Archive | December 20, 2013

Color-Blind Racial Ideology Linked to Racism, Both Online and Offline

grayscaleVia ScienceDaily:

In a study that examined the associations between responses to racial theme party images on social networking sites and a color-blind racial ideology, Brendesha Tynes, a professor of educational psychology and of African American studies at Illinois, discovered that white students and those who rated highly in color-blind racial attitudes were more likely not to be offended by images from racially themed parties at which attendees dressed and acted as caricatures of racial stereotypes (for example, photos of students dressed in blackface make-up attending a “gangsta party” to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day).

“People who reported higher racial color-blind attitudes were more likely to be white, and more likely to condone or not be bothered by racial-theme party images,” Tynes said. “In fact, some even encouraged the photos by adding comments of their own such as ‘Where’s the Colt 45?’ or ‘Party like a rock star.’ ”

To conduct the study, Tynes showed 217 ethnically diverse college students images from racially themed parties and prompted them to respond as if they were writing on a friend’s Facebook or MySpace page.

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Russian Amnesty Law Set to Free Arctic 30 Protesters and Pussy Riot Members

sunrise

Pic: Salvatore Barbera (CC)

Shaun Walker and James Meikle write at the Guardian:

The Greenpeace “Arctic 30″ could be home by Christmas, and the two jailed members of the punk group Pussy Riot should be released from jail in the coming days, after a wide-ranging amnesty law was passed by the Russian parliament on Wednesday.

The Pussy Riot pair are serving a two-year sentence for hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, while the Greenpeace activists are charged with hooliganism and are currently on bail awaiting trial in St Petersburg.

The amnesty, backed by Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, is timed to coincide with the 20th anniversary of Russia’s constitution. It mainly concerns first-time offenders, minors and women with small children.

An amendment on Wednesday extended the amnesty to suspects in cases of hooliganism, which includes the Arctic 30, who were arrested aboard the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise in September.

They were bailed by courts in St Petersburg last month but still faced trial and potential jail sentences of up to seven years.

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Report Suggests NSA May Be Manipulating Financial Data

LwJ1J6rIs the NSA manipulating the financial system? It certainly appears that it could.

Matt Blaze has been pointing out that when you read the new White House intelligence task force report and its recommendations on how to reform the NSA and the wider intelligence community, that there may be hints to other excesses not yet revealed by the Snowden documents. Trevor Timm may have spotted a big one. In the recommendation concerning increasing security in online communications, the second sub-point sticks out like a sore thumb.

If you can’t read that, it says: Governments should not use their offensive cyber capabilities to change the amounts held in financial accounts or otherwise manipulate the financial system.

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Soaring Profits Do Not Equal Investment

It is taken for granted in conservative circles at that lower taxes on the rich will lead to greater investment in the economy, and therefore jobs—but the data tell a very different story. This analysis comes from Gerald Friedman of Dollars & Sense:

Net Investments and Profits

“The share of national income going to investment (net of depreciation of existing plant and machinery) has been declining since the beginning of the “neoliberal” era, around 1980. Since the start of the Great Recession, net investment as a share of GDP has plummeted to its lowest level since the 1930s. This sharp drop in investment comes despite sharply rising profits.”

Monetary Policy Isn’t Working: The Federal Reserve has helped to shorten past recessions by driving down interest rates to lower the cost of borrowing and so spur investment. During the current crisis, the Fed has conducted an aggressive monetary policy, raising the money supply to lower interest rates.… Read the rest

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Synthetic Love: Married to a Doll

Davecat lives with his wife and mistress, both dolls, and thinks synthetic partners are ideal for those who don’t want to deal with humans’ inconsistencies. (Atlantic article.)

Davecat met his future wife, Sidore Kuroneko at a goth club in 2000, so the story goes. The less romantic but perhaps more true version is that he saved up for a year and a half to buy her online. She cost about $6,000.

