facility:columbia university

  • Columbia University to Support Smart Contract R&D

    Despite its incredible proliferation in the past two years, the #blockchain is still a relatively novel technology, requiring continual development and maturation before it can attain the prominent role that many expect it to play in the digital age.QTUM, an open sourced public blockchain initiative, is donating $400,000 to academics at the University of Columbia who are advancing blockchain #research in several ways. The grant is being extended to Ronghui Gu, Columbia University’s assistant CS professor who will oversee blockchain research being conducted by post-doctorate and Ph.D. students.As it relates to its original purpose, facilitating cryptocurrency transactions, the blockchain has made incredible cultural inroads, inspiring hundreds of token projects and facilitating the global (...)

    #smart-contracts #columbia-university #qtum

  • The roundabout revolutions

    The history of these banal, utilitarian instruments of traffic management has become entangled with that of political uprising, #Eyal_Weizman argues in his latest book

    This project started with a photograph. It was one of the most arresting images depicting the May 1980 #Gwangju uprising, recognised now as the first step in the eventual overthrow of the military dictatorship in South Korea. The photograph (above) depicts a large crowd of people occupying a roundabout in the city center. Atop a disused fountain in the middle of the roundabout a few protestors have unfurled a South Korean flag. The roundabout organised the protest in concentric circles, a geometric order that exposed the crowd to itself, helping a political collective in becoming.

    It had an uncanny resonance with events that had just unfolded: in the previous year a series of popular uprisings spread through Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, #Oman, Yemen, Libya, and Syria. These events shared with Gwangju not only the historical circumstances – they too were popular protests against military dictatorships – but, remarkably, an urban-architectural setting: many of them similarly erupted on roundabouts in downtown areas. The history of these roundabouts is entangled with the revolutions that rose from them.

    The photograph of the roundabout—now the symbol of the “liberated republic” – was taken by #Na_Kyung-taek from the roof of the occupied Provincial Hall, looking toward Geumnam-ro, only a few hours before the fall of the “#Gwangju_Republic”. In the early morning hours of the following day, the Gwangju uprising was overwhelmed by military force employing tanks and other armed vehicles. The last stand took place at the roundabout.

    The scene immediately resonates with the well-known photographs of people gathering in #Tahrir_Square in early 2011. Taken from different high-rise buildings around the square, a distinct feature in these images is the traffic circle visible by the way it organises bodies and objects in space. These images became the symbol of the revolution that led to the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011 – an event described by urban historian Nezar AlSayyad as “Cairo’s roundabout revolution”. But the Gwangju photograph also connects to images of other roundabouts that erupted in dissent in fast succession throughout the Middle East. Before Tahrir, as Jonathan Liu noted in his essay Roundabouts and Revolutions, it was the main roundabout in the capital of Tunisia – subsequently renamed Place du 14 Janvier 2011 after the date on which President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali was forced to flee the country. Thousands of protesters gathered at the roundabout in Tunis and filled the city’s main boulevard.

    A main roundabout in Bahrain’s capital Manama erupted in protests shortly after the overthrow of Mubarak in Egypt. Its central traffic island became the site of popular protests against the government and the first decisive act of military repression: the protests were violently broken up and the roundabout itself destroyed and replaced with a traffic intersection. In solidarity with the Tahrir protests, the roundabouts in the small al-Manara Square in Ramallah and the immense Azadi Square in Tehran also filled with protesters. These events, too, were violently suppressed.

    The roundabouts in Tehran and Ramallah had also been the scenes of previous revolts. In 2009 the Azadi roundabout in Iran’s capital was the site of the main protests of the Green Movement contesting President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s reelection. Hamid Dabashi, a literature professor at Columbia University and one of the most outspoken public intellectuals on these revolutions, claims that the Green Movement was inspirational for the subsequent revolutionary wave in the Arab world. In Palestine, revolt was a permanent consequence of life under occupation, and the al-Manara roundabout was a frequent site of clashes between Palestinian youth and the Israeli military. The sequence of roundabout revolutions evolved as acts of imitation, each building on its predecessor, each helping propel the next.

    Roundabouts were of course not only exhilarating sites of protest and experiments in popular democracy, but moreover they were places where people gathered and risked their life. The Gwangju uprising is, thus, the first of the roundabout revolutions. Liu wrote: “In all these cases, the symbolism is almost jokingly obvious: what better place to stage a revolution, after all, then one built for turning around?” What better way to show solidarity across national borders than to stage protests in analogous places?

    Why roundabouts? After all, they are banal, utilitarian instruments of traffic management, certainly not prone to induce revolutionary feeling. Other kinds of sites – squares, boulevards, favelas, refugee camps – have served throughout history as the setting for political protest and revolt. Each alignment of a roundabout and a revolution has a specific context and diverse causes, but the curious repetition of this phenomenon might give rise to several speculations. Urban roundabouts are the intersection points of large axes, which also puts them at the start or end of processions.

