dimarts, 31 de març de 2009
el dofí rosa del Amazones (fà uns dies va apareixer un dofí rosa, peró aquí son els habituals... aixó si , en vies d'extinció)
Criatura legendaria de la Jungla
Para los Indios Guarayos, en cambio, es conocido como Inia.
Existen un sinnúmero de leyendas y mitos rodeando al delfín Rosado Amazónico, porque la mitología Amazónica es tan amplia y variada como lo es su selva.
Consiguieron sobrevivir por siglos debido, sobre todo, a la creencia local que poseen poderes mágicos.
Esta superstición permitió a la especie ser intocable, sin embargo hoy se encuentran en vías de extinción.
Los nativos no los matan porque piensan que trae mucha mala suerte.
No los comen tampoco porque piensan eran humanos mucho tiempo atrás y pueden retornar a serlo cuando lo desean.
Para algunos, el Boto o bufeo colorado se transforma por las noches en un apuesto caballero que seduce e insemina a sus esposas e hijas antes de retornar al río y ser Boto nuevamente.
Para otros, son sinónimo del diablo o simplemente mala suerte.
Cuando sus hijos nacen con el mal de Espina Bífida - defecto de nacimiento que no permite el normal desarrollo de sus cráneos, que se asemeja al orificio de respiración de los delfines - entonces dicen que sus hijos son delfines.
Algunas tribus aborígenes piensan que el delfín gris es sagrado, criaturas semi-divinas o brujos, que deben ser respetados casi hasta la reverencia.
Verdad es que el delfín Rosado Amazónico (bufeo colorado o tonina) se encuentra actualmente en vías de extinción en la cuenca del Amazonas.
Polución que proviene de la agricultura, pesca y mineria, tanto como presas hidroeléctricas, son en parte responsables.
Redes de pescadores, particularmente redes Gill que vienen usadas en pesca comercial, son consideradas las más peligrosas para los delfines.
Hacen un agujero en sus redes para apropiarse de los peces, por tanto no son considerados amigos por los pescadores.
Quizás debiéramos enseñar el 8vo. Mandamiento a los delfines o invitar a los pescadores a continuar su negocio en otra parte.
Deforestación es otro peligro para ellos, al igual que a todos nosotros sobre el Planeta.
Veamos este documento producido por WWF para apreciar la magnitud de deforestación y destrucción de la selva Amazónica vista desde el Espacio.
dilluns, 30 de març de 2009
El primer nanosatélite peruano llegará al espacio
La Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería (UNI) lanzará en noviembre del 2010 el primer nanosatélite peruano al espacio, el cual mide solo 10 centímetros por lado y permitirá tomar fotografías de la tierra para diferentes estudios climáticos, forestales y arqueológicos.
Este pequeño satélite de forma cuadrada ha sido bautizado como “Chasqui I” y se viene fabricando con tecnología espacial aplicada en un aluminio capaz de resistir las extremas temperaturas del espacio, que van desde los 40 grados bajo cero y los 100 grados Celsius.
Al no existir en el Perú una plataforma de lanzamiento, este nanosatélite de un kilo de peso será puesto en órbita desde territorio extranjero, estando muy avanzadas las conversaciones con la Universidad de Kursk de Rusia, que pondría la infraestructura para concretar el ascenso.
PEQUEÑO GRAN APARATO
Se espera que el nanosatélite peruano sobreviva por lo menos dos meses en órbita, y una vez en el espacio será capaz de dar una vuelta completa a la tierra en solo una hora, explicó la directora del Centro de Tecnologías de Información y Comunicaciones de la UNI, Doris Rojas.
Detalló que, a diferencia de los grandes satélites artificiales que navegan por el espacio, cuyo costo oscila entre los 15 y 50 millones de dólares, este nanosatélite y todo el proyecto para su entrada en órbita demandará una inversión que no supera los 200 mil dólares americanos.
“La nanotecnología ingresa al mundo para demostrar que, con pocos recursos y mucha inteligencia, podemos desarrollar cambios en el planeta. Con estas inversiones podremos hacer estudios más específicos”, manifestó la ingeniera, en diálogo con la agencia Andina.
Este pequeño y sofisticado aparato, que funcionará con energía solar, contará en uno de sus lados con una potente cámara fotográfica que enviará las imágenes captadas hacia una estación terrestre de control satelital, que se instalará en el campus de la citada universidad.
Este proyecto es posible gracias al trabajo conjunto de especialistas de la UNI en diferentes especialidades como ingeniería mecatrónica, de sistemas, industrial, además de físicos, químicos, matemáticos, entre otros profesionales altamente calificados.
Asimismo se cuenta con el apoyo de diversos países extranjeros como Taiwán, donde se capacitará a los especialistas en la materia, mientras que Corea instalará los laboratorios específicos en la UNI, y Alemania entregará el material de construcción del nanosatélite.
