Tuesday, July 26, 2016
In his short new book The Hatred of Poetry, Ben Lerner glosses the problem like this: the poet wants to say more than can be said, wants language to do more than it does, wants to transcend. (The poet who merely wants to communicate would do better, in Richard Hugo’s advice, to use the phone.) The consolidation of this ambitious but diffuse impulse into a verbal act — the arrival at actual terms fixed on the page — is an unacceptable circumscription of the impulse, a failure. But the failure is unavoidable. It inheres in the activity of putting words on paper. Lerner writes: “Poetry isn’t hard, it’s impossible.”
“Poetry” here names that utterance which would somehow surpass the limits of speech: a conceptual category that, though by definition empty of examples, tempts the history of literary production like the ghost of some God or father we could have known or might know yet but can’t humanly grasp. The poet feels the dull memory of other knowledge of the tongue and can’t reproduce it. She has to use the words there are for such things as have names — language is the fallen medium, built of worn material — but what she wants from an act of reference exceeds what any amalgam of communicable content can actually do. She wants to make moonlight felt, not speak again the name of the moon.
Julia Rampen in New Statesman:
This is one speech he won't be able to steal. After her stirring speech at the Democratic Convention, Michelle Obama can be sure of one thing - Melania Trump won't be able to copy it. Obama, like her husband, is a fine orator, so much so that the wife of Republican nominee Donald Trump was widely suspected of borrowing from her speeches. But those who crowded into the audience on Monday night could be sure of the real deal. Obama did not mention Trump by name, but in an implicit criticism of him, she spoke passionately about the responsibilities of the Presidency, and how the United States had moved on since the days of slavery and oppression.
The Obamas knew their kids were watching them, she said: "We know that our words and actions matter." And in a reference to Trump's Twitter obsession, she declared: The issues a President faces "cannot be boiled down to 140 characters". Obama, whose husband fought a fierce campaign against Hillary Clinton to clinch the Democratic nomination in 2008, now heaped praise on his former rival. Clinton was a "true public servant" who "did not pack up and go home" after losing to Obama in 2008, she said. She had carried out "relentless, thankless work" to actually make a difference in children's lives.
—from the sculpture by Rodin
Within the Whirling Moment
Those lovers linked in bronze
will not escape the wonder
of their first embrace.
Today's passion is blown of air
not hewn in stone:
a fragmenting spiral
within the whirling moment.
by Janis Rapoport
from Within the Whirling Moment
Toronto: House of Anansi Press, 1967
Pam Belluck in The New York Times:
“Has the person become agitated, aggressive, irritable, or temperamental?” the questionnaire asks. “Does she/he have unrealistic beliefs about her/his power, wealth or skills?” Or maybe another kind of personality change has happened: “Does she/he no longer care about anything?” If the answer is yes to one of these questions — or others on a new checklist — and the personality or behavior change has lasted for months, it could indicate a very early stage of dementia, according to a group of neuropsychiatrists and Alzheimer’s experts. They are proposing the creation of a new diagnosis: mild behavioral impairment. The idea is to recognize and measure something that some experts say is often overlooked: Sharp changes in mood and behavior may precede the memory and thinking problems of dementia.
...Dr. Zahinoor Ismail, a neuropsychiatrist at the University of Calgary and member of the group proposing the new diagnosis, said studies and anecdotes suggested that emotional and behavioral changes were “a stealth symptom,” part of the dementia disease process, not separate from it. Whatever is eroding memory and thinking skills in the dementia process may also affect the brain’s systems of emotional regulation and self-control, he said. If two people have mild cognitive impairment, the one with mood or behavior changes develops full-blown dementia faster, he said. Alzheimer’s patients with those symptoms “do much worse over time;” after death, autopsies have shown they had more brain damage. Of course, not everyone experiencing mood swings with age is suffering warning signs of dementia. Dr. Ismail emphasized that, to be considered M.B.I., a symptom should have lasted for at least six months and be “not just a blip in behavior, but a fundamental change.” Still, some experts worry that naming and screening for such an early-stage syndrome might end up categorizing large numbers of people, making some concerned they will develop Alzheimer’s when there are not yet effective treatments for the disease.