    Occupying a roundabout demonstrates the power of tactical acupuncture: it blocks off all routes going in and out. Congestion moves outward like a wave, flowing down avenues and streets through large parts of the city. By pressuring a single pivotal point within a networked infrastructure, an entire city can be put under siege (a contemporary contradistinction to the medieval technique of surrounding the entire perimeter of a city wall). Unlike public squares, which are designed as sites for people to gather (therefore not interrupting the flow of vehicular traffic) and are usually monitored and policed, roundabout islands are designed to keep people away. The continuous flow of traffic around them creates a wall of speeding vehicles that prohibits access. While providing open spaces (in some cities the only available open spaces) these islands are meant to be seen but not used.

    Another possible explanation is their symbolic power: they often contain monuments that represent the existing regime. The roundabouts of recent revolutions had emblematic names – Place du 7 Novembre 1987, the date the previous regime took power in Tunisia; “Liberty” (Azadi), referring to the 1979 Iranian Revolution; or “Liberation” (Tahrir), referring to the 1952 revolutions in Egypt. Roundabout islands often had statues, both figurative and abstract, representing the symbolic order of regimes. Leaders might have wished to believe that circular movement around their monuments was akin to a form of worship or consent. While roundabouts exercise a centripetal force, pulling protestors into the city center, the police seek to generate movement in the opposite direction, out and away from the center, and to break a collective into controllable individuals that can be handled and dispersed.

    The most common of all centrifugal forces of urban disorganisation during protests is tear gas, a formless cloud that drifts through space to disperse crowds. From Gwangju to Cairo, Manama to Ramallah, hundreds of tear-gas canisters were used largely exceeding permitted levels in an attempt to evict protesters from public spaces. The bodily sensation of the gas forms part of the affective dimension of the roundabout revolution. When tear gas is inhaled, the pain is abrupt, sharp, and isolating. The eyes shut involuntary, generating a sense of disorientation and disempowerment.

    Protestors have found ways to mitigate the toxic effects of this weapon. Online advice is shared between activists from Palestine through Cairo to Ferguson. The best protection is offered by proper gas masks. Improvised masks made of mineral water bottles cut in half and equipped with a filter of wet towels also work, according to online manuals. Some activists wear swim goggles and place wet bandanas or kaffiyehs over their mouths. To mitigate some of the adverse effects, these improvised filters can be soaked in water, lemon juice, vinegar, toothpaste, or wrapped around an onion. When nothing else is at hand, breathe the air from inside your shirt and run upwind onto higher ground. When you have a chance, blow your nose, rinse your mouth, cough, and spit.

    #révolution #résistance #giratoire #carrefour #rond-point #routes #infrastructure_routière #soulèvement_politique #Corée_du_Sud #printemps_arabe #Egypte #Tunisie #Bahreïni #Yémen #Libye #Syrie #Tahrir

    Du coup : #gilets_jaunes ?

    @albertocampiphoto & @philippe_de_jonckheere

    This project started with a photograph. It was one of the most arresting images depicting the May 1980 #Gwangju uprising, recognised now as the first step in the eventual overthrow of the military dictatorship in South Korea. The photograph (above) depicts a large crowd of people occupying a roundabout in the city center. Atop a disused fountain in the middle of the roundabout a few protestors have unfurled a South Korean flag. The roundabout organised the protest in concentric circles, a geometric order that exposed the crowd to itself, helping a political collective in becoming.

    –-> le pouvoir d’une #photographie...

    signalé par @isskein

    ping @reka

  • Soundings: the story of the remarkable woman who mapped the ocean floor
    Learn more about the book, Soundings, by Hali Felt
    Tellement inconnue que son nom n’apparait même pas dans le titre du #livre

    Soundings is the story of the enigmatic, unknown woman behind one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century. Before Marie Tharp, geologist and gifted draftsperson, the whole world, including most of the scientific community, thought the ocean floor was a vast expanse of nothingness. In 1948, at age 28, Marie walked into the newly formed geophysical lab at Columbia University and practically demanded a job. The scientists at the lab were all male; the women who worked there were relegated to secretary or assistant. Through sheer willpower and obstinacy, Marie was given the job of interpreting the soundings (records of sonar pings measuring the ocean’s depths) brought back from the ocean-going expeditions of her male colleagues. The marriage of artistry and science behind her analysis of this dry data gave birth to a major work: the first comprehensive map of the ocean floor, which laid the groundwork for proving the then-controversial theory of continental drift.

    When combined, Marie’s scientific knowledge, her eye for detail and her skill as an artist revealed not a vast empty plane, but an entire world of mountains and volcanoes, ridges and rifts, and a gateway to the past that allowed scientists the means to imagine how the continents and the oceans had been created over time.

    #Marie_Tharp #femmes #cartographie #femmes&carto

    • Je viens de vérifier dans mes cours de première année de géographie physique assurés par Etienne Moisssenet et ALain Godard, Marie Tharp est mentionnée une dizaine de fois dans le cours, comme étant à l’origine de la cartographie des fonds marins. Elle a été oubliée par la société, mais pas par certains géographes physiciens apparemment.

  • The Architecture of Food Systems

    Spotlighting the #Hudson_Valley Design Lab and Good Shepherd Institute in a conversation with Caitlin Taylor of MASS Design Group.

    Few people recognize the interconnectedness of architecture, social justice, and local food systems; Caitlin Taylor is dedicated to changing that. Between roles as an architect with nonprofit firm MASS Design Group, an adjunct professor of architecture at Columbia University, and a founding member of Four Root Farm in rural Connecticut, she is living her dream of uniting food systems and architecture in her life and work.

