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A medley of sorts.

Dashed with the poetic ramblings of Benjamin Michael.

Take a leap
embrace Sister Gravity
for all her stress
forms you so

10:28 am
September 1 2014
Post tags: Benjamin Dunham poetic rambling poem gravity twc

12:16 am     383 notes
August 31 2014


This Week in War. A Friday round-up of what happened and what’s been written in the world of war and military/security affairs this week. It’s a mix of news reports, policy briefs, blog posts and longform journalism.
Representatives for two rebel groups in Mali agreed to end hostilities and join together for peace talks with the government next month.
Riek Machar’s rebel group in South Sudan have rejected a power-sharing deal.
Vice reports on weapons moving into South Sudan.
17 were killed in in-fighting among factions of the Seleka rebel group in the Central African Republic.
Abdullah al-Thinni has resigned as Libya’s prime minister in an attempt to end a power struggle. 
Egypt and the UAE have secretly carried out airstrikes in Libya.
An indefinite ceasefire was brokered between Israel and Gaza.
Scenes from on the ground in Gaza and Israel — captured by photographers Paolo Pellegrin and Peter van Agtmael.
The UN says that 3 million people have fled Syria in the current conflict, and another 6.5 million have been internally displaced.
American journalist Peter Theo Curtis, who has published under the name Theo Padnos, was released from captivity in Syria this week. He was held by the Nusra Front.
His release was secured with the help of Qatar, who are continuing to try to negotiate the release of other Western hostages — one of whom is now known to be an American aid worker held by ISIS.
Steve Coll on the kidnapping of journalists.
ISIS captives, including James Foley, were waterboarded.
Evan Hill remembers his correspondence with Foley.
The mother of captive journalist Steven Sotloff has released a video plea to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi for her son’s freedom.
Ben Hubbard and Eric Schmitt report on ISIS’s management and organizational structure.
One piece of reporting indicates that there is support among non-extremist rebels in Syria for US action against ISIS, saying that ISIS has “ravaged” Syria and hijacked their revolution.
Public beheadings have become a “common spectacle" in Syria, according to the UN.
Two journalists acquired an ISIS laptop — full of “how-tos” for weaponizing the bubonic plague, among other things.
A 33-year-old US citizen — Douglas McCain — was killed fighting for ISIS in Syria. US intelligence has reportedly identified almost a dozen Americans who have similarly traveled abroad to join ISIS.
43 UN peacekeepers are being held by an armed group in Syrian Golan Heights.
Mapping ISIS’ development and expansion in Syria and Iraq.
In Iraq, ISIS is accused of ethnic cleansing in a prison massacre in Mosul where 670 Shia prisoners were reportedly killed.
US airstrikes in Iraq, day by day.
Armed Yemeni rebels staged sit ins this week outside the capital city, Sanaa, protesting the government.
An ongoing, bloody Taliban offensive in southern Afghanistan has killed as many as 900 in some of the “worst fighting” in years.
Afghanistan’s disputed presidential election is costing the country ‘s economy $5bn. 
PM Sharif has been named by Pakistani police as a murder suspect in the deaths of 14 protesters near Lahore in June.
Thousands of Pakistani demonstrators, lead by Tahir ul-Qadri and Imran Khan, have camped out in front of parliament in Islamabad since mid-August demanding Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif step down. Pakistan’s army chief has now been named mediator in the crisis.
Russia has opened up a new offensive in Ukraine and NATO has accused Russia of “blatant violation" of Ukrainian sovereignty.
Ukrainian soldiers coming out of Novoazovsk say they were “cannon fodder" for Russian tanks.
Ukraine’s prime minister announced the country’s renewed intentions to join NATO.
In photos: what remains of Donetsk.
The debate over Russia’s invasion/incursion plays out, of course, on Twitter.
Obama announced executive actions to benefit veterans, soldiers and military families.
The prosecution rests in the Blackwater trial.
Photo: Donetsk, Ukraine. A damaged and bloody kitchen in downtown Donetsk. Sergei Ilnitsky/EPA.


This Week in War. A Friday round-up of what happened and what’s been written in the world of war and military/security affairs this week. It’s a mix of news reports, policy briefs, blog posts and longform journalism.

Photo: Donetsk, Ukraine. A damaged and bloody kitchen in downtown Donetsk. Sergei Ilnitsky/EPA.

10:28 am      428 notes
August 29 2014


Smoke trails tear gas canisters fired into the air after protests in reaction to the shooting of Michael Brown turned violent near Ferguson, Missouri on August 17, 2014. © 2014 Human Rights Watch


Smoke trails tear gas canisters fired into the air after protests in reaction to the shooting of Michael Brown turned violent near Ferguson, Missouri on August 17, 2014. © 2014 Human Rights Watch

11:18 pm      911 notes
August 18 2014


Seo Young Deok

Seo Young Deok’s work aims to reflect the disease-like contamination we experience caused by materials in our society, he hopes to reveal the amount of suffering it places on the modern-day human. To express this, he utilized metal chains to create the modern man. Chains were made by our civilization and created through mass production, yet it is also just one accessory, one part in a massive piece of machinery. He considered each part of the chain a human cell and used the chains to create a human figure. Thus, this being’s form has been created in contamination by materials in our current world.

