Category Archives: politricks

Kevin Kelly : Out of Control

Image source

I am sealed in a cottage of glass that is completely airtight. Inside I breathe my exhalations. Yet the air is fresh, blown by fans. My urine and excrement are recycled by a system of ducts, pipes, wires, plants, and marsh-microbes, and redeemed into water and food which I can eat. Tasty food. Good water.

Last night it snowed outside. Inside this experimental capsule it is warm, humid, and cozy. This morning the thick interior windows drip with heavy condensation. Plants crowd my space. I am surrounded by large banana leaves — huge splashes of heartwarming yellow-green color — and stringy vines of green beans entwining every vertical surface. About half the plants in this hut are food plants, and from these I harvested my dinner.

I am in a test module for living in space. My atmosphere is fully recycled by the plants and the soil they are rooted in, and by the labyrinth of noisy ductwork and pipes strung through the foliage. Neither the green plants alone nor the heavy machines alone are sufficient to keep me alive. Rather it is the union of sun-fed life and oil-fed machinery that keeps me going. Within this shed the living and the manufactured have been unified into one robust system, whose purpose is to nurture further complexities — at the moment, me.

What is clearly happening inside this glass capsule is happening less clearly at a great scale on Earth in the closing years of this millennium. The realm of the born — all that is nature — and the realm of the made — all that is humanly constructed — are becoming one. Machines are becoming biological and the biological is becoming engineered.

That’s banking on some ancient metaphors. Images of a machine as organism and an organism as machine are as old as the first machine itself. But now those enduring metaphors are no longer poetry. They are becoming real — profitably real.

This book is about the marriage of the born and the made. By extracting the logical principle of both life and machines, and applying each to the task of building extremely complex systems, technicians are conjuring up contraptions that are at once both made and alive. This marriage between life and machines is one of convenience, because, in part, it has been forced by our current technical limitations. For the world of our own making has become so complicated that we must turn to the world of the born to understand how to manage it. That is, the more mechanical we make our fabricated environment, the more biological it will eventually have to be if it is to work at all. Our future is technological; but it will not be a world of gray steel. Rather our technological future is headed toward a neo-biological civilization.

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The Olympics are Around the Corner…

The political salience of sport has increased dramatically in the past 30 years. Governments in regimes of every type have shown a new willingness to invest and intervene in sport directly, steer and develop sport policy more purposefully, and, recently, engage in bidding for and hosting sports mega-events. With the London 2012 Olympics on the horizon, it is an apt time to reflect on the reasons behind the increasing politicisation of sport and sports mega-events, and the increasing competition between states to host an Olympic Games, FIFA World Cup or one of the smaller international competitions, such as the Commonwealth Games.

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More from the War Against Voters

Image: Source (and a good read)

As the nation gears up for the 2012 presidential election, Republican officials have launched an unprecedented, centrally coordinated campaign to suppress the elements of the Democratic vote that elected Barack Obama in 2008. Just as Dixiecrats once used poll taxes and literacy tests to bar black Southerners from voting, a new crop of GOP governors and state legislators has passed a series of seemingly disconnected measures that could prevent millions of students, minorities, immigrants, ex-convicts and the elderly from casting ballots. “What has happened this year is the most significant setback to voting rights in this country in a century,” says Judith Browne-Dianis, who monitors barriers to voting as co-director of the Advancement Project, a civil rights organization based in Washington, D.C. #read from RollingStone

Voter Suppression, the New Black

It’s kind of sad that we, as Americans, are basically forced to go outside of our traditional media outlets for alternative viewpoints. Something tells me you’d only find a story like this in American media AFTER an election, or in a MoveOn spam. Anyway, I think it’s interesting what people can get away with, legally, in the name of democracy. Same ole sh!t, though, basically.

I like the historical slant…

In the 1964 presidential elections, a young political operative named Bill guarded a largely African-American polling place in South Phoenix, Arizona like a bull mastiff.

Bill was a legal whiz who knew the ins and outs of voting law and insisted that every obscure provision be applied, no matter what. He even made those who spoke accented English interpret parts of the constitution to prove that they understood it. The lines were long, people fought, got tired or had to go to work, and many of them left without voting. It was a notorious episode long remembered in Phoenix political circles.

It turned out that it was part of a Republican Party strategy known as “Operation Eagle Eye”, and “Bill” was future Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist. He was confronted with his intimidation tactics in his confirmation hearings years later, and characterised his behaviour as simple arbitration of polling place disputes. In doing so, he set a standard for GOP dishonesty and obfuscation surrounding voting rights that continues to this day. #read the rest at Al Jazeera

The Encyclodpedia of

Check out a thorough collection of articles about 9/11 via NYMAG‘s Encyclopedia of 9/11.

What Dinh didn’t anticipate was a profound shift in liberalism and, therefore, in the politics of the country. Even with a Democrat now in the White House, the liberalism that protects the right of the individual against the majority—the politics of civil rights and abortion and gay marriage—has diminished, in favor of one that aims to improve the lot of the median man. Obama’s liberalism is for the majority, not against it. This spirit, and the unlikely endurance of the Patriot Act, owes something to the central psychological events of the decade: the vitality and threat of new economic competitors, the social violence initiated by the authors of obscure financial instruments, but first and most of all September 11—each of which evoked a particular feeling, that we were all together, under attack. .::Patriot Act

Colorism?

I found an article over at Good which says that many studies suggest that darker colored women get harsher prison sentences than light-skinned ones.  While this is not a surprise- if you’ve ever turned on a television, that is- it does underscore a little-talked-about aspect of the black experience in America, namely colorism, one that dictates that the darker you are, the more associated you become with the negative stereotypes about black people.

