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Everything posted by ewokskick

  1. I don't know how exactly to respond to this without giving a kind of a history/genealogy of the ideas in Diamond's book so bare with me if your interested in why environmental determinism isn't as subversive as you are making it out to be. The idea of of racial superirority in geography was never based on genetics, but on environmental determinism. If you go back to American Ellen Churchill Semple, she argued that harsh environments made for less civilized societies. A similar argument was made by Ratzel a German geographer whose ideas influenced the Nazis. Even McKinder, famous as the godfather of British geopolitics argued for an environmental determinism of sorts (he argued that central asia was the "geographic pivot of history" and that controling it would establish Britain as the global hegemon). In all three cases, the environmental dominance of Europe was taken as a given and need to control more land was implicit in their theories. While none of them believed in inherent genetic racial differences, they all believed in European superiority and their ideas were used to justify colonialism. If true civilization wasn't possible in the harsh environments of Africa and Asia then the only way to administer it would be through European control. Jared Diamond is also drawing on environmental determinism in his book. He argues that things like the shape of the continent or climate gives Europeans an inherent geopolitical advantage. I think the quinine example shows how that view is simplistic because it ignores how advantages and disadvantages are context dependent. That is, society and nature are co-produced through social and technological relationships. That is, with the quinine case colonialism is creating the conditions for itself to succeed by appropriating indigenous technologies. In other words, the advantage of disadvantage of any given environmental condition isn't set in stone, but produced between a combination of social relationships. In that sense, he leaves out that fact that European societies dominance was in large part due to the moral failure that was colonial politics. So why does it matter that Jared Diamond draws on environmental determinism? Well, I think that the main reason I care is that a part of conclusion is that stable and powerful societies are in wet-er cllimates. I have a problem with that and its implied political implications. Firstly, that has shades of the Euro-centrism of colonial era and we need to be critical of those stories. If we told the same story 700 years earlier the dry climates and pastoral lifestyle was the source of the mongolian dominance and and an advantage in setting up complex trade networks rather than a disadvantage. Secondly, something like 60% of the world's population currently lives in some form of dry-land climate (arid or semi-arid zones). In the Africa and Asia these civilizations have often been pastoral rather than settled. These livelihoods are especially attuned to the condition of those environments. They don't degrade land or require water in an environment that brings little in naturally. However, all accross the world today there is a great effort (largely driven by the West starting with colonialism) to settle pastoral populations and make them farm cereal grains. The major drive of this is the belief that modern societies have to rely on settled agriculture. Unfortunately, settled agriculture in dry climates requires either the mining of ground water or costly and destructive dam placement. Additionally, it degrades soils and requires signficant chemical inputs. The market implications are also severe, it causes former pastorialists to be more vulnerable to famine because their ability to eat is now tied to global market prices for the grains they are farming. If you look at the source of much of sub-saharan hunger it is ironically tied to the drive for agriculture. This is also politically difficult and in the background of many conflicts (e.g. Boko Haram in Nigeria). Long story short, Diamond's story implies things about the way we should live in our environment that I disagree with and think we can see failing all over the world.
  2. Comics Extravaganza - Pow Bang Smash!

    Jennegatron sent me here to weigh in. I personally love the shit out of Pretty Deadly. IMO, it is one of the best looking comic books on the market and it does a lot of interesting things with page structure and story-telling that you don't get anaywhere else. However, there is a reason a lot of books don't do what Pretty Deadly does. It is challenges the reader. Unlike KSD's superhero work, it doesn't hand hold at all. So I've read online that some people became frustrated. If you're used to popcorn comics it's probably pretty hard to crack, but I don't think it is all that difficult if you read carefully. The main thing to know about Pretty Deadly is that it is a folk story (told between a butterfly and a raddit skeleton). If the story tells you that death did something and a crow did something else. That isn't metaphor that is just what happened. A literall crow or crow-human did something and death incarnate did something. The other thing people don't like about it is that Emma Rios has a European comic art style. She isn't in the Kirby tradition. Art's subjective, but people who don't like Emma Rios's art are as close to objectively wrong as is possible in art. Overall, I think the book is challenging, but beautiful and lyrical. It has deep themes that focus on men's destructive possession of women and how to make up for the things you fucked up in the past. The book uses a lot of embedded storytelling: the opening is a butterfly and a rabbit telling a story that starts off with traveling story-tellers in their story. In the end, the story has a kind of stisfying didactic ending that you'd expect from a folk tale. Personally, I think PD is of the best comics I've read. YMMV. If you're just wanting to get into KSD in general, I think Bitch Planet might be the safer bet, but I think PD is the better book so far. Both are amazing and the differences show her versatility as a writer.
  3. This is a classic example I like to use with students when talking about colonialism. A lot of my students carry some notions about the natural (or environmental dominance) of Europe of Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Most people are famailar with this argument in the form of Jared Diamond's Guns, Germ and Steel. However, the quinine example is interesting because it showed that colonialism actually relied on indigenous technical and environmental knowledge to succeed. This knowledge was globalized via colonialism and essential to the colonial project. Without the discovery of quinine in Lima the colonialism of Africa would not have been possible. Similarly, without the colonialism of Africa the colonies of the Americas could not have succeeded because they brought labor in the form of slave sand technical knowledge about agriculture (e.g. African slaves knew how to grow rice and their captors didn't). When we look at the actual practices of colonialism, the story becomes far more complicated than guns, germs, and steel. Diamond forgot about the power of knowledge and how it radically changes the relationship between nature and society. The malaria which Diamond argues prevented the development of Africa also would have made them impossible to conqueror (beyond the small European port cities) if it weren't for knowledge taken from the Americas. The contextual historical explanations always buck the easy environmental narratives that capture our imagination.
  4. Dota Today 16: Blitz

