Wednesday, June 22, 2016
Andreas Kluth in 1843 Magazine:
Many Germans have been glued to a television series, “Where We Come From”, that explains Germany’s long, complicated and often tragic history. The “we” in the title, however, is deceptive, for the host and narrator is Sir Christopher Clark, an Australian historian knighted for his services to Anglo-German relations. His academic credentials are excellent. His book on Prussia, “Iron Kingdom”, may be the best on the subject. His tome on the first world war, “The Sleepwalkers”, became a bestseller. But Germany has plenty of its own historians. Why Clark? The answer starts with the dappled bow tie he wears as he drives around Germany in a red cabriolet vw Beetle: the quintessential Brit (Aussies are close enough) in the quintessential German vehicle. Then there’s the language. Clark speaks grammatically flawless German, but with enough of an English cadence to sound cheeky, witty and incisive. Occasionally he uses humour, which can still be shocking on German public television. Sometimes he even says nice things about the country’s past, which to Germans is truly shocking. He does not seem full of himself. To Germans that is refreshing.
German Anglophiles consider such attributes “Anglo-Saxon”. The term is stretchable in this context and includes anybody English-speaking, whether Celtic or Saxon, pale or brown, from down under or beyond the pond. Clark is not an isolated case. The late Gordon Craig, a Scottish-American historian, achieved similar success. So has Timothy Garton Ash, a historian at Oxford and Stanford, who wows Germans with pithy insights delivered in sophisticated German.
Jeff Tollefson in Nature:
I’m standing in the spiraling rotunda of New York’s Guggenheim Museum, and over me dangles a chaotic mess held together by translucent Plexiglas. In the shadow the sculpture casts on the wall, the shapes converge in a pleasing negative blending intention and happenstance – impossible to predict, yet clearly part of a plan. On evidence, this is an artist thinking experimentally, and in multiple dimensions.
The industrial designer, artist and photographer Lázló Moholy-Nagy (1895-1946) was certainly that. As the Guggenheim’s retrospective Moholy-Nagy: Future Present shows, the Hungarian pioneer of the Bauhaus and beyond worked in a dazzling array of media: film, photography, painting, sculpture, graphic design and typography. But behind the restless eclecticism, he adhered to the unifying theory (with the Constructivists) that art is integral to social transformation and must embrace new technologies. At a time of vast industrial expansion, he declaimed himself as “[n]ot against technological progress, but with it”, championing novel industrial materials — from Formica and aluminium to the Plexiglas in Dual Form with Chromium Rods (1946) in the rotunda. Drawn towards the airy, the transparent and the brilliantly coloured, he was also in love with light and movement: like contemporary Alexander Calder, he engineered moving parts and even electric motors into kinetic sculptures.
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Yoona Lee in the Los Angeles Review of Books:
In 1993 an unusually precocious 23-year-old named Alain de Botton rocked the literary world with the release of his first novel, On Love (also known as Essays in Love). Since then he has become a minor cultural phenomenon, thanks in part to his preternatural understanding of the human condition, unerringly articulate writing, and embrace of a mind-bogglingly broad array of subject matter, from commercial cookie manufacturing to Roman architecture. An accomplished polymath, de Botton is a journalist, novelist, and philosopher who has even founded a global, multichannel enterprise called The School of Life. For more than two decades, his second novel has been breathlessly anticipated by his admirers.
Written in de Botton’s characteristic style — accessible and sprinkled with friendly parenthetical asides — The Course of Love picks up where On Love leaves off. The main character of that novel, a Lebanese-German named Rabih Khan, has grown into a young man of 31. An architect now living in Edinburgh, he still slams doors during arguments, enjoys a good sulk now and then, and has a penchant for pragmatic, independent-minded women with ruddy hair and charmingly imperfect teeth. He is still an unabashed and incurable Romantic.
When Rabih meets his client, an unflappable Scottish woman named Kirsten McLelland, he quickly falls deeply in love. Soon they are dating, and at the end of the second chapter, de Botton summarizes their entire subsequent relationship in stark terms. The couple will marry and encounter major challenges along with the banality of domestic life. Over the course of 13 years, they will have a daughter followed by a son, and one will have an affair. “This will be the real love story,” the author concludes.
