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Did they call my birthday?

Waiting for your lottery number. James, Oklahoma, 1969, No. 365. I arrived at the dorm and went to my friend’s room where 12 of us were watching the lottery. I remember we had cases of beers to help us through. We knew this day could forever change our lives. When I came into the room I could feel the tension and see that the lottery had already started. It wasn't a big show on TV; it was just a series of numbers scrolling across the bottom of the screen while “I Love Lucy” played above. [more inside]
posted by goofyfoot on Apr 16, 2014 - 69 comments

 

The better robots of our nature

War! What was it good for? Quite a lot, argues historian and archaeologist Ian Morris. Over thousands of years humans used war to build our societies, then turned it against itself. With luck our newly acquired habits and forthcoming robots will keep the world from returning to older levels of bloodshed.
posted by doctornemo on Apr 14, 2014 - 23 comments

Let us now praise and mourn the wonderful photographer Anja Niedringhaus

"When you say ‘war photographer’ the first image that comes to mind is someone crazy for the bang bang. Not Anja. She was an artist. She used her sensitivity and sense of understanding to access the human side of war." In Memoriam: Anja Niedringhaus (1965—2014). Her photographs are powerful and beautiful.
posted by mareli on Apr 4, 2014 - 24 comments

"I am honor-bound to protect you, brother."

The Interpreters We Left Behind. "As our troops pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan, we're abandoning fixers and translators to the dangerous countrymen who view them as traitors. Asylum in the U.S. could be their last hope. If only we'd let them in."
posted by homunculus on Mar 27, 2014 - 26 comments

Rugs of War

Afghan war rugs Traditional rug-making techniques meet contemporary political imagery. See also the 'Rugs of War' project.
posted by infini on Mar 27, 2014 - 13 comments

Ami Birangona Bolchi

I am not as self-righteous as the way I am talking to you all. Actually I never got the opportunity to express myself. I grew up with my head bent, occupied the lowest place in my family and was surviving under the radar as a member of my family. But later I met a woman who was like a mother to me, and she told me that I was an amazing woman, a hero. I may not have the body of Joan of Arc, but I have sacrificed what is most precious to me – my womanhood, for my country. But you will never see our names engraved in a tower. The reason for this omission is likely their own shame. They could not protect me from the hands of disaster. In what face would they applaud the fact that I am a war heroine? I have been ridiculed and shamed in cruel and heartless ways, but somehow a power greater than me has helped me keep my head high.
Rape survivors of the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War were given the title "Birangona": an attempt by the first president of Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, to respect the sacrifices of these women that sadly backfired. Ami Birangona Bolchi by Bangladeshi academic and social worker Nilima Ibrahim, published in 1994, chronicles first-hand stories of these women, grappling with the tension between their status and their lived experience. Recently there have been multiple translations of Nilima's work, as well as more interviews and poetry as well as an upcoming British stage production.
posted by divabat on Mar 17, 2014 - 8 comments

In war, not everyone is a soldier.

The generic war game has come under fire from many sides, prompting more thoughtful games, such as the recent Spec Ops: The Line (previously) and others. However, short of post-apocalyptic zombie-type games, no one has thought to make a game about the civilians - survivors living in the cities that other people battle over. Until now.
In This War of Mine, the focus is shifted away from military operations portrayed in most games. Instead, it is a dark survival game where players control a group of civilians trying to stay alive in a besieged city. During the day snipers outside stop you from leaving your refuge, offering players time to craft, trade, upgrade their shelter, feed and cure their people. At night they must scavenge nearby areas in search for food, medicines, weapons and other useful items. This War of Mine was inspired by real-life events and delivers a message. "This can happen in your city, in your country."

posted by corb on Mar 13, 2014 - 62 comments

"A film that instead of making sense is sense."

