This is intended to be our system for checking in on imaginary friends, so that we know whether or not to be concerned if you go offline for a while. There is no way it could function as that sentence implies, but it's still nice to have a thread.
Episode Kobe fifteen.
Minivet writes: I was looking for reviews of David Graeber's last book The Dawn of Everything, published posthumously with his co-author Wengrow, but I found one long review interesting even without reference to the reviewed work. Specifically the second of two responses reprinted here, titled "All Things Being Equal" by Lindisfarne and Neale.
The short story is that early humans were puny primates. To survive, they had to learn to share meat and vegetables, to share childcare and to share sexual joy. To do this, they had to discipline would-be bullies and transcend the dominance hierarchies of their primate ancestors. And for at least 200,000 years, they lived in egalitarian societies where men and women were equal too.
Or even more briefly (in a way that makes sense when you compare what other apes' societies look like):
It now seems that we became human by becoming equal.
Heebie's take: (I'm very interested but quickly throwing this up during a short break.)
I found this article interesting -"Would you take free land in rural America?" - partly for its brief review of population in decline, but moreso because of the GLARING FUCKING OMISSION.
On population declines:
One of the most influential was a modern remix of the Homestead Act by Marquette [Kansas]. To save its school and stanch its population loss in 2003, Marquette's leaders offered ~60 free lots for anyone willing to move in and build a house.
A Hutchinson News story picked up by the Associated Press led to a national media sensation, culminating in a visit from "CBS Evening News."
At least 27 Kansas towns have enacted free land programs since the late 1990s. Only a few have had success.
Even in Marquette the population rose for about 10 years before falling again, and its elementary school was only temporarily saved, closing in 2014. Roughly 20 lots are still available.
And then what is not being said:
The downside to living in rural Kansas, of course, has always been economic opportunity. High-paying jobs don't grow as easily as the milo.*
Maybe it's the economic opportunity. Or maybe it's that you'd be surrounded by complete psychopaths? (or at best, regular people who live in a deranged version of reality.) Marquette, Kansas, is in McPherson County. There were 13,162 votes for president and it went 70% for Trump. Fuck that. (I realize that's how many of you picture Texas. But there are many places in Texas that I wouldn't take free land in, as well. Texas is very balkanized.)
Are there any truly rural places in the US that aren't Republican?
* I don't know what "the milo" means.
Nick S writes: I remember being fascinated by the video for Rihanna's "American Oxygen"
I recently re-watched it and I still think it's an interesting mix of 80% very well done and 20% crass*, but it's clearly an ambitious video and I like it. It's pro-immigrant, anti-racism, pro-civil rights, anti police violence, and pro- Rihanna dancing in a tight shirt**.
It is a montage of American imagery starting with Obama being sworn in, to astronauts, the Beatles landing in the US, MLK Jr speaking, civil rights marches, occupy Wall Street, police threatening or attacking protesters (intercut with Rihanna dancing). It's not subtle. It also shows a lot of Black and Brown faces and has Rihanna signing, " This is the new America / We are the new America."
When I first watched it I thought of Pat Cadigan's Cyberpunk classic Synners, and the feeling of media overload. Of watching a bunch of highly charged images that didn't really mean anything.
But it feels different now, watching it in the shadow of Trump. I've seen various people on the Center-Left arguing for a renewal of Liberal Patriotism in response to Maga; a call to find an inspiring forward-looking vision for America. For example, Noah Smith.
There are two pieces of literature that have informed my thinking on this topic recently. The first is George Orwell's 1941 essay "The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius" ... he argues that because British people love their country, socialism had to appropriate that love of country in order to succeed politically
. . .
The lesson here is a general one, I think: People want to like their country. They can be disappointed in it or mad at it or frustrated with it, but ultimately they want to think that they're part of something good. And that desire can be used to great effect if a political movement manages to capture it, uphold it, and validate it.
