ModernityBlog

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Posts Tagged ‘Blogging

Thanks And Good Bye.

with 37 comments

For many complex reasons, which I won’t go into, this blog is closing.

It has been around years and I have learnt so much in the process.

I would like to thank my many fine readers, engaging posters and even the nauseating trolls.

I might in the future, time permitting, be found commenting on any one of these delightful blogs:

Engage
Greens Engage
Weggis
Adam Holland
Airforce Amazons
Jhate
Jack of Kent
Martin In The Margins
Max Dunbar
Obliged to Offend
Rosie Bell
The Poor Mouth

I would also recommend popping along to read The CST blog, Norm’s, Srebrenica Genocide Blog and Greater Surbiton.

Not forgetting Searchlight and the HOPE not hate blog.

Hasta pronto!

Written by modernityblog

17/08/2011 at 00:21

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Wiki, Losing Contributors

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Saw this and thought it worth a read:

“Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that is written entirely by volunteers and allows anyone to edit its entries, is losing contributors, its founder complained Thursday.

Speaking with The Associated Press on the sidelines of the website’s annual conference, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales said the nonprofit company that runs the site is scrambling to simplify editing procedures in an attempt to retain volunteers.

“We are not replenishing our ranks,” said Wales. “It is not a crisis, but I consider it to be important.”

Administrators of the Internet’s fifth most visited website are working to simplify the way users can contribute and edit material. “A lot of it is convoluted,” Wales said. “A lot of editorial guidelines … are impenetrable to new users.”

Wikipedia has more than 3 million entries but has been marred by subjective entries and pranks. Even so, Wikipedia cites studies that compare the website’s accuracy favorably to more conventional encyclopedias, while other studies give it lower marks.

Despite Wikipedia’s wide-reaching popularity, Wales said the typical profile of a contributor is “a 26-year-old geeky male” who moves on to other ventures, gets married and leaves the website. Other contributors leave because, 10 years after the website was launched, there are fewer new entries to add, he said. “

The comments at Slashdot are probably nearer the truth.

Written by modernityblog

06/08/2011 at 00:51

Blogs in June 2011.

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I thought I should see what others are doing:

Flesh is Grass has an important post on how the EDL managed to march, unescorted, from Redbridge to Dagenham.

Yaacov Lozowick has given up blogging. Pity, I didn’t agree with him, much, but he has a thoughtful way and articulates many intelligent ideas.

Johnny Guitar thinks about the Troubles, the Good Friday Agreement and the need for a South Africa-style truth commission, just not at the moment.

Weggis on the case against biofuels. Completely agree, it seems so questionable to use food stuff or related material as fuel for the internal combustion engine.

Harry Barnes on Sorting Out The Labour Party, which I think is very optimistic. In the short term they could ditch Ed Miliband, try to be a bit radical, really, seriously distance themselves from the skeleton of New Labour. Chance would be a fine thing.

In related news, I am not surprised that Ed Miliband is less popular than Iain Duncan Smith or William Hague, when they were in a similar position. Frankly, Miliband’s inarticulate, has the charisma of a saucer and he’s politically useless.

Jams looks at an evil cat, great photos.

Mark Gardner at the CST has a reflective post on the situation at UCU and its wider implications, From UCU to MEMO and “Israel’s British hirelings”.

Ten minutes hate on the ‘miracle villages’.

Chris Dillow considers Miliband’s power blindness.

Nick Lowles provides a photo and details of the EDL thugs racial attack in Dagenham.

Sorrel Moseley-Williams ponders Journalists’ Day in Argentina.

Not a blog, but worthwhile all the same. Searchlight on the BNP’s use of Facebook and Twitter.

Rosie looks at Fact and Fiction.

James Bloodworth has a couple of cracking posts, Will the Defence Secretary’s links with Sri Lanka compromise British calls for an enquiry? and Isn’t it time for an apology, Mr Chomsky?

Rebecca provides an update on the Gaza flotilla. Personally, I think the Israeli Government should allow them into Gaza with minimum fuss or hassle. I think Gazans should get as much as they can, after all living under Hamas must be terrible.