Sean Carroll in UnDark:
There are two things going on, both of which are crucial to the operation of a pendulum clock. One is a little gizmo called an escapement, which turns the back-and-forth-rocking of the pendulum into the one-way ticking of the clock. Robert Hooke, a rival of Isaac Newton’s, invented the first escapement back in the seventeenth century. The clock hands are driven by an “escape wheel” with pointed teeth that are angled in a uniform direction. The pendulum, meanwhile, is connected to a two-armed piece called the “anchor.” As the anchor rocks back and forth, one of the arms first pushes the escape wheel in one direction, and then the other catches the teeth so that the wheel cannot move in the other. In this way, the oscillations of the pendulum become the uniform motion of the clock hands.
All of this sounds good, and would seem at first to be sufficient: the angling of the anchor arms and the teeth on the escape wheel provide a directionality to the motion of the clock. Except: where did entropy come in? How does the universal arrow of time governed by increasing entropy become related to the local arrow of time of this particular clock?
The answer resides in the seemingly innocent lifting and pushing of the anchor. It seems, by looking at the drawing of an escapement, that the wheel can obviously move in only one direction. But the underlying laws of physics assure us that if something can move in one direction, it can also move in the reversed direction. In this case, that would involve the anchor briefly lifting up, with the escape wheel swiftly and spontaneously moving backwards while it was lifted.
Why doesn’t that happen, and what does it have to do with entropy?
Shoaib Daniyal in Scroll.in:
At the height of the Islamic Golden Age – a period from the mid-8th century to the mid-13th century when Islamic civilisation is believed to have reached its intellectual and cultural zenith – homosexuality was openly spoken and written about. Abu Nuwas (756-814), one of the great Arab classical poets during the time of the Abbasid Caliphate, wrote publicly about his homosexual desires and relations. His homoerotic poetry was openly circulated right up until the 20th century.
Nuwas was an important historical figure – he even made a couple of appearances in The Book of One Thousand and One Nights (known in Urdu as Alif Laila). It was only as late as 2001 that Arabs started to blush at Nuwas’ homoerotism. In 2001, the Egyptian Ministry of Culture, under pressure from Islamic fundamentalists, burnt 6,000 volumes of his poetry.
Most modern Muslims, therefore, have little knowledge of what the Islamic Golden Age was really about, even though they keep on wanting to go back to it.
“ISIS have no idea what restoring the Caliphate actually means," a tweet by Belgian-Egyptian journalist Khaled Diab said. "In Baghdad, it’d involve booze, odes to wine, science... and a gay court poet.”
A multivalent exhibition now at the New-York Historical Society, drawn from the sprawling folk art collection of the sculptor Elie Nadelman (1882-1946) and his independently wealthy wife, Viola (1878-1962), is far more interesting than even its organizers seem to realize. The more than two hundred objects on display range from clipper ship figureheads (“It was not just a sailor who carved this but an artist,” Nadelman remarked of a ravishing gilded eagle with detachable wings) to miniature carved animals, amid a trove of carefully selected pottery, exquisitely detailed needle-cases, and an early, ingenious earthenware roach motel—the glazed, funnel-shaped opening of which traps roaches lured inside by molasses. This staggering array of material is complemented by a dozen or so of Nadelman’s wondrous figurative sculptures, fashioned in weathered cherry or mahogany and often given an overlay of seemingly aging paint.
The big news of the exhibition is that Nadelman (along with Viola, already a well-informed specialist, before their 1919 marriage, in antique lace and embroidery) was also among the first generation of serious collectors of American folk art and among the first to use the Germanic derived notion of a national “Volk” to confer prestige on such objects rather than the pejorative adjective “primitive,” favored by early twentieth-century enthusiasts of African masks, “peasant” carvings, and Native American pottery.
