Thursday, April 05, 2007

My Apppointed Rounds

Subtopia has a must-read post on Blackwater and the growth of private military bases worldwide.

[It] is the insidious flexing muscle of the pirvatization of war meeting the privatization of local land use policy meeting yet again the type of military urbanism that goes on quietly comsuming the map, plot by plot, tract by tract, acre by acre, revising the very spaces of our world one exception at a time.
In related news, Danger Room reports on increasing tension between US soldiers and Blackwater mercenaries.

Dick Destiny discusses the nuclear threat, as dispassionately assessed by “the Center for Mass Destruction Defense, located in the School of Pharmacy at the University of Georgia”:
The conclusions: Nuclear explosions -- bad. Medical services -- they'll fail! Half a megaton blast on NYC. Diagram included. Really, really, really, really bad.
This comports well with study coauthor Cham E. Dallas’s 2001 finding that “a nuclear incident will be very hard to respond to effectively because of the numbers of casualties.” It’s good to see that the pieces are all falling into place.

FYI, CMADD is an offshoot of the CDC, IIRC. I wonder where they got the money for this groundbreaking research?

Bruce Schneier explains the problems with offensive cyberwarfare:
In warfare, the notion of counterattack is extremely powerful. Going after the enemy -- its positions, its supply lines, its factories, its infrastructure -- is an age-old military tactic. But in peacetime, we call it revenge, and consider it dangerous. Anyone accused of a crime deserves a fair trial. The accused has the right to defend himself, to face his accuser, to an attorney, and to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Both vigilante counterattacks, and pre-emptive attacks, fly in the face of these rights. They punish people before who haven't been found guilty. It's the same whether it's an angry lynch mob stringing up a suspect, the MPAA disabling the computer of someone it believes made an illegal copy of a movie, or a corporate security officer launching a denial-of-service attack against someone he believes is targeting his company over the net.
A study on commuter behavior shows how technology allows drivers to adapt to gridlock:
Drivers are getting more cozy in their fully equipped cars and becoming accustomed to gridlock, which one traffic analyst said is leading to the demise of carpooling.

"[You have] entertainment systems, you have language lessons, you have cellphones," said Pravin Varaiya, an engineering professor at the University of California at Berkeley. "It's your little space and you have some free time, if you can call it that."
Which reminds me, for better or worse, of this passage from a rather irritating story by D.H. Lawrence:
An island, if it is big enough, is no better than a continent. It has to be really quite small, before it feels like an island; and this story will show how tiny it has to be, before you can presume to fill it with your own personality.
At WhirledView, CKR writes on the nature of evil:
I’m not comfortable with the idea that evil is a quality that inheres in individuals or groups of people. Rather, it is in actions that, psychology suggests, result from certain kinds of relationships. It may be a cousin to stupidity.
GrrlScientist presents the Shiveluch Volcano, and in expressing herself, expresses yours truly:
My purpose for posting these images is to remind all of us of the grandeur of the natural world and that there is a world out there that is populated by millions of unique species. We are a part of this world whether we like it or not: we have a choice to either preserve these species or to destroy them in search of short-term monetary gains. But if we decide to destroy these other life forms, the least we can do is to know what we are destroying by learning that they exist.
I’ve never thought much of Harlan Ellison. But I think even less of him now that he’s suing Fantagraphics, a small independent publisher that offers gorgeous reprints of George Herriman’s Krazy Kat and Lyonel Feininger’s The Kin-Der-Kids, as well as modern masterworks like Peter Bagge’s Hate and Chris Ware’s Acme Novelty Library.

Contributing to their legal defense fund may help to ensure that there’s no delay in their publication of the complete Pogo strips. Failing that, you could do worse than to buy a few volumes of Krazy Kat (if you promise not to think less of me once you realize that I cribbed a goodly number of my stylistic eccentricities from Herriman).

(Illustration at top via Moon River.)


Interrobang said...

Gahdam, I think that cardiac event Ellison had some years ago has fractured his brain. This stuff pisses me off, and I'll tell you upfront I'm a huge Ellison fan. I actually spoke to him on the phone ten or eleven years ago, and, aside from the fact that I couldn't get a greased word in edgewise with a shoehorn, it was a very pleasant conversation. I won't call him a nice guy, because he really isn't nice; but that's ok, I'm not particularly nice, either. He is, like I am, a bit of a hardass, but he's scrupulously fair...or at least used to be. I'm actually halfway inclined to believe he's got some dumbass lawyer putting him up to this shit. Anyway, the point is, I guess, that in real life he's nowhere near as big of an asshole as he's been made out to be, so this recent stuff (including the groping incident which never actually happened, but boy did a lot of people talk about it as if it did, which is about typical for the hordes of "let's slag Harlan" types out there) is actually a bit of an aberration. Something's going on, and I'm wondering what it is.

Pump head? Alzheimer's? A greedy lawyer with an even slicker line of patter than Uncle Harlan's? Your guess is as good as mine. I'm almost tempted to drop him another line and say, "Hey, what the fuck is up with you?"

In the meantime, he's still got a lot of back catalogue I can enjoy...

juniper pearl said...

phila, honey, are there three "p"s in that heading on purpose? everything else is lovely, as always.