truth, the entire military is implicated. For that reason, we now refuse to participate in our reserve duties, and we support all those who resist being called to service.

The Israeli Army, a fundamental part of Israelis’ lives, is also the power that rules over the Palestinians living in the territories occupied in 1967. As long as it exists in its current structure, its language and mindset control us: We divide the world into good and evil according to the military’s categories; the military serves as the leading authority on who is valued more and who less in society — who is more responsible for the occupation, who is allowed to vocalize their resistance to it and who isn’t, and how they are allowed to do it. The military plays a central role in every action plan and proposal discussed in the national conversation, which explains the absence of any real argument about non-military solutions to the conflicts Israel has been locked in with its neighbors.

The Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip are deprived of civil rights and human rights. They live under a different legal system from their Jewish neighbors. This is not exclusively the fault of soldiers who operate in these territories. Those troops are, therefore, not the only ones obligated to refuse. Many of us served in logistical and bureaucratic support roles; there, we found that the entire military helps implement the oppression of the Palestinians.

Read More | “We Are Israeli Reservists. We Refuse to Serve.” | Yael Even Or | Washington Post

 

“If flying a white flag atop the Brooklyn Bridge is someone’s idea of a joke, I’m not laughing”

July 22, 2014

BtJ_e5EIMAAttJf

In a stunning security breach, the giant American flags at the top of both sides of the Brooklyn Bridge were replaced by white-painted flags overnight, cops said Tuesday.

Emergency Services cops lowered the two rogue flags — which are the traditional symbol for “surrender” — and packed them up along with what appeared to be painting supplies.

The discovery was made sometime this morning.

Police are trying to figure out how someone was able to gain access to the bridge, which has patrol cars stationed on both sides and also has security cameras.

Read More | “White flags fly from Brooklyn Bridge in stunning security breach” | Natasha Velez and Larry Celona | New York Post

 

“turn it right back on once the city truck is out of sight”

July 17, 2014

HPIM0653.JPG

There are so many comments to make on this situation, so many angles to point out: i.e., Wall Street bankrupted Detroit in the first place, water should be (and actually is) free, unemployment is epidemic, inflation is out of control thereby draining the money people might have otherwise used to pay their water bills, etc.

But that’s not what I want to get at in this post.   No, I simply want to tell the people of Detroit–and everywhere else this kind of BS happens–you don’t have to put up with this.  All it takes is a wrench.  In some cases, not even that.

Go out to the street, open up the cover to your water main, and turn your water back on.  A wrench actually isn’t even the best tool to do this–I only suggest it because it is the type of tool most people likely already have on hand and can be a workable solution with a little ingenuity.

Read More | “Detroit: Got a Wrench? Turn Your Water Back On” | Liberty Road Media

 

“alternatives to Facebook and Android should be thriving right now”

July 14, 2014

bart_os

The Tower of David (and most free software) is what Bruno Latour would call a “Theater of Proof,” something that makes a persuasive argument through example. Your argument doesn’t necessarily have to appeal directly to morals, ethics, or some other abstract principle; you get past the “shoulds” and instead proudly display the “what can bes” of the matter. It is a kind of pragmatic, brass tacks debating style that I have come to really admire as I pursue a social science Ph.D. at an engineering school. And I know this practice is a fairly popular among open source developers and engineers because Biella Coleman (who I believe is the first to apply Latour’s concept to these communities), Chris Kelty, and others have witnessed similar styles of argument in their own research. I also know, having read these authors, that F/OSS communities really don’t want to pledge allegiance to any kind of spot on the political spectrum. I understand the tactical and rhetorical reasons for acting apolitical, (Google wouldn’t make up 98% of Mozilla’s income if the latter was avowedly and loudly anti-capitalist) but none of those justifications make it true. Every time a Fortune 500 company updates to the new version of Apache, the open source community demonstrates its politics.

It isn’t enough to say that software is a tool, and you can’t help it if you make a really useful tool and a corporation uses it to make a profit. The average person doesn’t have a use for complicated backend server software. They do need a social media network that isn’t out to exploit them for profit. The failure of the F/OSS community to come out with a polished, user-friendly, and user-run social media network, while Facebook run’s on open source server software is confounding. This arrangement turns inexcusable when those same people demand that other’s learn to code if they want to take full advantage of what F/OSS has to offer. At the very least, F/OSS usability and popular technological literacy should meet halfway.

Read More | “Open (Source) for Business” | D. A. Banks | Cyborgology

 

“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