The campaign to get Britain out of the European Union is hard enough to understand if you are British. For foreigners it must be quite incomprehensible. Although Scotland, Wales, and Ireland are all solidly in favor of remaining, English attitudes towards Europe have become as delusional, and as powerful, as American attitudes towards gun control. We are suffering from national psychosis: post-imperial stress disorder.
Three dates are useful in understanding the deeper roots of what is happening to this country — 1945, 1956, and 1966. 1945, when the second world war ended, still feels like yesterday in the English imagination. We were bankrupt, with our cities bombed to rubble and hundreds of thousands of young men killed or wounded. Food, clothing, and petrol were all rationed and would be for another five years. But when you ask if British society was better then, a huge majority of the English people think it was. The overall figure is 51 percent worse today to 27 percent better, and when you break it down it is only those under 24 or non-white who think things have really gotten better since the war. Otherwise men and women from every region of the country believe that British society has got worse in the 70 years of European peace and unimaginable prosperity since the war.
The problem, you see, is that this peace and prosperity did not come on our own terms — which brings us to the second crucial date, of 1956. That was when the British Army, in collaboration with the French and the Israelis, invaded Egypt to recapture the Suez canal. I was there, though only a year old: My father was at the time the British consul in Ismailia, on the canal. He’d known things were going wrong for months, ever since he received a top-secret coded cable asking where the post office was in Ismailia — something that showed that an invasion was being planned, but that no one had any maps for it.
Who would have thought that Susan Sontag’s “One Culture and the New Sensibility”—widely regarded as an opening salvo in the long culture war against “elitist” standards”—is now fifty years old?
I revisited Sontag’s celebrated essay because I was reading a new book by George Cotkin called Feast of Excess: A Cultural History of the New Sensibility (Oxford University Press, 2015). Making my way through Cotkin’s twenty-three short chapters about the life and times of the many, many diverse figures he offers as representative of the new sensibility, I was surprised to find how elastic the concept had become. Cotkin locates its roots in the “minimalism” of John Cage in 1952, followed by Robert Rauschenberg’s early experimental work, Marlon Brando’s style of rebellion inThe Wild One, and six more predecessors. He then traces how it “exploded” in the 1960s—this is where Sontag appears (he calls her “the queen of the New Sensibility,” and its “cheerleader”), in between chapters on Lenny Bruce and Andy Warhol on one side and John Coltrane and Bob Dylan on the other, along with three more exemplars. Cotkin goes on to show how the new sensibility became a “cultural commonplace” by the 1970s, beginning with the plays, poetry, and radical political activism of the black nationalist Amiri Baraka, and then, after three more vignettes, his account comes to a close with Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying, followed by Chris Burden’s performance pieces of 1974.
Bob Berwyn in Moyers and Company:
The concentration of heat-trapping CO2 pollution in the atmosphere has passed the 400 parts per million (ppm) threshold in Antarctica for the first time in at least 800,000 years, and possibly as long as 4 million years, scientists reported this week. The new measurements, reported by British and US research stations, show that every corner of the planet is being affected by the burning of fossil fuels, according to British Antarctic Survey (BAS) scientists who track environmental changes on the frozen continent. “CO2 is rising faster than it was when we began measurements in the 1980s. We have changed our planet to the very poles,” sad British Antarctic Survey scientist Dr. David Vaughn, who reported on the readings from the Halley VI Research Station.
Independently, researchers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration this week also reported a similar reading from the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. Before humans started wide-scale burning of coal, oil and gas in the mid-1800s, the CO2 level had been steady at about 280 ppm for many millennia. Since then, the concentration has increased in lockstep with fossil-fuel combustion, at a rate of about 2.1 ppm per year. The steady increase means more and more heat is trapped near the surface of the Earth, melting ice caps, intensifying heat waves and droughts, raising sea levels and killing corals reefs. CO2 concentrations in the Northern Hemisphere first reached the 400 ppm level in 2013, said Pieter Tans, head of NOAA’s long-term greenhouse gas monitoring program. In 2014, they stayed above the mark for three months, and last year for five months. This year, climate trackers said they increased at a record rate and they’re set to stay above that level for many decades, if not centuries, depending on future fossil-fuel combustion.
