Five takeaways on Blatter’s resignation

Tunku Varadarajan in Politico:

ScreenHunter_1208 Jun. 04 11.39In the end, he Blattered to deceive.

After putting on the most brazen performance of soccer gamesmanship since Diego Maradona’s Hand of God in 1986, Sepp Blatter succumbed to the weight of world opinion — Vladimir Putin excepted — and announced his imminent departure from the post of president of FIFA. This, after conducting an election on Friday that saw him return to the post for an inglorious fifth time. The exercise was, it turns out, a last gasp of megalomaniacal defiance. Today, he quit with a whimper.

Here’s what the resignation of Blatter means for the game:

    1. Apart from proving that there is a God, Blatter’s departure offers soccer — and FIFA — the chance of a glorious, cathartic new beginning. We’re now in an “afterblatter” world in which everything — every jot and tittle — that bears his stamp, his imprimatur, is open to scrutiny. Without mincing words, that means that the awards to Russia and Qatar of the World Cups for 2018 and 2022, respectively, will have to be nullified. Those deals are dead. They were tainted beyond redemption, the product of a process that was suppurating with corruption.

More here.

on Peter Sloterdijk’s ‘Globes: Spheres Volume II: Macrosphereology’

9781584351603_0Joshua Mostafa at The Sydney Review of Books:

Reading the German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk is always enjoyable. Every page of Globes is littered with aphoristic bon mots (adroitly translated by Wieland Hoban), many of which could serve as the central insight of a chapter, or even the whole, of a less rich and ambitious text. This succinct and acerbic put-down of reductionism will suffice as an example: ‘modernity is the self-fulfilment of the analytical myth that gives the smallest parts precedence over their composites’. One might expect that this flair for the micro-unit of literary composition – the sentence – would lend itself to the work of a miniaturist, a writer of essays after the manner of Michel de Montaigne. But Sloterdijk does not confine himself to small pieces, writing books of varying sizes: Globes is probably his largest – over 1000 pages – and is itself only the middle volume in his magnum opus, the Spheres trilogy.

The publisher of Spheres, Semiotext(e), is best known for its English translations of French philosophy. Sloterdijk, though he writes in German, owes at least as much to French thinkers as German ones, and the German philosophers with whom he shows the most affinity are often shunned in Germany itself, due to the tarnishing of their reputations through association with the country’s shameful Nazi past – either directly, as in the case of Margin Heidegger, or by retrospective appropriation, as with Friedrich Nietzsche. To engage with these philosophers has come to be seen as disreputable, but a variety of French thinkers have built on the work of Nietzsche. As Sloterdijk puts it, ‘it was the great stroke of luck of my intellectual life that I encountered these French Nietzscheans at a point when it was inconceivable to read Nietzsche in Germany.’

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The Last Days of Katherine Mansfield

MansfieldWebPierce Butler at Commonweal:

Katherine Mansfield—writer of short stories, friend and literary compatriot of Virginia Woolf and D. H. Lawrence—had a gift for arousing strong opinions. The reckless abandon with which Mans-field threw herself into sexual relationships with both men and women, and the acerbity of her tongue and pen, could provoke critics, family, and friends, not to mention her enemies. Critical estimates of Mansfield’s work—fewer than one hundred stories, an oeuvre curtailed by her premature death from tuberculosis at the age of thirty-four—have risen and fallen over the decades. Her stories fall into two categories: those set in the New Zealand of her childhood that contrast a corrupt adult world with the purity of the child’s experience; and those set elsewhere, frequently peopled by lonely and fearful young women whose attempts to confront their demons seem doomed to failure. Taken as a whole, the stories present a restless sensibility longing for the idyll of childhood and vainly seeking solace and security in adult love relationships.

Mansfield was a brilliant conversationalist who delighted in malicious wit, a writer with an exquisite sense of form who sometimes sacrificed honesty for aesthetic effect, and a freethinking woman whose bold exploration of her sexuality resulted in a number of liaisons that even her bohemian circle regarded as indiscreet. She found herself caught between the provincial Victorian values of her upbringing and a metropolitan world of literary self-expression in which art pointed the way to a thrilling new life.

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Why Tomorrowland Should Never Come

Cdnassets.hwAaron Betsky at Architecture Magazine:

Why must the future always be so curvy and so Calatrava? The release of Tomorrowland [trailer], the Disney Studio’s confused fairytale about possible futures, reinforces the idea, built into the Studio’s namesake ride—and evident in just about every sci-fi film of the last few decades—that our destiny is to live, work, and play in buildings that swoop, swell, and surge into the sky with no respect for right angles. The film’s centerpiece is a city that does less to evoke Disney’s olde version of what is to be than it takes from what is already under construction or built in Dubai and Shanghai and extrapolates it to a gravity- and humanity-free extreme.

