Archive for January, 2009



13
Jan
09

Bloodthirst, Israeli-Style

Above: (Kosher) War Pig Avigdor Lieberman

Ultra-nationalist Israeli Avigdor Lieberman’s speech to Bar-Ilan University on Monday set a new low for that democracy’s discourse, calling for treating Gaza the “like the US did with Japan in WWII.” Apparently, raining missiles from Apache helicopters and F-15 jets onto densely packed civilian blocks in Gaza hasn’t killed enough children for some in the Israeli right.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20090113/wl_mideast_afp/mideastconflictgazaliebermanwwii

JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israel should follow the example set by the United States when it brought Japan to its knees at the end of World War II, the head of an ultra-nationalist opposition party was quoted as saying Tuesday.

“We must continue to fight Hamas just like the United States did with the Japanese in World War II,” Avigdor Lieberman said, according to the website of the Jerusalem Post newspaper.

Japan surrendered in 1945 after atomic bombs were dropped on the cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

Lieberman, who quit Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s coalition government last year, said Israel needed to “break the will” of Hamas in Gaza where more than 900 Palestinians have been killed in a war that began on December 27.

“Israel won’t be secure so long as Hamas is in power, and therefore we need to come to a decision that we will break the will of Hamas to keep fighting,” he was quoted as saying during a speech at Bar-Ilan University, near Tel Aviv.

Lieberman’s comments, which were widely broadcast on radio stations in Gaza and circulated on text messages, drew a withering response from senior Palestinians.

Mustafa Barghuthi, an independent lawmaker and former Palestinian information minister, said Lieberman’s comments reflected the contempt felt by Israelis towards the Palestinians.

“This shows one more time that Israel never learn lessons from the past and rather invokes one of the bloodiest massacres in history to be the fate of the Gazans. They don’t have respect for human life”, he said.

Lieberman’s right-wing Yisrael Beitenu party, which draws its core support from Israel’s large Russian immigrant community, is tipped to emerge as the fourth largest party in elections due on February 10.

Pudgy chicken-hawks with no personal appetite for fighting yet much taste for blood are not a phenomenon unique to Israel – we have them in the US and they’re called neoconservatives. While our own desk-bound murderers – the Feiths, Perles, Kristols and Krauthammers – have been driven momentarily back to the shadows, their legacy of total incompetence in protecting the interests of the US are plain to see in this latest frothing of the Israeli right-wing.

Not only is the comparison to the US-Japan WWII fight hysterically incompetent for the simple fact that Gazans have no navy, no aircraft carriers, no army and no industrial base – but the implication to use nuclear weapons in Gaza – located right in Israel’s own borders – is tantamount to Manhattan attacking Brooklyn with nuclear weapons. It’s like setting fire to your next door neighbor’s house – you’re likely to burn down your own.

How is it that moronic slobs like these are not laughed right out of the room? Where are the adults?

07
Jan
09

US Air Force Seeks To Militarize Blogosphere; Unveils Flowchart, Neologism

air_force_blog_char

Am I a “rager”?

Coming from both sides of the military-industrial complex’s hyphen, authoritarians have engaged social media to varying degrees of absurdity.  Corporate mishandling of internet communications technologies and communities are already the stuff of legend while military blogging policy for active-duty personnel is more or less “don’t post, don’t comment”.

These outcomes are unsurprising, given what the core social media pretexts of transparency, equality and sharing mean to the classic operating philosophies of profit-making and warfighting.  They mean what oil means to water.  As such, in the case of the Air Force, paranoia over social media reigns.  For airmen on duty, centralized IP blocking of blogs has reportedly been in place since February. Of course, USAF blocking isn’t in place for “established, reputable media outlets” – nor was it ever in place for airmen’s private machines in their own homes.  The absurdity is inescapable: authoritarianism usually doesn’t (and in today’s world, cannot) care about the effectiveness of its results as much as it cares about the appearance of applying its authority.

This problematic truth about authoritarian censorship, set against the communications realities of the blogosphere and a planet’s slow crawl toward social democracy, is what has allowed slow change in even the most vertical and anti-social organizations our society has ever produced.  It was only a matter of time before the US military service branches began to wake up to the problem of being, for lack of a batter term, stupid about social media.

The procedural, bureaucratic  mindset maps its way out of stupidity through the judicious application of…procedure. The military takes the premise to its logical extreme: there are field manuals for everything one accomplishes in the military.  And USAF Captain David Faggard, acting as the USAF’s “designated social media guru”, has added an Air Force field manual for blog commentary (see above graphic). In a handy flow-chart presentation, USAF personnel are given a means by which to navigate the blogosphere and decision points to guide interaction – and non-interaction – with it.

Most interesting about the chart is the designation “rager” for blog posts that are one shade more credible than those of a troll, yet are not to be replied to, only monitored.

I would like very much to know if my post qualifies as a “rager” post.  After all, it isn’t positive about the USAF, its blogging technique, institutional stupidity, centralized authority.  And truth be told, I’m not so hot on General Curtis LeMay, polluting Vieques island Puerto Rico with weapons contamination, posessing and bumbling an overwhelming nuclear arsenal, and having almost eight hundred foreign military bases all over the world flying my country’s flag, eternally fighting WWII.  This is a fairly anti-militarist blog, and I’m a fairly anti-militarist guy.

So where do I fall in Captain Faggard’s hierarchy?    At first glance, it appears I am an “unhappy customer”.

Though I find repugnant the tendency for government to reach for commercial language to describe its relations and work, I have to admit that in this exercise, the Captain has done a good job with his nomenclature.

As a taxpayer, I am indeed unhappy, not the least at the fact that all cultural indicators point to Captain Faggard attaining a rank of Major or Colonel before reaching for his piece of the military-industrial complex largesse on its civilian side.  Unhappy because when he does, the fairly trivial and broad groupings he has created in his chart will absolutely represent boardroom gold for those private enterprises heretofore unaware of how to begin to participate in social media.  Enterprises who might hire him to import a clue to their organization just as he has done for the USAF are – cultural indicators suggest – going to be subsidized by my taxes ad infinitum.  The Captain  would be a big exception to prevailing conditions if, even as he left the service,  he did not remain in the sphere of national “defense”.  The all-too-common career move is to hop across the hyphen from weapons buyer to weapons maker.

So unhappy, yes, but not despairing.  Because social media isn’t something you drag along to the silos – the literal and figurative silos of an over-weaponized, over-capitalized culture.  Social media is the chatter permeating and shrinking those silos despite best efforts to channel, guide and harness from above.  The free exchange of ideas as a baseline social expectation is far too simple to suppress, to prevalent to ignore, too beneficial to brand. As long as electrons move, social media will withstand, abide and flood every silo that thinks itself a dam.

Rager out.

(Thanks to Noah Schactman’s original piece in the excellent Danger Room blog about Capt. Faggard’s chart.)

05
Jan
09

Introducing the Boris Artzybasheff Appreciation Society

It’s true that people smarter than I have been able to avoid using Facebook.  For better or for worse, I am no longer among them.  I did, however, create a new Facebook group dedicated to one of my all-time favorite illustrators of the 20th century. Introducing the Boris Artzybasheff Appreciation Society. By all means, check it out if you are so inclined.




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