America’s new concentration camps


Paul J. Richards/AFP

❝ [In June], New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez referred to US border detention facilities as “concentration camps,” spurring a backlash in which critics accused her of demeaning the memory of those who died in the Holocaust. Debates raged over a label for what is happening along the southern border and grew louder as the week rolled on. But even this back-and-forth over naming the camps has been a recurrent feature in the mass detention of civilians ever since its inception, a history that long predates the Holocaust.

❝ At the heart of such policy is a question: What does a country owe desperate people whom it does not consider to be its citizens?…From the Fourth Geneva Convention protecting civilians in 1949 to the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, the international community established humanitarian obligations toward the most vulnerable that apply, at least in theory, to all nations…

In addition to the total of detainees held by Border Patrol, an even higher number is detained at centers around the country by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency: on a typical day at the beginning of this month, ICE was detaining more than 52,500 migrants. The family separation policy outraged the public in the 2018, but despite legal challenges, it never fully ended. Less publicized have been the deaths of twenty-four adults in ICE custody since the beginning of the Trump administration; in addition, six children between the ages of two and sixteen have died in federal custody over the last several months. It’s not clear whether there have been other deaths that have gone unreported.

RTFA. Please. It is a thorough and current essay on what has been done in our name, time and again.

Our state capital, Santa Fe, was the site of one of those so-called internment camps during WW2. It’s a lovely neighborhood, nowadays, with few remembering the political aberration of 80 years ago. What our politicians are doing along the southern border will not be easy for anyone with a conscience to forget.

Buy Bonds – and K Rations


Click to enlarge

The K-ration was an individual daily combat food ration which was introduced by the United States Army during World War II. It provided three separately boxed meal units: breakfast, dinner (lunch) and supper (dinner).

More than most American homeless might count on, nowadays.

Historic Fireboat John J Harvey Gets Dazzle Camouflage


Nicholas Knight/Public Art Fund

❝ During WWI and WWII, dazzle camouflage (also known as razzle-dazzle in the U.S.) was painted onto thousands of ships both in the U.K. and U.S.

Its development is credited to the British marine artist Norman Wilkinson, who in 1917 claimed that painting ships with geometric shapes in contrasting colors — interrupting and intersecting each other — would make it difficult for enemy vessels to target them. Unlike traditional camouflage, dazzle was used to confuse and disorient ships rather than to conceal or hide them.

************

I must add:

❝ — In the panic of Sept. 11, 2001, as tens of thousands of people tried to leave the island of Manhattan, an aging boat once headed for the scrap heap became a hero of sorts.

On 9/11, the John J. Harvey raced to Pier 11, evacuating 150 terrified, dust-covered people…

❝ Then came a second call. Firemen battling blazes at the World Trade Center had no water because the twin towers had fallen on the water lines…

For three days, the Harvey joined three active-duty fireboats to provide the only water there was to keep the 9/11 fires from getting worse.

No reason to let this heroic craft be retired. Surely, there are enough folks with heart enough to make this monument stay afloat forever.

When Did Silicon Valley Become Brotopia?

❝ In engineering circles, some refer to Lena as “the first lady of the internet.” Others see her as the industry’s original sin, the first step in Silicon Valley’s exclusion of women. Both views stem from an event that took place in 1973 at a University of Southern California computer lab, where a team of researchers was trying to turn physical photographs into digital bits. Their work would serve as a precursor to the JPEG, a widely used compression standard that allows large image files to be efficiently transferred between devices. The USC team needed to test their algorithms on suitable photos, and their search for the ideal test photo led them to Lena.

❝ According to William Pratt, the lab’s co-founder, the group chose Lena’s portrait from a copy of Playboy that a student had brought into the lab. Pratt, now 80, tells me he saw nothing out of the ordinary about having a soft porn magazine in a university computer lab in 1973. “I said, ‘There are some pretty nice-looking pictures in there,’ ” he says. “And the grad students picked the one that was in the centerfold.” Lena’s spread, which featured the model wearing boots, a boa, a feathered hat, and nothing else, was attractive from a technical perspective because the photo included, according to Pratt, “lots of high-frequency detail that is difficult to code.”…To this day, some engineers joke that if you want your image compression algorithm to make the grade, it had better perform well on Lena…

❝ “When you use a picture like that for so long, it’s not a person anymore; it’s just pixels,” Jeff Seideman told the Atlantic in 2016, unwittingly highlighting the sexism that Needell and other critics had tried to point out.

“We didn’t even think about those things at all when we were doing this,” Pratt says. “It was not sexist.” After all, he continues, no one could have been offended because there were no women in the classroom at the time. And thus began a half-century’s worth of buck-passing in which powerful men in the tech industry defended or ignored the exclusion of women on the grounds that they were already excluded.

Uh-huh…RTFA, please.

How we entered World War 2

On the morning of December 7, 1941, Japanese bombers staged a surprise attack on U.S. military forces at Pearl Harbor Hawaii. In less than three hours, the United States suffered more than 2,400 casualties and loss of or severe damage to 188 airplanes and 8 battleships.

At one station, Army privates were running the radar and at 7:02 a.m., a large white blip appeared. The privates marked this activity and the continuing movements of incoming planes. Pvt. Joseph Lockard reported this to the Information Center, but a group of American B-17s were due to arrive that day from San Francisco, and Lockard was told to forget about what he saw. It was only after arrival at camp that they received word that at 7:55 a.m. the Japanese had begun dropping bombs on Pearl Harbor.

They realized that the planes they had been tracking on the radar plot were not American, but the Japanese attacking force. They had witnessed the start of World War II for America, but they hadn’t realized it.

And so it began.

The Lost Tapes from Pearl Harbor

pearl-harbor-tribute

❝ One style of history documentary — vintage clips plus reminiscences plus talking heads — is so common that it’s easy to forget that there are other options. “The Lost Tapes,” a series the Smithsonian Channel introduces on Sunday night with an episode on Pearl Harbor, effectively employs an alternative that really ought to get more use, especially for history that falls within the era of film and sound recording.

The program consists of just clips and still images with an occasional caption. No academics in office-chair interviews interpret things for you. No survivors grow weepy while dredging up their decades-old memories. No narration intrudes. The idea is to come closer to putting you in the historical moment, to give you a sense of what people experienced and felt at the time.

RTFA. Know what to expect, what to look for, when you watch this – as I plan to do. Never forget.

Russian scientists find WW2 Nazi weather station


Click to enlarge

❝ A secret Nazi base in the Arctic abandoned after scientists ate infected polar bear meat has been unearthed.

The mysterious site, named ‘Schatzgraber’ or ‘Treasure Hunter’ by Hitler’s underlings, was constructed in 1942 – a year after the Third Reich invaded Russia.

Russian researchers have now rediscovered the military base, which the former garrison evacuated by U-boat after eating infected polar bear meat…

❝ More than 500 objects were recovered from the site as Russian scientists explored the former Nazi compound located in Alexandra Land, an island around 1,000 kilometres from the North Pole.

❝ On the barren moonscape of the isolated island, relics of the Second World War can be seen, with shells and other fragments of the conflict lying on the shale.

The ruins of bunkers, discarded petrol canisters and even paper documents have also been discovered, preserved in the intense cold

❝ Allied forces occupied most suitable sites for polar weather reports, so the Nazis landed a small group of observers on Alexandra Land.

Supplies for the men at the remote post were dropped by air.

In 1944 all of the men at he base ate raw polar bear meat, which resulted in trichinosis disease from roundworms living in the infected flesh.

A U-boat had to rescue the scientists posted there after infection ravaged their base.

Not exactly good duty. I hope they at least received combat pay.