Without giving away too much of the plot, the city in question is a mirage, which appears as a vision beyond a wheat field: Oz as the ultimate Edge City, branded by Tesla and Coca-Cola, where people don’t do anything so much as they look fabulous in designer clothes (I think I saw everything from retro Jil Sander to Versace) as they whiz around in magnetically levitated transports and with jet packs. At its heart, one that the film reveals most clearly when it takes a darker turn, is a green-screened version of the City of the Arts and Sciences project by Santiago Calatrava, FAIA, and the late Spanish architect Félix Candela, in Valencia, Spain.

more here.

Dusting the Furniture of Our Minds

Michael Marder in the New York Times:

StoneWeb-blog480Dust is everywhere. We contribute to its multiplication through our polluting industries, by wearing clothes and using things around us, and in the course of merely living — shedding skin cells, hair, and other byproducts of our life.

But we also are it. Both the Bible and William Shakespeare would have us believe as much. “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return,” Adam and Eve are told in Genesis. Hamlet, in his nihilistic soliloquy, asks rhetorically about the human, “What is this quintessence of dust?” Science, of course, has provided some actual basis for this notion in findings indicating that the most fundamental material of life on earth originated in the “dust” of long-dead stars.

In any case, be it prophetic, poetic or scientific, the message is clear: We are in a continual flux of growth and decay, but the latter will win out, and each human body’s end state will be the same — a collection of mere particles, dispersed.

So what is the relation between the dust outside us and the dust that we are?

Most of us lack the courage to examine ourselves with Biblical or Shakespearean frankness. We fail to understand that, as we clash with external dust, we displace existential anxieties and confront our mortal, rootless, restless selves, albeit no longer discernable as such.

Let me give you an example of this strange displacement. Since household dust is comprised, in large part, of the material traces of our bodily existence, the endeavor to eliminate it strives, quite unconsciously, to expunge vestiges of ourselves.

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I’m a liberal professor, and my liberal students terrify me


Edward Schlosser in Vox (image by Shawn Rossi):

I have intentionally adjusted my teaching materials as the political winds have shifted. (I also make sure all my remotely offensive or challenging opinions, such as this article, are expressed either anonymously or pseudonymously). Most of my colleagues who still have jobs have done the same. We've seen bad things happen to too many good teachers — adjuncts getting axed because their evaluations dipped below a 3.0, grad students being removed from classes after a single student complaint, and so on.

I once saw an adjunct not get his contract renewed after students complained that he exposed them to “offensive” texts written by Edward Said and Mark Twain. His response, that the texts were meant to be a little upsetting, only fueled the students' ire and sealed his fate. That was enough to get me to comb through my syllabi and cut out anything I could see upsetting a coddled undergrad, texts ranging from Upton Sinclair to Maureen Tkacik — and I wasn't the only one who made adjustments, either.

I am frightened sometimes by the thought that a student would complain again like he did in 2009. Only this time it would be a student accusing me not of saying something too ideologically extreme — be it communism or racism or whatever — but of not being sensitive enough toward his feelings, of some simple act of indelicacy that's considered tantamount to physical assault. AsNorthwestern University professor Laura Kipnis writes, “Emotional discomfort is [now] regarded as equivalent to material injury, and all injuries have to be remediated.” Hurting a student's feelings, even in the course of instruction that is absolutely appropriate and respectful, can now get a teacher into serious trouble.

More here.

Catie Disabato’s “The Ghost Network” perfectly nails the relationship between pop culture and American youth

Lydia Kiesling in Slate:

GHOST_ILLO.jpg.CROP.promovar-mediumlargeIf you’ve ever ridden public transportation in a major city, you’ve seen hip young women with their headphones and their lace-up boots, their black jeans and faux fur, their deep V’s and slightly tortured vibes. Young women are always the locus of attention, both subtle and unsubtle, in any given space, but these beautiful tousled birds arouse particular interest; men crane their necks to look at their tattoos, less stylish women wonder if they too should attempt a bold red lip or, god forbid, a backless T. I see a young woman like this and wonder where she is going, what work she does. I wonder what she is listening to and the source of her intent expression.

