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Okay, so this is going to be a long one. And the only reason I'm still awake at this hour is because I closed the shop.

During my second year of university I had space for a few electives. My major was declared as economics for one reason: grades. The first year was political science, but as I'm sure you're all aware first year is just general anyway. And it's easier to get 90+ in classes where there's a right answer than classes where there isn't. Not saying my essays sucked, but they never handed out 90's. I was trying get into business school, which was a second entry program after two years and in order to do that I had to beef up my application as hard as possible. And they weren't making it easy. In addition to the high grades, you needed "leadership experience" in extracurricular activities. So I was scheming in-between my full-time course load, student clubs, and trying to get a promotion at my part-time job to find organizations and things I could do to make myself palatable.

And I did a lot of this shit. I was in Nicaragua too, for some reason, before the crackdown. I took a class, international politics, during which the professor told us that the school was offering an experiential learning "research" course to go to Rwanda and it would be entirely paid for by the school. Grant money. I figured, why not? It's going to be in the summer, I'll get to work on a research project, do an essay about the post-genocide reconstruction in the region, and hopefully get experience if I ever decided to transition into some type of career in global development.

Yep, you're right. I had to pay for it. $1500 out the ass.

The class was structured in such a way that we met bi-weekly before the departure date of the actual trip. We spent a lot of time analyzing the history and politics of Rwanda, past and present. Essentially the division between Hutus and Tutsis was largely created by colonization, they weren't so much tribes as they were "social classes" prior to colonization. It was more an identifier of how much stuff you had. You could move between classes if you acquired wealth or property. Post-Belgian colonization however, it was a different story.

One of the main topics we discussed was the gacaca court system that was established following the genocide. It was an ad-hoc judicial system created because it was physically impossible to train that many lawyers and try that many people after the destruction of the country. A large part of what we debated was the effectiveness of the gacaca system and whether the potential for error was worth it in that political climate.

One of the biggest challenges in post-genocide reconstruction is the fact that Rwanda is a centralized state under control of Paul Kagame and his party. There were efforts made to decentralize the government after 2001 but still, Rwanda is essentially a capitalist state under semi-totalitarian control. It's one of the fastest growing economies in the region. It's a safe country, like unreasonably so. And I think most people would say that's a miracle given what happened. There was an opposition party, not "hutu power", but a green party trying to implement a more fair democracy and their leader was murdered. On a local and council level (the topic of my research) social structures are still very totalitarian and you can get in a lot of trouble by stepping out of line. It is very difficult to study people's attitudes in Rwanda for two reasons, 1) people will typically lie or embellish the truth to foreigners and 2) society is very regimented. It doesn't have to be the threat of jail, being "that guy" in your village and local council means you're basically screwed in terms of employment, and survival. And so resistance comes passively, refusing to participate in government-ordained meetings, irreverent compliance, being mute, whatever you can do.

So segregation is illegal in Rwanda. It is not socially acceptable to identify yourself as Hutu or Tutsi. Those distinctions have been removed from all identity documents. You're not allowed to talk about it. A famous story in Rwanda happened about 15 years ago when Hutu militants stormed into Rwanda from the DR Congo and held children hostage in a classroom. When they attempted to divide the children by Hutu and Tutsi, they replied saying "We are neither. We are one Rwandans."

There were some cool people in the class, but we know what the stress of travelling can do to people, especially when you're doing it with complete strangers. I didn't realize how south this was going to go before it was too late.

First day, there was a layover in Amsterdam. Buddy is already hammered in the airport bar. His friend turns to me and says "bro, are you fucking sittin' on that?", referring to a beer. The trip had barely begun and I had to come to the realization that yes, in fact I had been sitting on it. I didn't realize it then, but this was going to be a lot harder than I had originally anticipated.

These people, there were about two or three, were basically drunk the entire trip. There was a lot of infighting. Their God was Doug Ford, and his girlfriend. I basically only talked to like 3 people who were sort of being excluded by the rest of the group. And I didn't necessarily hit it off well with them either, it's just the alternative was an uncomfortable silence. There were a lot of right-wing arguments and anti-Palestine rhetoric was flowing through the buses and hotel rooms. The one drunk dude had ambitions in law enforcement, I think.