Jamestown Baloos (1957) [SLYT] by Robert Breer [PDF] (previously) "is a frenetic, three-part stop-motion animation that features an army of everyday forms and figures — geometric shapes, a piece of string, newspaper clips, a pin-up girl, even Napoleon Bonaparte — flashing across the screen. Placed in increasingly compromised situations and choreographed to a jingoistic tune, the figures essentially become puppets of their former selves. Such unrelenting visuals recall not only Fernand Léger’s early experimental film, Ballet Mécanique (1924), as Breer himself has mentioned, but also early twentieth-century Dadaist collage. Dada artists like Kurt Schwitters and Hannah Höch created witty, unapologetic works that reflected the chaos and violence of modern existence. Jamestown Baloos serves, as their works did, as a pointed indictment on the absurdity of war."
posted by Room 641-A on Mar 8, 2014 - 2 comments

Full Spectrum Warrior

Inside the new arms race to control bandwidth on the battlefield [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Mar 6, 2014 - 23 comments

Warfare ... justified?

Noam Chomsky gives a lecture at West Point on just war theory. [more inside]
posted by Jonathan Livengood on Mar 5, 2014 - 9 comments

The Cold War Revives, Heats-Up

Dozens of armed men in Russian-marked military uniforms occupied an airport in the capital of Ukraine's strategic Crimea region early Friday, Obama warns Russia against any military intervention in Ukraine. But what is so dangerous about Crimea, and what is 'The Budapest Memorandum?'
posted by rosswald on Feb 28, 2014 - 718 comments

100 Not Out

When British forces pull down the union jack for the last time in Afghanistan this year, it will be a hugely symbolic moment. It is not just that the departure marks the end of 13 years of British involvement in combat in that troubled country. The surprise is that it could also signal the end of a century or more of unbroken warfare by British forces. Next year may be the first since at least 1914 that British soldiers, sailors and air crews will not be engaged in fighting somewhere. [more inside]
posted by Jakey on Feb 13, 2014 - 47 comments

The World They Made

Mark Danner has been writing a series in the New York Review Of Books: Rumsfeld's War And Its Consequences Now
A bare two weeks after the attacks of September 11, at the end of a long and emotional day at the White House, a sixty-nine-year-old politician and businessman—a midwesterner, born of modest means but grown wealthy and prominent and powerful—returned to his enormous suite of offices on the seventh floor of the flood-lit and wounded Pentagon and, as was his habit, scrawled out a memorandum on his calendar:
Interesting day— NSC mtg. with President— As [it] ended he asked to see me alone… After the meeting ended I went to Oval Office—He was alone He was at his desk— He talked about the meet Then he said I want you to develop a plan to invade Ir[aq]. Do it outside the normal channels. Do it creatively so we don’t have to take so much cover [?]
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Feb 13, 2014 - 89 comments

What happened to the people who walked

Photographer Shannon Jensen's series “The Long Walk” documents the shoes belonging to some of the 30,000 refugees who traveled by foot across the border from Sudan’s Blue Nile state over to neighboring South Sudan. Additional background on the Amnesty award-winning project. [more inside]
posted by spamandkimchi on Feb 8, 2014 - 2 comments

You liked Asakai? Wait'll you hear about B-R5RB.

“Supposedly, it was set up for auto-pay, just like any other bill in real life, but either that didn’t happen or the money wasn’t in the wallet, and then everything just escalated..." EVE Online battles can be epic. Let's see how accidentally not paying the rent led to what is coming to be known as the largest battle in New Eden, and some would say gaming as a whole, to date. [more inside]
posted by RolandOfEld on Jan 31, 2014 - 96 comments

Who is ANNA?

Warning: Graphic footage. Little is known about the origins of the Abkhazian Network News Agency, ANNA. What we do know is that the agency, nominally from the breakaway Georgian republic Abkhazia, has been covering the brutal Syrian Civil War while embedded with the SAA on its Youtube channel (be sure to enable English captions). Defiant and unapologetic about its pro-government position, the videos nevertheless provide a unique perspective on what is perhaps the most well-documented war in history. Brief sample: GoPros mounted on tanks, civilian traffic driving by tanks, near misses, and close quarters combat. Sometimes the other side is taking a video too. [via /r/CombatFootage and /r/syriancivilwar] [more inside]
posted by mikepaco on Jan 19, 2014 - 19 comments

AUMF

60 Words And A War Without End: The Untold Story Of The Most Dangerous Sentence In U.S. History. "Written in the frenzied, emotional days after 9/11, the Authorization for the Use of Military Force was intended to give President Bush the ability to retaliate against whoever orchestrated the attacks. But more than 12 years later, this sentence remains the primary legal justification for nearly every covert operation around the world. Here’s how it came to be, and what it’s since come to mean." [Via]
posted by homunculus on Jan 17, 2014 - 23 comments

"Felled by your gun, felled by your gun ...."