    #alimentation #justice_sociale #architecture #Poughkeepsie #USA #Etats-Unis #design #agriculture

  • Center for Constitutional Rights Executive Director and Board Chair Both Denied Entry into #Israel | Center for Constitutional Rights

    May 1, 2018, Tel Aviv and New York – Vincent Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), and Katherine Franke, chair of CCR’s board and Sulzbacher Professor of Law, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Columbia University, were detained Sunday, April 29, for 14 hours and interrogated at Ben Gurion International Airport, then denied entry into Israel and deported, arriving back in New York early Monday morning.  Warren and Franke were questioned about their political association with human rights groups that have been critical of Israel’s human rights record.

    “The Israeli government denied us entry, apparently because it feared letting in people who might challenge its policies. This is something that we should neither accept nor condone from a country that calls itself a democracy,” Warren said. “Our trip sought to explore the intersection of Black and Brown people’s experiences in the U.S. with the situation of Palestinians, and Israel could not have made that connection clearer.”


  • CppCast Episode 151: sol2 and std::embed with JeanHeyd Meneide

    Episode 151 of CppCast the only podcast for C++ developers by C++ developers. In this episode Rob and Jason are joined by JeanHeyd Meneide to discuss the sol2 library and his proposal for std::embed.

    CppCast Episode 151: sol2 and std::embed with JeanHeyd Meneide by Rob Irving and Jason Turner

    About the interviewee:

    ThePhD — known in meatspace as JeanHeyd — is a Computer Science undergraduate at the Fu Foundation School of Engineering in Columbia University. They are currently working on Open Source C++ and C++ Standardization projects, as well as exploring graphics programming. They are currently dabbling with Haskell and Elm for fun, and are attempting to wrangle their biggest open source project — sol2 — into a newer, better version of itself. The nickname is a (...)


  • sol2 and std::embed with JeanHeyd Meneide

    Rob and Jason are joined by JeanHeyd Meneide to discuss the sol2 library and his proposal for std::embed. ThePhD — known in meatspace as JeanHeyd — is a Computer Science undergraduate at the Fu Foundation School of Engineering in Columbia University. They are currently working on Open Source C++ and C++ Standardization projects, as well as exploring graphics programming. They are currently dabbling with Haskell and Elm for fun, and are attempting to wrangle their biggest open source project — sol2 — into a newer, better version of itself. The nickname is a std::promise on their std::future. News Superconstructing super elider, Pt2 Matthew Butler’s C++Now 2018 Trip Report Ben Deane’s C++Now 2018 Trip Report A CPPNow Travel Guide Matt Godbolt’s C++Now Trip Report ThePHD’s C++Now (...)


  • The Sackler family made billions from OxyContin. Why do top US colleges take money tainted by the opioid crisis? | US news | The Guardian

    Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty in 2006 in federal court to marketing OxyContin “with the intent to defraud or mislead”. At the time, the company paid a $600m fine – widely seen as a slap on the wrist – while executives paid additional fines of $34.5m.

    Over the years, some of America’s leading universities have accepted large sums of money from the Sacklers for science research and the Sackler name is prominently attached to their institutions. So, in light of recent revelations about the origins of the Sackler wealth, will these universities attempt to somehow hold the Sacklers to account?

    For now, they are not saying.

    Four universities contacted declined requests for an interview. “We will not be able to offer anyone for an interview,” said Weill Cornell Medicine, home of the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Center for Biomedical and Physical Sciences.

    “At this time, we do not have any comment,” replied Tufts University, which is home to the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences.

    Questions to Columbia University about its Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology went unanswered.

    Among the universities contacted, the one that did respond was Yale, which has a professorship funded by the Sacklers at its Cancer Center and which is also home to the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Institute for Biological, Physical and Engineering Sciences.

    While Yale would not agree to an interview, nor would it answer specific questions about its decision to accept Sackler funds, it did provide a written statement which said in part: “The Sackler family has provided generous gifts to support research at Yale in service of our mission to improve the world today and for future generations.”

    The statement also acknowledged the toll of opioids and catalogued the broader work the university is doing to combat the epidemic. “Yale faculty members, staff, and students – particularly those in the departments of psychiatry, internal medicine, and emergency medicine – are working tirelessly to determine the causes of and treatments for addiction.”

    As for OxyContin, universities may find it increasingly difficult to champion their research under the Sackler banner

    But do Yale’s good works justify its decision to accept Sackler funds?

    Reich says the answer is complicated. “The relevant question is not just a utilitarian one about whether or not tainted money can be used to produce some aggregate social benefit,” he says. “There’s the question about whether Yale or any other university wants to be complicit in the reputation laundering of the donor. And at the very minimum there is that negative to put on the ledger of whatever good could be done with the gift.”

    For a long time, the Sacklers flew under the radar. Forbes concedes that when it launched its initial list of wealthiest US families in 2014, it missed the Sacklers entirely, but their 2015 edition notes that their wealth exceeds that of famed families like the Mellons and the Rockefellers.

    It was only last October, when investigations into the origins of the family’s wealth were published by the New Yorker, Esquire and others, that the spotlight began to shine intensely on them.

