2016 Summer Articles Roundup

05 August 2016

A compilation of the articles I’ve read and enjoyed this summer.

“In my country today there are people who are wondering if the Resistance had a real military impact on the course of the war. For my generation this question is irrelevant: we immediately understood the moral and psychological meaning of the Resistance.”

Ur-Fascism

“THE world has enjoyed an unprecedented run of peace, prosperity, and cooperation the last 25 years, but now that might be over. At least when it comes to those last two.

That, more than anything else, is what Britain’s vote to leave the European Union means.”

The world’s losers are revolting, and Brexit is only the beginning

“They were known as literary subversives, rebel voices in the era of Silent Generation conformity. But among their other contributions to American life are words that some of the Beats marshaled on behalf of wild places.”

Can Poets Save the Parks?

“The fact is, we are in the midst of an election that should be extremely thrilling for progressives, because the possibility for change — for progress — is actually thrumming around us.”

Progressives Should Be Thrilled About Clinton (and Warren)

“We’re used to talking about the private and public sector in the real economy, but in the surveillance economy this boundary doesn’t exist.”

Remarks at the SASE Panel On The Moral Economy of Tech

“An 18-year-old said she was attacked at knifepoint. Then she said she made it up. That’s where our story begins.”

An Unbelievable Story of Rape

Pitched Past Pitch of Grief Parts One, Two, and Three

“Rather than asking “What is good for students?” – “good” in every sense of the word - we instead orient policy and actions around abstractions like “success,” or “college readiness” without examining the underlying costs of pursuing those abstractions.”

School Is Bad for Students

“While Wiesel leveraged his literary talents to win sympathy for Jewish victims of genocide, he sought to limit the narratives of other groups subjected to industrial-level extermination.”

It Is Important to Have Perspective on Elie Wiesel’s Legacy

“It’s considered an indication of authenticity that he doesn’t generally speak from a teleprompter but just wings it. (In fact, he brings to the podium a few pages of handwritten bullet points, to which he periodically refers as he, mostly, wings it.) He wings it because winging it serves his purpose. He is not trying to persuade, detail, or prove: he is trying to thrill, agitate, be liked, be loved, here and now.”

Who Are All These Trump Supporters?

“Whereas the panopticon devised by Jeremy Bentham in the eighteenth century was a structure designed to create the feeling of constant observation among inmates in a prison, the antiopticon created by the concrete security walls and corridors creates a sense of blindness to dimensionality, control enforced by a lack of vision.”

Baghdad as Antiopticon

“Welcome to the 2016 Republican convention: a four-day celebration of the ritual suicide of American democracy.

With balloons.”

This Isn’t Funny Anymore. American Democracy Is at Stake

“I’ve always treated neoliberalism as a political project carried out by the corporate capitalist class as they felt intensely threatened both politically and economically towards the end of the 1960s into the 1970s. They desperately wanted to launch a political project that would curb the power of labor.”

Neoliberalism Is a Political Project

“It all started with a question, one my parents had been unable to answer for 70 years.

What happened to the French doctor they had taken in during the Russian siege of Budapest?”

A Search for the Man Who Saved My Parents’ Lives

“While it’s clear that external silence can have tangible benefits, scientists are discovering that under the hoods of our skulls “there isn’t really such a thing as silence,” says Robert Zatorre, an expert on the neurology of sound. “In the absence of sound, the brain often tends to produce internal representations of sound.””

This Is Your Brain on Silence

When I was a child, I always half-suspected that America wasn’t real. It had to be made up. It was too good and too simple a story to make sense in the everyday world of bus stops and breakfast cereals and adults who invariably let you down.

Living and sometimes working here as a grown-up has not changed my opinion. Right now, backstage at the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia, I can see the story being written in real time.

American Horror Story

Hippolytus 836-851

14 February 2016

This is an exercise in translating. I mostly sourced it from other previous translations.

Theseus
Deep, deep beneath the earth,
Let me go and make my home in the darkness
for I have lost you, dearest companion.
Your death has destroyed much more than yourself.
[Addressing the attendants pleadingly]
Will any of you tell me what happened?
[Angrily]
Or does my palace keep you useless rabble for nothing?
[He turns away, speaking more to himself]
Oh, the grief that I feel! Past utterance, past endurance,
I am lost.
My children are motherless and my house is undone.
You left us, you left me!
You, dearest and best of all women that
the dazzling sun beholds, or the starry radiance of the night.

Θησεύς
τὸ κατὰ γᾶς θέλω, τὸ κατὰ γᾶς κνέφας
μετοικεῖν σκότῳ θανών, ὦ τλάμων,
τῆς σῆς στερηθεὶς φιλτάτης ὁμιλίας:
ἀπώλεσας γὰρ μᾶλλον ἢ κατέφθισο.
†τίνος κλύω† πόθεν θανάσιμος τύχα,
γύναι, σὰν ἔβα, τάλαινα, κραδίαν;
εἴποι τις ἂν τὸ πραχθέν, ἢ μάτην ὄχλον
στέγει τύραννον δῶμα προσπόλων ἐμῶν;
ὤμοι μοι < > σέθεν,
μέλεος, οἷον εἶδον ἄλγος δόμων,
οὐ τλητὸν οὐδὲ ῥητόν. ἀλλ᾽ ἀπωλόμην:
ἔρημος οἶκος, καὶ τέκν᾽ ὀρφανεύεται.
<αἰαῖ αἰαῖ,> ἔλιπες ἔλιπες, ὦ φίλα
γυναικῶν ἀρίστα θ᾽ ὁπόσας ὁρᾷ
φέγγος θ᾽ ἁλίοιο καὶ νυκτὸς ἀ-
στερωπὸν σέλας.