Eleanor Roosevelt and the Soviet Sniper
"Lyudmila Pavlichenko was a Soviet sniper credited with 309 kills—and an advocate for women's rights. On a U.S. tour in 1942, she found a friend in the first lady." [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jan 12, 2014 - 31 comments

Winston Churchill interviewed in January 1939.

"The essential aspects of democracy are the freedom of the individual, within the framework of laws passed by Parliament, to order his life as he pleases, and the uniform enforcement of tribunals independent of the executive. The laws are based on Magna Carta, Habeas Corpus, the Petition of Right and others. Without this foundation there can be no freedom or civilisation, anyone being at the mercy of officials and liable to be spied upon and betrayed even in his own home. As long as these rights are defended, the foundations of freedom are secure. I see no reason why democracies should not be able to defend themselves without sacrificing these fundamental values."
posted by paleyellowwithorange on Jan 10, 2014 - 21 comments

30c3

While Jacob Appelbaum grabbed headlines with his NSA revelations at this year's Chaos Communication Congress, other presentations provided equally fascinating insight into how the world works. Learn how data mining is bringing perpetrators of genocide to justice (alt), how an artist uses different concepts of secrecy landscapes (alt) to keep tabs on clandestine activities, and how India's surveillance state continues to grow (alt). previously [more inside]
posted by antonymous on Jan 4, 2014 - 23 comments

21st century birdwatching

Drone Survival Guide is a downloadable poster of robotic birds. It's also available on mirrored paper for those in harm's way.
posted by xowie on Dec 29, 2013 - 28 comments

Without A Leg to Stand On

John Bell Hood’s Leg — "This marked Hood’s third major combat injury; he had suffered an arrow through the hand while fighting Comanche Indians in 1857, and had lost the function of his left arm after being struck by shell fragments at Gettysburg. Hood was a famous general, but he now faced an outlook shared by hundreds of thousands of other soldiers who were likewise injured during the war. He became dependent on the kindness of strangers, like the Little family, in order to start his long road to recovery in the midst of a realization that he would live the rest of his life as a disabled man." By Brian Craig Miller, New York Times, December 20, 2013.
posted by cenoxo on Dec 21, 2013 - 10 comments

Strategic Computing Initiative

DARPA Tried to Build Skynet in the 1980s.
posted by homunculus on Dec 19, 2013 - 8 comments

Lest We Grow Too Fond of It

The Great War’s Ominous Echoes — "It is tempting — and sobering — to compare today’s relationship between China and America to that between Germany and England a century ago. Lulling ourselves into a false sense of safety, we say that countries that have McDonald’s will never fight one another. Yet the extraordinary growth in trade and investment between China and the United States since the 1980s has not served to allay mutual suspicions. At a time when the two countries are competing for markets, resources and influence from the Caribbean to Central Asia, China has become increasingly ready to translate its economic strength into military power." By Margaret MacMillan, New York Times, December 13, 2013.
posted by cenoxo on Dec 14, 2013 - 74 comments

Throughout the ages, women have led rebellions and revolutions...

Ten amazing women who led rebellions.
posted by Mistress on Dec 10, 2013 - 12 comments

"Caje, take the point"

TV's longest-running World War II drama, Combat! aired on ABC between 1962 and 1967. "It was really a collection of complex 50-minute movies. Salted with battle sequences, they follow [US Army King Company's travails during the invasion of France, starting with the landing at Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944 -- D-Day. It's] a gritty, ground-eye view of infantrymen trying to salvage their humanity and survive." [more inside]
posted by zarq on Dec 2, 2013 - 33 comments

Gettysburg Address: 150 years ago today

In a week which also marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of JFK, the Gettysburg Address was delivered by Abraham Lincoln, 16th President, 150 years ago today. Mitch Rapoport narrates an animated version. [more inside]
posted by Wordshore on Nov 19, 2013 - 17 comments

Can't Put a Lid On It

What Combat Feels Like, Presented in the Style of a Graphic Novel. An animated film based on a true story by Iraq veteran Colby Buzzell (previously).
posted by cenoxo on Nov 19, 2013 - 23 comments

Secret Soviet Space Ships

Today marks 25 years since Buran, the enigmatic Soviet Space Shuttle clone, made her single unpiloted 2-orbit flight before an inglorious retirement like her known siblings.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot on Nov 15, 2013 - 21 comments

Those years have accomplished very little.

