Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Stained by the shit and urine of raped women's leaking fistulas?

I had to look up the word fistulas.........I then vomited a little bit in my mouth.

"AppIe is known for the clean lines of their products, the alluring simplicity of their designs. Dare I....go so far....as to suggest...this signature cleanness is stained by the shit and urine of raped women's leaking fistulas?"

"I dream of the day when North Americans recoil in horror at the introduction of an otherwise revolutionary and exciting electronic product that lacks TAC....when the queues are expressions of solidarity for 11-year-old mine slaves, women whose vaginas have been perforated by object insertion rape, and families forced to eat one another in each other's presence."

The full article

......Errr, I don't really want to say anything more because I am now absolutely terrified of Ashley Judd.

(She has a surprisingly large collection of scary photos......
No idea what the caption is about though)
Photo credit

Monday, November 29, 2010

Dolphin-Mind Controlling Robots

From the NYT:

"...a computer scientist at the Naval Postgraduate School has proposed that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency finance a robotic submarine system that would intelligently control teams of dolphins to detect underwater mines and protect ships in harbors. “If we run into a conflict with Iran, the likelihood of them trying to do something in the Strait of Hormuz is quite high,” said Raymond Buettner, deputy director of the Information Operations Center at the Naval Postgraduate School."

And my favourite part (financial justification for the project):

“One land mine blowing up one ship and choking the world’s oil supply pays for the entire Navy marine mammal program and its robotics program for a long time.”

One zombie outbreak causing a collapse of the global financial system pays for the research into the Necronomicon to bring Ash Williams back into the present time

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Do guns make more violence likely?

From Barking Up the Wrong Tree:

The weapon instrumentality hypothesis suggests that guns contribute to the escalation and lethality of violence. But the relationship between guns and violence might be spurious if the aggressor's violent tendencies or the aggressor's situation-specific intent to harm is the common cause of the presence/use of a gun and the violent outcome. To examine such rival explanations, we draw on interviews with 100 men imprisoned for an aggravated assault or homicide that stemmed from an interpersonal conflict. Each respondent described a matched pair of conflicts: the violent conflict that led to incarceration and a similar nonviolent conflict from the same time period. The matched pair design allows us to control for both potential sources of spuriousness: violent tendencies and situation-specific intent to harm. The results suggest that guns contribute to the violent escalation of conflict, but the impact of guns attenuates substantially after accounting for situation-specific intent to harm.

Source: "Have Gun Will Shoot? Weapon Instrumentality, Intent, and the Violent Escalation of Conflict" from Homicide Studies

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

So I was wrong.....(updated - again) - Khartoum attacks the South

Remember how I told Roving Bandit to chill out?

Well, maybe that has changed as reports are coming in that the Northern military has just bombed an SPLA base in Northern Bahr El Ghazal.......
Stay tuned, I will hopefully have more on this later.....well, no....hopefully this all gets resolved and we never hear about it.

Update: The story has now made it to the news, though in a couple of versions:
While most reports (more)I have heard claimed that the two helicopters bombed an SPLA base, Voice of America reports that the bombings were targeting a referendum registration centre. What it is agreeable is that the attack was conducted in Northern Bahr el Ghazal by helicopters and that the North outright denies the event.

What I don't get is SAF's intentions. If they had in fact bombed a registration centre, then it could be that their intention was to scare people from going to the registration centres with the idea that they may just get bombed by helicopters. It is heavily dependent on 'availability heuristics' but is a common terror tactic.

However, if they had bombed the SPLA base for 2 hours (between 10 am and 12pm), injured 6 people and then simply went home, then I am very confused and very worried as to what piece of information is being left out of the story from either sides. The North outright denies any attack taking place and the South has yet to kick up a massive storm about the whole incident (as would typically be expected if the North openly attacked a Southern military base).

I'm not quite worried yet, just very confused and suspicious of everyone. Especially the Reuters reporter who covered the story......McDoom (she must get that all the time).

Update 2: I just got another one.....Maybe, everything happened as ST and Reuters reported, but the South has not produce such a great reaction because they are fully aware that the North is simply trying to provoke and so the South has decided to be the big man. Now the fact that I didn't interpret the event this way the first time indicates how little faith I have in either side to act maturely......either that, or being bored in post-conflict is pushing my mind to want to create conspiracy theories.

