Via Boing Boing:
(That’s a teacher keeping her students calm as a gunfight, presumably between narcos, rages outside.)
Hat-tip to Sam.
After an Amnesty International report claimed that female demonstrators in Egypt were “beaten, given electric shocks, strip-searched, threatened with prostitution charges and forced to submit to virginity checks” during a protest last March, CNN reports that an unidentified Egyptian general has finally confirmed at least some of the allegations. To quote the progressive-minded general:
“The girls who were detained were not like your daughter or mine,” the general said. “These were girls who had camped out in tents with male protesters in Tahrir Square, and we found in the tents Molotov cocktails and (drugs).”
The general said the virginity checks were done so that the women wouldn’t later claim they had been raped by Egyptian authorities.
“We didn’t want them to say we had sexually assaulted or raped them, so we wanted to prove that they weren’t virgins in the first place,” the general said. “None of them were (virgins).”
Right, because the best way to prove you didn’t sexually assault anyone is to perform a virginity test on them — a test which, presumably, is completely noninvasive and unobtrusive, allowing you to keep your clothes on and your legs shut at all times in a clinical, non-threatening environment.
Salwa Hosseini, a 20-year-old hairdresser and one of the women named in the Amnesty report, described to CNN how uniformed soldiers tied her up on the museum’s grounds, forced her to the ground and slapped her, then shocked her with a stun gun while calling her a prostitute.
The treatment got worse, Hosseini said, when she and the 16 other female prisoners were taken to a military detention center in Heikstep.
There, she said, she and several of other female detainees were subjected to a “virginity test.”
“We did not agree for a male doctor to perform the test,” she said. But Hosseini said her captors forced her to comply by threatening her with more stun-gun shocks.
“I was going through a nervous breakdown at that moment,” she recalled. “There was no one standing during the test, except for a woman and the male doctor. But several soldiers were standing behind us watching the backside of the bed. I think they had them standing there as witnesses.”
Fortunately, there is a happy ending, because even though most of the 149 people detained after the March 9 protest were sentenced to a year in prison after being tried in military courts,
Authorities later revoked those sentences “when we discovered that some of the detainees had university degrees, so we decided to give them a second chance.”
I– just– yeah.
Yes, it’s a hauntingly catchy Death Cab tune, and yes, it’s something Ben likes to run off at the keyboard about sometimes, but the historical concept of dualism is given a bit of a run for its money in last week’s NYT Magazine article, which asks Could Conjoined Twins Share a Mind?
The evidence — though mostly anecdotal (at least in terms of what is directly witnessed by the author herself) — is fairly compelling, as is the underlying biology:
Krista reached for a cup with a straw in the corner of the crib. “I am drinking really, really, really, really fast,” she announced and started to power-slurp her juice, her face screwed up with the effort. Tatiana was, as always, sitting beside her but not looking at her, and suddenly her eyes went wide. She put her hand right below her sternum, and then she uttered one small word that suggested a world of possibility: “Whoa!”
In any other set of twins, the natural conclusion about the two events — Krista’s drinking, Tatiana’s reaction — would be that they were coincidental: a gulp, a twinge, random simultaneous happenstance. But Krista and Tatiana are not like most other sets of twins. They are connected at their heads, where their skulls merge under a mass of shaggy brown bangs…
The way the girls’ brains formed beneath the surface of their fused skulls, however, makes them beyond rare: their neural anatomy is unique, at least in the annals of recorded scientific literature. Their brain images reveal what looks like an attenuated line stretching between the two organs, a piece of anatomy their neurosurgeon, Douglas Cochrane of British Columbia Children’s Hospital, has called a thalamic bridge, because he believes it links the thalamus of one girl to the thalamus of her sister. The thalamus is a kind of switchboard, a two-lobed organ that filters most sensory input and has long been thought to be essential in the neural loops that create consciousness. Because the thalamus functions as a relay station, the girls’ doctors believe it is entirely possible that the sensory input that one girl receives could somehow cross that bridge into the brain of the other. One girl drinks, another girl feels it.
