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Syria becomes the 7th predominantly Muslim country bombed by 2009 Nobel Peace Laureate

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The U.S. today began bombing targets inside Syria, in concert with its lovely and inspiring group of five allied regimes: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Jordan.

That means that Syria becomes the 7th predominantly Muslim country bombed by the 2009 Nobel Peace Laureate – after Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and Iraq.

The utter lack of interest in what possible legal authority Obama has to bomb Syria is telling indeed: empires bomb who they want, when they want, for whatever reason (indeed, recall that Obama bombed Libya even after Congress explicitly voted against authorization to use force, and very few people seemed to mind that abject act of lawlessness; constitutional constraints are not for warriors and emperors).

It was just over a year ago that Obama officials were insisting that bombing and attacking Assad was a moral and strategic imperative. Instead, Obama is now bombing Assad’s enemies while politely informing his regime of its targets in advance. It seems irrelevant on whom the U.S. wages war; what matters it that it be at war, always and forever.

Six weeks of bombing hasn’t budged ISIS in Iraq, but it has caused ISIS recruitment to soar. That’s all predictable: the U.S. has known for years that what fuels and strengthens anti-American sentiment (and thus anti-American extremism) is exactly what they keep doing: aggression in that region. If you know that, then they know that. At this point, it’s more rational to say they do all of this not despitetriggering those outcomes, but because of it. Continuously creating and strengthening enemies is a feature, not a bug, as it is what then justifies the ongoing greasing of the profitable and power-vesting machine of Endless War.

If there is anyone who actually believes that the point of all of this is a moral crusade to vanquish the evil-doers of ISIS (as the U.S. fights alongside its close Saudi friends), please read Professor As’ad AbuKhalil’s explanation today of how Syria is a multi-tiered proxy war. As the disastrous Libya “intervention” should conclusively and permanently demonstrate, the U.S. does not bomb countries for humanitarian objectives. Humanitarianism is the pretense, not the purpose.

President Barack Obama makes a speech during the Nobel Peace Prize Concert at Oslo Spektrum on December 11, 2009 in Oslo, Norway

Photo: Sandy Young/Getty Images

The post Syria becomes the 7th predominantly Muslim country bombed by 2009 Nobel Peace Laureate appeared first on The Intercept.

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6 hours ago
Nice headline.
Louisville, KY
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The Summharry

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Only brilliant, the entire Harry Potter saga in one comic.
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1 day ago
Nicely done.
Louisville, KY
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Sept 19th, 2014: Sand-tas

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Back in 2012, Indian sand sculptor Sudarsan Pattinaik and 30 of his students shaped nearly 5000 tons of sand into a massive installation depicting 500 Santas or ‘Sand-tas’ on the beach behind Panthanivas hotel in Puri, Odisha, India. Intended to raise awareness about global warming, the displaced Santas were sculpted along with one large sand sculpture of Jesus and the message “Go green, save Earth.”


“I always try to give some awareness messages through my sculpture to the world so I chose the awareness about global warming hrough Santas as the subject of the year end and I hope the sand sculpture of Santa clauses will place in the Limca Book of World Records,” said Pattinaik.

"Limca Book of World records"? Yeah, it's like the Guinness book except it's based in India and owned by Coca Cola.
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Jason's Umpteenth Kindle

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Kindle Voyage

(Photo courtesy Andy Ihnatko.)

I bought a new Kindle last night.

Someone on Twitter mentioned that Amazon had announced new Kindles, and within about five minutes I had ordered the Kindle Voyage, a $199 dedicated ebook reader that’s the spiritual successor to the Kindle Paperwhite (which remains in the ever-growing Kindle product line).

Yes, Amazon announced several new devices other Kindles (and my pal Andy Ihnatko saw it all ). The other devices were new Fires (formerly Kindle Fires, now not part of the family)—Android-based ), all Android-based tablets including one for only $99, but I love my iPad and that’s that.

And yet… those E-Ink Kindles? I have a weakness. This is the fourth or fifth I’ve bought. I’ve lost track.

Why do I love Kindles so much? Why does someone with an iPhone, iPad, and MacBook need a Kindle? Am I a crazy person? (Spoilers: I am definitely a madman with a Kindle.)

In August my wife and I went to Mexico, without the kids, for our 20th wedding anniversary. As we walked through the pool and along the beach I was reminded that when I go to sunny places such as these, I see Kindles everywhere. Part of that is that they’re cheap(er) than iPads; I had no fear of leaving my Kindle on my beach chair when I took a dip in the ocean.

But mostly it’s about the glare. Backlit tablets just can’t compete with E-Ink-equipped Kindles when it comes to reading in the bright sun. One of these days, maybe Apple will figure out how to make a glareless iPad with a really bright backlight for outdoor reading, but until that day I’m Kindle all the way.

At night, the inverse applies. My Paperwhite, turned down all the way, is much darker than my iPad’s backlight at the lowest setting. Which means it’s much less likely to disturb my wife while she’s sleeping and I’m reading.

