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Building on mass-grave sites: the old-school gentrification that never goes out of style, apparently...

For five years, members of Montreal’s Irish community have been working on plans for a park to memorialize the 6,000 famine refugees who died here in 1847’s Summer of Sorrow.

Now, the sale of the site of the proposed park appears to have dealt a deathblow to the plans to commemorate North America’s largest Irish Famine burial ground.

On Tuesday, organizers learned the Canada Lands Company, a federal agency, has sold the land near the Victoria Bridge to Hydro-Québec.

Given that they had been working with all levels of government to bring the memorial park to fruition, the news came as a total shock, said Victor Boyle, national president of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and a director of the Montreal Irish Monument Park Foundation.

“After all, we have met with every level of government, from the local borough mayor right up until the local MP, Marc Miller, so repeatedly that these guys know our shirt size. And they promised that they would keep us in the loop,” Boyle said.

Johanne Savard, a spokesperson for Hydro-Québec, confirmed that the utility is acquiring the lot at Bridge St. and Des Irlandais St. to build a new electrical substation.

Savard said the new substation is needed to supply the future Réseau électrique métropolitain (REM) train as well as the growing population of Griffintown...

Land sale threatens dream of Irish Famine memorial in Montreal | Montreal Gazette
Like modern democracies, the ancient Greek democracy had an anger problem. Read the historians, and you will see some things that are not remote: individuals litigating obsessively against people they blame for having wronged them; groups blaming other groups for their lack of power; citizens blaming prominent politicians and other elites for selling out the dearest values of the democracy; other groups blaming foreign visitors, or even women, for their own political and personal woes.

The anger that the Greeks—and, later, the Romans—knew all too well, was an anger full of fear at one’s own human vulnerability. The Roman philosopher Lucretius even says that all political anger is an outgrowth of fear—of the terror of each human infant, who comes into the world helpless, and, unlike all other animals, can do nothing on its own to get what it needs to stay alive. Lucretius sees that as life goes on, vulnerability continues or even increases, since the awareness of death hits us hard at some point, making us realize that we are helpless with respect to the most important thing of all. This fear, he says, makes everything worse, leading to political ills to which we’ll return. For now, however, let’s focus on anger.

The Greeks and Romans saw a lot of anger around them. But as classical scholar William Harris shows in his fine book Restraining Rage, they did not embrace or valorize anger. They did not define manliness in terms of anger, and indeed, as with those Furies, tended to impute it to women, whom they saw as lacking rationality. However much they felt and expressed anger, they waged a cultural struggle against it, seeing it as destructive of human well-being and democratic institutions. The first word of Homer’s Iliad is “anger”—the anger of Achilles that “brought thousandfold pains upon the Achaeans.” And the Iliad’s hopeful ending requires Achilles to give up his anger and to be reconciled with his enemy Priam, as both acknowledge the frailty of human life.

I believe the Greeks and Romans are right: anger is a poison to democratic politics, and it is all the worse when fueled by a lurking fear and a sense of helplessness.
- “Powerlessness and the Politics of Blame” by Martha C. Nussbaum
The proliferation of the WannaCry ransomware last week unequivocally justifies Apple’s steadfast refusal to help the FBI break into an iPhone 5c used by one of the San Bernardino terrorists. As a quick refresher, the FBI last year wanted Apple engineers to create a brand new version of iOS that would allow them to skirt around iOS security measures. As a precaution, a security setting in iOS wipes a device clean after 10 erroneous passcode entry attempts. The FBI, as a result, tried to force Apple to release a specialized version of iOS that would not include this security limitation.

Apple abhorred the very idea from the get-go, with Tim Cook going so far as to say that the FBI wanted Apple to create something that it viewed as “the software equivalent of cancer.” From Apple’s vantage point, creating software capable of circumventing important iOS security mechanisms was a monumental risk as there is no way to guarantee that the customized software wouldn’t eventually fall into the wrong hands.

So while Cook’s cancer analogy might have struck some as being extreme, the WannaCry ransomware saga last week proves that once a piece of malicious software is created, it’s impossible to keep it out of the hands of malicious actors. According to reports, the WannaCry ransomware — which infected more than 200,000 computers across 150 different countries in less than 24 hours — was based on an NSA exploit released by a hacking collective known as the Shadow Brokers. In fact, WannaCry began infecting computers worldwide just about 4 weeks after the Shadow Brokers released a treasure trove of NSA hacking tools and exploits for anyone in the world to explore and use...
Tim Cook’s refusal to help FBI hack iPhone is validated by ‘WannaCry’ ransomware attack by Yoni Heisler
Humans, modern and otherwise, have lived in Denisova Cave in Siberia for tens of thousands of years, where they left behind a treasury of archaeological artifacts. The cave is famous for giving its name to Denisovans, a species of human closely related to Neanderthals. But Neanderthals have lived there, too.

In the cave’s Main Gallery, stone tools had been left behind by people who lived thousands of years ago. Those people were probably Neanderthals, according to a paper in Science this week: The soil says so. Even though no Neanderthal bones have been found with the tools, the paper’s authors are the first to be able to detect the presence of humans based on DNA found in the soil. This allows them to paint a much more detailed picture of the past, in Denisova Cave and elsewhere.