    #Opioides #Universités

  • Israel denies entry to four American civil rights leaders
    +972 Magazine | By Mairav Zonszein |Published May 3, 2018

    Four members of an American human rights delegation to Israel and the West Bank, were detained at Ben Gurion Airport, denied entry, and deported by Israeli authorities on Sunday. The rest of the delegation was allowed through.

    Two of the four deported are Vincent Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), and Katherine Franke, chair of CCR’s board and Sulzbacher Professor of Law, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Columbia University. The two others who were deported did not want to be named or interviewed. Franke was accused of being affiliated with the BDS movement; Warren appears to have been deported simply by association.

    #expulsion #BDS

    • Interpellés puis expulsés : des juristes américains défenseurs des droits humains se voient interdire d’entrer en Israël
      8 mai | Amy Goodman, Juan Gonzalez, Katherine Franke, Vincent Warren pour Democracy Now |Traduction SM pour l’AURDIP

      Deux juristes américains, défenseurs des droits humains, ont été retenus pendant 14 heures dimanche (29 avril) à l’Aéroport international de Tel Aviv-David Ben Gourion avant d’être renvoyés aux États-Unis. Katherine Franke, de l’université Columbia, et Vincent Warren, directeur général du Centre pour les droits constitutionnels, ont été interrogés à plusieurs reprises au sujet de leurs relations avec des groupes qui critiquent Israël. Ils faisaient partie d’une délégation de militants américains des droits civiques qui se rendaient en Israël et en Palestine pour s’informer de la situation des droits humains et rencontrer des militants locaux. Dans la matinée de lundi (30 avril), ils étaient de retour à New York.

  • The Problem with Mindfulness - Facts So Romantic

    The mindfulness movement’s heavy focus on positive, health-related perks, like stress or anxiety reduction, turns meditation into a mere tool for mental hygiene.Photograph by DrewHeath / WikicommonsShould we be mindful of how popular “mindfulness” now is? Carl Erik Fisher says we should. Fisher is a professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University and a practicing psychotherapist who integrates meditation in his practice, and meditates himself. But he worries some popular meditation practices, which stress salvation through a clear mind, undermine the genuine benefits of meditation. Recent studies in psychology show mindful meditation has been detrimental to practitioners.“The overselling of mindfulness can lead to this idea that we should always be rigidly focused on what’s in (...)

  • Surgical Resident Breaks Down 49 Medical Scenes From Film & TV | WIRED

    Annie Onishi, general surgery resident at Columbia University, takes a look at emergency room and operating room scenes from a variety of television shows and movies and breaks down how accurate they really are. Would the adrenaline scene from Pulp Fiction actually play out that way? Is all that medical jargon we hear in shows like Grey’s Anatomy and House true-to-life? Is removing a bullet really a cure-all for a gunshot wound?

    #film #chirurgie

  • “The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.”

    Stephen HawkingI have used the concept of ‘Rumsfeldian Space’ — the unknown unknowns — in many of my presentations and workshops. It’s about the exploratory nature of testing and innovation — and exploiting all the continually branching outcomes of your decisions, towards those that select higher quality areas of ignorance!I keep returning to this area — to ask good questions in research, to explore uncomfortable or seemingly counter intuitive future directions or to test them and explore them before commitment.So when I heard This BBC Programme, it was very interesting — about ‘not knowing’ — ignorance and how it drives science and exploration of the unknown.This quotation, from Professor of Biology at Columbia University, Stuart Firestein, is absolutely brilliant, and worth 2 minutes of your time:“We all (...)

    #education #tech

  • Bjarne Stroustrup receives Draper Prize, engineering’s top U.S. honor

    A few months ago, Bjarne Stroustrup received one of the most distinguished engineering prizes in the world: the Faraday medal.

    Last night, the U.S. National Academy of Engineering (NAE) presented Stroustrup with the United States’ top engineering honor, the Charles Stark Draper Prize, for his work designing and implementing the C++ programming language.

    From the announcement:

    Stroustrup’s development of C++ has helped bridge the gap between a problem and its computing elements through the use of visualization for engineers and members of varying disciplines, such as biologists, medical doctors, mathematicians, economists and politicians. Stroustrup, a visiting professor in computer science at Columbia University, was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2004. (...)


  • Liu Xiaobo, We Miss You - The New York Times

    The Mandela of our age is dead, and Liu Xiaobo will at least now find peace after decades of suffering outrageous mistreatment by the Chinese authorities.

    Liu, 61, is the first Nobel Peace Prize winner to die in custody since the Nazi era, and his death is an indictment of China’s brutal treatment of one of the great figures of modern times.

    Even as Liu was dying of cancer, China refused to allow Liu to travel for treatment that might have saved his life. In a move that felt crass and disgusting, the Chinese authorities filmed the dying Liu without his consent to make propaganda films falsely depicting merciful treatment of him.