Jack of Kent looks at the arrest of blogger Jacqui Thompson and the many unanswered questions.

Greens Engage on Cynthia and Jello.

At Greater Surbiton, a guest post by David Pettigrew, Justice in Bosnia after Mladic.

Eric Reeves has a piece in the Washington Post, In Sudan, genocide anew?

Engage has an abundance of posts which should be read, just a small selection: Open antisemitism doesn’t harm your reputation, Sally Hunt pretends not to understand the term “institutional racism” and Richard Kuper on the Working Definition of Anti-Semitism (by Eve Garrard)

Enjoy!

Whisky, West Dunbartonshire Council And Fakes.

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In response to the symbolic boycott of Israeli products by West Dunbartonshire Council some people are organising a boycott of Scotch whisky.

It all seems to me a bit petty, given that West Dunbartonshire Council doesn’t actually import any Israeli products. Certainly, they use technology which is derived from Israeli know-how, that includes but isn’t limited to Intel chips, Microsoft XP software and Kinect.

However, the Council and the posturing Councillors are hardly going to inconvenience themselves by really boycotting Israeli technology, lest it proves too troubling, like giving up using Google (their key search algorithm was developed by an Israeli).

As for the retaliatory boycott, well I am not sure it makes the required point, but Drink Business Review explains:

“FJMC Executive Director Rabbi Simon’s boycott urge followed after Israeli-Anglo blogger and pro-settlement activist, Jameel Rashid publicized on his website a letter to several distilleries located within West Dunbartonshire.

In his letter he stated, the global counter boycott of Scottish whiskey products, distilled in the West Durbanshire council region, is beginning, and requested officers to cease the purchase of any goods that made or grown in Israel.

The West Dunbartonshire Council, while it has not responded publically to calls endorsing a boycott of locally manufactured spirits, has defended the decision which sparked the protest.

The council’s boycott only relates to goods ‘made or grown’ in Israel. The vast majority of mainstream books by Israeli authors are published in the UK, and are therefore not affected by this boycott. “

The intense interest in this issue has revealed an exceedingly unsavoury side to the instigator of the boycott, Councillor Jim Bollan.

Bollan seems perfectly comfortable contextualising the decapitation of a three-month old baby, as the JC reports:

“”Violence breeds violence. Have you any idea what may have motivated this man [Awad] to commit this crime? Could it have been because he may have seen Palestinian children slaughtered by the IDF?”

Udi and Ruth Fogel and three of their children were murdered in the West Bank settlement in March. The youngest victim, three month old Hadas, was decapitated.

Responding to another pro-Israel activist, Mr Bollan declared: “Hamas was elected and are freedom fighters alongside the Palestinians fighting an illegal occupation of Palestine by Israel.”

Mickey Green of Scottish Friends of Israel said: “I’m not surprised he has sunk to this level. This is a man with pre-conceived ideas and a mental block to reason. He is functioning at a nasty, visceral level.

Judy reports that the fake Gay Girl in Damascus had form, as, er a “anti-Zionist” or something like that.

Marko at Greater Surbiton points out the Guardian’s complicity in this issue, The Guardian’s disgraceful treatment of Jelena Lecic.

Over at Though Cowards Flinch, Carl has a superb post on Chavez, anti-Zionism, and antisemitism. It is noticeable how the thread is almost monopolised by a particular “anti-Zionist”, who is keen to quibble and nitpick on these issues, but he can’t see any anti-racism. Well, not when it is aimed at Jews, that is.

Finally, Tim Marshall has a provocative post, The ‘Arab Spring’ And The Conspiracy Of Silence:

“Across the Middle East from the Arab leaders you can hear the sound…… of silence. A similar sound emanates from many Muslim ‘activists’.

Take the most glaring example – Bahrain. The allegation, backed by human rights groups, is that the Sunni ruled state opened fire with live rounds on peaceful protesters from the majority Shia population, killed large numbers of people, then followed up with a wave of arrests which resulted in widespread torture.

The response from Arab leaders? In the Gulf, the 6 nation Gulf Cooperation Council quickly sent troops to assist in the repression whilst most Western nations, aware of the US military fleet based in Bahrain did little to upset the old order. Elsewhere, the Jordanians, Egyptians, Syrians, Algerians et al – just kept quiet.

