Sunday Reading

by zunguzungu

On the theory that aggregation is a good thing, I’m going to try to make this a Sunday routine. We’ll see. Usually declaring that I will do something in the future is a reliable prelude to my not doing it. Links below the break.

Paris based Zoo Project does street art in Tunis, celebrating the Tunisian revolution (my favorite one to the right).

Women in military now more likely to be assaulted by a fellow soldier than killed in combat, according to this Newsweek story.

“What do you do when your husband’s autopsy report is … deemed a subject worthy of fucking literary criticism?” This article, interviewing Karen Green is really moving.

In “famous people on twitter” news, Judy Blume helps fans with trivia about her books, Spike Lee has been tweeting about how much he loves Sidney Lumet, and @AchilleMbembe changed his name to @MbembeQuotes; was told that when Achille Mbembe heard that someone was using his name on twitter, he got pissed.

As always, soccer is patrolling the fine line between hate speech and good, clean fun (via Moacir):

Tottenham are unlikely to face any sanction from Uefa regarding the chants directed at [Emmanuel] Adebayor during the match in Spain. The visiting fans directed the same chants – “Your dad washes elephants, your mother’s a whore” – at Adebayor when he was playing for their north London rivals, Arsenal, for more than three seasons. Tottenham admitted that the chants were offensive but denied they were racist.

On pickup soccer, and the American lack thereof:

Only to an American viewpoint does the idea of people gathering informally to play soccer seem foreign enough or noteworthy enough to warrant feature-length examination, which is what a pair of former college soccer players and their two behind-the-camera partners gave it in 2010’s Pelada.

…our sporting culture celebrates the amateur ideal. It’s why The Sandlot and Field of Dreams are popular; why we like stories of players learning to shoot baskets on a backboard nailed to a telephone pole; why commercials used to show Brett Favre recklessly gunslinging and being like a kid out there in a muddy field somewhere in Mississippi with his buddies rather than in a stadium with his teammates. We love love-of-the-game. All this contributes to our lofty opinion of informal soccer arrangements, but more importantly, pickup — or our lack thereof — is viewed as one of the things that separates this country’s players from those in more powerful soccer nations. We see pickup as a development tool that we don’t have.

And apparently it is:

Nearly every coach now realizes that small-sided games — like those you typically have playing pickup — are important because they maximize touches and time spent with the ball for young players. What’s missing when a player participates in small-sided games in practice with his or her teammates is the mystery, the unknown variables that change a game. Pickup is an incredibly useful teaching tool not just because of its numbers, but because of its informality which means coaches — those who might be the pickup advocates — couldn’t create the ideal pickup scenario even if they wanted to. It has to be organic. That’s because pickup necessitates flexibility. As the cast of characters in your group rotates, you’re finding your way into a new game each time you play. Without a coach, it’s a constant exercise for your personal tactical acumen as you search for where you can be most effective on the field for this game, and for your skill set as you try to adapt to playing there. Even that changes drastically based on who you’re playing with and where they’ve decided they’re going to be most useful.

Also from Africa is a Country, I really want to see this documentary, “The Creators.”

If you’re in Vermont, you should go to Daisy’s show! (that’s a painting from her series on the Egyptian revolution to the left)

Jeremiah and Adam on why it’s stupid to be mad at Dylan for not writing “This machine brings Democracy to China” on his guitar or something.

Glenn Greenwald on how “the company that owns The Washington Post is almost entirely at the mercy of the Federal Government and the Obama administration — the entities which its newspaper ostensibly checks and holds accountable.”

On “Missing Women”:

Demographers and economists estimate that today over a 100 million women have been killed globally by societies which prefer sons over daughters…The economist Amartya Sen gave the term “missing women” to this phenomenon of fewer women in populations than there should be and estimated that there are at present 44 million women missing in China and 39 million in India. Others have estimated that there are close to 6 million missing women in Pakistan, 3 million in Bangladesh and one million in Afghanistan. This implies that there are actually more women who are killed and missing in South Asia than anywhere else in the world. In India and China there are 107 men to 100 women, in Pakistan there are 108 men to 100 women. Truly a dubious distinction for a region which prides itself on its culture, history and civilisation!

Millicent uses wordles to decode Glenn Beck.

The New Censorship at the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement:

The UC Berkeley administration has long demonstrated a tendency to censor. From “Time, Place, and Manner” regulations which attempt to restrict political activity to Sproul Plaza, to UCPD cops breaking into department libraries to stealstudents’ materials, to the criminalization of chalking and distributing fliers, the so-called “home of the free speech movement” has become a complete joke.

Now they’re trying to keep students from using Twitter. This past Monday, during journalism student Josh Wolf’s student conduct hearing for his presence at the Wheeler Hall occupation, the hearing panel all of a sudden discovered that @callie_hoo was live-tweeting the proceedings. Threatening the defendant, they demanded that the tweeting immediately stop. It is the height of irony that they would do this to a journalism student who was in Wheeler to document the action…Home of the Free Speech Movement, indeed. Remember, these are some of the same folks who wanted to call a administrative unit specifically designed to monitor and infiltrate student protest actions the “Freedom of Expression Support Team.”