Monday, July 25, 2016
by Ram Manikkalingam
I am sitting in Colombo, Sri Lanka. We are at peace and are enjoying real democracy after more than three decades of civil war and almost five years of creeping authoritarian rule under the previous president. I spend half my time in Amsterdam, just a two-hour train ride to Brussels and a couple more to Paris – sites of so many attacks recently. It is surreal that Europe, the continent I went to, to avoid being targeted by terrorism in my country, is now becoming less and less safe while Sri Lanka has become an island of peace and democracy. While the cost of how we did it can be debated, and continues to be, there is no denying that we ended up in a good place for all of us in Sri Lanka, and the world too.
Meanwhile, (with perhaps a small degree of schadenfreude) I watch Europe become tense, turn in on itself, exclude communities, become subject to attacks, impose emergency law, and break apart with Brexit. I ask myself what is really going on in Europe. While we may draw a direct line from the invasion of Iraq to the attacks against civilians in Paris and Brussels, that alone is insufficient to explain why young men in Brussels and Paris will travel thousands of miles away to join a movement with which they have little social, cultural or political affinity. And it simply does not even begin to explain Brexit, Scottish nationalism, Marie Le Pen or Vladimir Putin. Maybe, just maybe, it might be more useful to start in Europe and ask how have things changed in the past decade since I have been living there. What do I see now that I did not see before? And how would I describe the politics of Europe to someone who had never been there, not experienced it, and needed to understand it better?
For all its progress and enlightenment, Europe is still a continent of Tribes – Big Tribes, Small Tribes and New Tribes. Big Tribes have their own state. Within this state they feel dominant (or at least feel that they ought to be). These Big Tribes may be as big as the English and French or as small as the Dutch and Danes. What they have in common is they live under their own political roof. Then we have the Small Tribes. These are invariably the Tribes that live within the borders of a state the Big Tribes dominate. These Tribes range from the Scots and the Northern Irish, to the Basques, the Tyroleans and the Corsicans. They yearn for a political roof that is closer to them. Or at least they reject the political roof that has been built on top of them by others who are more powerful then they. And finally you have the New Tribes. These are Tribes related to Europe's colonial project. Some arrived during colonialism, others after colonialism ended, and still others continue to enter today. This Tribe is viewed as foreign by the Big Tribes. But they are, or at least feel they are, as European as the other two Tribes. Let me unpack each of these Tribes a little further.
by Akim Reinhardt
Much has been made of the fact that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are the two most loathed presidential candidates since the birth of polling. Each of them has managed to alienate roughly half the country. About a quarter of Americans despise both of them. They make Barry Goldwater, Michael Dukakis, and Mitt Romney look beloved.
There has been a lot of focus on why these two candidates are so widely reviled. Simple partisanship doesn't seem to adequately explain it; fewer than a third of American view either of them favorably.
The Washington Post and ABC News tell us that Clinton-haters typically see her as a corrupt, untrustworthy flip-flopper, while Trump-haters hate too many things about him to list here, but it largely boils down to him being perceived as an inexperienced hatemonger.
Fortune magazine dispenses with the specifics and instead points to Clinton's and Trump's long and choppy resumés as repulsing the masses. Despite whatever accomplishments they may have racked up over the years, the thinking goes, voters simply can't get past the many "bad" things each candidate has done.
However, I'm less concerned with why exactly these two candidates are so widely detested. On some level, the why doesn't really matter; what's more pressing, I believe, is the how. In terms of American political mechanics, how could this happen and what does it mean? How did it get here, and what can we learn from it?
The one common mechanical process in almost every aspect of American politics is the two-party system: an extra-constitutional artifice that long ago hijacked government. And it is through those double swinging doors that we have stumbled into our current political purgatory.
This bi-polar orgy of villainy signifies that America's two-party system itself is badly broken; indeed, odds are that such a scenario would not have emerged if there were additional healthy political parties.
Let's start with Donald Trump.
Hieronymus Bosch. The Pedlar or The Wayfarer, c.1500.
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
"This vagabond or pedlar with mismatched shoes is symbolic of man on his path through life. He is a kind of 'Everyman' a popular late 15th century moral tale. He represents the 'homo viator', the pilgrim who goes through life weighed down by the baggage of his earthly existence. He suffers his lot along a path full of temptations."
And from "Abandon All Hope" by Nat Segnit, Harper's Magazine, August 2016.
