Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Prashant Keshavmurthy in The Wire:
For over a thousand years, since around the ninth century, the imagination of the Indian in Arabic and Persian literature coalesced in the figure of a non-Islamic religious specialist, the Brahman. Not that of the Kayastha Hindu, the men of whose caste, from the mid-16th century onward, increasingly staffed the bureaucracies of the Afghan and Mughal states of North India, nor that of the occasional Brahman who, by familial and personal circumstance, received a traditional madrasa education in Arabic and Persian. For both these types of men were so steeped in Persian-Islamic learning and comportment as to be Muslim, in an elite cultural sense.
Rather, the Brahman of the Persian literary imagination was continuous with the Brahman of the earliest texts of kalāmor rational theology in Arabic, whether Muslim or Jewish. This Brahman was purely a debate opponent invoked by Muslim and Jewish theologians to defend the necessity of prophecy. These heresiarchs presented him as a proponent of the sufficiency of human reason and thus of the redundancy of prophets. Sarah Stroumsa, a scholar of early Islamic-Jewish theology, has argued that early Muslim-Jewish theological debates were shaped by encounters with Brahmans and that these debates were conducted solely on the shared ground of logic, avoiding reference to theological doctrines specific to each side. The polemically simplified picture of the Brahman this left behind in the archive of early Muslim-Jewish heresiography was perhaps what allowed him to pass from theology into literature, where he congealed into a stock character.
Barack Obama spoke to Wired Editor in Chief Scott Dadich and MIT Media Lab Director Joi Ito last week. You can see all eight excellent videos here. (Is there anything BHO doesn't know a lot about? I was amazed by how he has time to keep up with things like issues surrounding recent developments in AI. I highly recommend watching all eight Wired videos.)
Here is the 6th video in the series about how AI will affect jobs. Video length: 9:12
And here are two bonus BHO videos:
Anthony Powell said that John Betjeman had ‘a whim of iron’. To judge by these compulsive letters, Patrick Leigh Fermor had a pleasure-loving streak of purest titanium. From the first letter, written in 1940, soon after he joined the Irish Guards, until the last in 2010, sent when he was ninety-four, he was on a lifelong search for erotic, alcoholic, intellectual and courageous diversion. One moment he’s in Crete, meeting the partisans who helped him kidnap the Nazi general Heinrich Kreipe, his most dashing escapade. The next he’s at Chatsworth, sitting next to Camilla Parker Bowles – ‘immensely nice, non-show-off, full of charm and very funny’.
In between, it’s back to the Mani peninsula and the enchanting seaside home he and his wife, Joan, built in the mid-1960s. It was only there, in Greece, and then, in his fifties, that Leigh Fermor had a real adult home and reined in the wanderlust – and the lust. Until then, he’d continued the manic travels that began with his walk as a teenager across Europe in the 1930s. In the letters we follow him as he flits from borrowed Italian castello to French abbey to Irish castle, taking the edge off his ‘high-level cadging’ by making jokes about it. In 1949, he wrote to Joan: ‘Darling, look out for some hospitable Duca or Marchesa with a vast castle, and try and get off with him, so that he could have us both to stay.’
he most passionately discussed New York City gallery exhibition of last season might have been Philip Guston at Hauser & Wirth, but the most talked-about one by a living artist was undoubtedly “ TDavid Hammons: Five Decades” at Mnuchin Gallery. Each of the two shows cast its own spell, one very different from the other, but both seemed to offer one emphatic if understated lesson to young artists: Keep your distance from the art world. Guston sought solitude by “painting a lot of other people out of the canvas,” as Harold Rosenberg put it in a conversation with him. Guston concurred: “People represent ideas…. But you have to paint them out. You know, ‘Get out.’” He told Morton Feldman that “by art I don’t mean the art world, I don’t mean lovers of art.” Lovers of art—people like me—might love it to death; what we love in art may not be what the artist needs from it. Guston once compared the art world to a country occupied by a foreign power.
Hammons is even more vehement. For him, not just the art world but art itself is suspect. “I can’t stand art actually. I’ve never, ever liked art,” he told the art historian and curator Kellie Jones in a 1986 interview that remains the most complete exposition we have of this notoriously unforthcoming artist’s philosophy.
