Geisenblog


In Depth: Sri Lanka’s Civil War

I just recently uncovered the final paper I wrote for my senior seminar in college and over the past few days I’ve been reading through it and the various articles and materials I used while conducting my research. The class was called “Political Violence, Revolutions, and Ethnic Conflict;” here’s the official description:

Students familiarize themselves with the vast literature on revolutions, political violence, and ethnic conflict and are exposed to a variety of theoretical perspectives and case studies. How to draw on theoretical approaches to make sense of specific instances of political turmoil and, conversely, how to use case studies to assess the validity of different theories.

That description doesn’t necessarily do the course justice; it was probably the most challenging and rewarding course I took at college. I chose to write my final paper on the ongoing civil war in Sri Lanka. With America’s attention firmly locked on the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I thought it’d be interesting to explore a conflict that was completely off our radar. Sri Lanka’s protracted civil war definitely fits the bill and it’s unfortunate that this is the case not necessarily for altruistic reasons (although certainly that’s a consideration), but rather because the conflict is extraordinarily compelling for anyone who’s interested in the underpinnings of ethnic conflicts.

Over the course of the next few days/weeks I’ll be going through my materials and highlighting some of the more interesting tidbits I uncovered while doing my research. I’ll also be tracking and commenting on recent developments in the civil war. For a recent update/very brief summary of the conflict, check out this article in the most recent issue of the Economist.

photo from Sunk Without Trace on flickr

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Tings Dey Happen: Oil and Political Violence in Nigeria
November 16, 2007, 11:52 pm
Filed under: art, in brief, nyc | Tags: , , , ,

On Wednesday I went to the Culture Project in SoHo to see Tings Dey Happen, a one-man show put on by the talented actor and writer Dan Hoyle.  The play explores the complicated political situation in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, a country that is now heavily dependent on oil and the companies that run the business.  Nigeria provides the US with 10% of its oil annually and  taxes on oil production accounts for 80% of the Nigerian government’s revenue.  Dan presents a compelling and entertaining look at the situation by playing many characters, utilizing a wide variety of expertly executed accents to differentiate between each character.  He speaks most often in an almost indecipherable pidgin that’s the most commonly used language in Nigeria.  All in all a fascinating look at a subject I’m not that knowledgeable about.  The show ends on December 22nd, definitely worth the price of admission.

Check out this interview with Dan in HuffPo for more info.



Facebook’s Worst Nightmare
November 13, 2007, 8:26 am
Filed under: in brief, online advertising | Tags: , ,

Facebook, why are you so demanding…? No information on my profile means no data for your little advertising endeavor. I suppose that explains the handy, insistent reminder that occupies the space normally devoted to music, movies, and other data points advertisers covet.



Facebook Fallout: The Economist Joins the Party
November 12, 2007, 9:15 pm
Filed under: in brief, online advertising | Tags: , ,

Facebook gets the Economist treatment in this week’s issue. It’s a great summary of FB’s announcement and the effect its new ad products might have on online advertising.



“The End of Advertising as We Know It”
November 12, 2007, 6:24 am
Filed under: online advertising | Tags: , ,

IBM just released a new report describing their view of the direction advertising is heading.  I agree with Adverlab’s take; there is nothing new here.  People are spending more time online and they have DVRs?!  Shocking…

Overall the report contained pretty standard “everything is changing, all traditional (ie TV) media buyers are super fucked” predictions and data support.  One quote from the PR release stuck out like a sore thumb though.  Inexplicably wedged between two paragraphs offering explications of how we’re witnessing the end of an era is this:

Advertising remains integral to pop culture and continues to fund a significant portion of entertainment around the world. But it needs to morph into new formats and offer more intrinsic value to consumers, who will have more choices. The wealth of new advertising outlets means consumer analytics will have a more prominent role than ever regardless of where you reside in the value chain. Young people in particular have grown accustomed to not paying for content. Despite greater consumer control over content and advertising, we envision a world where consumers will continue to prefer to view advertising rather than pay for content directly.