"A naked man grabs me by the lapels and bares his teeth in frustration. I say naked, when I mean clad in a skintight nude suit that delineates his six-pack and decorously abstracts his genitals in the manner of a kids’ action figure. I have been assaulted by the personification of Anger. I’m probably being paranoid, but the unshakable sense of foreboding this gives me derives, as far as I can tell, from the suspicion that his little coup de théâtre is so effective because the guy playing Anger has actually taken against me, can discern in me something weak or sinful that he could exploit as grist for his performance. Earlier, a jester wearing a boat around his midriff had sniggered at the way I was holding my press folder. Maybe I’m not being paranoid, and the bad feeling I’ve had since I walked onstage at the Theater aan de Parade — which will increase over the course of my stay — is only an appropriate response."
by Michael Liss
"You campaign in poetry; you govern in prose." —Mario Cuomo, 1985
If Hillary Clinton does not become the next President of the United States, I have a feeling that whatever her regrets might be about emails and Benghazi, she's going to spend most of her remaining years wondering just how fate led her to be married to one political genius, be outmaneuvered by, lose to, and then serve under a second, and get jack-hammered by a third.
Bill, of course, was in his own league. Even now, with his fastball diminished by age, he can still conjure up a Luis Tiant-like variety of curves, knucklers, and other off-speed stuff. But in his prime, Bill had all the tools. He was the Muhammed Ali of politics. He could float, he could dip and dodge and shuffle and rope-a-dope, he could even sting like a bee (or hit like a mule) when needed, and all the while spouting his own special brand of poetry. Bill had another gift as well, less apparent, but there. He was a triple threat—not only a puncher and a poet, but also a worker, a real policy wonk who dove deep into the details. I sometimes wonder if one of the reasons Bill and Hillary stayed together through all of Bill's "adventures" was that they respected in each other the same quality—the willingness to keep at it doggedly until the task was accomplished, the staying power of plodders who won't give up. There was a price, of course, to Hillary's perseverance, as, to this day, she still carries a Clinton Bulls-Eye on her back—for his sins as well as her own.
When, in 2008, she reached for the nomination she was sure was hers, she couldn't possibly have expected that a second generational talent would stand in her way—Barack Obama. Yes, he gave a phenomenal speech at the 2004 Convention, but she clearly did not see him as a serious threat for the top spot. Obama looked Vice-Presidential to her—the guy who could go on her short list and perhaps even be an effective surrogate, but was more likely headed back to the Senate for more seasoning.
Hillary became the first national victim (John McCain and Mitt Romney would follow) of Mr. Obama's secret weapon—he's a lot like Derek Jeter in his prime, underestimated for being overestimated. What many of the President's political opponents have never quite grasped is that the extraordinary arc of his life is of his own design, not some mad spasm of feel-good political correctness. Behind the star status, and the poetry that enrages so many, is a cool organizing intelligence, a deliberateness, a carefully thought-out ground game. Obama doesn't punch much (his historic "first" status certainly constrains him), but he can grind it out with the best of them.
by Paul North
Wind is low on the list of the awe-inspiring invisible powers. In other eras it ranked among the top forces beyond human control, blowing us this way and that. Today we think of wind as easily harnessed for human uses, as a mild amusement or nuisance, or as a fairy-tale character with puffed up cheeks and pursed lips.
If those lips could talk, we would hear some stories about uncontrollable forces. Although there hasn't been much talk of wind lately, a serious anemological investigation has been being carried out over the last three decades by the anime director Hayao Miyazaki. Wind is always blowing in Miyazaki, or almost always. Nevertheless, it doesn't always do the same thing. The main question driving his investigation into wind is: does wind liberate us or blow us in the direction of our destiny? One thing does stay steady across his films. Whatever we do on and in the wind, we never gain control over it. This doesn't mean that wind is in control of us. Miyazaki's is a control-less view of fate. Wind is the basic element in a fluid cosmic system that strews and carries, resists and supports, lifts upward and slams to earth with abandon. Where fate is King, wind is his advance scout, his highest ambassador and field marshal. It decides nothing: wind simply executes. In contrast, fate is rather abstract, a faint inkling of limits on what you can do or hope. When you face fate, however, you don't face a concept but a force. Wind is the force against which you push when you resist your fate, and when pushed, wind reveals itself to be only air. And you cannot push against air.
You can however ride it. Many things ride the wind in Miyazaki's landscapes. Pollution. War machines. Clouds. And depending how it is ridden, depending whether your calculations include the wind as the most salient factor, your endeavors may come out well or extremely ill.
