Friday, April 06, 2012

Blue Mountains of Easter

There are people who will ask you why you love Blue Mountains on Easter Friday ... And there are stories that that make our hearts move faster than our brains ...
Readers have been snapping up the books, eager to get a glimpse behind the fog of cold and hot war and ready to embrace stories that accentuate heroism instead of the often dreary developments reported in daily news accounts. Seeing some of these books rise to the top of best-seller lists, publishers are rushing to sign up similar titles, to be released in the next year. Got A Military Memoir? Now's The Time To Publish - And Sell Today’s technologies have also failed to defeat homesickness even though studies by the Carnegie Corporation of New York show that immigrants are in closer touch with their families than before. In 2002, only 28 percent of immigrants called home at least once a week; in 2009, 66 percent did. Yet this level of contact is not enough to conquer the melancholy that frequently accompanies migration. A 2011 study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry found that Mexican immigrants in the United States had rates of depression and anxiety 40 percent higher than nonmigrant relatives remaining in Mexico. A wealth of studies have documented that other newcomers to America also suffer from high rates of depression and “acculturative stress. The New Globalist Is Homesick: A Priest Dies Craving for a Sight of his Motherland
Victim of Nostalgia: But Better to be over the hill than burried under it Havel's Specter: On Václav Havel
A specter is haunting Eastern Europe,” the Czech playwright Václav Havel wrote in 1978, “the specter of what in the West is called ‘dissent.’” In echoing the opening salvo of the Communist Manifesto, Havel was thumbing his nose at the regime he lived under, but his words had an earnest intent as well as a satirical one. Like Marx and Engels, he was trying to call an intellectual force to arms. He hoped to convoke a new kind of human organization, ad hoc and by design temporary, accruing no power in itself, and led not by designated authorities but by individuals who happened to have charisma.

Timely writing often grows stale, especially if it’s about politics. Havel knew this. Many politicians “play a key role at a particular moment,” he wrote in his memoir To the Castle and Back (2007); “a long, dull life can sometimes erase the memory.” Yet Havel’s judgment has been contradicted by his early protest writings, which have gained new relevance as the specter of dissent has returned to haunt much of the planet, from the Chinese town of Wukan to Wall Street, Cairo and Moscow. In addition to being a playwright and a politician, Havel, who died in December, was a philosopher, and his insight into how humans in groups understand themselves still speaks to the way we live in the world.

A few years later, Havel and other banned Czech writers felt they had little to lose [H avel had been repeatedly tortured by the Czech police. He was punished for demanding democracy and human rights. But perhaps Havel's experience of torture and imprisonment blinded him to how great life under Marxist dictatorship actually was. Or perhaps many Western writers are so desperate to blame capitalism for the world's problems that they're willing to forgive, even support, non-capitalist tyranny.Someone is always saying something nice about the worst totalitarian states. After Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organisation, visited North Korea in 2010, she told the media she'd seen few signs of malnutrition. Mind you, she only visited Pyongyang and had been escorted the whole time by North Korean officials. Repeat after me: all tyranny is evil and wrong ; The world’s most typical person is a 28-year old Han Chinese man with no bank account who earns less than $13,000 a year. Marx would not be surprised. About much else, he’d be shocked... Marx at 193 ; While we're all talking about the definition of "truth" again, thanks to Mike Daisey and John D'Agata, we might as well revisit Truman Capote's famous "nonfiction novel" In Cold Blood and the seizures it must have given his New Yorker editor W. Shawn.It's the subject of a new investigation, Truman Capote and the Legacy of In Cold Blood, but Jack Shafer does a little extra digging around n Cold Blood ]
• · Some things are too complicated to study. When a question stumps the physicists, chemists, biologists, and psychologists, says Noam Chomsky, it ends up with the novelists Everything Was a Problem and We Did Not Understand a Thing ; Hilton Kramer didn’t fear making enemies. The champion of high culture, an implacable foe of the trendy and the fashionable, is dead at 84 Combative temperamen他 ; A few writers have the kind of power that believers attribute to gods: they create men and women and children who seem to us to be real. But unlike gods, these writers do not control the lives of their most famous creations. As time passes, their tales are told and retold. Writers and dramatists and film-makers kidnap famous characters like Romeo and Juliet, Sherlock Holmes, and Superman; they change the characters’ ages and appearance, the progress and endings of their stories, and even their meanings. there have been scores, possibly hundreds of dramatizations and condensations, prequels and sequels and spinoffs
• · · I don’t envy you! I would start with Louis Begley’s wonderful Why the Dreyfus Affair Matters. He makes brilliant links to whistle-blowing, rendition, forms of state autocracy in the U.S. today. I think I would say that the question of individual freedom, miscarriage of justice, the ugly side of nationalism—that none of these questions have gone away and that it is one of the first and most startling demonstrations of them in all their force. But also perhaps say how moving and significant it is that this one Jewish Army officer, sent to Devil’s Island, should have the power to split a country down the middle, that, as with the psychoanalytic symptom, you do not know where the most revealing things about a nation and its history might suddenly erupt. So a dude wrote a treasonous letter, and a Jew got blamed for it and then suddenly everyone in France was freaking out ;Many memoirs, even some of the transfixing ones, are full of 10 kinds of crap. No one's life plays out with a tidy moral. No one remembers conversations verbatim from when they were 7
• · · · Secrecy News, 12 March 2012. The Watergate scandal was a formative episode in American political culture that powerfully reinforced public scepticism towards government and fostered a heroic image of the intrepid reporter aided by his truth-telling source. But the reality, as usual, is more complicated than the received narrative. Leak: A new look at Watergate’s Deep Throat AllClear ID: Get notified when hackers get your data MIT Technology Review, 14 March 2012. A new service lets the FBI or other investigators alert you if your data is found in the wrong hands. A new iPhone app launched today will add a serious – but hopefully infrequent – note to the notifications that set your handset buzzing. AllClear ID will let you know when the FBI or other investigators have found your data in the hands of cyber criminals. Stories like the spectacular data breach that befell Sony last year mean that most of us now understand that cyber criminals actively access and trade our personal data. A less well-known consequence is that increasing volumes of it – credit card details, social security numbers and online accounts – are also passing through the hands of investigators from organizations like the FBI. FBI
• · · · · Often when an organizational problem occurs, the typical response is to create regulations to prevent that problem from happening again. For example, in a machine shop where safety gloves often went missing, the company centralized access to new gloves; required request forms for new gloves, with supervisor approval; and had auditors check for compliance. As expected, the number of lost gloves was significantly reduced. However, the new rules cost more than the gloves themselves, negatively affected morale, and reduced productivity. In many cases "controls" imposed to fix a problem become so complex that they create new problems. This eventually leads to an increasingly bureaucratic cycle of further breakdowns, more complex fixes, and more breakdowns. Too Complex