Abigail Zuger in The New York Times:
In a telling passage toward the end of his latest celebration of antidepressant drugs, Dr. Peter Kramer looks back on the pleasures of his long psychiatric career. He mentions the good company of his patients, his teachers, his colleagues. Then he turns to his favorite medications. He seems to choke up a little. “To get to meet Prozac and then to work in concert,” he writes without a trace of irony. “I am conscious of the privilege.” One needs no better evidence that the relationship between prescribers and their pills is quasi human, a partnership that may be utterly rational or wildly emotional, bolstered by wishful thinking, undone by bitter suspicion. Such has certainly been the case for antidepressants. Their safety and efficacy have been questioned repeatedly over the last decade. Some patients maintain the drugs are poison, while some experts have suggested they are just pricey, overused placebos. Foremost among the drugs’ champions has been Dr. Kramer, the author of “Listening to Prozac” in 1993 and a professor at Brown Medical School, who now offers a long, point-by-point defense composed of anecdotes and data.
Dr. Kramer’s bottom line is well summarized by the double meaning of “Ordinarily Well: The Case for Antidepressants” — he argues that antidepressants work just about as well as any other pills commonly used for ailing people, and that the drugs keep people who take them reasonably healthy. Antidepressants are not magic, Dr. Kramer acknowledges; they come with a risk of side effects, and their use in children can be quite problematic. But he has found them immensely helpful in the care of pretty much every variety of depressed adult. Further, he can back up his impressions with statistical proof. The reader with no particular ax to grind will emerge from the book with two impressions. One is that Dr. Kramer’s data is extremely persuasive. A second is that future rebuttals may well be just as persuasive, thanks to the staggering difficulties of subjecting psychoactive agents to rigorous scientific analysis. For its articulate, heartfelt demonstration of all those problems, the book is invaluable.
Monday, June 20, 2016
by Kelly James Clark
Maarten Boudry has argued here at 3 Quarks Daily that religion and religion alone motivates ISIS and ISIS-like extremists to violence. He claims (without citation) that other factors, "socio-economic disenfranchisement, unemployment, troubled family backgrounds, discrimination and racism," have been "repeatedly refuted." Thinking that religion plays any lesser motivational role is, he claims, "a dramatic failure of imagination."
Since the claim that religion plays a lesser motivational role in extremist violence is empirically well-supported, I think Boudry's claim is "a dramatic failure of imagination." Moreover, I think it's dangerously uninformed.
Let's start with uninformed.
It's easy to think that the troubles in Ireland were religious because, you know, Protestant vs. Catholic. But giving the sides religious names hides the real sources of conflict--discrimination, poverty, imperialism, autonomy, nationalism and shame; no one in Ireland was fighting over theological doctrines such as transubstantiation or justification (they probably couldn't explain their theological differences). It's easy to think that the Bosnian genocide of 40,000 Muslims was motivated by Christian commitment (the Muslim victims were killed by Christian Serbs). But these convenient monikers ignore (a) how shallow post-Communist religious belief was and, more importantly, (b) such complex causes as class, land, ethnic identity, economic disenfranchisement, and nationalism.
It's also easy to think that members of ISIS and al-Qaeda are motivated by religious belief, but…
by Ahmed Humayun
"Mr. Obama's refusal to speak of "radical Islam" also betrays his failure to understand the sources of Islamic State's legitimacy and thus its allure to young Muslim men….Mr. Obama's refusal to acknowledge the real nature of the Islamist threat creates an opening for Mr. Trump's immigration ban. It suggests to Americans that the President is so hostage to political correctness that he might not be doing all he can to combat the threat." Wall Street Journal, June 15, 2016.
If you follow the debate about terrorism, Islam, and anti-Muslim bigotry in America today, you will observe a small but strident faction fixated on American officials and leaders who do not use the phrase ‘radical Islam' to describe terrorist groups like ISIL, Al Qaeda, and others. This faction maintains that if you do not talk about terrorism through the prism of Islam, you are soft on terror, you lack moral clarity, and you are paralyzed by political correctness.