In classical myths and tales wind is either a brutish force or a changeable force. The Aesop's fable about the North Wind and the Sun tells of wind's brutishness. Sun and North Wind argue: who can strip a traveler's clothes off more quickly? Wind goes first, blowing its all. Yet it doesn't loosen a button. Sun only shines on the traveler long enough and she starts to undress of her own accord. Persuasion wins over force—that's the moral of the tale. Both are forces—soft, effective persuasion and brutish, direct assault. But as a form of force, the sun is more pernicious. It disguises its violence as reason and presents its strength as gentility. Worse than this, whereas it exerts deadly force, the force appears to come from the victim—the traveler believes the decision to undress has been a free decision of her own. In contrast, the cold North Wind, Boreas, comes openly and directly, and human ingenuity can resist it, at least when it comes to clothing. Notice that both these fateful forces aim to render the traveler defenseless and naked, a plaything for nature's sadism.
by Dave Maier
It’s been a while since my last music post, but I have to admit that the impetus for this one was less that fact, or even the release of Star Trek: Beyond, than the fact that I have not (*cough*) progressed far enough in my reading (even after finishing several more books – hey, it’s complicated!) to continue in a satisfactory manner from where I left off last time. So let’s go traveling instead (previous voyages here, here, here, here, and here).
This time: widgets! Although if you click the direct link to Mixcloud, you can access many other mixes without all the commentary.
Ashra - 77 Slightly Delayed Blackouts
Tangerine Dream - Exit Exit
Richard Pinhas - Iceland Part 2 Iceland
Eberhard Schoener - Meditation part 2 (exc.) Meditation
Jeff Greinke - Falling Away Lost Terrain
Pieter Nooten/Michael Brook - Finally II Sleeps With the Fishes
Terje Rypdal - Waves Waves
David Hykes & the Harmonic Choir - Lines to a Great Lord Harmonic Meetings
Our first mix is another time capsule from the 70s and 80s. The previous ones focused on some fairly obscure and hard-to-get material, but there’s no reason to avoid great music simply because it’s more generally available, right?
Ash Ra Tempel was one of the prime movers of the German space music scene in the early 70s, although their first efforts are more pan-stylistic lysergic freak-out – see this link for a comparison of their first album to Iggy Pop (!) – than the sequencer-driven Berlin-school material we hear later on, as in this track, the agreeably bouncy opener from 1977’s Blackouts, by which time guitarist and indeed sole member Manuel Göttsching had abridged the band name to Ashra. I love this picture, in which none of their faces is visible: drummer Klaus Schulze’s blocked by a cymbal, and Göttsching’s and bassist Hartmut Enke’s by their hair. Klaus must have liked the pic too, as he included it in the booklet of his retrospective album X in 1978, where I first saw it.
by Brooks Riley
by Humera Afridi
I arrived in Istanbul on the morning of July 3, fast on the heels of death.
Amjad Sabri, an eminent Pakistani qawwal—a Sufi devotional musician in the tradition of world-renowned Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and son of the famous singer Ghulam Fareed Sabri of the Sabri Brothers—had been shot dead in his car in Karachi ten days earlier by the Pakistani Taliban. He’d been praising the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his noble family a little too much for the Taliban’s liking. And so they had their way with him. In a nation inured to violence, Sabri’s death, nevertheless, struck at the communal soul of Pakistan. In the aftermath of the tragedy, the messy confusion of Pakistan’s conflicted national and cultural identity, inflected with the scourge of Wahabism—a tyrannical interpretation of orthodox Islam imported from Saudi Arabia—temporarily dissipated.
Thousands of Pakistanis came out on the streets, united in grief, to protest Sabri’s death. Sabri was a child of Pakistan’s own soil. He belonged to a venerable, centuries-old musical dynasty. His spiritual attunement and the muscular faculty of his voice transported people to ecstasy, raising mere mortals above the denseness of an earthly, mired existence, above differences of class and wealth into a celebration of the Divine. Sabri’s music was a glorification. And it belonged to a distinct tradition of South Asian music, a legacy irrefutably inherent in the DNA of Pakistan, twinned to the devotional practice of Islam and its syncretic cultural roots in the region. Invoking a transcendent joy, Sabri’s qawwali created a milieu of harmony—completely antithetical to the Taliban’s backward, beclouded ideology of hate which thrives on sowing seeds of discord.
