From the Daily Times of Pakistan:
Pervez Akhtar Tanoli is a candidate with a difference in Thursday’s local council elections; he’s a transvestite who rails against corruption and vows to help the poor.
Tanoli, or ‘Baby’ as he is known, is running for a seat on a council in a sub-district of Haripur.
“The constituents are my family,” Baby told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday. “I have nobody else. My family abandoned me because I am a transvestite.”
The former wedding dancer in his mid-thirties is not new to local politics. He has been councilor for the town of Haripur North since 2002, winning the seat with a record number of votes.
“People have voted for me to work for their benefit, not to dance at weddings,” he says.
“The poor have suffered at the hands of politicians because they put the tax money which is meant for development into their own pockets. I don’t do that and people know this. They know I only work for the poor.”
When Walt Whitman began what would ultimately become his masterpiece “Song of Myself,” this was one of the first lines he wrote: “And the cow crunching with depress’d head surpasses any statue.” The nobility of the grazing cow, changing grass into protein, jolts the poet into an impassioned announcement of his own identity and an instant awareness of himself thatched in the expansive web of the world. Thus Whitman, in some small way, may be America’s first Meat Writer. The recognition and immediate reconciliation of digestive dissonance—the linking of himself to his food and beyond—is a catalyzing moment in his ecstatic celebration of life. No lesser a figure than Mohandas Gandhi drew this same conclusion, claiming “To me, the cow is the embodiment of the whole infra-human world; she enables the believer to grasp his unity with all that lives…. The cow is a poem of compassion.”
Popular Meat Writing is about making connections, tying the ubiquitous to the sensational, restoring a place and face to the rootless and indistinct. It puts our Christmas ham back in a cramped pen at Smithfield and plops the Iraq War squarely on our plates. Horrifying as these connections may be, they’re also reassuring. For the details may foster in us, as they did in Whitman, self-awareness—a greater sensitivity to our responsibilities, whether we can ultimately live up to them or not. After all, Meat Writing ties us to something, and no one likes to dine alone.
more meat writing from The Believer here.
It was inevitable, perhaps, that a pictorial style based on transparent veils of color would prove severely limiting. What may also have effected a change in Mr. Olitski’s handling of color was Greenberg’s death in 1994. It’s hardly news that Greenberg’s influence was central to the development of color-field abstraction; without that influence, it’s doubtful that color-field abstraction would have acquired the authority it briefly enjoyed. I don’t say this as a criticism of Greenberg, whose writings I very much admire (though I often disagreed with him). But I do believe that his departure from the New York art scene made it possible for certain artists—Mr. Olitski among them—to expand their pictorial horizons into areas of style and concept alien to his taste. Be that as it may, it’s my view that in the Matter Embraced paintings at Knoedler & Company, Mr. Olitski has created his finest work.
more from Kramer (you can’t keep on old formalist down) at the New York Observer here.
In the making of the modern world, Paris and London are related almost as head and body. It was Paris that had the ideas – from the idea of revolution to Charles Baudelaire’s notion of the artist of modern life to Picasso’s concept of cubism. The Marxist cultural theorist Walter Benjamin called Paris “capital of the 19th century” and he was right. Yet this is a paradox, because London was the place where modern life began, capital of the workshop of the world, metropolis of the largest empire the world has ever seen, home of the Crystal Palace that inspired Eiffel’s wondrous iron lattice in the sky. London was the grinding nightmare city of the future, in foreign eyes; the setting of Edgar Allan Poe’s chilling story The Man of the Crowd. When the French illustrator Gustave Doré visited mid-19th-century London he went in the spirit of an explorer visiting Africa and came back with dreadful doom-laden images of a future city where people live under railway arches in unimaginable squalor.
more from The Guardian Unlimited here.
From Scientific American:
A recent study indicates that our brains employ far fewer cells to interpret a given image than previously believed, and the findings could help neuroscientists determine how memories are formed and stored. In previous decades, two extreme views have emerged. One says that millions of neurons work in concert, piecing together various bits of information into one coherent picture, whereas the ot her states that the brain contains a separate neuron to recognize each individual object and person. In the 1960s neurobiologist Jerome Lettvin named the latter idea the “grandmother cell” theory, meaning that the brain has a neuron devoted just for recognizing each family member. Lose that neuron, and you no longer recognize grandma. Experts long ago dismissed this latter view as overly simplistic. But Rodrigo Quian Quiroga of the University of Leicester in England and his colleagues decided to investigate just how selective single neurons might be.
From National Geographic:
Medical researcher Anne Weston took this photograph of a cancer cell with an electron microscope. She captured the image as the cell crept into a pore on a laboratory filter to illustrate how cancer cells move.