Walking through Reading on a recent afternoon, I passed by all the things you can’t see from the pagoda on top of Mt. Penn. There were the bas relief depictions of the town’s railroad past on the stone walls of a building, posters for cheap collect calls to Central America, and the bustling scene and pawn shops of Penn Square not far from a newly opened luxury Double Tree hotel, a nod to downtown revitalization. There was also, unexpectedly, a pair of Trump signs.
I spotted them outside a dingy building attached to Tommy’s Auto Repair, a garage on North 8th Street, and wandered in.
They belonged, according to Tommy Acevedo, 39, to “the old man who owns the building.” Acevedo, originally from the Dominican Republic, owns the autobody business and a grocery store a few blocks away.
Sitting in the garage office, Acevedo and a few customers argued animatedly about the presidential race as soon as the topic of the Trump signs came up, the election being 2016’s one sure conversational accelerant. They talked Trump’s businessman appeal, Clinton’s emails and the threat of terrorism. Ultimately, though, Acevedo said, “I’m definitely trying to get Hillary in there.”
Danny Heitman in The Christian Science Monitor:
In one of the most hotly contested political seasons in American history, a new biography by Larry Tye revisits the life of Robert F. Kennedy, a campaign warrior who helped define national life in the 1960s. It was also a life, as Tye points out, that was deeply shaped by reading. In “Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon,” Tye chronicles RFK’s intellectual evolution, a change influenced in large part by Kennedy’s deepening dependence on books for inspiration. After his brother, President John F. Kennedy, was assassinated on November 22, 1963, Robert increasingly turned to literature to make sense of his grief. At the suggestion of his sister-in-law, widowed First Lady Jackie Kennedy, RFK began reading the ancient Greeks, especially the work of Aeschylus, a playwright who offered special insights on loss. Aeschylus, writes Tye, “seemed to be speaking directly to Bobby when he wrote, ‘Take heart. Suffering, when it climbs highest, lasts but a little time.’”
Kennedy and his late brother “had kept a daybook of quotes that moved them for use in speeches,” Tye notes. “Now Bobby did it on his own from readings that had progressed beyond his old war and adventure tales to biography and history. There was more poetry now and less football. For the rest of his life he would habitually stuff a paperback in his coat pocket or briefcase, some new to him and others that he liked enough to reread repeatedly, his lips moving as he did. Aides thought he was staring into his lap until they looked closer and saw the essays of Emerson and Thoreau, or poetry by Shakespeare or Tennyson.” Reading wasn’t a retreat from the world for Robert F. Kennedy, Tye suggests, but a way to engage it. A favorite quote from Francis Bacon affirmed life as active rather than passive: “In this theater of man’s life, it is reserved only for God and for angels to be lookers-on.”
Nic Fleming in Nature:
Two US researchers have doubled their 16-year-old wager on whether anyone born before 2001 will reach the age of 150. The scientists have now staked US$600 on the question — but, if the fund in which the cash is deposited keeps growing at its current rate, the descendants of the victor could net hundreds of millions of dollars in 2150. The friendly rivalry began in 2000, when Steven Austad, a biologist who studies ageing, was quoted in a Scientific American article1 with the provocative statement: "The first 150-year old person is probably alive right now." Jay Olshansky, another expert on ageing, didn't think so — and the scientists agreed to stake cash on the debate. On 15 September 2000, the two put $150 each into an investment fund, and signed a contract stating that the money and any returns would be paid to the winner (or his descendants) in 2150. The bet also stipulates that Austad will only win if the 150-year-old is of sound mind.
Then last week, a paper in Nature2 suggested — from an analysis of global demographic data — that there may be a natural limit to human lifespan of about 115 years. Olshansky, at the University of Illinois at Chicago, wrote an accompanying commentary which argues that fixed genetic programs stand in the way of significant human life extension3. He says he believes a major breakthrough that will significantly extend human lifespan will occur within his lifetime, but that it will come too late to help those born before 2001 to reach their 150th birthday. But Austad, at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, disagrees. “I’m more convinced than ever that I was correct in our original bet,” he says. He cites recent studies showing that a number of drugs, such as the immune-system suppressor rapamycin, can significantly extend lifespan in animals. And he points to the imminent start of a clinical trial called Targeting Aging with Metformin, or TAME, which hopes to show that a well-known diabetes drug can slow ageing.
