Weekend Reading

Here’s another dose of reading for anyone who is interested, in its usual disorder:

Paintballing with Hezbollah.

On Sealand and free information: The Death of a Data Haven.

The Euro Crisis: the Merkel Line, the Monti Line, and the Left.

A Tale of Two Cities: On student protests in Columbus, Ohio and Montreal, Quebec.

The Enduring Popularity of the Suntan.

I have mixed feelings about this effort to domesticate a wild species of fox in one human lifetime, which is in danger of ending prematurely.

The Foreign Language of Mad Men.

Reflections on police from someone who visited Zucotti Park the day before protesters attempted to retake it.

And further discussion from someone who visited Frank Ogawa Plaza the day after police took it.

Reflections on the march from Selma to Montgomery.

Readings culled from Aaron Bady’s long series of Sunday Readings:

Trayvon Martin, White America, and the Return of Dred Scott.

Martin was killed because white people are afraid of black people.

Laurie Penny reflects on race, class, and the Million Hoodie March.

The third British empire: the offshore financial empire.

A homeless woman is arrested at a hospital for trespassing, then dies in jail.

I haven’t read/watched The Hunger Games, but that doesn’t mean I can’t share:

Changes in the Colombian student movement.

Gandalf saves The Hobbit Pub.

One man is planning to walk down every street in New York’s five boroughs.

An abortion clinic’s landlord turns the tables on protesters. Of course the protesters escalated.

On what fact checking means in America today:

Increasingly, for American readers, there are no mistakes, only covert ideologies. And out of necessity, TV networks, newspapers, and some magazines have bought into this mentality wholesale, serving up laborious platters of “fair and balanced” to consumers who lack the will and perhaps also the capacity to engage in any critical analysis of the information they are fed. They compete with one another on the terrain of “accuracy” and “neutrality.” And it is because the U.S. media is so obsessed with its own so-called objectivity that predatory checking — an offshoot of the traditional checking in newsrooms and magazines — has dominated the discourse. Checking is no longer just a link in the editorial sausage machine; it is an integral part of the public political discourse and a fixture in American popular culture. An army of professional and citizen fact-checkers have taken the process out of the newsroom and into the open.

This new wave of checkers — what the Times public editor famously called “vigilantes” — are different from the editors and aspiring writers at newspapers and magazines who silently bulletproof the stories their magazines publish (Peter Canby, the New Yorker’s head of fact checking, has acknowledged that “checkers are distinguished only by their mistakes.”)  The vigilantes work with a very different goal. They’re guerrillas; they live to pounce, to catch their enemies at their most vulnerable moments, and to parade their heads around on a stick, declaring smugly: untruth!

Middle class occupation protests in the U.S. and Israel.

The U.S. Student Association enters the era of the Occupy movement.

Why the MPAA doesn’t want your kid to see Bully.

Harvard students speak out about the media’s bad job reporting their detainment in Palestine.

From the new Journal of Occupied Studies, some thoughts on OWS:

“On the People’s Mic” by Ryan Ruby

“Uncritical Faculties” by Eric Lohman

“They Are Not Afraid” by Jeremy Varon:

It should come as no surprise, then, that OWS’s most significant (if still intangible) “gain” has been the recent retooling of the Obama campaign to stress issues of equity and shared sacrifice (however tepid that message and the reforms it suggests). In this second echo, OWS’s peculiar, tripartite character comes in to view: to pressure ostensibly progressive leaders and institutions to fight more aggressively on behalf of their professed beliefs; to argue the implication even of the liberal establishment within corporate dominance; and to charge that the entire political system is so procedurally dysfunctional and clogged with corporate power that the institutions of representative democracy are not adequate for realizing true solutions to the current crisis. Put otherwise, and now in spatial terms, a radical utopian kernel seeking potentially revolutionary change in the form of direct democracy is surrounded by a more strategic skepticism regarding possibilities even for meaningful change within the framework of existing institutions; both these impulses, likely at the fringe of the American mainstream, at once animate and receive succor from an ambient, common-sense populism that desires, through reform politics, the partial righting of basic social wrongs.

How was this breakthrough in political discourse possible? It was achieved on the back of another breakthrough, which I’ll call simply a shift in people’s level of seriousness, with potentially far-reaching consequences. At the core of OWS’s early success is the acceptance in individuals and communities of the need for resistance, a heightened sense of personal responsibility to participate in struggle, and a stubborn faith that one can transform this society, despite the very condition of hopelessness at the center of the OWS complaint. That conviction has expressed itself in a variety of forms. Perhaps above all, countless thousands of people are willing today, in ways they were not just a year ago, to make sacrifices, to take risks, and even go to jail to take and hold this park or bridge or campus encampment, to walk down this street, to protest in this lobby of this bank, at this foreclosure hearing. It’s a profound breakthrough — this readiness to assume risk on a large scale — produced by a social alchemy no one fully understands.


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