Whether dark or light or in between, I prefer reading on these devices. They never push notifications at me, I’m never tempted to switch over to Twitter or email, and the static black-and-white calm of words on a page evokes the best things about reading a paper book or newspaper.

The new Kindle Voyage, while not cheap at $199 (with ads!), has a bundle of new features I’m excited about. It being thinner, like every other gadget under the sun, is not one of them.

But the Kindle Voyage’s screen is 300 dpi, bringing it up to Retina-levels of quality. I talked to Andy Ihnatko today about how text looked on that screen, and he said it was “impossibly crisp” in a context very different from that of a backlit device.

My biggest complaint about the Paperwhite was that the company dropped physical buttons for page turning and instead forced you to swipe or tap your finger on the screen. When I’m reading, I don’t want to position my finger just off the edge of the screen and then move it in to tap. On my old Kindle, I could rest my hand on the page-turn button and just squeeze to advance to the next page.

Well, well, well… someone at Amazon must be looking out for me. The Kindle Voyage offers “PagePress sensors” with “haptic response”, which is a fancy way to say they’re pressure sensitive forward and back buttons on either side of the screen. Push them (they don’t physically depress) and up comes the next page. Fantastic. And if you prefer to swipe or tap on the screen, well, knock yourself out. That works too.

What made the Paperwhite great was the fact that it lit itself, after many generations of Kindles that required a clip-on book light if you wanted to read at night. The Voyage adds a light sensor, so it can optionally auto-adjust the brightness based on your surroundings, and even adapts over time as your eyes adjust in dark rooms.

There are other marketing words up on Amazon’s site like “magnesium back” and “micro-etching”, but it’s all blah blah blah blah TAKE MY MONEY! Which Amazon did, last night.

I get the feeling Amazon knows exactly how many people are dedicated to this class of device, and has decided to make a no-compromises device for them, rather than consigning the dedicated ebook reader to the bargain bin. Even at $199, I didn’t hesitate to buy the Kindle Voyage. I just can’t believe I’m going to have to wait a month to get it.

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4 days ago
I should have waited before getting the paperwhite (which I can't say enough good about).
4 days ago
I want one so damn bad... But alas, a vacation in 4 weeks and an accidental losing of a wedding band (must be replaced!) have made it so I can't spend the dollars.

Growing up sucks.
Louisville, KY
3 days ago
I have a G1 Kindle Keyboard from back in the dawn of time when it was the only Kindle. Love the thing. This high DPI Voyage is the first one to shout at me that it might finally be time for an upgrade.
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1984, pop culture's best year ever


According to Rolling Stone, 1984 was the greatest year in pop music history. And they made a list of the top 100 singles from that year; here's the top 5:

5. Thriller, Michael Jackson
4. Let's Go Crazy, Prince
3. I Feel for You, Chaka Khan
2. Borderline, Madonna
1. When Doves Cry, Prince

1984 was also a fine year for movies and the most 1980s year of the 1980s. Both Bill Simmons and Aaron Cohen agree, 1984 was the best year.

Tags: Aaron Cohen   best of   Bill Simmons   lists   music
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5 days ago
'84, '94, '04 were all great. What the hell happened to '14?
Louisville, KY
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2 public comments
4 days ago
Just like George Orwell predicted.
5 days ago
Princeton, NJ
5 days ago
1982 was the best year for films.
3 days ago
Also for baseball... well, if you're a Detroit fan.

I Watch Anita Sarkeesian So You Don’t Have To. But You Should.

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So, my Twitter feed has been full of people who believe that Anita Sarkeesian wants to corrupt my brain, and convert me into being an SJW zombie, thus ruining every game that I ever make.  Because I have no free will and am part of the politically correct machine, I watched most of her video-game oriented videos.  And I gotta say, watching these videos really made me angry.  Because she spoiled the ending to about a couple dozen games I haven’t finished.  Seriously, Anita, a spoilers tag is customary here!

Now because I want to save any of you from becoming sheeple who might be infected by an opposing view by actually watching and considering her work on its actual merits, I thought I would pull a USA Today and share what I found to be the four primary takeaways from her videos so far in easily digestable form:

  1. Games should show more women capable of strength, agency and power in your game world, instead of being relegated to simply being background props or quest objectives that could be replaced with a sock monkey.
  2. Game designers should be less lazy in reaching for the same, tired stereotypes – or merely xeroxes of male leads – but especially stereotypes showing women as disempowered, and find ways to depict more female characters in more interesting and unique roles.
  3. Game designers should keep in mind that a lot of people (and not just women) have a viscerally negative reactions to scenes showing violence against women (particularly as many have first-hand experience with it), so maybe we shouldn’t just throw these scenes in casually.
  4. Seriously, all the dead, spread-eagled naked women in games are kind of creepy.

So here’s the thing – all four of the above statements are absolutely, 100% true.As in, its hard to even debate them.

Times which she says that games should be censored or game designers silenced: zero.

Uses of the word misogyny: four.  