“This is a game changer for researchers studying our hominin past,” says Christian Hoggard, an archaeologist at Aarhus University who wasn’t involved with the story. His words are echoed by myriad researchers excitedly tweeting the paper: “This is pretty damn incredible,” says Rob Scott, an evolutionary anthropologist at Rutgers. Tom Higham, an Oxford professor who specializes in dating bones, called the discovery a “new era in Paleolithic archaeology...”

No bones needed: ancient DNA in soil can tell if humans were around | Ars Technica
Shortly after the Revival of Learning in Europe

Let us begin and carry up this corpse,
Singing together.
Leave we the common crofts, the vulgar thorpes
Each in its tether
Sleeping safe on the bosom of the plain,
Cared-for till cock-crow:
Look out if yonder be not day again
Rimming the rock-row!
That's the appropriate country; there, man's thought,
Rarer, intenser,
Self-gathered for an outbreak, as it ought,
Chafes in the censer.
Leave we the unlettered plain its herd and crop;
Seek we sepulture
On a tall mountain, citied to the top,
Crowded with culture!
All the peaks soar, but one the rest excels;
Clouds overcome it;
No! yonder sparkle is the citadel's
Circling its summit.
Thither our path lies; wind we up the heights:
Wait ye the warning?
Our low life was the level's and the night's;
He's for the morning.
Step to a tune, square chests, erect each head,
'Ware the beholders!
This is our master, famous, calm and dead,
Borne on our shoulders.

Sleep, crop and herd! sleep, darkling thorpe and croft,
Safe from the weather!
He, whom we convoy to his grave aloft,
Singing together,
He was a man born with thy face and throat,
Lyric Apollo!
Long he lived nameless: how should spring take note
Winter would follow?
Till lo, the little touch, and youth was gone!
Cramped and diminished,
Moaned he, "New measures, other feet anon!
My dance is finished"?
No, that's the world's way: (keep the mountain-side,
Make for the city!)
He knew the signal, and stepped on with pride
Over men's pity;
Left play for work, and grappled with the world
Bent on escaping:
"What's in the scroll," quoth he, "thou keepest furled
Show me their shaping,
Theirs who most studied man, the bard and sage,
Give!" So, he gowned him,
Straight got by heart that book to its last page:
Learned, we found him.
Yea, but we found him bald too, eyes like lead,
Accents uncertain:
"Time to taste life," another would have said,
"Up with the curtain!"
This man said rather, "Actual life comes next?
Patience a moment!
Grant I have mastered learning's crabbed text,
Still there's the comment.
Let me know all! Prate not of most or least,
Painful or easy!
Even to the crumbs I'd fain eat up the feast,
Ay, nor feel queasy."
Oh, such a life as he resolved to live,
When he had learned it,
When he had gathered all books had to give!
Sooner, he spurned it.
Image the whole, then execute the parts
Fancy the fabric
Quite, ere you build, ere steel strike fire from quartz,
Ere mortar dab brick!

(Here's the town-gate reached: there's the market-place
Gaping before us.)
Yea, this in him was the peculiar grace
(Hearten our chorus!)
That before living he'd learn how to live
No end to learning:
Earn the means first God surely will contrive
Use for our earning.
Others mistrust and say, "But time escapes:
Live now or never!"
He said, "What's time? Leave Now for dogs and apes!
Man has Forever."
Back to his book then: deeper drooped his head:
Calculus racked him:
Leaden before, his eyes grew dross of lead:
Tussis attacked him.
"Now, master, take a little rest!" not he!
(Caution redoubled
Step two abreast, the way winds narrowly!)
Not a whit troubled,
Back to his studies, fresher than at first,
Fierce as a dragon
He (soul-hydroptic with a sacred thirst)
Sucked at the flagon.
Oh, if we draw a circle premature,
Heedless of far gain,
Greedy for quick returns of profit, sure
Bad is our bargain!
Was it not great? did not he throw on God,
(He loves the burthen)
God's task to make the heavenly period
Perfect the earthen?
Did not he magnify the mind, show clear
Just what it all meant?
He would not discount life, as fools do here,
Paid by instalment.
He ventured neck or nothing heaven's success
Found, or earth's failure:
"Wilt thou trust death or not?" He answered "Yes:
Hence with life's pale lure!"
That low man seeks a little thing to do,
Sees it and does it:
This high man, with a great thing to pursue,
Dies ere he knows it.
That low man goes on adding one to one,
His hundred's soon hit:
This high man, aiming at a million,
Misses an unit.
That, has the world here should he need the next,
Let the world mind him!
This, throws himself on God, and unperplexed
Seeking shall find him.
So, with the throttling hands of death at strife,
Ground he at grammar;
Still, thro' the rattle, parts of speech were rife:
While he could stammer
He settled Hoti's business let it be!
Properly based Oun
Gave us the doctrine of the enclitic De,
Dead from the waist down.
Well, here's the platform, here's the proper place:
Hail to your purlieus,
All ye highfliers of the feathered race,
Swallows and curlews!
Here's the top-peak; the multitude below
Live, for they can, there:
This man decided not to Live but Know
Bury this man there?
Here here's his place, where meteors shoot, clouds form,
Lightnings are loosened,
Stars come and go! Let joy break with the storm,
Peace let the dew send!
Lofty designs must close in like effects:
Loftily lying,
Leave him still loftier than the world suspects,
Living and dying.
Last week, Ars introduced readers to Hajime, the vigilante botnet that infects IoT devices before blackhats can hijack them. A technical analysis published Wednesday reveals for the first time just how much technical acumen went into designing and building the renegade network, which just may be the Internet's most advanced IoT botnet.