    For those of you who don’t know Liu, a few glimpses of him:

    1. He was a brilliant professor who in the spring of 1989 was a visiting scholar safely ensconced at Columbia University. But when the Tiananmen student democracy protests began, he rushed back to China to support the protesters. When the troops opened fire on protesters on the night of June 3-4, 1989, he could have fled but stayed to negotiate with the Army and arrange a safe exit for students from the center of Tiananmen Square. In the 1990’s as well, he could have moved to the West, but instead he stayed to fight for freedom in his own country

    2. His was also a great love story, and the Chinese brutalized his wife, Liu Xia, to put pressure on him. Liu Xia was emotionally fragile, and although she was never even charged with any crime she was confined to house arrest. The Chinese government knew that Liu Xiaobo would never crack, so it deliberately inflicted great isolation and suffering on his wife to gain leverage over him. Yet the couple persevered, and he once wrote a beautiful tribute to her: “Your love is the sunlight that leaps over high walls and penetrates the iron bars of my prison window, stroking every inch of my skin, warming every cell of my body … and filling every minute of my time in prison with meaning.

    3. Dissidents are often unreasonable people, for it takes something special to risk everything and challenge an oppressive state. Liu Xiaobo started out his career unreasonable, as an enfant terrible academic, but steadily became more moderate and reasonable in his career. His call for democracy, Charter 08, is a model of reasonableness, and he periodically complimented his persecutors on their professionalism to make clear that he did not resent them—and that is one reason I compare him to Mandela.

    4. It’s not clear that President Xi bears responsibility for Liu’s death, but that may well be the case. Although Liu died of liver cancer and had had hepatitis, a risk factor, Chinese prisons are notorious for their poor medical care, and prison authorities often deny medical care to dissidents as a way of putting pressure on them. It seems to me quite plausible that Liu’s cancer would have been discovered earlier, when it was more treatable, if he had not been incarcerated.

    5. Liu’s death in custody is also a window into how far backward Xi has taken China. For parts of the 1990’s and 2000’s, Liu was free and able to write for overseas and Internet publications. (I last spoke to him shortly before his arrest in 2008; State Security cut the phone connection after I identified myself.) China under Xi is less free than China was 20 years ago. I wrote an open letter to Liu a few days ago, describing him as perhaps the man I admire most, and I wish he could have seen it—but I’m sure the authorities did not allow him to do so.

    6. Most Chinese have never heard of Liu Xiaobo, because the state propaganda apparatus has suppressed discussion of him. Thus the paradox: The first person to win a Nobel for work in China has died, and he is little mourned in his own land. Yet for those of us who followed his extraordinarily important and courageous work over the decades, there is a great sense of emptiness and sadness—not so much sadness for Liu himself, who is now free of persecution, but sadness for China’s backward march and sadness for the timidity of world leaders at the brutalization of one of the great men of modern times. There is so much we can learn from Liu’s courage, decency and vision, and some time I look forward to placing flowers at the memorial to him at Tiananmen Square.

  • Argentina grants 1,000 scholarships to Syria refugees, urges others to follow

    BUENOS AIRES (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Argentina unveiled plans on Friday to grant 1,000 university scholarships to Syrian refugees over the next five years after facing criticism from human rights groups for stalling on a commitment last year to take in 3,000 refugees.

    #Argentine #asile #migrations #réfugiés #bourses_d'études #université #solidarité

  • Lawsuit Seeks Transparency as Searches of Cellphones and Laptops Skyrocket at Borders

    A lawsuit filed today by the Knight First Amendment Institute, a public interest legal organization based at Columbia University, seeks to shed light on invasive searches of laptops and cellphones by Customs and Border Protection officers at U.S. border crossings. Documents filed in the case note that these searches have risen precipitously over the past two years, from a total of 5,000 searches in 2015 to 25,000 in 2016, and rising to 5,000 in the month of February 2017 alone. Among other (...)

    #smartphone #écoutes #frontières #surveillance

  • Geographies of Extraction: How Global Trade Has Impacted Urban Inequality - Architizer

    “Right now, the dominant geographies are geographies of extraction; they’re geographies of power,” says Saskia Sassen in an interview with Ibai Rigby of urbanNext at the “Decoding Asian Urbanism” conference at Harvard University. Sassen, a professor of sociology at Columbia University and a member of its Committee on Global Thought, sees the development of new global geographies whose boundaries are dictated not by physical borders, but rather by financial markets.

    via @cdb_77 :) #extraction #épuisement #destruction

  • Regarding #Marxism and #Islam in Africa

    This excerpt below is from an interview with #Souleymane_Bachir_Diagne, a Senegalese philosopher who is currently Professor in the Department’s of Philosophy, French and Romance Languages at Columbia University in New York. The interview forms part of a larger project to “both archive and to think the present in relation to the lineages and genealogies…

    #ESSAYS #African_Philosophy #Europe #Hegemony #Islamic_Philosophy #Philosphy #Senegal

  • Why Presidential Elections Aren’t Really About the Candidates - Facts So Romantic

    Political pundits have had some explaining to do since the Presidential election. FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver and other analysts have come under fire for assigning a high likelihood to Hillary Clinton’s victory—their predictions ranged from a 70 percent to 99 percent chance of her winning the Electoral College. Clinton’s loss prompted people to question the trustworthiness of polling data—and the statistical models that relied so heavily on it. But to do so is at least a little bit naïve, says Andrew Gelman, a statistician and political scientist at Columbia University. “The polls were off by two percentage points,” Gelman says. Trump was expected to win roughly 48 percent of the two-party vote and ended up with nearly 50 percent. “It just happened to be that this election, two percentage (...)

