L. Rhodes

Links and notes

“We had a series of administrations that began to take the issue of climate change seriously. […] And each one of them was followed by a flamethrower that was determined to destroy the steps that had been taken. […] But at no time did we really have an administration that determined that we were going to get out of the fossil business and began to put in place measures to do it.” Bill McKibben interviews James Gustave Speth: https://e360.yale.edu/features/they-knew-how-the-u-s-government-helped-cause-the-climate-crisis

The story of the MS Satoshi, a luxury cruise ship abortively converted into an independent island for cryptominers, does not inspire much confidence in the seasteader avant garde's capacity for anticipating and dealing with the practical demands of life on the ocean. https://www.theguardian.com/news/2021/sep/07/disastrous-voyage-satoshi-cryptocurrency-cruise-ship-seassteading

“… all these games have common ground in dismantling the covetous and antagonistic framing we have inherited from colonial times. And they all suggest that we owe what we call the natural world a more imaginative response than mere guilt and self-effacement about our history of exploitation.” https://www.fanbyte.com/features/games-are-reimagining-nature-in-the-age-of-climate-catastrophe/

“Oklahoma's public schools have begun teaching the 1921 massacre. How long this will last is anyone's guess.” Eric Foner on the effort to recover the history of Tulsa. https://lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v43/n17/eric-foner/united-states-of-amnesia

On the allure and value of a rare perfume ingredient that washes up on beaches and is (almost certainly) produced in the guts of sperm whales: https://www.hakaimagazine.com/features/why-we-cant-shake-ambergris/

“Over the last hundred years, gas companies have engaged an all-out campaign to convince Americans that cooking with a gas flame is superior to using electric heat. At the same time, they’ve urged us not to think too hard—if at all—about what it means to combust a fossil fuel in our homes.” https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2021/06/how-the-fossil-fuel-industry-convinced-americans-to-love-gas-stoves/

Researchers analyzing pigments in a Spanish cave have determined they represent examples of cave paintings made before the arrival in Europe of modern humans. “The cave formations 'played a fundamental role in the symbolic systems of some Neanderthal communities', though what those symbols meant remains a mystery for now,” per a write-up in the Guardian. I'm a little wary of the term symbolic in this context. It seems plausible that the paintings might have marked off a ritual space, but short of clear evidence of an effort to represent, I see no reason to attribute symbolic meaning to the markings. Original: https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2021495118

“Sometimes I might even make a historical inaccuracy—I might describe the sound of a bomb in one way, and I might learn over the course of writing subsequently that that bomb actually sounds different. I won't make the correction, because I want there to be some kind of mark that I, in my subject position, wrote this book. These are the psychological and the class conditions that make it the case that it's impossible to hold me to a high level of truth or accuracy. So let there be error, and let the error also be subtle enough that nobody complains when they read.” https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2021/07/15/unbearable-reading-an-interview-with-anuk-arudpragasam/

Chinese officials are clamping down on mentions of tangping after a blog post entitled “Lying Flat Is Justice” touched off a movement to resist the culture of total productivity. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/03/world/asia/china-slackers-tangping.html

“The concept of liberal democracy became possible only when theorists — first a few and then most liberal theorists — found reasons for believing that 'one man, one vote' would not be dangerous to property, or to the continuance of class-divided societies.” — C.B. Macpherson, The Life and Times of Liberal Democracy