Erick Stoll

rtnt:

The Stupidity Of Computers
David Auerbach writes in N+1 about the reductive algorithms computers use to quantify and organize our world. 

This has brought us Google and the iPhone, but it has not brought us HAL 9000. So what does the future hold? There are two pathways going forward.
First, we will bring ourselves to computers. The small- and large-scale convenience and efficiency of storing more and more parts of our lives online will increase the hold that formal ontologies have on us. They will be constructed by governments, by corporations, and by us in unequal measure, and there will be both implicit and explicit battles over how these ontologies are managed. The fight over how test scores should be used to measure student and teacher performance is nothing compared to what we will see once every aspect of our lives from health to artistic effort to personal relationships is formalized and quantified.
We will increasingly see ourselves in terms of these ontologies and willingly try to conform to them. This will bring about a flattening of the self—a reversal of the expansion of the self that occurred over the last several hundred years. While in the 20th century people came to see themselves as empty existential vessels, without a commitment to any particular internal essence, they will now see themselves as contingently but definitively embodying types derived from the overriding ontologies. This is as close to a solution to the modernist problem of the self as we will get.

Read the full article here. 


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rtnt:

The Stupidity Of Computers

David Auerbach writes in N+1 about the reductive algorithms computers use to quantify and organize our world. 

This has brought us Google and the iPhone, but it has not brought us HAL 9000. So what does the future hold? There are two pathways going forward.

First, we will bring ourselves to computers. The small- and large-scale convenience and efficiency of storing more and more parts of our lives online will increase the hold that formal ontologies have on us. They will be constructed by governments, by corporations, and by us in unequal measure, and there will be both implicit and explicit battles over how these ontologies are managed. The fight over how test scores should be used to measure student and teacher performance is nothing compared to what we will see once every aspect of our lives from health to artistic effort to personal relationships is formalized and quantified.

We will increasingly see ourselves in terms of these ontologies and willingly try to conform to them. This will bring about a flattening of the self—a reversal of the expansion of the self that occurred over the last several hundred years. While in the 20th century people came to see themselves as empty existential vessels, without a commitment to any particular internal essence, they will now see themselves as contingently but definitively embodying types derived from the overriding ontologies. This is as close to a solution to the modernist problem of the self as we will get.

Read the full article here. 

rtnt:

In The Age Of Images, Why Bother Writing Novels? 
In 1996, novelist Jonathan Franzen wrote this now famous essay in Harper’s about the role of the author in a culture of technological growth and distraction.

There has never been much love lost between the world of art and the “value-neutral” ideology of the market economy. In the wake of the Cold War, this ideology has set about consolidating its gains, enlarging its markets, securing its profits, and demoralizing its few remaining critics. In 1993 I saw signs of the consolidation everywhere. I saw it in the swollen minivans and broad-beamed trucks that had replaced the autombile as the suburban vehicle of choice—these Rangers and Land Cruisers and Voyagers that were the true spoils of awar waged in order to keep American gasoline cheaper than dirt, a war that had played like a 1,000-hour infomercial for high technology, a consumer’s war dispensed though commercial television.
… 
The world of the present is a world in which the rich lateral dramas of local manners have been replaced by a single vertical drama, the drama of regional specificity succumbing to a commercial generality. The American writer today faces a totalitarianism analogous to the one with which two generations of Eastern bloc writers had to contend. To ignore it is to court nostalgia. To engage with it, however, is to risk writing fiction that makes the same point over and over: technological consumerism is an infernal machine, technological consumerism is an infernal machine…”

Read the whole essay here. 

rtnt:

In The Age Of Images, Why Bother Writing Novels? 

In 1996, novelist Jonathan Franzen wrote this now famous essay in Harper’s about the role of the author in a culture of technological growth and distraction.

There has never been much love lost between the world of art and the “value-neutral” ideology of the market economy. In the wake of the Cold War, this ideology has set about consolidating its gains, enlarging its markets, securing its profits, and demoralizing its few remaining critics. In 1993 I saw signs of the consolidation everywhere. I saw it in the swollen minivans and broad-beamed trucks that had replaced the autombile as the suburban vehicle of choice—these Rangers and Land Cruisers and Voyagers that were the true spoils of awar waged in order to keep American gasoline cheaper than dirt, a war that had played like a 1,000-hour infomercial for high technology, a consumer’s war dispensed though commercial television.