The A-Team Killings
"Last spring, the remains of 10 missing Afghan villagers were dug up outside a U.S. Special Forces base – was it a war crime or just another episode in a very dirty war?"
posted by andoatnp on Nov 6, 2013 - 16 comments

In Flanders Fields

In Canada, poppy pins are worn for the two weeks before November 11, Remembrance Day. The pins, inspired by the poem In Flanders Fields, commemorate Canadian soldiers who have died in war (any war), and are distributed by the Royal Canadian Legion in exchange for small donations.

There has been some discomfort with the pins in recent years, however, with activist groups claiming that they contribute to the glorification of war. The Rideau Institute has now started distributing white poppies symbolizing peace. Veterans are not pleased, and some are pointing out that the red poppy already symbolizes peace.
posted by 256 on Nov 6, 2013 - 132 comments

WWI in Color

World War I in Color is a documentary designed to make the Great War come alive for a 21st-century audience. The events of 1914-18 are authoritatively narrated by Kenneth Branagh, who presents the military and political overview, while interviews with historians add different perspectives in six 48 minute installments annotated within. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Oct 31, 2013 - 60 comments

The men from Shangri-La

On November 9th, 2013, the four remaining Doolittle Raiders will perform their final Toast Ceremony.
posted by pjern on Oct 26, 2013 - 19 comments

The PsyWar Society

The PsyWar Society: An International Association Of Psychological Warfare Historians and Aerial Propaganda Leaflet Collectors.
The History Of Air-Dropped Leaflet Propaganda. A timeline of leaflet operations [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Oct 23, 2013 - 5 comments

"Evacuate the children, put up the blackout curtains, kill the cat."

Advice to UK animal owners just before World War Two broke out: "If at all possible, send or take your household animals into the country in advance of an emergency." It concluded: "If you cannot place them in the care of neighbours, it really is kindest to have them destroyed." [more inside]
posted by Wordshore on Oct 12, 2013 - 24 comments

Humming Ashokan Farewell While Viewing Is Optional

The Civil War Trust's animated maps provides viewers with a bird's eye view of American Civil War battles.
posted by Alvy Ampersand on Oct 9, 2013 - 10 comments

Extra History - The Punic Wars

Extra Credits (Previously, [1] [2]) was recently approached by Creative Assembly, the team behind the Total War series of games. With Total War: Rome II coming out and Creative Assembly determining what to do with the remainder of their marketing budget, they decided to finance Extra Credits on doing a history of the Punic Wars. Extra Credits gladly accepted, of course, and has now completed the saga. Extra History: The Punic Wars (2, 3, 4)
posted by Navelgazer on Oct 1, 2013 - 12 comments

Preparing for the Possibility of a North Korean Collapse

The RAND Corporation's National Security Research Division has released a 297-page report on the likely consequences of a collapse of the North Korean regime, within the Korean Peninsula, as well as to China, Japan, the US and others (PDF).
posted by acb on Sep 30, 2013 - 62 comments

the wages of a life spent in crisis

"As I thought about that spot, as I considered the mounting reports of suicides, homeless vets, col­lapsing families, I began to get the uneasy feeling that PTSD is a lot like autism: A thing identified, but poorly understood. I read about the supposed symptoms, the heightened alertness, the re-experiencing of specific trauma, the going numb. It was all true. Up to a point." -- Writer and veteran Myke Cole writes about post traumatic stress disorder and how it's portrayed in the media.
posted by MartinWisse on Sep 19, 2013 - 25 comments

Croak and Dagger

Taxonomy: The spy who loved frogs. "To track the fate of threatened species, a young scientist must follow the jungle path of a herpetologist who led a secret double life." [Via]
posted by homunculus on Sep 16, 2013 - 8 comments