If you read The Ghost Network, Catie Disabato’s excellent debut novel, you know that this girl might look preoccupied because she’s tracking a missing pop star to a secret underground train station, where the pop star may or may not have been taken by devotees of a European anarcho-surrealist movement of the 1960s. She may be worrying about the possibility of grave bodily harm at the hands of a revanchist splinter group. She may be pondering her death. She’s probably listening to the National.

To arrive at this awareness, you have to go through a number of turnstiles. In fact, there are so many consecutive entrances to The Ghost Network that I initially found it difficult to get into the story—as though the novel, like a secret underground portal, were disguised by its architect to look like something of little interest. The book begins with a note from the author, “Catie Disabato”—who could be, but more likely is not, the real author Catie Disabato—explaining that the text before you is one Disabato inherited from a man named Cyrus Archer. Archer’s manuscript begins with an epigraph from the rock critic Ellen Willis, before Archer explains in his own prologue that his book arose from a New Yorker article written by a former lover. Then we have a second epigraph, a quote from the Molly Metropolis from a purported article in the New York Times Magazine.

More here.

Consciousness Began When the Gods Stopped Speaking

Veronique Greenwood in Nautilus:

ConsciousJulian Jaynes was living out of a couple of suitcases in a Princeton dorm in the early 1970s. He must have been an odd sight there among the undergraduates, some of whom knew him as a lecturer who taught psychology, holding forth in a deep baritone voice. He was in his early 50s, a fairly heavy drinker, untenured, and apparently uninterested in tenure. His position was marginal. “I don’t think the university was paying him on a regular basis,” recalls Roy Baumeister, then a student at Princeton and today a professor of psychology at Florida State University. But among the youthful inhabitants of the dorm, Jaynes was working on his masterpiece, and had been for years. From the age of 6, Jaynes had been transfixed by the singularity of conscious experience. Gazing at a yellow forsythia flower, he’d wondered how he could be sure that others saw the same yellow as he did. As a young man, serving three years in a Pennsylvania prison for declining to support the war effort, he watched a worm in the grass of the prison yard one spring, wondering what separated the unthinking earth from the worm and the worm from himself. It was the kind of question that dogged him for the rest of his life, and the book he was working on would grip a generation beginning to ask themselves similar questions.

The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, when it finally came out in 1976, did not look like a best-seller. But sell it did. It was reviewed in science magazines and psychology journals, Time, The New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times. It was nominated for a National Book Award in 1978. New editions continued to come out, as Jaynes went on the lecture circuit. Jaynes died of a stroke in 1997; his book lived on. In 2000, another new edition hit the shelves. It continues to sell today.

More here.

Missing link found between brain, immune system

From KurzweilAI:

Lymphatic-systemOverrturning decades of textbook teaching, researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have discovered that the brain is directly connected to the immune system by vessels previously thought not to exist. The finding could have significant implications for the study and treatment of neurological diseases ranging from autism to Alzheimer’s disease to multiple sclerosis. “It changes entirely the way we perceive the neuro-immune interaction. We always perceived it before as something esoteric that can’t be studied. But now we can ask mechanistic questions.” said Jonathan Kipnis, PhD, professor in the UVA Department of Neuroscience and director of UVA’s Center for Brain Immunology and Glia (BIG). “We believe that for every neurological disease that has an immune component to it, these vessels may play a major role,” Kipnis said. “Hard to imagine that these vessels would not be involved in a [neurological] disease with an immune component.” The discovery was made possible by the work of Antoine Louveau, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in Kipnis’ lab, who noticed vessel-like patterns in the distribution of immune cells on his slides of a mouse’s meninges — the membranes covering the brain. So how did the brain’s lymphatic vessels manage to escape notice all this time? Kipnis described them as “very well hidden” — they follow a major blood vessel down into the sinuses, an area difficult to image. “It’s so close to the blood vessel, you just miss it… if you don’t know what you’re after.”

Alzheimer’s, Autism, MS and Beyond

The unexpected presence of the lymphatic vessels raises a tremendous number of questions that now need answers, both about the workings of the brain and the diseases that plague it. For example: “In Alzheimer’s, there are accumulations of big protein chunks in the brain,” Kipnis said. “We think they may be accumulating in the brain because they’re not being efficiently removed by these vessels.” He noted that the vessels look different with age, so the role they play in aging is another avenue to explore. And there’s an enormous array of other neurological diseases, from autism to multiple sclerosis, that must be reconsidered in light of the presence of something science insisted did not exist.

More here.

