Philosophy · Social/Politics · Technology

The Drone Philosopher

From the thumbnail headshot accompanying his essay in the Times, “the drone philosopher,” as I’ve begun to think of him, appears to be in his late twenties, or a boyish 30. In an oddly confessional-style first paragraph, he recalls what it was like to watch the second Iraq War from his college dorm television. He has clean-shaven Ken-doll looks and a prominent squarish jaw, recalling the former Republican vice-presidential candidate and representative from Wisconsin’s First Congressional District, Paul Ryan. I doubt the drone philosopher would be flattered by the comparison. The tone of his article makes him out to be a thoughtful liberal, more interested in weighing complexities than in easy solutions, simultaneously attracted by and wary of power, not unlike the commander in chief he hopes will one day read his papers.

I can make out a bit of wide-striped collegiate tie, a white collar, and the padded shoulders of a suit jacket in the photograph. I know I’m being unfair, but I don’t trust his looks. Since Republicans have become so successful at branding themselves the party of white men, I now suspect that any white guy in a suit may harbor right-wing nationalist tendencies, much as the CIA’s rules governing drone strikes have determined that groups of “military age” men in certain regions of Pakistan and Yemen may be profiled as terrorists. Even more unkindly, I catch myself thinking the drone philosopher’s portrait looks like it was taken for the high school debate club he surely belonged to. Maybe that was where — for competitions in dim auditoria from state to regional to national level, prepping in a series of carbon-copy cheap motels, four to a room — he first learned to be rewarded for making audacious arguments. It was like a job or a sport. Maybe there was one particularly formative debate, “Resolved: The United States was right to use the atomic bomb against Japanese civilians.” He would have parsed this proposition into a value, such as “Right Action” or “Justice,” made up of a checklist of criteria: saving American lives, the primary but not sole duty of the deciders; weighing potential lives lost or saved on both sides when contrasted with the alternative policy of full-scale invasion of Japan.

Excerpt from an article written by MARCO ROTH at n+1. Continue THERE

Architectonic · Art/Aesthetics · Photographics · Videos

SKYHOUSE: One more oneiric playground penthouse for who can afford it.

SkyHouse is residence constructed within a previously unoccupied penthouse structure at the summit of one of the earliest surviving skyscrapers in New York City.

With its steep hipped roof of projecting dormers and chimneys set over a base of enormous arched windows, the exterior of the penthouse gives the impression of an ornate Beaux-Art mansion suspended midway within the iconic vertical cityscape of Lower Manhattan. But this exterior shell was essentially an ornament for the skyline; inside was a raw space with only the original riveted steel structure -among the earliest steel frame of any surviving tower in New York- providing evidence of the late 19th century when the building was built.

The enormous angel caryatids at the corners of the four-story penthouse which crowns this building serve to advertise its original role the headquarters of the American Tract Society, a publisher of religious literature which constructed this early skyscraper in 1895.

All Text and Images via http://hotson.net/

Human-ities · Science · Theory

The Positive Power of Negative Thinking

LAST month, in San Jose, Calif., 21 people were treated for burns after walking barefoot over hot coals as part of an event called Unleash the Power Within, starring the motivational speaker Tony Robbins. If you’re anything like me, a cynical retort might suggest itself: What, exactly, did they expect would happen? In fact, there’s a simple secret to “firewalking”: coal is a poor conductor of heat to surrounding surfaces, including human flesh, so with quick, light steps, you’ll usually be fine.

But Mr. Robbins and his acolytes have little time for physics. To them, it’s all a matter of mind-set: cultivate the belief that success is guaranteed, and anything is possible. One singed but undeterred participant told The San Jose Mercury News: “I wasn’t at my peak state.” What if all this positivity is part of the problem? What if we’re trying too hard to think positive and might do better to reconsider our relationship to “negative” emotions and situations?