  • Social Learning in Nature Is Ubiquitous - Facts So Romantic

    In 1898, American psychologist Edward Thorndike published a seminal dissertation on animal intelligence. Thorndike, then at Columbia University, had spent hours experimenting with cats and special contraptions of his own design: puzzle boxes, confined spaces the cats could only escape by, for example, pawing at levers in order to trigger a release mechanism. Once out, the felines were greeted by some waiting food. Thorndike found that his cats would quickly learn how to get out of the boxes. They easily figured out the different approaches necessary for success with different puzzles, and if a cat repeated the same trial again and again, it got quicker at solving it. Thorndike would plot the decrease in time taken to finish each puzzle on a graph—a pioneering approach at the time. (...)

  • Is the Nobel Prize Good for Science? - Facts So Romantic

    Yesterday, CNN Money published an article headlined, “Nobel prize winner tells Clinton: Tax fossil fuels.” The winner in question was Joseph Stiglitz, an economist at Columbia University, who received the prize 15 years ago. As you might expect, the Nobel is hardly his only accolade. He’s not only the World Bank’s former chief economist and the former chairman of the United States President’s Council of Economic Advisers; Stiglitz is also, as of last month, the third most influential economist in the world (based on academic citations). The Nobel Prize is clearly a motivator for scientists, and a useful handle for those of us looking for an authority in a subject. It was perfectly reasonable for CNN Money to extend Stiglitz the cachet that comes with winning the Nobel. But other than (...)

  • The NSA Has a New Disclosure Policy : Getting Hacked | Foreign Policy

    On Monday, when tech executives arrived in their offices, just days after a mysterious group of hackers released what they claimed were a set of NSA hacking tools, a familiar and frustrating pattern was taking shape. America’s premier signals intelligence agency had once again discovered unknown flaws in products used to secure computer networks around the globe, but instead of telling the manufacturers, the NSA pocketed those flaws, like skeleton keys that would let them open doors to others’ networks whenever and wherever they wanted.

    If the tools released by the group known as the “Shadow Brokers” are legitimately from the NSA — and security researchers and agency veterans say that they appear to be — the agency now faces a fresh round of questions about how the breach occurred and when the agency found out.

    That’s because the data released by the Shadow Brokers contained what are known as “zero days,” software flaws that are unknown to the manufacturer of a piece of software or hardware, and thus flaws for which no patch is even in the works.

    Stockpiling such vulnerabilities is part of an international arms race in cyberspace. Last weekend’s dump exposed what is likely a small part of the American arsenal of such high tech battering rams, and it has reignited a debate among security researchers about whether the government should be stockpiling them, or if it should be revealing those vulnerabilities to manufacturers to make American networks more robust.

    Given that the hardware made by the likes of Cisco Systems and Fortinet are often the backbone of the networks used by the U.S. military and State Department, helping those companies lock the back door should be a “no-brainer,” said Jason Healey, a former cyber operator for the U.S. Air Force and now a researcher at Columbia University.

    “It would disappoint me if they knew and didn’t tell” the very vendors that are outfitting critical parts of the U.S. government, he said.

    But some NSA veterans tick off plenty reasons not to share the information. Tipping off the Chinese and Russians about potential weaknesses makes no sense, said Dave Aitel, a former NSA research scientist and the CEO of Immunity, a security firm. And broadcasting just what tools the NSA is using risks compromising operations both past and present, he said.

    On Wednesday, Cisco and Fortinet said they had not been notified about the software flaws that had been exposed. Timestamps in the released NSA code indicate that the hacking tools were likely swiped in October of 2013, though such marks can be easily faked.

    On paper, the U.S. government has a process to determine whether to tell manufacturers they’ve got a problem. The interagency process was established in 2010, fell into disuse, and was then “reinvigorated” in 2014, in the words of White House cybersecurity chief Michael Daniel.

    But security experts across the political spectrum scoff at the process and the notion that it seriously considers giving away potentially valuable zero-day vulnerabilities.

    Anything that has intelligence value is not going to be released,” Aitel says.

    Chris Soghoian, the chief technologist at the ACLU, agrees. “It’s clear the game is rigged” against disclosure, he said.

    But thanks to the #Shadow_Brokers, the vulnerabilities have been disclosed after all — not to the manufacturers, but to the entire world. What amounts to a series of military-grade hacking tools are now freely available on the internet, on sites such as this one. These tools can be used by hackers to break into firewalls, control a network, and spy on users. Another tool may be capable of stealing a users’ encryption keys.

    So far, one of the tools released stands out: #ExtraBacon. That piece of code targets Cisco’s Adaptive Security Appliance firewall, widely used widely by both the U.S. government and private sector companies. ExtraBacon allows an attacker to take control of the firewall and monitor all traffic on it — a classic NSA strategy. On Wednesday, Cisco issued a security alert for the high-severity vulnerability; The company has so far not patched it, and has only issued a “work-around” for the problem.

    Excellent titre, au demeurant :-D

  • How many zero-day vulns is Uncle Sam sitting on ? Not as many as you think, apparently

    While some fear the US government is hoarding a vast pool of zero-day security vulnerabilities, the reality is that it probably holds just a few dozen, according to a study by Columbia University. In a presentation at the DEF CON hacking conference in Las Vegas today, Jason Healey, senior research scholar in the university’s faculty of international and public affairs, detailed his students’ attempts to ascertain the number of critical bugs stockpiled in secret by the US. By keeping details (...)