Based on previous translations by Gilbert Murray (1902), Moses Hadas (1936), David Grene (1942), Philip Vellacott (1953), A.S. Way (1956), and James Morwood (1998). Greek text from Perseus.

Briefly Noted - Tea

25 January 2016

“Tea may not fix the world, but it can help you take a break from it.”

I really appreciated this piece about how tea helped one woman deal with the stresses of her life. In some ways it definitely syncs up with how I view and drink tea.

2015 in Books

30 December 2015

I have read some amazing books this year.


Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

A well-written, disturbing psychological thriller that doesn’t reveal too much at one time and has a couple interesting twists.

Child of a Hidden Sea by A.M. Dellamonica

I would like to live in Stormwrack. The sequel, A Daughter of No Nation, came out recently, and I’m planning on reading it early next year. The author has also written a couple short stories set in the same world, which I’ll include either here or (more likely) in a short stories post.

Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss

This book is a short, haunting read that I would recommend to anyone who enjoyed the first two books of The Kingkiller Chronicle.

Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

This is only the second book in the projected ten book series (!) and I don’t know if I’ll be able to wait for the third.

The End of Night by Paul Bogard

A sobering read about the effects of artificial light and a meditation on why we need darkness.

Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed

Saladin Ahmed is one of my favorite people that I follow on Twitter (you should follow him too). His debut fantasy novel draws on sword and sworcery, but with his own delightful take.

A Is For Angelica by Iain Broome

A deceptively simple, quiet book about love and growing old.

A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar

Hands down one of the best books I’ve ever read. I was instantly immersed in the world. The sequel is coming out on March 15.

The Girl In The Road by Monica Byrne

I’m still trying to understand what this book means to me, and what to think about it. To me, that’s the mark of a good book.

Beasts of Tabat by Cat Rambo

Intriguing, but too short. Sets up the world well, and since I like the setting I’ll probably check out the next book in the series.

Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

This is, simply put, a superb novel.

Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges

A beautiful collection of short stories by one of the masters of the form.

The End of All Things by John Scalzi

A thrilling, entertaining, humorous romp through the world first established in Old Man’s War, and a satisfying continuation of the series featuring characters new and old.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Another wonderfully satisfying fantasy novel, set in 18th century England and written somewhat in the style of Jane Austen. The incredibly detailed footnotes peppering the book gives the world a very rich quality.

Arundel by Kenneth Roberts

This one has been sitting on my shelf for quite some time, and I’m glad that I finally sat down to read it. It’s a thrilling tale of adventure and survival, set in the early days of the Revolutionary War.

Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow

A delightful whirlwind of historical figures and fictional characters, growing, living, and breathing in early 20th century America.

The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard

Set in the ruins of Paris, featuring, among other fascinating characters, fallen angels, and a brewing cold war between houses fighting over the remnants of the city.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver

A melancholy collection of stories about sad, lonely, strange people who could nonetheless live right down the road.

The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon

Focused, streamlined, and undeniably a Pynchon novel.

Empire Ascendant by Kameron Hurley

Everything that can go wrong will go wrong. Old characters die, new characters are introduced, and Oma continues its rise.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

It was high time for me to read this. A tale of people, love, hate, and society.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

This book made me think quite a bit about how our society currently works. There are some disturbing similarities.

The Stranger by Albert Camus

Short and intense. Another book whose effects are still being felt.

Books I’ve started

Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie

Vertigo by W.G. Sebald

Summer Evenings

21 August 2015

My family has had a dog for the last 13 years. His name is Thor (courtesy of my 7-year-old obsession with Norse mythology), and he is a big, wonderful, goofy, friendly, ~80 pound golden retriever. He’s also nearing the end of his life.

I really wish that that weren’t true. It is. Wishing won’t change that. He’s still happy, and not in any obvious pain. He still wags, and smiles, and greets everyone who comes in the door with the energy of a dog half his age. But in the back of my mind I wonder how much time we have left with him. He is slowing down noticeably, but he still loves his walks.

I haven’t been home for very much of my summer break, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I came home. After a few days to recover from the jet lag, my parents asked me to take Thor for his evening, post-dinner walk. He eats around 4 - 4:15, so we started our walk at about 4:30. At that time of day during California’s summers, the sun is just beginning to set. The light takes on a golden quality and every leaf on every tree has its own glowing halo. Time seems to slow down. When I walk Thor, especially at this time, the world seems simpler, easier. Thor has this way of looking up at you, a look that is both to make sure that you’re still there, and to express his happiness at being outside walking with you. I don’t ever want those moments to end.

Yet end they eventually must. I don’t know how much longer we have with Thor, but I intend to savor every moment I can.


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