Después de Colombia, el Perú será el segundo país de América Latina en fabricar y ejecutar el proyecto de los nanosatélites modelo “Cube Sat” (Cubo Satelital), de origen estadounidense.
“Es la primera experiencia de este tipo en el país. Tenemos 30 años de brecha digital con otras universidades del mundo, pero competimos con estudiantes, docentes e investigadores de las mejores universidades a nivel de ingeniería en materia de investigación”, destacó Rojas.
La especialista adelantó que la idea es darle continuidad al proyecto, es decir, a partir de esta experiencia se buscará que haya más lanzamientos de satélites, incluso desarrollando a futuro la fabricación de sofisticados cohetes que permitan su lanzamiento desde territorio peruano.
Este trabajo permitirá atender la gran demanda de información satelital en áreas como la minería, agricultura, telecomunicaciones y defensa nacional en el Perú.
divendres, 27 de març de 2009
Redemption for the Pope?
Merry Christmas from the Fresno Commodore 64 Users Group!
And you thought I was joking.
Reminds me of my old Fresno Apple II User Group days. Big rivalry, those two gangs.
To all my loyal Fresyes readers, Merry Chrismakkuh and a Happy New Transit Agreement.Provided we can get to the airport, we're heading to The Cold Blooded City that They Call The 'No on Friday. Save us some of those kick-ass mountain views.
Meanwhile, speaking of the NY transit strike, check out the very newest in "new journalism." The New York Times breaks out this really cool Google Map "charticle" chronicling readers' commute stories.
Clash of Subways and Car Culture in Chinese Cities
Timothy O’Rourke for The New York Times
Digging for the subway expansion in Guangzhou, China, proceeds around the clock, every day.
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By KEITH BRADSHER
Published: March 26, 2009
GUANGZHOU, China — Chan Shao Zhang is in the race of his life.
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Timothy O’Rourke for The New York Times
Workers endure sweltering temperatures in five 12-hour shifts a week.
After four decades of false starts, Mr. Chan, a 67-year-old engineer, is supervising an army of workers operating 60 gargantuan tunneling machines beneath this metropolis in southeastern China. They are building one of the world’s largest and most advanced subway systems.
The question is whether the burrowing machines can outrace China’s growing love affair with the automobile — car sales have soared ninefold since 2000. Or are a hundred Los Angeleses destined to bloom?
And even as Mr. Chan labors to bind Guangzhou together with an underground web of steel, the city is spreading out rapidly above ground, like a drop of ink on a paper towel.
The Guangzhou Metro is just part of a much broader surge in mass transit construction across China.
At least 15 cities are building subway lines and a dozen more are planning them. The pace of construction will only accelerate now that Beijing is pushing local and provincial governments to step up their infrastructure spending to offset lost revenue from slumping exports.
“Nobody is building like they are,” said Shomik Mehndiratta, a World Bank specialist in urban transport. “The center of construction is really China.”
Western mass transit experts applaud China for investing billions in systems that will put less stress on the environment and on cities. But they warn that other Chinese policies, like allowing real estate developers to build sprawling new suburbs, undermine the benefits of the mass transit boom.
“They wind up better than if they did nothing, but it costs them a fortune,” said Lee Schipper, a specialist at Stanford in urban transport.
Mr. Chan defended Guangzhou’s combination of cars and subways, saying that the city built a subway line to a new Toyota assembly plant to help employees and suppliers reach it.
Subways have been most competitive in cities like New York that have high prices for parking, and tolls for bridges and tunnels, discouraging car use. Few Chinese cities have been willing to follow suit, other than Shanghai, which charges a fee of several thousand dollars for each license plate.
The cost and physical limitations of subways have discouraged most cities from building new ones. For instance, only Tokyo has a subway system that carries more people than its buses. The buses are cheaper and able to serve far more streets but move more slowly, pollute more and contribute to traffic congestion.
China has reason to worry. It surpassed the United States in total vehicle sales for the first time in January, although the United States remained slightly ahead in car sales. But in February, China overtook the United States in both, in part because the global downturn has hurt auto sales much more in the United States than in China.
Guangzhou, a city of 12 million people that is also the fastest-growing center of auto manufacturing in China, shows both the promise and obstacles of China’s subway extravaganza.
Mr. Chan helped set up Guangzhou’s subway planning office in 1965, when he was straight out of college. Digging started the next year. But the miners gave up after less than 10 feet when they hit granite.
After that, Mao personally sent China’s finest mining and underground construction experts to oversee the digging. But further excavation efforts failed in 1970, 1971, 1974 and 1979. During and immediately after the Cultural Revolution, Communist dogma, poverty and nationalism forced a reliance on inadequate Chinese equipment.
