MonthMay 2009

Lost and the Supercontext – Guest Post

Lost and the Supercontext
by Edward Wilson

There does seem to be different rules involved when it comes to death and the island. It reminds me of both Donnie Darko and The Invisibles. In Donnie Darko dying in the time loop allowed someone to step out of regular time as Frank the Bunny does. From this new position he is able to effect events. Similar effects are in play in The Invisibles comic series by Grant Morrison.

Many characters in Lost seem to stick around and influence events even after death. For the most part they are not shown as physically interacting with the world but guiding people’s actions and it is
implied there is manipulation of probability.

Christian Sheppard, Jack’s father, is the clearest example of afterlife hijinks. He was dead when he arrived on the island but has been influencing events ever since. He was the first mysterious apparition and lead Jack to the fresh water source. He’s never been shown physically interacting with anyone or directly effecting the environment. It is implied that Christian also has a probability
manipulation ability that was being used to Keep Michael alive until he completed his usefulness to the island.

There is also the tendency of the smoke monster to appear to people in the forms of, and with the knowledge of, people who are deceased, such as Eko’s brother or Ben’s daughter Alex. Whether these are truly examples of people existing past their death or just trickery on the part of the smoke monster needs further examples to determine.

Then there are the various deceased characters who interact with Hurley. While the show leaves us the option of believing that his just crazy I think that these apparitions are more like the various forms the smoke monster takes or Christian’s on going actions. Hurley is just more sensitive than normal, this is why he was able to see Jacob’s cabin. The island itself seems to be outside of normal time, as evidenced by the time differential involved in traveling to the boat.

This is to say nothing of John Locke’s return from the dead, which may be a completely different matter. Suffice to say Ben is a little mistaken when he says “Dead is dead.”

Perhaps anyone encountering the island imprints their awareness and form on it along the lines of a back-up drive. That the island functions as a kind of afterlife computer and the smoke monster
screens the bad souls out? An ancient egyptian virus scanner.

The Logic of Suicide Terrorism

Robert Pape: Over the past two years, I have collected the first complete database of every suicide-terrorist attack around the world from 1980 to early 2004. This research is conducted not only in English but also in native-language sources—Arabic, Hebrew, Russian, and Tamil, and others—so that we can gather information not only from newspapers but also from products from the terrorist community. The terrorists are often quite proud of what they do in their local communities, and they produce albums and all kinds of other information that can be very helpful to understand suicide-terrorist attacks.

This wealth of information creates a new picture about what is motivating suicide terrorism. Islamic fundamentalism is not as closely associated with suicide terrorism as many people think. The world leader in suicide terrorism is a group that you may not be familiar with: the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka.

This is a Marxist group, a completely secular group that draws from the Hindu families of the Tamil regions of the country. They invented the famous suicide vest for their suicide assassination of Rajiv Ghandi in May 1991. The Palestinians got the idea of the suicide vest from the Tamil Tigers.

TAC: So if Islamic fundamentalism is not necessarily a key variable behind these groups, what is?

RP: The central fact is that overwhelmingly suicide-terrorist attacks are not driven by religion as much as they are by a clear strategic objective: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland. From Lebanon to Sri Lanka to Chechnya to Kashmir to the West Bank, every major suicide-terrorist campaign—over 95 percent of all the incidents—has had as its central objective to compel a democratic state to withdraw.

American Conservative: The Logic of Suicide Terrorism

(Thanks Prime Surrealestate)

Can Counting Food Miles do More Harm Than Good?

For those of us trying to make more sustainable choices within our daily lives, the decision to buy local produce appears to be an obvious next step. The transportation sector contributes nearly one quarter of greenhouse gas emissions in developed countries. It seems logical then that cutting down on the distance between consumers and producers should also have a direct impact on emissions. For this reason the last few years have seen a push for food miles labeling particularly in Europe. However, many critics of food miles feel that this system is at best tokenistic and in some cases does more harm than good.

The food miles debate highlights a clash between differing sustainable development agendas. From an environmental perspective, encouraging consumers to alter their purchasing patterns and limiting transportation emissions can only be a good thing. However, from an economic development point of view, food miles labeling can damage important industries in poor countries.

