The grandest illusion of them all

We can’t understand what we refuse to see. And America refuses to see beyond its front porch. Essay of the week.
“…merely adding a few unfamiliar names to the curriculum, something already fiercely resisted by the conservative and reactionary right, won’t advance global thinking, as distinct from the institutional aims of “inclusivity” and “diversity.” Something more radical and arduous will be required to avoid the total conceptual loss suffered by the Crow Indians: the interrogation of an intellectual tradition that distorts our sense of reality, and the relearning of world history, with the recognition that fundamental assumptions about the inferiority of nonwhite peoples have tainted much of our previous knowledge and analysis.”

Like it was yesterday

Because it was yesterday. Bleeding into today.
ESQ: How can we get the black people to cool it?
JAMES BALDWIN: It is not for us to cool it.
ESQ: But aren’t you the ones who are getting hurt the most?
JAMES BALDWIN: No, we are only the ones who are dying fastest.

[from Esquire]


Related, and later, and mostly about writing.

“I knew what it meant to be white and I knew what it meant to be a nigger, and I knew what was going to happen to me. My luck was running out. I was going to go to jail, I was going to kill somebody or be killed.” 

[from The Paris Review]

What’s at stake

Excellent 4-part blogchain about “What’s at Stake” for women of color in this election.

[from ZORA]


The fragile social order, about to explode

These aren’t the only guys who predicted our current situation, but they have pretty much nailed it. History repeats in cycles.
“Our model is based on the fact that across history, what creates the risk of political instability is the behavior of elites, who all too often react to long-term increases in population by committing three cardinal sins.
  • First, faced with a surge of labor that dampens growth in wages and productivity, elites seek to take a larger portion of economic gains for themselves, driving up inequality.
  • Second, facing greater competition for elite wealth and status, they tighten up the path to mobility to favor themselves and their progeny. …
  • Third, anxious to hold on to their rising fortunes, they do all they can to resist taxation of their wealth and profits, even if that means starving the government of needed revenues, leading to decaying infrastructure, declining public services and fast-rising government debts.
Such selfish elites lead the way to revolutions.”

[from NOEMA]

“Asylum is dead. The myth of American decency died with it.”

The headline on the page reads: “Asylum Is Dead. The Myth of American Decency Died With It.”
And it is true. First we constructed an asylum system to accommodate white Europeans as a means to embarrass Communist regimes. We never wanted to accommodate people of color from Central America that we put at risk through our (let’s be honest) criminal political activities, and through climate change–so then we just turned out backs, shut the door and left them to die.
‘In his book Other People’s Blood, Robert S. Kahn tells the unfathomable story of a Salvadoran woman who “had seen her daughter raped by Salvadoran soldiers after they forced her to execute her husband. To prevent her from applying for asylum, US immigration agents pushed Valium down her throat, then guided her hand to force her signature on form I-274, waiving her right to seek asylum.”’

Mother Jones


“We celebrate a diversity of tactics”

Interesting education on where antifa fits in the American political ecosystem.

[from The New Yorker]

The colloboration between nature, humanity, and…algorithms

To help understand the underlying mechanisms of surveillance capitalism in general and the topical antitrust lawsuit against Google filed today:

For years I recommended this 2011 TedTalk by mathematician Kevin Slavin about how algorithms shape our world, to graduate students at Northwestern University, when I was invited to be a guest lecturer at the Medill School of Journalism. This may be the most informative and interesting 15 minutes you spend this week in understanding how the world around us works and why The quickest way to find out what the boundaries of reality are is to figure where they break.

The information world war

‘This shift from targeting infrastructure to targeting the minds of civilians was predictable. Theorists  like Edward Bernays, Hannah Arendt, and Marshall McLuhan saw it coming decades ago. As early as 1970, McLuhan wrote, in Culture is our Business, “World War III is a guerrilla information war with no division between military and civilian participation.” ‘

That piece was actually part 3 of a 4 part blogchain called “The Feed” on RibbonFarm.

Part Four:

Part Two: 

Part One:

Crowds and Technology

Being better consumers of news on Election Day

If we want journalists to do much better during election coverage–and we do–then we have to do much better as consumers of news. Sharing this guide because what’s right for them is right for us. Either of us fall down, the consequences will be tragic and lasting.

The greatest perception hack of all

Very much starting to appreciate Biden and the effect he’s going to have on the country. 

Kneeling is the least we should be doing about it

The more you know. This is really ugly. As people have been saying for years, we need a new national anthem. This one never cut it.

Who could have seen it coming?

“I was naive,” he said. “I was dumb, you know? I shouldn’t have went. I did; I can’t change that, so I just got to move forward. But sitting here just the past few days, that’s all I keep thinking about. I’m like, Jesus, look at the hell I’m going through, the hell I put everybody through. It ain’t worth it. It wasn’t. It really wasn’t.”

[from Washington Post]

Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition …There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect.” — Frank Wilhoit

“La Crise de l’homme” redux

‘All I ask is that, in the midst of a murderous world, we agree to reflect on murder and to make a choice. After that, we can distinguish those who accept the consequences of being murderers themselves or the accomplices of murderers, and those who refuse to do so with all their force and being. Since this terrible dividing line does actually exist, it will be a gain if it be clearly marked. Over the expanse of five continents throughout the coming years an endless struggle is going to be pursued between violence and friendly persuasion, a struggle in which, granted, the former has a thousand times the chances of success than that of the latter. But I have always held that, if he who bases his hopes on human nature is a fool, he who gives up in the face of circumstances is a coward. And henceforth, the only honorable course will be to stake everything on a formidable gamble: that words are more powerful than munitions.” — Albert Camus

[from Open Culture]

Avoiding short-term economic detours on the long road to environmental sustainability

Can’t effectively use one problem to solve for another.

“At the same time that immediate job creation is not the only way to assess stimulus, tons of carbon reduced is not the only way to evaluate the climate effect of spending. That is because government spending is not the key driver of decarbonization. While more government spending is surely needed, any such spending will be dwarfed by the over $70 trillion that the International Energy Agency projects will need to be spent in the energy sector over the next two decades in order to meet the Paris climate agreement’s goals.”

[from Foreign Policy]

Life in the panopticon

“Imagine a future where anyone you see wearing glasses could be recording your conversations with “always on” microphones and cameras, updating the map of where you are in precise detail and real-time. In this dystopia, the possibility of being recorded looms over every walk in the park, every conversation in a bar, and indeed, everything you do near other people.”

[from the EFF]


“We know how to bring the economy back to life. What we do not know is how to bring people back to life.” -Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo

Limits of competence

Institution after institution, the fascists have gutted trust, faith, and competence for their own personal and criminal gain.

[from ProPublica]