The stories in our culture reinforce the power structure of society. And western culture has become so globally dominant that it’s big enough to contain any story of rebellion against authority (emphasis on contain) without itself being threatened. Anyone want to buy an Occupy T-shirt? Even protest can be commercialized. True story: I met someone starting college with a desire to work in forensics and asked why and they said their favorite TV show had been CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. And that became their path to the professional class. That investment of time, money, and work will reinforce a certain kind of power structure. And so what? What modern culture has a different class structure? They might be speaking a different language, but do they support a different use of power? Continue reading
Waiting for Josefine Klougart to begin I overheard a man talking about Three Percent and searched online, finding the journal dedicated to literary work in translation. By the number that gives the publication its name, only 3% of books published in the U.S. are works in translation—but that is all books, the majority are nonfiction—the number is around 0.7% for literary fiction or poetry in translation.
Of that 0.7%, the books by women are at most half, let’s estimate—rounding down, in this case, 0.3% of all of the fiction and poetry books in translation published in the United States are written by women. Using another international lens, look at how many women have won the Nobel Prize for Literature, from 1901 to 2016, over the course of one hundred and fifteen years, only fourteen women have been awarded the prize, the other 99 (with a few years skipped for the war) were men. Continue reading
Reading Jón Gnarr, How I Became the Mayor of a Large City in Iceland and Changed the World, I found that a platform for citizens to inform each other and vote on issues had been implemented in Reykjavík beginning in October 2011. He has a chapter called “The World is Getting Better and Better” where he talks about the online platform Betri Reykjavík for citizens to find all the information about plans and projects for city districts and “read the ideas, opinions, and suggestions of others, discuss the proposed concept, present your own ideas, and then vote for or against.” In the chapter “And Now?” he writes: “Democracy is the key to a progressive society. I believe in direct democracy. More precisely: in direct digital democracy.” Continue reading
From the audience, listening to Sanders, it sounded like harangue. This is completely different, the opposite of the inspirational tone delivered by Obama, and it was different in another way. Sanders, in an early televised debate, lauded Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. This is the real difference between the candidates: Sanders didn’t present an amorphous hope, an idealized change, he pointed directly at social policy that works, that’s currently in place in other countries, social programs where the citizens have placed a significant portion of their income to public rather than private consumption. In the Nordic countries when they pay taxes, they’re paying for benefits: paid parental leave, day care, universal public K-PhD education, health care, home health care for the elderly. It’s not individuals making sacrifices for other people, when someone pays taxes in the Nordic countries they are buying services for their own benefit. And through their collective effort, they created a place where one would want to live. Sanders directed our nation’s attention at smart social policy that works. Rather than repeat the self-referencing common to America, he directed attention to other countries, people who have made choices to create social benefits.
I wanted to share this idea with my friends. Continue reading
While talking with the PD-X Humans this question came up, how do we know what is right, it was in the context of asking how it would be possible for society to do what is right, and Jacob said he thought it could be beyond the scope of humanity to even know what is right for the world. That idea looks okay from a cosmic view, seeing the dinosaurs to humanity as one continuous evolution of life on earth that will continue for another billion odd years.
The inability of humanity to determine a valid concept of right action could suggest there is a right action that we have no access to—due to self-interest or eternal ignorance—or that no right action exists for the world because it is the worldly, natural, possibly even divine or cosmic forces, that humanity embody and that we have no ability to direct them. These natural forces take their expression through humanity. Continue reading
A new housemate once told me she didn’t like movies, and I was surprised, how could she not like movies? She said she didn’t like having her emotions manipulated. And sure, I’ve cried at the movies. Even a good documentary can move me. It’s empathy happening.
Say you’re watching a movie at home and you have no empathy for the protagonist, what’s to keep you interested, keep you from turning off the show and moving on with your life? Perhaps curiosity? Suspense? If you don’t want to know what happens next, the movie has failed. And in that sense, every movie is a suspense film. Continue reading
When I was in high school nearsightedness came on slowly and some days it would be worse than others, like when I was tired and came home and I’d reach for the door and it’d be blurry. The exhaustion compounded my frustration and it made me mad to lose focus. It was beyond my control. I went on like it was temporary but by my senior year I had to start sitting toward the front of the classroom to read the board and I went for an eye exam. Continue reading