Excerpt from an article written by OLIVER BURKEMAN, NYT. Continue HERE

Book-Text-Read-Zines · Human-ities · Social/Politics

Power and Its Disguises: Anthropological Perspectives on Politics

Arguing that an anthropology that confronts the politics of academic knowledge can transcend its colonial origins to challenge enthnocentrism, Power and Its Disguises explores both the complexities of local situations and the power relations that shape the global order. The book begins by analyzing the politics of societies without indigenous states and non-Western agrarian civilizations in order to confront the politics of domination and resistance within the colonial contexts that gave birth to the discipline.The author then examines the contemporary politics of Africa, Asia and Latin America, showing that historically informed anthropological perspectives can contribute to debates about democratization by incorporating a ‘view from below’ and revealing forces that shape power relations behind the formal facade of state institutions. Examples are drawn from Brazil, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guatemala, Indonesia, India, Mexico, Peru, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Sri Lanka, amongst others.Emphasizing the need to avoid both romanticism and blanket pessimism, the book shows how the study of micro-dynamics of power in everyday life coupled with sensitivity to the interactions between the local and global offers critical insights into such issues as state terror and ethnic violence, the emancipatory potential of social movements and the politics of rights, gender and culture. The book ends with discussion of the politics of academic research and academics’ efforts to play a critical role.

Text by the publisher, Powell Books.

Power and Its Disguises: Anthropological Perspectives on Politics (Anthropology, Culture and Society) by John Gledhill

Earthly/Geo/Astro · Human-ities · Social/Politics

What Makes Countries Rich or Poor? by Jared Diamond

The fence that divides the city of Nogales is part of a natural experiment in organizing human societies. North of the fence lies the American city of Nogales, Arizona; south of it lies the Mexican city of Nogales, Sonora. On the American side, average income and life expectancy are higher, crime and corruption are lower, health and roads are better, and elections are more democratic. Yet the geographic environment is identical on both sides of the fence, and the ethnic makeup of the human population is similar. The reasons for those differences between the two Nogaleses are the differences between the current political and economic institutions of the US and Mexico.

This example, which introduces Why Nations Fail by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson, illustrates on a small scale the book’s subject.* Power, prosperity, and poverty vary greatly around the world. Norway, the world’s richest country, is 496 times richer than Burundi, the world’s poorest country (average per capita incomes $84,290 and $170 respectively, according to the World Bank). Why? That’s a central question of economics.

Excerpt of an article written by Jared Diamond, NYBooks. Continue HERE

Imahe above: Women in Darfur returning from Kutum market to the Fata Borno camp for internally displaced persons under the protection of African Union soldiers, January 2007; photograph by Gary Knight from Questions Without Answers: The World in Pictures by the Photographers of VII. The book has just been published by Phaidon.

Book-Text-Read-Zines · Human-ities · Social/Politics · Theory

To Predict Dating Success, The Secret’s In The Pronouns

“People who are interested in and paying close attention to each other begin to speak more alike.” James Pennebaker, a psychologist interested in the secret life of pronouns, has counted words to better understand lots of things. He’s looked at lying, at leadership, at who will recover from trauma.

But some of his most interesting work has to do with power dynamics. He says that by analyzing language you can easily tell who among two people has power in a relationship, and their relative social status.

“It’s amazingly simple,” Pennebaker says, “Listen to the relative use of the word “I.”

What you find is completely different from what most people would think. The person with the higher status uses the word “I” less.

To demonstrate this Pennebaker pointed to some of his own email, a batch written long before he began studying status. First he shares an email written by one of his undergraduate students, a woman named Pam:

Dear Dr. Pennebaker:

I was part of your Introductory Psychology class last semester. I have enjoyed your lectures and I‘ve learned so much. I received an email from you about doing some research with you. Would there be a time for me to come by and talk about this?

Pam

Now consider Pennebaker’s response:

Dear Pam –

This would be great. This week isn’t good because of a trip. How about next Tuesday between 9 and 10:30. It will be good to see you.

Jamie Pennebaker

Excerpt of an article written by Alix Spiegel at NPR. Read it HERE

Images via Yale Scientific

http://www.secretlifeofpronouns.com/