Weekend Reading

Got some time? Do some reading:

Welcome to the Kickstarter page for the Greek government, whose motto is “release the Kraken!”

History is being used as a weapon in Tucson, Arizona and in Silwan, East Jerusalem.

The long shadow of the Vietnam War on America.

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross does a preliminary evaluation of the intervention in Libya.

From Safe Zones to Where? A look at why we shouldn’t support safe zones in Syria.

I was a warehouse wage slave.

A new report that over 500 people have been killed by law enforcement using Tasers since 2001. This story is replete with really chilling accounts of unarmed people being shocked for little to no reason, for example:

Pikes did not resist arrest, and he was handcuffed while lying on the ground, according to Nugent’s police report of the incident. It was only after Pikes refused Nugent’s command to stand up that the officer applied the first Taser shock in the middle of his back, Nugent wrote.

Several more Taser shocks followed quickly, Nugent stated, because Pikes kept falling down and refusing to get back up. Grocery shoppers who witnessed the incident later told Pikes’ family that he had pleaded with Nugent: “Please, you all got me. Please don’t Tase me again.”

[Coroner] Williams said police records showed Nugent administered nine Taser shocks to Pikes over a 14-minute period. The last two jolts, delivered as police pulled Pikes from a patrol car at the police station, elicited no reaction because the suspect was unconscious…

The Biblical view that abortion is murder is younger than the Happy Meal.

Rich people are more likely to steal candy from a baby, among other transgressions.

The hilarious live-tweeting of a food coop meeting.

A plea to Presidential candidates: Skip the Auto Plant.

The Death March of the Moderates in the Senate.

Geology and the lexicon of democratic transitions.

On transvaginal ultrasounds and consent:

We should definitely stop calling a coercive penetration of a woman’s vagina irrespective of its necessity what it actually is—a sexual assault—because anti-choicers who don’t give a shit about women might mendaciously try to make hay with it.

Oh, and also because women and other people with uteri are too stupid to understand the difference between: A. Potentially medically unnecessary transvaginal ultrasounds mandated by laymen who want to try to persuade women not to terminate an unwanted pregnancy; and B. Medically necessary transvaginal ultrasounds recommended by a trained medical professional who want to help women terminate an unwanted pregnancy in the safest and most effective way.

Gee, sorry if I scared you and your silly ladybrains by treating you as if you have agency and the capacity to understand the concept of consent!

“Why strike? Why march? Why occupy?” A preview of what’s happening in California- and why.

Floral X-Rays are super pretty, that is all.

From UC Davis: Neoliberal Universities, Banks, and the Professors Who Love Them.

From Civil War to Civil Rights.

The seven worst international aid ideas.

A new look at how to watch the Star Wars saga.

On Brazilian action movies and Colonel Nascimento’s War.

Statfor is a Joke and so is Wikileaks for Taking it Seriously.

The “right” and “left” are arbitrary in the climate debate.

A political story with legs – on Mitt Romney and his roof-tied dog, Seamus.

According to police that think it’s pertinent to spy on Muslim communities, these are locations requiring further examination.

On Privatization and Brutalizing Campuses; or Why Chancellors Say Stuff Like That:

…The brick-and-mortar campus languishes while Chancellor Birgeneau and Dean Edley chart a new agenda for the university by turning to for-profit online education and corporate tech parks as models for the future “space” of UC-Berkeley. And this is a transformative course: both the online UC and UC-Zhangjiang Tech Park jettison the arts, humanities and social sciences almost from before the very beginning. In the case of the online university, this streamlining comes as a result of a curriculum that only offers courses lending themselves to online format, typically ones that rely upon rote memorization. Biotech research initiatives that may turn into degree-granting programs focus on securing agreements with multinational corporations and Chinese national labs, but defer consideration of the programs’ educational mission until after research plans are well under way. As a result, both programs fit education to available technology and available funding (or funding that is promised to be available).

It should not surprise us, therefore, that plans to corporatize and technologize the university have been coupled with an accompanying disinvestment from and disinterest in the current space of the university. As a result, the coincidence of police brutality on the Berkeley campus and the chancellor’s trip abroad points to more than a series of logistical missteps on the part of an administration physically distanced from the university campus. It stems from a deep, structural lack of concern for the future of the current UC-Berkeley, both the campus itself and the students it serves.

It should not, therefore, surprise us too much that while police are paid to beat students in the name of “health and safety,” the university can’t even pay people to pick up trash on campus anymore.

When asked, for example, about what students might miss out on when they “go to class” at the computer screen in their bedrooms instead of on an actual campus, Dean Edley opined,  “What you won’t get? There won’t be beer bashes, yeah.” That’s right: college campuses are only good for keggers. If you shared my initial response to this statement – an inclination to forgive what must have been a misguided and altogether regrettable slip of the tongue – Edley has reiterated and defended his views on multiple occasions. And Dean Edley’s disregard for the current university is matched only by that of UC President Mark Yudoff who confided to the New York Times that “being president of the University of California is like being manager of a cemetery.”

These are not just examples of administrative rhetoric at its most hyperbolic, or of “down-to-earth” men speaking off the cuff. This is who they are. The language we use to describe our world reflects our understanding of its contours, and of how we want to shape that world’s future. And so, to sum up: in Dean Edley’s words, the university campus is value-less ground; in President Yudoff’s, it’s a dead wasteland. These are precisely the sorts of imaginative de-populations of the university that underwrite Chancellor Birgeneau’s ability to describe UC-Berkeley students as “intruders” and then send in riot police to forcibly remove them. In the interests of “hygiene and safety,” administrative regulations aggressively and violently champion the banal, and in so doing, they actively foster the exact campus atmosphere which allows them to dismiss university culture as value-less – and so move towards privatizing it. The space of the university campus is not only good for nothing; the space must be rigorously protected so that it becomes good for nothing.

A short note on the impact of the NYPD’s decision to spy on Muslim students.

Africa’s Dirty Wars, a review of William Reno’s Warfare in Independent Africa.

Mining in the DRC: Bad Business and Backroom Deals and Has Due Diligence Helped?

Hiring hit men online is a real thing, apparently. Although it’s a little different from Horrible Bosses.

Jeremy Lin has overcome the stereotype threat.

And of course the excitement about Lin has to do with race, but it’s not all smiles.

How Twitter Helped a US Mom in Central Asia Find a Cancer Doc for Her Son.

When you’re talking about Boko Haram and al Shabaab’s foreign fighters, how do you define foreign?

David Frum and Ta-Nehisi Coates write about Andrew Breitbart.

Julian Assange and Europe’s Last Dictator.

Sexism in the video game community shouldn’t be acceptable:

If sexual harassment is such an intrinsic part of your community that it can’t be taken out without “turning it into something that it’s not,” then just as a rule of thumb, it probably should be turned into something that it’s not.

If your community can’t introduce a baseline of respect for another human being without being destroyed, then your community should probably be burned to the ground and have salt spread on the ashes so that it’ll never come back.

An Asian-American guy ended up on TIME’s Latino voter cover story.

Witchcraft and the British media.

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