In 1989, when preparations began for successful excavations, city leaders thought it would be enough to have two subway lines, totaling 20 miles, in an X shape bisecting a tightly packed downtown.
“At that point, it was still mostly bicycles and people walking,” Mr. Chan said. Then, “in the 21st century, the Guangzhou economy really took off.”
Today, Guangzhou has 71 miles of subway lines, most of them opened in the last three years, and yet large areas of the ever-expanding city are still distant from the nearest subway stop.
The city plans to open an additional 83 miles by the end of next year — and an underground tram system and a high-speed commuter rail system. A long-term plan calls for at least 500 miles of subway and light rail routes, and there are discussions on expanding beyond that.
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dimecres, 25 de març de 2009
March 25, 2009 -- Updated 1616 GMT (0016 HKT)
Science standards challenging evolution debated in Texas
Texas Board of Education will vote this week on the curriculum amendments
Evolution skeptics say fossil record gaps cast doubt on the idea of common ancestry
Critics say the proposed curriculum questions ideas in the earth and space sciences
Large textbook market in Texas influences decisions of publishers nationwide
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(CNN) -- The Texas Board of Education this week will vote on science standards that critics say seek to cast doubt on the theory of evolution.
A woman stands in front of a mural depicting the development from ape to computer user.
The board -- considering amendments passed in January -- will hear from the public on Wednesday. It will then take votes -- an initial one Thursday and the final vote Friday.
"This specific attack on well-established science ignores mountains of evidence and years of research done by experts in a variety of fields," said Steven Newton, project director at the Oakland California-based National Center for Science Education, a proponent of evolution.
One amendment, critics say, undermines the idea that life on Earth derives from a common ancestry, a major principle in the theory of evolution. It calls for the analysis and evaluation of "the sufficiency or insufficiency" of the common ancestry idea to explain the fossil record.
Newton said the board is considering other amendments casting doubt on well-established ideas in the earth and space sciences -- plate tectonics, radioactive decay and how the solar system developed.
School board chairman Don McLeroy has wanted to tackle questions that highlight supposed weaknesses in the theory.
For example, skeptics of evolution point to what they contend are fossil record gaps casting doubt on the scientific evidence of common ancestry.
"I'm a skeptic. I'm an evolution skeptic. I don't think it's true," he said. "You need to present other ideas to the kids."
The issue reflects the strong feelings among representatives on the 15-member board, some of whom accept evolutionary theory and some of whom don't. The size of the textbook market in Texas gives it influence nationwide, as publishers adapt their material to its standards.
Darwin still making waves 200 years later
The board in January voted to remove language that called on science teachers to focus on the "strengths and weaknesses" in all scientific theories.
It was replaced by language urging students to use "empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental and observational testing" to "analyze and evaluate scientific explanations."
More amendments are expected to be brought up in the three-day hearing.
Charles Darwin's theory of evolution proposes that humans evolved over millions of years from animal species -- including, most famously, early primates that also are the ancestors of modern-day apes. Such thinking, which challenged religious accounts of a deity creating humans, was considered radical, even blasphemous, when Darwin published it in 1859.
Central to Darwin's thesis was his scientific explanation of life's diversity: that natural selection is enough to explain the evolution of all species.
The scientific community has overwhelmingly scorned creationism and its latest incarnation, intelligent design, as a pretext for biblical explanations of how the world came to be, and asserts that there is no weakness or doubt in the scientific community about evolution.
Last year, the National Academy of Sciences called for the public to be better informed about the importance of understanding and teaching evolution. The academy released a booklet titled "Science, Evolution, and Creationism" -- the third explanation of evolution put out since 1984 by one of the nation's leading scientific organizations.
However, those who take issue with evolution believe it should be treated with healthy skepticism.
The San Antonio Express-news quotes Casey Luskin, a policy analyst with the Discovery Institute, a group that questions the theory of evolution:
"This debate will impact whether students are taught to think critically and scientifically when you learn about evolution. It's important for students to learn how to think like scientists and not be forced to treat these controversial topics like a dogma," he is quoted as saying.
Proponents of evolution say the dogma is on the other side, with the Discovery Institute and others purposely distorting and ignoring scientific evidence to reach their desired conclusion.
For decades, the teaching of evolution in public schools has been flashpoint in some states, with proponents of ideas such as creationism and intelligent design trying to gain a place in science classes.
The issue has been before school officials, legislators and courts in Alabama, Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Virginia.
The controversy over the teaching of intelligent design came to a head in Pennsylvania, where the Dover School Board voted that ninth-grade students must be read a statement encouraging them to read about intelligent design. A federal judge said the board violated the Constitution in doing so because intelligent design is religious creationism in disguise and injecting it into the curriculum violates the constitutional separation of church and state.