1. “[In Red Redemption], Female prostitutes are assaulted and murdered by johns who make a torrent of misogynistic slurs.” (She’s not wrong)

[In GTA3] “The writers wrote the character to annoy the player, so the decision to kill her is the punchline in a deeply misogynistic joke.” (Also not wrong)

“But the truth is, there’s nothing mature about most of these stories, and many of them cross the line into blatant mysogyny.”  (I’d disagree with this one, but its an entirely subjective opinion)

“…The crude, sensationalized misogyny of Duke Nukem…”(Again subjective, but much less debatable)

Times which she says game players are sexist or misogynistic: zero.

Use of the term ‘rape culture’ (a term I personally don’t like, because I feel it’s overloaded): zero.

Times which she says that all games are problematic: zero. In fact, she frequently makes it clear that she means the opposite:

“Just to be clear, I’m not saying that all games that use the damsel in distress as a plot device are automatically sexist or have no value.”

“This is not to say that women can never die or suffer… To say that women can never die in stories is absurd.  BUt it’s important to consider how women’s death are framed, and to consider why and how they are written.”

Now I’m certainly not arguing that all stories must include completely fearless, hyperindividualistic heroic women who pull themselves up by the bootstraps and never need anything from anyone.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with occasionally wanting or needing assistance.”

“Now just to be clear, there’s nothing inherently wrong with the color pink, makeup, bows and high heels, and people of all genders may choose to wear them in the real world, and there’s nothing wrong with that either.”

Can you enjoy games with some of these tropes?  Of course!

But please keep in mind that it’s both possible – and necessary – to simultaneously enjoy a piece of media while being critical by its more problematic or pernicious aspects.”

Times which I said “Seriously, did I just fucking watch that?”

This one point caught my eye in particular, about how relegating stories of trauma and sexual abuse to being crappy side quests trivializes one of the greatest crimes and fear that many women have:

“On a shallow surface level, these vignettes seem to contextualize these women in a negative light. However, these narratives are never about the abused women in question. Instead, (they) are flippantly summoned as sideshow attractions for stories about other things altogether.”

This is pretty much the only topic where she phrased things as anything approaching a call to action to developers – we NEED to do something.  (Most of her content merely catalogs and calls attention to content)

“To be clear, I’m not saying stories seriously examining domestic abuse or sexual violence are off-limits to interactive media. However, if game makers do attempt to address these themes, they need to approach these topic with the gravity, subtlety and respect they deserve.”

Why she is doing all this?  Because she believes games are important.

“These games don’t exist in a vacuum. They are an increasingly important and influential part of a larger social and cultural ecosystem.”

Again, 100% not wrong about that.  Major games now have global reach and influence, and so do whatever messages they send.  This is, in fact, why working in the games industry is so exciting to me and hundreds of other game developers. We’re well past moving out of niche and into being everyone’s life.  That doesn’t mean we gotta stop making video game versions of Reservoir Dogs and Lord of the Rings.  But we can vastly broaden our reach.

Now, I gotta tell you, I don’t agree with everything she says, and in some cases, she glosses over or perhaps doesn’t understand very real development issues solving some real narrative problems.  I could write longer analyses about some of these points, and maybe I will, but here’s an overview:

  1. Because most games have one protagonist.  If that protagonist is male, all female characters will by necessity be pushed to less important roles.  And while we should have more female protagonists, we shouldn’t automatically dismiss those with male leads as having failing grades by happenstance.
  2. Most literary theorists believe strongly that ‘save the loved one’ is  more powerful storytelling than ‘save the world’.  When combined with point 1, this means a lot of damsels as the default plot point, particularly in those without family.
  3. Saying that it’s ‘lazy’ that games use violence to fix problems which might include your possessed girlfriend … well, lets say, a simplification.  Games model physical problem solving better than mental, social or emotional problem solving because of the visceral nature of how control works, and how easy it is to create content.  Also, if your game has a core combat main loop, you are a bad designer and deserve no scooby snacks if your boss fights don’t use those mechanics.
  4. Fat Princess looks kind of awesome.

Are these unsolvable issues?  Of course not.  They do take finesse, but the level in Last of Us where you control Ellie is an excellent example of addressing point one in my list above (show empowered women) while sidestepping the first issue in my list of issues.

But here’s the thing: This is all a conversation that’s worth having.  Designers should listen.  We can choose to incorporate that feedback.  We can choose to ignore that feedback.  Hell, a design team can choose to say, “Fuck you” and do the exact opposite of what she wants, just because they can (although, hey, maybe you could not be a complete douchebag about it).  That is completely their right as artists.  But there is no good reason to attempt to squelch what is a valuable and interesting addition to the discussion.  There’s certainly no harm in an artist hearing the message of a critic.  Lord knows the OTHER side of the spectrum is represented on my game forums.

I welcome criticism.  It makes me a better artist.  Because here’s the secret.  Criticism comes with making art, and it comes from all directions, not just feminists.  If your art isn’t being criticized, that only means that your art is culturally irrelevant.

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6 days ago
This is really good. I don't know anyone who's anti-Sarkeesian, but that's probably because I'm in my 40s and avoid "gamers"
Louisville, KY
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