The article concludes food miles are an inadequate measure of the ecological impact of a particular food and suggests more rigorous analysis including:

* Transportation measurements that include all the distances involved in production and distribution, as well as final food delivery (one item is often harvested in one location, processed in another, packaged elsewhere before being sent to a regional distribution center and finally a retail store);
* Allowances for different means of transportation and fuels;
* Emissions associated with packaging, storage procedures, harvesting techniques and water usage;
* Different emissions factors based on methods of cultivation. For instance, the UK Department for International Development have found that ‘the emissions produced by growing flowers in Kenya and flying them to the UK can be less than a fifth of those grown in heated and lighted greenhouses in Holland’;
* An analysis which includes all greenhouse gases. Most studies incorporate only the carbon emissions associated with particular foods, but other greenhouse gases with varying global warming potentials also play a key role;

World Resources Institute:

(via Appropedia)

Watchmen: The Fate of Hooded Justice and Captain Metropolis

hooded justice captain metro

Occulted Watchmen: The True Fate of ‘Hooded Justice’ & ‘Captain Metropolis’ is a paper by James Gifford, originally published in 1999. The paper presents a theory that both Hooded Justice and Captain Metropolis did not die (as is alluded to in the supplementary material presented with Watchmen), but are alive and well in 1985, and further that they appear together in a panel in Chapter I: At Midnight, All the Agents.

Watchmen Wiki: The Fate of Hooded Justice and Captain Metropolis

TPM Cafe: NY Times’ Maureen Dowd Plagiarizes TPM’s Josh Marshall

Dowd:

“More and more the timeline is raising the question of why, if the torture was to prevent terrorist attacks, it seemed to happen mainly during the period when the Bush crowd was looking for what was essentially political information to justify the invasion of Iraq.”

Marshall:

“More and more the timeline is raising the question of why, if the torture was to prevent terrorist attacks, it seemed to happen mainly during the period when we were looking for what was essentially political information to justify the invasion of Iraq.”

TPM Cafe: NY Times’ Maureen Dowd Plagiarizes TPM’s Josh Marshall

(via Jay Rosen)

What does it mean when NYT columnists are plagiarizing blogs?

West Seattle Blog editor defends journalistic blogs

Once again, speaking in defense of those of us who publish original news in blog format:

Yes, we have cultivated sources. Not “just” the community members who kindly turn to us when they see a crash or a fire or a crime, because they know we will cover it NOW, but also politicians, community leaders, government employees, other ‘insiders’ who know we understand that if they feel something is important enough to check out, chances are it matters to thousands of community members, so off we go to dig in.

And yes, we sit through never-ending community meetings. Almost every night of the week. Some afternoons too. From design review, to Hearing Examiner appeals, to hearings scheduled just as formalities for some ongoing government process – buried in published public notices – and we go to City Hall and the County Council Chambers and the courthouse downtown.

We cover important stories that others don’t bother with. No paper in our area, big or small, saw fit to bother with a murder trial last year that started with a shooting in an area of our neighborhood where “that just doesn’t happen” and led through a story of stalking and self-defense, with the teenage suspect ultimately exonerated after a year behind bars. They all read our work so they knew it was happening and chose to ignore it.

I paid a reporter to cover it daily — it lasted a few weeks — even though at the time I couldn’t really afford it — just knew it had to be done and I couldn’t do a full day of court justice while also managing the rest of the site. Now, months later, we have the revenue to pay more journalists to work with us – freelance for starters but I hope more permanent soon – including two veterans whose jobs were cut at local papers big and small for $ reasons.

So, dear old-media folks who I understand are acting out of pain and fear – I have been through layoffs myself — please stop attacking and dismissing everything with “blog” attached to it – it is only a publishing format. If there is a specific writer you are upset about, call them out by name/site, but get educated and learn that the “blog” world has a surprising amount of REAL JOURNALISM going on, produced by REAL JOURNALISTS, and since some of us small operations seem to be showing signs of sustainability, this just may be the way a lot of REAL JOURNALISM is produced for the foreseeable future – you are welcome to buy a domain, install a CMS, and get after it yourselves, too.

–Tracy Record, editor/co-publisher, West Seattle Blog
(Seattle, WA, 650,000 pageviews/mo., 20,000 homes/businesses visiting at least once weekly)

From: Jay Rosen’s Tumblr

West Seattle Blog

Announcing Esozone Portland 2009

Esozone Portland 2009 will be an FREE unconference October 9-10. And for those who haven’t heard, I’m back in the saddle as organizer.

ANNOUNCEMENT:
Esozone Portland 2009
The New Esozone

The Esozone virus is resilient. It mutates and evolves. Faced with a rapidly changing environment, Esozone has rewritten its own code.

No more admission fees, no more weekend passes, no more divide between speaker and spoken-to. The new Esozone is an unconference, an open environment with an agenda determined by its own participants.

Esozone Portland 2009 will be held on Friday night, October 9, and all day Saturday, October 10. It will bring together renegade philosophers, experimental magicians, visionary artists, outsider academics, street entrepreneurs, mad scientists, sexy satanists, conspiracy theorists, benevolent pranksters, fearless psychonauts and other shameless mutants for two days of discussions, demonstrations and interaction from participants who are the main actors of the event.

Come for free, but be ready to share. Bring what you do and what you know. Bring who you are. This year, Esozone is all about you.

Coming soon: a FAQ, forums, and announcements about after parties and other events that weekend.

Announcing the new Esozone

America’s Most Common Torture: Solitary Confinement

The expanding torture scandal has left the American public horror-struck at how casually the Bush administration and its employees countenanced torture techniques like sleep deprivation, waterboarding and stress positions. However, another form of torture was not just used on detainees, but is being used on at least 25,000 Americans right now.

That’s the number of people currently held in long-term solitary confinement in the United States, living for years in 80-square-foot concrete cubes lit by round-the-clock fluorescent light, with little or no human contact. The U.S. is alone among developed countries in using long-term solitary confinement on a regular basis.

Academic scientific analysis of solitary confinement is still in its early stages, but the results are obvious, and echo the experiences of Americans who’ve been held in solitary confinement by terrorists or as prisoners of war. Human beings evolved to be social creatures. Solitary confinement drives us mad.

Wired.com spoke with psychologist Craig Haney of the University of California, Santa Cruz, an expert on long-term solitary confinement. Asked if it’s torture, Haney replied, “For some people, it is.”

Wired: Solitary Confinement: The Invisible Torture

(via Disinfo)

Does My Gear Know When Its Warranty Is Up?

Some gadgets fail just outside of warranty because that’s exactly how they are designed. Products that last forever do not a profitable multinational conglomerate make. “With cars and lightbulbs, companies figured out they could increase sales by decreasing product lifespans,” says Giles Slade, author of Made to Break: Technology and Obsolescence in America. But manufacturers also don’t want to get a bad rap for shilling crap, so they engineer their hardware to last just long enough for consumers to feel like they got their money’s worth. They guarantee the gear for that period of time—and not a second longer.

Warranty calculation is a serious science. For 30 years, business professors have developed equations to determine the optimal length of a guarantee. They factor in everything from profitability to thermodynamics. And you’d better believe that tech companies have formulas of their own, too, ones that figure into the conception and execution of every product that’s died in your loving arms. “Some companies can actually predict down to the hour when their products will break,” Slade says.

Behavioral economists have a different explanation: You’re trippin’. Death’s bony finger doesn’t tap every 366-day-old iPod and transform it into a lifeless corpse of silicon and solder. “It’s really connected to two things: regret and memory,” says Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational. A gadget that dies a day out of warranty will piss you off a lot more than one that soldiers on until after you’ve lost the certificate. And years later, you’ll probably remember it more acutely, too.

The technical term is loss aversion: “We’re more attuned to losses than gains,” Ariely says. “Because of that, we have selective memories.” And if you believe that perception is reality, this proves that the Murphy’s Law of Gadgets is real—if only in your mind.

Wired: Does My Gear Know When Its Warranty Is Up?

Medical Neglect: Judge rules family can’t refuse chemo for boy

A Minnesota judge has ruled that a 13-year-old cancer patient whose parents want to treat him with “alternative medicine” must seek conventional medical treatment for their son.

In a 58-page ruling Friday, Brown County District Judge John Rodenberg found that Daniel Hauser has been “medically neglected” and is in need of child protection services. […]

Daniel was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and stopped chemotherapy in February after a single treatment. He and his parents opted instead for “alternative medicines” based on their religious beliefs. […]

Doctors have said Daniel’s cancer had up to a 90 percent chance of being cured with chemotherapy and radiation. Without those treatments, doctors said his chances of survival are 5 percent.

Daniel’s parents have been supporting what they say is their son’s decision to treat the disease with nutritional supplements and other alternative treatments favored by the Nemenhah Band.

The Missouri-based religious group believes in natural healing methods advocated by some American Indians.

MSNBC: Judge rules family can’t refuse chemo for boy

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