Wayne says what I’ve been feeling:

What is it with early April? Two days ago we mark the assassination of MLK, yesterday is the day we lost both Layne and Cobain (some years apart) — I don’t talk much about my grunge years here, but rest assured I sported mad plaid in the mid-90s — and today was the day the Rwandan genocide began in 1994, taking some 800,000 precious lives before it was over.

Is Egypt ready for Queer?

Being a woman in Egypt is difficult, but being a gay woman in Egypt is phenomenally difficult. The issue of gender in Egypt (because it is an issue rather than a reality) is one which is constantly side-lined, relegated to a ‘sub-topic’ in the broader scheme of social change. Matters of sexuality, then, are not even on the agenda. In the aftermath of the revolution, Egyptian women witnessed a backlash against their demand for the right to continue to participate in the country’s changing political landscape, and even to be allowed the space to develop their own specific demands. The demonstration on International Women’s Day, which was attacked and dispersed by a group of angry men, confirmed the hostility to social change regarding gender.

When attending the Women’s Day protest, I noticed a significant number of gay people present (both men and women). The men present were accused of being “faggots”, and bore equal – if not greater – hostility than the women beside them. In the same way that acknowledging women’s role in society threatens male dominance, the notion of diverging sexualities is not just socially taboo, but also a challenge to the prevalent misogyny which informs attitudes to male-female relationships. As such, the response to any affront to heterosexual normativity is violent and aggressive. Choosing to dress in a way which makes your gender ambiguous, for example, provokes forcefully intrusive verbal, and sometimes physical, harassment.

It is understandable, then, that gay people in Egypt are often inconspicuous…The idea that being “openly” gay is the first step is misinformed and doesn’t relate to our specific experience of our sexuality in the context of the Middle East. We can’t fight for change as individuals; community builds strength.

The GoDaddy CEO shoots an elephant in Africa! But don’t worry, it’s fine because of [insert nonsense colonial clichés here].

On Mubarak in Zimbabwe from Petina Gappa, whose An Elegy for Easterly I’ve been reading to read for a while:

“I am overwhelmed, I don’t want to say Mr. or PM what happened in Egypt is sending shockwaves to dictators around the world. No weapon but unity of purpose worth emulating, hey.”?

This was the message that Vikas Mavhudzi of Old Magwegwe township in Bulawayo typed into his phone and posted on the Facebook page of Zimbabwe’s prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai. Like many Facebook messages written in haste, it is garbled, its syntax and grammar are suspect and it serves only to express the passing emotion of the moment.?

That passing emotion, the euphoria that Mavhudzi felt on the collapse of Mubarak’s regime, now has him facing the criminal charge of “plotting to oust a constitutionally-elected government.” The revolution in Egypt has had the direct result of setting a legal precedent in Zimbabwe: Mavhudzi is the first person to be arrested over comments made on a social networking site.?

On the Eurasian face:

Once a source of shame, the Eurasian face has become the face that sells. It is the face with which everyone can identify. In an ever-shrinking world, the search is on for a one-size-fits-all global image. Eurasians have become the world’s poster boys and girls, much sought after as actors and models.

This is from last year, but it’s a nice version of the point I was making on aggregation the other day. Robert Niles:

In journalism, our “original” content always has been the product of aggregation…Let’s take a look at the newspapers where I’ve worked over my career, from a small daily in Bloomington, Indiana to the Los Angeles Times. Each paper has published reports from wire services, from feature syndicates, from freelancers… even letters and op-ed articles from readers. That’s aggregation. Even the supposedly “original” stories ultimately were works of aggregation. We aggregate interviews from sources; we aggregate documents that we ask find or ask for; we aggregate our observations of people, places and events. If we weren’t publishing aggregation, if we truly were creating original content, we’d be writing fiction, spun from the creativity of our own imaginations. As journalists, we try not to do that.

This is a false choice: creation versus aggregation. The newspaper industry long ago optimized the use of aggregation for its medium. So the choice really becomes: Shall we use aggregation the way that the newspaper industry has always done it, or aggregation the way that it’s being employed by a new generation of online start-ups?

What’s the distinguishing characteristic, then, of this new form of aggregation that we’re now seeing online? Well, it’s that it’s being done really cheaply. It’s very inexpensive. They’re using automation, like Google News does, and social media, like Facebook, to bring together sources of information for far less expense than people in the newspaper industry can do that with a traditional newsroom model for reporting, editing and page design. That provides online aggregators with a significant cost advantage in the competitive marketplace that all news publishers now face. But is there any social value in the cheaply produced aggregation that we’re now seeing proliferate around the Internet?

And here, more recently, Niles offers some answers to that question.