A Thought for the Day
The notion that technology, as a manifestation of cosmic fate, might save human beings from themselves is precisely the same as arguing that voodoo or any other fetish of power and delight can act as a deterrent for the social suicide that people prepare for themselves when they insist that one set or class or group of kith and kin have a higher right to prosper and achieve than do other collectives to accomplish whatever is mighty and magnificent in the scheme of things: in this vein, of course, August 9 exemplifies the monstrosity of such fatuous thinking in relation to the humble city of Nagasaki, which standard ‘allied’ bombing runs spared in anticipation of the grotesque experiment of incinerating some untold tens of thousands of the bombers’ Rising Sun cousins, no more than mere handfuls of whom had anything to do with war making or martial arts on the scale of World War and geopolitics but who nonetheless disappeared in a heated rush or died slowly in the crushing aftermath of plutocracy’s first brush with Plutonium’s devastating properties, a result of technical wizardry and scientific legerdemain and industrial brute force to equal any such technological endeavor that has transpired during eons of human tinkering and undertaking to control nature in a profitable fashion.
― Wendy Beckett,
This Day in History
Around the Earth, today marks the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People, while South Africa celebrates Women’s Day and Canada commemorates the date as Peacekeepers’ Day; in a key step away from the Republic of the Rich toward an empire of the hyper-rich, Caesar’s forces two thousand sixty-five years ago crushed the troops that Pompey had assembled at the Battle of Pharsalus, causing the latter potentate to fly to Egypt to save his skin; four hundred twenty-six years later, in 378, in the midst of a Gothic War that demarcated the type of pushback that imperial imprimatur universally elicits, the Visigoths routed a massive Roman force at the Battle of Adrianople, killing Emperor Valens and plus or minus half his army; six hundred eighty-eight years ahead of today, a twenty-second Pope John designated an area of the Indian Subcontinent as a Roman Catholic diocese, the first in that portion of the planet; five hundred seventeen years back, in the midst of the Ottoman-Venetian War, imperial fighters captured Methoni, on the Grecian Peninsula and further wrested control of Greece from Italian control; sixteen years past that on the nose, in 1516, the iconic painter and visionary, Hieronymus Bosch, left the world behind; ninety-four years thereafter, in 1610,the future of depredation and dispossession became clear when the first Anglo-Powhatan war broke out in Virginia, only three years after the British landing at Jamestown; twenty-one years further on time’s march, in 1631, the baby boy was born who would become the estimable poet and playwright and critic, John Dryden; another twenty-two years en route to today, in 1653, a male child called out who would grow up as the poet and writer, John Oldham; exactly sixteen decades and a single year henceforth, in 1814, the confederation of Native Americans who called themselves Creeks acceded to the Treaty of Fort Jackson, as a result of which the original inhabitants gave up much of Alabama and Georgia to the U.S. via conquest; twenty-eight years beyond those agreements, in 1842, England and the United States adopted the Webster-Ashburton Treaty, which set the borders between Canada and America East of the Rocky Mountains; a dozen years after that, in 1854, Henry David Thoreau’s Walden came on the market; eighteen years hence precisely, in 1872, a massive fire swept through Boston consuming hundreds of buildings, killing at least nine firemen, and causing the deaths or injuries of uncounted other residents; an additional eighteen years toward today, in 1890, the Knights of Labor called a strike against the New York Central Railroad that scabs caused to fail; a pair of years afterward, in 1892, Thomas Edison received his patent on a two way telegraph communication system; fourteen hundred sixty-one days subsequently, in 1896, the baby male opened his eyes who would rise as the thinker and psychologist and theorist of learning stages, Jean Piaget; a single year further along that a quarter century, in 1922, a privileged male baby was born who would grow up as England’s ‘alternate poet laureate,’ and librarian of distinction, Philip Larkin; exactly half a decade yet later still, in 1927, ten workers gathered in Oakland to form the organization that would grow into the two hundred thirty thousand strong California School Employees Association, and a boy child gazed round him en route to a life as the brilliant thinker and computer scientist, Marvin Minsky; a thousand ninety-six days after that, in 1930, the animated character Betty Boop had her debut in “Dizzy Dishes;” half a dozen years further along, in 1936, at the Olympic Games in Berlin, Jesse Owens won his fourth Gold Medal; six more years on time’s track, in 1942, around the globe in India, Mahatma Gandhi’s purveying his Quit India Movement led to his arrest for sedition; seven hundred thirty-one days yet nearer to now, in 1944, the United States Forest Service and the Wartime Advertising Council introduced the first Smokey the Bear campaign;