"Academic freedom" bills have emerged but failed in various state legislatures, the National Center for Science Education said.
An "academic freedom" act has been adopted as law in Louisiana, and there is legislation in Florida calling for an "academic freedom" bill that would mandate a "thorough presentation and critical analysis of the scientific theory of evolution."
The center says such bills are strategies by creationists to appeal to the American sense of balance, and give the false sense that there are different sides to scientific issues such as evolution.
"Two plus 2 is not 5," said the group's spokesman, Robert Luhn. E-mail to a friend | Mixx it | Share
All About Evolution • Charles Darwin • Education • National Academy of Sciences
Due cellulari e una scheda Sim da usare con chiavetta Internet. La tariffa si chiama «Tutto compreso»
Salvatore Sica nella sua abitazione di Rozzano (Milano) mostra la bolletta di 46 mila euro di traffico internet e telefono ricevuta da Telecom Italia. La bolletta e' intestata alla suocera Edda Noris. (Ansa)MILANO - Ha battuto, suo malgrado, il non invidiabile record della bolletta telefonica più alta d'Italia. La signora Edda Noris di Rozzano, in provincia di Milano, ha ricevuto una bolletta telefonica bimestrale di 46.046,15 euro. In accordo con il genero Salvatore Sica, la signora aveva acquistato in un negozio Tim due cellulari da regalare ai nipoti (uno era un Blackberry) ed una terza scheda Sim da usare con una chiavetta Internet. Le offerte comprendevano Alice mobile 100 ore e due Tim «Tutto compreso professional 45». Un abbonamento «multibusiness all inclusive» per il quale si aspettava di dover pagare 270 euro fissi a bimestre. Invece dopo due mesi è arrivata l'amara sorpresa: 46.046,15 euro. Lo si apprende dal Codacons che ha denunciato l'accaduto. I precedenti record, segnalati in passato sempre dal Codacons, erano di 23.982 e 16.500 euro.
LA SOGLIA DEI MINUTI - «Non riusciamo proprio a capire il motivo di questa bolletta - ha spiegato Sica - leggendola si vede che solo nei primi tre-quattro giorni sono stati addebitati 38mila euro. Ci aspettavamo di pagare qualcosa in più dei 270 euro, in caso di superamento della soglia prevista di minuti di telefonate, numero messaggi e ore di navigazione, ma non questa cifra». Per il 23 di aprile è fissata l'udienza di conciliazione con la compagnia telefonica al Corecom (Comitato regionale per le comunicazioni) e, conclude Sica, «se non otterremo niente intraprenderemo azioni legali».
«TUTTO COMPRESO» - Leggiamo quanto riportato sul sito internet della Tim per l'offerta «Tutto compreso professional 45: «L'offerta per tutto il tuo business, senza scatto alla risposta, semplice e trasparente, che consente di definire il budget mensile di spesa in anticipo». Si conclude, poi, dicendo: «È davvero Tutto Compreso!». Ma evidentemente non era una così, visto che è arrivata una batosta che non ha precedenti. Un secondo caso segnalato è quello di Marco Pavesi, della provincia di Milano, con la società 3: nonostante non abbia mai ricevuto alcuna telefonata da nessun operatore, si è ritrovato due fatture con domiciliazione sul conto della sua società per due numeri di telefono che non solo non sono mai stati in suo possesso, ma a quanto pare non sono nemmeno attivi.
25 marzo 2009
dimarts, 24 de març de 2009
A T-shirt printed at the request of an IDF soldier in the sniper unit reading 'I shot two kills.'
Last update - 22:41 20/03/2009
Dead Palestinian babies and bombed mosques - IDF fashion 2009
By Uri Blau
Tags: Israel News, IDF, Gaza
The office at the Adiv fabric-printing shop in south Tel Aviv handles a constant stream of customers, many of them soldiers in uniform, who come to order custom clothing featuring their unit's insignia, usually accompanied by a slogan and drawing of their choosing. Elsewhere on the premises, the sketches are turned into plates used for imprinting the ordered items, mainly T-shirts and baseball caps, but also hoodies, fleece jackets and pants. A young Arab man from Jaffa supervises the workers who imprint the words and pictures, and afterward hands over the finished product.
Dead babies, mothers weeping on their children's graves, a gun aimed at a child and bombed-out mosques - these are a few examples of the images Israel Defense Forces soldiers design these days to print on shirts they order to mark the end of training, or of field duty. The slogans accompanying the drawings are not exactly anemic either: A T-shirt for infantry snipers bears the inscription "Better use Durex," next to a picture of a dead Palestinian baby, with his weeping mother and a teddy bear beside him. A sharpshooter's T-shirt from the Givati Brigade's Shaked battalion shows a pregnant Palestinian woman with a bull's-eye superimposed on her belly, with the slogan, in English, "1 shot, 2 kills." A "graduation" shirt for those who have completed another snipers course depicts a Palestinian baby, who grows into a combative boy and then an armed adult, with the inscription, "No matter how it begins, we'll put an end to it."