The next two weeks were spent travelling across the entire country, following a strict itinerary, meeting with organizations, going to an epic soccer game, meeting genocide survivors (one person I recall fled into the DR Congo when he was a child and returned years later to found a successful tech company). We also painted a house for some lady. We met gacaca court judges. During this process I had to keep everything logged on my blog which I hosted on my website. I'll try to dig it up if I can to maybe expand on this post.

We also went to a lot of genocide memorials, and places Roméo Dallaire was at. The thing about genocide memorials in Rwanda is it's not like visiting Auschwitz. Human skulls, bones, fragments of clothing are all out there in the open. No, not behind a glass case. I mean you're inches away from hundreds of hundreds of dead people with no barrier. It's pretty terrifying. Or seeing open graves that you knew hundreds of people had been thrown into. Not even the Church, which was off-limits in their culture was a safe space from the genocidaires. They weren't afraid of God.

The extent of the human tragedy in Rwanda is beyond comprehension until you've been there. I've met killers, and the families of people they've killed. And they forgave them. Hundreds, maybe even thousands of individuals convicted of murder during the genocide went out to ask for forgiveness from the families of the people whose lives they cut short. And they often got that forgiveness. It was incredible. It was the human spirit.

By the end of this, basically nobody was talking to each other. The professor was pissed at the TA, the TA's friends were pissed at everyone else who was pissed at them. People were deleting each other on Facebook. Blasting "Big Hard Sun" by Eddie Vedder wasn't helping. People were crying. The whole thing was a disaster. The experience was life-changing but it taught me never to travel with strangers ever again. I wasn't allowed to find out why people were upset, I was the outsider.

But the Rwandan lawyers I met were cool. They followed me on Instagram and thanked me for avoiding alcohol and replacing it with Lacroix. I drank on top of the hill in Kigali in a fancy restaurant, in the nicest bar in the entire land overlooking the convention centre (google it) while that guy stole a beer from the restaurant and drank it on the bus ride home. We got on the plane and went back. Back to our world.

Apologies for the delayed response- I spent almost all of yesterday driving.

I think the issue I hold with the above thought experiment is that you've managed at once to overly narrow and broaden the subject of the discussion to a point at which the original subject matter gets lost in the shuffle. We're no longer talking about racism versus nationalism versus xenophobia, we're talking about the merits and pitfalls of Sharia law- essentially a policy discussion. And we can argue the benefits and pitfalls of Sharia, but it's a little like listening to somebody complain about the Jews' conspiracy to control world media and then say, "let's dig into that, though; would a worldwide monopoly on the media really benefit us as a polity?"

Reading Roseanna and Amy's comments as charitably as you have for a moment, I'll discard nearly every other portion of the original quote; I'll ignore the part about "stinkin' Muslim crap" and "Muslim through and through" and "that's not America" and the speculation of whether or not this Somali immigrant-cum-stateswoman is here legally, and focus solely, as you'd have it, on her passing reference to Sharia. We then have to examine where she got this "Sharia" notion. Is there anything in Omar's voting record that indicates an affinity towards Sharia law? Have Rosanna and Amy studied Sharia? Do they even know what it means? In order to have the discussion you want, we have to take it as a matter of course that when they say "all that Muslim crap," they only take issue with the specter of Sharia, and that they are coming to the discussion with a viewpoint as informed as your own vis-a-vis apostasy, vis-a-vis state response to homosexuality, vis-a-vis capital and corporal punishment, etc. Furthermore, we have to grant that they care to recognize that "Sharia" only encompasses one practical portion of a fundamentalist minority of the world's second largest religion with a history spanning several millennia.

But ultimately, to do so would be absurd. I think you and I can agree without too much controversy that in the above case, "Sharia" is shorthand. It's a condensation of a rich and broad culture into a bogeyman signifier. Look, here's Islam:

And here's Islam:

And here it is again:

So why is it that in these discussions we always have to approach it from the terms of this

and this

and this?

You opened the discussion searching for a working definition of racism. I'd say that when person A narrows the culture, religion, and physical characteristics of person B down to the basest caricature, and then rejects person B based on that caricature, that's as good a definition of racism as one might need.