I wonder, then, if "American Oxygen" is a good attempt at that. Looking at the YT comments a significant number of them say, "I'm not American and this is inspiring." The lyrics of the song celebrate hard work, and use the word "empire" as a positive. I think the montage is absurd, in some ways, but it succeeds in fusing a very contemporary aesthetic with a very old fashioned sense of the American Dream. It's not that far off from being a campaign commercial, and that is a big reason why I like it.
Should it be part of the Democrats' playlist?
* It's certainly kitschy if, as one definition has it, "Kitsch depicts objects or themes that are highly charged with stock emotions."
** One of the more audacious edits is a cut, at 4:37, from Rihanna to Ali dancing in the ring.
Heebie's take: From the Noahpinion article:
So here we have a situation where most Americans love their country and have no one to represent that love in the political arena. They're forced to choose between one movement that vilifies the idea of America, and another that vilifies the America that actually exists. The patriotic silent majority is politically and ideologically homeless right now.
Whichever movement can reverse course and tack back toward patriotism first will, I predict, encounter a deep and eager reservoir of positive energy and support. Obviously, being on the progressive side of things myself, I hope Dems come up with the next JFK before Republicans come up with the next Reagan. But someone needs to try patriotism soon, because to not do so would be madness.
Finally: I kinda think the Rhianna song is terrible. I'm sorry.
Recently I played the Fugees for the kids, specifically Fu-Gee-La. I knew at the time that "Fugees" was short for "refugees" and that the immigrant experience was a backdrop in their songs, but listen: 19 year olds are still idiots, even when they know the facts.
That particular video takes place in Haiti. It's not exactly political in a coherent way. But it is normalizing being an American with a dual identity. I suppose I was just super-high on the fu gee la.
CharleyCarp writes: I'd be interested to know if anyone has any better ideas about what ought to be done with regard to Yemen than this guy.
I count the failure to appreciate the Life March, and other Arab Spring manifestations in Yemen as among the Obama Administration's greatest failures, and that assisting the Saudis in their intervention was only even potentially justifiable (well, it never was justifiable) on the assumption, apparently common to war hawks, that a decisive victory would soon be realized.
Nope, nope, nope.
Heebie's take: Here are the main ideas at the end of the first link:
The place to start is in the U.N. Security Council. Yemen needs a new Security Council resolution to guide the peace effort, not the existing one that was tilted deliberately toward Saudi interests. As a first principle it should call for an immediate and total halt to all foreign interference in Yemen. This would mean ending the Saudi blockade and airstrikes inside Yemen. All military support to the Hadi government should be completely halted.
This would also mean that Iran and its allies should halt their support to the Houthi including ending the transmission of technical expertise for drones and missiles. Iranian and Hezbollah advisers would have to leave Yemen. But commercial air flights between Sanaa and Tehran should be allowed as well as Iranian development projects including in the port of Hodeida.
The existing U.N. Verification and Inspections Mechanism for Yemen (UNVIM) should be greatly expanded in mission and personnel to provide inspectors at all Yemeni ports and airfields to ensure no major violations of the resolution are perpetrated by either side. The existing UNVIM mandate is tied to UNSCR 2216 and involves only inspecting Houthi-controlled ports like Hodeida.
If Saudi Arabia does not cease military operations in Yemen and lift the blockade, the United States should cease all arms sales and contracts with the kingdom. All American military personnel should be withdrawn from the country as well as all American contractors, as in Afghanistan. This would include technicians keeping the Royal Saudi Air Forces' (RSAF) fleet of American-produced aircraft operating and bombing Yemen.
As requested in the comments*, here you go. More knowledgeable people than me should share their expertise in the comments.
* and I quote BG's comment: "Could one of the people with keys put up a post about the Ukrainian situation? Or could somebody with knowledge of foreign affairs submit one? In apo's bio it says that as an undergrad apo specialized in Soviet and Eastern bloc countries." I just wanted the opportunity to laugh all over again that Apo wrote his thesis on the eternal strength and formidable power of the Berlin Wall, in early 1989. (Maybe I'm misremembering, but I do like this version.)