Saul Berman, one of the authors of the report and “IBM Media & Entertainment Strategy and Change practice leader” (seriously) brought you this truly transcendent stuff.  I’m thinking this paragraph was thrown in to prevent the fine folks that handle TV upfront buys from immediately slitting their wrists after reading this report.  Let me see if I can decode what Mr. Berman’s actually saying here.

Advertising remains integral to pop culture and continues to fund a significant portion of entertainment around the world.

Advertising is still important, lots of money out there guys.  We said the “end of advertising as you know it,” not the end of advertising.  Chill out alright?

But it needs to morph into new formats and offer more intrinsic value to consumers, who will have more choices.

Whoa, forget what I just said.  We need to fucking change everything you crazy fucks.  Consumers want value not another face melting car commercial.  These people have choices for chrissakes!

The wealth of new advertising outlets means consumer analytics will have a more prominent role than ever regardless of where you reside in the value chain.

Guess what, it’s your mother fucking lucky day!   Consumer analytics, that’s what Big Blue’s all about bitches.  We’ll have a more prominent role regardless of whatever you might think about the value chain so break out the checkbook.

Young people in particular have grown accustomed to not paying for content.

Non-sequitar alert/news flash: kids these days are fucking freeloaders.

Despite greater consumer control over content and advertising, we envision a world where consumers will continue to prefer to view advertising rather than pay for content directly.

So.. forget what I said before about changing everything because the fact that kids are cheap assholes means that they’ll still sit through ridiculous :30 spots that lack any semblance of relevancy.

Thanks for clearing up this whole advertising thing IBM, we’d be lost without you.



Banksy Uncovered
November 9, 2007, 10:37 pm
Filed under: art, in brief | Tags: , ,

Looks like someone took a cameraphone pic of pseudo-anonymous graffiti artist Banksy.  It’s a testament to Banksy’s skills that this (mostly) inscrutable photo is the best one out there.

–> link



The Current Contemporary Art Market is Insane
November 9, 2007, 9:51 pm
Filed under: art | Tags: , ,

Hirst SkullGreat profile by Calvin Tomkins of Jeffrey Deitch in this week’s New Yorker. I’ve been casually fascinated by the NY art scene, and the vibrant market that fuels it, ever since taking a course on contemporary art in college.

Deitch is portrayed as a brilliant loner who made his name (and a small fortune) by getting in early on contemporary artists such as Damien Hirst, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Jeff Koons. He now pays the bills by flipping pieces/consulting for a set group of long-standing clients, but professes to be really interested in the current art scene in SoHo and performance art pieces he puts on as part of his company, Deitch Projects. One particular piece mentioned in the article involved a group of essentially naked men urinating on each other during a dinner party Deitch threw this summer. Although Tomkins never comes out and says it, the impression one gets was that although Deitch feigned interest in projects like this, they were probably more just diversions and a means to dispel the stress of his frantic life. The lip service paid to these projects from other members of the art world that Tomkins interviewed was mostly hot air. No one had the balls to directly call Deitch out save for one dealer who wondered, “…[whether] his position in the secondary market is eroded by this trash he involves himself with.” (the answer, apparently, is that it isn’t…)

Perhaps more interesting than the profile of Deitch is the description and analysis of the current contemporary art market. Tomkins traces the intersection of super-rich hedge fund managers/shadowy international magnates with the eight-figure pieces they covet and provides a behind-the-scenes look at how major works are bought and sold. He suggests that the contemporary art market is almost certainly wildly inflated (Sotheby’s recent revelation seems to confirm this assumption). This point seems particularly prescient in light of the current turmoil in the stock market; considering that the contemporary art market is fueled by the financial set, it isn’t too far-fetched to believe that a downturn is inevitable.

All in all a fascinating article with more going on than I could comment on here. I’d like to provide a link, but apparently the New Yorker has decided to encourage people to go out and purchase the print edition for the privilege of reading this piece. If they end up putting the article on their website I’ll link to it here. In the mean time go out and buy the issue, it’s worth it.