Wild Times, 26
January 10, 2017
Hello again, there's a lot in this one since I've been accumulating for 2 months, but I tried to settle on only the most important from those 2 months, or at least the most personally important. Lots of really good "bigger picture" writing since the election. Small change in format → will include an important excerpt from each piece.
1 – Venezuela, A Failing State – William Finnegan @ The New Yorker
*An extra long read, but probably my favorite from this bunch.
"We stood under a tin roof, near piles of garbage and a deserted loading dock. The surgeon was bearded, heavyset, nervous. He looked exhausted. He did not want me to know his name, let alone use it. “We have no basic trauma tools,” he said. “Sutures, gloves, pins, plates.” He ran down a list of unavailable medications, including ciprofloxacin, an all-purpose antibiotic, and clindamycin, a cheap antibiotic. The doctors lost surgical patients because they had no adrenaline. They could still do some types of blood tests, but they could no longer test for hepatitis or H.I.V./aids. The electricity supply was a problem. At one stage, the operating room had been closed for a week. The waiting list for surgery was now three months. In Maracaibo, a major city farther west, surgeons had been reduced to operating by cell-phone flashlight."
2 – Counterpoint: Yes, Trump Represents Fascism – by B. Traven
"Achille Mbembe and others have shown how the creation of whiteness and the state of exception through American and European slavery foreground fascism on a more subtle and pervasive level. I am not certain if fascism would be possible without white supremacy; but white supremacy thrives under other systems of government, and I believe anarchy is likely the only thing that can fully eradicate it. What is clear is that white supremacy and fascism are as much bosom friends as Trump and Steve Bannon."
3 – What if jobs are not the solution but the problem? – James Livingston @ Aeon Magazine
"I’m not proposing a fancy thought experiment here. By now these are practical questions because there aren’t enough jobs. So it’s time we asked even more practical questions. How do you make a living without a job – can you receive income without working for it? Is it possible, to begin with and then, the hard part, is it ethical? If you were raised to believe that work is the index of your value to society – as most of us were – would it feel like cheating to get something for nothing?"
4 – The End of the Anglo-American Order – Ian Buruma @ The New York Times
"When Trump and Farage stood on that stage together in Mississippi, they spoke as though they were patriots reclaiming their great countries from foreign interest ... But their success is dismaying precisely because it goes against a particular idea of Anglo-American exceptionalism. Not the traditional self-image of certain American and British jingoists who like to think of the United States as the City on the Hill or Britain as the sceptered isle splendidly aloof from the wicked Continent, but another kind of Anglo-American exception: the one shaped by World War II. The defeat of Germany and Japan resulted in a grand alliance, led by the United States, in the West and Asia. Pax Americana, along with a unified Europe, would keep the democratic world safe. If Trump and Farage get their way, much of that dream will be in tatters."
5 – It Can Always Get Worse – Vincent Bevins @ The Awl
"Americans are 5 times as rich as citizens in the world’s median countries! And compared to Earth’s actual corners of poverty, we have 55 times as much. Let’s try to think which of the following two scenarios is more likely. Are U.S. citizens 5 times as smart, productive, and deserving as the average human being? Or is it perhaps that we have been the major beneficiaries of a deeply unequal, historically contingent, fragile global system that has been carefully constructed over many decades? Maybe things can definitely get worse? From the perspective of any other country on Earth, the notion that our exorbitant American privilege is simply the natural state of affairs — the default settings on the world’s operating system, which we can just reset to Great Again at will — is laughable. It’s not only that we could lose our power and wealth. One could even make a convincing case that we should."
6 – love trumps nothing – Liz Kinnamon
"in this sense, the phrase “love trumps hate” is a misplaced ontological confidence, to quote @afieryflyingroule. it’s the kind of empty untruth that is partly to blame for the results of this election. the paradox of love is that it doesn’t outpace or surpass anything. it’s constitutionally more delicate and easier to destroy. what is important for group life is that the compulsion to destroy is an investment in staving off pain. bollas argued that the flip side of the right’s paranoia is the left’s sanctimonious rectitude—the righteousness that is paired with having the correct answers and just pointing to or calling out what’s wrong; neither is open to dialogue."
7 – Sovereignty can be bought and sold like a commodity – Steven Press @ Aeon Magazine
"Within the last century, Mexico, Japan, Mauritius, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Oman, Djibouti, Ethiopia, the Seychelles, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Chile and Peru have taken or given money in exchange for the transfer of jurisdiction over certain inhabitants in a given territory."
8 – How Facebook Spreads Fake News And Anti-Muslim Views In Myanmar – Sheera Frenkel @ Buzzfeed News
"For many in Myanmar, the internet and Facebook brought with it the banner of free speech and American values — but no one had told them what would happen if they tested the values of free speech under a government still feeling its way out of military control. Was it the responsibility of Facebook, or their own government, to teach them how to safely use the internet? Would Facebook protect them for what they wrote online? How do you give people the internet they crave while keeping them safe? And given how many Americans, including Trump, fell for fake news during the elections, how were people in Myanmar expected to judge what was real and what was fake?"
9 – Pity the sad legacy of Barack Obama – by Cornel West @ The Guardian
"Obama’s lack of courage to confront Wall Street criminals and his lapse of character in ordering drone strikes unintentionally led to rightwing populist revolts at home and ugly Islamic fascist rebellions in the Middle East. And as deporter-in-chief – nearly 2.5 million immigrants were deported under his watch – Obama policies prefigure Trump’s barbaric plans."
10 – The Crazy Security Behind the Birth of Zcash, the Inside Story – Morgan Peck @ IEEE Spectrum
"The story of Zcash has already been roughly sketched by me and others. The currency launched 28 October onto the high seas of the cryptocurrency ecosystem with a strong wind of hype pushing violently at its sails. On the first morning that Zcash existed, it was trading on cryptocurrency exchanges for over US $4000 per coin. By the next day, the first round of frenzied feeding had subsided and the price was already below $1000. Now, a month later, you’ll be lucky if you can get $100 for a single Zcash coin. Even in the bubble-and-burst landscape of cryptocurrency trading, these fluctuations are completely insane."