Saturday, January 31, 2015

Islam as the Lightening Rod for Rage Against The Machine

"A religion is defined not just by its holy texts but also by how believers interpret those texts — that is, by its practices. The ways in which believers act out their faith define that faith." "The slaughter in Peshawar, like the mass beheadings by the Islamic State, tells us something about the character of contemporary Islam and of Islamism."

148 people, mostly children, killed by the Taliban in Peshawar school massacre at the end of 2014
 "It tells us even more about the state of contemporary politics, and especially of radical politics."  "The character of anti-Western sentiment has changed strikingly in recent decades." "Anti-imperialists of the past saw themselves as part of a wider political project that sought to modernize the non-Western world, politically and economically. Today, however, that wider political project is itself seen as the problem."

"There is considerable disenchantment with many aspects of modernity, from individualism to globalization, from the breakdown of traditional cultures to the fragmentation of societies, from the blurring of moral boundaries to the seeming soullessness of the contemporary world. In the past, racists often viewed modernity as the property of the West and regarded the non-Western world as incapable of modernizing. Today, it is radicals who often regard modernity as a Western product, and reject both it and the West as tainted goods."

"The consequence has been the transformation of anti-Western sentiment from a political challenge to imperialist policy to an inchoate rage against modernity. Many strands of contemporary thought, including those embraced by 'deep greens' and the far left, express aspects of such discontent. But it is radical Islam that has become the lightning rod for this fury."

From NYT Sunday Review 'Radical Islam, Nihilist Rage' by Kenan Malik

Monday, January 26, 2015

Old Style Socialism Served up as Nationalism

If we were ever tempted to hope that hard-line Scots nationalists were moderates, this is a salutary read. Their Rx for Britain today-

1. Bring the Railways back into public ownership
2. Shift investment from nuclear to renewable energy
3. Commit to halt fracking in the UK
4. Bring the energy companies back into public ownership
5. Create a Living Wage and a programme to abolish food banks
6. Abolish the House of Lords and adopt proportional representation
7. Commit to public investment to end austerity economics
8. Welcome refugees and immigrants as an economic and social asset
9. Agree votes for 16/17 year-olds
10. Cancel Trident (nuclear submarines)
11. Publish the Chilcott Inquiry, and do not enter into illegal wars
12. No tuition fees in education

From Bella Caledonia blog

A 'Smash Britannia' agenda from the Loony Left, with CND and Communist rhetoric and with a serving of Green, all masquerading as a nationalist protocol.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Google as the Curator of Your Life Experience

The Evermind we call Google wants to be your personal secretary - mentoring and massaging your in-tray!

'(Google) sees your (e-mail) inbox as a launch pad for action, not a contemplative venue'! '...Google is releasing an app called Inbox . If the name evokes an email inbox — something that Google users have been enjoying for years as part of Gmail, one of its most famous products — that’s no accident. Then you use this app, you read and respond to the messages sent to your Gmail address, but you do so without opening the familiar application. Instead, you’re using what Google thinks is the future of mail.'

'That future just happens to overlap with what is now the company’s flagship product, Google Now. Just as Google Now draws upon your activities on the company’s various tendrils (search, documents, calendar, etc.) to give you vital information on a just-in-time basis, Inbox scours your email to deliver you the good parts, often relieving you of the tedium of ploughing through the actual message. Then it highlights those nuggets, sometimes even dipping into the Web to present them with relevant links. If you are inclined to linger over thoughtful missives from your colleagues and friends, Inbox won’t stop you — but clearly it sees your inbox as a launch pad for action, not a contemplative venue. In its effort to resolve the logorrhoea of our accumulating mail, its unspoken motto is, “Cut to the chase.”

Anyone else with me in feeling this moves them too close to manipulation of the message?  Marshall McLuhan Mark II?