So, then. If it's not too hypocritical (I'll leave that up to your good judgment), I'd argue a sort of like-for-like. If someone is comfortable simplifying my cultural standpoint down to a cartoonish shorthand, I'm comfortable discarding the finer distinctions between xenophobia, racism and nationalism in favor of a catch-all term, in this case racism. The problem with ten-dollar words is that they have a way of sterilizing subject matter. As a for instance, "nationalism" has recently been re-introduced into the American lexicon as a non-pejorative. If we call all of what was discussed above "ethno-nationalism" rather than "racism," isn't it entirely possible that we might then inadvertently deem such behavior acceptable? Better to err on the side here of stigma rather than normalization, I think. Racism is a fine word for it.

For all that, though, your point is well taken. We could be only a little less charitable to the above actors and assume that their issue with Rep. Omar has nothing to do with the color of her skin in conjunction with her cultural background, and only has to do with her religion. When John F. Kennedy ascended to the presidency, there were those who vocally decried his "Papist" affinities and wondered whether the Vatican would now run the White House. This isn't a perfect analog for our current discussion, but it subtracts the thornier issues of phenotype. In which case, "racism" wouldn't exactly fit the bill, would it? Taken in this light, I can respect your original point. I ask you, then, to reconsider mine. Whether or not the dumbing-down of a religious or cultural group to base signifiers, and then ascribing nefarious motives to this simplified Other is racist or xenophobic or ethno-nationalist becomes extraneous. It all merits an unequivocal condemnation.

OftenBen  ·  63 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: June 19, 2019

My long term disability got approved last week. No appeals, no court battle, just long months of waiting and a few of scraping brokeness.

I get my full package, benefits and 401k contribution included.

Thankful to be able to take some time to actually take care of myself the way I need to. Eat the way I should, daily. Take exactly the medications I should, without thinking about rationing, daily. Attend cardiac rehab and be able to pay my copay. Have to do some doctor shopping, new psych, new pain doc, but it's manageable.

Truthfully I'm kind of numb. I want to be elated, we went out to a nice dinner to celebrate, but it hasn't set in yet that I actually got the benefits that I earned, that I signed up for years ago specifically for when the day came that I needed them. I guess I find it hard to believe that the corporate end of the bargain is being held up.

Just need some time to process I guess.

Finished The Universe in a Nutshell, gonna re-read it for the sake of clarity and comprehension before moving on to the next one. Hawking is a wonderful breather from Durant.

OftenBen  ·  134 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: New Horrors: China Harvesting Muslim Organs in Concentration Camps.

I think there is an argument to be made that China is trying to export the social credit idea.

One of the exports of Empire is culture, yes?

I'm still knee-deep in Durant so that's the lens I'm putting this all through, as much as possible.

KapteinB  ·  171 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: 320th Weekly "Share Some Music You've Been Into Lately" Thread

This weekend was what we Eurovision-nerds refer to as Super Saturday, where 5 national entries were selected (with two more following on Sunday).

Finland is sending none other than Darude, whom you may remember from his 1999 smash hit (which is now possibly stuck in your head just from reading his name). Alas this song is no Sandstorm, being more muted and much less catchy.

Georgia is one of my favourite Eurovision nations, which rarely fails to entertain. This year they are less fun than usual, but I still quite like it.

Iceland's pick is not very typical for Eurovision. It will certainly stand out. It's brutal. I almost like it.

Moldova had my favourite song last year. This year they're just ok in my opinion.

My native Norway is sending a catchy dance tune with a solid dose of joik. I'm biased, of course, but I like it.

Portugal this year seems quirky just for the sake of being quirky.

And finally Serbia went with this ballad.

This is probably the best crop so far this year. And in general I'm happy with how many countries are choosing to sing in other languages than English this year. :-)

am_Unition  ·  176 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Who Is Left on Hubski?

31/m/tx, u?

I'm James. Working on finishing up my physics PhD. lil helped me with my grad school application letter! Apparently she did a great job, because it worked :).

Just got engaged about a week ago after an 8 year trial period with the best girl in the world. Looks like a courthouse, nuclear-family-only shindig, and then a backyards kegger for the 1 year anniversary or something. Pomp and circumstance ain't my thang.