The false dichotomy of trigger warnings

Massimo Pigliucci in Scientia Salon:

Pigliucci-webThere has been lots of talk about so-called “trigger warnings” lately. Although they originated outside the university (largely on feminist message boards in the ‘90s, and then in the blogosphere [1]), within the academy this is the idea that professors should issue warnings to their students about potentially disturbing material that they are about to read or otherwise be exposed to. The warnings are necessary, advocates say, because such material may “trigger” episodes of discomfort, emotional pain, or outright post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

This is clearly a crucial issue for a teacher such as myself, who is responsible for contributing to the education of scores of students every semester, and who is of course also concerned about their welfare and their thriving as human beings. So I read a lot, and widely (meaning both pro and con), about the issue, and have talked to colleagues and a number of students, in order to make up my mind not just in a theoretical sense, but also as guidance to my own actual practice in the classroom.

One of the most recent episodes concerning the controversy over trigger warnings (henceforth, TW) featured four Columbia University students belonging to the local Multicultural Affairs Advisory Board, who wrote a letter to the Columbia Spectator [2] arguing that exposure to the writings of the classic Roman poet Ovid should have come with TW because they contain references to rape.

More here.

Will Computers Redefine the Roots of Math?

Kevin Hartnett in Quanta:

ScreenHunter_1207 Jun. 02 17.41On a recent train trip from Lyon to Paris, Vladimir Voevodsky sat next to Steve Awodey and tried to convince him to change the way he does mathematics.

Voevodsky, 48, is a permanent faculty member at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) in Princeton, N.J. He was born in Moscow but speaks nearly flawless English, and he has the confident bearing of someone who has no need to prove himself to anyone. In 2002 he won the Fields Medal, which is often considered the most prestigious award in mathematics.

Now, as their train approached the city, Voevodsky pulled out his laptop and opened a program called Coq, a proof assistant that provides mathematicians with an environment in which to write mathematical arguments. Awodey, a mathematician and logician at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pa., followed along as Voevodsky wrote a definition of a mathematical object using a new formalism he had created, called univalent foundations. It took Voevodsky 15 minutes to write the definition.

“I was trying to convince [Awodey] to do [his mathematics in Coq],” Voevodsky explained during a lecture this past fall. “I was trying to convince him that it’s easy to do.”

The idea of doing mathematics in a program like Coq has a long history. The appeal is simple: Rather than relying on fallible human beings to check proofs, you can turn the job over to computers, which can tell whether a proof is correct with complete certainty.

More here.

Seymour Hersh takes apart the U.S. narrative on the death of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan

Vijay Prashad in Frontline:

FL12OSAMA2_2415764gIn early May, THE veteran investigati-ve journalist Seymour Hersh wrote a 10,000-word report in London Review of Books entitled “The Killing of Osama bin Laden”. The essay alleges that the narrative produced by the United States government on the events of May 2, 2011, is flawed. The fact of bin Laden’s death is not in contention. At least that is taken for granted. What is in doubt, Hersh argues in the report, is the manner in which the U.S. government found out about bin Laden’s presence in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad, the role of the Pakistani government in the U.S. operation, the way in which the U.S. Navy Seals killed bin Laden, and the manner in which his body was disposed of. The allegations are not all new. Many of them had circulated widely in Pakistan right after the operation. What gives them weight is that they come from a well-respected U.S. journalist and produced a denial from the White House.

What was the U.S. government’s story? The film Zero Dark Thirty (2012) closely reflects the official tale. Under torture, the film suggests, an associate of bin Laden led the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to the Al Qaeda courier network that kept bin Laden in operational control. The CIA followed the couriers until they found bin Laden in Abbottabad. A fake polio immunisation drive allowed the CIA to get the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) sample of bin Laden to confirm his identity. At this point, the White House authorised the Navy Seals to fly into Pakistan—without permission from the Pakistani military—and seize bin Laden. The raid went as planned although one of the two helicopters crashed in the compound. Bin Laden was killed in a firefight. His body was returned to Afghanistan, from where it was taken to USS Carl Vinson to be buried at sea. A trove of intelligence was found in bin Laden’s compound, which was turned over to the CIA.

More here.

