8.24.2017 Daily Links

  A Thought for the Day   

The easiest thing in the world is often enough to imagine that the bounty of our current standard operations justifies proceeding on our present path, at once promising plenty from science and technology and undermining all critique, from the most esoteric and erstwhile spiritual caviler to the most materialistic and purportedly dialectical complainant: indeed, much of the public relations industry operates to affirm how simple pretending and make believe are to sell; on closer examination, quickly and obviously in the event, the relentless physical toxicity of the present pass first of all clearly guarantees a Fukushima or Hiroshima sort of meltdown if we continue on this course of producing more and more and more of everything except the useful items and healing relations that we need, while second of all the psychic and emotional toll of today’s SOP promises ever more blunting of the life force, whether these blunt force impacts take the form of hypermedicated masses or suicidal individual behavior that increases over time in extent to the extent that anyone at all might immolate himself, or annihilate herself, at any moment of any day—in manifesting this subversion of abundance, this visceral evisceration of the altogether natural longing for ‘security’ and adequacy in terms of basic necessities, contemporary political economies and sociopolitical interactions inevitably seem perverse and cruel even as people daily struggle to find a way out of the trap toward each other in a fashion that rewards mutuality and mandates collectivity.

  Quote of the Day  

Dying is something we human beings do continuously, not just at the end of our physical lives on this earth.

 This Day in History  

eggs ukraine easter craft artToday in Ukraine is Independence Day, when the nation declared its complete independence from Soviet control, and this evening in Uruguay is Nostalgia Night; in what is now Algeria, along the Bagradas River, two thousand sixty-six years ago, Roman imperial forces that sought to dispose of Rome’s African colonies as Caesar dictated faced a crushing defeat at the hands of Numidian fighters who wanted to order matters differently; more or less a century and twenty-eight years after that bloody set of facts, in 79, the volcano Vesuvius erupted to catastrophic effect on the other side of the Mediterranean; MORE HERE

 sixteen hundred twenty-three years before the here and now, the last recorded utilization of Egyptian hieroglyphs occurred, in the Graffito of Esmet-Akhom; sixteen years hence, in 410, Visigoth forces accelerated the declining imperial colossus that had been Rome with a pillaging of the city itself; five years shy of half a century thereafter, in 455, Vandal armies agree to spare Roman lives in their looting of much of Rome’s imperial ‘treasure,’ itself ‘loot’ from Rome’s conquests; seventy-three decades past that conjunction, in 1185, an evolution of this culture of plunder took place with the Norman overthrow of the redoubt at Thessalonica, along with the sacking of the Sicilian Kingdom’s metropolis and the slaughter of thousands of the city’s populace; forty years further along, in 1215, the Pope invalidated the recently enacted Magna Carta, throwing English ruling processes into flux; six hundred sixty-eight years back, meanwhile, Mainz’s citizens joined in a popular response to the spread of the Bubonic Plague, slaughtering as many as six thousand local Jews as somehow bearing responsibility for the pestilence; forty-two years later, in 1391, across Europe in Southern Spain, as many as a thousand Jews faced death as residents of Mallorca, rising up against indebtedness and grasping jude jewish holocaust genocidefor Jewish property, rioted violently against Jewish people and those who protected them; sixty-five years past that conjunction, in 1456, early printers finished the first edition of a Gutenberg bible; another six decades henceforth, in 1516, Ottoman Turks completed the conquest of Syria, routing Arabic Muslims in the process of consolidating imperial rule; ninety-two years subsequently to the day, in 1608, English merchants established their first outpost in India at Surat; eighty-two years further onward, in 1690, the consolidation of saltpeter production at a factory in Bengal led both to a significant enrichment of the East India Company and to the manifestation of what came to be the great city of Calcutta; two centuries and three years back,British troops razed and burned much of what was the first incarnation of the United States capitol at Washington; seven years still nearer to now, in 1821, the Treaty of Cordoba established the Mexican nation’s independence from Spain; thirty-six years still later, in 1857, one of the initial worldwide ‘panics’ gripped centers of capital everywhere, in particular destroying wealth and afflicting property in the United States; precisely a quarter century more proximate to the present, in 1872, an upper crust English family welcomed a new son, who would mature as the caricaturist and critic and multifaceted writer, Max Beerbohm; a hundred twenty-six years in advance of this moment in time, Thomas Edison gained the patent for a motion picture camera that was to change the face of culture and human communication; seven years after that juncture, in 1898, a baby boy was born who would grow up as the critic, writer, and editor Malcolm Cowley; three hundred sixty-five years more along time’s path, in 1899, an Argentine boy child gave voice en route to a life as the prolific and peripatetic Jorge Luis Borges; three years hence in France, in 1902, another male infant came along whose destiny was intellectual insight and legerdemain as the historian and philosopher Fernand Braudel; seven years hence, in 1909, Southwest across the Atlantic, U.S. contractors poured the first concrete that went into the formation of the Panama Canal; a half decade farther down time’s road, in 1914, U.S. Poet Alan Seeger, a classmate of John Reed’s at Harvard, volunteered for the French Foreign Legion, learning prior to his being shot to pieces two years hence that modern industrial warfare had little or nothing of glory and elan in it; eight years additional along the temporal path, in 1922, the infant male took breath who would gain acclaim and audience as the history book glasses education learnpopular historian, Howard Zinn; seven years beyond that point in time, in 1929, in British mandate Palestine, a massacre of several score Jews took place in Hebron at the hands of Palestinian Arabs who were rioting about immigration and possible plans for a Jewish homeland; another seven years onward, in 1936, the baby girl opened her eyes who would soon enough see her way to write the iconic and disturbing novels of A.S. Byatt; a year after on the dot, in 1937 on the Iberian Peninsula, Basque forces surrendered en masse to fascist Italian volunteers who had been assisting Franco’s forces in the Spanish Civil War; half a dozen years later, in 1943, the French philosopher and mystic-idealist Simone Weil drew here last breath; four years still closer to today, in 1947, the Brazilian boy baby shouted out who would end up the popular and critically acclaimed writer Paulo Coelho; seven hundred thirty-one days onward, in 1949, the formal papers that created the North Atlantic Treaty Organization came into force; another year afterward, in 1950, Edith Sampson became the first Black representative of the United States to the United Nations; another year later still, in 1951, a baby boy opened his eyes on his way toward life as the thinker and storyteller Oscar Hijuelos, and another male infant was born, to the Mormon Card family in Richland, Washington, who would go on to great popularity and critical controversy as Orson Scott Card; three years yet nearer to the here and now, in 1954, the Communist Control Act took effect, essentially outlawing the American Communist Party; a dozen years after that, in 1966, the trust fund baby entered our midst who, as Nick Denton, would go on to monopoly media success with Gawkeranother year even closer to today’s light and air, in 1967, Abbie Hoffman led Youth International Party activists in raining dollar bills onto the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, setting off a scramble that temporarily halted trading; seven hundred thirty-one daily passages round the sun farther along, in 1969, a different sort of ‘protest’ against empire transpired when an entire U.S. Army Company‘s soldiers refused their commanding officer’s order to continue a punishing and likely fruitless attempt to reach a downed helicopter; thirty-four years ago, the iconic thinker and leader, Scott Nearing, took a final breath just after his hundredth birthday; six years hence, in 1989, Colombian drug gangs ‘declared war’ on the central government there; fifteen years later still, in 2004, the renowned thinker and psychologist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross died.