Update 3: I should really just wait until incidences are fully over before I post things.....
So it turns out the VOA story holds some truth as the 2 civilians that were injured were on their way to the registration post when they were attacked. Furthermore, the President of the South has released a statement that the South will not conduct any reprisal attacks. This is a real strong sign of hope for peace. Clearly Khartoum is aware of the international backlash that will come from an all out offensive on the South. And the South is not falling for any provocation to drag it back into a very messy war. There is somewhat of an element of the mutually assured destruction doctrine at play and hopefully it will stay in play throughout the process.

Panic averted, carry on.....

Friday, November 19, 2010

Next Media Animation TV

Not sure if you have gathered, but I am a big fan of hilarious snarky satire and Next Media Animation (NMA) is here to provide. "NMA is the brainchild of HK tycoon Jimmy Lai. His vision was to animate news events that hasn't been caught on camera", and I first heard about them in the Atlantic monthly article where that quote is from. They have a brilliant catalogue of sketches ranging from Christine O'Donnell's campaign themes to a rap video of Obama and Hu Jin Tao having a currency rap-battle. The videos are predominantly in Mandarin and a lot of them are still lacking English subtitles. But, with a little background knowledge, the animation itself is able to clearly describe the jokes. This is the case for the sketch entitled "Is Palin Gunning for 2012", which while I speak very little Mandarin, is still hilarious to watch.

The site does predominantly make fun of western news events, and has very little content that addresses Asian news. While this can be interpreted as being a way for people to "laugh at the crazy westerners", I think it is simply a brilliant opportunity to hear the views (and more importantly, the jokes) of the 'other side', especially when the issue is related to Asia. Which is exactly the case when NMA produced their genius response to CAGW's ridiculous ad.

NMA is brilliant at the satirical side of things, but I do struggle to come to terms with the concept of animated news for 'serious news events'. While I realise there are plenty of animation of serious issues, e.g. Waltz with Bashir, there is something really off-putting about watching an animated re-enactment of the killings of Christians in the Baghdad church. However, there isn't really a large amount of 'serious news events' within their portfolio and I really can't imagine this aspect of NMA taking off…..then again, I thought reality TV was just a phase. For the moment, NMA seems to mainly be reporting on news events that are either already funny in itself or create a beautiful opportunity for satire. I hope they continue with this and look forward to more subtitles to their work and an explanation as to what the hell the Weather girls are all about.

Khartoum Bombing *IN* The South...

Roving Bandit is having a panic attack over Northern Antonov Bombers flying and dropping bombs in the South.......Chill out brother....it's cool.
He asks, "What on earth is going on?! Is this real? How on earth is this not a huge fucking issue? This can’t be true can it?"

Well.... SPLA (South military) is fully aware of SAF's (northern military) recent operations against Darfuri rebels (JEM, specifically), therefore, Khartoum is not bombing the South, but rather is bombing IN the south. And while usually this may have led to retaliatory attacks, I believe that the Southern Government is trying to not involve itself in any Darfur related matters to prevent any further friction with the North at this critical stage of CPA discussions, especially following recent accusations that the South has been aiding JEM rebels.
So fear not.....it isn't necessarily a Northern strategy to scare communities away from registering for the referendum (its just the indiscriminate bombing of Darfuris...).
As the Gurtong article Roving Bandit refers to says;
"A member of the Southern Sudan Referendum Committee at Gok Machar Angelo Ker confirmed the incident and said registration has been going on from yesterday without any setbacks."
All this is happening in Northern Bahr el Ghazal where at the same time;
"Authorities from the southern state of Northern Bahr el Ghazal on Monday said the high turnout for voter registration in Aweil East County has overwhelmed polling centers."

Now, if your life is boring and you do want something to worry about, allow me to refer you to interruptions of the registration process in Tonj East County due to cattle raiding by youths from Mayandit. As well as the prevention of voter registration in Koch County because the referendum commission is unable to access the area due to its 'No-Go' classification by the UN following attacks by General Gatluak Gai's insurgency.

Ma'alesh Roving Bandit. Kulu Tamam......well, sort of.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Real Four Lions

NOTE: This is actually a really shit post. It just got the most hits because of the picture and its link in google images.

Have you ever watched Chris Morris' Four Lions? No? Well you really should. It is a hilarious (yet feasible) tale of a group of blundering wannabe British jihadist who strive for glory through their terrorist plot. Aside from the more emotionally engaging scenes, the movie is basically a mock-blooper reel of terrorism that leaves a funny taste in your mouth at the end.

For all you reality TV fans out there, you can now watch a real-life terrorist blooper reel over at Wired's Danger room. The 26 minute video contains out-takes of what would have been a propaganda video had the 15 year old Omar Khadr and his merry men not been captured by US Special Forces (Go Joe!).