The first full-length biography of Agnes Martin

Cover00Prudence Peiffer at Bookforum:

In Charles R. Rushton's 1991 black-and-white portrait, Agnes Martin (1912–2004) sits in a wooden rocking chair in the left third of the frame, beside the white cement wall of her New Mexico studio. One of her canonical six-by-six-feet canvases hangs low to the ground next to her, its horizontal pencil-edge bands running out of the picture to the right. She's dressed like a plainclothes nun, in comfortable white sneakers, flannel pants, and a collared shirt under a dark cardigan buttoned to the neck. Her hands are set on each armrest with a square assurance that recalls Gertrude Stein, and the photo's spare formality is reminiscent of James Abbott McNeill Whistler's 1871 portrait of his mother, Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 1. These elements suggest the perfect stillness associated with Martin's profoundly absorbing minimalist abstractions and her devotion to painting the uniform square through an exacting process over half a century. Yet there are two subtle disruptions to the calm, details sometimes cropped out of the picture's bottom edge. That rocker! Those sneakers!

Is it our assumptions about Martin that create her apparent contradictions, or is it the other way around? She has endured the critical paring knife inflicted on all “pure” painters who insist the real world is far removed from their work: We love the smooth, monochrome skin but we also want to get to the juicy pulp, the bitter seeds.

more here.

erik satie: the velvet gentleman

22279101Nick Richardson at the London Review of Books:

One thing everyone knows about Erik Satie is that he was an eccentric. There are many kinds of eccentric and Satie was most of them. He presented himself as a nutty professor figure, not a composer but a ‘gymnopedist’ and ‘phonometrician’. He dined – or so he claimed in his autobiography – only on ‘food that is white: eggs, sugar, shredded bones, the fat of dead animals’. He walked around Paris in priestly robes, then swapped them for a wardrobe full of identical brown corduroy suits; his interests included rare sea creatures, impossible machines, forgotten local history and the occult. He was a romantic and a mystic, of sorts – his brother, Conrad, called him a ‘transcendent idealist’ – and his music, particularly his earlier works for piano, can make listeners feel so serene that the record industry has claimed him as a kind of guru. In the Satie section of the record shop you’ll find Satie: Piano Dreams, 25 Hypnotic Tracks and Chill with Satie, and his work appears on compilations of ‘classical music for babies’. But during his lifetime his mysticism was rarely presented unironically. He wrote a set of haunting, fragile, otherworldly pieces for piano and called them ‘pieces in the shape of a pear’; his attempt to start his own religion in 1893 looks like both a response to a genuine spiritual need and an elaborate prank. He seems to have felt uncomfortable being serious in public, the more so as the public warmed to him. His eccentricity became a disguise, an armour of winking and raillerie concealing a man nobody knew.

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David Kishik’s ‘The Manhattan Project: A Theory of a City’

Illingworth-web1Dustin Illingworth at The Brooklyn Rail:

But what if Benjamin had not made his fateful decision on the French border? What if, instead, he faked his own death, assumed the name Carl Roseman, and moved to a cramped apartment in Manhattan to live out his remaining 40 years creating the Gotham twin to his exhaustive Parisian blueprint? This is the premise of David Kishik’s new book, The Manhattan Project: A Theory of a City, a curiously effervescent text that is simultaneously a work of imagined philology, an index of urban delirium, and a fascinating evocation of a city that became the de facto capital of the 20th century. The book’s format can be a little abstruse at first. Kishik marshals actual quotes from Benjamin and fabricated quotes from the fictional Roseman to examine the cultural and philosophical ramifications of urbanity. However, once oriented, there is no small amount of pleasure to be had in the whirling transitions between the factual and the fictive, the settled and the spectral. Kishik, an assistant professor of philosophy at Emerson College, avoids what could be an overly precious conceit by virtue of a charming transparency (“This is a study of a manuscript that was never written,” he begins the very first chapter) and a richly perceptive, almost visceral sensitivity to the “undeserted island” of the city. Far from a nostalgic chimera or gilded illusion, Kishik’s New York emerges here as an existential foil, labyrinthian, a lover both desired and spurned. His seductive interpretations of New York art, culture, tragedy, architecture, celebrity, and history, refracted through the imagined elucidations of a persuasively reanimated Benjamin, emulate the teeming life of the city in all of its breathless variety and unexpectedness. The point of view is unmistakably Kishik’s, a voice erudite though unafraid of irony or humorous observation; however, in employing the real and imagined quotes of Benjamin/Roseman, the book moves beyond mere criticism into a kind of urban bildungsroman, New York’s coming-of-age as told by three worthy author-theorists.