This is a heavy burden for one phrase to bear. The good news is that there is no evidence that American security and law enforcement agencies have been 'soft' on terror. Under the current administration, numerous operations have been conducted around the world to disrupt the operations of terrorist groups, even resulting in the capture of Bin Laden, the perpetrator of the September 11 attacks. The lack of use of the phrase ‘radical Islam' by our leaders has not prevented these operations from occurring or succeeding.
In fact, blurring the distinction between Islam and terrorism will hurt counterterrorism efforts rather than aid them. While it is true that terminology is important in this struggle, the Journal's editorial board has it exactly backwards. Consider that ISIL wants to be called the ‘Islamic State', and that it has previously threatened to cut the tongues out of people who refer to it as Da'esh. ISIL's leaders want the world to make no distinction between Islam and its brutish practices. They claim exclusive authority to speak on behalf of Islam, and they slaughter anyone else who has a different view. When we say that ISIL is Islamic, we concede their core contention at the outset. We can either deny our enemies what they want, or we can hand it to them on a silver platter.
the 5 pm Magnolia tree
is flaunting its lemony green leaves again
lush as every rite of spring,
fresh, pregnant with light, it makes
the quaking Aspen near the hoop house tremble
its leaves aroused by breeze
as we all, in this utterly new ensemble,
excited as if on some brink, are poised,
unprepared for what comes next, but resolute,
pressed always by the force of nature
which ever sends the unforeseen
in the arms of the expected
to place it at our feet
often tangled (but replete)
to tease apart, to work it out,
to look at it from every angle
to find a way through every doubt
but canny, careful not to go for
every fruit it dangles
by Scott F. Aikin and Robert B. Talisse
In the real world of political talk, getting the last word is often what counts most. This is especially the case where political talk is conducted in the limited space between commercial breaks. In such a forum, "getting the last word" does not mean what it means in a purely academic setting. In academic argument, one gets the last word when one articulates a decisive point, a point to which not even one's smartest and best informed opponents could object. In popular political talk, by contrast, "getting the last word" means being the last speaker to utter a coherent and self-contained thought. Statements of this self-contained variety tend to be received by one's audience as the "take away" from the exchange, and hence they are most likely to be remembered. The arena of national politics is high-stakes and highly-public; and the need to get the last word creates a strong incentive for a distinctive kind of conversational distortion, namely, that of derailing discussion. One derails a discussion when one speaks for the sake of creating a conversational disruption that substitutes the topic previously under consideration with some ambiguous and unwieldy alternative. Once derailed in this sense, conversation loses focus, and the disorientation leaves subsequent speakers unable to get the last word.
Derailing of course takes many forms. But one derailing strategy has become so prevalent in current political discourse that it is worthy of focused analysis.
The derailing strategy we have in mind may be called spitballing. At its core, spitballing works as follows: One makes multiple contributions to a discussion, often as fast as one can think them up (and certainly faster than one can think them through). Some contributions may be insightful, others less so, but all are overtly provocative. What is most important, though, is that each installment express a single, self-contained thought. Accordingly, slogans are the spitballer's dialectical currency. As the metaphor of the spitball goes, one keeps tossing until something sticks; hence it helps if one's slogans are tinged with something disagreeable or slightly beyond the pale. As the spitballer's interlocutors attempt to reply to what he has said, the spitballer resolutely continues spitballing.
by Jonathan Kujawa
In April Donald Trump howled that the Republican delegate selection process was "rigged". This was back when it looked like he wouldn't have a majority of the delegates going into the Republican convention. In the first round the delegates are required to vote for a particular candidate according to how they were allocated in their state's vote. If Trump didn't win a majority in the first round, then in subsequent rounds delegates would be free to vote for whomever they liked (Nixon 2016!). Now that he has a solid majority of the delegates, the fairness of the rules used in the arcane underworld of delegate selection no longer holds Trump's interest. Of course, if the "Anybody but Trump" cabal inserts a "conscience clause" in the convention rules to unbind Trump's delegates, he'll no doubt once again start screeching "rigged". Trump's dire warnings of riots at the convention must be causing lots of sleepless nights among party bigwigs.