On June 28, six days after Sabri’s murder, a triple suicide bombing at Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport, killed 42 and plunged Turkey—and the world—into shock and mourning. I arrived in Istanbul four days later, and in my mind the two tragedies, Sabri’s death and this latest devastation in Istanbul—and what they both symbolized—became intertwined into a single loss: that of a particular vibrational note, indeed, that of musical harmony. It seemed we were witnessing the slow disintegration of the last bastion of a modernist, secular state in the Islamic world. Of all cities, Istanbul, to me, is the most plausible custodian and embodiment of the kind of “perfect music” of which the Indian musician and mystic Hazrat Inayat Khan, whose teachings bridge East and West, spoke of so cogently.
Strained Analogies Between Recently Released Films and Current Events: Ghostbusters and the Republican National Convention
by Matt McKenna
Long before the new Ghostbusters film was released, a vocal group of internet commenters had already decided what the movie meant to culture at large. Some commenters thought that the main characters being women was an obvious indicator of an overly politically correct culture. Others thought that the existence of bitter comments about the main characters being women was an appalling indicator of a sexist culture. Battle lines were therefore drawn before the film hit theaters, and the content of the movie appears to be nearly as irrelevant to politically engaged adults as it is to the children who enjoy the Mattel-produced Ghostbusters-branded toy tie-ins. The ultimate combination of politically engaged people and consumerist children, however, met at the Republican National Convention last week. As with Ghostbusters, for politically engaged individuals, the content of the convention was entirely beside the point and merely provided an opportunity to consolidate their faction’s previously held beliefs.
The 2016 Ghostbusters stars Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon, and Melissa McCarthy replacing Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson from the original 1984 film of the same name. As with the original, 2016’s Ghostbusters begins with a hapless character (this time played by Zach Woods) being surprised by a ghost. This first scene provides laughs and scares, but the film has trouble maintaining its positive momentum. Though the leads pepper the screen with mostly good jokes, their affability is drowned out by the gooey, disjointed action sequences in which the Ghostbusters crack wise while shooting apparitions.
But I've already wasted too many words on the content of the film--instead I should have written about how my seeing the film served to confirm something I already believe. After all, this is how politics in the United States works: events aren’t input into an opinion-making process, but rather they are shrewdly interpreted to justify a previously held opinion. The Democrat and Republican nominating conventions are prime examples of this sort of confirmation bias. The conventions are unadulterated pomp in which the only output is to remove the “presumptive” qualifier from the “presumptive nominee” title of the candidate who won the primary election. Therefore, the conventions aren’t introspective events where people think about candidates and concerns, but instead they’re places where dissent is squashed and re-branded as “unity.”
by Bill Benzon and Mary Liebman
On April 27, 2016, Donald Trump opened a foreign policy speech by declaring that he would “develop a new foreign policy direction for our country – one that replaces randomness with purpose, ideology with strategy, and chaos with peace.” He closed by assuring, “American will continually play the role of peacemaker.” If he is serious, then if elected he should create a Peace Office in the White House, an office specifically charged with developing peaceful solutions to foreign policy problems.
For that matter, why doesn't Hillary Clinton hold Trump's feet to the fire and make a peace office a prominent part of the Democratic Platform? Why doesn't Barack Obama beat them to the punch and earn his Nobel Peace Prize by creating such a White House office while he's got the power to do so? Now's the time!
As you may know, the idea was first proposed by Benjamin Rush, one of the founding fathers, in 1793. You may not know that legislation proposing a Department of Peace was before Congress through much of the previous century. That history has been told by Frederick L. Schuman in Why a Department of Peace?, originally published by Another Mother for Peace in 1969. Mother’s efforts were complemented and amplified by the Peace Act Advisory Council (PAAC, which then became Council for a Department of Peace, CODEP). Sitting at her kitchen table with a manual typerwriter and smoking countless cigarettes, Mary Liebman wrote PAX, the group’s newsletter, between 1970 and 1976.
Working with Charlie Keil and with Becky Liebman, Mary’s daughter, I have compiled these and other documents into a pamphlet, We Need a Department of Peace: Everybody’s Business, Nobody’s Job. In the rest of this post I present section six, “Peace is Everybody’s Business, Nobody’s Job”(Mary’s mantra), from the pamphlet. All of the quoted passages are from the newsletters that Mary Liebman wrote.
