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Total number of comments: 21 (since 2013-11-28 15:55:10)


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  • Reading Africa: How exciting Literature takes us beyond the Dreary Headlines
    • Currently 'hony' the Facebook page Humans of New York has been touring Africa and exposing the world to the inner human mindsets of denizens of Kinshasa and other locales.
      Gambit sounds great! Thanks for this article.

  • The Eurasian Pivot: Is it China's and Russia's Century?
    • Andrew Richardson 05/19/2014 at 11:56 pm

      The theatre for war merely shifts. As mentioned above, the island wars between China and sea-sharing nations is becoming ever more thinkable. China needs these resources for itself- it's bigger, so it''s taking them. Untold generations of Vietnamese are taught in their earliest school lessons to prepare to fight and expel the Chinese.
      Chinese actions are pushing decision makers in these countries to rethink generational assumptions regarding relationships with Washington.
      After the new treaties are inked (within the next five years) what can Washington do? Just sail around the South China sea with a bunch of new ports, containing China.
      Uh- I think I'm starting to follow your analysis, what then?
      Eventually the geo-political center will switch to Asia, yes, as the infrastructure is completed to siphon global resources in that direction.
      But as another commenter noted above, this model is already outmoded, and new technology may shift the balance again.
      But I think the world would like to see a shift from West to East, just for variety ;)

    • Andrew Richardson 05/19/2014 at 8:48 am

      I scanned this, anxious to find analysis about the current crisis in Vietnam following China's placement of an oil rig 140 knots off the coast.
      China's bid to wrest the sea away from Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines and others puts Obama's 'pivot' and recent statements made to Japan in a stark light.
      Sorry I didn't find that discussion here, but what I did pick up let me know that the article is more than worthy of being studied carefully. Thanks for posting!
      (For what it's worth, as far as it relates to Vietnam, I expect unprecedented cooperation to bloom between Hanoi and Washington, or rather Arlington. The key to Cam Ranh Bay is being polished as we speak I suspect).

  • Dropbox putting NSA Spying advocate Condi Rice on its board Shocks Privacy Advocates
    • It is kind of naive to think cloud storage isn't completely pawed over by low-level analysts like Snowden, but this is just insulting. Then to have the sock-puppet commenter ask "the crazies" to "move on"? Bad move. What would be the motivation for this trajectory for Dropbox?

  • Thank You for Your Support
  • Are Extremist Buddhists in Burma attacking Helpless Muslims? (Walton)
    • Andrew Richardson 07/25/2013 at 7:59 am

      I recently traveled across Myanmar on motor-bikes with my brother. We passed through Meiktila on our way from Bagan to Lake Inlay. I recognized that there were muslims in town by their caps and beards and through other clues and was delighted to recognize yet another fabric of diversity in this fascinating part of the world, bordered by China, Thailand, India, Laos and Bangladesh, with food that tastes exactly like that, my absolute favorite cuisine in South-East Asia.
      A week later, the town was in flames, homes and temples were systematically destroyed, and bodies were lined up in the street to be counted, overwhelmingly of the muslim minority. The violence was said to be triggered by a dispute in a jewelry store (probably involving a pawn transaction) between a buddhist customer and a muslim shop-owner.
      969 graffiti was said to be left as a calling card in the aftermath and the NYTimes reported that a monk brandishing a sword demanded data-cards from assembled photo-journalists, "or else". They also reported that a monk was driving a bull-dozer taking down homes and mosques in the muslim quarter, then revised both reports to 'men wearing the robes of a monk.'
      U Wirathu was all too happy to stand as the main apologist for this violence, concocting self-incriminating stories of muslim villagers hiding in fear in their mosques yet holding bottles of acid as weapons 'so we had to, you know, deal with them' (my approximation, read his words here: link to
      Westerners often see Buddhism as an item in a new-age gift shop, as a holder for scented candles. The stone reliefs at Angkor Wat tell a different story, as does reports out of Myanmar. I certainly haven't made sense out of it yet, my guess is only that the onset of real contact with the rest of the world is causing a majority to feel out of control, and thus attack a vulnerable target. I will reread this article to broaden my understanding, but I will tell this final anecdote:
      Many of the places a tourist or a local traveler would visit are the wonderful Buddhist temples. In the temples that I did go to there is always a wall were photos of the resident monk hierarchy are displayed. If it's an important temple, the same wall will also have an equal amount of portraits of generals and other such fellows in olive khaki, a carnation in their lapel, maybe even a tear in their eye, making tribute, shaking hands with the clergy. Look into the eyes of those monks if you get a chance, or just look into the eyes of U Wirathu. Man is a social animal. And these are our leaders.