On the other side, the supporters of Bernie Sanders have vociferously argued that their guy is also the victim of a rigged system. For a party which claims the high ground of reason and adulthood, the Democrats have done their fair share of conspiracy theorizing: dark suggestions of voter suppression, frenzied freak-outs at the Nevada State convention, and ominous grumbles about "super delegates" subverting the process. Even now there are fantastical scenarios involving the super delegates spontaneously throwing their vote to Sanders and causing a contested Democratic convention.
It turns out democracy can be wickedly unfair.
The bizarreness of this election year aside, surely democracy will tick along and ensure the will of the people comes out on election day. After all, on November 8th the votes will be counted and the numbers won't lie . Right?
Peter Soriano. From Permanent Maintenance, 2015.
"… his largest wall drawing to date. Commissioned by the Colby College Museum of Art, this multipart piece spans approximately one hundred linear feet …"
Current exhibition at Colby College in Maine.
by Olivia Zhu
Predictive policing is catching the public’s attention. Interest in the topic hasn’t abated, ever since greater scrutiny, strained budgets, and racial tension have plagued police departments and the communities they are meant to protect. The Marshall Project and ProPublica, among a host of other news organizations, have published in-depth—and extremely popular—descriptions and critiques of the trend.
These pieces merely scratch the surface of the technologies and methods required for predictive policing. The majority of discussions in this space focus on the ethics involved: Are the results increasing instances of racial profiling? Does the practice violate Fourth Amendment rights?
But here’s the thing.
Although predictive policing is in its infancy with regard to adoption and success, there’s far more to it—and there are better questions to be asking.
For example, journalists have wondered about the quality of the data that police departments are shifting into newly purchased software programs. It’s certainly not wrong to state that predictive models will only be as good as the data that serves as their foundation. Nevertheless, assessors have quibbled over whether the data that police departments collect under- or over-represents poor, often minority-dominated communities.
One theory goes that these underserved communities don’t trust the police, and thus are less likely to report crime—making it less likely they’ll be served by any of the benefits of predictive policing. Conversely, perhaps police presuppose that certain neighborhoods are more prone to crime, and decide to patrol them more frequently. That, in turn, increases the likelihood that more incident reports are filed for the region. Predictive models suggest more patrols in these areas, and racial profiling may occur as a result.
The very first set of questions that should be asked, then, is: “How can we determine if under- or overreporting is happening?” “Do reporting trends vary by type of crime?” and “Once we know, can we fold the knowledge into effective predictive policing programs?”
by Tamuira Reid
According to an article written by Therese J. Bouchard for the site, World of Psychology, there are "8 Ways to Help Your Bipolar Loved One Cope".
1. Educate yourself. "Education is always the starting point. Because until a spouse or daughter or friend of a manic-depressive understands the illness, it is impossible to say and do the right thing." -TB
I try to imagine your rage as something beautiful. Lightning raging across the sky. Wind raging across a thirsty desert. But all I see is you, Giant Man. Trapped in a body with a broken mind. What does it feel like? I don't recognize you in these moments, not even in the eyes. They go grey, flat. Like still water or trapped rain.
2. Learn how to talk to your loved one. "[He] doesn't say much when I'm clutching tissue paper, crying my eyes out. And he's hesitant to speak when I'm manic. When I don't want to get out of bed in the morning, he reminds me why I need to." - TB
I feel like I've lost my mind, T.
Then let's find it.
It's not funny.
I'm not laughing.
Go fuck yourself.
3. Make some rules. "All those times the school administrators rehearsed what, exactly, would happen in the case of an emergency? Families of bipolar persons need them as well: a plan of action for those times when the bipolar person is sick." - TB
You cut the deck and wait and cut it again. We open our Pepsi's and sit on the floor in our underwear.
We learned to play cards like this in rehab. To kill the boredom. To pass time thinking about anything other than how much we wanted to use.