… 

The world of the present is a world in which the rich lateral dramas of local manners have been replaced by a single vertical drama, the drama of regional specificity succumbing to a commercial generality. The American writer today faces a totalitarianism analogous to the one with which two generations of Eastern bloc writers had to contend. To ignore it is to court nostalgia. To engage with it, however, is to risk writing fiction that makes the same point over and over: technological consumerism is an infernal machine, technological consumerism is an infernal machine…”

Read the whole essay here. 

rtnt:

Read This, Not That is 6 Months Old!
Hope everyone here in the states had a pleasant holiday weekend. As of yesterday, we’ve been operating outside the newscycle to curate the finest long reads on the internet for half a year now.
The feedback we’re getting is great, and the follower count continues to grow, so we must be doing something right. And thanks to everyone, for reading and sharing and showing that there is an audience for long form content on the internet—yes, even on Tumblr!
To celebrate the occassion, we’ve updated our So What The Fuck is Read This, Not That? page and gathered our Top 10 Favorite RTNT Posts of all time. Read ‘em, and as always, let us know what you think:
1.  Trial By Fire: Did Texas Execute an Innocent Man?A sloppy investigation and a broken justice system lead to the execution of Cameron Todd Willingham for the alleged murder of his three children.David Grann, New Yorker, September 2009
2.  Speak, MoneyHow power has shifted away from the electorate in the United States.Roger D. Hodge, excerpt from The Mendacity of Hope, October 2010
3.  Within the Context of No ContextBrilliant exposition on the state of American culture and twentieth-century life.George Trow, New Yorker, November 1980
4.  Debt: The First 5,000 YearsThe development of our system of money was neither inevitable nor necessarily beneficial. Aaron Bady, New Inquiry, February 2012
5.  The Science of Why We Don’t Believe in ScienceWhen confronted with evidence that contradicts their views, people have a worrying tendency to ignore the evidence. Chris Mooney, Mother Jones, June 2011
6.  Raise the Crime RateReform isn’t enough—the prison system is a moral catastrophe and must be dismantled.Christopher Glazek, n+1, January 2012
7.  The Elusive Big IdeaWe have access to and consume more information than ever before, but it’s not doing us any good.Neil Gabler, New York Times, August 2011
8.  Dumb Like a FoxFox News’ agenda isn’t political, but commercial—the network has simply mastered the cable news format better than its competitors.Terry McDermott, Columbia Journalism Review, April 2010
9.  The Way it WasStories of what it was like for women before Roe v. Wade.Eleanor Cooney, Mother Jones, October 2004
10.  Generation Why?We limit our idea of what a person is when we reduce our complexities to the confines of Facebook.Zadie Smith, New York Review of Books, November 2010
How about you? Has RTNT changed your reading habits? What are some of your favorite pieces you’ve read so far? Share them with us via the submit feature, and we’ll make a readers’ choice list this Friday!
And changes you would like to see to RTNT’s programming or any new features you’d like on the website? We have some ideas in the pipeline, but we want to hear from you!
We hope this audience continues to seek out the long form journalism that is so crucial to the well-being of our society. We also hope that you encourage those close to you—your co-worker who goes on about celebrity headlines, your friend who watches hour after hour of MSNBC, your relative who relays the partisan talking points of the day—-to alter their media diet, abandoning the junk in favor of something more substantial.
Thank you, and always remember, you are what you read. 
// Follow Read This, Not That on Tumblr / Facebook / Twitter //

rtnt:

Read This, Not That is 6 Months Old!

Hope everyone here in the states had a pleasant holiday weekend. As of yesterday, we’ve been operating outside the newscycle to curate the finest long reads on the internet for half a year now.

The feedback we’re getting is great, and the follower count continues to grow, so we must be doing something right. And thanks to everyone, for reading and sharing and showing that there is an audience for long form content on the internet—yes, even on Tumblr!

