Bare Feet

The message is in the details.


Encoding Poverty, Backwardness, and Dependency in US Military Imagery

Bare feet. Ever since I was a small child, I have been made aware of how not wearing shoes was symbolically loaded with ideas of poverty, backwardness, primitiveness, or being low class. Images of barefoot people in newspapers and magazines almost always showed villagers in Africa or the Pacific–or Hippies and West Virginians in the US. Stores in Canada routinely posted signs: “No shoes, no service”. Bare feet were, at least for a long time, quietly yet mightily stigmatized in much of Western culture. Like all things “primitive,” this form of bareness symbolizing underdevelopment and an inferior culture (or lack of culture, and lack of development), could also be romanticized: bare feet in the grass, on the sand, symbolizing freedom and child-like innocence, and thus nostalgia for things of the past. Bare feet could also symbolize the exact opposite…

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How to Make Extremism Mainstream and Fake a Debate about Islamophobia

Should be required reading for all people calling themselves journalists.


Is there a genuine debate taking place about Islamophobia? When and why did the “concern” about Islamophobia reach the highest levels of government in North America and western Europe? On which particular goal do all governmental parties fundamentally agree in this alleged debate? What does the nature of the debate, and the interests that are vested in the debate, reveal about the ultimate goals and values of the key parties concerned? Those are just some of my questions about Islamophobia.

Now for some questions about extremism. In a recent speech after the latest London Bridge terrorist attack, UK prime minister Theresa May stated: “While we have made significant progress in recent years, there is—to be frank—far too much tolerance of extremism in our country. So we need to become far more robust in identifying it and stamping it out across the public sector and across society”. She is…

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BDS, the AAA, and Academic Imperialism

The insidious nature of ideological conformity…


We Disagree to Agree

Support for a particular cause can come from numerous sources and points of view, each representing different interests. Similarly, people can arrive at the site of a demonstration, united in protest against an injustice, having arrived there from many different routes (whether the routes are understood in terms of physical transportation, or different social positions, i.e. “walks of life”). One might be in agreement about the basic point made by another speaker, but disagree entirely with that speaker’s reasoning. The wrong path can be taken to the right conclusion, seen from one person’s perspective—or a momentary coincidence of agreement between two otherwise very different perspectives. That would seem to partly describe my reactions to the arguments made by some US anthropologists in favour of the American Anthropological Association showing support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, against Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory. Here are…

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The “Science” of Global Domination


While it is an odd mix of physics, biology, and geometry that has captured the communications strategy of military planners, the messages themselves are very telling about how such planners go about envisioning US global domination, and the parts to be played by others in assuring that dominance. Some thus speak about the “center of gravity” in “hybrid wars”—writing in Military Review, Colonel John J. McCuen declared: “We in the West are facing a seemingly new form of war—hybrid war. Although conventional in form, the decisive battles in today’s hybrid wars are fought not on conventional battlegrounds, but on asymmetric battlegrounds within the conflict zone population, the home front population, and the international community population” (McCuen, 2008, p. 107). Everyone is a target population. How do you combat resistance to such a monumental ambition to dominate all of us? By using us against ourselves. Thus here is…

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Scientific Imperialism


“A fundamental law of Netwonian physics applies also to military maneuver: one can achieve overwhelming force by substituting velocity for mass”. (Maj. Gen. Robert H. Scales, 2003)

“Are we to reserve the techniques and the right to manipulate peoples as the privilege of a few planning, goal-oriented and power-hungry individuals to whom the instrumentality of science makes a natural appeal? Now that we have techniques, are we in cold blood, going to treat people as things?” (Gregory Bateson quoted in Price, 2008, pp. 35-36)

Scientism and Imperial Statism

Bob Scales Bob Scales

Major General Robert Scales is a fan of scientific allusions. In one publication he classed world wars into a typology where World War I was “the chemists’ war,” World War II was “the physicists’ war,” World War III (the Cold War) was “the information researchers’ war,” and World War IV (the “war on terror”) is “the social scientists’ war,” based…

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Yes, Kids, Cookie Monster is a Psyop

Very interesting stuff…

Dire Squamuglia

This post was derived from a Twitter thread I did a few months ago. It’s been lightly edited for clarity, with a new introduction and conclusion. It moves a little fast for a blog post given the restrictions of its medium of origin, but it provides useful background to my last post, “Winning Hearts and Minds, from the Computer’s Perspective.” This content of this post is a little redundant with the content of the previous post, but I’m not really going to state a thesis and elaborate here on this blog so much as look at the same ideas and events over and over from different perspectives and eventually let some big picture accumulate like pixels on a screen.

The following paragraph is me mildly trolling you, the reader, with a kind of clickbaity provocation to see some mundane and ubiquitous aspects of American pop culture in a new…

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