When I went into treatment for my drinking problem, everyone warned me not to fall in love. Rehab booty is bad booty. Ridiculous, I thought. Who the hell finds love in a place like this?
It was my 25th day. Morning meeting. Bunch of newly sober drones reading from the Big Book. I was knitting a scarf for Linda, because she finally kicked dope and was leaving and had no chance in the world really but we all liked to pretend she did. A scarf with blue and black squiggly lines. That's when I heard it. Your voice. It cut through the room on some silvery thread. I looked up and saw you, Giant Man, with a stream of light pouring down on you from a hole in the cabin ceiling. Perfectly illuminated. It was so cheesy and over-the-top but there you have it. Fuck, I remember thinking. Oh fuck.
If I could go back to that morning and change it all. Stay in my room instead of going to morning meeting. If I'd gone to the center by the beach instead of the rehab on the mountain.
Go fish, you say and smile.
by Brooks Riley
by Jalees Rehman
"The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural. Nation states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics."
—Samuel P. Huntington (1972-2008) "The Clash of Civilizations"
In 1993, the Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington published his now infamous paper The Clash of Civilizations in the journal Foreign Affairs. Huntington hypothesized that conflicts in the post-Cold War era would occur between civilizations or cultures and not between ideologies. He divided the world into eight key civilizations which reflected common cultural and religious heritages: Western, Confucian (also referred to as "Sinic"), Japanese, Islamic, Hindu, Slavic-Orthodox, Latin-American and African. In his subsequent book "The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order", which presented a more detailed account of his ideas and how these divisions would fuel future conflicts, Huntington also included the Buddhist civilization as an additional entity. Huntington's idea of grouping the world in civilizational blocs has been heavily criticized for being overly simplistic and ignoring the diversity that exists within each "civilization". For example, the countries of Western Europe, the United States, Canada and Australia were all grouped together under "Western Civilization" whereas Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Gulf states were all grouped as "Islamic Civilization" despite the fact that the member countries within these civilizations exhibited profound differences in terms of their cultures, languages, social structures and political systems. On the other hand, China's emergence as a world power that will likely challenge the economic dominance of Western Europe and the United States, lends credence to a looming economic and political clash between the "Western" and "Confucian" civilizations. The Afghanistan war and the Iraq war between military coalitions from the "Western Civilization" and nations ascribed to the "Islamic Civilization" both occurred long after Huntington's predictions were made and are used by some as examples of the hypothesized clash of civilizations.
It is difficult to assess the validity of Huntington's ideas because they refer to abstract notions of cultural and civilizational identities of nations and societies without providing any clear evidence on the individual level. Do political and economic treaties between the governments of countries – such as the European Union – mean that individuals in these countries share a common cultural identity?
by Maniza Naqvi
They come for us five times a day. The azaan goes off with a bang as the loudspeaker switch is flipped on. It's so loud—I feel like I've been electrocuted—and there's a white light that goes off in my head—then the call to prayer which would have sounded lyrical, reassuring, soothing and calming at a different decibel now tears apart any peace or calm that might have crept in, might have tiptoed into this cold institutional facility somewhere in the heart of the Midwest. But instead it's like a kick on the side of my head--- by army boots. Then just as the deafening noise ends, the guards, come in with their own deafening numbing vocal assault. Muscular women, heads covered in tightly wound hijabs, clapping their hands harshly, screaming, "Let's go! Let's go! Let's go ladies!' As if they were the TSA security at JFK or Dulles. Only now, after all that practice we've had, and they have too, they're shouting at us and we're not going anywhere, we're here, in a prison compound, "Let's go! Let's go! Salaat time. Salaat time. Now!"
And we are all forced, forced to get up and go say our prayers…what we call Namaaz…, those of us who have been Muslim longer than our guards ever have been—they are all new converts, all young, all, from Chicago, New York, LA, Kentucky and Tennessee. They are forcing us to relearn what we have taken as a given: as our flesh and our bones and our blood. They are determined to make Moss—LEMS, out of us.
Sunday, June 19, 2016
THOSE WINTER SUNDAYS
Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.
I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,
Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?
