Aug. 18th, 2010 01:20 am
jayeless: ANGRYFACE (smilers)

NY Times: Book Review - Churchill's Empire

If you read my review of the Doctor Who episode Victory of the Daleks, THIS SHIT IS EXACTLY WHY THAT EPISODE PISSED ME OFF SO MUCH. Churchill does not deserve his reputation for heroism and bravery at all. Man is a fucker. Just read the article and read ALL THE HORRIFIC THINGS CHURCHILL SAID that I did not know he said; not knowing all that much about twentieth-century Britain, I was basing my opinion purely on the fact that Britain retained an empire during WW2, Churchill lead Britain during WW2, therefore Churchill is an imperialist dick. I am very articulate explaining why I hate people, I know. But as the article says itself it's not even that Churchill was reflecting values indoctrinated into him:

...even at the time, Churchill was seen as standing at the most brutal and brutish end of the British imperialist spectrum.

The article talks about how he gleefully destroyed villages in then-India, was irritated that the vast concentration camps in South Africa WERE NOT GOING FAR ENOUGH (seriously we learned about these concentration camps in history last semester and they are horrific), boasted about ~personally~ shooting three Sudanese "savages" (i.e. human beings), wanted to use poison gas on Kurds in Iraq... I mean fuck it man, when was the last time Saddam Hussein was celebrated in British TV as a hero? HMMMM.

I'm not sure about the bullshit in the article at the end, trying to salvage Churchill's image by going "he DID believe in ~freedom and democracy~ and it DOESN'T MATTER that he only thought white people deserved any because people never take things that way lol". It's like, no. STFU.

And besides, how fucking much did Churchill believe in the welfare of people as a conservative politician? How fucking much did he care when he personally shot people dead and believed he was entitled to do it? Who cares that he could string together a few pretty words about "freedom" and "democracy"? Honestly, if you do not believe that human beings are AUTOMATICALLY entitled to necessities for life like FOOD, WATER, HEALTHCARE, SHELTER, AND SO ON then you can wax lyrical about "freedom" and "democracy" all you like but it's all meaningless words.

And now I relate the above to Doctor Who )

jayeless: ANGRYFACE (smilers)

This post is a crosspost from Jayeless, and can be read in its original location here.

I read today in the BBC’s article Cameron wants nation to appreciate armed forces that the UK’s new prime minister thinks Britons should take pride in everything their armed soldiers do. Actually he goes even further than that, and says he wants the military to be front and centre of our national life.

Why not, man? Who wouldn’t want to be proud of a military that is responsible for (plus, I am sure, approximately one billion other things):

  • the brutal beating to death of an Iraqi man, who at the time of death had ninety-three separate injuries [1]
  • the “routine” use of banned “interrogation techniques” [2]
  • secret squads holding prisoners in stress positions, hooding them, and telling them their mothers and sisters will be raped [3]
  • executing prisoners, forcing other prisoners to listen to their deaths, and mutilating Iraqi corpses [4]
  • handing over many, many prisoners to be tortured by Afghan agencies [5]
  • …and Iraqi agencies [6]
  • trashing the homes of Iraqis whose houses they raid [7]
  • participating in the occupations of foreign countries, with all the immorality and abuses that entails (I don’t think you need a source for this one; it’s pretty obvious that the UK’s armed forces occupy foreign countries)

Furthermore, the British military has historically been in all sorts of objectionable endeavours — maintaining and expanding the British Empire, for a start. The British military invented concentration camps, imprisoning 100,000 Boer women and children in them (of which 28,000 died) and meting out even worse treatment to Africans. In the time I spent trying to look for articles about British abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan, I also found articles about abuses longer ago in Kenya and India, and we all know how amazingly well the British treated the Irish (i.e. not).

If Cameron’s going to say the military needs to be at the “front and centre of national life”, just like during the First and Second World Wars (quoth him: In the First World War those at home didn’t just sing ‘keep the home fires burning’, they practised it. In the Second World War, the military occupied a huge place in the national consciousness, partly because everyone knew someone in uniform.) — I assume he supports all of this!

Having the military as the symbol of the nation is screwed up. Let’s celebrate violence and obedience to authority as the most cherished values of our nation, right? Let’s celebrate people whose patriotism goes so far that they torture other people, or kill other people, and let’s celebrate the institutions that, far from condemning this behaviour, do their best to cover this up. And let’s also celebrate an institution that is, lest we forget, completely useless when there’s no war going on, encouraging a situation of permanent war.

Yes Cameron, your prime ministership is certainly off on an excellently humanist note. Now let’s make it even more humanist by celebrating death and torture. Yay!

jayeless: photo of me at the Alhambra in Granada, Spain (Default)

This post is a crosspost from my "main" blog. The entry was originally posted two days ago (because, again, I win at remembering to crosspost these things) at Jayeless » What was that hideous noise?

