• Infinite Zoom

    Such large-scale social change should prompt us to ask larger questions: What kind of world do we want to live in when we emerge from these chaotic times? How much of that world will have been actively built with our input, and how much of it will have been constructed for us by engineers in ways that only in hindsight we will understand to have been foundational? What patterns of behavior and habits of mind do these solutions privilege over other ways of doing things? What are the likely unintended consequences?

    Technosolutionism Isn’t the Fix | Hedgehog Review

  • Edward Hopper’s Worlds of Isolation & Connection

    Furthermore, his paintings also often suggest connectedness, even in the midst of isolation. The woman in Automat may have felt like she was the only woman ever to sit alone at a table in public, but she wasn’t, of course. The painting works for me because the experience is at once unique to the woman in the painting and a common occurrence. The reason I like Morning Sun and Office in a Small City so much is that, taken apart, they show individuals isolated from the rest of the world, but taken together, they show how alike we are. We are common in our loneliness.

    The thought makes me feel a little less lonely. I want to run into _Morning Sun_’s frame and tell the woman on her bed not to worry. If she just waits a year, a man will sit in an office in a small city and do the very same thing she’s doing now. And since I can’t, I instead tell myself that people all over the country and the world are doing what I’m doing. That I am keeping myself apart, and in doing so am connecting myself to a larger whole.

    The twist in staring too long at Hopper in the era of Covid-19 is that you see not only the similarities between then and now, but the differences. This year, I don’t only relate to the loneliness of the figures in Nighthawks, I also envy them. Unlike us, they can safely meet strangers in diners and bars. Of all the things I used to feel looking at Hopper’s paintings, longing was never one of them.

    How Edward Hopper became an artist for the pandemic age | New Statesman

  • When we give up on truth, we concede power to those with the wealth and charisma to create spectacle in its place.

    The American Abyss | New York Times

  • Quotes for a Day of Sedition, Insurrection, & Treason

    Hannah Arendt:

    [A] people that no longer can believe anything cannot make up its mind. It is deprived not only of its capacity to act but also of its capacity to think and to judge. And with such a people you can then do what you please.

    And:

    Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lies, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such, for in their opinion fact depends entirely on the power of man who can fabricate it.

    Frederick Douglass:

    The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful, and virtuous.

    Theodore Roosevelt:

    The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly as necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else.

    Aesop:

    Any excuse will serve a tyrant.

    Aung San Suu Kyi:

    [D]espotic governments do not recognize the precious human component of the state, seeing its citizens only as a faceless, mindless - and helpless - mass to be manipulated at will. It is as though people were incidental to a nation rather than its very life-blood. Patriotism, which should be the vital love and care of a people for their land, is debased into a smokescreen of hysteria to hide the injustices of authoritarian rulers who define the interests of the state in terms of their own limited interests.

    W.E.B. Du Bois:

    Either the United States will destroy ignorance or ignorance will destroy the United States.

    Henry A. Wallace:

    With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public.

    Eric Hoffer:

    A dissenting minority feels free only when it can impose its will on the majority: what it abominates most is the dissent of the majority.

    Hugo Black:

    No right is more precious in a free country than that of having a voice in the election of those who make the laws under which, as good citizens, we must live. Other rights, even the most basic, are illusory if the right to vote is undermined.

    Bertolt Brecht:

    Because things are the way they are, things will not stay the way they are.

  • Paradoxically, to properly recognize the diverse realities that constitute the human experience, we must lean more heavily into our oneness, not tiptoe timidly around it.

    Toward a New Universalism | The Hedgehog Review

  • No single machine should be able to control the fate of the world’s population—and that’s what both the Doomsday Machine and Facebook are built to do.

    Facebook is a Doomsday Machine | The Atlantic

  • I’m pleased to see that Minnesota-based climate journalist & scientist Eric Holthaus, my favorite writer from the soon-to-be-shuttered slow news site The Correspondent, has started his own Substack newsletter, The Phoenix.