To celebrate the occassion, we’ve updated our So What The Fuck is Read This, Not That? page and gathered our Top 10 Favorite RTNT Posts of all time. Read ‘em, and as always, let us know what you think:

1.  Trial By Fire: Did Texas Execute an Innocent Man?
A sloppy investigation and a broken justice system lead to the execution of Cameron Todd Willingham for the alleged murder of his three children.
David Grann, New Yorker, September 2009

2.  Speak, Money
How power has shifted away from the electorate in the United States.
Roger D. Hodge, excerpt from The Mendacity of Hope, October 2010

3.  Within the Context of No Context
Brilliant exposition on the state of American culture and twentieth-century life.
George Trow, New Yorker, November 1980

4.  Debt: The First 5,000 Years
The development of our system of money was neither inevitable nor necessarily beneficial. 
Aaron Bady, New Inquiry, February 2012

5.  The Science of Why We Don’t Believe in Science
When confronted with evidence that contradicts their views, people have a worrying tendency to ignore the evidence. 
Chris Mooney, Mother Jones, June 2011

6.  Raise the Crime Rate
Reform isn’t enough—the prison system is a moral catastrophe and must be dismantled.
Christopher Glazek, n+1, January 2012

7.  The Elusive Big Idea
We have access to and consume more information than ever before, but it’s not doing us any good.
Neil Gabler, New York Times, August 2011

8.  Dumb Like a Fox
Fox News’ agenda isn’t political, but commercial—the network has simply mastered the cable news format better than its competitors.
Terry McDermott, Columbia Journalism Review, April 2010

9.  The Way it Was
Stories of what it was like for women before Roe v. Wade.
Eleanor Cooney, Mother Jones, October 2004

10.  Generation Why?
We limit our idea of what a person is when we reduce our complexities to the confines of Facebook.
Zadie Smith, New York Review of Books, November 2010

How about you? Has RTNT changed your reading habits? What are some of your favorite pieces you’ve read so far? Share them with us via the submit feature, and we’ll make a readers’ choice list this Friday!

And changes you would like to see to RTNT’s programming or any new features you’d like on the website? We have some ideas in the pipeline, but we want to hear from you!

We hope this audience continues to seek out the long form journalism that is so crucial to the well-being of our society. We also hope that you encourage those close to you—your co-worker who goes on about celebrity headlines, your friend who watches hour after hour of MSNBC, your relative who relays the partisan talking points of the day—-to alter their media diet, abandoning the junk in favor of something more substantial.

Thank you, and always remember, you are what you read.
 

// Follow Read This, Not That on Tumblr / Facebook / Twitter //

rtnt:

The Fall Of Public Housing
Ben Austen writes in Harper’s about the demolition of Chicago’s infamous Cabrini-Green public housing high-rises, as part of the Chicago Housing Authority’s so-called Plan For Transformation. 

Deborah Hope lived in the Cabrini row houses for nearly twenty years before moving to a fourth-floor unit in the newly built Parkside of Old Town. … It all began, Hope said, when she was ten years old and her mother moved the family into the projects, to Rockwell Gardens on the West Side. That was the start of the disasters for them, the murders and drugs and alcohol and what they call the felonious society. Her sister was stabbed to death in the elevator, and Hope, at thirteen, took charge of raising her eight-month-old nephew. She pointed to a portrait of her sister on the wall above the dining room table, a pretty girl of eighteen, heavy-lidded, seated in a rattan lounge chair. A photograph on top of Hope’s television showed a brother who had died of AIDS. She counted off fifteen family members—including the sister, another brother, an aunt, and two of her own children—who got killed by guns or knives.
Hope later moved into an apartment on the North Side, in an all-white neighborhood. Yuppieville, she called it. They paid full rent, $1,500 a month, no assistance, food stamps, or medical card. She was raising four kids at the time, working three jobs, one for American Airlines at O’Hare, another at a skating rink, and the third as a school crossing guard. Hope would come home to drop off money and head right back out, riding the train or a bike. Then her mom died, at the age of fifty-two, Hope’s age now. And her brother went to prison, for being a “menace to society,” the court said. He got twenty years for selling drugs. Hope said there were weak men and strong men, and her brother was strong… But her landlords found out about her brother and said they didn’t want that kind. They raised the rent up so high Hope couldn’t manage, and she ended up in eviction court. She was given two weeks to get out and either head into emergency housing or be homeless. She didn’t want to go back to the projects, but she had no other choice.