    #NSA #hacking #surveillance

  • 100 Chinese translations of foreign publications which had strong influence in China, Thomas Kampen

    Between 1840 and 1949, millions of Chinese students, academics and
    politicians were influenced by Chinese translations of Western books. But for a long time it was difficult to find details about the publication of these translations and biographical data of the translators.

    In 1996, the Chinese scholar 鄒振環 Zou Zhenhuan (Fudan University, Shanghai) published a book introducing one hundred Chinese translations of foreign publications that had strong influence in modern China (影響中國近代社會的一百種譯作 Yingxiang Zhongguo jindai shehui de yibai zhong yizuo, Beijing: Zhongguo duiwai fan yi chuban gongsi, 1996). This book provides important information for studying Western influences in China as well as literary, philosophical and political trends in modern China.


    The book includes an impressive selection of novels (Defoe, Dumas, Scott), detective stories (A.C. Doyle), plays (Schiller, Shakespeare), poems (Byron), as well as historical, religious, sociological, philosophical and political studies (Einstein, Huxley, Kropotkin, Marx, Nietzsche, Rousseau). Most of the original worksare from Europe and about Europe; there are about a dozen Japanese books, but most of these are also based on western publications; there is also a small number of Western books about China, including Pearl S. Buck’s Good Earth and Edgar Snow’s Red Star over China.

    Zou Zhenhuan provides information about
    – the original works and authors,
    – the Chinese translations and translators
    – the impact of the translations in China.

    Getting “The Good Earth”’s Author Right: On Pearl S. Buck, By Charles W. Hayford

    ... the seven pirated translations of The Good Earth into Chinese sold more copies than any other foreign book had up to that point.

    Once denounced, now honored—discovering Pearl S. Buck, BookPage Behind the Book by Anchee Min

    I was ordered to denounce Pearl Buck in China, where I lived for 27 years. The year was 1971. I was a teenager attending middle school in Shanghai.

    I was raised on the teachings of Mao and the operas of Madam Mao. I became a leader of the Little Red Guards in elementary school. My mother had been a teacher—she taught whatever the Party asked, one semester in Chinese and the next in Russian. My father was an instructor of industrial technique drawing at Shanghai Textile Institute, although his true love was astronomy. My parents both believed in Mao and the Communist Party, just like everybody else in the neighborhood. I became a Mao activist and won contests because I was able to recite the Little Red Book. In school Mao’s books were our texts.

    Trying to gain international support to deny Pearl Buck an entry visa (to accompany President Nixon to China), Madam Mao organized a national campaign to criticize Buck as an “American cultural imperialist.”

    I followed the order to denounce Pearl Buck and never doubted whether or not Madam Mao was being truthful. I was brainwashed at that time and had learned never to question anything. And yet I do remember having difficulty composing the criticisms. I wished that I had been given a chance to read The Good Earth. We were told that the book was so “toxic” that it was dangerous to even translate. I was told to copy lines from the newspapers: “Pearl Buck insulted Chinese peasants therefore China.” “She hates us therefore is our enemy.” I was proud to be able to defend my country and people.

    Pearl Buck’s name didn’t cross my path again until I immigrated to America. It was 1996 and I was giving a reading at a Chicago bookstore for my memoir, Red Azalea. Afterward, a lady came to me and asked if I knew Pearl Buck. Before I could reply, she said—very emotionally and to my surprise—that Pearl Buck had taught her to love the Chinese people. She placed a paperback in my hands and said that it was a gift. It was The Good Earth.

    I finished reading The Good Earth on the airplane from Chicago to Los Angeles. I broke down and sobbed. I couldn’t stop myself because I remembered how I had denounced the author. I remembered how Madam Mao had convinced the entire nation to hate Pearl Buck. How wrong we were! I had never encountered any author, including the most respected Chinese authors, who wrote about our peasants with such admiration, affection and humanity.

    A Guide to Pearl S. Buck’s The Good Earth | Asia for Educators | Columbia University, A Summary of The Good Earth

    The story begins on the day of Wang Lung’s wedding. Wang Lung is a poor young peasant who lives in an earthen brick house with his father, who has arranged for him to marry a slave girl named O-lan from the great family of the House of Hwang. After Wang Lung brings his quiet but diligent new wife home, she works side by side with him in the fields until their first child is born. They are delighted with their son, and at the New Year O-lan dresses him up and proudly takes him to the House of Hwang to show him off. She discovers that due to ostentatious waste and decadence, the Hwang household has squandered their fortune and is now poor enough to be willing to sell off their land. Since Wang Lung, with the help of O-lan who continues to join him in the fields, has had a relatively good year, he determines to extend his prosperity and better his position by buying some land from the House of Hwang. Although they must work harder with more land, Wang Lung and O-lan continue to produce good harvests; they also produce a second son and a daughter.