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 Interesting People Places Things of Note 

A New Fetish

A Philosophical Saloon article that looks at the newest commodity fetish that seeks to solve a problem through the commodity nexus: “Fidgeting may indeed make workers and students more efficient, but only if their work and learning requires only attentiveness in place of creative thought. Cleaning up code and mining data sets, responding formulaically to formulaic emails, memorizing lists of science-textbook information: these tasks, since they demand us to abandon originality in favor of robotic accuracy, are most easily imperiled by any distractedness in the worker. And by reducing the stress we (understandably) feel when we’re reduced to performing such mechanical tasks, fidget toys can help us stay happier and healthier for longer. I’d say it’s a win-win for the managerial class, but they’re probably busy fidgeting away their despair and frustration as well.”

 Writers Tools Issues 

Critical Realist Epistemics

An Understanding Society look at an intensive philosophical workshop that can be of interested to scrappy scribes: “The critical realism network in North America is currently convened in Montreal in a three-day intensive workshop (link). In attendance are many of the sociologists and philosophers who have an active interest in critical realism, and the talks are of genuine interest. A session this morning on pragmatist threads of potential interest to critical realists, including Mead, Abbott, and Elias, was highly stimulating. And there are 29 sessions altogether — roughly 85 papers. This is an amazing wealth of sociological research.”

 General Media & ‘Intellectual Property’ Issues 

Corporate Innovations in Dominating Universities

A Scholarly Kitchen look at the role of corporate money and agendas on research: “Fast-forward a decade or more and many changes in how academic research (and academia itself) is funded, how government supports scientific researchers, and how tenure tracks and academic lifestyles are managed, and we find an environment in which 65.2% of funding of research comes from business, according to the 2016 Science & Engineering Indicators from the National Science Board, with 26.7% of research funding comes from government. This represents a slow reversal over the past 40 years, where the two lines intersected as business’ share of R&D expenditures climbed and government’s fell. Now, business funds nearly 3x as much research as the government.”

 Recent Events 

Hypothesizing Renewed White Supremacy

A Pro Publica post that contextualizes recent tragic events in Charlottesville: “Hate crimes and bias incidents are a national problem, but there’s no reliable data on the nature or prevalence of the violence. We’re collecting and verifying reports to create a national database for use by journalists, researchers and civil-rights organizations.” 

 General Past & Present Issues 

Another Hiroshima Essay

A Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist essay that looks at the ongoing significance of the tragic bomb deployment against the citizens of Japan: “The design for the first atomic bomb was frighteningly simple: One lump of a special kind of uranium, the projectile, was fired at a very high speed into another lump of that same rare uranium, the target. When the two collided, they began a nuclear chain reaction, and it was only a tiny fraction of a second before the bomb exploded, forever splitting history between the time before the atomic bomb and the time after.”