Can the world stop genocide?: “By the time you have established that all the criteria have been met, it’s over.”
I appreciated this piece on Emmanuel Macron and the Yellow Vest protests which rightly did not frame the movement out of context as an indicator of the viability of climate policy.
For a story about rural citizens taking to a city for a dramatic protest explicitly about climate, look to India, where more farmers and farm workers than ever are killing themselves over damaged crops”—320,000 since 1995—attributable to decreased average rainfall, more frequent extreme events, drier seasons, and later and shorter monsoons.
In April 2017, 150 Indian farmers “sat for almost a month at Delhi’s protest hub of Jantar Mantar. They sat buck-naked, holding the bones of neighbors who had committed suicide.”: “We wanted to symbolically shame our leaders into action.”
“Most farmers, though, aren’t really changing their methods to adapt to a warming climate and water scarcity. Instead, they are boring into the ground 200 feet to find water—but, even at that depth, they often find none. Or they’re growing conventional crops that have guaranteed government prices, even though they use too much water and provide fewer nutrients. Rice and wheat are seriously affected by climate change but still dominate cultivation.”
Contextualizing the ongoing detention, torture, and surveillance of an estimated one million Uighur Muslims and other Muslim groups in the Xinjiang region, a brief history of Islam in China
Related and timely: I was re-reading the Paris Review’s objection to misappropriation of “slouching towards X” as an idiom leading to “the widening gyre of heavy-handed allusions to WB Yeats’s ‘The Second Coming’”
Notes on trap music by a Harvard professor of English and African-American Studies. I’m not convinced of all points, but don’t know enough to disagree. Quick selling point: it pairs quotes from WEB Du Bois with 21 Savage, Young Thug with bell hooks. It compares “Mask Off” to “A Raisin in the Sun”, Migos to Napoleon. Archive of the author’s cultural writing here (h/t Junho)
“Trap is a form of soft power that takes the resources of the black underclass (raw talent, charisma, endurance, persistence, improvisation, dexterity, adaptability, beauty) and uses them to change the attitudes, behaviors, and preferences of others, usually by making them admit they desire and admire those same things and will pay good money to share vicariously in even a collateral showering from below. This allows the trap artist to transition from an environment where raw hard power dominates and life is nasty, brutal, and short to the world of celebrity, the Valhalla of excess, lucre, influence, fame — the only transparently and sincerely valued site of belonging in our culture. It doesn’t hurt, of course, that insofar as you’re interested in having a good time, there’s probably never been a sound so perfectly suited to having every kind of fun disallowed in conservative America.”
Esquire rebukes the New York Times bubble and their inadvertently self-incriminating headline “The Rise of Right-Wing Extremism and How We Missed It” (which has since been changed slightly). Some choice tweets taking exception:
Not really a thing I "read” (I should change the name of this blog series), but I watched “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” this week. It turned out to be one of the best movies I’ve watched from this year and easily the most fun. I can’t remember the last time a movie positively defied my expectations this much; I was expecting it to be a direct-to-TV production based on its title and its featuring a talking-pig character, plus this is the studio (Sony) that bungled the live-action Spider-Man franchise and last year gave us the “Emoji Movie”. This blew me away, so much so that I’ll bullet-point some superlatives below:
It might be the funniest movie to come out this year. The only other contender to me would be “Date Night”, another movie that defied genre expectations. I found the humor in “The Death of Stalin” to be far beneath Armando Iannucci’s other work. Keep in mind I have not seen “Vice”, “Sorry to Bother You”, “Girls Trip”, “Eighth Grade”, or “mid90s".
It’s the best superhero movie since “The Dark Knight” (2008) if you don’t count the recent “Planet of the Apes” trilogy (which I would; it’s the topic of a heated debate I’ve had with several friends which I’ll spare you but essentially I will not back down from my claim that Caesar is the greatest superhero ever put to screen) and maybe the freshest Hollywood take on the genre since “Chronicle” (2012).
It’s the best animated movie since either “Rango” (2011), “Kung Fu Panda 2” (2011), or “Toy Story 3” (2010). I loved “Zootopia” (2016) and “Kubo and the Two Strings” (2016), but this year’s “Spider-Man” is just better and visually more creative. For all the praise Pixar gets for its increasingly realistic animation, “Spider-Man” (and to a lesser extent, the “Kung Fu Panda” series) makes a compelling counter-argument for animation that doesn’t pretend not to be animation.
More soon, but this post was long enough.