There are also plenty of shirts with blatant sexual messages. For example, the Lavi battalion produced a shirt featuring a drawing of a soldier next to a young woman with bruises, and the slogan, "Bet you got raped!" A few of the images underscore actions whose existence the army officially denies - such as "confirming the kill" (shooting a bullet into an enemy victim's head from close range, to ensure he is dead), or harming religious sites, or female or child non-combatants.
In many cases, the content is submitted for approval to one of the unit's commanders. The latter, however, do not always have control over what gets printed, because the artwork is a private initiative of soldiers that they never hear about. Drawings or slogans previously banned in certain units have been approved for distribution elsewhere. For example, shirts declaring, "We won't chill 'til we confirm the kill" were banned in the past (the IDF claims that the practice doesn't exist), yet the Haruv battalion printed some last year.
The slogan "Let every Arab mother know that her son's fate is in my hands!" had previously been banned for use on another infantry unit's shirt. A Givati soldier said this week, however, that at the end of last year, his platoon printed up dozens of shirts, fleece jackets and pants bearing this slogan.
"It has a drawing depicting a soldier as the Angel of Death, next to a gun and an Arab town," he explains. "The text was very powerful. The funniest part was that when our soldier came to get the shirts, the man who printed them was an Arab, and the soldier felt so bad that he told the girl at the counter to bring them to him."
Does the design go to the commanders for approval?
The Givati soldier: "Usually the shirts undergo a selection process by some officer, but in this case, they were approved at the level of platoon sergeant. We ordered shirts for 30 soldiers and they were really into it, and everyone wanted several items and paid NIS 200 on average."
What do you think of the slogan that was printed?
"I didn't like it so much, but most of the soldiers wanted it."
Many controversial shirts have been ordered by graduates of snipers courses, which bring together soldiers from various units. In 2006, soldiers from the "Carmon Team" course for elite-unit marksmen printed a shirt with a drawing of a knife-wielding Palestinian in the crosshairs of a gun sight, and the slogan, "You've got to run fast, run fast, run fast, before it's all over." Below is a drawing of Arab women weeping over a grave and the words: "And afterward they cry, and afterward they cry." [The inscriptions are riffs on a popular song.] Another sniper's shirt also features an Arab man in the crosshairs, and the announcement, "Everything is with the best of intentions."
G., a soldier in an elite unit who has done a snipers course, explained that, "it's a type of bonding process, and also it's well known that anyone who is a sniper is messed up in the head. Our shirts have a lot of double entendres, for example: 'Bad people with good aims.' Every group that finishes a course puts out stuff like that."
When are these shirts worn?
G. "These are shirts for around the house, for jogging, in the army. Not for going out. Sometimes people will ask you what it's about."
Of the shirt depicting a bull's-eye on a pregnant woman, he said: "There are people who think it's not right, and I think so as well, but it doesn't really mean anything. I mean it's not like someone is gonna go and shoot a pregnant woman."
What is the idea behind the shirt from July 2007, which has an image of a child with the slogan "Smaller - harder!"?
"It's a kid, so you've got a little more of a problem, morally, and also the target is smaller."
Do your superiors approve the shirts before printing?
"Yes, although one time they rejected some shirt that was too extreme. I don't remember what was on it."
These shirts also seem pretty extreme. Why draw crosshairs over a child - do you shoot kids?
'We came, we saw'
"As a sniper, you get a lot of extreme situations. You suddenly see a small boy who picks up a weapon and it's up to you to decide whether to shoot. These shirts are half-facetious, bordering on the truth, and they reflect the extreme situations you might encounter. The one who-honest-to-God sees the target with his own eyes - that's the sniper."
Have you encountered a situation like that?
"Fortunately, not involving a kid, but involving a woman - yes. There was someone who wasn't holding a weapon, but she was near a prohibited area and could have posed a threat."
What did you do?
"I didn't take it" (i.e., shoot).
You don't regret that, I imagine.
"No. Whomever I had to shoot, I shot."
A shirt printed up just this week for soldiers of the Lavi battalion, who spent three years in the West Bank, reads: "We came, we saw, we destroyed!" - alongside images of weapons, an angry soldier and a Palestinian village with a ruined mosque in the center.
A shirt printed after Operation Cast Lead in Gaza for Battalion 890 of the Paratroops depicts a King Kong-like soldier in a city under attack. The slogan is unambiguous: "If you believe it can be fixed, then believe it can be destroyed!"