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah says race and nationality are social inventions being used to cause deadly divisions
Hannah Ellis-Petersen in The Guardian:
Regarded as one of the world’s greatest thinkers on African and African American cultural studies, Appiah has taught at Yale, Harvard, Princeton and now NYU. He follows in the notable footsteps of previous Reith lecturers Stephen Hawking, Aung San Su Kyi, Richard Rodgers, Grayson Perry and Robert Oppenheimer.
The “Mistaken Identities” lectures cover ground already well trodden by the philosopher. His mixed race background, lapsed religious beliefs and even sexual orientation have, in his own words, put him on the “periphery of every accepted identity”.
But in the face of religious fundamentalism, Brexit and the need to reiterate in parts of the US that black lives matter, Appiah argues it is time we stopped making dangerous assumptions about how we define ourselves and each other.
Appiah’s lecture on nationality draws heavily on the “nonsense misconceptions” he saw emerge prominently in the Brexit and Donald Trump campaigns – that to preserve our national identity we have to oppose globalisation.
“My father went to prison three times as a political prisoner, was nearly shot once, served in parliament, represented his country at the United Nations and believed that he should die for his country,” Appiah says. “There wasn’t a more patriotic man than my father, and this Ghanaian patriot was the person who explicitly taught me that I was a citizen of the world. In fact, it mattered so much to him that he wrote it in a letter for us when he died.
Nicole Im in Literary Hub:
Joanna Kavenna is a philosopher dressed down in the sensory details of the novel. Kavenna, who took her last name from the Norwegian name for woman, seems to be reassembling the world from its basic questions—what are we and why are we here?
In her latest, A Field Guide to Reality, protagonist Eliade Jencks is always one scent or thought-carom away from the void. In one moment she notes the smell of laundered handkerchiefs and the sound of clattering plates while pondering questions like “does perception create the world, or is it there before us, preset and perpetual?” A Field Guide to Reality circles these questions through the point of loss. After learning that her friend Professor Solete has died, Eliade embarks on a journey to find his mysterious “Field Guide.” She is pulled into the strange worlds of Solete’s various colleagues, and as her journey progresses, finds it harder and harder to “determine what [is] real and what [is] not.”
Nicole Im: Nature plays a big role in your recent story in Freeman’s, “If There Was No Moon,” and in your novel, A Field Guide to Reality. Cold, dark rivers, shadow-casting trees, circling birds, and throughout A Field Guide, a swirling, smudging mist. How do you view the relationship between the physical world and philosophical ideas, and how do they connect in your writing?
Joanna Kavenna: For many years I had this idea about an impossible book, which would supply cogent, succinct answers to all those ambiguous and perplexing questions about the meaning of life and death, i.e a field guide to reality: a sober, helpful, lucid manual for fixing existential angst, like a manual for fixing a car. So that was the idea behind A Field Guide to Reality—this idea of an impossible book.
I’m very interested in philosophical questions about reality and truth and the meaning of things. I don’t think there should be an esoteric elite that gets to think deeply about life, and surrenders its hallowed revelations to the rest of us. I think we all have the right to speculate about what the hell is going on. Because it’s all very weird but it’s actually happening to us—just this once, just for now. Perhaps because of all this, my narrators observe things in quite a detailed and even at times frenetic way—whether they’re in the countryside or in a city or town. To me, also, philosophical thought and the surrounding environment are allied, partly because I walk long distances, whenever possible, to work out my ideas.
David Wescott in the Chronicle of Higher Education:
It’s the year 2120. You feel no hunger, no cold, no heat, no pain. There’s no need to eat or to take medicine, though you can if you like. You are beautiful, intelligent, and charismatic, as are your friends, co-workers, lovers. Though the economy is fiercely competitive, retirement is not far off. You do not fear death. Look out your office window and you see sunlit spires towering over tree-lined boulevards.
