August 22nd – International News Round-Up (Part II)

Ecuador

Ecuador Times

A public prosecutor has found evidence of criminal liability against VP Jorge Glas. However, he cannot be prosecuted without authorization from the legislature.

Society

Vox

Report hung out with Witches during the solar eclipse.

Salem Witch Trials (Image Source: WIki Commons)
Salem Witch Trials (Image Source: Wiki Commons)

Philosophy

Philosophical Disquisitions

An argument on the nature of the Private-Public argument when it comes to services rendered.

“They argue that every privatisation agreement will have to afford the private agent a ‘zone of permissibility’ (or ‘autonomy’) in which they are free to exercise their own judgment about what to do. This zone of permissibility will necessarily remove them from the kind of public deference that is required. The reason for this is that in order to make any sense at all, a privatisation agreement must defer to the skills and judgment of the private agent. Recall, that the whole point of privatisation is that private agents are able to provide a good or service more efficiently than public agents.”

Public Policy

A Dragons Best Friend

A Cambridge citizen on the changing nature of his city and what on earth to do for kicks.

Security

Breitbart News

There’s two sides to the conservative in the United States coin. One wants more troops pumped into Afghanistan, and the other wants nothing to do with foreign wars anymore. Even the ones who want troops in Afghanistan, want them to be private soldiers and not American military. It seems like private security contractors don’t really know how to feel at the moment. America has to win the war. America does not lose. But nobody has the political capital to send more troops into Afghanistan, even with the resurgent Taliban.

August 12th – International News Round-Up (Part I)

Religion

Jim Bakker Show via Right Wing Watch

Panel of Christians with shelves stacked with food behind them. The table that they are seated at has a lot of food on it too. This is really the first time I’ve actually sat down and watched an entire one of these shows, I usually just watch the snippets that Right Wing Watch puts out. You’re going to watch the entire thing yourself, but there are a few things that should be pointed out. He encourages people to buy food from his store, and stores that are his partners. The reason for this is that apparently all of their food has an extended shelf life, which means it’s all powdered and desiccated.

I checked out their online store, and they have powdered fruit.

The reason that this is a good thing, is because, according to Jim, Churches need to stock up for when Jesus comes back to lead his army, and that people (all non-believers), will flock to churches, because that would be the only source of food. They would all have food sourced from the Jim Bakker show.

Fascinating. It’s always really interesting to see the different forms that monetized religion can take.

Klontzas Georgios - The Second Coming (Image Source: Wiki Commons)
Klontzas Georgios – The Second Coming (Image Source: Wiki Commons)

Society

Washington Post

Shifting demographics and the state of the American dream.

“Cultural shifts are also underway. In surveys, Millennials often say they want to own homes one day, but they are a generation that’s embraced the “sharing economy.” They don’t like to own much. They take Lyft and Uber instead of owning a car. They tell their parents and grandparents “no thanks” when they are offered the family china or trinkets. They prefer to spend their money on experiences — eating out, concerts, travel, gyms — instead of stuff.”

Philosophy

Edward Feser

Feser on the mindscape as being a realm from which all ideas come from. They precede us and will be there long after we are gone.

“The Mindscape, then, is essentially the collection of all the propositions and concepts that might possibly be grasped, entertained, affirmed, denied, etc.  The Pythagorean theorem would be an example of a denizen of the Mindscape.  When you entertain the theorem and I do not, you are accessing a part of the Mindscape that I am not, at least at that moment, accessing.  When we are both entertaining it, we are accessing the same part of the Mindscape.  But the theorem was there before either of us accessed it and will remain there long after we are gone.  The same is true of every other proposition or concept.  They are all out there waiting to be accessed, as it were.”

United States

Rewire News

Overview of what is going down in Virginia, USA. Though it’s probably over by now. Article does a good job of fleshing out how diverse the two sides are and how there are clearly ideological differences even between the both of them. I’ve read alt right articles which pan the entire “alt lite” moment for being a bunch of idiots who can’t recognize what is happening. The point is, there’s definitely more nuance here than you would think.

Media

Geographical Imaginations

Someone made a movie that can be found of multiple platforms. It’s apparently a bunch of imagery that tries to convey the kind of paranoia that should accompany the threat of nuclear warfare. It uses a lot of jarring imagery, clips of destruction and individuals commenting on nuclear warfare, to achieve this effect.

Korea

Vox

The North Korea – South Korea dynamic reminds me a lot of Pakistan – India. They both were a nation state at one point of time. There was an acrimonious split. There’s a demographic divide when it comes to opinions about the split, and a lot more. Most importantly though, the South Korean journalist in the article explains why South Koreans themselves aren’t panicking about the nuclear holocaust. It’s because they’re just used to this.

August 11th – International News Round-Up (Part I)

Algeria

Foreign Policy Association

Algeria’s problems when it comes to terrorist groups that reside on home soil, the threat of radicalization, and what can be done about it.

Pharmaceuticals

Slate Star Codex

A cautionary tale on nootropics.