Read the full article here. 
// Follow Read This, Not That on Tumblr / Facebook / Twitter //

rtnt:

The Fall Of Public Housing

Ben Austen writes in Harper’s about the demolition of Chicago’s infamous Cabrini-Green public housing high-rises, as part of the Chicago Housing Authority’s so-called Plan For Transformation. 

Deborah Hope lived in the Cabrini row houses for nearly twenty years before moving to a fourth-floor unit in the newly built Parkside of Old Town. … It all began, Hope said, when she was ten years old and her mother moved the family into the projects, to Rockwell Gardens on the West Side. That was the start of the disasters for them, the murders and drugs and alcohol and what they call the felonious society. Her sister was stabbed to death in the elevator, and Hope, at thirteen, took charge of raising her eight-month-old nephew. She pointed to a portrait of her sister on the wall above the dining room table, a pretty girl of eighteen, heavy-lidded, seated in a rattan lounge chair. A photograph on top of Hope’s television showed a brother who had died of AIDS. She counted off fifteen family members—including the sister, another brother, an aunt, and two of her own children—who got killed by guns or knives.

Hope later moved into an apartment on the North Side, in an all-white neighborhood. Yuppieville, she called it. They paid full rent, $1,500 a month, no assistance, food stamps, or medical card. She was raising four kids at the time, working three jobs, one for American Airlines at O’Hare, another at a skating rink, and the third as a school crossing guard. Hope would come home to drop off money and head right back out, riding the train or a bike. Then her mom died, at the age of fifty-two, Hope’s age now. And her brother went to prison, for being a “menace to society,” the court said. He got twenty years for selling drugs. Hope said there were weak men and strong men, and her brother was strong… But her landlords found out about her brother and said they didn’t want that kind. They raised the rent up so high Hope couldn’t manage, and she ended up in eviction court. She was given two weeks to get out and either head into emergency housing or be homeless. She didn’t want to go back to the projects, but she had no other choice.

Read the full article here. 

// Follow Read This, Not That on Tumblr / Facebook / Twitter //

rtnt:

Speaking In Tongues
Here’s something special for your Monday morning: In a lecture given just after the 2008 Presidential elections, Zadie Smith explores the stigmas associated with straddling different cultures and languages, and expresses hope that Obama’s ability to do so heralded a new politics of inclusivity.

We now know that Obama spoke of Main Street in Iowa and of sweet potato pie in Northwest Philly, and it could be argued that he succeeded because he so rarely misspoke, carefully tailoring his intonations to suit the sensibility of his listeners. Sometimes he did this within one speech, within one line: “We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don’t like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states.” Awesome God comes to you straight from the pews of a Georgia church; poking around feels more at home at a kitchen table in South Bend, Indiana. The balance was perfect, cunningly counterpoised and never accidental. It’s only now that it’s over that we see him let his guard down a little, on 60 Minutes, say, dropping in that culturally, casually black construction “Hey, I’m not stupid, man, that’s why I’m president,” something it’s hard to imagine him doing even three weeks earlier. To a certain kind of mind, it must have looked like the mask had slipped for a moment.
Which brings us to the single-voiced Obamanation crowd. They rage on in the blogs and on the radio, waiting obsessively for the mask to slip. They have a great fear of what they see as Obama’s doubling ways. “He says one thing but he means another”—this is the essence of the fear campaign. He says he’s a capitalist, but he’ll spread your wealth. He says he’s a Christian, but really he’s going to empower the Muslims. … And when Jesse Jackson heard that Obama had lectured a black church congregation about the epidemic of absent black fathers, he experienced this, too, as a tonal betrayal; Obama was “talking down to black people.” In both cases, there was the sense of a double-dealer, of someone who tailors his speech to fit the audience, who is not of the people (because he is able to look at them objectively) but always above them.

Read the full article here. 
// Follow Read This, Not That on Tumblr / Facebook / Twitter //

rtnt:

Speaking In Tongues

Here’s something special for your Monday morning: In a lecture given just after the 2008 Presidential elections, Zadie Smith explores the stigmas associated with straddling different cultures and languages, and expresses hope that Obama’s ability to do so heralded a new politics of inclusivity.