Sidore is a RealDoll, manufactured by Abyss Creations in the shape of a human woman. She is covered in artificial skin made of silicone, so she’s soft. These high-end, anatomically correct—even equipped with fake tongues—love dolls (or capital-D Dolls) are ostensibly made for sex. But 40-year-old Davecat (a nickname acquired from videogames that he now prefers to go by) and others who call themselves iDollators see their dolls as life partners, not sex toys. Davecat and Sidore (or, as he sometimes calls her, Shi-chan) obviously aren’t legally married, but they do have matching wedding bands that say “Synthetik [sic] love lasts forever,” and he says they’re considering some sort of ceremony for their 15th anniversary.

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Polynesian Islanders Used Binary System 600 Years Ago

binaryFrom the file of lost mathematics systems of remote cultures, via Scientific American:

Binary arithmetic, the basis of all virtually digital computation today, is usually said to have been invented at the start of the eighteenth century by the German mathematician Gottfried Leibniz. But a study now shows that a kind of binary system was already in use 300 years earlier among the people of the tiny Pacific island of Mangareva in French Polynesia.

The discovery, made by analysing historical records of the now almost wholly assimilated Mangarevan culture and language and reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that some of the advantages of the binary system adduced by Leibniz might create a cognitive motivation for this system to arise spontaneously, even in a society without advanced science and technology.

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Putin: ‘I Envy’ Obama’s Spy Program

Vladimir_Putin_12015And Vladimir, I envy your forthrightness, notably not a quality that Mr. Obama shares with you. USA Today reports on the Russian President’s latest unscripted statements:

Russia President Vladimir Putin says his government is not working with National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, and defended President Obama over his spying program — sort of.

“How do I feel about Obama after Snowden’s revelations? I envy him, because he can get away with it,” Putin said during a Thursday news conference in Russia.

Speaking a day after a White House advisory panel released a report recommending changes in NSA programs, Putin defended espionage in general.

He called it “one of the oldest professions in the world, just like some other well-known professions — we won’t mention them here,” an apparent reference to prostitution.

But Putin did say regulations, such as those envisioned for the NSA, are necessary: “On political level, it’s necessary to limit the appetite of special services with certain rules.”

As for Snowden — granted political asylum by Russia earlier this year — Putin said: “To speak in professional jargon, operatively speaking, we are not working with him, and we never worked with him…

[continues at USA Today]… Read the rest

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Advergaming: Instilling Corporate Logos Through Video Games

brandsCluster Mag on corporate branding inside the virtual worlds of video games:

Video games offer particularly lush marketing opportunities because they allow us to exist as agents in the digital beyond, a fantasy realm we’ve merely glimpsed through other media.

Once upon a time, a couple of consumer food brands partnered up with video game moguls like Capcom, Sega, and Nintendo to develop new games starring their bizarre spokescreatures like the jazzy, anthropomorphic California Raisins and Chester Cheetah.

Since the prehistoric days of advergaming, the transparent strategy of monopolizing the game world through an embodied mascot has mostly been ditched for a more savvy attempt at realistic product placement.

Several recent games go so far as to make the searching out and identification of brand names its central task, including Fashion Finder: Secrets of Fashion, in which 150 fashion brands participated, and Brandmania: Hidden Objects, an app created for the iPad, which sends players to different cities around the world to identify major brand logos “hidden” in realistic scenery.

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Italian Protester Kisses Riot Cop’s Helmet, Gets Charged with “Sexual Violence”

450033831Abby Zimet writes at Common Dreams:

The head of the Italian police officer’s union is charging Nina De Chiffre, a 20-year-old art student, with “sexual violence” and “causing offence to a public official” after she famously kissed a riot cop’s helmet visor during a protest against a new bullet train. Really. Despite his ordeal, the hero officer stayed calm, explaining, “When I’m wearing my uniform I represent the police institution, and I have an obligation not to react to provocation.” Critics of the charges argue he was just asking for it by being out on the street dressed like that.

Imagine if U.S. cops had an obligation not to react to provocation.… Read the rest

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