"Come on Clock, talk to me boy!" . . . "It hurts"

Many years ago, I found a quarter inch audio reel in a rotting cardboard box, covered in dust, while helping my dear friend and mentor, Lighting Cameraman John B. Peters, clean up his garage. He told me it had been recorded in Vietnam during his coverage of that war. On the box, still legible, was handwritten: “Firefight, no name village, near Chu Lai, September 10, 1966, Nagra 3, 3,75 I.P.S.” John recalled that he was out with a patrol that day, and when the Vietcong ambushed them, they all had to duck for cover, but his soundman kept the audio recorder rolling throughout the duration of the fierce firefight that followed.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Sep 6, 2013 - 43 comments

Data Visualization Fun Fridays: Mapping Arms Data.

ARMSGLOBE: an interactive visualization of the international trade in small arms (generally defined as lethal weapons for use by individuals) from 1992 to 2011. Click on an individual country or type its name into the search box to examine it separately. Uncheck the boxes in the lower right corner to narrow down by category. Drag the slider at the bottom or click the graph button to view change over time. May take a while to load on slower connections. [more inside]
posted by Nomyte on Sep 6, 2013 - 5 comments

I'll take "What is Syria" for $100, Alex

9 questions about Syria you were too embarrassed to ask
posted by desjardins on Sep 1, 2013 - 425 comments

Fettering discretion

Yesterday the House of Commons and the House of Lords debated a response to Syria's use of chemical weapons. The government lost the debate and the commons rejected military action. David Cameron said "the British Parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action. I get that, and the Government will act accordingly.." A government MP explains why she voted against and Charles Stross makes a suggestion for what could be done (distributing gas masks, field decontamination showers, NAAK kits, and medical resources to everyone in the conflict zones)
posted by Gilgongo on Aug 30, 2013 - 394 comments

To the honorable doctor, hello

Casualties from the Syrian civil war are being treated in Israeli hospitals, some of them with referrals from Syrian doctors. The identities of the patients and the route they have taken is being kept secret for fear of repercussions from authorities in Syria, which is formally at war with Israel. [more inside]
posted by Joe in Australia on Aug 26, 2013 - 13 comments

Love, war and politics

I am chasing you like a drone
You have become al Qaida;
there’s no trace of you

 
The poetry of Afghan trucks.
posted by Artw on Aug 19, 2013 - 10 comments

TP-AJAX

In 2011, the CIA declassified documents admitting its involvement in the 1953 coup that overthrew Iran's elected government and installed Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, details of which were first first disclosed by the New York Times in 2000. Timeline. However, they refused to release them to the public. Today, the National Security Archive research institute has (after a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit) obtained and made the 21 documents public. "Marking the sixtieth anniversary of the overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq, the National Security Archive is today posting recently declassified CIA documents on the United States' role in the controversial operation. American and British involvement in Mosaddeq's ouster has long been public knowledge, but today's posting includes what is believed to be the CIA's first formal acknowledgement that the agency helped to plan and execute the coup. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Aug 19, 2013 - 33 comments

US use of drones: The good and bad

This article covers the US drone program. It looks at the pilots of drones, the decisions to use a drone, their highly effective short terms goals vs long term potential blowback and whether drone strikes are legal.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Aug 15, 2013 - 50 comments

Internet Ecosystem

How the Internet Ecosystem Works. [Via]
posted by homunculus on Aug 11, 2013 - 11 comments

"Elites preying on the weak, the gullible, the marginal, the poor."

"We condition the poor and the working class to go to war. We promise them honor, status, glory, and adventure. We promise boys they will become men. We hold these promises up against the dead-end jobs of small-town life, the financial dislocations, credit card debt, bad marriages, lack of health insurance, and dread of unemployment. The military is the call of the Sirens, the enticement that has for generations seduced young Americans working in fast food restaurants or behind the counters of Walmarts to fight and die for war profiteers and elites."
-- War is Betrayal. Persistent Myths of Combat, an essay by Chris Hedges of Truthdig. Responses within. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Aug 9, 2013 - 57 comments

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