During the Egyptian upheaval the House Of Saud was quietly horrified at how quickly the Americans let the Generals get their way and remove Mubarak. In private they let Washington know their displeasure, but to have complained openly would have been to do what you don’t do in the Arab political world in public (and to a lesser extent in our own systems) which is to tell the truth.

Update 1: This is a thoughtful perspective on Tom MacMaster, the fake blogger, Understanding #amina.

The Cost Of Orientalism: Non-existent Syrian Blogger.

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Why someone would want to impersonate a gay blogger in Damascus I can’t fully understand, but my bet is that Western Orientalism is to blame. The condescending notion that people in the Middle East are not the same as everyone else and not as deserving of the same respect, can often be found at the heart of how many Westerners treat the region, even if it is just at an subconscious level.

The Guardian reveals that the gay girl in Damascus was apparently a married bloke in Scotland:

“The mysterious identity of a young Arab lesbian blogger who was apparently kidnapped last week in Syria has been revealed conclusively to be a hoax. The blogs were written by not by a gay girl in Damascus, but a middle-aged American man based in Scotland.

Tom MacMaster, a 40-year-old Middle East activist studying for a masters at Edinburgh University, posted an update declaring that, rather than a 35-year-old feminist and lesbian called Amina Abdallah Araf al Omari, he was “the sole author of all posts on this blog”.

“I never expected this level of attention,” he wrote in a posting allegedly emanating from “Istanbul, Turkey”.

“The events [in the Middle East] are being shaped by the people living them on a daily basis. I have only tried to illuminate them for a western audience.”

The admission – confirmed in an email to the Guardian from MacMaster’s wife – apparently ends a mystery that has convulsed parts of the internet for almost a week. But it provoked a furious response from those who had supported the blogger’s campaign, with some in the Syrian gay community saying he had risked their safety and seriously harmed their cause.

The blog “A Gay Girl in Damascus”, was launched in February, purportedly to explain “what it’s like to be a lesbian here”, and gathered a growing following as Syria’s popular uprising gained momentum in recent months. Amina described participating in street protests, carrying out furtive lesbian romances and eventually being forced into hiding after security forces came to her home to arrest her.

Then, on 6 June, a post appeared in the name of Amina’s cousin “Rania O Ismail”, who said the blogger had been snatched by armed men on a Damascus street. The news sparked internet campaigns to release her, until activists in Syria and beyond began voicing doubts.

It emerged that no one, even a woman in Canada who believed she was having a relationship with Amina, had ever spoken to her, and other key details could not be corroborated.

In recent days an army of bloggers, journalists and others uncovered snippets of evidence that pointed increasingly to MacMaster and his wife, Britta Froelicher, who is studying at the University of St Andrews for a PhD in Syrian economic development.

IP addresses of emails sent by Amina to the lesbian blog LezGetReal.com and others were traced to servers at Edinburgh University. A now-defunct Yahoo discussion group supposedly jointly run by “Amina Arraf” was listed under an address in Stone Mountain, Georgia, that public records show is a home owned by MacMaster and Froelicher.

Many private emails sent by the blog’s author contained photographs identical to pictures taken by Froelicher and posted on her page on the Picasa photo-sharing website. Included on the site are many images from a trip to Syria in 2008. The pictures had been removed from public view last night. “

I agree with this:

“Sami Hamwi, the pseudonym for the Damascus editor of GayMiddleEast.com, wrote: “To Mr MacMaster, I say shame on you!!! There are bloggers in Syria who are trying as hard as they can to report news and stories from the country. We have to deal with too many difficulties than you can imagine. What you have done has harmed many, put us all in danger, and made us worry about our LGBT activism. Add to that, that it might have caused doubts about the authenticity of our blogs, stories, and us.

“Your apology is not accepted, since I have myself started to investigate Amina’s arrest. I could have put myself in a grave danger inquiring about a fictitious figure. Really … Shame on you!!!”

“What a waste of time when we are trying so hard to get news out of Syria,” another Damascus activist told the Guardian.”