    That's a good question about balance patches. That really changes some match-ups. I've watched Blitz stream a couple times. He's pretty excellent. Good personality, he talks, and he is obviously a top notch player.
  5. Rektreactional

    Is anyone else watching it? In case you don't know what it is, it is an amateur Dota tournament featuring game industry professionals. Among those participants include idle thumber-s Nick Breton and Sean Vanaman as well as Dota Today co-host Brad Muir and regular guess Ayesee. If you an interested, you can find out about the teams here and you can look at the bracket here (spoilers). You can watch it at http://www.twitch.tv/rektreational or http://www.twitch.tv/rektreational2. There are VODs on those twitch accounts for those interested in seeing some of the recent games. There is also a rektreational subreddit which has some updates and info at http://www.reddit.com/r/Rektreational/.
  6. "Ethics and Journalistic Integrity"

    My awful first thought was "Wait, there was acutally someone that didn't like Fallout 3?" In all seriousness, I can barely handle reading that stuff said about other people. I can't imagine it being a part of my daily life.
  7. "Ethics and Journalistic Integrity"

    Well, it seems that these people's harrassment has worked, insofaras their intent seemed to be to drive the people they were harrassing away. When gamers complain about being stereotyped as immature boy/man-children, I'll remember when they were harrassing people online. When gamers complain that the genre isn't taken seriously as an artistic medium, I'll remember when they drove away the genre's most talented critics. When gamers complain that there aren't any good sites/gaming publications, I'll remember how they treated the journalists they had. When gamers complain about the stangnant state of mainstream games, I'll remember that they hated calls for diversity. Fucks games. Fuck gamers. Is there any reason I shouldn't just give up on all this bullshit and hate gamers like everyone else?
  8. Rektreactional

    I made a highlight video for the first round. Since I am amateur as heck at making videos I either messed up the quality or maybe twitch downloads are always low quality, but it looks bad unless watched in HD. Anyway, give it a look. It has some cool plays, I think.
  9. Dota Fantasy League

    I'm in.
  10. Most color commentators are trying to humanize the event or make it exciting. There are very few heavey on analysis. In my opinion, it's because sports (and e-sports as well) are pretty unintelligible if you don't know all the rules. However, if someone can give you the human and emotional weight to the event than anyone can enjoy it. I mean could you imagine tuning into a Dota2 match for the first time and being hit with a bunch of accronyms, play calls, and stats? It would be totally unintelligible trying to understanding the basics of the game is hard much less the statistical analysis. The best thing about Ayesee is that he gets this and is obviously doing things to make the game more watchable for people like me who watched my first pro game (that he called) fter playing 2 or 3 games. It's amazing how thrilling it was and how well he made me feel like I knew what was happening.
  11. Dota Fantasy League

    Is this happening? If so I would be interested.
  12. This is so not the point of your post, but PER is a really terrible way to measure how good a player is. First, it barely takes into account defense (supposedly fouls are a slight indirect indicator of defense). Second, it reward players who iniate the offense and shoot a lot (e.g. Kevin Durant's numbers are inflated because he shot more than anyone in the league). Lastly and most importantly, PER has no predictive value. That is, PER doesn't equate to wins very well. That is probably the best test of any new advanced metric and PER fails at it. Anyway, I like numbers too, but I don't want that from my sports casters. To me the excitement of sports or other live competitions is the feeling that anything can happen in the moment. So, I want the announcers to describe what is happening with as much clarity as possible, and then to get excited when something important happens. Just normal sport, I want a play-by-play caller like Ayesee (who is really good at this) and a color commentator/analyst. I don't want a stats guy calling the guy. I love reading those write-ups afterwards, but to me it cheapens the excitement of the moment and makes it more difficult to enjoy casually.
  13. Well, I think that's the Final Word on this topic.