At least this is what you think you see. In fact, you live and work in virtual reality. Your city amounts to racks of computer hardware and the pipes that cool them. And you are not "you" in the traditional sense: You are an "em," a robotic brain emulation created by scanning a particular human brain and uploading it to a computer. On the upside, you process information 1,000 times faster than a human. On the downside, you inhabit a robotic body, and you stand roughly two millimeters tall.
This is the world Robin Hanson is sketching out to a room of baffled undergraduates at George Mason University on a bright April morning. To illustrate his point, he projects an image of an enormous futuristic city alongside clip art of a human castaway cowering on a tiny desert island. His message is clear: The future belongs to "ems."
This may sound more like science fiction than scholarship, but that’s part of the point. Hanson is an economist with a background in physics and engineering; a Silicon Valley veteran determined to promote his theories in an academy he finds deeply flawed; a doggedly rational thinker prone to intentionally provocative ideas that test the limits of what typically passes as scholarship. Those ideas have been mocked, memed, and marveled at — often all at once.
What, exactly, made him so great? A research team in Europe wanted to answer that question, so it looked into the science behind his voice. Professor Christian Herbst was part of that team, which just released its study on Mercury; as a singing teacher and a biophysicist, Herbst says he was intrigued by Mercury's technique. According to his research, the key lies in Mercury's vibrato, which differs slightly from those of other classically trained singers.
"Usually, you can sing a straight tone, but opera singers try to modulate the fundamental frequencies," he says. "So they make the tone, if you like, a bit more vibrant. Typically, an opera singer's vibrato has this frequency of about 5.5-6 Hz. Freddie Mercury's is higher, and it's also more irregular, and that kind of creates a very typical vocal fingerprint."
You might be able to hear that vocal fingerprint in the vocals-only version of Queen's hit song "We Are The Champions" below.
Adam Kirsch in the New York Times:
When Adolf Hitler turned 30, in 1919, his life was more than half over, yet he had made not the slightest mark on the world. He had no close friends and was probably still a virgin. As a young man, he had dreamed of being a painter or an architect, but he was rejected twice from Vienna’s Academy of Fine Arts. He had never held a job; during his years in the Austrian capital before World War I, he survived by peddling his paintings and postcards, and was sometimes homeless. When war broke out in 1914, he entered the German Army as a private, and when the war ended four years later, he was still a private. He was never promoted, the regimental adjutant explained, because he “lacked leadership qualities.”
Yet within a few years, large crowds of Nazi supporters would be hailing this anonymous failure as their Führer. At 43, Hitler became the chancellor of Germany, and by 52 he could claim to be the most powerful man in the history of Europe, with an empire that spanned the continent. In the sheer unlikely speed of his rise — and then of his catastrophic fall — Hitler was a phenomenon with few precedents in world history.
Here, the sentence will be respected.
I will compose each sentence with care by minding what the rules of writing dictate.
For example, all sentences will begin with capital letters.
Likewise, the history of the sentence will be honored by ending each one with appropriate punctuation such as a period or question mark, thus bringing the idea to (momentary) completion.
You may like to know, I do not consider this a “creative piece.”
In other words, I do not regard this as a poem of great imagination or a work of fiction.
Also, historical events will not be dramatized for an interesting read.
Therefore, I feel most responsible to the orderly sentence; conveyor of thought.
That said, I will begin:
You may or may not have heard about the Dakota 38.
If this is the first time you’ve heard of it, you might wonder, “What is the Dakota 38?”
The Dakota 38 refers to thirty-eight Dakota men who were executed by hanging, under orders from President Abraham Lincoln.