    But soon Wang Lung encounters difficulties. His selfish and unprincipled uncle is jealous, and demands a portion of Wang Lung’s new wealth, while Wang Lung, obsessed with his desire to acquire more land, spends all the family savings; a drought causes a poor harvest and the family suffers from lack of food and from their envious, starving neighbors’ looting of the little dried beans and corn they have left. O-lan has to strangle their fourth child as soon as she is born because otherwise she would die of starvation. Desperately poor and hungry, Wang Lung sells his furniture for a bit of silver to take his family south, though he refuses to sell his land. They ride a firewagon to a southern city, where they live in a makeshift hut on the street. They survive by O-lan, the grandfather, and the children begging for food and Wang Lung pulling a jinrickshaw (or rickshaw) for the rich, or pulling wagonloads of cargo at night.

    In the southern city, Wang Lung perceives the extraordinary wealth of westerners and Chinese aristocrats and capitalists, and he is interested in the revolutionaries’ protests of the oppression of the poor. He watches soldiers seize innocent men and force them to carry equipment for their armies. Yet Wang Lung’s overriding concern is to get back to his beloved land. He gets his chance when the enemy invades the city and the rich people flee; Wang Lung and O-lan join the throng of poor people who loot the nearby rich man’s house and get enough gold and jewels to enable them to return north. They repair their house and plough the fields, having bought seeds, an ox, new furniture and farm tools, and finally more land from the bankrupt House of Hwang.

    There follow seven years of prosperity, during which the sons grow and begin school; a third son is born with a twin sister, and the harvest is so plentiful that Wang Lung hires laborers and his loyal neighbor, Ching, as a steward. When a flood causes a general famine in the seventh year, Wang Lung is rich enough not to worry about survival yet, while his lands are under water, he becomes restless in his idleness. Bored with his plain and coarse wife, he ventures into a tea shop in town operated by a man from the south where the rich and idle spend their time drinking, gambling, and visiting prostitutes. There he begins an affair with Lotus, a delicately beautiful but manipulatively demanding courtesan whom he desires obsessively. Wang Lung is cruel to his wife and children and spends his fortune on Lotus, finally using up much of his savings to purchase her and build an adjacent courtyard for her to live in as his second wife. Here Lotus indolently lies around in silks, eating expensive delicacies, and gossiping with the deceitful and opportunistic wife of Wang Lung’s uncle.

    But discord arises immediately. O-lan is deeply hurt and angry, which makes Wang Lung defensively guilty and cold with her; there are conflicts between O-lan and Lotus’ maid Cuckoo who had mistreated O-lan when she was a concubine of the old master in the House of Hwang. Wang Lung’s old father protests the decadence of catering to a “harlot” in the house. Finally, Lotus is intolerant of Wang Lung’s children, especially his favorite daughter who had become mentally disabled due to malnutrition during the famine. As a result, Wang Lung’s passion for Lotus eventually cools, and when the flood recedes and he returns to his farming work, he is no longer obsessed with love.

    In the last third of the book, Wang Lung experiences a succession of joys and sorrows in his family relationships and in his farming. Seasons of good harvests are punctuated by occasional bad years, due to a heavy flood, a severe winter freeze, and a scourge of locusts. Yet on the whole Wang Lung continues to prosper. His wealth, however, also brings a series of discontents. His first son is idle and interested only in women; Wang Lung is furious when he finds the son has visited first a local prostitute and then his own Lotus, so he arranges a marriage for him. Moreover, Wang Lung’s good-for-nothing uncle, with his wife and son, force themselves on the family with their demands for money and their morally corrupting influence; Wang Lung must be kind to them because the uncle is a leader of a band of robbers, from which Wang Lung’s prosperous household is protected for as long as he provides for the uncle. He eventually renders the uncle and his wife harmless by making them addicted to opium.

    Family affairs continue to have ups and downs. O-lan’s sickness finally overpowers her, and Wang Lung’s tender solicitousness to her on her deathbed cannot fully compensate for the insults she received when Lotus moved into the house. She is content to die only after her first son’s marriage is consummated, so she can expect a grandson. Wang Lung’s father dies immediately after O-lan, and the faithful steward Ching is buried next. But these losses are accompanied by new joys: the first son produces grandsons and granddaughters, and the second son — a successful grain merchant — and the second daughter are also married and have children.

    As Wang Lung ages, he rents out his farm land to tenants. His eldest son persuades him to buy the old estate of the House of Hwang in town, both as a means of moving out from the place where the disgraceful uncle and his wife live, and as a symbol of Wang Lung’s elevated social position. Wang Lung is gratified that now he can take the place of the Old Master of Hwang who once intimidated him so much. But although Wang Lung is head of a three generation extended family who live in luxury with numerous servants, he cannot find peace. The two older brothers and their wives quarrel; the youngest son refuses to become a farmer as Wang Lung had intended and instead joins the army. The uncle’s malicious son causes more trouble when he brings his military regiment to camp for six weeks in Wang Lung’s elegant house. And Wang Lung, long tired of the aging Lotus, finds some comfort in taking the young slave Pear Blossom as his concubine.

    Finally, Wang Lung returns to the earthen house of his land to die. Material prosperity has brought him superficial social satisfaction, but only his land can provide peace and security. Even his final days are troubled, when he overhears his two older sons planning to sell the land as soon as he dies.

    #Chine #USA #histoire #politique #littérature