A few weeks ago I wrote about the "mosquito", a weapon gaining currency in the UK as a device to be used against young people. Essentially, it plays an extremely high-pitched noise, so high-pitched that those aged over 25 cannot hear it, whenever young people are partaking in suspicious anti-social activities like standing still. Because God forbid that ANYONE would EVER stand still. In this day and age, we keep going and going day and night that's how busy we are, and no one ever stands still without malicious intentions!!

Anyway. The manufacturer of this weapon seems to be in two minds about the whole thing. On the one hand, the manufacturer is keen to trumpet just how effective the weapon is -- because it almost got banned in the EU for being a violation of human rights, it has to be effective, right? But then on the other hand, the manufacturer doesn't want to be known as the guy who aided and abetted gross violations of human rights, so they tried to play down its effectiveness at the same time. They made a whole bunch of claims about how ineffective their product really is, such as:

  • it sounds just like a mosquito
  • the sound only becomes unpleasant after 5-10 minutes of exposure
  • not all teenagers can even hear it

LIES, ALL LIES. Well, maybe point #3 isn't a lie -- some teenagers are deaf, after all. But points #1 and #2 are definitely lies, at least judging by The Oatmeal's Teenager Audio Test.

See I stumbled upon this test somehow, and foolishly I thought, "Hey, I might as well find out what that supposed mosquito sound sounds like. Know thine enemy and all that." And I pressed the button to play the MP3 to find out.

I was not prepared for how horrible the noise was. Since it's marketed as something that sounds like a mosquito, I was prepared for, you know, SOMETHING THAT SOUNDED LIKE A MOSQUITO. That thing did not sound even remotely like a mosquito. I'm struggling to think of an adequate analogy, but it's a bit like a train screeching to a halt while you're standing on the platform. Except it's much higher-pitched and much louder. So maybe it'd be more like the train screeching to a halt while you were lying under the train.

Within about one-fifth of a second I slammed down on the "I CAN HEAR IT!" button repeatedly to make the noise go away. (I didn't have to hit it repeatedly, I just did in case it'd make it go away faster.) As you might have noticed, one-fifth of a second is quite a small fraction of a second, but it is an even smaller fraction of five to ten minutes.

Let me tell you, if I had to listen to that noise for five to ten minutes, I think I'd burst into tears and start pleading with whoever was playing it to tell me what I had to do to get it turned off. The noise is that bad.

So funnily enough, hearing the actual noise involved in "mosquito" weaponry did not change my mind about its morality. Stories have emerged from the UK about children unable to sleep at night, desperately trying to cover their ears, because some idiot neighbour has installed this hideous device on their property and it has kept going off. Devices and high-pitched noises like this can be -- and inevitably will be -- used against people under the age of twenty-five who have done nothing wrong and don't deserve to have that noise assaulting their hearing. They could easily be used as devices of torture in war (for instance, where US soldiers at Guant√°namo Bay now use -- or have in recent times used -- Barney the Dinosaur's "I Love You" to try to break their inmates, they could also use this). I could even envisage unscrupulous teachers using them against their students, having lost all faith in the normal disciplinary system.

I admit, if such people really want to harm youths with high-pitched noises they can produce them regardless of the existence of this product. However, I feel the "mosquito" device legitimises the use of such techniques. Before it might be that such techniques would be considered torture, but now the EU Human Rights Whatever has declared it totally acceptable... well, how can you consider it torture? Even if that's exactly what it is? The EU said it's okay!

But it seems to me that one middle-aged person has gone up to another middle-aged person and made the kind of decision that may benefit middle-aged people, with no risk to them if it doesn't anyway (except losing £350). What's the betting that the EU people who said the "mosquito" was okay were not young enough to be susceptible to it? But where's the consideration for those of us under the age of twenty-five -- don't we get the chance to say this thing is wrong?

jayeless: photo of me at the Alhambra in Granada, Spain (Default)

This entry is a crosspost from my "main" blog. Since I am forgetful, this entry was actually posted three days ago, at Jayeless » The Forgotten Australians.

Yesterday I was paying attention to @sbsnews' coverage on Twitter of Rudd's latest apology. The apology given to the Stolen Generations in early 2008 caused some consternation here, not least because people didn't think it was the Australia of today's place to apologise for the wrongdoings of our history. I haven't seen so much consternation over this one, but then again, I hadn't seen so much discussion of this one at all until today. People care more about political issues like the latest asylum seeker "crisis", our dodgy proposed ETS or upcoming climate change negotiations in Copenhagen.

However, yesterday Kevin Rudd apologised to thousands of people, the "Forgotten Australians", who were abused in state or church care between 1930 and 1970. Read more... )

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