3:40 pm     12 notes
August 17 2014


There were several important records released in 1959, but no event or recording matches the importance of the release of the new Miles Davis album Kind of Blue on 17 August 1959. There were people waiting in line at record stores to buy it on the day it appeared. It sold very well from its first day, and it has sold increasingly well ever since. It is the best-selling jazz album in the Columbia Records catalogue, and at the end of the twentieth century it was voted one of the ten best albums ever produced.

Jeremy Yudkin writes about the classic album over on the OUPblog. Above, you find his bibliography and a great selection of books about the great American jazz musician. 

  • Chambers, Jack. Milestones: The Music and Times of Miles Davis.  Reprint: 2 vols. in one. New York: Da Capo, 1998.
  • Davis, Miles with Quincy Troupe. Miles: The Autobiography. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1989.
  • Gridley, Mark. Jazz Styles: History and Analysis. 7th edition. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2000.
  • Szwed, John. So What: The Life of Miles Davis.  New York: Simon and Schuster, 2002.
  • Yudkin, Jeremy. Miles Davis, Miles Smiles, and the Birth of Postbop. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2007.

8:34 am     240 notes
August 17 2014

Alas! everything is an abyss — action, desire, dreams,

— Charles Baudelaire, from “The Abyss”, trans. Wallace Fowlie (via litverve)

1:53 am     345 notes
August 17 2014


“We demand that sex speak the truth… and we demand that it tell us our truth, or rather, the deeply buried truth of that truth about ourselves which we think we possess in our immediate consciousness.”
― Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality

3:20 am     143 notes
August 16 2014


Al Jazeera America TV crews were overcome with tear gas fired at their vehicle in Ferguson, Missouri, Wednesday night. Minutes later, police took down the crew’s light kit, and pointed their camera at the ground.


Al Jazeera America TV crews were overcome with tear gas fired at their vehicle in Ferguson, Missouri, Wednesday night. Minutes later, police took down the crew’s light kit, and pointed their camera at the ground.

5:34 pm      3,597 notes
August 14 2014

In Defense of the Ferguson Riots

The protesters in Ferguson aren’t irrational or apolitical. They are calling attention to their basic, unmet needs.

Over the weekend, police in Ferguson, Missouri murdered Michael Brown, a black teenager. While details are still trickling in, it’s clear that during a confrontation with a squad car a block away from his grandmother’s house, an officer shot and killed the unarmed teen in the middle of the street. Witnesses say Brown was running away from the policeman and had his hands in the air just before the officer shot him.

Ferguson is a city with a large concentration of poor blacks under the control of overwhelmingly white institutions. The killing immediately struck a nerve. Rallies and protests erupted as people took to the streets — eventually culminating in a riot. Crowds went from holding candle light vigils at the site of Brown’s death to burning down a number of businesses and lighting molotov cocktails during confrontations with police. How did we get here?

Far from a mindless, violent mob, the people of Ferguson were engaged in concerted political consciousness-raising leading up to the insurrection. A video taken at the scene shows a number of political
agitators talking with the crowd, converting momentary outrage into political unity. One speaker in particular, a young black male, offers a cogent political analysis that frames the injustice of police brutality as a byproduct of the community’s economic dislocation.

We keep giving these crackers our money, staying in they complexes, and we can’t get no justice. No respect. They ready to put you out [if you] miss a bill … You got to be fed up.

Riots, like other forms of political action, can build solidarity. They can create strong feelings of common identity. The outrage in Ferguson quickly attracted marginalized people throughout the region. Rather than evidence of illegitimacy, the presence of these “outsiders” reflected the magnetic power of the political moment.

From the outset, the anti-police police rallies that preceded the riots had a clear “us versus them” dynamic. At one point during the rally, the woman holding the camera says, “Where the thugs at? Where the street tribes when we need y’all?” and the crowd then begins to call on various street gangs to abandon “black-on-black” violence and unite in struggle against oppression. The community was unified and ready to take action. The police were the problem, and they had to be stopped.

The crowd was not irrational and apolitical. They were attempting to use this opportunity to address their broader political needs. They knew that intraracial violence within the community was also an issue, and that in most cases the perpetrators of violence are the communities’ own children, cousins, friends, and neighbors. Though many claim that black people don’t care about violence within our communities, the crowd’s calls for gang unity demonstrate that anti-police uprisings provide unique opportunities to unite people in ways that seek to resolve long-term issues like gang violence.

Following the insurrection, participants continued to discuss the uprising in political terms. DeAndre Smith, who was present at the burned down QuikTrip, told the local news, “I believe that they’re too much worried about what’s going on to their stores and their commerce and everything. They’re not worried about the murder.” A second man added, “I just think what happened was necessary, to show the police that they don’t run everything.” Smith then concludes, “I don’t think they did enough.”