Y., a soldier/yeshiva student, designed the shirt. "You take whoever [in the unit] knows how to draw and then you give it to the commanders before printing," he explained.
What is the soldier holding in his hand?
Y. "A mosque. Before I drew the shirt I had some misgivings, because I wanted it to be like King Kong, but not too monstrous. The one holding the mosque - I wanted him to have a more normal-looking face, so it wouldn't look like an anti-Semitic cartoon. Some of the people who saw it told me, 'Is that what you've got to show for the IDF? That it destroys homes?' I can understand people who look at this from outside and see it that way, but I was in Gaza and they kept emphasizing that the object of the operation was to wreak destruction on the infrastructure, so that the price the Palestinians and the leadership pay will make them realize that it isn't worth it for them to go on shooting. So that's the idea of 'we're coming to destroy' in the drawing."
According to Y., most of these shirts are worn strictly in an army context, not in civilian life. "And within the army people look at it differently," he added. "I don't think I would walk down the street in this shirt, because it would draw fire. Even at my yeshiva I don't think people would like it."
Y. also came up with a design for the shirt his unit printed at the end of basic training. It shows a clenched fist shattering the symbol of the Paratroops Corps.
Where does the fist come from?
"It's reminiscent of [Rabbi Meir] Kahane's symbol. I borrowed it from an emblem for something in Russia, but basically it's supposed to look like Kahane's symbol, the one from 'Kahane Was Right' - it's a sort of joke. Our company commander is kind of gung-ho."
Was the shirt printed?
"Yes. It was a company shirt. We printed about 100 like that."
This past January, the "Night Predators" demolitions platoon from Golani's Battalion 13 ordered a T-shirt showing a Golani devil detonating a charge that destroys a mosque. An inscription above it says, "Only God forgives."
One of the soldiers in the platoon downplays it: "It doesn't mean much, it's just a T-shirt from our platoon. It's not a big deal. A friend of mine drew a picture and we made it into a shirt."
What's the idea behind "Only God forgives"?
The soldier: "It's just a saying."
No one had a problem with the fact that a mosque gets blown up in the picture?
"I don't see what you're getting at. I don't like the way you're going with this. Don't take this somewhere you're not supposed to, as though we hate Arabs."
After Operation Cast Lead, soldiers from that battalion printed a T-shirt depicting a vulture sexually penetrating Hamas' prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, accompanied by a particularly graphic slogan. S., a soldier in the platoon that ordered the shirt, said the idea came from a similar shirt, printed after the Second Lebanon War, that featured Hassan Nasrallah instead of Haniyeh.
"They don't okay things like that at the company level. It's a shirt we put out just for the platoon," S. explained.
What's the problem with this shirt?
S.: "It bothers some people to see these things, from a religious standpoint ..."
How did people who saw it respond?
"We don't have that many Orthodox people in the platoon, so it wasn't a problem. It's just something the guys want to put out. It's more for wearing around the house, and not within the companies, because it bothers people. The Orthodox mainly. The officers tell us it's best not to wear shirts like this on the base."
The sketches printed in recent years at the Adiv factory, one of the largest of its kind in the country, are arranged in drawers according to the names of the units placing the orders: Paratroops, Golani, air force, sharpshooters and so on. Each drawer contains hundreds of drawings, filed by year. Many of the prints are cartoons and slogans relating to life in the unit, or inside jokes that outsiders wouldn't get (and might not care to, either), but a handful reflect particular aggressiveness, violence and vulgarity.
Print-shop manager Haim Yisrael, who has worked there since the early 1980s, said Adiv prints around 1,000 different patterns each month, with soldiers accounting for about half. Yisrael recalled that when he started out, there were hardly any orders from the army.
"The first ones to do it were from the Nahal brigade," he said. "Later on other infantry units started printing up shirts, and nowadays any course with 15 participants prints up shirts."
From time to time, officers complain. "Sometimes the soldiers do things that are inside jokes that only they get, and sometimes they do something foolish that they take to an extreme," Yisrael explained. "There have been a few times when commanding officers called and said, 'How can you print things like that for soldiers?' For example, with shirts that trashed the Arabs too much. I told them it's a private company, and I'm not interested in the content. I can print whatever I like. We're neutral. There have always been some more extreme and some less so. It's just that now more people are making shirts."
Race to be unique
Evyatar Ben-Tzedef, a research associate at the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism and former editor of the IDF publication Maarachot, said the phenomenon of custom-made T-shirts is a product of "the infantry's insane race to be unique. I, for example, had only one shirt that I received after the Yom Kippur War. It said on it, 'The School for Officers,' and that was it. What happened since then is a product of the decision to assign every unit an emblem and a beret. After all, there used to be very few berets: black, red or green. This changed in the 1990s. [The shirts] developed because of the fact that for bonding purposes, each unit created something that was unique to it.