As previously reported, Hajime uses the same list of user name and password combinations used by Mirai, the IoT botnet that spawned several, record-setting denial-of-service attacks last year. Once Hajime infects an Internet-connected camera, DVR, and other Internet-of-things device, the malware blocks access to four ports known to be the most widely used vectors for infecting IoT devices. It also displays a cryptographically signed message on infected device terminals that describes its creator as "just a white hat, securing some systems..."

A vigilante is putting a huge amount of work into infecting IoT devices | Ars Technica
“Equivalences of Experience and Symbolization in History” (1971)[1] is, in my view, one of Eric Voegelin’s five most important stand-alone essays, along with “Immortality: Experience and Symbol” (1967), “The Gospel and Culture” (1971), “The Beginning and the Beyond: A Meditation on Truth” (written 1974-77), and “Wisdom and the Magic of the Extreme: A Meditation” (1983). It is a writing with relatively few textual references, consisting almost exclusively of a sustained exegesis of the nature and structure of human consciousness in history. Despite its being by far the briefest of these five essays, “Equivalences” addresses questions about so many issues central to philosophy—concerning experience, language and symbols, truth, reality, values, divine being, history, and the structure of consciousness and its historical development—that a proper exposition and “reader’s guide” to the essay would have to extend to the length of a book, and not a short book at that.

The aim of my paper is to examine one element addressed in the course of the essay: the fact that what Voegelin calls “the depth of the cosmos,” or the “underlying oneness of reality,” requires, for each of us, adequate articulation and symbolization, if we are to orient ourselves successfully in existence. In order to pursue my study of this issue, I will need to consider both the overall character of Voegelin’s essay, and some of the principal concerns that initiate and propel it—concerns that coalesce in his analysis of the notion of a cosmic “depth.” But my own theme will be, finally, how symbols of a cosmic depth may or may not be adequate to its reality; may be found wanting for various reasons; and what role they necessarily play both in our being confident that we can attain some understanding of what is constant about the human situation in the process of reality, and in our having faith that our own inevitably personal efforts to “exist in truth” are meaningful...
Equivalences of Experience, and Symbols of the Depth By Which Experience Lives (Part I) by Glenn Hughes

Post-Easter Visitations


     A motley pair has come down to visit for a few days...

It was curiosity, not stupidity that killed the Dodo. For too long, we have held to the unfair myth that the flightless Mauritian bird became extinct because it was too dumb to understand that it was being killed. But as Stefan Pociask points out in “What Happened to the Last Dodo Bird?”, the dodo was driven into extinction partly because of its desire to learn more about a new, taller, two-legged creature who disembarked onto the shores of its native habitat: “Fearless curiosity, rather than stupidity, is a more fitting description of their behavior.”

Curiosity does have a tendency to get you killed. The truly fearless don’t last long, and the birds who go out in search of new knowledge are inevitably the first ones to get plucked. It’s always safer to stay close to the nest.

Contrary to what capitalism’s mythologizers would have you believe, the contemporary world does not heap its rewards on those with the most creativity and courage. In fact, at every stage of life, those who venture beyond the safe boundaries of expectation are ruthlessly culled. If you’re a black kid who tends to talk back and call bullshit on your teachers, you will be sent to a special school. If you’re a transgender teenager like Leelah Alcorn in Ohio, and you unapologetically defy gender norms, they’ll make you so miserable that you kill yourself. If you’re Eric Garner, and you tell the police where they can stick their B.S. “loose cigarette” tax, they will promptly choke you to death. Conformists, on the other hand, usually do pretty well for themselves. Follow the rules, tell people what they want to hear, and you’ll come out just fine...

The corporatized university also ends up producing the corporatized student. Students worry about doing anything that may threaten their job prospects. Consequently, acts of dissent have become steadily de-radicalized. On campuses these days, outrage and anger is reserved for questions like, “Is this sushi an act of cultural appropriation?” When student activists do propose ways to “radically” reform the university, it tends to involve adding new administrative offices and bureaucratic procedures, i.e. strengthening the existing structure of the university rather than democratizing it. Instead of demanding an increase in the power of students, campus workers, and the untenured, activists tend to push for symbolic measures that universities happily embrace, since they do not compromise the existing arrangement of administrative and faculty power.

It’s amusing, then, that conservatives have long been so paranoid about the threat posed by U.S. college campuses...
The Dangerous Academic is an Extinct Species

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