Saturday, July 08, 2017

Self-restraint’ only thing keeping us from war: Air is full of noise

Study Philosophy to Improve Thinking—A Case of False Advertising

Hanging coffins: China’s mysterious sky graveyards CNN

Forget automation and AI, are goats taking away union jobs? (Malthus! arbitrage!) 

Woman, 25, convicted for making up fake rape claims against 15 innocent men. Her stories seem facially implausible.

Manchester attacker used ‘student loans’ to buy bomb materials, cops reveal

Thugs stomp on teenager after gatecrashing Matraville birthday party

U.S. GENERAL WARNS NORTH KOREA: ‘Self-restraint’ only thing keeping us from war

Learning Philosophy At The Movies

“Cinema can serve philosophy not in some ancillary role – for example, by providing ‘illustrations’ of philosophical problems in classroom settings – but in its own right, with its own means, and in a manner irreducible to the methods of traditional philosophy.” Exhibit A: Rashomon.

China Cracks Down On Social Media – And Artists Find Their Work-Arounds

Digital restrictions are the backdrop to the work of all Chinese artists, and for some, the so-called Great Firewall—the online surveillance structure that blocks data from foreign countries—provides both subject and medium. “The Chinese internet is such a unique and rich material, I am often inspired by it,” says the New York- and Shanghai-based artist Miao Ying. “For anyone who resides in China, you will be shaped by it, not just because of the firewall. China has its own internet environment and it is developing more rapidly than anywhere else.”
Kondalilla Falls are the perfect way to get back to nature. 
Photo: Sunshine Coast Destination Limited. POGO: [On July 4, 2017] “the Act quietly turns 51, compared to last year’s celebration at the signing of the FOIA Improvement Act by then-President Obama. The FOIA Improvement Act included some great updates to the landmark access-to-information law, like improved requirements for agencies to proactively post documents online and a new standard of transparency. But what is FOIA? Originally enacted in 1966, FOIA created a way for all citizens to obtain information from the federal government. It requires federal agencies to release any requested information that is not covered by its nine exemptions, and requires agencies to make basic information about their policies available to the public. FOIA is a tool commonly used by researchers, historians, journalists, and the public to discover information about possible environmental contamination near their property, the safety of consumer products, and more, and it is being used more than ever before, with almost 800,000 requests submitted in 2016. Many of POGO’s own investigations rely on documents we obtain through FOIA

`He Was Absolutely True to Himself'

“Louis Armstrong blew
Coherent lines until the very end.”

Armstrong himself seems to have believed the legend that he was born on the Fourth of July, in 1900, though scholars posthumously confirmed his birthdate as Aug. 4, 1901. Some of us still commemorate his arrival on Independence Day. He deserves two birthdays, at least one of which should be a national holiday. In the chapter he devotes to Armstrong inCultural Amnesia (2007), Clive James says Armstrong “[did] as much as anyone since Lincoln to change the history of the United States.” Try to think of another likely candidate for that distinction. FDR? MLK? Certainly, no other artist. More than them he possessed the gift of making people, regardless of demographics, happy. He is a rare artist with the power to improve the quality of his listeners’ lives (not merely their moods). Look at almost any photograph of Armstrong and you will invariably see the people around him smiling. In the obituary he wrote for The New Yorker, Whitney Balliett lays it out cleanly:  

“Louis Armstrong was the first great American musician. He all but invented jazz, which remains the wellspring of American music. He was an old-fashioned, even medieval clown who nonetheless never seemed dated. And he was the first famous black man who from the point of view of both races seemed to transcend color. He was absolutely true to himself throughout his 50-year career.”

Listen to “Weather Bird,” recorded in 1928 with Earl Hines. And then listen to Armstrong performing “Standing on the Corner (Blue Yodel No. 9)” with Johnny Cash in 1970, one year before his death. Armstrong and his wife Lil Hardin Armstrong accompanied the song’s composer, Jimmie Rodgers, on the original recording in 1930.

After telling a friend that my middle son, who turned seventeen on Saturday, had been studying boxing for the last year and a half, and that I saw him sparring in the ring for the first time last week, he wrote to me:

“Any person who steps into a ring to box another person possesses physical courage. Of course, your son must possess more than mere `guts’ to climb into a ring and trade blows with another boxer. He must have dedication, a work ethic. He must be, and I’m sure your son knows this, a student of the game. It’s called the `sweet science’ for a reason.”

My friend knows more about boxing than I ever will. My knowledge is almost strictly literary – Pierce Egan, Hazlitt, W.C. Heinz’s The Professional and his boxing journalism, Leonard Gardner’s Fat City and especially the fight writings of A.J. Liebling. I once met Mike Tyson, in police court in Albany, N.Y., where he was facing traffic charges, and I served on a panel devoted to boxing in Troy, N.Y., organized by the historical society. I sat next to a boxer and talked about Liebling. I’m neither a fan nor a morally outraged critic of the sport. Nor do I yet understand the part played by “physical courage.”  As I watched my son in the ring, I was impressed that his instinct was to advance on his opponent, where mine would have been to back away. Through his face guard I saw him wince when the other fighter connected with his kidney, but even then he continued moving in, not letting the other guy lead the dance.

My friend refers to the “sweet science,” the phrase Liebling borrowed from Egan, who refers in Boxiana to the “Sweet Science of Bruising.” In 1956, Liebling published a collection of his boxing stories, The Sweet Science, a book I always cite when trying to stress the fact that a good writer can write a good, readable book even about a subject in which the reader has little or no prior interest. If a young person asks me which books he ought to read to learn how to write, I usually suggest The Sweet Science, Ronald Knox’s Enthusiasm(1950) and Michael Oakeshott’s Rationalism in Politics and Other Essays (1962).  In the first piece collected in The Sweet Science, “Boxing with the Naked Eye,” Liebling writes:

“Watching a fight on television has always seemed to me a poor substitute for being there. For one thing, you can’t tell the fighters what to do. When I watch a fight, I like to study one boxer’s problem, solve it, and then communicate my solution vocally. On occasion my advice is disregarded, as when I tell a man to stay away from the other fellow’s left and he doesn't, but in such cases I assume that he hasn't heard my counsel, or that his opponent has, and has acted on it. Some fighters hear better and are more suggestible than others — for example, the pre-television Joe Louis. `Let him have it, Joe!’ I would yell whenever I saw him fight, and sooner or later he would let the other fellow have it.”

[The lines quoted at the top are from Clive James’ “A Heritage of Trumpets,” published in the July 10-17 issue ofThe New Yorker.]