Carrie Sheffield in Salon:
The conservative media needs an intervention. Glenn Beck told Vice this week that he doesn’t think he helped create Donald Trump; rather Trump seized the moment that Beck helped build with his message and method: hate anyone in office who tries to compromise, cry “throw the bums out,” default to an anti-establishment stance, erect barriers between Wall Street versus Main Street, and so on. While Beck is truly a brilliant innovator and disruptive thinker, he is refusing to take responsibility for his role in paving the way for Trump’s ascent. In the Vice interview, he actually blamed Roger Ailes — the man who helped create Beck’s empire. Of course, Beck (or Ailes) isn’t alone: Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Breitbart.com (Andrew Breitbart’s successors are the culprits; he was more pragmatic and less dogmatic himself) and many other conservative media forces created the echo chamber that gave rise to Trump. We need new ways to create conservative media as an antidote to this toxic echo chamber. As David French pointed out in National Review, the drive to become “Fox News Famous” is alluring, but it doesn’t win conservatism any converts. Until we conservatives see how polarized and culturally isolated the conservative media has been from the rest of the country, we will continue to be irrelevant and marginalized at the ballot box. (Case in point: The GOP has won the popular vote in just one of the past six presidential elections).
The demographics of America do not bode well for conservatives, and consumers of conservative messages reflect the leanings of an aging, white population. Yet 43 percent of millennials are nonwhite, and the majority of babies born today are nonwhite. It defies logic to think that a candidate whose people cavort with the alt-right — including Breitbart.com — could ever appeal to the future of America. Trump is polling at between 0 percent and 3 percent among black voters and less than 10 percent with Latino voters. The 2012 GOP autopsy was spot-on and has been shredded to bits with Trump.
Daina Ramey Berry in The New York Times:
This month, Richard Hatcher, a former mayor of Gary, Ind., delivered what researchers suspect is the skull of Nat Turner, the rebel slave, to Turner’s descendants. The skull had been kept as a relic, sold and probably handed down through generations, for nearly 185 years. If DNA tests confirm that the skull is genuine, then Turner’s family will have the opportunity to lay their famous relative to rest. Many were shocked when National Geographic reported the existence of the skull, the same day that “The Birth of a Nation,” a new movie about Nat Turner, was released. But the traffic and trade in human remains — from the fingers, toes and sexual organs of executed enslaved people, to the hair and nails of the victims of the Holocaust — are part of our history. Some Americans were not surprised at all by the news; they might even have some “family heirlooms” of their own hidden in their homes, waiting to be shared with their children.
Turner was hanged in southeast Virginia on Nov. 11, 1831, for leading a rebellion of slaves that left some 55 white people dead. Those who came to witness his death then decapitated and skinned him. They bragged about it for decades. One participant, William Mallory, also known as Buck, gloated so much about having skinned Turner that it was listed in his own obituary. Turner’s skull was not the only one in circulation. Nineteenth-century newspapers occasionally advertised that a decapitated head had been discovered. Sometimes they were found on trains, left on the side of the road, or impaled on stakes following executions. Public hangings — of people of all races — were a routine part of early American life. Vigilantes often took trophies, proof, in their mind, that “justice” had been served. They made purses of skin and took the grease from the flesh, and used it as oil. These souvenirs were then passed down through generations.
Monday, October 17, 2016
by Hirsch Perlman
I had a mind to make a mechanical, articulated joint, perhaps for an unknown figure. And for some reason (because this is what artists do— close down the infinite possibilities, the infinite freedom we have to reveal a set of seemingly random finite possibilities) I would have to do this with no hardware, no glue, no fittings, just wood.
Two years of tooling up and experimenting followed and I arrived at an odd daisy chain design of interlocking wooden axles, nuts, and bolts. These parts were infinitely adjustable and could be locked in any orientation. I toyed with a variety of uses, placement, attachments, and configurations of the joint. Many kinds of wood were put to the test. The best wood, lignum vitae (wood of life), comes from South America. It's an extraordinary wood, with a resin that acts as a natural, built-in lubricant that has a lovely smell. Believe it or not, it's used to make large bearings in hydro-electric generators (I purchase the cut-offs from the manufacture of those bearings). It lasts longer than steel in that application. One of the first mechanical clocks was made out of lignum vitae.
Another year of toying and the real meaning of the joint unfolded. It's a mechanical schematic of thinking, the brain as an versatile tool. These parts were too flexible to be regular joints, they were "mind," not body.