I’ve quoted the short article (which links to several studies) underneath this post but you can also read the original here.

 

People talk a lot about the racism that poisons the criminal justice system, sending African-Americans to jail more often than white criminals, and with longer and harsher sentences. But what about “colorism”? If you don’t know, colorism is the sub-prejudice that finds people treating people of color differently based on how light or dark their skin is. Though it’s rarely talked about, colorism is a major cause for concern in courtrooms around the United States, according to a new study.

Called “The Impact of Light Skin on Prison Time for Black Female Offenders,” the study found a group of Villanova professors assessing the sentences of more than 12,000 black female defendants in North Carolina. Their findings were horrifying: Even after controlling for things like prior convictions, crime severity, and thinness, women with light skin received sentences that were 12 percent shorter on average than dark-skinned women. Lighter women also had their actual time served reduced by about 11 percent.

Colorism doesn’t just impact criminals, either. Another study, this one from the University of Georgia in 2006, found that skin tone was even more important than education when it came to employer satisfaction with black job applicants. The message this sends is that the closer you are to white, the better you are—both morally and professionally, evidently.

Thanks to Sarah for the link!

Leftwing? Think again

A new study from the University of Leicester Department of Economics reveals that highly educated people make wrong assumptions about their political leanings — they are more likely to think they are left wing when they are more likely to be relatively conservative. “This is further evidence not just that voters are far from fully informed, but that somehow voters consistently misperceive where they lie on the ideological spectrum.” ScienceDaily

Fake Green Party Candidates – AZ

Reading tarot cards has taught Mr. Meadows, who is known for his purple and green jester hat, to talk a good game. “This is not the land of the free,” he told the loungers on the sidewalk, pitching himself for treasurer. “It’s the land of what’s for sale.”

“It’s unbelievable. It’s not right. It’s deceitful,” said Jackie Thrasher, a former Democratic legislator in northwest Phoenix who lost re-election in 2008 after a Green Party candidate with possible links to the Republicans joined the race. “If these candidates were interested in the democratic process, they should connect with the party they are interested in. What’s happening here just doesn’t wash. It doesn’t pass the smell test.”

Read More @ NYT Politics

Koch’s War on Obama

The gala marked the social ascent of Koch, who, at the age of seventy, has become one of the city’s most prominent philanthropists. In 2008, he donated a hundred million dollars to modernize Lincoln Center’s New York State Theatre building, which now bears his name. He has given twenty million to the American Museum of Natural History, whose dinosaur wing is named for him. This spring, after noticing the decrepit state of the fountains outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Koch pledged at least ten million dollars for their renovation. He is a trustee of the museum, perhaps the most coveted social prize in the city, and serves on the board of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, where, after he donated more than forty million dollars, an endowed chair and a research center were named for him.

One dignitary was conspicuously absent from the gala: the event’s third honorary co-chair, Michelle Obama. Her office said that a scheduling conflict had prevented her from attending. Yet had the First Lady shared the stage with Koch it might have created an awkward tableau. In Washington, Koch is best known as part of a family that has repeatedly funded stealth attacks on the federal government, and on the Obama Administration in particular.

Read more http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/08/30/100830fa_fact_mayer#ixzz0ymB5PgBr

Truly Inspirational

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsUVL6ciK-c&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

Thanks to all the moms for coming out of the woodwork and taking our country back.

I love how Republicans, or conservatives in general act like we’ve had a thousand years of left-wing rule and that there is something to actually “take back.” It makes me wonder if we’re living in the same universe…

LET’S TAKE OUR COUNTRY BACK (from these liberal black-voting tax-raising left-wing-because-i-said-so liberals). I WISH US’N COULD RE-ELECT BUSH. Come on people, get with it.

Massaging the Curriculum: A Texas Guide to Rewriting History

I haven’t much to say about this besides that you should read the article.  Part of me thinks it’s scary, another part of me thinks that it’s always scary when you see sausage being made.

I mean… I remember that in school we colored in pictures of happy “Pilgrims” and “Indians. “  Sometimes feeling like you were lied to can be more dramatic than not.

McLeroy moved that Margaret Sanger, the birth-control pioneer, be included because she “and her followers promoted eugenics,” that language be inserted about Ronald Reagan’s “leadership in restoring national confidence” following Jimmy Carter’s presidency and that students be instructed to “describe the causes and key organizations and individuals of the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s, including Phyllis Schlafly, the Contract With America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority and the National Rifle Association.” The injection of partisan politics into education went so far that at one point another Republican board member burst out in seemingly embarrassed exasperation, “Guys, you’re rewriting history now!” Nevertheless, most of McLeroy’s proposed amendments passed by a show of hands.

Finally, the board considered an amendment to require students to evaluate the contributions of significant Americans. The names proposed included Thurgood Marshall, Billy Graham, Newt Gingrich, William F. Buckley Jr., Hillary Rodham Clinton and Edward Kennedy. All passed muster except Kennedy, who was voted down.

This is how history is made — or rather, how the hue and cry of the present and near past gets lodged into the long-term cultural memory or else is allowed to quietly fade into an inaudible whisper. Public education has always been a battleground between cultural forces; one reason that Texas’ school-board members find themselves at the very center of the battlefield is, not surprisingly, money. The state’s $22 billion education fund is among the largest educational endowments in the country. LINK

They say history is written by the victors.  Given how frequently we accuse our politicians of attempting to rewrite history, nay, how frequently they do, maybe we should begin to say that the victors are also written by history.