a year hence, in 1945, a United States bomber exploded a Plutonium fission weapon over Nagasaki, Japan, ‘experimentally’ incinerating sixty thousand or more civilians instantly and causing slow and painful deaths among additional tens of thousands over the next period of time, and Russian troops advanced into Manchuria a day after the Soviet declaration of war, the primary cause of Japan’s surrender less than a week later; four years subsequent to those culminating dances of death, in 1949, a boy infant entered our midst who would end up as the psychologist and thriller author, Jonathan Kellerman; thirteen years even closer to the current context, in 1962, the brilliant storyteller and German Nobel Laureate Hermann Hesse breathed his last; three hundred sixty-five days down the pike, across the Atlantic in 1963, a little baby girl was born whom fate impelled into the persona of the singer and songwriter Whitney Houston; two years still later, halfway round the world in 1965, Singapore became the only known case of a nation that involuntarily became independent, when Malaysia expelled the island territory; two years more along the temporal arc, in 1967, scintillating playwright and ferocious wit Joe Orton, in a tragic murder suicide, died from hammer blows from the lover whom he was about to abandon; seven hundred thirty-one days still more proximate to the present pass, in 1969, six thousand miles West in California, further grotesque murder took place when followers of Charles Manson butchered several people and shot one other, including Roman Polanski’s young wife, Sharon Tate, eight months pregnant at the time; half a decade further along time’s flow, in 1974, following Richard Nixon’s resignation, Gerald Ford assumed the Presidency that would allow him to pardon his predecessor in advance for any crimes that he committed; eleven years still further along, in 1985, Federal Court proceedings resulted in a guilty conviction against Arthur Walker for his work as a Soviet spy; another decade even more in proximity to the present point in space and time, in 1995, the songwriter and crooner and performer extraordinaire, Jerry Garcia, sang his swan song and exited; three years hence, in 1998, across the North American continent, more than seventy thousand Bell Atlantic workers ended a two day strike that garnered them increased wages and some guarantees in regard to subcontracted work; seven years further along, in 2005, the popular working class author of socially real narratives, Judith Rossner died in her native New York City; nine years onward, in 2014, police in Ferguson, Missouri gunned down an unarmed and non-threatening young Black man, Michael Brown, whose murder led to massive protests and underpinned the growth and influence of such organizations as Black Lives Matter; another three hundred sixty-five days on the path to today, in 2015, the Indian writer, teacher, and farmer Kayyar Kinhanna Rai took his final breath, two months after his one hundredth birthday.
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Interesting People Places Things of Note
A Truth Dig post that looks at the all-important of civic learning: “Just ask middle and high school students about their society’s basic institutions, courts, trial by jury, the law of wrongful injuries (tort law), or about their civil rights and liberties — and the duties that accompany these rights — and you’re likely to draw blank gazes. In 2006, a poll revealed that more high school students knew the names of the Three Stooges than the names of the three branches of government. Just last year after my address to the student assembly of a preparatory school, a small gathering of students who wanted to talk could not name their state’s governor, senators or representatives to Congress — notwithstanding the ballyhooed information source that is misnamed the “smartphone” in their hands.”
Writers Tools Issues
A Nieman Lab look at ways that writers and communicators can monetize their podcasts: ” The past seven days saw two significant stories about money being raised here in Podcast-land. Taken together, the stories contain a fair bit of meat, because they offer two very different approaches to the industry — and two different visions of what it could be.”
General Media & ‘Intellectual Property’ Issues
A Poynter post that looks at wikipedia founder’s attempts to fix the media: “Since Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales announced WikiTribune three months ago, the crowdfunded news platform has attracted some serious support: They’ve successfully raised money for 10 journalists, moved into a temporary office space in London, and started accepting applications for beta testing.”
An Atlantic post about a subject of very much relevance of today: “To put ourselves in the path of the total eclipse, that day we had driven five hours inland from the Washington coast, where we lived. When we tried to cross the Cascades range, an avalanche had blocked the pass.”
General Past & Present Issues
A fundamentally important LitHub look at what the world needs and does not need from us at this time: “The politics of respectability, deployed during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and ‘60s, was supposed to have put an end to this. This denigration of black lives. This legal and cultural propensity to define African Americans as un-citizens and, therefore, unworthy of rights. If the language of post-racial America is to be believed, the Civil Rights Movement had finally made audible how hollow the nation’s civic pronouncements were whenever the United States”