Also, if your a fan of behind the scenes Taliban behaviour, I would strongly suggest getting a hold of Paul Refsdal's 'Behind Enemy Lines'. You can't watch it on the SBS site unless your in Australia but it is still floating around the internet somewhere.....try torrents.

There is something to be said about the perceiving 'the enemy' in non-combat scenarios and its humanising effects......but someone else will say it....I'm going home.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Slackistan: Reality TV for a new audience?

"Islamabad, Pakistan. A group of privileged and westernised twenty-something friends while away their days and nights driving around town, partying, surfing the internet and smoking shisha pipes. As the country outside their world starts to crack, Hasan and his friends must face up to relationships, internal angst and life choices before it is too late."

So its basically a movie version of those American reality TV shows of rich youths hanging around....doing stuff.....BUT, this one is set in Pakistan. Therefore we can pass it off as cultured and meaningful.....

This is just like the Afghan version of pop idol that was made into a movie - Afghan Star

Next week: Reality TV cooking program in Turkmenistan

Finally, reality TV for us classy wankers

Monday, November 8, 2010

Devaluing the state sponsors of terrorism list

"President Obama told Sudan that if it allows a politically sensitive referendum to go ahead in January, and abides by the results, the United States will move to take the country off its list of state sponsors of terrorism as early as next July, administration officials said Sunday." NYT

This is a component of the US' package of incentives for North Sudan to discourage it from any naughtiness for the upcoming referendum. It is also an indication of how stupid and arbitrary the list of state sponsors of terrorism is. I mean, if your willing to take a country off the list simply because it cooperates with you on something completely unrelated to why you put them on the list in the first place, it seriously devalues the list. Would you take a pedophile off the sex-offenders list just because he starts recycling?

I imagine the War on Terror is of greater value to US foreign policy than whatever happens in this big ol' African country. So why is it so easy for the US to offer taking Sudan off the list then? Could it possibly be because the US thinks that Sudan doesn't actually deserve to still be on that list? Well lets look at what the State Department has to say:

"The Sudanese government continued to pursue counterterrorism operations directly involving threats to U.S. interests and personnel in Sudan......[An assessment of the hardliners in Sudan] reflected disappointment that Sudan’s cooperation has not resulted in its removal from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism. Despite this, there was no indication that the Sudanese government will curtail its current level of counterterrorism cooperation despite bumps in the overall bilateral relationship."
"The Sudanese government has also worked hard to disrupt foreign fighters from using Sudan as a logistics base and transit point for terrorists going to Iraq. However, gaps remain in the Sudanese government’s knowledge of these individuals and its ability to identify and capture them."
"There was no reliable information to corroborate long-standing allegations that the Government of Sudan was supporting the LRA in 2009."

Hmmm.....So it seems the biggest reason for Sudan to remain on the list is that it has gaps in its ability to identify and capture terrorist? (seriously, read the whole thing.....it is ridiculous)

Now what about the argument that Sudan is still on the list because of its hand in Darfur? Well, if that is in fact the reason, then why is it that this incentive has been moved away and unlinked from a "resolution of the violence in the Darfur"? That just makes it worst. That's like telling the molested child that he isn't getting justice because the pedophile has recycled a lot of stuff.

What about when Sudan does do something to help the War on Terror? In '94 it extradited Carlos the Jackal, then in '96 it expelled Bin Laden and yet even after that show of support and before any further terrorist sponsoring act, the US still kept Sudan on the list, crippled its economy and bombed its capital (more on this here) (also, a lot more points to be made on the misuse of the list, e.g. the case of Korea)

Don't get me wrong, there is nothing I would love more than a peaceful referendum, but I don't think that
1) The state sponsors of terrorism list should be used for anything other than discouraging countries from sponsoring terrorism

2) Pedophiles should get to run free just because they decide to recycle

“This proposal from [Kerry] does not matter,” NCP communication officer Rabi Abdel-Atti told the Monitor. “The two sides are already engaged in continuous discussions, and the negotiations are proceeding. We don’t understand what outside proposals have to do with anything.”

The US offer did, though, leave much off the table. US officials have so far made clear to the regime that full US sanctions will not be lifted as long as the ongoing conflict in Darfur remains unresolved.
Because of this, the new proposal offers little economic benefit to Khartoum, especially in relation to the vast southern resources it is being pressured to surrender, according to Bayless Parsley, an Africa analyst for Austin-based global intelligence company STRATFOR.