Written by modernityblog

13/06/2011 at 01:27

Peter Kosminsky’s The Promise And Wikipedia’s Censorship.

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I don’t think I did Zkharya’s post on Engage sufficient justice, after reviewing the links it is fairly clear that Wikipedia editors show bias. It takes forever to wade through the talk sessions and contributions, but that’s the way it looks to me.

Not only bias, Peter Kosminsky sucks up to one of them, James Heald, with almost glee:

“The Promise

Hi James

Just wanted to thank you, (though I know this isn’t why you do it), for the really stunning job you have done on the “Development” and “Character” sections of this page. Beautifully written, very accurate and wonderfully well referenced, (if you don’t mind me saying so). Thank you for all the hard work. Really impressive.

I have some French national press cuttings, if that would be helpful.

Best wishes

Peter Kosminsky (talk) 23:10, 25 March 2011 (UTC)”

The other Wikipedia editor, Nick Cooper, seems to be using internal rules or his interpretation of them to remove contributions that he doesn’t like.

But these Wikipedia editors are, in themselves, inconsequential. Their particular biases and desire to muffle criticism of The Promise won’t be successful.

Below are links to Professor David Cesarani’s article and Howard Jacobson chat with Jonathan Freedland on this awful TV series.

An extract from The Promise: an exercise in British self-exculpation by Professor Cesarani:

“The series hinges on the story of a sergeant in the 6th Airborne Division, a veteran of Arnhem who saw the liberation of Belsen concentration camp, who arrives in Palestine in September 1945 with his unit. In the first episode a British intelligence officer explains to the new troops that Jews are flooding into Palestine in fulfilment of “a promise made by God”. This influx is troubling the Arabs who have lived in Palestine “since time immemorial”. The job of the British, he announces, is to keep the two sides apart. The paratroopers are like the “meat in a sandwich”.

But, hold on a minute. It was the British who promised Palestine to the Jews as a Jewish national home in 1917 and the British who flooded Palestine with troops to protect a vital piece of imperial real estate in 1945. Zionist aspirations, which the British had fostered, and Palestinian Arab opposition to them, were a problem only in so far as they complicated British planning for the cold war.

As the series unfolds, we see British soldiers torn between compassion for the Jews and sympathy for the Palestinian Arabs. Eventually, the Jews alienate them thanks to their relentless terrorist campaign. Kosminsky depicts the blowing up of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem and the hanging of two British sergeants by the underground army of the rightwing Zionists. In one scene he shows three off-duty tommies bleeding to death after an ambush, while Jews in surrounding cafes callously sip tea and eat cream cakes.

The sergeant, through whose eyes we see the debacle unfold, also witnesses the massacre of Palestinian Arabs at the village of Deir Yassin in April 1948. By this time his allegiances are with the Arab population. On the eve of the British evacuation from Haifa he pleads with his superiors to use the army’s firepower to prevent the Jewish forces from overwhelming and driving out the Arab inhabitants. He protests that Britain can’t just walk away after “we’ve been here for 30 years keeping them apart”.

This is the central conceit, and deceit, of Kosminsky’s epic. The British were in Palestine for their own interests and when it no longer suited them they left. To conceal this fact he has to perpetrate a massive historical distortion. Although The Promise is insufferably didactic, no one mentions the Balfour declaration. Yet it was the British foreign secretary, AJ Balfour, who informed the English Zionist Federation in November 1917 that “His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object”. This was the only promise that mattered because it had the force of international law. It was subsequently incorporated into the mandate that the League of Nations gave Britain to authorise its possession of Palestine. In 1922 parliament voted to accept the mandate and all that went with it. “

The MP3 of Howard Jacobson in conversation with Jonathan Freedland at Jewish Book Week 2011.

Zkharya highlights the key bits:

“In a filmed conversation with Howard Jacobson during Jewish Book Week 2011 (see link), Jonathan Freedland, Guardian editor, journalist, author and BBC presenter, first of all says Kominsky panders to antisemitic tropes, such as that of wealthy Jews (00.52.50-58). He then brackets The Promise with works such as Caryl Churchill’s Seven Jewish Children, which he and Jacobson consider antisemitic (00.55.58-00.56.00). In an extended discussion with Howard Jacobson (01.13.28-01.14.18), Freedland makes three fundamental criticisms of The Promise:

Jacobson: ..how many you would think educated journalists still talk about Israel as though it’s a consequence of the Holocaust. Which was The Promise, wasn’t it?”