Used some of my tax return to buy a Switch. flac, I'll be PM'ing you in a few days or weeks, depending on how long it takes me to get sick of BotW (could be months, I guess).

As for everyone else, if I'm in your neck of the woods sometime, I'll let you know, and maybe we can meet up. I just got back from Yosemite, and yeesh, it's gonna be tough to top that backdrop. Most beautiful place I've ever been. And before you ask, I managed to miss firefall, mostly because I was either snowboarding or watching PowerPoint presentations.

flac  ·  218 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: January 16, 2019


Something sad happened this weekend..

In the grand scheme of things, this building doesn't mean that much - it hasn't been a functioning theater for a few decades, and was close to falling down on its own anyway. I grew up right next door to it, and played in the park outside it every day. I threw rocks at it in middle school, broke into it in high school, and helped try to fix it in college. I spent weekends painting walls that were falling in on themselves, cataloging moldy costumes, laminating old playbills.

My family has run a theater program the last 5 years on the grounds of the theater, and have been trying to get the place opened up again, at least so people can see inside of it. They've had some success - we did a play last summer on the balcony of the theater, and opened it up for tours for the local schools. They both work full time jobs and put all their spare time and money into this program. They've gone to every town meeting for 5 years to try and get any support they can, with very little luck.

They stayed up all night to watch the fire, because what else can you do?


I used to sneak out of my bed and sit on the roof with my brother when I was a kid so we could hear the shows they did on summer nights. We couldn't see anything through the trees, but we could hear the words, and my brothers tried to explain what was going on.

I was planning in getting married in the park. Just ordered invitations, too. Going to visit the wreckage this weekend and make some decisions.

Anyways, here's a song I wrote.

PS: the kicker is that at the last town meeting, people were talking about how now they could finally build condos there.

veen  ·  276 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Weekly Photo Challenge: Leading Lines

user-inactivated  ·  279 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Bill to protect Mueller blocked in Senate

    I'm sure the state is full of lovely people.

Sure, they live in Louisville and Lexington. And Bowling Green, maybe. This is a state that voted for Cheeto 62/33 and keeps McConnell employed.

    I've even stopped buying bourbon.

So have the Chinese and Europeans. And the fuckwits here still vote R at the end of the day.

This is a state that elected a Republican troll with a punch-able face who ran ads decrying the lack of patriotism of a real, honest to USA, war hero and badass. In the precinct I worked there were 460ish residences, 18 of those were registered Democrats. I worked with two other people in a place no other people went this cycle to knock on doors. My gal got 49/49 in that one area. But when the Dems won't fight for every vote (we still miss you, Howard Dean) you lose elections.

We can sit here and blame Fox news, coal miners, opiods etc but at some point we have to acknowledge that these people are adults and need to have consequences for their actions. Oh, you just voted someone who wants to gut government spending? LOL fuck your check. As a human being it would suck, but as an American, what I think needs to happen is 2-3 million people in this state need to lose their SSI and Medicare for a few months and suffer for their fuckup and pay the consequences of their voting. All of these rural Republicans, EVERY FUCKING ONE OF THEM, exists because the Blue districts generate all the tax money. California sends money to Kentucky, Louisville sends money to people who vote to fuck over the "Big City Liberals." And all these red areas do nothing but consume tax revenue. We have a group in the statehouse that are sarcastically called the 'Fuck Louisville" Caucus. If there is a away to screw over the cities, they will find it even if it means cutting their own funding. These are the same people who decry spending on welfare while they cash the same fucking checks, only we call them farm subsidies and rural economic development. I think I've gone on a rant here before, but the second biggest welfare queens in the USA are rural farmers, the first are energy companies. And boy, do we have both here. Add in Boomer entitlement and you have a shitty toxic mix of morons.

I'm too much of a bleeding heart to turn off my empathy completely, but I'm getting close. McConnell is not the target (even if he is a giant cunt), all he is at the end of the day is a symptom of the real issue. It's the 62% that keep voting for him that you need to whisper "no" towards. I kinda wish the NorthEast and the West Coast would tell middle America to go fuck itself, but we know that won't happen. The good news is that the median age in these regressive places is 65 and all these fuckers are fat and unhealthy and are dying off. The bad news is that they are not dying fast enough. The good news is that with the end of the Obama EPA rules, the process of killing them off is getting a shot in the arm. This and the push to get younger people into the voting booth and we can start to fix this shit. I just hope I can stay upright on top of the dirt long enough to watch it happen.

