whackanarwhal

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newsmongering 04/07 (friday!)

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> Egyptians are back in Tahrir Square, this time asking for the prosecution of former president Hosni Mubarak. Does this mean he isn’t in Germany?

>So evidently Obama made a comparison between American exceptionalism, and British exceptionalism, and Greek exceptionalism, etc., which naturally means that he is a communist muslim terrorist. The myth of American exceptionalism is a fun ideology to deconstruct, and I have several professors who like rehash on a regular basis, in the way that other people will occasionally rewatch their favorite YouTube vidos. Salon discusses the history of that ideology here, with its implications for the present:

Jefferson and his peers were men of the 18th-century Enlightenment, at once idealists and pragmatists. Their complete adoration of science augmented a belief that the world would improve as tyranny was overthrown, the cause of education promoted, religious superstition undone, and the lives of all people enriched.

Yes, because those are certainly the terms I’d use in describing the US. It’s tricky to debate people who claim that America is number one in the world at x, y, and z, because they often don’t care that those claims are not based in fact. America is great; America is the greatest; QED, America is great; and you can’t break them out of that cycle  – although Foreign Policy is happy to remind you that government shutdowns are a uniquely American phenomenon. Go us! Parliamentary systems, like Belgium (which hasn’t had a government since June 2010) can still function:

However, just because a country with a parliamentary system is “without a government” doesn’t mean that government services stop. Thanks to robust and apolitical civil services, most governments can keep operating no matter who’s in power. Belgium hasn’t had a government since June 2010, but, for the most part, the trains still run on time, the trash gets picked up, and budgets are even passed.

> Continuing to watch the situation in Cote d’Ivoire, Foreign Policy discusses the humanitarian crises growing as a result of the fighting; over 125,000 refugees have fled to Liberia and more than 750,000 are displaced within Cote d’Ivoire. Furthermore, it appears that evidence of more massacres is coming to light, and I’m finally starting to see (brief) discussions of possible ethnic tensions involved.

> Via Geek Feminism: an opinion piece from the Sydney Morning Herald regarding how social media can be used by women to draw attention to experienced injustices. It’s a bit of a spotty article; it’s referring specifically to some Australian incidents I’m not familiar with, but given the extent to which the Eman al-Obeidy story was spread largely by social media, let alone given the role of social media used specifically by women to agitate in Egypt and Saudi Arabia (and elsewhere) it seems a bit flip to describe summarize those efforts as: “These days if a woman is abused or humiliated by men belonging to a macho institution, she needn’t cop it. She can shop her story and shine light on the injustice herself.”  Anyway, the conceptual parts are interesting, if the details are somewhat…disappointing.

> Oh, mass media. Headline: “‘Gay Caveman’ Found By Archaeologists Near Prague” Anyway, a male skeleton was found buried in a manner uniformly reserved for women in that group, and this is being interpreted to indicate the existence (and apparently acceptance) of gay or trans members. Either way, this isn’t new, although it’s certainly not usual, and it could be that we’re not interpreting this correctly at all – but who knows? Cool bit of something in any case. Also, feel free to use this to beat over the head of anyone arguing that homosexuality is a  New Thing.

Archaeologist Katerina Semradova told reporters that the “third gender” discovery mirrored an earlier case, in which a female warrior dating from the Mesolithic period was found to have been buried as a man. In addition, she noted Siberian shamans, or latter-day witch doctors, were buried in a similar fashion to the “gay caveman,” but usually with richer funeral accessories to depict a higher social status, the Daily Mail is reporting.

> Rand Paul has his foot in his mouth again. Discussing mining safety regulations:

“There is a point or a balancing act between when a regulation becomes burdensome enough that our energy production is stifled. We have to assess the costs of regulation and whether they save lives.”

Given the massive health problems associated with coal mining, his remarks have not gone over particularly well with mining safety and activists. Although there’s a ghost of a point in his word – you can argue that regulations in a general sense aren’t cost/benefit efficient; I ‘m not sure why you would, but people people do, although specifically where mining is concerned, you might not be able to finish your argument because you might be stampeded by thirty angry Chilean miners – but anyway, possibly it looks just a tad heartless? But then Rand Paul has a long history of making remarks that might be be…well, ‘heartless’ works in this instance. Or at least has a severely limited understanding of the consequences of capitalist free-for-all. At any rate, he’s backpedaled before, he’ll backpedal again. God knows he’s had the practice.

> I’m fuzzy on the details…but near as I can tell, a Russian “radical art collective” called Voina has been given an award by Russia’s Ministry of Culture for a project that involved a 210-foot penis painted on a drawbridge. Simultaneously, some of the groups leaders are awaiting trial on charges of hooliganism. This group has previously undertaken such projects as an orgy in the State Museum of Biology and a preparing and serving a banquet on a moving subway car. Sounds like a groovy group to know.

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Written by whackanarwhal

April 8, 2011 at 5:28 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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