Friday, November 5, 2010

DAMN Kristof! you just got F'ed in the A by T in [the] A

"T in [the] A" being Texas in Africa, and "F'ed in the A" being....well....I'm sure you'll get it. (no offence T-in-A)

Once again Kristof's name has been echoing throughout the Blogosphere due to his controversial mouth. This time he has been making the bold claim that DIY Aid projects are better/more effective than those implemented by large aid agencies.........Bring on the academic gang rape:

Tales from the Hood argues that aid isn't about us. - I still get paid though, right?

Dave Algoso argues that aid is actually some pretty hard and complicated work. He also points to the fact that Kristof fails to describe any local DIY aid projects and seems to really emphasise the notion of 'whites in shining armour'.
Also, on Kristof's point about "grassroots, locally owned aid projects have a better record than large scale, top-down ones that don’t always have the same buy-in"; I can't speak for everywhere, but here in South Sudan, a majority of projects are developed and implemented by local NGOs and civil society groups.......us foreign aid workers just throw money at people and take credit for the work.

Kristof then wrote a second piece in an attempt to counter the criticisms.

By this point Texas in Africa could take no more and wrote a beautiful piece on how Kristof's argument is really just based on anecdotal evidence rather than any real data. Why beautiful? Because I think it reflects the a major problem with DIY aid.

If we were to pretend that Kristof is the amateur implementing the DIY aid project, he would have gone to the field and implemented whatever genius idea he thought he had based on his anecdotal information that he received from some celebrity rather than real data that reflects the actual needs of the target community. They are called amateurs for a reason. For sure they can be effective, but at the same time, running a project based on anecdotal information can also mean that you are effective at causing more harm than good. Can we be sure that amateurs will be familiar with the necessary procedures such as 'Do No Harm'? If not, then where does the accountability land? If an aid agency messes up they will feel the wrath of the development gods, amateurs get to run back home and still feel good about themselves.

Anyways, if these people have such an urge to help the world and/or have a brilliant idea on how to save the world, why can't they work with the aid agencies? We don't accept mavericks in every other field, so why should they be allowed to run around the world under the banner of aid? Is it because they mean well so we give them a free pass? Well the machine gun preacher meant well, and so did the American Ninja in Afghanistan, but I think you will find very few people who would support them......wait......what?! There's going to be a Machine gun preacher movie?! and he is being portrayed as the hero?! Well, I guess I should start collecting all those old shirts I have then.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

News nibbles

So I don't quite feel up for much comprehensive ranting this week. Not to say that there isn't anything to be said about the Abyei talks being held 'hostage' or the hot new idea to just give Abyei to the South in exchange for a financial package.
Instead allow me to share some links with you:

Humans are taking back the internet with this latest search engine that only produces verified (by actual people) websites. It filters out all those trashy websites that are loaded with adverts and try to trick you out of your money. A search with the keyword 'porn' reveals everything but what one was hoping to find.

In line with Britain's new Big Society vision, the Maidenhead and Windsor council has been tinkering with the idea of offering rewards for doing good deeds that benefit society. A strategy of positive reinforcement to better the behavior of society, that has not been received positively by everyone. Religious leaders complained, "First they separate the church and state, and monopolised crime and punishment. Now they want to monopolise good deeds and rewards. What happened to the promise of a small government!". Those on benefits claimed that they would need these rewards made available as welfare for those suffering from a altruistic deficiency that prevents them from giving a shit.

Danger room has an article uncovering a real-life supervillian, Ibrahim Al-Asiri. The diabolical mastermind that brought us the explosive underpants and more recently, the explosive print cartridge. He may not have nuclear weapons or freeeking lasers but he did manage to convince his brother to shove a bomb up his ass.

The US military has begun their process of 'Hippy-fying' their troops by releasing the T2 Mood tracker, a smart phone application that is "designed to yield information that can assist doctors and therapists in addressing common responses to combat, such as post-traumatic stress and depression". Everyday, the user can update his emotion and mood and that information is collected and analysed by therapist who then know exactly how to address the soldier. Chinese hackers have begun breaking into the system and targeting emotionally vulnerable soldiers with disparaging and hateful messages.

The US Navy has declared war on Algae - in a further attempt to appear like a bunch of tree-huggers, the US Navy has decided to feed its war machines with the ocean's plants. Green Peace and Sea Shepherd have awakened their sleeper cells to take down the plant loving/hating seamen.

That is all.