Cambridge University lecturer John Brackenbury combined this series of high-speed photographs to illustrate the concept of panspermia. Panspermia is the theory that seeds of life exist throughout the universe and that life on Earth arose when those seeds landed on our planet eons ago. The image shows eggs shattering as they hit water, releasing smaller eggs within.
From the New York Review of Books:
Great scientists come in two varieties, which Isaiah Berlin, quoting the seventh-century-BC poet Archilochus, called foxes and hedgehogs. Foxes know many tricks, hedgehogs only one. Foxes are interested in everything, and move easily from one problem to another. Hedgehogs are interested only in a few problems which they consider fundamental, and stick with the same problems for years or decades. Most of the great discoveries are made by hedgehogs, most of the little discoveries by foxes. Science needs both hedgehogs and foxes for its healthy growth, hedgehogs to dig deep into the nature of things, foxes to explore the complicated details of our marvelous universe. Albert Einstein was a hedgehog; Richard Feynman was a fox.
Many readers of The New York Review of Books are more likely to have encountered Feynman as a story-teller, for example in his book Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!, than as a scientist. Not many are likely to have read his great textbook The Feynman Lectures on Physics, which was a best seller among physicists but was not intended for the general public. Now we have a collection of his letters, selected and edited by his daughter, Michelle.
Shaoni Bhattacharya in New Scientist:
By the end of 2005, twice as many people will have died from chronic diseases as from all infectious diseases, starvation and pregnancy and birth complications combined, international experts have warned.
The “neglected epidemic” of chronic disease will take 35 million lives in 2005, out of the total 58 million who will die globally. And contrary to popular belief, most of the deaths – 80% – from chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer will be in low to middle-income countries.
The two factors behind this epidemic are smoking and obesity, says Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet, in a commentary accompanying four studies published on Wednesday. “These risks and the diseases they engender are not the exclusive preserve of rich nations.”
If action is taken now, 36 million lives could be saved by 2015, says a major World Health Organization (WHO) report on chronic diseases also published on Wednesday.
While the world focuses on tackling the major infectious diseases – HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis – chronic diseases are largely overlooked, warns Horton. “Without concerted and coordinated political action, the gains achieved in reducing the burden of infectious disease will be washed away as a new wave of preventable illness engulfs those least able to protect themselves.”
Eric Kancler interviews Chris Mooney in Mother Jones:
Though no previous U.S. government can match the current one for sheer brazenness, other Republican administrations have proved willing, on occasion, to subordinate science to politics. As Chris Mooney argues in his book, The Republican War on Science, disregard for scientists and the scientific method has grown and ripened with the modern conservative movement. From Barry Goldwater’s anti-intellectualism, through Ronald Reagan’s sympathy for creationism and Newt Gingrich’s passion for science “skeptics,” on through the present day, Republicans have shown a marked preference for politically inspired fringe theories over the findings of long-established and world-renowned scientific bodies.
In his conversation with Mother Jones, Mooney discusses the impact this approach to science has on public policy and the public good, and on the very health of American democracy.
Martin Redfern at the BBC:
It was 60 years ago this month that the popular magazine Wireless World published an article entitled Extra-terrestrial Relays: Can rocket stations give worldwide radio coverage?
The author was a young writer by the name of Arthur C Clarke.
His “rocket stations” are today known as communications satellites.
Eighty-seven years and the after-effects of polio have left Sir Arthur in a wheelchair and somewhat forgetful of past events; but as a science visionary, he is as sharp as ever, looking forward to the time when other predictions he has made come true.
Josie Appleton in Spiked:
In SHAM: How the gurus of the self-help movement make us helpless, Steve Salerno exposes the pretensions of the Self-Help and Actualisation Movement. Gurus’ degrees are often fake, their personal lives a disaster, their advice wacky.
John Gray, of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus fame, offers instruction on the hidden meaning of women’s underwear: ‘[when] she wears silky pink or lace, she is ready to surrender to sex as a romantic expression of loving vulnerability’, while a ‘cotton t-shirt with matching panties…may mean she doesn’t need a lot of foreplay’. One ‘life coach’, Hale Dwoskin, instructs his clients to drop pens and throw chairs as ‘”symbolic” ways of letting go of impediments to happiness and power’.
Self-help gurus become famous by hitting on a catchphrase and running with it. Richard Carlson started with Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…and It’s All Small Stuff, and graduated to Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff For Women, …At Work, …For Teens, The Don’t Sweat Guide for Couples. Once a guru makes it, they can diversify into pretty much anything: weight-loss products, relationship counselling, business start-ups, moon landings….