Manufacturing Dissent Since 1996
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United nations geneva conference room

The idea of international law as a system of formal equality really gets to both the sense making function and the injustice of its application here. You have a situation in which 1 people are living under a belligerent occupation of another national group that is an advanced military power and supported by the global hegemon. That is the system. If you apply a system of formal equality in terms of rights to political violence on that, you are effectively cementing the status of the oppressed as oppressed.

Dylan Saba and Jake Romm discuss their n+1 article, "Acts Harmful to the Enemy," on international humanitarian law criminalizing revolution. After the interview, we hear new installments of "Rotten History" and "The Moment of Truth" with Jeff Dorchen.

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Aug 23 2023
Posted by Alexander Jerri
Perseid michael

Sunday night last week I stayed up as late as I could to watch the Perseid meteor shower. I couldn’t really stay up as late as I wanted to, because it got cold out, and I was exhausted from traveling most of the day. But I stayed up as late as I could. The Earth passed through a cloud of loose debris. Bright streaks flashed, trailed briefly, and faded in the starry sky as the upper atmosphere was pelted with space gravel.

 

My brother, sister and I were on the beach on Grand Traverse Bay, Lake Michigan, just north of the 45th Parallel. Let me tell you, the American Dream actually happened to my family. My grandparents fled anti-Jewish violence in Belarus. They arrived in the US as children, my grandfather established himself first as a house painter, then as a contractor. My father went to college and became an architect, started his own company, and now we have a vacation house on Lake Michigan, on land purchased when I was around thirteen years old. I don’t think we ever complained as kids when we were brought to the unfinished house, with its floor of bare concrete, heated by a Franklin wood-burning stove.

 

Over the decades my parents have made it a masterpiece. Though it’s not as large as most houses in the area, with the extra accommodations of a camper trailer parked in the driveway, a few people sleeping in my mother’s art studio attached to the garage, and me sleeping in the enclosed gazebo on a wooded bluff overlooking the beach, we had the entire clan up there at the eponymous Barb and Sam’s House of Wine Drinking and Chipmunk Training: my parents, me, my brother and sister, my brother’s five kids, a wife of one of the kids and a girlfriend of another, plus my brother’s two dogs.

 

My existence has turned out to be relatively privileged thanks to friends and family, despite my best efforts, conscious and unconscious, to fail at life. I can’t help comparing my oddly fortunate outcome with that of my friend Michael, who recently died of pneumonia at 62 after some years suffering from aggressively progressing early-onset dementia.

 

In three chairs on the beach, my brother, sister, and I sat next to the dying fire in the firepit. The burning pebbles above at first appeared only grudgingly but soon acquiesced to our demands for a show. We swept our gazes across the sky like lazy satellite dishes, south to north, hooting happily when we... read more

Posted by Alexander Jerri
Space dork

The two most canonical science fiction works when I started high school in the mid nineteen seventies were Dune, which around then was still a trilogy, and the Foundation series, also a trilogy. Dune was written by Frank Herbert, and Foundation by Isaac Asimov. Both authors were born in 1920. Herbert died in 1986, Asimov in 1992.

 

In both trilogies, humans have established themselves on planets all over the galaxy. In both trilogies, the organizing model of the galaxy is The Empire. Empire is, in fact, the name of the cloned multigenerational triumvirate ruler in Foundation. The head of the galactic empire in the Dune universe is The Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV of House Corrino.

 

I wonder how much those seminal science fiction trilogies – the Lord of the Rings and Chronicles of Narnia of science fiction – influenced the galactically imperial daydreams of today’s crop of eugenicist utilitarians calling themselves “long-termists.” I love the quotation from Vonnegut I keep seeing on social media that may or may not be a rebuttal to these would-be space edge-lord conquistadors: “To me, wanting every habitable planet to be inhabited is like wanting everybody to have athlete's foot.”

 

“Why do you find it necessary to call them edge lords,” you might ask. I didn’t. I called them Space Edge Lords. Because all three of the highest profile examples of over-privileged jerks only went to the edge of space. Richard Branson is the third, in case you forgot. They’re lords of the edge of space. Space edge lords. Also, ultimately the edge lord’s signature activities eventually end in ejaculation. This alludes to my earlier labeling of Foundation and Dune as perhaps seminal influences on these space edge lords and their lusting after planetary colonization. It’s all conjecture at this point, though, I admit.

 

You might not know this, but Vonnegut wrote a humorous story on the subject of inseminating the Andromeda galaxy. He wrote it for an anthology Harlan Ellison, the bad boy of science fiction, was putting together called Again, Dangerous Visions, an appropriate title for a follow up to his first such anthology, Dangerous Visions. Vonnegut’s story was called “The Big Space Fuck.” Read it and then see “2001: A Space Odyssey.” I guarantee you’ll laugh when you first see the ship, Discovery... read more