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Dial H For Hero

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Member since: Mon Apr 20, 2020, 10:25 AM
Number of posts: 2,181

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Japan is converting its 2 biggest warships into aircraft carriers; US Marines are helping train them


As China increases the size and capability of its military, Japan has responded by adapting its Self-Defense Force to meet what it sees as a growing threat.

Japan has created its first amphibious military unit since World War II and launched a new class of high-tech frigates, and it's restructuring its tank force to be lighter and more mobile and building up its missile capabilities.

Perhaps the most eye-opening move, though, is the conversion of its two Izumo-class helicopter carriers into dedicated aircraft carriers.

On Sunday, two US Marine Corps F-35Bs landed on and took off from the deck of the Izumo, the lead ship of the class - the first time a fixed-wing aircraft has operated from a Japanese carrier in 75 years.

Posted by Dial H For Hero | Fri Oct 8, 2021, 12:17 PM (33 replies)

Scientific American opinion piece: Star Wars & the Jedi are problematic, racist, sexist, and ableist


The article starts out by discussing the use of the acronym JEDI (justice, equity, diversity and inclusion) as it pertains to programs promoting social justice, but the bulk of it is an attack on Star Wars, Disney and fandom.. Some quotes:

The Jedi are inappropriate mascots for social justice. Although they’re ostensibly heroes within the Star Wars universe, the Jedi are inappropriate symbols for justice work. They are a religious order of intergalactic police-monks, prone to (white) saviorism and toxically masculine approaches to conflict resolution (violent duels with phallic lightsabers, gaslighting by means of “Jedi mind tricks,” etc.). The Jedi are also an exclusionary cult, membership to which is partly predicated on the possession of heightened psychic and physical abilities (or “Force-sensitivity”). Strikingly, Force-wielding talents are narratively explained in Star Wars not merely in spiritual terms but also in ableist and eugenic ones: These supernatural powers are naturalized as biological, hereditary attributes. So it is that Force potential is framed as a dynastic property of noble bloodlines (for example, the Skywalker dynasty), and Force disparities are rendered innate physical properties, measurable via “midi-chlorian” counts (not unlike a “Force genetics” test) and augmentable via human(oid) engineering. The heroic Jedi are thus emblems for a host of dangerously reactionary values and assumptions. Sending the message that justice work is akin to cosplay is bad enough; dressing up our initiatives in the symbolic garb of the Jedi is worse.


Star Wars has a problematic cultural legacy. The space opera franchise has been critiqued for trafficking in injustices such as sexism, racism and ableism. Think, for example, of the so-called “Slave Leia” costume, infamous for stripping down and chaining up the movie series’ first leading woman as part of an Orientalist subplot. Star Wars arguably conflates “alienness” with “nonwhiteness,” often seeming to rely on racist stereotypes when depicting nonhuman species. The series regularly defaults onto ableist tropes, memorably in its portrayal of Darth Vader, which links the villain’s physical disability with machinic inhumanity and moral deviance, presenting his technology-assisted breathing as a sinister auditory marker of danger and doom. What’s more, the bodies and voices centered in Star Wars have, with few exceptions, historically been those of white men. And while recent films have increased gender and racial diversity, important questions remain regarding how meaningfully such changes represent a departure from the series’ problematic past. Indeed, a notable segment of the Star Wars fandom has aggressively advocated the (re)centering of white men in the franchise, with some equating recent casting decisions with “white genocide.” Additionally, the franchise’s cultural footprint can be tracked in the saga of United States military-industrial investment and expansion, from debates around Reagan’s “Star Wars” Strategic Defense Initiative to the planned Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (another “JEDI” program), sometimes winkingly framed with Star Wars allusions. Taken together, the controversies surrounding Star Wars make JEDI at best an inappropriate way to brand justice work—a kind of double-edged sword (or better yet, double-bladed “lightsaber”). At worst, this way of branding our initiatives is freighted with the very violence that our justice work seeks to counter.


JEDI connects justice initiatives to corporate capital. JEDI/Jedi is more than just a name: It’s a product. Circulating that product’s name can promote and benefit the corporation that owns it, even if we do not mean to do so. We are, in effect, providing that corporation—Disney—with a form of free advertising, commodifying and cheapening our justice work in the process. Such informal co-branding entangles our initiatives in Disney’s morally messy past and present. It may also serve to rebrand and whitewash Disney by linking one of its signature product lines to social justice. After all, Disney has a long and troubling history of circulating racist, sexist, heterosexist and Orientalist narratives and imagery, which the corporation and its subsidiaries (like Pixar) are publicly reckoning with. Furthermore, Disney is an overtly political entity, critiqued not only for its labor practices but also for its political donations and lobbying. Joining forces with Disney’s multimedia empire is thus a dangerous co-branding strategy for justice advocates and activists. This form of inadvertent woke-washing extracts ethical currency from so-called “JEDI” work, robbing from its moral reserves to further enrich corporate capital.

Aligning justice work with Star Wars risks threatening inclusion and sense of belonging. While an overarching goal of JEDI initiatives is to promote inclusion, the term JEDI might make people feel excluded. Star Wars is popular but divisive. Identifying our initiatives with it may nudge them closer to the realm of fandom, manufacturing in-groups and out-groups. Those unfamiliar or uncomfortable with Star Wars­­—including those hurt by the messages it sends—may feel alienated by the parade of jokes, puns and references surrounding the term JEDI. Consider, as one example, its gender exclusionary potential. Studies suggest that the presence of Star Wars and Star Trek memorabilia (such as posters) in computer science classrooms can reinforce masculinist stereotypes about computer science—contributing to women’s sense that they don’t belong in that field. Relatedly, research indicates that even for self-identified female fans of Star Wars, a sense of belonging within that fandom can be experienced as highly conditional, contingent on performances “proving” their conformity to the preexisting gendered norms of dominant fan culture. At a moment when many professional sectors, including higher education, are seeking to eliminate barriers to inclusion—and to change the narrative about who counts as a scientist, political scientist, STEMM professional or historian—adopting the term JEDI seems like an ironic move backward.

Posted by Dial H For Hero | Wed Oct 6, 2021, 11:55 PM (62 replies)

Missouri has executed Ernest Johnson for killing 3 during robbery in 1994


WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) -- 6:15 P.M. UPDATE: Missouri executes Ernest Johnson for killing three people while robbing a convenience store in 1994.

(Previous coverage below)

The U.S. Supreme Court has denied a request that it stop the planned execution of Ernest Johnson, clearing the way for the Missouri man convicted of killing three convenience store workers during a closing-time robbery nearly 28 years ago to die by injection Tuesday evening.

Johnson, 61, was scheduled for execution at the state prison in Bonne Terre, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of St. Louis. It would be the seventh U.S. execution this year.

Johnson's attorney, Jeremy Weis, said executing Johnson would violate the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits executing intellectually disabled people. On Monday, he asked the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay of execution, which the court denied early Tuesday evening.
Posted by Dial H For Hero | Tue Oct 5, 2021, 06:26 PM (2 replies)
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