Wednesday 22 October 2014

Links 22/10/14


The United States are focusing their air campaigns in Syria on the defence of Kobani, and meanwhile, an internal C.I.A. study has found that financing and arming rebel groups in foreign conflicts rarely worked throughout the agency's history of doing so.
This rationale makes sense, but it raises questions about whether the United States is setting its own priorities or letting the Islamic State decide where to fight, Joshi said. "It is a reasonable rationale, but it's a bit of a post-hoc rationale rather than a carefully thought-out strategic concept.... These decisions have to be taken in a more apolitical, neutral basis rather than being driven by media attention." 
Foreign Policy: The Administration Goes All in on Kobani, October 21, 2014
Meanwhile, Turkey is flying airstrikes of its own: against the P.K.K. in southeastern Turkey. "Turkey’s leaders see the battle for Kobani mostly as a chance to let two of its enemies duke it out, rather than as a cause for alarm."

The New York Times with a long article about the chemical weapons that were found in Iraq after the invasion and the havoc they wrought on the soldiers that discovered them (and the effort to cover it up because "The discoveries of these chemical weapons did not support the government’s invasion rationale."): leftovers from Saddam Hussein's weapons programme in the 1980s, built in cooperation with the West during the Iran-Iraq war.

openDemocracy on the gendered dimension of the Ebola epidemic in Liberia, where women are disproportionally affected because they take on the responsibility as caregivers.

Jacobin on "The Economics of Palestinian Liberation".

Journalists from European newspapers debunk myths about migration.

The Guardian looks into the usefulness of the Emissions Trading Scheme in the EU.

Laura Poitras, a documentary film maker and journalist, was among the three first people to receive leaked NSA documents from Edward Snowden. She met with Snowden and recorded footage that will be released as Citizenfour this week (third in a loose trilogy about the fallout of 9/11).

Charlie Brooker's comment on "GamerGate":
You know those games where you get to choose your character class at the start, weighing up the pros and cons of picking a Warrior over an Archmage, or what have you? Never, ever choose “woman” on your first playthrough of The Internet, because you’ll face an immediate difficulty spike. Suddenly it’s a stealth game with nowhere to hide, one with hundreds of respawning enemies waiting to attack you the moment you make a noise or stand out in any way whatsoever. The enemy AI is sophisticated and unpredictable; it studies your weaknesses and moves to exploit them. Instead of shitting fireballs at you, your foes bombard you with unrelenting abuse. Reach the higher difficulty stages without dying (by your own hand) and this could graduate to blood-curdling death threats. 
The Guardian: Gamergate: the internet is the toughest game in town – if you’re playing as a woman, October 21, 2014

Pop Culture: 

As part of Start Together, a reissue of all the Sleater-Kinney records released before the band's indefinite hiatus in 2006, the band included a new song called Bury Our Friends - a taster for a new record (No Cities to Love) which will come out in January next year, after a tour through the US and Europe (meanwhile, Carrie Brownstein confirmed that there will be more seasons of Portlandia and that she will likely appear in a new season of Transparent).

Motherboard has an interview with William Gibson, whose new novel The Peripheral comes out at the end of this month.
Part of my whole working method in fiction, which I think I became more consciously aware of while writing this book, is that I’ve always assumed that history is fully as speculative a discipline as writing science fiction. Our narrative of history changes as we go along, and hundred years from now, the deep past—assuming that technology continues to emerge at the same rate—the deep human past that those people will be able to see will be quite unrecognizable to us. 
Lapham's Quarterly on Virginia Woolf's Orlando, "the longest love letter in literature".
The tragedy of Woolf’s other protagonists was their inability to reconcile time on the clock with time of the mind, particularly in a landscape where the gears of modernity ground up anyone who stood in the way—an irrevocable machine moving ever forward no matter how long the inner landscape might want to linger in the moment. The death of Jacob Flanders during the Great War occurs offstage in Jacob’s Room; the suicide of the shell-shocked Septimus Smith is overheard as party chatter in Mrs. Dalloway; and the deaths in To the Lighthouse occur as bracketed asides in the rapidly compressed middle section, “Time Passes”—all of these suggest the way modernity stops for no one and never looks back.

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