OftenBen  ·  287 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: November 7, 2018

Did my first 40 mile ride on the bike the other day. Was planning on going for 30 then passed it without noticing. Found myself at 37 miles and change and decided to push it, and made it.

Hopefully this is helping, not hurting.

oyster  ·  319 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: THESE TECH COMPANIES WILL NEED MORE WOMEN ON THEIR BOARDS

I decided to take a few days to get together my response for this because in my opinion, well, you're all wrong or looking at this from the wrong angle.

The reason they do this isn't to get more women on boards now for any immediate reason even if that's how they sell it to you. The reason they do this is to start shifting societal norms. Corporations do this. I'm on a committee at work and they asked us about changing a bonus system, some people disagreed since it wouldn't benefit them while some people agreed since it would benefit them. I found out just how much of a natural born corporate shill I am that day by chiming in that it didn't matter what anybody thought, it mattered that in a year or two when all the staff were different anyways this would be the new normal and how would it benefit us then ? What kind of staff would we be attracting and would this effect our ability to retain the best staff in the long term ?

So, current opinions aside, what does this do in a year or in five years ? When everybody's moved on to talking about something else ? Keep in mind that Trudeau's gender neutral cabinet is old news, I actually straight up forgot about it. What did it do though ? It changed who we saw in power and that's important because it gets us more comfortable with the idea. Let's look at nurses, generally elderly patient don't like male nurses because it's weird for them. They aren't used to it. So we provide incentive to going into the profession or hiring male staff. It achieves basically nothing in the short term beyond some numbers. In the long term though people growing up now see male nurses more commonly and aren't as weird about it. We now have a larger pool of people who are likely to pick the profession and considering our aging population and nursing shortage that's not such a bad thing. Representation is generally what people are trying to change with these things, encouraging a wider variety of people to aim high has benefits across the country. You want to lower teen pregnancy and thereby the number of people relying on the welfare system ? Want to lower the number of people who fall through the cracks ? You've got to give them something to aim for. They don't even have to become a CEO, all they have to do is not get knocked up or get hooked on drugs before they're able to take care of themselves. In this case representation matters.

I strongly recommend any book by Bruce Hood, one of my favourites is called The Self Illusion which argues the self as we know it is likely entirely built of our experiences in the world. One study cited looked at how gender plays a part in how we interact with babies. The same baby was dressed in either blue or pink and introduced as either Nathan or Sarah. When introduced to the same baby as a girl the adults talked about how beautiful she was and when introduced to the baby as a boy they commented on what career they might have. This study was done in 1986, the women who young girls now look up to were raised in this type of environment. So the question isn't do women simply prefer different professions, it's not even have we socially influenced women to prefer different professions ( we know we have ), it is can we use this to our benefit. Corporations don't care about you, and neither does the government. Corporations care about the health of said corporation and the government cares about the health of the place they are governing. Some succeed and some fail, this is how one is attempting to succeed in the long run.

user-inactivated  ·  415 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Ky. governor cancels Medicaid dental, vision benefits after losing work requirement ruling

    I don't know Kentucky politics. I know the governor and the legislature don't have to be in lock step.

Take all your previous posts about how fucked Rural America is. Throw in your hate of the coal country idiots. Add in a few fanatic religious sects. Then give all those people a coalition and the keys to the state government. The whole platform is fuck poor people and do everything you can to fuck over the two Blue-Voting Cities (The same two cities that are 2/3 the state economy).

Kentucky is everything wrong with what is going on at a national level, only with the crazy cranked up to RONPAUL2008 levels. Only the crazy here wins because everything is shit, everything is terrible and the only option left is to fuck it up for everyone else while you laugh as it all burns down.

veen  ·  438 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: All the lighthouses [US and CAN]x 2

You can't just post an interesting point dataset mapped in a less cool way than I hoped and expect me to not give it a shot myself:

Full size. I assumed 15 mile visibility. ButterflyEffect.

mk  ·  443 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: TANK

video  ·  #animation  ·  #art
flac  ·  456 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: May 23, 2018x 7