Monday Reads: In Other News …Posted: October 17, 2016
I’m fighting a horrible, terrible, very awful sinus infection that I really wouldn’t wish on any one. You’re just fortunate you can’t hear my voice right now. I sound truly diabolical. Of course, nothing could be as diabolical as a Trump Rally or Trump surrogate rationalizing Trump’s descent into madness and our descent into yet a lower level of the inferno he’s created for the nation. That’s why I’m going to take yet another day for anything but Trump-related reads.
Remember, we have another debate coming up on Wednesday and a live blog. I’m shuddering with either fever or the thought of another Trump Horror show. I’m supposed to be at a pre-wedding thing for youngest daughter but I really hate to share this illness with any one but the ex. We’ll be here as your usual safe zone. Either way, I will have wine.
The news has been so overtaken with the general election craziness that it distracts from other important things. This is a truly great time of the year and it’s closing in on Halloween. Indulge me while I indulge one of my favorite things. Yup. It’s an ancient grave yard, a classic scary book, and travelling Transylvania armed with only Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” as your guide. What more could you want than to start your day with monsters that come from one’s imagination instead of the Republican Party? I think you’ll delight in the photos and words of Luke Spencer at Atlas Obscura. Go check it out!!!
Nighttime in Transylvania is as atmospherically spooky as you would hope it would be. During the winter, a thick, low-lying mist covers thick forests of pine trees and firs. Above the fog, you can see the silhouetted turrets and spires of ancient castles and fortified churches. Many of the old homes there still burn wood fires, adding to the smoky air, while the towns are filled with gothic and baroque buildings that were once beautiful, but are now marked by peeling paint and crumbling facades.
It is common at night to hear howling in the forests, either from stray dogs or wolves. It’s easy to see why Bram Stoker chose this part of Romania to be a setting for his most chilling creation, Dracula.
The first section of Stoker’s gothic horror masterpiece takes the form of a travel journal, written in shorthand by a young English solicitor, Jonathan Harker, who is traveling across Europe to help conduct a land purchase on behalf of a noble client. Harker keeps a detailed diary of his journey from Munich to Transylvania, where he plans to meet the mysterious Count Dracula in his castle.
My plan was to follow in the footsteps of the fictional Harker, taking the same train routes—where possible staying in the same cities, towns and hotels—and ending my journey at the home of Vlad the Impaler, the real-life inspiration for Dracula. Partly encircled by the Carpathian mountains, Transylvania is still largely unexplored, despite its beauty and wealth of fascinating, centuries-old sites.
Some Brits are worried that we may be terribly distracted by the election. I know that Biden spoke about a possible cyber attack on Russia and that we essentially can’t sustain attacks on both Mosul and Aleppo which is why we’re focusing on the Iraqi attack on Mosul which we’re facilitating. John Kerry is planted in Europe right now trying to get our allies to consider some economic sanctions on Russia. So, there’s a lot in the air right now in foreign affairs which makes me even more glad we will have a President Hillary Clinton smoothly transitioning from the Obama administration.
The assault on the Iraqi city of Mosul that began this week underlines the fact that the next three months will be a perilous period in international politics. Fighting is intensifying in the Middle East. Tensions are rising between Russia and the west. And relations between China and its Asian neighbours are getting edgier. All this is happening while the US is diverted by the Trump-Clinton melodrama and the transition to a new president.
For Russia and China — two countries that are openly unhappy with the US-dominated world order — a distracted America will look like an opportunity. Both Moscow and Beijing regard Hillary Clinton with suspicion and believe that her probable arrival in the Oval Office would herald a more hawkish US foreign policy. They may be tempted to act swiftly, before she has a chance to settle into the White House.
A temporarily preoccupied America might not matter much in normal times. But big and dangerous decisions are looming. In the Middle East, the bombardment of Aleppo by Russian and Syrian government forces has led to a near-breakdown in relations between Moscow and the west. Without a common diplomatic project to hold them together, the two sides may slide into outright confrontation in Syria. Further sanctions on Russia are in the offing and the west’s military options are also being reviewed.
President Vladimir Putin may calculate that a US administration that has refused to take military action against the Assad regime since 2011 is unlikely to reverse course in President Barack Obama’s last few months in office. But if the Russians push too hard, they could miscalculate and provoke an American reaction. That is particularly the case because the Obama administration is angered by Russian cyber warfare, aimed at influencing the US presidential election. Joe Biden, the vice-president, has already signalled that America intends to retaliate in cyber space.
Even without a worsening of the situation in Syria, fighting in the Middle East will intensify in the coming weeks. The Iraqi government, backed by the air power of a US-led coalition, has begun a major push to retake Mosul from Isis. With one eye on his legacy and another on the presidential election, Mr Obama would be delighted to notch up a significant victory against Isis in the coming weeks.
I’d be really interested in seeing more of this on TV news but I’m usually greeted by some unhinged screed of some unhinged Trump surrogate instead. As you may know, I’m trying to make ends meet as a sharecropper University professor right now. Here’s a read at AltNet on a book about the sharing economy and university professors. It’s an interesting read.