Freedland: The premise of The Promise, so to speak (it lost me first of all at the girl on Business Class), but also these very long, lingering pictures, archive footage from Belsen, I felt three things about that.

One, you don’t have the right to use those pictures, you haven’t earned the right to use those pictures artistically.

Second, I just know looking at that that you’re making a down payment on what you want to say attacking Jews later on in this series. And you’re doing that as your insurance policy, to say, well, look, I was sympathetic on that.

Third, and it was actually explicitly said by a character, a brigadier, briefing the British troops in Palestine -you knew they were saying this was the premise of all Zionism-, the Arabs were here minding their own business for 2000 years, and suddenly, after the Holocaust, Jews arrive…

Jacobson: We drop in out of the clear blue sky, bang, we’ll have that! “

[My emphasis.]

The video on vimeo, Howard Jacobson in conversation with Jonathan Freedland by Danny Bermant.

An extract from Howard Jacobson: Ludicrous, brainwashed prejudice:

“Myself, I wouldn’t bet heavily on there being good times ahead for Jews. Anti-Zionists can assure me all they like that their position entails no harm to Jews – only witness how many Jews are themselves anti-Zionist, they say – I no longer believe them. Individually, it is of course possible to care little for Israel and to care a great deal for Jews. But in the movement of events individuals lose their voice. What carries the day is consensus, and consensus is of necessity unsubtle. By brute consensus, now, Israel is the proof that Jews did not adequately learn the lesson of the Holocaust.

Forget Holocaust denial. Holocaust denial is old hat. The new strategy – it showed its hand in Caryl Churchill’s Seven Jewish Children, and surfaced again in Channel 4’s recent series The Promise – is to depict the Holocaust in all its horror in order that Jews can be charged (“You, of all people”) with failing to live up to it. By this logic the Holocaust becomes an educational experience from which Jews were ethically obliged to graduate summa cum laude, Israel being the proof that they didn’t. “Jews know more than anyone that killing civilians is wrong,” resounds an unmistakably authorial voice in The Promise. Thus are Jews doubly damned: to the Holocaust itself and to the moral wasteland of having found no humanising redemption in its horrors.

It matters not a jot to me that the writer/director of The Promise is a Jew. Jews succumbing to the age-old view of them and reviling what’s Jewish in themselves has a long history. Peter Kosminsky would have it that his series is about Israel, not Jews, but in The Promise Israel becomes paradigmatic of the Jews’ refusal to be improved by affliction.”

So remember when you read The Promise’s entry on Wikipedia that you are only getting part of the story and the criticism of this flawed TV series has been deliberately blunted by Wikipedia’s editors.

Censorship Or Stupidity, Wikipedia And The Promise.

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Zkharya has a post on Engage concerning Wikipedia and the TV series, The Promise.

Anyone familiar with Zkharya will know he is a serious fellow, highly educated and exceedingly well read on these topics.

The gist of the post at Engage is that he tried to improve the quality of an article on The Promise and his helpful additions were removed.

Further, he was warned that he was committing vandalism.

You can read the history of the entry’s here and the talk.

Now anyone familiar with Wikipedia and the exodus of contributors will recognise Zkharya’s criticisms. These have been going on for years, that basically a small coterie of Wikipedia editors patrol and enforce their own diktats on articles.

Should someone find a particularly egregious entry and correct it then their work may be disposed of, unless it pleases those Wikipedia honchos, who don’t like admitting they’re wrong or that they don’t know something terribly well.

I think Zkharya and other Wikipedia contributors need to remember Lord Acton’s quote, updated for the 21st century:

“Power corrupts, absolute virtual power corrupts absolutely, particularly on the Internet.”

Readers might remember how previously Bob had similar issues with Wikipedia on its CounterPunch entry.

Written by modernityblog

04/05/2011 at 17:10

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