United States

Splinter News

Bernie Sanders was always notoriously dense when it came to the question of race. In fact, as I recall, some Black Lives Matter Activists actually occupied his podium once and refused to get off until he allowed them his platform to speak from. A lot of people that was hurting the cause of colored people as a whole.

Society

Vice

Erika Lust is a filmmaker with 100 titles to her name. She also started a non-profit that attempts to engage children in conversation about porn. In the article, she identifies the fact that she and any other non-profit will not be able to have the reach that schools can.

Vice

An artist in New York who used Grindr to meet the subject of his sketches. Interesting read.

Tech

Motherboard

goTenna is a company that is creating a device that can create a mesh net. That’s essentially a bunch of interconnected devices that can communicate with each other. Kind of like the internet, except these devices don’t rely on external net connectivity or even normal cellphone tower signal. Kind of the modern version of that radio you could buy, which people used to transmit and connect with each other. I honestly cannot remember the name.

Ride Share

Motherboard

Article about an Uber experiment in a Canadian town. Uber won’t say if and how profitable the entire thing was. I also do not see how this can be scaled up in any meaningful. In fact, I don’t even see how it could work in anything but a village with 4 houses.

Security

Foxtrot Alpha

If North Korea pulls the trigger and attacks the waters off Guam, the missile path of the HS-12 will take it over Japan. That’s not going to end well, for anyone.

North Korea Army (Image Source: Wiki Commons)
North Korea Army (Image Source: Wiki Commons)

Sexuality

Youtuber’s on what it means to identify as asexual.

Philosophy

Brain Pickings

Short article about a Lebanese-American poet, and on the subject of memory.

“We can admit that memory resurrects the dead, but these remain within their world, not ours. The universe covers the whole, a warm blanket.

But this memory is the glue that keeps the universe as one: although immaterial, it makes being possible, it is being. If an idea didn’t remember to think, it wouldn’t be. If a chair wasn’t there, it wouldn’t be tomorrow. If I didn’t remember that I am, I won’t be. We can also say that the universe is itself the glue that keeps it going, therefore it is memory in action and in essence, in becoming and in being. Because it remembers itself, it exists. Because it exists, it remembers.”

August 5th – International News Round-Up (Part II)

Philosophy

Nautilus

Great article on the constraints that physical processes place on the computational power of various organism. Hypothetical and otherwise.

The Wire

Article on life extending technologies and the fact that we need to think about them more, going forward. I think it’s put in a very interesting way. Also, some of the facts that he mentions are absolutely shocking. I mean, just intra-country wise, the fact that rich and poor counties in the United States can have a gap of 15 years in terms of life experience. If this argument is taken to its logical extreme, if we could create life extending technologies which could work, and were expensive, we would in essence create two strata of society. One would just be struggling and dying, and the other would be able to survive for a much longer period of time and would accumulate more wealth than they otherwise would have. This would then provide their offspring with the chance to do the same. I feel like life extending technologies would have a kind of multiplicative effect on an already unequal world.

India

The Wire

Article on the recent fuss about Karnataka (a state) that wanted a state flag. States in the US have flags. Some of them do at the very least, if not all. I agree with the author on a couple of things. What are we creating this unitary sense of being for? Why do we feel this fear when it comes to how we identify?

Media

The Imaginative Conservative

Thoughts on the show about William Shakespeare. It’s called Will, I believe. Might be wrong. Article points out that he was a catholic and the show takes his faith as forming part of the narrative of his life.

William Shakespeare (Image Source: Wiki Commons)
William Shakespeare (Image Source: Wiki Commons)

July 30th – International News Round-Up (Part I)

Society

Understanding Society

Extremely interesting article. Based on a paper that uses data to develop a model by which the authors analyzed medieval cities and came to the conclusion that medieval cities were strikingly similar to modern cities in how they presented themselves in the model. This, to them, suggested that life in these cities might have been similar to what we experience today in modern cities (in terms of social mixing and mobility).

Uganda

Al Jazeera

AJ throws some shade at the media about their obsession with the Ugandan refugee policy story. The story also covers why this narrative is beneficial to Uganda and EU countries that want to stop the influx of refugees.

United States

Salon

interview with a guy who wrote a book on tea party reactionary politics and how America came to the state that it is in today. He says that the surge of voters that you saw who ended up voting for trump were always there. There is also some truth to the urgency of his call to progressive to embrace the fact that the voice of “resistance”, so to speak, needs to be couched in identity politics. It needs to be about race. It needs to be about sexual orientation. Maybe he’s right.

Vox

There’s been a lot written on the number of people in United States prisons based on minor drug charges. Apparently, all of that data comes from federal prison, which hold a small percentage of people imprisoned in the country. Most criminals in the system are there for violent crimes, such as murder, but there isn’t enough being done to reintegrate them into society. They’re just locked away to rot.

