Archive for the ‘Society’ Category

China’s Dystopian Tech


(Atlantic) – Rene Chun:

Facial-recognition technologies are proliferating, from airports to bathrooms. …

theatlantic 2018/04 554075

Rami Niemi: Big Brother


The Real Lessons from the Story of Joshua


(FTB) – Mano Singham:

The lack of historicity of the Bible is rampant. To take just one example, there is no evidence for the triumphalist story of Joshua leading the Israeli soldiers, just returned from their (also fictitious) captivity in Egypt, in one victory to another over the various towns in Canaan. The most famous battle is the one for Jericho. But archeological excavations reveal that far from being a big fortressed city whose walls fell under a military onslaught that was favored by their god, Jericho was an insignificant little town that was unwalled.

Such stories, even if fictional, are not harmless. Because they are told to children as something glorious (and praised in song about even today), they serve to indoctrinate young children with the tribal mindset that atrocities are acceptable as long as they are done by ‘our’ side (by definition good) against ‘their’ side (evil).

The real lesson from the story of Joshua is that people are most dangerous, and can be most cruel, when they think they know the mind of god and believe that he is on their side. …

singham 2011/05/19 joshua

Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld: Battle of Jericho

A CIA Director-Designate and Nazi War Crimes


(The Intercept) – Jon Schwarz:

During the Nuremberg Trials after World War II, several Nazis, including top German generals Alfred Jodl and Wilhelm Keitel, claimed they were not guilty of the tribunal’s charges because they had been acting at the directive of their superiors.

The Nuremberg judges rejected that defense, and both Jodl and Keitel were hanged. The United Nations International Law Commission later codified the underlying principle from Nuremberg as “the fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.”

This is likely the most famous declaration in the history of international law and is as settled as anything possibly can be.

However, many members of the Washington, D.C. elite are now stating that it, in fact, is a legitimate defense for American officials who violate international law to claim they were just following orders. …

theintercept 2018/03/15 nazi-defense

Nuremberg International Military Tribunal court

Annabelle Timsit: What Happened at the Thailand ‘Black Site’ Run By Trump’s CIA Pick

Marcus Ranum: A Confirmation Question for Gina Haspel

The Man Behind the Trump Dossier


(New Yorker::A Reporter at Large) – Jane Mayer:

How an ex-spy tried to warn the world about Trump’s ties to Russia …

newyorker 2018/03/12 christopher-steele

A. Paul Weber: Das Gerücht

G.O.P. Inaction Figure


(New Yorker::Daily Cartoon) – Brendan Loper:

“… from the makers of the AR-15” …

newyorker gop-inaction-figure

Brendan Loper: G.O.P. Inaction Figure

Adam Gopnik: Four Truths About the Florida School Shooting

Robinson Meyer: The Righteous Anger of the Parkland Shooting’s Teen Survivors

Wikipedia: School shootings in the United States

Score Another Win for Satan


(FTB) – Mano Singham:

The Satanic Temple, in the front lines against the intrusion of Christian dogmatic beliefs into public life, has won a skirmish in the fight to defend women’s rights when they challenged the state of Missouri after they passed a law that forced women seeking abortions to listen to an ultrasound. The Temple was suing the state on behalf of a member of the Temple. …

singham another-win-for-satan

Satanic Temple Baphomet

Finding Your Voice


(The Intercept) – Ava Kofman:

Forget about Siri and Alexa – when it comes to voice identification the “NSA reigns supreme” …

theintercept 2018/01/19 voice-recognition

Big Brother Listens

It’s Worse Than You Think: Tracking Apps


(FTB stderr) – Marcus Ranum:

There is a vast infrastructure of sneaky, nasty, deceptive code that is deployed by marketers to infect your browser so they can track everything you are doing. This reduces your ability to trust your browser tremendously, since you (naturally!) have no idea what it’s doing: it is not your browser. And, there is a similar vast infrastructure of evil running on your smartphone, sucking your battery life, tracking your location, monitoring the sounds around you, and eating your bandwidth and performance to transmit all that to dozens of companies: it is not your smartphone.

You’re just paying for it. …

stderr 2017/11/30 tracking-apps

Big-Brother mobile Phones

Aliens in the Mist


(Discover Blogs::Out There) – Corey S. Powell:

What would happen if we found an intelligent alien civilization that was less advanced than our own? I posed this as a hypothetical question in a recent blog post. But really, it doesn’t need to be posed as a hypothetical. The answer is playing out right now in the forests of Africa, and it doesn’t reflect very well on us. …

outthere 2017/12/07 gorilla_aliens

Dian Fossey and mountain gorillas

Why Is Donald Trump So Obsessed With LaVar Ball?


(The Intercept) – Shaun King:

Have you ever done a good deed for someone? Can you think of something particularly generous you did to help someone who really needed it? I’m not just asking rhetorically: Put that deed in your mind.

Now imagine, after doing that good deed, you go on Twitter and say how grateful the person you helped should be — and even ask publicly if they are going to thank you for it.

That’s gross, right? …

theintercept 2017/11/23 lavar-ball

Donald Trump venting