I built a number of prototypes. 10-12 foot tall "stick person" bodies/limbs with my adjustable joint as neurons/hair/headdress, each thinking itself.
If I'd managed to properly anchor any of the them to the ground, they might still stand. I missed the storm and the battle, but not its aftermath. I would need to draw this out, look at the carnage for a long time, before I knew what it meant.
by Paul North
Fate is a conspiracy between past and future, a compact, mostly secret, that forbids us to deviate from what was decided ages ago. Fate is a keyhole through which you glimpse the secret compact. Fate is also a feeling. Out of a series of little glimpses arises an overwhelming sense that there is nothing to be done.
The last person we would associate with a predetermined future, oblique glimpses, and a feeling of paralysis is Charles Darwin, who liberated natural history from a pre-existing plan. In a certain sense, after Darwin, nature becomes a zone of freedom. For a quick comparison, some of the most forward-thinking of his contemporaries, the geologist Charles Lyell for instance or anatomist Richard Owen, believed in fixed species—despite their commitment to evolutionary ideas considered radical in the day. What separated Darwin from many of his contemporaries was the inkling that became his theory of "natural selection." The theory says that little has been decided in advance. A "species" is a complex, contingent negotiation between a generation and its environment, as well as between the species and its past, not to mention between that species and its ongoing possibilities for transmutation—its future. At any moment the environment could find itself at a turning point, and the species could find itself, without the inherited resources, unable to transmute sufficiently in order to survive. Then the species goes extinct and an unanticipated form of life takes its place.
"Natural Selection" does sound like a force beyond our control, a force that, although we can't see it, nevertheless controls us. Say "Natural Selection" and the three Greek old ladies, the fates, appear before us, laying out our destinies on their great loom. It also sounds like the "invisible hand" in laissez-faire economics. "Invisible hand" was Adam Smith's phrase that became a popular metaphor for the orderly distribution of wealth without any external source for that order. Isn't it odd? To describe a situation without an external force governing events, we use a phrase that means precisely an external force governs events. In economics as well as in biology, when we want to say there is no such thing as fate, we name an intractable, invisible authority, an economic hand that orders, a natural hand that selects.
clicking buttons of a remote I dream of enlightenment
of crammed refugees in boats I dream
in flickering glow of screens I dream of enlightenment
of history that still careens I dream
hearing sirens in the dark I dream of enlightenment
of popping guns in parks I dream
seeing new corpses in the street I dream of enlightenment
of black men beaten by blue I dream
tasting the sky of a hard rain I dream of enlightenment
of earth recoiling from human stain I dream
feeling the blast and bite of drones I dream of enlightenment
of streets of blood and bones I dream
seeing skeletal forms of girls and boys I dream of enlightenment
while surfeit banquets cloy I dream
while glittering glass cubes burn and fall I dream of enlightenment
while no one seems to learn at all I dream
by Michael Liss
Sixteen. That was the percentage of respondents in a snap CNN post-second debate poll who said that they had heard about Donald Trump's "sex tape" and that it made them more likely to vote for him. 16 Percent. One in six voters surveyed, likely one in three (or more) of Trump supporters. Here's another number--Eighty-Three. In a WSJ/NBC News Poll, again, taken after the release of the tape, 83 percent of Republicans believe that the party should back Trump through the election.
Perhaps that is just circling the wagons--a later Washington Post/ABC News Poll showed the number of "mores" evaporating, but still had 83% of Trump voters saying it made no difference to them--and they were backed by a number of Evangelical leaders. A reasonable person might ask, why? Why would anyone with a girlfriend or a wife or a daughter or a mother (everyone has a mother) ignore the coarseness, to say nothing of any of the other controversial and even inflammatory things he's said and done? Their answer is that are with Trump, come hell or high water, and they aren't going to let any pointy-headed, liberal MSM pollster (or sanctimonious Establishment Republican) tell them otherwise. Trump is their guy, and there is nothing further to discuss.
