Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Our culture doesn’t think storytelling is sacred

“One of the functions of art is to give people the words to know their own experience… Storytelling is a tool for knowing who we are and what we want.”

...In light of these principles, the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Bill 2017 (link is external)(the Bill), recently introduced into Parliament by the Turnbull Government, is a cause for significant concern. One particularly worrying aspect is its extension of funding and disclosure regulations to entities with no actual relationship with the political process beyond mere speech. Freedom of Expresion in Australia - 30 Jan 2018 AD

Did Telling Stories Help Us To Evolve As Humans?

Anthropologists have long theorized that humans developed “moralistic high-gods” as a way of promoting shared norms and prosocial behaviors. What is religion, after all, but a patchwork quilt of stories reminding humans how to behave—and, more importantly, how not to behave? But religion is thought to have emerged only with the advent of agriculture and large-scale, politically complex human settlements.

Talking on the Water: Coldest Stories

“People wish to be settled; only as far as they are unsettled is there any hope for them,”Emerson wrote in contemplating the key to personal growth. Hardly anything does this for us more powerfully than art — it unsettles us awake, disrupts our deadening routines, enlarges our reservoir of hope by enlarging our perspective, our grasp of truth, our capacity for beauty.

This singular function of art is what Ursula K. Le Guin (October 21, 1929–January 22, 2018) reflects on in an interview by the polymathic marine conservationist Jonathan White, included in his wonderfulTalking on the Water: Conversations about Nature and Creativity (public library).

Ursula K. Le Guin (Photograph: The Oregonian)

In a roaming conversation over tea, “with only momentary interruptions by Lorenzo the cat or chimes from the grandfather clock,” Le Guin tells White:

The daily routine of most adults is so heavy and artificial that we are closed off to much of the world. We have to do this in order to get our work done. I think one purpose of art is to get us out of those routines. When we hear music or poetry or stories, the world opens up again. We’re drawn in — or out — and the windows of our perception are cleansed, as William Blake said. The same thing can happen when we’re around young children or adults who have unlearned those habits of shutting the world out.

The Nunes memo

CNN had a camera trained outside a hearing room during a private session of the House Intelligence Committee as host Wolf Blitzer rather breathlessly awaited word from a committee Democrat as to what was up. It was part and parcel of chunks of the media portraying as another Washington spiteful fight the decision by the Republican-led House Intelligence Committee to release a disputed GOP-crafted memo, which accuses the FBI of dubiously getting a surveillance order on a onetime Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page.
But it's disgraceful or, at minimum, as Axios' Jim VandeHei put it on "Morning Joe" very early Tuesday, clearly "unprecedented," namely voting to de-classify classified material. So the executive branch for the first time has let Congress decide what is or is not classified without allowing the executive branch to review the document even after the executive branch provided the classified info. Even the Trump Justice Department (oh, you know, populated by all those "Deep State" denizens) says this is all nuts. 
So do check out this analysis in Just Security by Josh Geltzer, a former National Security Council counterterrorism specialist, who makes all the right points about the executive branch resisting any temptation to surrender the authority to protect certain national security information. 

Why do we let greedy financiers profit from the pain of foster children? | Aditya Chakrabortty 

Benvenisti, Eyal, Ensuring Access to Information: International Law’s Contribution to Global Justice (December 1, 2017). GlobalTrust Working Paper Series 2017-09; University of Cambridge Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 17/2018. Available at SSRN: