Wednesday, March 30, 2011

link round-up 3/30/11

Turkey's ruling AKP: less tolerant, but just as nationalistic
The AKP did not move Turkey beyond Kemalism. Instead, the party destroyed Kemalists, while at the same time it perpetuated old Kemalism's taboos and attitudes and abandoned its liberal ideals, such as gender equality. Hence, a decade after the AKP assumed power, Turkey has become more illiberal. The old Kemalists are out and the "new" old Kemalists are in. The AKP's "new" old Kemalists do not share any of Kemalism's pro-Western tendencies and have plenty of illiberalism to spare.
1/4 of the world's population will watch a Cricket match between India and Pakistan
In truth, however, this cricket match, dubbed by some as the Greatest Match Ever, delivers the opposite of the negative vibe of jingoistic nationalist sentiment. Instead, it opens up space for Indians and Pakistanis to talk about something other than the 2008 terrorist attacks on Mumbai, human rights violations in Kashmir, the contentious debate about the rights to river waters, or the on-going battle for the Siachen glacier.
Glenn Greenwald on Libyan intervention
The real question is the wisdom of this escalated involvement. How many times do we have to arm one side of a civil war -- only for that side to then become our Enemy five or ten or fifteen years later -- before we learn not to do that any more?
Indian state of Gujarat bans new Gandhi biography
"The writing is perverse in nature. It has hurt the sentiments of those with capacity for sane and logical thinking. This attempt to defame Mahatma Gandhi by the publisher has come under severe criticism not only in Gujarat but from all corners of India.Mahatma Gandhi is an idol not only in India but in the entire world. While his life -- dedicated to the welfare of the mankind -- has been an inspiration, the author has hurt the sentiments of [millions] of people."

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Vegetable Oil - Fuel of the Future?

A punk band, Off!, was arrested for stealing vegetable oil from a restaurant dumpster in Arizona.
The band's tour van runs on the stuff, and the incident proves that no matter how many bands one has been in, or how old you are, D.I.Y. ethics die hard. The band, which is fronted by iconic Black Flag/Circle Jerks frontman Keith Morris, faces trial on April 6, which is luckily after their tour with Trash Talk concludes.
Meanwhile, a new University of Connecticut professor's patent simplifies the biodiesel production production process.

Parnas’ patented biodiesel reactor is unique in both its simplicity and efficiency. In conventional biodiesel production, vegetable oil is converted into biodiesel fuel and glycerol, a byproduct of the conversion process. Then, the glycerol must be mechanically separated from the diesel fuel, as part of a two-step process. Parnas’ reactor is different in that it uses gravity, heat, and natural chemical reactions to make the biodiesel and separate the glycerol in one step.
Perhaps when vegetable oil-based biofuels become more widespread, no one will need to resort to dumpster diving to fill their gas tanks...but then again, that wouldn't be any fun.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

YouTube Revolution Footage in Syria and Bahrain

While the world's attention is on Libya and Japan, brutal, chilling crackdowns are happening in Syria and Bahrain. Here's some raw footage of both.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What's Past is Past (link round-up for 3/9/11)

Some history/archeology items of note.

Rio De Janeiro's slave port ruins found during Olympic dig:
Lima said the Valongo represented a crucial part of the city's history that had been erased as Brazil sought to cover up the "brutal period of enslavement". It is believed that some 3 million African slaves were shipped to Brazil between 1550 and 1888, when slavery was officially abolished.
700-year-old Chinese mummy found during street dig:
The corpse of the high-ranking woman believed to be from the Ming Dynasty - the ruling power in China between 1368 and 1644was stumbled across by a team who were looking to expand a street.
Evidence a of an ancient maritime culture that settled the Americas:
Archaeologists generally agree that one group of hunters migrated from northern Asia across the land bridge that connected Asia and North America through the region known as Beringia, slaughtering large mammals with spears and arrows fitted with characteristic stone tips known as Clovis points.
But a slowly growing body of evidence hints that a separate group of people, who originated perhaps in Japan, sailed along the coasts of both continents, traveling as far south as Tierra del Fuego and migrating as far inland as the glacial lakes of the Pacific Northwest.
Italy's no-so-happy 150th birthday:
As for today's Italians, they appear not to take much pride in their "Italianness" in spite of having shared the same state for 150 years, Gilmour observes. A successful national football team stirs common emotions but, by the turn of the millennium, "the sense of national identity, such as it had been, seemed to have disappeared, and increasing numbers of Italians were now questioning the legitimacy of the state".

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Kishidan: Japan's Pop-Friendly Promoters of Nazi Imagery

Some people were understandably pissed when a Japanese pop group wore Nazi-like uniforms in a recent MTV interview.
Kishidan, an all-male pop band known for its outlandish garb, appeared in uniforms resembling those of the SS, the armed wing of the Nazi party, during an interview on MTV Japan's Mega Vector programme at the end of last month.
However, notice from the following videos how red armbands and black uniforms have long been a part of the band's costume:

Coming from a culture that has denied its own role in brutal mass murder and human experimentation during World War II, Nazi regalia must have seemed like the next logical fashion choice.

What's interesting to me is how much this band incorporates 50's/60's American imagery such as rockabilly haircuts and motorcycles. I guess they just forgot to incorporate the whole "Nazis were awful" part of Americana.

Hopefully, the controversy will demonstrate to the Japanese youth why these kinds of costumes are horribly offensive.
“Generally my experience has been in speaking with young people they don’t necessarily know very much other than that Hitler was a strong leader or that aesthetically this is very striking and interesting,” said Mr. Cooper, who has visited Japan over 30 times. “For a lot of young Japanese they don’t even understand. When these controversies come up their initial reaction is ‘what’s the controversy? What did we do wrong here? What did Nazi Germany do?’”
Side note #1:  Many of the band's YouTube videos were uploaded by a Chilean fan blog, breaking the usual stereotype of Japanese pop culture only reaching out beyond the shore to American anime obsessives.

Side note #2:  As bad as the Nazi uniforms were, it doesn't top the mind-boggling Western cultural appropriation by their side project, DJ Ozma...

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