Sunday, August 29, 2021

Has an Old Soviet Mystery at Last Been Solved?New Yorker

 Apes say hello and goodbye, just like people do, research shows CNN

I watch the desperate Afghans wade in the sewage as hope fades… and tears fall: Sky News’ STUART RAMSAY, the TV reporter who’s seen the Kabul chaos unfold first hand, pens a vivid and harrowing dispatch Daily Mail

Lies About Afghanistan Jeet Heer, The Time of Monsters. Heer: “ICYMI: The foreign policy establishment is already re-writing the history of the Afghanistan war.”

3rd July 1979: President Jimmy Carter authorizes $500,000 to aid the mujahideen in Afghanistan YouTub

It morphed and migrated into pithy catchphrases like YOLO – “you only live once” – and “rise and grind.” I saw it in the way people bragged about how busy they were, as if it were a badge of honor. And I noticed it in the rise of “hustle culture,” or the collective urge to get as much done in as little time as possible, while always keeping an eye on the next opportunity.

When The Wires Of Our Brain Get Crossed

Some 4 percent of the population experiences this kind of cross-sensory linking, and studies have shown it’s more prevalent in creative people. - Nautilus

Do Women Philosophers Do Different Philosophy?

Underlying this question is a sense that our voices are not seen as philosophers’ voices, but primarily as women’s voices. It is as if women would necessarily have a distinctive point of view, as a group. - Aeon

  1. Theoretical Terms in Science, by Holger Andreas.
  2. Sense Data, by Gary Hatfield.
  3. The Problem of Perception, by Tim Crane and Craig French.
  4. Incompatibilist (Nondeterministic) Theories of Free Will, by Randolph Clarke, Justin Capes, and Philip Swenson.
  5. Elisabeth, Princess of Bohemia, by Lisa Shapiro.
  6. Thomas Paine, by Mark Philp.
  7. Love, by Bennett Helm.

IEP       ∅

NDPR       ∅

1000-Word Philosophy  ∅     

Project Vox      ∅  

Recent Philosophy Book Reviews in Non-Academic Media

  1. Pragmatism as Anti-Authoritarianism by Richard Rorty, reviewed by Chris Lehmann at The New Republic.
  2. The Case for Rage: Why Anger Is Essential to Anti-Racist Struggle by Myisha Cherry, reviewed at Kirkus Reviews.

Natalie Zina Walschots's debut novel HENCH is fantastic, funny, furious and fucking amazing. It is a profound and moving story about justice wrapped up in a gag about superheroes, sneaky and sharp.

Anna is a temp who works for supervillains, doing data-entry. She's economically marginal, but enjoys the camaraderie of her fellow villain temps, and she gets to work from home, massaging spreadsheets in her pyjamas, dressing up in villain-chic for temp agency cattle calls.

But then Anna gets a solid gig working for The Electric Eel, a villain who really seems to value her skills and insists that she come with him to a press-conference where he will unveil a new super-weapon.

Even after she learns she's only been brought along so that the Eel's hench backdrop will look more diverse thanks to her token female presence, she's excited to be there.

Until the superheroes arrive.

While Supercollider – indestructible, irresistibly powerful – is kicking six kinds of shit out of Eel's hired muscle, he incidentally knocks Anna aside, throwing her across the room with so much force that her femur is irreparably shattered.

Maimed, broke (the Eel lays her off once it's clear her injuries will take months to heal), evicted, and dependent on a fellow hench for a couch to recuperate on, Anna grows obsessed with the collateral damage wrought by superheroes.

A data analyst at heart, Anna begins building actuarial tables that tally the life-years and dollars that heroes save when they fight supervillains, and compare them to the cost in lives and dollars from the damage that heroes wreak in their careless battles.

The conclusion is inescapable: heroism is a destructive force that costs us more than it saves, but a long chalk, with that cost measured in human lives and destroyed homes and livelihoods.

At first, Anna's blog documenting her findings is dismissed as the ravings of a crank, but as statisticians independently verify her findings and other survivors of hero incidents come forward, she gains notoriety, then fame.

Now, to be clear, there have been other superhero stories told from the villains' point of view, and also stories told from the point of view of the thankless civil servants who clean up the damage supes do to the urban fabric. But they have all been played for yuks.

Despite its lighthearted tone, Hench isn't in the register of Despicable Me or Damage Control. After a deceptively light-hearted opening, Walschots gets pretty damned dark, making us feel Anna's fury at the literal hero-worship heaped on these brutal monsters.

And when Anna goes to work for a supervillain who perceives her potential and gives her the resources she needs to conduct far more comprehensive analyses of superhero crimes, the story shifts into successively higher gears.

We follow Anna as she uses her data-analysis powers to stalk and destroy supers, and we thrill for her victories and feel deep pangs for the friends she loses as her trajectory diverges from the other henches who were once her peers.

On the way, we get a sly, devastating critique of the state's monopoly on violence, the double-standard for "police-involved killings" and "criminal murders." It's an emotional fly-through of corrupt power structures that tells more than a dozen abstract, academic papers.

You couldn't ask for a better example of how to address a gender-, race- and class-based analysis of societal injustice than in this page-turning superhero romp. For while it deals with novel themes, it does so in verse-verse-chorus structure, building to a fantastic climax.

Boss fights, heists, superweapons, big reveals, plot-twists and reversals, an uneasy alliance and a deliciously grotesque superhero battle – this one's got it all.