We now know that Obama spoke of Main Street in Iowa and of sweet potato pie in Northwest Philly, and it could be argued that he succeeded because he so rarely misspoke, carefully tailoring his intonations to suit the sensibility of his listeners. Sometimes he did this within one speech, within one line: “We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don’t like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states.” Awesome God comes to you straight from the pews of a Georgia church; poking around feels more at home at a kitchen table in South Bend, Indiana. The balance was perfect, cunningly counterpoised and never accidental. It’s only now that it’s over that we see him let his guard down a little, on 60 Minutes, say, dropping in that culturally, casually black construction “Hey, I’m not stupid, man, that’s why I’m president,” something it’s hard to imagine him doing even three weeks earlier. To a certain kind of mind, it must have looked like the mask had slipped for a moment.

Which brings us to the single-voiced Obamanation crowd. They rage on in the blogs and on the radio, waiting obsessively for the mask to slip. They have a great fear of what they see as Obama’s doubling ways. “He says one thing but he means another”—this is the essence of the fear campaign. He says he’s a capitalist, but he’ll spread your wealth. He says he’s a Christian, but really he’s going to empower the Muslims. … And when Jesse Jackson heard that Obama had lectured a black church congregation about the epidemic of absent black fathers, he experienced this, too, as a tonal betrayal; Obama was “talking down to black people.” In both cases, there was the sense of a double-dealer, of someone who tailors his speech to fit the audience, who is not of the people (because he is able to look at them objectively) but always above them.

Read the full article here. 

// Follow Read This, Not That on Tumblr / Facebook / Twitter //

rtnt:

The Morality of the Information Age

A fascinating conversation between the oracular Marshall McLuhan and a befuddled Norman Mailer about the moral nature of the Information Age, broadcast on CBC in 1969. 

McLuhan: “The planet is no longer nature, it’s no longer the external world. It’s now the content of an artwork. Nature has ceased to exist….when you put a manmade environment around the planet, you abolish nature. Nature now, in a sense, has to be programmed. … the Environment is not visible, it’s information. It’s electronic.”

Mailer: “I’m utterly appalled by it. I think there’s a kind of totalitarian principle present in this avalanche of over-information, if you will. There’s a lack of form and order and category in the nature of modern experience which to me speaks to nothing so much as entropy.” 

//  Follow Read This, Not That on Tumblr  /  Facebook  /  Twitter  //

rtnt:

RTNT On The Problems With KONY 2012
The deluge of social media attention that has been given to the simplistic KONY 2012 campaign and the surrounding haze of misinformation has reaffirmed our purpose at Read This, Not That. Joseph Kony is a warlord and a monster - this much cannot be denied. The present controversy swirls not around Kony himself, but rather around the substance of the campaign, and the intentions of the organization behind it: Invisible Children.
Conversations are raging across the web between supporters and detractors - conversations that suffer, in many instances, from a lack of understanding about the current state of Uganda and of Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (details of which are notably lacking from the film.)
There has been much resistance to criticism of the campaign, resistance founded in knee-jerk reactions meant to defend the perceived good intentions of Invisible Children. The appearance of a noble cause to mask questionable action is not anomalous in our world. As such, it is our responsibility to be skeptical, especially when engaged with propagandistic media that aims to affect us emotionally and prompt a very specific reaction: in this case, to give money to Invisible Children.
Our effort here is to offer articles that inform the debate surrounding KONY 2012 and to encourage everyone to embrace critical conversation, even when that gaze is directed at what appear to be good intentions. Things are rarely as simple as they are made out to be, and we can be sure that the state of Uganda and the LRA is not as simple as the KONY 2012 campaign makes it seem.
Michael Wilkerson, writing for Foreign Policy, asks what the video is meant to accomplish:

So the goal is to make sure that President Obama doesn’t withdraw the advisors he deployed until Kony is captured or killed. That seems noble enough, except that there has been no mention by the government of withdrawing those forces — at least any I can find. Does anyone else have any evidence about this urgent threat of cancellation? One that justifies such a massive production campaign and surely lucrative donation drive?