That odor you are detecting is from the dumpster outside RNC Headquarters. It already had a distinct bouquet, but now is accompanied by occasional puffs of smoke. It's not the only dumpster in town—there is one near virtually every conservative think tank in America. What you are witnessing, in real time, is possibly the final death blow for Ronald Reagan's Republican Party, and Ronald Reagan's Conservative Movement. When this election cycle is over, win or lose, there will still be a Republican Party, and there will still be a Conservative Movement, but Donald Trump may very well have vandalized the two into unrecognizability.
by Evert Cilliers aka Adam Ash
By now, it is firmly established that the kindest thing you can say about Donald Trump is that he is a sexist, racist, serially lying, up-his-own-ass narcissistic, sexually assaulting, short-fingered douchebag deluxe pussy-grabber.
I say kind, because I have left out the fact that he regularly stiffs his business suppliers into bankruptcy, this being the business model of an actual psychopath (one percent of the general population, 4% of our CEO population).
Yet this totally repulsive human being can count on the votes of a majority of American males to put him in power over our nation.
To the point that, if only men voted, the sexist, racist, serially lying, up-his-own-ass narcissistic, sexually assaulting, short-fingered douchebag deluxe pussy-grabber that is Donald Trump would sweep the November 8 general election for president with 350 votes against a mere 188 for a vanquished Hillary.
The mind boggles in profound boggledom: if it depended on men alone, a sexist, racist, serially lying, up-his-own-ass narcissistic, sexually assaulting, short-fingered douchebag deluxe pussy-grabber would be our next president (thank the Lord, the heavens, the sun, the moon and every star above for the existence of women: though Trump leads by 11 points among men, he loses by 33 points among women).
This numerical damning fix on the horrifying propensity of American men's to stand by a sexist, racist, serially lying, up-his-own-ass narcissistic, sexually assaulting, short-fingered douchebag deluxe pussy-grabber like Trump — winning by 350 votes over 188 — comes to us courtesy of the highly respected FiveThirtyEight site run by the brilliant Nate Silver.
by Dave Maier
I had not intended to return to the issue of marijuana legalization so soon after my last such post, but this will be my last post before the November election, and there are ballot initiatives about marijuana legalization in no fewer than nine states – four medical marijuana (Arkansas, Montana, Florida, and North Dakota), and five “recreational” (California, Nevada, Arizona, Maine, and Massachusetts) – so here we go again. I won’t give a general argument for or against, but just give a sense of the wide variety of relevant issues. If you live in any of these states, please be sure to read the particular initiative carefully before voting.
Marijuana users constitute a small minority of the population, but recent polls have shown consistent majorities in favor of legalization. Not surprisingly, older voters and Republicans are less likely to support it, although not by large margins. More surprising is the opposition to the various legalization initiatives by those otherwise in favor. Why would one want to legalize marijuana but oppose an initiative which does that very thing?
For an answer, let us direct our browsers to noon1.me (“No on [Maine’s ballot proposition] 1”). Again, one might expect a site with that name to argue that it would be horrible to allow our citizens to freely take drugs to get high on drugs, and no doubt there are such sites (for a refresher on prohibitionism, see my previous post). Instead, its focus is mainly on the various regulations involved in, as proponents of the initiative put it, “regulating marijuana like alcohol”. These regulations are necessary, proponents believe, in order to sell the idea to non-users, and indeed the only successful initiatives to date (in Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon, and DC), as well as the various initiatives likely to do well this year, have a whole laundry list of regulations on public use, home growing, DUI limits, possession limits, and so on. This is especially true in California, where the tag line for this year’s effort (“Let’s get it right”) alludes to the apparently overly lax nature of the failed legalization initiative there in 2010.
Curated by Anne Barlow, Art in General, New York in collaboration with kim? Contemporary Art Centre, Riga, LV
by Genese Sodikoff
For thousands of years, people on every continent (save for uninhabitable Antarctica) have recognized the behavior of rabid animals and seen the ravages that rabies inflicts on the human mind and body. While the biological symptoms of rabies are universal, it, like many global diseases, manifests in different places with unique cultural markers and histories. These include everyday etiologies, or the ways people trace the origin of a disease or condition. They include the specific images or emotions expressed by victims in a feverish state, or the treatments applied to rabid animal bites. Beyond the cultural ideas and practices that shape any illness, rabies' origins and unpredictable incubation period, which can range anywhere from a week to months (or years!) before symptoms appear, invites the human imagination to fill in the blank.