Sunday, July 24, 2016
Nathaniel Popkin in The Rumpus:
Robert Rauschenberg, Mary Ellen Mark, Christopher Hitchens, Osama bin Laden, Václav Havel, Cy Twombly, Susan Sontag, Chinua Achebe, David Foster Wallace, Arthur Danto, and Thomas Kinkade: you are very dead. You, too, Günter Grass, Mikhail Kalashnikov, Roman Opalka, Tom Clancy, and the 13 other critics, painters, musicians, and inventors whose lives are the subjects of this alluring volume of eulogies by the writers Stefany Anne Goldberg and Morgan Meis.
Most of these 20th century people have died since 2008, around the time that Goldberg and Meis began writing the eulogies, which have appeared in The Smart Set, n+1, 3 Quarks Daily, and the New Yorker. The eulogies, to which the authors lend a homespun energy and quiet integrity, aren’t distant summations, but rather, they say, opportunities for intimacy. “It’s almost as if the person becomes more real by having so recently left us,” Goldberg and Meis write in the introduction. They suggest that “death gives us a chance truly to connect our own life with the life of the person who has died.”
Dead People is, then, a book of connections and interrogations, the object of which is the nature of reality itself and how we face it, if we can. Goldberg and Meis fix a gentle but inquisitive gaze on the lives of their dead as if they are modeling the form of their inquiry on its function. Some particularly monstrous realities of the 20th century—mass slaughter, failed ideologies, fast food, the dispossessed—demand courage to bear, but are also fertile ground for writers and artists. Those who faced them, the authors assert, directed the cultural flowering of their century.
Puerto Rican Obituary
They were always on time
They were never late
They never spoke back
when they were insulted
They never took days off
that were not on the calendar
They never went on strike
ten days a week
and were only paid for five
and they died
They died broke
They died owing
They died never knowing
what the front entrance
of the first national city bank looks like
Rosa Lyster in The Hairpin:
The other night, I pretended I didn’t know who Slavoj Žižek, the Slovenian Hegelian Marxist and cultural critic, was. I’ve done this before, but never to such triumphant effect. This Marxist bro I was talking to made a reference to Žižek that he obviously assumed I would get, and my heart sank. He was a nice guy, actually, but I saw the conversation stretching out in front of us, and I saw myself having to say things about Žižek and listen to him say things about Žižek, and I saw that I really did not want this to happen. “This is a bar,” I wanted to say, the same way that my grandmother might have said “This is achurch.” A bar is not the appropriate venue for a loud, show-offy conversation about The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology.
At first, I thought I might be able to get away with ignoring the reference. Not so. He made another one, and then another one, and then said, sort of desperately, “Žižek argues that…” I saw the gap, and I took it. I asked him who that was, and he assumed I hadn’t heard him over the music. “ŽIŽEK” he shouted. “SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK.” I told him I’d never heard of such a person, and his eyes widened. His attempts to explain were met with the same denials. Celebrity philosopher? Nope. Lacan? Nope. Hegel? Nope. I stopped short of saying I had never heard of Karl Marx, but only just. This guy couldn’t believe it. How could I have never heard of Žižek?
Jason Hickel in The Guardian:
Earlier this year media outlets around the world announced that February had broken global temperature records by a shocking amount. March broke all the records too. In June, our screens were covered with surreal images of flooding in Paris, the Seine bursting its banks and flowing into the streets. In London, floods sent water pouring into the tube system right in theheart of Covent Garden. Roads in south-east London became rivers two metres deep.
With such extreme events becoming more commonplace, few deny climate change any longer. Finally, a consensus is crystallising around one all-important fact: fossil fuels are killing us. We need to switch to clean energy, and fast.
This growing awareness about the dangers of fossil fuels represents a crucial shift in our consciousness. But I can’t help but fear we’ve missed the point. As important as clean energy might be, the science is clear: it won’t save us from climate change.
Let’s imagine, just for argument’s sake, that we are able to get off fossil fuels and switch to 100% clean energy. There is no question this would be a vital step in the right direction, but even this best-case scenario wouldn’t be enough to avert climate catastrophe.
Michael Moore at his own website:
I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I gave it to you straight last summer when I told you that Donald Trump would be the Republican nominee for president. And now I have even more awful, depressing news for you: Donald J. Trump is going to win in November. This wretched, ignorant, dangerous part-time clown and full time sociopath is going to be our next president. President Trump. Go ahead and say the words, ‘cause you’ll be saying them for the next four years: “PRESIDENT TRUMP.”
Never in my life have I wanted to be proven wrong more than I do right now.