TMS Ruge, writing for Project Diaspora, pleads with us to respect the agency of Ugandans:

This IC campaign is a perfect example of how fund-sucking NGO’s survive…They are, in actuality, selling themselves as the issue, as the subject, as the panacea for everything that ails me as the agency-devoid African. All I have to do is show up in my broken English, look pathetic and wanting. You, my dear social media savvy click-activist, will shed a tear, exhaust Facebook’s like button, mobilize your cadre of equally ill-uninformed netizens to throw money at the problem.

Ugandan Journalist Angelo Izama, writing at This Is Africa, finds KONY 2012’s portrayal of Uganda outdated:

To call the campaign a misrepresentation is an understatement. While it draws attention to the fact that Kony, indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court in 2005, is still on the loose, it’s portrayal of his alleged crimes in Northern Uganda are from a bygone era.

Musa Okwanga, writing for The Independent, discusses the complexities the video left out:

What the narrator also failed to do was mention to his son that when a bad guy like Kony is running riot for years on end, raping and slashing and seizing and shooting, then there is most likely another host of bad guys out there letting him get on with it.  He probably should have told him that, too.

Guy Gunartne, writing for Codoc, questions the wisdom of Invisible Children’s preferred policy of military intervention:

The LRA is reported to be 90% made up of abducted children – military defeat would mean engaging in combat and targeting of the very victims of this war; these children are the LRA.

The author of Visible Children examines the armies on the other side of the war:

Both the Ugandan army and Sudan People’s Liberation Army are riddled with accusations of rape and looting, but Invisible Children defends them, arguing that the Ugandan army is “better equipped than that of any of the other affected countries”, although Kony is no longer active in Uganda and hasn’t been since 2006 by their own admission.

Glenna Gordon, who took the photograph above, takes issue with the filmmakers’ self-aggrandizement in this interview for The Washington Post:

People who have lived there for years, bona fide aid workers who have studied foreign policy and other relevant fields like public health, who are really there because they are trying to solve problems — they see Invisible Children as trying to promote themselves and a version of the narrative. 

Eric Ritskes, writing at Wanderings, reminds us that it is not about us:

It falls into the trap, the belief that the problem is ignorance and the answer is education. When we tell more people about Kony and the LRA, something WILL happen. It’s not true…More education does not change the systems and structures of oppression, those that need Africa to be the place of suffering and war and saving…We need to learn: It’s not about us.

Patrick Wegner, writing at Justice in Conflict, offers some final thoughts:

To conclude, the Kony 2012 campaign is a reminder why we should see advocacy campaigns to interfere in conflicts with some scepticism, no matter how good the cause…. It also challenges us to think of ways how to design advocacy campaigns that mobilise many people without dumbing down the problem and its purported solution.

We put in a lot of work reading, reviewing, compiling, and excerpting these pieces for you, and hope you will consider them in this debate. - The RTNT TeamFollow Read This, Not That on Tumblr / Facebook / Twitter 

rtnt:

RTNT On The Problems With KONY 2012

The deluge of social media attention that has been given to the simplistic KONY 2012 campaign and the surrounding haze of misinformation has reaffirmed our purpose at Read This, Not That. Joseph Kony is a warlord and a monster - this much cannot be denied. The present controversy swirls not around Kony himself, but rather around the substance of the campaign, and the intentions of the organization behind it: Invisible Children.

Conversations are raging across the web between supporters and detractors - conversations that suffer, in many instances, from a lack of understanding about the current state of Uganda and of Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (details of which are notably lacking from the film.)

There has been much resistance to criticism of the campaign, resistance founded in knee-jerk reactions meant to defend the perceived good intentions of Invisible Children. The appearance of a noble cause to mask questionable action is not anomalous in our world. As such, it is our responsibility to be skeptical, especially when engaged with propagandistic media that aims to affect us emotionally and prompt a very specific reaction: in this case, to give money to Invisible Children.

Our effort here is to offer articles that inform the debate surrounding KONY 2012 and to encourage everyone to embrace critical conversation, even when that gaze is directed at what appear to be good intentions. Things are rarely as simple as they are made out to be, and we can be sure that the state of Uganda and the LRA is not as simple as the KONY 2012 campaign makes it seem.

