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Media. What is it good for?

A brilliant unattributed rant in OffGuardian today, lambasting the British journalist Carole Cadwalladr for the intemperate and insensitive rhetoric she recently tweeted at the Russian government. According to her, the posting of a portrait of an alleged Russian spy alongside the hashtag #FreeMariaButina is an act of war against the West. “It’s a troll war, but it’s still war. It’s what war looks like now.”

Setting aside the question of whether it’s possible to troll your own Facebook page, as well as the impact declaring war in response to social media posts might have on free speech, the writer proceeded to remind Ms Cadwalladr of what war really looks like. It looks like this (particularly disturbing images omitted).

What the writer neglected to do was remind us of what real war with Russia might look like in every city on the globe.

In the Western mainstream media true war correspondents are largely a thing of the past. Journalists no longer get to see how war looks up close. To them it looks like ‘unnamed official sources’, the slick PR campaigns of pro-Western belligerents and glittering industry award nights for reporters who toe the official line. That’s the only explanation for how they can consistently stoke aggression and confrontation the world over despite the gruesome consequences it has brought to the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and Libya; as well as countless other recipients of ‘shock and awe’ and ‘collateral damage’.

I wince when I see sports reporters writing of ‘war’ and ‘carnage’ on the playing field. But they’re supposed to be excitable and stupid, right? It would be nice if those who write about foreign affairs would learn to be as careful with their language as some of their colleagues who write about sex offences have become. Because what they might ‘trigger’ could be even nastier.


Uninspiration #8

Matter is memory and time is its story. All else is immaterial.


gone looking for the guru
a higher being
which way is up when weightless?

You know you’re a stoner when …

… your best recipes have scheduled bong stops.


Rabbits love to be petted. Ananda (bliss) was named for his response to being scratched and stroked. My two like to snuggle close while I’m petting them, letting me simultaneously stroke one with each hand, typically for five or so minutes at a time. Ananda has deep, profoundly soft fur that he likes to have quickly tugged, especially around his face and ears. Luna’s hair is shorter and soft in an ineffably different way. She prefers to be scratched slowly on the neck and back. They can sense if you’re paying full attention as you pet them or if you’re starting to get mechanical. They let you know.

It helps keep me relaxed and focused. Feels pretty nice too.

Luna and Ananda

I am the ride

They told me I should live my life like I was driving a bus. Slowly and carefully along a pre-defined route. It turned out to be more like riding a trail bike. Point, power, correct, point, power, correct … “Hey! Where did the track go? Fuuuuck!” … Keer-ash! … “Oww!”. Check for breaks. Pick myself up. Get back on. Maybe a bit more careful for a while, but pretty soon back to crossing up and getting airborne again.

I think I prefer it like that. We’re all heading for the same destination. Might as well have some fun on the way.

Professional modesty

Here‘s the letter the American Psychological Association (APA) sent to the Senate Intelligence Committee about the imminent promotion of Gina Haspel to CIA Director. It seems they’re concerned about her history of torturing people and destroying the evidence; traditional CIA practices that doubtless drew President Trump’s attention to her resume in the first place.

The letter’s second paragraph establishes the APA’s credentials as an organisation made up of loads of highly professional people dedicated to the betterment of mankind who are considerably smarter than you. But they’re understating their qualifications.

Many members of the APA are uniquely placed to assess CIA torture programs, having designed and implemented them for decades across much of the world. In fact close cooperation between APA members and the CIA in illegally abusing people goes back to the latter’s founding in 1947 and includes such highlights as Projects Bluebird, Artichoke, MKSearch and MKUltra.

In 2015 an independent investigation reported that APA officials, particularly the ethics director Stephen Behnke, were at the heart of efforts to bring APA guidelines into line with CIA and Department of Defense requirements, facilitating employment of members in the torture of detainees at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere; including the black site in Thailand run by Gina Haspel. Behnke simultaneously managed a lucrative sideline personally training CIA torturers. A former director of the Physicians for Human Rights campaign against torture described the APA’s collaboration as “the single greatest health professional ethics scandal of the 21st century”.

I wonder if the APA now bars members from senior positions if they’ve helped the CIA torture people. That would narrow the field a bit.

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