  • "I am Bradley Manning" Celebrity Support Video (Leaked Teaser)
  • My Trip to Baghdad Last Week (Photo Gallery)
  • The Failure of Gun Legislation in the Senate Tells us we Need to fight for our Democracy (Graeber)
    • I probably agree with all of the rants for and against in the comments but I also like the piece, as it articulates a counter-common-sense notion, that if we line up accurate assessments of our American political history, we are actually trending towards democracy, not away from it, notwithstanding the eternal twilight struggle of it all.
      My basic internal deliberation is whether it is too late, vis-a-vis climate crisis and just an over-all cultural will-to-death, or whether the trend towards liberation can emerge victorious. My estimation is that if we can emerge from the mental slavery we are mired in it will take 10,000 years. Those who think it's worth fighting for typically tell themselves that success or defeat is just around the corner- for me, defeat is just around the corner and success is very very far away, but if it's worth fighting for at all it's still worth fighting for.
      In any case this piece takes as an assumption that direct democracy is a better version of freedom than what we've experienced. Notwithstanding my 10,000 year prophecy I see the tools emerging now to better critically hold our representatives to task- just using video-editing like it's done on Jon Stewart is an example of cutting through the amnesia and lying that so define the norm of politics. Crude, simple, effective- I like it. I hate being so gullible but it looks like digital technology has the power to provide a powerful measure of transparency to governance that we are just beginning to grock.
      Open-source government? Is it possible? In any case I went ahead and bought Graeber's book to see what else he has to say.

  • Isaac Asimov Predicts Interactive Internet 25 Years Ago
    • More than the future predictive cast of this, what I find fascinating is the proposal that the internet could be a mass Plato, responding directly in its pedagogy to generation after generation of Aristotles, Alexanders, and ______s (submit the names of all the kids of today and the future who can now nerd out in their chosen fields).
      As many commentators above have noted, human sexuality is a big interest of humanity on the whole,and this is reflected in internet activity, but when I was in 4th grade I looked up dirty words in the dictionary and then just kept on reading. We don't have to be celibate monks and nuns to be good pupils after all.

  • UN to look into US Drone Program, but the Biggest Victim is Democracy
    • I was hoping someone would discuss the pirates and the founding documents. I'm curious if any of that is actually pertinent to the AQ war. Just a reader, not an informed commenter at this point although my first scan seems to indicate that the Barbary pirates were far from stateless.

  • The Gospel of Jesus' Wife and Sacred History from Judaism to Islam
    • One thing is sure- texts and traditions were edited to form an orthodoxy, and it certainly is surprising to dig around what we can actually get our hands on of non-canonical traditions and see the complex variety of thought, far more interesting than any Sunday school.
      Asceticism certainly was practiced voluntarily by some, or even promoted by sects. Check the Essenes, the Ebionites. James the Just was said to have been a lifelong virgin and vegetarian. Robert Eisenman, the Dead Sea scroll scholar of Cali State, Long Beach, reads that the Jewish Christians were a Palestinaian messianic sect that practiced Jewish law and were obsessed with purity and later were marginalized by the Hellenistic Paul.
      The ascetics chose their status within a context of a struggle with outside forces with alien practices, much like some of us could have a brother or sister who is a vegan in large part to protest aspects of global capitalism.
      So, James could have been 'fully' righteous, and his brother could have had a wife. But of course, asceticism could have been projected onto any particular figure, as a feature of hero-creation (or even vilification[?]). Eisenman is good at pointing out that we actually know loads about the historical figure of James, but almost nothing about his brother, other than through the edited canon.
      I think the temptation should be avoided however, and so frequently not, to make a specific history whatever you want it to be.
      Let's just keep sifting the evidence, and keep our imaginations for speculation (even intuition) only, or pure story-telling when warranted.