Michael Wilkerson, writing for Foreign Policy, asks what the video is meant to accomplish:

So the goal is to make sure that President Obama doesn’t withdraw the advisors he deployed until Kony is captured or killed. That seems noble enough, except that there has been no mention by the government of withdrawing those forces — at least any I can find. Does anyone else have any evidence about this urgent threat of cancellation? One that justifies such a massive production campaign and surely lucrative donation drive?

TMS Ruge, writing for Project Diaspora, pleads with us to respect the agency of Ugandans:

This IC campaign is a perfect example of how fund-sucking NGO’s survive…They are, in actuality, selling themselves as the issue, as the subject, as the panacea for everything that ails me as the agency-devoid African. All I have to do is show up in my broken English, look pathetic and wanting. You, my dear social media savvy click-activist, will shed a tear, exhaust Facebook’s like button, mobilize your cadre of equally ill-uninformed netizens to throw money at the problem.

Ugandan Journalist Angelo Izama, writing at This Is Africa, finds KONY 2012’s portrayal of Uganda outdated:

To call the campaign a misrepresentation is an understatement. While it draws attention to the fact that Kony, indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court in 2005, is still on the loose, it’s portrayal of his alleged crimes in Northern Uganda are from a bygone era.

Musa Okwanga, writing for The Independent, discusses the complexities the video left out:

What the narrator also failed to do was mention to his son that when a bad guy like Kony is running riot for years on end, raping and slashing and seizing and shooting, then there is most likely another host of bad guys out there letting him get on with it.  He probably should have told him that, too.

Guy Gunartne, writing for Codoc, questions the wisdom of Invisible Children’s preferred policy of military intervention:

The LRA is reported to be 90% made up of abducted children – military defeat would mean engaging in combat and targeting of the very victims of this war; these children are the LRA.

The author of Visible Children examines the armies on the other side of the war:

Both the Ugandan army and Sudan People’s Liberation Army are riddled with accusations of rape and looting, but Invisible Children defends them, arguing that the Ugandan army is “better equipped than that of any of the other affected countries”, although Kony is no longer active in Uganda and hasn’t been since 2006 by their own admission.

Glenna Gordon, who took the photograph above, takes issue with the filmmakers’ self-aggrandizement in this interview for The Washington Post:

People who have lived there for years, bona fide aid workers who have studied foreign policy and other relevant fields like public health, who are really there because they are trying to solve problems — they see Invisible Children as trying to promote themselves and a version of the narrative. 

Eric Ritskes, writing at Wanderings, reminds us that it is not about us:

It falls into the trap, the belief that the problem is ignorance and the answer is education. When we tell more people about Kony and the LRA, something WILL happen. It’s not true…More education does not change the systems and structures of oppression, those that need Africa to be the place of suffering and war and saving…We need to learn: It’s not about us.

Patrick Wegner, writing at Justice in Conflict, offers some final thoughts:

To conclude, the Kony 2012 campaign is a reminder why we should see advocacy campaigns to interfere in conflicts with some scepticism, no matter how good the cause…. It also challenges us to think of ways how to design advocacy campaigns that mobilise many people without dumbing down the problem and its purported solution.

We put in a lot of work reading, reviewing, compiling, and excerpting these pieces for you, and hope you will consider them in this debate.

 - The RTNT Team

Follow Read This, Not That on Tumblr / Facebook / Twitter 

newleftmedia:

NEW VIDEO! Most everyone has noticed the wide swath of internet websites that have been blacked out in protest of the pending PIPA / SOPA legislation in congress, but not as many people understand exactly why those bills are such a problem.

This short documentary explores PIPA and SOPA, how the bills work, who’s behind them, and why all internet users have reason to be concerned.

Please help us by SHARING THIS VIDEO and spreading the word about PIPA / SOPA.

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The fight to prevent online censorship in the U.S. is far from over. While SOPA’s future seems increasingly bleak, PIPA has not been pulled from consideration in the senate, where it will be up for a vote later this month.

It is important to understand that PIPA has the same fundamental problems of SOPA. It is NOT a compromise bill; at this point, it is little more than a legislative strategy to abandon the SOPA branding in favor of PIPA.

Both bills contain vague language and reach too broadly, threatening free speech and innovation on the web. Both institute a private right of action for companies to block access to infringing content without due process. Both contain an immunity clause to protect these companies from legal consequence if they make mistakes. And both set the wrong global precedent by encouraging other countries to censor the internet based on their own domestic laws.

