War in Context

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... with attention to the unseen
Updated: 9 hours 4 min ago

A history of hype behind Cambridge Analytica

Fri, 2018-03-23 09:00
Nigel Oakes, the founder of Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, SCL Group, once described his work in this way: “We use the same techniques as Aristotle and Hitler. We appeal to people on an emotional level to get them to agree on a functional level.” As an Old Etonian, his ties to royalty, the aristocracy, and […]

Facebook employees feel increasingly responsible for the world’s problems

Fri, 2018-03-23 09:00
At an all-hands meeting for Facebook employees at the company’s headquarters in Menlo Park on Tuesday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg didn’t show up. Fielding questions for just 30 minutes was the company’s deputy general counsel, Paul Grewal. In its dealings with Cambridge Analytica, Facebook had not acted improperly, he insisted. But as […]

The ancient hunt in which the tracker’s skill united reason and imagination

Fri, 2018-03-23 08:52
“The San people of the Kalahari desert are the last tribe on Earth to use what some believe to be the most ancient hunting technique of all: the persistence hunt; they run down their prey,” says David Attenborough:   “The hunter pays tribute to his quarry’s courage and strength. With ceremonial gestures that ensure that […]

Novichok chemical attack near Porton Down fed catnip to conspiracy theorists

Tue, 2018-03-13 18:51
Vladimir Putin has long understood that Russia can easily exploit the cynicism that permeates political perceptions across the West. The use of the Soviet chemical weapon, Novichok, in close proximity to the UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down, hardly seems coincidental. It accomplished two things: 1. By deploying this agent so close […]

The depletion of the human microbiome and how it can be restored

Sat, 2018-03-10 08:48
Tobias Rees and Nils Gilman write: It is a crisis some scientists believe has similar proportions to climate change, but it gets much less coverage: Microbes are disappearing from our bodies. You may have heard that trillions of microbes — bacteria, fungi, viruses, protists — live on every surface of your body as well as […]


Sat, 2018-03-03 13:27

Are we smart enough to know how smart animals are?

Sat, 2018-03-03 12:56
Frans de Waal asks: are we smart enough to know how smart animals are? Just as attitudes of superiority within segments of human culture are often expressions of ignorance, humans collectively — especially when subject to the dislocating effects of technological dependence — tend to underestimate the levels of awareness and cognitive skills of creatures […]

The immobilization of life on Earth

Wed, 2018-02-21 19:50
One of the defining characteristics of life is movement, be that in the form of locomotion or simply growth. What is inanimate is not alive and yet humans, through the use of technology, are constantly seeking ways to reduce the need to move our own limbs. We have set ourselves on a trajectory that, if […]

Quinn Norton and the New York Times’ short-lived courage

Thu, 2018-02-15 08:27
How fascism is coming to America: It’s happening when people decide the ideal society is one where everyone thinks the same way. And it’s happening when people who know better, kowtow to the dictates of social media instead of doing the right thing. I didn’t know the New York Times hired Quinn Norton until I […]

Paleolithic parenting and animated GIFs

Tue, 2018-02-13 09:50
The creation of the moving image represents a technical advance in the arts comparable with the invention of the steam engine during the industrial revolution. The transition from static to moving imagery was a watershed event in human history, through which people discovered a new way of capturing the visible world — or so it […]

My new website: Attention to the Unseen

Fri, 2018-02-09 16:29
I just launched my new website, Attention to the Unseen. The easiest way of finding out what it’s all about is to visit on a regular basis and for that purpose I recommend signing up for email updates.

With the very best technology, humanity is digging its own grave

Fri, 2018-02-09 16:26
Technology is generally thought of as extending human capabilities by facilitating everyday actions more easily or allowing us to do things that would otherwise be impossible. From this expansive perspective, technological advance has become synonymous with human progress. Conversely, the less technology populations possess, the more they are viewed as developing or even less evolved. […]

Britain First and the first Britons

Thu, 2018-02-08 15:26
The white supremacists who chant “blood and soil” (borrowing this phrase from the Nazis’ Blut und Boden) think white-skinned people have a special claim to the lands of Europe and North America. This is an arrogant and ignorant belief to hold on this side of the Atlantic where every white person has immigrant ancestry originating […]

What happened to War in Context?

Wed, 2018-02-07 15:39
On December 20, I explained my reason for suspending updates to this site by referring mysteriously and ominously to “the dictate of highly unpredictable events.” Regular visitors to War in Context may want to find out what happened and can now do so by reading this post on my new website, Attention to the Unseen.