  • "What the World Needs Now" - In Memoriam Hal David
    • Thanks Juan-Went on a bit of a tear myself yesterday posting great Hal David songs. There's so many of them! And although he did a lot of make up and break up, he went for the human heart of it all, the person struggling for balance, which led him to comment on social themes more than once. Just fantastic.

  • Top Ten Paul Ryan Falsehoods, Gaffes and Outrages, First Week
    • Akin is on a science committee, the Committee on Science, Space and Technology. All Americans should be embarrassed by his performance as a (r/R)epresentative in regards to science here.

  • Omar Khayyam (103) The sword of fate is sharp
  • Why don't we have better Reporting on the Afghanistan Army? It is our Best Hope for Getting Out
    • Can you explain what you mean by University of Maryland type educational program? I glossed the gist of this as referring to the GI bill but then took a second take as there were too many qualifiers to support my initial interpretation. What are you getting at and referring to here if not a program to compensate Afghan soldiers with liberal education? And as you said, if the vast majority of them are illiterate, how can such a package be created? I like the idea by the way, and think it less costly and more productive than a lot of ideas, with a soft power factor that should not be under-estimated. I'm thinking Dari and Pashto reading and writing literacy, and Math and English lessons as well.

  • Darpa Cheetah Robot beats Land Speed Record
    • While I am forever a non-believer in the coming waking up moment for robots and AI, I believe the point is nearly moot, as the employment of robots as tools of human intent (perhaps as unexamined and unconscious, as robotic as any imagined 'other') is upon us.

  • Omar Khayyam (52)
  • Qaddafi's Complex Falls to Revolutionaries
    • My prediction, based on an apparently overlooked speculation made by a journalist based there, and the behaviour of Qaddafi loyalists, and his appearance there recently under the nose of the journalists:
      Qaddafi is in the Rixos Hotel either in a protected room, or in a tunnel directly under or in close proximity to and with access to this structure.

  • London Riots: Its the Economy, Stupid (Not a Clash of Civilizations)
    • Didn't we just have a 'wave of lawlessness' in the U.K.? The Murdoch scandal exposed a police force that declared the sudden mysterious death of a main whistle-blower and journalist 'not suspicious' the day before the Murdochs testimony before Parliament (while the leaders of the police force were resigning for failing to investigate obvious crimes), testimony by James M. that was declared to be lies by credible high-profile witnesses,and so on.
      The example of the ruling class running rampant with such vulgarity hardly sets a tone of respect for law and order. So the 'thugs' who can't get a job, can't join a youth basketball league, are seeing paths to education cut are having a ball grabbing the goodies, the supposed carrots to enter a maze of indebtedness. It's not really justice, no, its just more lawlessness in a context of lawlessness.
      London, after all, is just a pile of loot, Elgin Marbles and all...

  • Rebels Take, Hold Key Oil Cities in Fierce Libyan Civil War
    • Juan, your coverage, which is of course gathered from your computer and other communication devices, seems to put the rebels struggle in a far more optimistic light than the depressing reports I get from the New York Times. There the picture is more along the lines of "Yeah, Qaddafi's crazy but he's scattering the rebels at will"...
      First- thank you for doing what you do, and second- I need to develop more sources myself. NYT does some excellent reporting and writing, but their presentation and control reveals an institutional bias- that of the attitudes of a "sensible" Ur-American.

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