While President Obama is opposed to the DNS-blocked mechanisms proposed in the bills, the language still exists. As well, Obama has not come against the legislation itself, nor has he signaled his intention to veto the legislation if it passes. These bills don’t need to be fixed, they need to be scrapped.

Currently, PIPA or a similar bill have a real chance of passing. But you can help to stop them:

CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVE
Tell them you oppose PIPA, SOPA, and any other form of internet censorship.

CENSOR YOUR WEBSITE OR BLOG
And join hundreds of others like Wikipedia and Reddit in protesting these bills.

SHARE THIS VIDEO
Help spread the word that The News won’t.

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Produced and edited by Chase Whiteside (interviews), Erick Stoll (camera), and Liz Cambron.

Graphic design by Chase Whiteside.
Motion design by Ashley Walton (ashleywalton.com).

THANKS TO:
Ashley Walton
David Cohn and the Center For Democracy & Technology
Chris Riley and Free Press
Steve Bognar
John Aravosis
Jay Marose

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DONATE:
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http://donate.newleftmedia.com/

(via newleftmedia)

womaninthedunes:

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rtnt:

Read This, Not That: The Auditory Life of Sperm Whales
The sperm whale is one of conservation’s success stories. Hunted near extinction for its spermaceti, the oily substance secreted from its head, the population has begun a slow recovery towards pre-whaling population levels. The end of whaling, however, has forced scientists to invent new ways to study the lives of these animals. Eric Wagner, writing for Smithsonian Magazine, uncovers how researchers use acoustic imaging to investigate the whales’ relationship with that other mythical giant of the deep, the squid.

The most celebrated natural antagonism between sperm whales and squid, conjuring up images of the Leviathan grappling with the Kraken in the abyssal trenches, almost certainly involves the jumbo squid’s larger cousin, the giant squid, a species that grows to 65 feet long and closely resembles the creature described in Moby-Dick. In the novel’s “Squid” chapter, Starbuck, the first mate, is so discomfited by a squid that floats up in front of the Pequod—“a vast pulpy mass, furlongs in length and breadth, of a glancing cream-color, lay floating on the water, innumerable long arms radiating from its centre”—that he wishes it were Moby-Dick instead.
The nonfictional relationship between sperm whales and squid is pretty dramatic also. A single sperm whale can eat more than one ton of squid per day. They do eat giant squid on occasion, but most of what sperm whales pursue is relatively small and overmatched. With their clicks, sperm whales can detect a squid less than a foot long more than a mile away, and schools of squid from even farther away. But the way that sperm whales find squid was until recently a puzzle.

Read the full article here.

rtnt:

Read This, Not That: The Auditory Life of Sperm Whales

The sperm whale is one of conservation’s success stories. Hunted near extinction for its spermaceti, the oily substance secreted from its head, the population has begun a slow recovery towards pre-whaling population levels. The end of whaling, however, has forced scientists to invent new ways to study the lives of these animals. Eric Wagner, writing for Smithsonian Magazine, uncovers how researchers use acoustic imaging to investigate the whales’ relationship with that other mythical giant of the deep, the squid.

The most celebrated natural antagonism between sperm whales and squid, conjuring up images of the Leviathan grappling with the Kraken in the abyssal trenches, almost certainly involves the jumbo squid’s larger cousin, the giant squid, a species that grows to 65 feet long and closely resembles the creature described in Moby-Dick. In the novel’s “Squid” chapter, Starbuck, the first mate, is so discomfited by a squid that floats up in front of the Pequod—“a vast pulpy mass, furlongs in length and breadth, of a glancing cream-color, lay floating on the water, innumerable long arms radiating from its centre”—that he wishes it were Moby-Dick instead.

The nonfictional relationship between sperm whales and squid is pretty dramatic also. A single sperm whale can eat more than one ton of squid per day. They do eat giant squid on occasion, but most of what sperm whales pursue is relatively small and overmatched. With their clicks, sperm whales can detect a squid less than a foot long more than a mile away, and schools of squid from even farther away. But the way that sperm whales find squid was until recently a puzzle.

Read the full article here.