  • Before big farms, this plant alone could feed many people… Grandmothers said these turnips point towards each other, so you’ll always know where the next one will be.

    I missed this article back in October.

    Thíŋpsiŋla: The Edible Bounty Beneath the Great Plains | Serious Eats

  • 2020 strikes again. I was a Correspondent subscriber from its US launch, and greatly valued the “unbreaking news” approach to important issues. I’ll miss the thoughtful, deeper dives it championed.

    The Correspondent will stop publishing on 1 January 2021. | The Correspondent

  • It seemed as if [COVID] was coming straight for JaMarcus, but he wasn’t able to isolate. Every other day, he still needed to trek to a dialysis clinic to spend hours tethered to a machine, surrounded by strangers.

    Tethered to the Machine | ProPublica

  • Some brilliant work, here. So much of it hard to look at.

    In 2020, AP photographers captured a world in distress | AP

  • What did you do before the war?
    I was a chef, I was a chef

    Tom Waits’ “Hell Broke Luce” remains a surreal, searing personal favorite.

  • Three children’s books for Veterans Day.

  • 46 is a welcome number. Let’s keep our hands on the plow.

  • Nobody living can ever stop me,
    As I go walking that freedom highway;
    Nobody living can ever make me turn back
    This land was made for you and me.

    Let’s see where the freedom highway leads. Together, forward.

  • Today is Oxi Day. Today would be a good day to vote, if you haven’t already cast your ballot, so we can truly celebrate the spirit of Oxi! on both 03 January and 20 January 2021.

  • Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. … The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.

    — Frederick Douglass

    Vote.

  • Fantastic news I hope is not too late, but a turning point in regional non-profit journalism in the US. Goodness knows we badly need it.

    ProPublica to Launch New Regional Units in the South and Southwest; ProPublica Illinois to Expand to Midwest Regional Newsroom | ProPublica

  • I’m not sold on a perspective that seeks contentment by saying, essentially, “I wait, therefore I (still) am.” And yet, I cannot wait unless I am.

    Life is moving faster than ever, yet we spend just as much time waiting | The Correspondent

  • Rather than soil my mouth with his name, I’ve referred to him as “resident of the White House” over the last several years. That’s a mouthful, perhaps too subtle, & won’t easily endure past his eviction. “Deadbeat-in-Chief” signals contempt, but is more direct.

  • The US is … a country without a social contract. It’s a republic that has stripped away the “public”. And it’s led by a political party that can no longer be called a party in any real sense.

    Dear news media, stop covering the US as if it’s a democracy | The Correspondent

  • Today’s mail — appropriate.

  • Justice Ginsburg deserves peace. May the rest of us know her strength as we shoulder her outsize share of the burden, her vision as we carry on the work of shaping a better America, and her steadfast endurance as we resist the wickedness lurking in the days ahead.

  • Might Americans finally be waking up to how climate is about to transform their lives? And if so — if a great domestic relocation might be in the offing — was it possible to project where we might go?

    Climate Change Will Force a New American Migration | ProPublica

  • Gown is Town — College, Community

    This Cornell sophomore does not mince words:

    The employees who make this university run are a part of our community just as much as any student is. I will die on that hill. Most of them will be here or have been here longer than any of us, and they will be here long after we are gone. They are definitely more a part of Cornell than certain freshmen who have busted in here like they own the place, publicly flaunting their inadvertent endangerment of the livelihoods of hundreds.

    You interact with Cornell employees daily. You recognize their faces. They work incredibly — incredibly — hard, they smile and give you words of encouragement and they feed you every day of the week. If this campus shuts down, they will not be going back to Westchester or Long Island or Miami or Manhattan. You owe it to them to do everything in your power to keep this semester alive. What is a crappy semester for you has enormous implications for the lives of our staff here, and the college town community as a whole. How dare you. How dare any of you forget about what is at stake for them this fall.

    Our county public health data suggests this perspective needs much more encouragement among our undergraduates.

    Students Will Not Bear the Greatest Cost of a Shutdown This Semester | The Cornell Daily Sun

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