"These days the content on shirts is sometimes deplorable," Ben-Tzedef explained. "It stems from the fact that profanity is very acceptable and normative in Israel, and that there is a lack of respect for human beings and their environment, which includes racism aimed in every direction."
Yossi Kaufman, who moderates the army and defense forum on the Web site Fresh, served in the Armored Corps from 1996 to 1999. "I also drew shirts, and I remember the first one," he said. "It had a small emblem on the front and some inside joke, like, 'When we die, we'll go to heaven, because we've already been through hell.'"
Kaufman has also been exposed to T-shirts of the sort described here. "I know there are shirts like these," he says. "I've heard and also seen a little. These are not shirts that soldiers can wear in civilian life, because they would get stoned, nor at a battalion get-together, because the battalion commander would be pissed off. They wear them on very rare occasions. There's all sorts of black humor stuff, mainly from snipers, such as, 'Don't bother running because you'll die tired' - with a drawing of a Palestinian boy, not a terrorist. There's a Golani or Givati shirt of a soldier raping a girl, and underneath it says, 'No virgins, no terror attacks.' I laughed, but it was pretty awful. When I was asked once to draw things like that, I said it wasn't appropriate."
The IDF Spokesman's Office comments on the phenomenon: "Military regulations do not apply to civilian clothing, including shirts produced at the end of basic training and various courses. The designs are printed at the soldiers' private initiative, and on civilian shirts. The examples raised by Haaretz are not in keeping with the values of the IDF spirit, not representative of IDF life, and are in poor taste. Humor of this kind deserves every condemnation and excoriation. The IDF intends to take action for the immediate eradication of this phenomenon. To this end, it is emphasizing to commanding officers that it is appropriate, among other things, to take discretionary and disciplinary measures against those involved in acts of this sort."
Shlomo Tzipori, a lieutenant colonel in the reserves and a lawyer specializing in martial law, said the army does bring soldiers up on charges for offenses that occur outside the base and during their free time. According to Tzipori, slogans that constitute an "insult to the army or to those in uniform" are grounds for court-martial, on charges of "shameful conduct" or "disciplinary infraction," which are general clauses in judicial martial law.
Sociologist Dr. Orna Sasson-Levy, of Bar-Ilan University, author of "Identities in Uniform: Masculinities and Femininities in the Israeli Military," said that the phenomenon is "part of a radicalization process the entire country is undergoing, and the soldiers are at its forefront. I think that ever since the second intifada there has been a continual shift to the right. The pullout from Gaza and its outcome - the calm that never arrived - led to a further shift rightward.
"This tendency is most strikingly evident among soldiers who encounter various situations in the territories on a daily basis. There is less meticulousness than in the past, and increasing callousness. There is a perception that the Palestinian is not a person, a human being entitled to basic rights, and therefore anything may be done to him."
Could the printing of clothing be viewed also as a means of venting aggression?
Sasson-Levy: "No. I think it strengthens and stimulates aggression and legitimizes it. What disturbs me is that a shirt is something that has permanence. The soldiers later wear it in civilian life; their girlfriends wear it afterward. It is not a statement, but rather something physical that remains, that is out there in the world. Beyond that, I think the link made between sexist views and nationalist views, as in the 'Screw Haniyeh' shirt, is interesting. National chauvinism and gender chauvinism combine and strengthen one another. It establishes a masculinity shaped by violent aggression toward women and Arabs; a masculinity that considers it legitimate to speak in a crude and violent manner toward women and Arabs."
Col. (res.) Ron Levy began his military service in the Sayeret Matkal elite commando force before the Six-Day War. He was the IDF's chief psychologist, and headed the army's mental health department in the 1980s.
Levy: "I'm familiar with things of this sort going back 40, 50 years, and each time they take a different form. Psychologically speaking, this is one of the ways in which soldiers project their anger, frustration and violence. It is a certain expression of things, which I call 'below the belt.'"
Do you think this a good way to vent anger?
Levy: "It's safe. But there are also things here that deviate from the norm, and you could say that whoever is creating these things has reached some level of normality. He gives expression to the fact that what is considered abnormal today might no longer be so tomorrow."
Star Trek chairs for the lounge - a bridge too far?
The Guardian, Tuesday 24 March 2009
The Star Trek chair for the Trekker who has everything. Photograph: Public Domain
You've got the boxsets and you've learned Klingon ... Is there anything left for the Trekkie who wants to take their devotion up a warp factor or two? The answer's logical. Beam your very own replica of Captain Kirk's command chair into your living room.