The story is more than 8,000 words, so I’ll save you from further twintastic excerpts — revealing though they may be. Instead, allow me to lower myself for a moment by judgmentally citing the passage that details how,
Now 25, Simms is a mother of five children: Rosa, 8; Christopher, 6; Tatiana and Krista; and Shaylee, who is 3, born a year and a half after the twins. They live together with their maternal grandparents, three cousins, an aunt and uncle and Hogan, who moved in with the family last year. When I met them, they resided in a tract house that had been subdivided into many rooms for senior living before the Hogan-McKay clan arrived. The family relies mostly on public assistance. Dinner sometimes seems to make it on the table only by some last-minute stroke of luck or resourcefulness.
Fourteen people, one roof, zero adults with full-time employment. Thank Janus they’re Canadian.
Understandable virus worries, but no evidence of viruses yet (I’ve opened a bunch of ‘em and just finished a Norton scan).
Top 5 Recommendations:
1) The Dialectic of the Enlightenment (filed under “Text” -> “Theodor Adorno” or “Martin Heidegger”) – Terrifyingly current for a book written in the 40s by two German Jews in exile in Santa Barbara.
2) The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere ( filed under ”Text” -> “Jurgen Habermas”) — For if you’ve ever wondered how modern thinking was able to happen.
…shit, this is hard
3) The Human Condition (filed under ”Text” -> “Hannah Arendt”) — Beautiful sentences and thinking.
4) The Genealogy of Morals & Ecce Homo (filed under “Text” -> “Friedrich Nietzsche”) — They have the Kaufmann translation!
5) Sublime Object of Ideology (filed under “Text” -> “Slavoj Zizek”) — I’m only about a quarter of the way into it, but it’s been a really fun read, as far as they go. Helps to have some Marx going in.
….and, for the sake of subverting the patriarchy of the list heading:
6) Being and Time (filed under “Text” -> “Martin Heidegger”) — Check out Hubert Dreyfus’ reading course on the book available for free through iTunes U. Ignore all of the weird capitalizations in the translation of words like “being.” They’re inaccurate and melodramatic.
(hat-tip to r/philosophy… lost track of the specific post)
“I am the Emperor!” cried Harrison. “Do you hear? I am the Emperor! Everybody must do what I say at once!” He stamped his foot and the studio shook.
“Even as I stand here” he bellowed, “crippled, hobbled, sickened – I am a greater ruler than any man who ever lived! Now watch me become what I can become!”
Harrison tore the straps of his handicap harness like wet tissue paper, tore straps guaranteed to support five thousand pounds.
Harrison’s scrap-iron handicaps crashed to the floor.
Harrison thrust his thumbs under the bar of the padlock that secured his head harness. The bar snapped like celery. Harrison smashed his headphones and spectacles against the wall.
He flung away his rubber-ball nose, revealed a man that would have awed Thor, the god of thunder.
“I shall now select my Empress!” he said, looking down on the cowering people. “Let the first woman who dares rise to her feet claim her mate and her throne!”
A moment passed, and then a ballerina arose, swaying like a willow.
Harrison plucked the mental handicap from her ear, snapped off her physical handicaps with marvelous delicacy. Last of all he removed her mask.
She was blindingly beautiful.
Wired has a good round-up of the events that led to the death of Jose Guerena in Arizona this month.
[S]omething went very wrong. And within seconds of ramming in the door, the SWAT team opened fire, killing Jose Guerena, the owner of the house. Guerena, a 26-year-old Marine veteran, reportedly confronted the police with an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle, possibly to protect his wife and kids, who were huddled in rooms behind him.
The SWAT team initially said Guerena shot first; later reports claimed Guerena never fired — indeed, he never took his AR-15 off “safe.” The Medical Examiner counted 22 bullet wounds in Guerena’s body after the raid, CNN reported. Other chilling details can be found in SWAT commander Bob Krygier’s post-operation interview with a Pima County detective.
A man I play trivia with is something of a gun nut, and I imagine that if he were ever subject to a no-knock SWAT raid, he’d be rushing for his guns, too. I mean, this is arguably the linchpin of the NRA’s second amendment advocacy — guns are necessary for protecting yourself in the event of a home invasion. And yet, when it’s the police doing the invading you’re expected to psychically just know that it’s them and not a bad guy, or get shot. 22 times.
