Afghanistan Honour Killings
Mar03

Afghanistan Honour Killings

From the New York Times a quite disturbing read on how women in Afghanistan suffer in a culture so horribly twisted by tradition, social indoctrination, and religious interpretation that it sees the murder of a family member preferable to allowing people – daughters, nieces, or cousins – to simply live their lives the way they want. A Thin Line of Defense Against ‘Honor Killings’: Gul Meena, 16, survived a brutal attack by her brother after she fled an older husband, who had beaten her, and ran away with another man. She had been just 8 or 9 in her home in Kunar Province on the Pakistan border when a man in the next village offered money to her unemployed father for her. […] From the moment she arrived in his house, she was a servant. The only grace was that he was not allowed to have sex with her before she had her first period. Two years after they wed, the moment came and he forced himself on her. “I was like a thing and they sold me,” she said. “He was beating me with everything near to him. With his glasses, with his mobile phone, with wood, with stones, and with his hands.” Lonely and bewildered, she tried at least twice to return to her father’s house, but the family sent her back to her husband and finally she went to a neighbor’s home. The husband of the family ran away with her to Nangarhar Province in eastern Afghanistan. When her brother caught up with them, he slit the man’s throat and slashed Gul Meena 15 times with an ax, nearly blinding her and leaving her for dead. When she woke up in the hospital, she looked in the mirror. “I was very damaged,” she said. “Before, I was beautiful and young.” Although she does not see herself that way, she is still a stunning young woman. She has never gone to school but speaks with a simple eloquence. Now she fears that she is ugly and no one will marry her. “Men are always interested in the beauty of a woman,” she said. “They are never interested in the heart.” It’s a dreadfully sad outlook, though obviously understandable, and it’s one of only a few stories. Well worth a good...

Read More
Equation Group
Feb16

Equation Group

A chilling but fascinatingly informative article describing Kaspersky’s gradual uncovering of the various methods used by the hacking group – most likely tied to the U.S. government – given the monicker “Equation Group”: How ‘omnipotent’ hackers tied to NSA hid for 14 years—and were found at last Equation Group boasted the type of extraordinary engineering skill people have come to expect from a spy organization sponsored by the world’s wealthiest nation. One of the Equation Group’s malware platforms, for instance, rewrote the hard-drive firmware of infected computers—a never-before-seen engineering marvel that worked on 12 drive categories from manufacturers including Western Digital, Maxtor, Samsung, IBM, Micron, Toshiba, and Seagate. The malicious firmware created a secret storage vault that survived military-grade disk wiping and reformatting, making sensitive data stolen from victims available even after reformatting the drive and reinstalling the operating system. The firmware also provided programming interfaces that other code in Equation Group’s sprawling malware library could access. Once a hard drive was compromised, the infection was impossible to detect or...

Read More
Architecture For Children
Feb14

Architecture For Children

A lovely little Swiss website here that curates photos of architectural constructs built specifically for children around the world: Architektur für Kinder The side navigation bar provides great categorised links to scans of books, designers, and projects. A sample of some of the images is...

Read More
SyFy Movies: Road Bees And More
Feb05

SyFy Movies: Road Bees And More

From the always fantastic World of Crap is this list of 10 SyFy Original Movies Coming Soon: Washed up alcoholic alcoholic Fray Bentos (Michael Madsen) is worried about all the bees in his backwater truckstop from hell. So when qualified lifeguard and troubleshooter Dalton Timothy (Tara Reid) comes on the scene, they team up to take out the trash, the lowlives, and the bees that control the government of this backwater West Dakota town. Just part of the description of the Michael Madsen and Tara Reid piece Road Bees. Other movies in the list include Shark Fork and Terrorist Alligator, with each film expertly illustrated...

Read More
Why Charlie Hebdo Was Attacked
Jan10

Why Charlie Hebdo Was Attacked

Charlie Hebdo was not a nice publication. But it had every right to be not a nice publication. People who don’t like not nice publications don’t have to read them, don’t have to pay attention to them. People who don’t like not nice publications have the right to petition to have them removed from circulation or persuade others not to buy them if they can’t avoid paying attention to them – this is what those of us who oppose dangerous garbage like What Doctors Don’t Tell You do – but there are some rights they don’t have and that obviously includes murder. The question is: were the murders really an Islamic terrorist response to supposed blasphemous images? Is it possible that they were instead opportunistic thuggery by cowards trying to fracture civilised people and boost terrorist recruitment? Juan Cole contends that without a declaration of the reason for the attack (and probably with one anyway because such disinformation is exactly what is desired) we should be sceptical of the motives and that it is the latter possibility in this article Sharpening Contradictions: Why al-Qaeda attacked Satirists in Paris: The problem for a terrorist group like al-Qaeda is that its recruitment pool is Muslims, but most Muslims are not interested in terrorism. Most Muslims are not even interested in politics, much less political Islam. France is a country of 66 million, of which about 5 million is of Muslim heritage. But in polling, only a third, less than 2 million, say that they are interested in religion. […] Al-Qaeda wants to mentally colonize French Muslims, but faces a wall of disinterest. But if it can get non-Muslim French to be beastly to ethnic Muslims on the grounds that they are Muslims, it can start creating a common political identity around grievance against discrimination. […] Most of France will also remain committed to French values of the Rights of Man, which they invented. But an insular and hateful minority will take advantage of this deliberately polarizing atrocity to push their own agenda. Europe’s future depends on whether the Marine LePens are allowed to become mainstream. Extremism thrives on other people’s extremism, and is inexorably defeated by tolerance. It’s not a long article and worth reading for the similar tactics carried out by Stalinists in the early 20th century as well as by al-Qaeda in Iraq which led to the sort of success that Daesh/ISIL/ISIS has achieved recently. If the article is right then the absolute worst thing that could be done is to further isolate Muslims or accuse their religion of not opposing terrorism; that to think in right-wing terms and...

Read More
Photos Of Los Angeles
Dec23

Photos Of Los Angeles

An interesting account of the work involved in hunting down photos of the people and places in Los Angeles’s history with an emphasis on the ethnic diversity of the city and its environs: Shades of L.A.: 20 Years of Illuminating Diversity Through Photography We begin to click through silvery images of weddings and birthday parties, Thanksgivings, first television sets, interiors of pre-Prohibition Era saloons, laughing families hand-churning ice cream. But sometimes amid these happy moments are sobering indicators — placards in the frame that indicate that a couple’s frolicking occurred on a segregated beach, or a caption’s hint at the long wave of Japanese internment and relocation during World War...

Read More