I can see what you’re doing right now. You’re shaking your head wildly – “No, Mike, this won’t happen!” Unfortunately, you are living in a bubble that comes with an adjoining echo chamber where you and your friends are convinced the American people are not going to elect an idiot for president. You alternate between being appalled at him and laughing at him because of his latest crazy comment or his embarrassingly narcissistic stance on everything because everything is about him. And then you listen to Hillary and you behold our very first female president, someone the world respects, someone who is whip-smart and cares about kids, who will continue the Obama legacy because that is what the American people clearly want! Yes! Four more years of this!
You need to exit that bubble right now.
Freddy Gray in The Spectator:
‘Whatever complicates the world more — I do,’ Donald Trump once said. If you can’t decipher what that means, don’t worry, that’s the point. ‘It’s always good to do things nice and complicated,’ he added, by way of explanation, ‘so that nobody can figure it out.’ That was 1996 and Trump was talking about business. But 20 years later, his approach to politics seems informed by the same perplexing mentality. Trump is the confusion candidate for President of the United States, and his platform is chaos. He promises to Make America Great Again. In reality, he’s Making America Madder Than Ever. Look at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this week, where Trump was finally confirmed as the party’s official nominee. It ought to have been the triumphant moment when The Donald was anointed as the Chosen One, ready to lead the conservative charge to the White House. Instead it felt like madness — democracy as a cosmic joke.
Lots of Americans fear that civilised society is breaking down, and it’s easy to see why. Fifteen police officers have been killed in the line of duty this month, including three in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, just before the convention started. Around 5,000 officers were drafted into Cleveland from across the country, and were left to roam the streets with little to do. This overbearing security operation might have made delegates feel safer. But it also added to the atmosphere of dysfunction and instability which helps Donald Trump put himself across as the saviour for troubled times. Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort said this week that he based his acceptance speech on Richard Nixon’s 1968 effort, in which Tricky Dicky reassured Americans that he could bring stability to the country after the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jnr and months of civil unrest.
Daniel Gross in Nautilus:
In 2011, the Finnish Tourist Board released a series of photographs of lone figures in the wilderness, with the caption “Silence, Please.” An international “country branding” consultant, Simon Anholt, proposed the playful tagline “No talking, but action.” And a Finnish watch company, Rönkkö, launched its own new slogan: “Handmade in Finnish silence.” “We decided, instead of saying that it’s really empty and really quiet and nobody is talking about anything here, let’s embrace it and make it a good thing,” explains Eva Kiviranta, who manages social media for VisitFinland.com. Silence is a peculiar starting point for a marketing campaign. After all, you can’t weigh, record, or export it. You can’t eat it, collect it, or give it away. The Finland campaign raises the question of just what the tangible effects of silence really are. Science has begun to pipe up on the subject. In recent years researchers have highlighted the peculiar power of silence to calm our bodies, turn up the volume on our inner thoughts, and attune our connection to the world. Their findings begin where we might expect: with noise.
The word “noise” comes from a Latin root meaning either queasiness or pain. According to the historian Hillel Schwartz, there’s even a Mesopotamian legend in which the gods grow so angry at the clamor of earthly humans that they go on a killing spree. (City-dwellers with loud neighbors may empathize, though hopefully not too closely.) Dislike of noise has produced some of history’s most eager advocates of silence, as Schwartz explains in his book Making Noise: From Babel to the Big Bang and Beyond. In 1859, the British nurse and social reformer Florence Nightingale wrote, “Unnecessary noise is the most cruel absence of care that can be inflicted on sick or well.” Every careless clatter or banal bit of banter, Nightingale argued, can be a source of alarm, distress, and loss of sleep for recovering patients. She even quoted a lecture that identified “sudden noises” as a cause of death among sick children.
Saturday, July 23, 2016
What my evening with Milo told me about Twitter’s biggest troll, the death of reason, and the crucible of A-list con-men that is the Republican National Convention
Laurie Penny in Welcome to the Screaming Room:
This is a story about how trolls took the wheel of the clown car of modern politics. It’s a story about the insider traders of the attention economy. It’s a story about fear and loathing and Donald Trump and you and me. It’s not a story about Milo Yiannopoulos, the professional alt-right provocateur who was just banned from Twitter permanently for sending racist abuse to actor Leslie Jones.
But it does start with Milo. So I should probably explain how we know each other and how, on a hot, weird night in Cleveland, I came to be riding in the backseat of his swank black trollmobile to the gayest neo-fascist rally at the RNC.