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Violence: A Modern Obsession

Ian Thomson in The Guardian:

MylaiEven HG Wells, with his uncanny gift of scientific foresight, could not have predicted the murderous flash of light over wartime Nagasaki. Never before had a government planned the atomic annihilation of an entire city. The US airmen aboard the B-29 did not, however, feel morally responsible for the violence; neither did the scientists who helped to assemble the bomb, nor even the US president and his White House advisers. Division of labour had made the contribution of any single person seem unimportant. Adolf Eichmann, by a similar agency, saw the Final Solution to the Jewish question in terms only of his own special competence (the smooth running of the Auschwitz deportation trains) and this, too, enabled him to ignore the consequences of his violence.

In Violence: A Modern Obsession, historian Richard Bessel turns an appalled eye on our recent moral past. The 20th century is seen by many as the most violent in human history. Not only Auschwitz, but the atomic holocausts in Japan and Stalin’s technocratic Soviet Union showed what a wilful and destructive misuse could be made of technology.Yet, in the west, we have become less violent, argues Bessel. Contemporary entertainment in the form of computer games and films is saturated in violence, but there has been no parallel enthusiasm for participating in ritualised mass murder. A turning point in our sensibilities came with the Vietnam war, Bessel says, when the psychological trauma of violence entered public discussion for the first time and man’s enjoyment in killing came into question. The US massacre of defenceless women and children at the Viet Cong-held village of My Lai in March 1968 prompted calls for an end to the “festival of cruelty” (as Nietzsche termed it).

More here.

The Unrealized Horrors of Population Explosion

Clyde Haberman in The New York Times:

Tumblr_inline_muofvx1XUt1snbhfrThe second half of the 1960s was a boom time for nightmarish visions of what lay ahead for humankind. In 1966, for example, a writer named Harry Harrison came out with a science fiction novel titled “Make Room! Make Room!” Sketching a dystopian world in which too many people scrambled for too few resources, the book became the basis for a 1973 film about a hellish future, “Soylent Green.” In 1969, the pop duo Zager and Evans reached the top of the charts with a number called “In the Year 2525,” which postulated that humans were on a clear path to doom. No one was more influential — or more terrifying, some would say — than Paul R. Ehrlich, a Stanford University biologist. His 1968 book, “The Population Bomb,” sold in the millions with a jeremiad that humankind stood on the brink of apocalypse because there were simply too many of us. Dr. Ehrlich’s opening statement was the verbal equivalent of a punch to the gut: “The battle to feed all of humanity is over.” He later went on to forecast that hundreds of millions would starve to death in the 1970s, that 65 million of them would be Americans, that crowded India was essentially doomed, that odds were fair “England will not exist in the year 2000.” Dr. Ehrlich was so sure of himself that he warned in 1970 that “sometime in the next 15 years, the end will come.” By “the end,” he meant “an utter breakdown of the capacity of the planet to support humanity.”

…Some preternaturally optimistic analysts concluded that humans would always find their way out of tough spots. Among them was Julian L. Simon, an economist who established himself as the anti-Ehrlich, arguing that “humanity’s condition will improve in just about every material way.” In 1997, a year before he died, Mr. Simon told Wired magazine that “whatever the rate of population growth is, historically it has been that the food supply increases at least as fast, if not faster.” Somewhere on the spectrum between Dr. Ehrlich the doomsayer and Mr. Simon the doomslayer (as Wired called him) lies Fred Pearce, a British writer who specializes in global population. His concern is not that the world has too many people. In fact, birthrates are now below long-term replacement levels, or nearly so, across much of Earth, not just in the industrialized West and Japan but also in India, China, much of Southeast Asia, Latin America — just about everywhere except Africa, although even there the continentwide rates are declining. “Girls that are never born cannot have babies,” Mr. Pearce wrote in a 2010 book, “The Coming Population Crash and Our Planet’s Surprising Future”.

More here.

Tuesday Poem

Some Love Poems

There you go
this morning
with frost
in your parka
down London Road

I’d know your walk

But I’m not there
I’m in this dumb room
with your blond hair
& all the beautiful lines
on your very special face

In your doorway
I’ll stay

the light kisses
I’ll place
& there are diamonds
on your eyelids

I’ll stay here
in your doorway
& when we kiss
we both look so young

Your bathroom is alone
the spotless white bath
your brushes & stuff

I’d stand here often
in my own silence
but your bathroom is alone now
& I don’t wait

I don’t walk
down to the table and ashtray
just to remind you again
how much you will always move me

It’s only your voice
& frost on the wires

It’s only the touch
of your hair

only the sunlight
through your white blinds

It’s only your presence
on all the platforms & rain

in all the aisles
in the glasses & bottles

in the air
in the wayward stars

in all the leaves
in our unhappy faces

by Brendan Cleary
from Face
publisher: Pighog, B, 2013