HRW’s argument presupposes that the slaughter of a dozen people was wrong only if it violated international law, and that, conversely, it was right if it didn’t. But all sorts of horrors are legal. “Signature strikes” — in which the US targets unidentified people who, viewed from the sky, seem like terrorists — are responsible for many, if not most, of the hundreds of civilian drone deaths, yet they’re not necessarily illegal. Likewise “double-tap” strikes in which the US tries to kill rescuers. Likewise attacks on weddings and funerals.
I want the US government to stop killing people in countries around the world. I want it to stop terrorizing populations. I want it to stop incinerating children. I want it to stop using war to give corporations money and Americans a false sense of security. I want it to stop creating anti-American violence in the name of fighting it."
A thought-provoking piece about how we talk about drones.
Every once in a while — most recently with the collapse of online exchange site Mt Gox — the world starts paying attention to Bitcoin, the hacker-project-cum-digital-currency that has garnered the love of a certain subset of people on the internet. Who are those people? According to an online poll from Simulacrum, the average user is a 32.1-year-old libertarian male. By users’ accounts, those men are mostly white.
Breaking that down, about 95 percent of Bitcoin users are men, about 61 percent say they’re not religious, and about 44 percent describe themselves as “libertarian / anarcho-capitalist.” On the last point, the political ideology of Bitcoin users is evident from the fact that the whole idea behind Bitcoin is that it segregates economic markets and currency from a country’s government. Bitcoin aims to be a universal currency, connecting people “peer-to-peer” instead of through set institutions. It wants to replace our current economic system and practices in their entirety — changing the way we buy goods and distribute money. The libertarians, or anarcho-capitalists as the case may be, don’t trust the government to handle their money. They’re the same people who want to “end the fed.”
Why does Bitcoin specifically have this demographic makeup? Well, there’s a fair amount of privilege built directly into the currency: In order to buy the sometimes wildly expensive currency, Bitcoin users need to be wealthy. And they can afford to put their wealth into a currency that isn’t widely accepted or even recognized. Plus, they move easily through the financial and digital space — the process of “mining” bitcoins demands it; it is all about knowing coding and decryption and how to use an exchange. The sum total of these things — advanced knowledge of computer science, wealth — are also markings of the young, white male.
Read this article. Read it now.
And, if you want to see privilege in action, read the reddit thread about it.
THEY GET A FREE GAME SYSTEM AND BLU-RAY? Meanwhile, Comcast flips me off whenever I try to call them.
Although I’m deep into the reporting of my next story about the Silicon Valley Techtopus, it’s hard for me not to get distracted by events in Ukraine and Russia. I haven’t lived in that part of the…
Mark Ames provides a good perspective on the events in Ukraine.
Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide
If you want an evil sentence that encapsulates modern neoliberalism, here it is. It mixes in sexism, Orientalism, and capitalism into a tidy little mess of awfulness.
"Those backward leaders can’t possibly care about women; they only care about money and women are great for exploiting!"
Jesus Christ on the cross; thank God we have Kristof to save all of the women.
(This is two pages after he praises Bangladesh’s garment industry. That is the same industry that last year became an international scandal because of the treatment of its workers.)
Trevor Paglen has released these birds-eye photos of the NSA (National Security Agency, the “signals” intelligence organization, $10.8 billion dollar budget), the NRO (National Reconnaissance Office – in control of U.S. satellites, $10.3 billion dollar budget), and the NGA (National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency – the mapping [GIS] agency, $4.9 billion dollar budget). As Paglen notes, much of the discussion of the U.S.’ surveillance state lacks a physical, or spatial component. These nightime images, taken from a helicopter, are reminders of the enormous footprint that collecting planetary-wide data actually makes in the ground. Here’s the images, which can be freely distributed.
But some are given more days than others, and I think of dying at 17, in my loudness, in my vanity, which is to say in my human youth, and I tremble. I was barely anything. I understood barely anything. When Michael Dunn killed Jordan Davis, he obliterated a time-stream, devastated an open range of changes. And somewhere on that American jury, someone thought this was justice, someone believed in the voodoo of shotguns and teleportation. Michael Dunn killed a boy, and too robbed a man of his chance to be.
And this will happen again, must happen again, because our policy is color-blind, but our heritage isn’t. An American courtroom claiming it can be colorblind denies its rightful inheritance. An American courtroom claiming it can be colorblind is a drug addict claiming he can walk away after just one more hit. Law and legacy are at war. Legacy is winning. Legacy will always win. And our legacy is to die in this land where time is unequal, and deeded days are unequal, and blessed is the black man who lives to learn other ways, who lives to see other worlds, who lives to bear witness before the changes."
This part over and over:
When Michael Dunn killed Jordan Davis, he obliterated a time-stream, devastated an open range of changes. And somewhere on that American jury, someone thought this was justice, someone believed in the voodoo of shotguns and teleportation.
I’m sure Edwards would insist he’s no bigot, just as everybody in America insists they’re no bigot. But Edwards’ warning, if inartfully composed, offers an unintentionally elegant reminder of how heterosexism asserts and sustains itself. Not just through the bald fear and disgust we most often call homophobia (well-captured in the fear of predatory homosexuals invading the shower, as if straight bros’ locker room interactions were free of sexual surveillance, anxiety or bullying). But also through the insistence that anything other than normative heterosexuality is an issue, an event (maybe even an aggression), while straightness is unremarkable and un-remarked-upon. It’s called “straight” for a reason.
The epic time and energy devoted to performing, asserting and enforcing heterosexuality (just watch a Super Bowl ad) goes hand-in-hand with the assumption that any individual’s heterosexuality is a non-event. When projected first round NFL pick Manti Te’o told reporters about his (apparently mythical) girlfriend, Herm Edwards didn’t accuse him of dragging his heterosexual baggage into the locker room. That’s the asymmetry at hand: Sam’s sexuality is noteworthy and suspect, while Te’o’s relationship only became baggage when it was revealed as a hoax. Similarly, Proposition 8 Judge Vaughn Walker was accused of being unable, as a gay man, to rule fairly on gay marriage, whereas heterosexuality (or whiteness, or U.S. citizenship) doesn’t get called out as a conflict of interest.
Sitting in that classroom back in high school, not yet having acknowledged to myself or intimated to anyone that I was anything other than straight, I took the lesson that being gay could make people afraid to share a locker room with you. But thinking back on it, I’m mostly struck by the teacher’s comfort speaking as if everyone in the room was presumptively straight. Despite swift progress, heterosexuality remains largely omnipresent, assumed and therefore invisible. Deviation (be it claiming queerness or just actively questioning one’s sexuality) comes at a cost – like getting accused of dividing your team, or undermining your sport, by introducing your “off the field issues.” (Note that the NBA’s Jason Collins, in coming out last year, wrote that he’d held off during the season so as to “not let my personal life become a distraction.”)"