Monday, February 22, 2010

John Brockman’s Edge question for 2010 asks over a hundred intellectuals, “Is the Internet changing the way you think?” the go-to site for the world’s procrastinating intellectuals

Timothy Garton Ash Cut This Story!
Newspaper articles are too long, encrusted with conventions that don’t add to your grasp of the news

George Orwell’s diaries attest to his deep dread of rats. Perhaps not the only thing he shares with characters in Nineteen Eighty-Four... All day clearing out strawberries, which have not been touched since last year. It seems one plant will put out anything up to 12 or 15 runners ...
Promote a conspiracy theory, and your phones will be bugged, your office burgled (but not robbed), your hard drives fragment, and your emails vanish Or so you’ll think. This season's fashion in conspiracy theories—for those out of the loop of enlightenment—concerns health. The Web sites, marginal cable shows and radio phone-ins are full of tales about how Big Pharma and Bad Government are deliberately spreading diseases or manufacturing scares in order to sell us expensive drugs, gull us into dangerous vaccinations or just simply to create an atmosphere of panic which will allow "them" to take over.

George Orwell’s diaries
[During the Cold War, when Pete Seeger coaxed classrooms full of kids to join him in folk songs, no one saw America’s “singing left” as much of a political threat.
The law of unintended consequences gave a quirky twist to the relation between the Old and New Left and, in the process, lent peculiar accents to America’s musical and political culture that we can’t seem to get rid of even today. The folk revival—a fad sandwiched between the beatniks and the hippies—may have been brief, but it was also the baby boomers’ coming of age, and its echoes have been lasting. Bruce Springsteen made a splash in 2006 with his Seeger Sessions. Ry Cooder paid homage to Woody Guthrie in the 2007 release My Name Is Buddy. Sheryl Crow told Billboard magazine that her song, “Shine Over Babylon,” is “very environmentally conscious, in the tradition of Bob Dylan. Where Have All the Lefties Gone?
; Sovietology was a powerful force in Cold War history, giving the West a better understanding of its adversary. Today, we need a jihadology
In 1945, the United States faced a dire threat. The rising power of the Soviet Union and the spread of communism in Eastern Europe -- and, soon enough, worldwide -- represented a new enemy that imperiled postwar hopes for a peaceful and prosperous world. The United States was poorly equipped to comprehend, let alone respond to, this emerging global danger. The federal government had few experts who spoke Russian or had a deep knowledge of Russian history and culture; universities were barely better off. The field of Soviet studies emerged as a response and became the catalyst for a network of area studies programs that would soon follow.
Sovietology was a powerful force in Cold War history ]
• · Formulaic book-beat stories: how Writer A struggled and made it big, how Writer B’s novel is marketed, or Writer C’s huge advance. Bob Thompson tries to avoid the formulas... The opening piece, “Some Dreamers of the Golden Dream,” begins with a description of the San Bernardino Valley, east of Los Angeles, and of “the hot dry Santa Ana wind that comes down through the passes at 100 miles an hour and whines through the eucalyptus windbreaks and works on the nerves.” Three pages later, with an October Santa Ana bearing witness, a dentist’s wife named Lucille Miller watches her husband burn to death in the family Volkswagen. By the time I emerged from this sinister dreamscape I had overshot my bus stop by a mile.; The French Resistance continues to excite the imagination because of its sheer drama and mystery – embodied perfectly in the story of Jean Moulin... As we approach the 70th anniversary of Charles de Gaulle's historic broadcast from London on 18 June 1940 that inaugurated the French Resistance, interest in the story remains undiminished. It is, though, increasingly difficult for the French to fit the Resistance into their collective memory of this difficult period. There is a prevalent British misconception that the French exaggerate their glorious Resistance exploits-everyone claiming a "resister" in the family-in order to gloss over the darker aspects of the Occupation. In truth, those darker aspects are as present in public discussion today as the Resistance. Every school in Paris has a plaque reminding people of the role played by the Vichy state in the deportation of the Jews. The Resistance continues to excite the imagination because of its sheer drama and mystery
• · · Timothy Garton Ash’s technique lies in a mixture of reportage and judgment, circling and deepening, as the one reinforces the other.
Promote a conspiracy theory, and your phones will be bugged, your office burgled (but not robbed), your hard drives fragment, and your emails vanish. Or so you’ll think. The problem of evil and the origins of the devil, who has inspired Goethe, Heine, W. S. Gilbert, Paul Valéry, Berlioz, Gounod, Turgenev and Randy Newman, to name a few Strange footnote ; Upper mismanagement. Why can’t we make things anymore in America? Two words, says Noam Scheiber: business school
• · · · As tattoos go mainstream, it becomes hard for criminals to signal their devotion to crime. They look more and more like ordinary citizens.. It is a truth universally acknowledged that messing with a guy who has facial tattoos is a really bad idea. Getting dirty words tattooed on your eyelids—a popular choice, judging from the mug shots available online—is a serious commitment. It is, as social scientists say, a “signal that is costly to fake.” The bearer of a facial tattoo announces to the world: I expect to be in prison for most of my life, or to hang out with people who consider prison experience a character reference.; The moral triumphs and failures of leaders carry a greater weight and volume than those of non-leaders. In leadership we see morality and immorality magnified. Leaders are human. That is their strength and their weakness. As humans, they are unpredictable creatures, capable of extraordinary kindness and cruelty
• · · · · Toys for Boys; Bankers