My book, The Uberfication of the University, explores what neoliberalism’s further weakening of the social is likely to mean for the future organization of labor by examining data and information companies associated with the emergence of the corporate sharing economy. It focuses on the sharing economy because it is here that the implications for workers of such a shift to a postwelfare capitalist society are most apparent today. This is a society in which we are encouraged to become not just what Michel Foucault calls entrepreneurs of the self but micro-entrepreneurs of the self, acting as if we are our own, precarious, freelance microenterprises in a context in which we are being steadily deprived of employment rights, public services, and welfare support. Witness the description one futurologist gives of how the nature of work will change, given that 30 to 80 percent of all jobs are predicted to disappear in the next twenty years as a result of developments in automation and advanced robotics: “You might be driving Uber part of the day, renting out your spare bedroom on Airbnb a little bit, renting out space in your closet as storage for Amazon or housing the drone that does delivery for Amazon.”
Talk about being careful what you wish for: a recent survey of university vice-chancellors in the United Kingdom identifies a number of areas of innovation with the potential to reshape higher education. Among them are “uses of student data analytics for personalized services” (the number one innovation priority for 90 percent of vice-chancellors); “uses of technology to transform learning experiences” (massive open online courses [MOOCs]; mobile virtual learning environments [VLEs]; “anytime-anywhere learning” (leading to the demise of lectures and timetables); and “student-driven flexible study modes” (“multiple entry points” into programs, bringing about an end to the traditional academic year). Responding to this survey, an editorial in the academic press laments that “the UK has world-leading research universities, but what it doesn’t have is a higher education equivalent of Amazon or Google, with global reach and an aggressive online strategy.” Yet one wonders whether any of those proclaiming the merits of such disruptive innovation have ever stopped to consider what a higher education institution emulating the expansionist ambitions of U.S. companies like Amazon and Google would actually mean for those currently employed in universities.
Science illiteracy in this country is truly reaching epic proportions. Lisa Ryan writes on the STATE OF THE UTERUS and has found a letter to the enditor where a “Pennsylvania Man Wonders What Will Happen to America If Hillary Clinton Has Her Period.”
We have many things to fear in today’s world. There’s terrorism, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and sexual assault, to name a few. Yet one concerned citizen has finally alerted us to the greatest threat of all: a female president who has her period.
In a letter to the editor of the Williamsport Sun-Gazette, Carl Unger of Montgomery, Pennsylvania, pointed out that, while the “liberals and Obama are calling for social justice,” everyone is ignoring the bigger problem here. That, of course, is Hillary Clinton’s uterus.
“They call us sexist just because we are critical of Hillary Clinton and her health,” Unger wrote. “What if that time of the month comes and she is sick at the same time?”
And this is the point where I wonder if men understand women’s reproductive cycle and the concept of menopause at all. This article comes with a h/t to Delphyne.It appears that a “state actor” may have cut of Assange’s internet access. Wikileaks has been in the new recently for hacking what is claimed to be Podesta’s email. None have been officially recognized as real.
Wikileaks says an unidentified “state actor” has shut down internet access for its founder Julian Assange.
The transparency activist has been claiming asylum at London’s Ecuadorean embassy since 2012 to avoid extradition over sex assault allegations.
There was no way to immediately verify if he had been knocked offline, and if so, how a state actor was suspected.
Wikileaks has recently been releasing emails from Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
The anti-secrecy organisation did not return calls and emails on Monday, though it said in a tweet: “We have activated the appropriate contingency plans.”
A woman who picked up the phone at the Ecuadorean embassy said: “I cannot disclose any information.”
I personally have not found anything to get hysterical about concerning the leaked emails but many of them seemed to be highly edited and coming from Russia. Maybe this is what Biden alluded to this week. The link leads to the MTP interview with Chuck Todd that aired yesterday morning.
Did you know that Bob Dylan is not the only lyricist to have won the Nobel Prize in Lit? I’ve read Tagore, have you? My son-in-law’s Bengali family is quite proud of this really talented and brilliant man. He was not only a poet but a prolific fiction writer and musician.
There’s been a great deal of excitement over Bob Dylan winning the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature. It’s rare for artists who have achieved widespread, mainstream popularity to win. And although Nobels often go to Americans, the last literature prize to go to one was Toni Morrison in 1993. Furthermore, according to The New York Times, “It is the first time the honor has gone to a musician.”
But as Bob Dylan might croon, “the Times they are mistaken.”
A Bengali literary giant who probably wrote even more songs preceded Dylan’s win by over a century. Rabindranath Tagore, a wildly talented Indian poet, painter and musician, took the prize in 1913.
The first musician (and first non-European) to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, Tagore possessed an artistry – and lasting influence – that mirrored Dylan’s.
Here’s an interesting read on a medical secretary who wanted to be a muse from The New Yorker. This article indicates that she was anything but a muse.
Mège began her project in 1986, when she was twenty years old. She had just moved to Paris from the province of Auvergne, not far from Lyon, where her father was the manager of an automobile-equipment shop and her mother stayed home. When asked about her childhood and adolescence, she uses words like “fine” and “calm” and “French.” At the time she came to Paris, she had never met an artist, and had been to few museum shows, but she collected record covers and postcards of images that appealed to her. One Saturday in mid-July, she went alone to an exhibition by the portrait photographer Jeanloup Sieff at the Musée d’Art Moderne. Stunned by the images, which depicted anonymous and ordinary, as well as famous, subjects, she wrote to Sieff, telling him that she liked his work. To her surprise, he telephoned her a few days later. She wrote in her diary, which she kept from 1986 until 2008, “He calls me, I’m extremely moved, surprised, I feel drunk.” She asked him if he would consider making a picture of her.
So, this is my humble offering today in the hope we can get our minds on the future challenges of the world with Madam President!
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?