In a second interview, this time with Kim Bell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Smith expanded on his belief in the riot as a viable political strategy.

This is exactly what’s supposed to happen when an injustice is happening in your community … I was out here with the community, that’s all I can say … I don’t think it’s over, honestly. I think they just got a case of what fighting back means, in St. Louis, the last state to abolish slavery. Do they think they still have power over certain things? I believe so.

This is how they receive money: businesses and taxes, police stopping people and giving them tickets, taking them to court, locking them up — this is how they make money in St. Louis. Everything is all about money in St. Louis. So when you stop their flow of income they have things organized in a certain way … ‘we’re gonna eat, you’re gonna starve,’ gentrification — put you in a certain neighborhood by yourself and see if you can starve … It’s not going to happen, not in St. Louis.

Smith identifies what so many self-styled anti-racists and leftists fail to understand — that racism is not an issue of moral character. He recognizes that the broader economic order facilitates and benefits from racial subjugation, and so he’s looking for ways to intervene and disrupt that process. Not only is this a more substantive analysis than what is often offered on the Left, but acting on this analysis is the only way to eradicate entrenched racial hierarchy.

Typically, when events like the Ferguson rebellion occur, well-meaning people rush to condemn the participants. At a minimum, they dismiss rioting as unproductive and opportunistic — a few bad apples spoiling the bunch. This is precisely the attitude that Deandre Smith was criticizing in his first interview. Most detractors, some of whom are black themselves, seek to police these communities with “respectability politics” — a call for subjugated people to present themselves in ways that are acceptable to the dominant class in an effort to make political gains.

As the political scientist Frederick Harris wrote in an article this year:

What started as a philosophy promulgated by black elites to ‘uplift the race’ by correcting the ‘bad’ traits of the black poor has now evolved into one of the hallmarks of black politics in the age of Obama, a governing philosophy that centers on managing the behavior of black people left behind in a society touted as being full of opportunity.

But the politics of respectability has been portrayed as an emancipatory strategy to the neglect of discussions about structural forces that hinder the mobility of the black poor and working class.

Whereas riots are often galvanizing community events with the potential to unleash concerted political energy in dynamic and unpredictable directions, the stale politics of respectability only leads to further marginalization and dislocation. Now, it’s possible to disagree with the utility of insurrection. But these communities’ responses to subjugation must be discussed in political terms and not simply dismissed out of hand.

We live in a context of white supremacy and neoliberal capitalism, where race-neutral policies are being used to maintain class exploitation and racial hierarchy, and any overt attempts to address racism are being dismantled or disregarded. These policies only intensify the economic dislocation and poverty experienced by those at the margins.

What both the local news interviewees and the crowd at the scene of Brown’s death seemed to understand was that they needed to disrupt the interplay between racial subjugation and capitalism. They felt that a march or some other acceptable form of benign indignation would not address their political needs — and they weren’t wrong.

Many of us rush to condemn these types of disruptions because we’re actually content with neoliberalism’s post-racial illusion. At the burned down QuikTrip, someone left a sign addressed to their “corporate neighbor,” in the hopes that the business would return: “Dear Corporate Neighbor, I am sorry this act of robbery & violence has happened. Please return soon. I stop in 2-3 time[s] per week.”

On the surface, addressing the effects of rioting is an important political issue. By framing themselves as a customer in need of their “corporate neighbor,” it’s possible that this person is acting not out of concern for the working people that lost their jobs — their actual neighbors — but from the fear that their shopping routine will be disturbed. Like Deandre Smith observed, we identify more strongly with broken windows than broken people.

From the Boston Tea Party to Shays’ Rebellion, riots made America, for better or worse. In the past, white rioters have had access to institutional power, which allowed some of their grievances to be legitimized and politically resolved, at least to extent possible in a capitalist society. The key for the Ferguson uprising, as with any unsustainable political moment, is to transition outrage and disruption into constructive political organization. Easier said than done — but it’s a better reaction than dismissing the riots and only making it more difficult for the people to accomplish this herculean task.

Malcolm X reminds us that media is a key instrument of subjugation because it determines which acts are respectable and which are extreme and thus illegitimate. Instead of following that familiar script, let’s push back against narratives about rioters being devoid of politics. Let’s find ways to honestly observe and discuss their political needs, rather than simply criticizing the nature of their response to social violence.

(Source: sunrec)

5:34 pm     25 notes
August 14 2014

(Source: filmingifs)

12:47 pm      89 notes
August 14 2014

I haven’t read a book
in a couple days
the mind feels of rusted

4:08 pm     1 note
August 12 2014

Self-scrutiny and self-correction are necessary, even enjoyable, but possibly nevertheless paralyzing: it is like having a crick in your neck that prevents you from moving but still hurts when you are looking straight ahead, a failure-state that no amount of self-adjustment can quite fix, in part because you are still trying to fix the same self.

— Lindsay Turner on the poetics of failure (via bostonreview)

4:01 pm     30 notes
August 12 2014

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