First, Sheri Berman in Dissent (via bookforum):
Helping people adjust to capitalism, rather than engaging in a hopeless and ultimately counterproductive effort to hold it back, has been the historic accomplishment of the social democratic left, and it remains its primary goal today in those countries where the social democratic mindset is most deeply ensconced. Many analysts have remarked, for example, on the impressive success of countries like Denmark and Sweden in managing globalization—promoting economic growth and increased competitiveness even as they ensure high employment and social security. The Scandinavian cases demonstrate that social welfare and economic dynamism are not enemies but natural allies. Not surprisingly, it is precisely in these countries that optimism about globalization is highest. In the United States and other parts of Europe, on the other hand, fear of the future is pervasive and opinions of globalization astoundingly negative. American leftists must try to do what the Scandinavians have done: develop a program that promotes growth and social solidarity together, rather than forcing a choice between them. Concretely this means agitating for policies—like reliable, affordable, and portable health care; tax credits or other government support for labor-market retraining; investment in education; and unemployment programs that are both more generous and better incentivized—that will help workers adjust to change rather than make them fear it.
Read more »
For those in NYC, there is a commemoration of the Pan European Picnic in DUMBO this Sunday.
Pack your picnic basket and blanket and take the family to Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park in DUMBO to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Pan-European Picnic, the seminal event at the Austrian-Hungarian border that helped bring down the Berlin Wall and end communism in Europe. We will be having the picnic rain or shine. A tent will be provided.
K. Anthony Appiah, President, PEN American Center
Michael R. Meyer, Newsweek's Eastern Europe correspondent in 1989, author of the upcoming “The Year that Changed the World”
Eszter Babarczy, historian and journalist, professor of media & culture at Moholy-Nagy University of Arts
Georg Hoffmann-Ostenhof, journalist, Editor-in-Chief Dept. Foreign Policy, Profil magazine
Alexander Wind, original Picnic organizer, former Middle School director of St. Margarethen
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe. On this Sunday, May 3, the Extremely Hungary Festival and PEN World Voices 2009 will host PanEuropean Picnic Redux in New York City, a free public commemoration of the event that opened the gates that keep the East from the West. Stefany Goldberg in The Smart Set:
The destruction of the Berlin Wall is now the iconic image of ’89, but the Wall was already beginning to crumble earlier in the year. One of the less celebrated events was a picnic held on August 19 at the border between democratic Austria from Hungary. The event was concocted by an alliance of young opposition organizations — the Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF), the Alliance of Young Democrats (Fidesz), and the Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ), to name a few. The idea at first was simple: They would picnic at the border in a peaceful, public demonstration against the Iron Curtain, which in Hungary was a pathetic barbed wire fence rigged up with high voltage. There would be Austrians on one side and Hungarians on the other. And despite the fact that these Hungarian youth groups hardly knew any Austrians, the idea started to grow. They decided that the border should be temporarily opened for a few hours on the pretense that it would make the picnic more accessible to Austrians. And amazingly, they convinced both the Austrian and Hungarian governments to allow it. Their next move was to inform visiting East Germans that for a short period on this day, the border would be open. On August 19, among the thousands of people who showed up for this picnic — including international press, government dignitaries, and curious participants — were around 700 East Germans who bum-rushed the border, weeping and elbowing their way into Austria and into freedom. The day set the stage for further incursions through the Wall, with East Germans continuing to use Hungary as a gateway to Europe’s other side for months to come.
Read more »
Snowball, the dancing sulphur-crested cockatoo, is a big hit on YouTube–and now he's also a scientific sensation. Researchers have shown that the bird, who bobs his head and lifts his legs to the Backstreet Boys' song Everybody, is in fact listening to and following the beat. The findings–detailed in a pair of articles–challenge the notion that only humans have the neural wiring for dancing in time to music. “These are pathbreaking studies,” says Bruno Repp, a cognitive psychologist at Haskins Laboratories in New Haven, Connecticut.
Aniruddh Patel remembers the first time he saw Snowball on the Internet. A neurobiologist at the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego, California, Patel had argued in an earlier study that our talent for moving synchronously to a rhythmic beat is tied to our ability to learn and mimic sounds. “It seems to be a byproduct of a link between the auditory and motor parts of the brain,” he says. That seemed to rule out most animals except humans and parrots. Nevertheless, Patel was stunned to see Snowball's video. “My jaw hit the floor,” he says.
More here. (Note: Please watch the amazing video to the end!)