Math

Quanta Magazine

Any social science kid knows about Game Theory and the Nash Equilibrium. The basic idea is that given a game, and a certain number of players, playing the game repeatedly (the N value will change depending on the situation), will result in a stable equilibrium, which everybody will be equally satisfied with. It’s a way of achieving societal compromise. It’s also apparently quite the pipe dream. Researchers picked some games that involved about a 100 people and apparently the time required to reach Nash Equilibrium in them would be a time period that would be greater than the life of the universe. That’s not helpful. Fortunately, there’s more than one way to skin this cat. We have something called a “correlated equilibrium” which are equilibrium which aren’t exactly the Nash Equilibrium, but which serve to stabilize the game at an equilibrium point.

“Nash’s equilibrium concept, which earned him a Nobel Prize in economics in 1994, offers a unified framework for understanding strategic behavior not only in economics but also in psychology, evolutionary biology and a host of other fields. Its influence on economic theory “is comparable to that of the discovery of the DNA double helix in the biological sciences,” wrote Roger Myerson of the University of Chicago, another economics Nobelist.”

Philosophy

Edward Feser

Philosopher Edward Feser on the incorporeal nature of Angels in the continuum of life, as imagined by Aquinas.

“The problem facing the Cartesian is rather how to explain mind-body interaction in a way that doesn’t reduce it to something comparable to demonic possession.  A fallen angel moves a bit of matter around in something like the way a poltergeist is popularly thought to move material things around.  A Cartesian res cogitans controlling a res extensa is essentially like a demon’s control of one of the Gadarene swine – the manipulation of something utterly extrinsic to the manipulator, to which it is only contingently related.”

Michel Dorigny - Hagar and the Angel (Source: Wiki Commons)
Michel Dorigny – Hagar and the Angel (Source: Wiki Commons)

Alt-Right/ Neo-Nazi

The Daily Dot

Cop is being investigated for having a shirt on with white supremacist symbology on it. The sun cross is an alternate version of the Celtic cross. It’s also part of the logo for stormfront. I can’t figure out where it’s from. It would be interesting to sort of track how this was adapted in this manner. In certain contexts, it might be benign. Probably not in this one though.

Iraq

Iraqi News

Hama has apparently witnessed mass-displacement of people because of conflict. Article attributed this to Russian air strikes and Syrian forces attempting to retake the area.

July 26th – International News Round-Up (Part II)

United States

Zero Hedge

A poll conducted by Delphi Analytica concluded that Kid Rock had a slight edge over the incumbent democrat who occupies the Michigan senate seat that he is apparently going to contest. An absurd 44% of those who were polled were undecided. It seems ludicrous that someone like Kid Rock could win a senate seat, but stranger things have happened. The Dem’s blue wall fell in 2016 and I don’t see any real effort by them to repair the damage done by Clinton. Everybody seems to think that Trump is doing irreparable damage to the Republican party, but having Clinton as a candidate has done untold damage to the democratic cause. We’ll have to wait for the mid-terms to see if the democrats can make some gains off the fact that the Trump presidency has been doing nothing more than fending off allegations of Russian influence, though I’m not too optimistic about their chances to do that.

Kid Rock (Image Source: Wiki Commons)
Kid Rock (Image Source: Wiki Commons)

The Hill

In what might be its biggest move yet, the House passed bipartisan legislation that would impose sanctions against Russia for its role in the 2016 elections. The bill also extends to Iran and North Korea.

Race

Article by Joan who was born in Africa and moved to America when she was very young. She speaks of the troubles of being African and struggling to hide her “African-ness” from others. Interesting thoughts on integration and holding on to what you would consider central to your identity.

Philosophy

Aeon via 3quarksdaily

Author (Robert Hartman) evaluates our response to a hypothetical situation of drinking and driving. He points out that we feel, for some odd reason, that someone who drinks and drives and does not end up killing anyone is better off morally than someone who does end up killing someone. Luck, then, ends up being a part of what we would consider right or wrong. Which then leads him to consider different ways of reacting to stimulus and whether or not it matters.

Finance

Motherboard

The United States Securities and Exchange commission has stated that Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), might be considered securities under certain circumstances and would thus be subject to laws that govern securities. I’m not a finance guy so I don’t really know how this would impact cryptocurrency or its value, but I do know that part of the charm of digital currency is the fact that it is completely anonymous. You don’t have to reveal your identity if you don’t want to. You have a digital wallet that has a unique identifying code and that’s all you need to reveal for transactions. Digital currencies till now have not been very heavily regulated, but governments will try to cash in on this as and when they can. If the SEC considers certain types of ICOs to be securities then the companies in question would have to reveal the identities of those involved in the transaction. Apart from this, I’m sure that the US government would also like to tax these transactions more and also regulate it if possible. You can still be taxed for digital currencies now. Right now, it’s treated as an asset and you still have to report capital gains and losses that you make. Just like any other financial instrument.

Sudan

Sudan Tribune

The US Embassy in Khartoum called for the Sudanese Government and the Sudanese Liberation Army to allow the UN to establish an UNAMID mission in the Jebel Marra town.