Calibri: The Crime-Solving Font

The well-known Microsoft font Calibri is everywhere — including criminal investigations:

As part of an investigation launched by the country’s Supreme Court, the Prime Minister’s daughter had released a supposedly exculpatory document signed and dated February 2, 2006. The document, however, had been printed in Calibri, which was not widely available until 2007. Investigators deemed the document to have been falsified, and the term “fontgate” began trending on Twitter.

. . .

Since 2007, Calibri has figured in several other forgery allegations. In 2012, the Turkish government accused approximately three hundred people of plotting a coup, on the basis of documents that had been printed in Calibri but were purported to date from as early as 2003. De Groot sent a form letter in response to the many inquiries he received from Pakistan. “In my opinion, the document in question was produced much later” than 2006, he wrote. While Microsoft had by then released a beta version of its Office suite that included Calibri, de Groot pointed out that only “computer nerds” and “font lovers” were using it. “Why would anyone use a completely unknown font for an official document?”

. . .

By coincidence, the font also figures in America’s ongoing Presidential scandal. One day before fontgate, Donald Trump, Jr., took to Twitter to release the e-mails he wrote while setting up a meeting between members of the Trump campaign and Russians offering dirt on Hillary Clinton. He included a short introductory note—“in order to be totally transparent, I am releasing the entire email chain of my emails”—typed in Calibri.

The New Yorker

Literary Desire

In this review of Rita Felski’s The Limits of Critiquethe author looks at contemporary literary criticism.

Felski asks what might happen if we looked not “behind the text” but “in front of the text, reflecting on what it unfurls, calls forth, makes possible.” In doing so, she seeks to rehabilitate the validity and importance of what we might call “literary desire”: the force that drives you to reread your favorite book yet again; or to finish that work of genre fiction even when you know the ending; or to press a beloved book awkwardly into a distant acquaintance’s hands in hopes that she, too, will come to love what you love and might one day talk with you about it.

First Things

Are You Ready To Consider That Capitalism Is The Real Problem?

Is capitalism the problem?

Probably.

There are people in the U.S. fighting against the Keystone pipeline. There are people in Britain fighting against the privatization of the National Health Service. There are people in India fighting against corporate land grabs. There are people in Brazil fighting against the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. There are people in China fighting against poverty wages. These are all noble and important movements in their own right. But by focusing on all these symptoms we risk missing the underlying cause. And the cause is capitalism. It’s time to name the thing.

Fast Company

The Rise of the Thought Leader

When did a TED talk become a philosophy course?

The rich have, Drezner writes, empowered a new kind of thinker—the “thought leader”—at the expense of the much-fretted-over “public intellectual.” Whereas public intellectuals like Noam Chomsky or Martha Nussbaum are skeptical and analytical, thought leaders like Thomas Friedman and Sheryl Sandberg “develop their own singular lens to explain the world, and then proselytize that worldview to anyone within earshot.” While public intellectuals traffic in complexity and criticism, thought leaders burst with the evangelist’s desire to “change the world.” Many readers, Drezner observes, prefer the “big ideas” of the latter to the complexity of the former. In a marketplace of ideas awash in plutocrat cash, it has become “increasingly profitable for thought leaders to hawk their wares to both billionaires and a broader public,” to become “superstars with their own brands, sharing a space previously reserved for moguls, celebrities, and athletes.”

The New Republic

 

Citizen Philosophers

Did you know Brazilians are required to study philosophy?

In Ribeiro’s neighborhood, children play football or do capoeira, pray in Pentecostal Churches or worship African gods. Many are involved with drugs; “every year we lose students to crack,” she tells me. And they study philosophy two hours each week because of a 2008 law that mandates philosophy instruction in all Brazilian high schools. Nine million teenagers now take philosophy classes for three years.
. . .

That’s not surprising, considering that the 2008 law is above all a political project. In 1971 the military dictatorship that ruled Brazil from 1964 to 1985 eliminated philosophy from high schools. Teachers, professors in departments of education, and political activists championed its return, while most academic philosophers were either indifferent or suspicious. The dictatorship seems to have understood philosophy’s potential to create engaged citizens; it replaced philosophy with a course on Moral and Civic Education and one on Brazil’s Social and Political Organization (“to inculcate good manners and patriotic values and to justify the political order of the generals,” one UFBA colleague recalls from his high school days).

The official rationale for the 2008 law is that philosophy “is necessary for the exercise of citizenship.” The law—the world’s largest-scale attempt to bring philosophy into the public sphere—thus represents an experiment in democracy. Among teachers at least, many share Ribeiro’s hope that philosophy will provide a path to greater civic participation and equality. Can it do even more? Can it teach students to question and challenge the foundations of society itself?

Boston Review

Image: Painting by Brianna Keeper

Dead Dogs

What do pit bull bans tell us about the freedom-versus-security dilemma?

In legal rationales, realities are created. Old inequalities and radical discrimination are repackaged in unexpected forms. In breed-specific legislation, the taint and incapacity of the disenfranchised live on. At a time when our government is labeling certain persons as threats—alleged terrorists, enemy aliens, illegal immigrants, ordinary people who want to get on airplanes—we need to ask how the seizure and destruction of dogs deemed contraband becomes a medium for the intimidation and debasement of humans in turn. Who should suffer deprivation without redress so that we can live in reasonable—safe and secure—consensus? And who gets to decide?

Boston Review

 

Texting Toward Utopia

Many believe the Internet leads to democratization of authoritarian regimes (see media coverage of the Arab Spring). Evgeny Morozov stands against such technological determinism.

[D]rawing conclusions about the democratizing nature of the Internet may still be premature. The major challenge in understanding the relationship between democracy and the Internet— aside from developing good measures of democratic improvement—has been to distinguish cause and effect. That is always hard, but it is especially difficult in this case because the grandiose promise of technological determinism—the idealistic belief in the Internet’s transformative power—has often blinded even the most sober analysts.

Boston Review

Choosing to Be Childless Comes with a Cost

Do you discriminate against those who choose not to have children?

“Our data suggests that not having children is seen not only as atypical or surprising, but also as morally wrong.”

Pacific Standard

Image: Painting by Brianna Keeper

Choosing to Be Childless Comes with a Cost

Do you discriminate against those who choose not to have children?

“Our data suggests that not having children is seen not only as atypical or surprising, but also as morally wrong.”

Pacific Standard

Image: Painting by Brianna Keeper

After the Fall of North Korea

What happens when the North Korean regime falls? In this presentation from the U.S. Army War College’s Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute, the international response to such an event is explored:

The purpose of this hypothetical case study/table top exercise (TTX) on North Korea is to teach the participants/students how difficult stability operations are in the immediate aftermath of a major conflict.  The learning objectives are many: to figure out what U.S. foreign policy should be in the wake of a major conflict on the Korean Peninsula; proceeding from that, how to prioritize meeting the immediate and long-term needs of the populace; and how to manage Allies and rivals (China and Russia) competing in the same space, under South Korea’s lead.

PKSOI-TRENDS Global Case Study: After the Fall of North Korea: A Post-Conflict Stability Operations Exercise

 

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