Robert Hayden, 1913 - 1980
Regan Penaluna in Nautilus Magazine:
[Misty] Hyman came of age as a world-class swimmer during the underwater revolution. “I was 13 when I started staying under water longer than is typical,” she says, explaining she could go 30 meters without breathing. “I found I could be faster under water than at the surface.” Most swimmers were using the dolphin kick to propel themselves underwater, but Hyman’s coach, Bob Gillet, wanted to experiment. In 1995 he came across a study in Scientific American about how tuna were able to swim at almost 50 mph, where dolphins top out around 25 mph. The study found that the flick of a fish tail generated more efficient thrust than that of a marine mammal tail. Gillet wondered whether the dolphin kick might be more powerful on its side, so the undulations were horizontal, like those of a fish.
One cool December day in Phoenix in 1995, Gillet put it to the test. Hyman showed up for practice at Gillet’s outdoor pool, and he asked her to try it. “In the most respectful way, I called him a mad scientist,” she says. Her first attempts were awkward, and she ended up three lanes over from where she started. But she got better, and soon she was cutting through the water like an eel. She was going faster than she did with the dolphin kick. Faster than she had ever swum before. This gave Gillet another idea.
They went to the local country club pool, where the lighting was brighter and Gillet could walk out to the edge of a diving board to capture video. They took a long, thin rubber tube, fastened it to Hyman’s wrist, ran it down the length of one side of her body, and fastened the other end to her ankle. Then they filled the tube with store-bought food dye, and Hyman corked the tube with her thumb. She jumped into the pool, released her thumb, and took off as Gillet filmed. What they saw in the footage afterward astonished them. The dye swirled out to reveal huge vortices after each of her horizontal kicks. Gillet suspected that these miniature whirlpools, reaching 4 feet in diameter, propelled her forward. He also thought it was possible that when Hyman did the dolphin kick facedown, the bottom of the pool and the surface of the water interfered with these vortices and slowed her down.
Claire Potter in Dissent:
Pornography transformed women into “adult toys,” wrote feminist activist, journalist and Women Against Pornography (WAP) co-founder Susan Brownmiller in 1975, “dehumanized objects to be used, abused, broken and discarded.” “Pornography is the theory; rape is the practice,” former Ms. magazine editor Robin Morgan declared in 1977. Pornography, some argued, was a form of terror: women “will know that we are free when the pornography no longer exists,” wrote Andrea Dworkin, one of the most well-known advocates of anti-porn feminism, in 1981. In 1996, legal scholar Catharine MacKinnon argued against the idea that pornography was a creative practice entitled to First Amendment protection. While pornography itself was not responsible for sexual assaults against women, wrote MacKinnon, “men who are made, changed and impelled by” porn were.
Yet porn also had its defenders: politicians, media figures, and civil libertarians who had historically sought to free sexuality from control by the state. Even more importantly, porn was vigorously defended within feminism. Beginning with a clash between feminists at the 1982 Barnard Conference on Sexuality, the struggle came to a head when Dworkin and MacKinnon drafted an anti-pornography civil rights ordinance at the request of city officials in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Although the ordinance passed, Mayor Donald Fraser refused to sign it, prompting anti-pornography activists to take it to Indianapolis, a city whose mayor supported the legislation. Here, the Feminist Anti-Censorship Task Force (FACT), a coalition of New York academics and culture workers allied with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), successfully challenged the ordinance’s constitutionality. Allowing people who believed they had been harmed by porn to sue for damages, they argued, would turn all erotica and sexual materials into a potential legal liability for the seller and result in de facto censorship. In effect, this prevented enactment of the ordinance anywhere in the United States.
Defenders of porn within radical feminism did not seek to deny the reality of exploitation and sexual violence: novelist Dorothy Allison, a member of FACT, wrote freely about having been subjected to cruel, sexualized beatings and incestuous rape as a child. But feminists who called themselves “pro-sex” objected to the idea that consuming or making porn was categorically harmful. Journalist Ellen Willis asked in 1979: “Is there any objective criterion for healthy or satisfying sex, and if so what is it?”