In Madagascar, where I do anthropological fieldwork, rabies has been around since at least 1896, when the French colonized the island. Historian Eric T. Jennings writes that by 1899, a Pasteur Institute was established to forcefully combat human rabies, known as hydrophobia, but the virus was never eradicated. Jennings writes that to French colonial scientists experienced in treating rabies, Madagascar appeared to have a particularly acute and fast-spreading strain, requiring "more frequent injections of more active virus." Rabid dogs in Madagascar appeared more ferocious than elsewhere, aiming right for the face.
Given the prevalence and history of rabies in Madagascar, I was surprised to learn that many Malagasy people (including doctors and veterinarians) attribute the viral source to a wild species that has only recently appeared on the landscape: a creature they call "little big chest" (kelibetratra). I refer specifically to people in the region of Moramanga District, about a three-hour drive east of the capital, Antananarivo, but knowledge of the kelibetratra as the rabies source extends far beyond this district.
The creature was described to me as a furtive wild dog from the rain forest that only roams late at night. It is built like a pit bull, but with shorter legs and a bigger thorax. Because of deforestation, they said, the animal has been scared out of its natural habitat into villages and towns, where it attacks pet dogs and cats, infecting them with rabies.
by Akim Reinhardt
To say this has been an interesting presidential election season would be an understatement. Regardless of who is declared president after the polls close three weeks from tomorrow, this is almost certainly a tussle that historians will pick over and analyze for decades to come, if not centuries. They're apt to do that when an election reveals deep fissures in society, as has this one.
But of course there's more to it than that. Donald Trump's candidacy is not just about a political outsider emerging as the champion of ostensible insiders (mostly white males) who have come to see themselves as disenchanted, frustrated outsiders amid long term changes in the national economy, culture, and demography. Among other things, it's also about a startlingly unqualified person taking the reigns of a major party against the wishes of that party's leadership; an unleashing of various bigotries that have forced comfortable Americans to stop pretending racism and sexism aren't real problems; and the dramatic erosion of lines separating entertainment and politics.
Amid this whirlwind of upheaval, Hillary Clinton now seems very likely to win. Our Lady of the Establishment looks ever more presidential, partly in contrast to Trump's glaring ineptitude, but mostly because so many people find The Donald to be utterly contemptible. And a victory which, under more banal circumstances, might have been most noteworthy for the United States electing its first female president nearly a century after the 19th Amendment guaranteed women the right to vote, will now largely be seen as a moment when simple sanity held sway over startling lunacy.
by Leanne Ogasawara
I suppose I should mention my son is 14!
Never in my life, have I seen anything like the insane circus that is surrounding this presidential debate, have you? With 24 hour a day coverage and the wild reaches of Internet, it feels like the election is going to take down the entire country with it. I mean, I was just walking my poodle this morning, and I heard two guys in spandex shouting about Trump's latest outrages as they screamed past me on the their bikes.
You can't get away from it. Not even in the days of Bill Clinton was there this level of lechery.
And so I totally agree with John Oliver, when he said we have reached a point so low in this election that we are now breaking through the earth's crust, where drowning in boiling magma will come as sweet, sweet relief.”
Of course, Oliver had taped his show before the world had started gleefully repeating "that word" over and over again. All of a sudden, "that word" was everywhere, to the point that the detestable Trump surrogate Scottie Nell Hugh was seen demurely asking CNN's Ana Navarro to, "Please stop saying that word, because," She explained, “My daughter is listening...”
Suffice it to say this did not go over well with Navarro, who angrily responded,
“You know what Scottie? Don’t tell me you’re offended when I say ‘pussy,’ but you’re not offended when Donald Trump says it!” Navarro shouted at Hughes. “I’m not running for president. He is.”
The CNN panel --along with millions of viewers-- sat there stunned, because TRULY, you just can't make this stuff up!