The War on Drugs has changed law enforcement in this country so fundamentally that there is no clear way to reverse the damage. Police recruits now enter a culture that has been highly militarized since the late 1970s; even the longest-serving veterans still at work today have never known any other way of doing things. Armored vehicles, military rifles, armor-piercing ammunition, no-knock warrants, tactical gear…it’s just the way things are done. You blaze away at suspects like Bruce Willis in Die Hard because, well, everyone else is doing it and that’s what being a cop is all about – breaking down doors, smashing through windows, and unloading your firearm at the Scum of the Earth on the other side. Sure, innocent people get gunned down every once in a while, but isn’t that a risk we have to take if we have unsubstantiated tips from paid informants suggesting that there might be marijuana in a home?
Here’s what a tragedy looks like.
You knew it was going to be beautiful out today, but the weather network still reported it, throwing in some banal anecdote as a gesture towards keeping your interest.
This is like that, except the anecdote isn’t so banal.
The federal government has acknowledged that it deliberately excluded data indicating a 20 per cent increase in pollution from Canada’s oilsands industry in 2009 from a recent 567-page report on climate change that it was required to submit to the United Nations.
The numbers, uncovered by Postmedia News, were left out of the report, a national inventory on Canada’s greenhouse gas pollution. Overall, the report revealed a six per cent drop in annual emissions for the entire economy from 2008 to 2009, but does not directly show the extent of pollution from the oilsands production, which is now greater than the greenhouse gas emissions of all the cars driven on Canadian roads.
#longingfortheboringobviousheadlinetogobacktobeing”WorthwhileCanadianInitiative” (think that’ll catch on as a hashtag?)
For some reason this week felt long, didn’t it? It did. You cannot escape the fact that this week felt long. It felt so long, in fact, that I haven’t the energy to impart to you any anecdotes or hijinks from my personal life, as is my custom. Things happened. Events occurred. Most of us are still here. Those of us who aren’t have been sacrificed to oblivion, but hopefully they lived it up a bit when they had the chance.
Dear God, what have you wrought?
Enjoy the long weekend, my fellow Americans.
“The Tree of Life” opens in New York and Los Angeles this weekend (you will notice that I do not envy those living in Los Angeles, because it is Los Angeles). And even though I thought the trailer (below) looked overblown and ridiculous, the reviews have piqued my interest. Here’s A.O. Scott in the Times:
More than any other active filmmaker Mr. Malick belongs in the visionary company of homegrown romantics like Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, Hart Crane and James Agee. The definitive writings of these authors did not sit comfortably or find universal favor in their own time. They can still seem ungainly, unfinished, lacking polish and perfection. This is precisely what makes them alive and exciting: “Moby-Dick,” “Leaves of Grass,” “The Bridge” and “A Death in the Family” lean perpetually into the future, pushing their readers forward toward a new horizon of understanding.
And here’s America’s best film critic, writing in the New Yorker:
“What are we to you?”
This is uttered by the mother, although it could equally have come from the lips of Job (who is quoted in the film’s epigraph) or a lamenting Jeremiah. The question is addressed not to the audience but—it is safe to say—to God. We then get his considered reply, and this is the branch of “The Tree of Life” that sticks out. We see glimmers of unfathomable light, vast interstellar conflagrations, drifting throngs of stars, planets in their formless infancy, sun and moon occluded by dark storms, energizing jolts of lightning, gulping primordial pools, early plants, early creatures, slow-dancing jellyfish, hammerhead sharks, a dinosaur lounging on the shore, an embryo’s eye, and, last but not least, a child being born—to a white-clad mother who neither sweats nor shouts—in postwar suburban Texas. Now, you can call this entire passage overblown, or diversionary, but what it is not is incoherent or mad. It strikes me as a straightforward account of creation, Malick’s Genesis, ending in the Eden of Jack’s childhood; everything else in the film dramatizes the loss of that prelapsarian grace and the rare, Proustian instants at which it is remembered afresh.
All of which is to say, I now want to see this movie but I have to wait some more. Maybe you are in one of our more ennobled and en-glittered cities and you will go and see? For me? Maybe?