The chair was a central part of Kirk's voyages. From its seat at the heart of the Enterprise bridge, William Shatner guided the crew through their voyages with the full authority of a man in a powerful chair.
The original chair from the 1960s series was auctioned in 2002, fetching $305,200. But thanks to the joys of the replicator (a company called Diamond Select Toys), any Trekkie can now own a little bit of Trek furniture for a mere 2,717.01 Earth dollars.
Away from the context of the Enterprise bridge (which isn't yet on offer), Kirk's command chair looks a little like the sort of hard-wearing leather seat you might find in a dentist's waiting room, though with the addition of all those buttons on the arms. Presumably they're designed for essential everyday functions such as readying the photon torpedoes, hailing passing Romulans or ordering your crew to bring you a cup of tea.
It's a pretty bold move. The final frontier of the front room has been crossed - it's going to be a very understanding partner who will find matching curtains for the ultimate in geek chic.
Plus, anyone tempted by the offer should take note of the small print: "Please note this item requires unique shipping details to arrange delivery." Maybe they really will beam it up.
dilluns, 23 de març de 2009
diumenge, 22 de març de 2009
Religulous: Borat-style satire on faith causes outrage
British release for controversial US movie will increase friction between atheists and believers
A Borat-style documentary lampooning the world's religions through interviews with their leaders is to open in Britain next week – and, if the US experience is anything to go, it is certain to spark controversy.
Religulous – the title is a provocative combination of "religion" and "ridiculous" – caused outrage across the Atlantic, with Catholics complaining they were the main target of the film, directed by Larry Charles. He also directed Borat, the satire on US mores starring Sacha Baron Cohen as the Kazakhstan reporter. The American comedian and satirist Bill Maher takes the Cohen role.
Maher has said that while the film was meant to be funny, it wasn't just meant to poke fun at religion, but demolish it. "I was raised a Catholic," he said, "but by the time I became an adult, scientific thought and rational evidence led me to believe otherwise. You know, when I was a kid and got a cavity, I had mercury drilled into my teeth. Then, when I got older, they drilled it out – and you can do the same with religion."
The film opens shortly after the Pope was condemned for suggesting condoms "aggravate the problem" of Aids, causing a frantic Vatican damage-limitation exercise.
Emboldened atheists have run slogans on the side of buses proclaiming "There is probably no God" – and a campaign by Christians to undermine that attracted record numbers of complaints last week to the Advertising Standards Authority.
Catholics are also under attack from peers and MPs, who are attempting to block plans to elevate Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, to the House of Lords. The move comes after reports that the cardinal may be offered a place in the Lords when he retires from his post as Archbishop of Westminster this year.
Opponents said the proposal to give the cardinal a peerage should be scrapped because of allegations that he "turned a blind eye" to paedophile priests when he was a bishop.
The philosopher AC Grayling, a professor at Birkbeck College in London, says the attacks on religion, especially Christianity, are a secular response to the increased religious "noise" since 9/11.
"There has been an amplification of noise from different religions since 9/11," he said. "And we are seeing a reaction from atheists. They are standing up and being counted because they don't like it. Throughout the world religious observation is diminishing. But after 9/11 the Muslim world had a higher profile and the other religions felt they needed to be as loud. The atheists are saying 'shut up'. What we are seeing is religion under pressure and being defeated.
"I'm tremendously looking forward to seeing Religulous. It comes in the same week that the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, made up of 57 Islamic countries, is trying to include a resolution into the United Nations Human Rights Committee to outlaw the defamation of religion."
Jonny Baker, who works for the Church Mission Society, which has been bringing missionaries from Africa to Britain for 20 years, said the film was just as intolerant as the religions it lampoons. "I saw it in America, and ironically it ended up being very fundamentalist," he said. "Bill Maher was just ranting to the camera, and that undermined the whole point of the film. There is a feeling in Africa that we are godless in the West and they'll come here and help us... Faith is important and transformative. People are interested in more in life than just shopping."
Pope Benedict XVI
Already in trouble for lifting the excommunication of a bishop who denied the Holocaust, the pontiff caused global outrage last week when he suggested on a trip to Africa not only that Aids 'cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms' but that they 'even aggravate the problems'.
MPs and peers are aghast at the prospect of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, being elevated to the House of Lords. They cite allegations that he 'turned a blind eye' to paedophile priests when he was a bishop.
Larry Charles, the director of Borat, turns his cameras on religion, with the US satirist Bill Maher taking the Sacha Baron Cohen role of asking the world's religious leaders impertinent questions – often after fooling them into agreeing to be quizzed.
The British Humanist Association raised £100,000 in four days to pay for a slogan on 800 buses across the country that read: 'There's probably no God'. The Advertising Standards Authority received more than 1,000 complaints when a Christian group responded with a slogan proclaiming there is a God.