End of the Semester Links, Spring 2017

It’s been a long year, long for many reasons, but here’s a backlog of some links. (Some very good news is imminent. . . .)

 

Nuclear and Environmental

New York Times Editorial Board, “The Finger on the Nuclear Button.”

Rebecca Savranksy, “US May Launch Strike if North Korea Moves to Test Nuclear Weapon.”

Kaveh Waddell, “What Happens if a Nuclear Bomb Goes Off in Manhattan.”

Radiolab, “Nukes.”

Laurel Wamsley, “Digitization Unearths New Data From Cold War-Era Nuclear Test Films.”

Michael Biesecker and John Flesher, “President Trump Institutes Media Blackout at EPA.”

Brian Kahn, “The EPA Has Started to Remove Obama-Era Information.”

Zoë Schlanger, “Hackers Downloaded US Government Climate Data and Stored It on European Servers as Trump Was Being Inaugurated.”

Cass R. Sunstein, “Making Sense of Trump’s Order on Climate Change.”

Laurie Penny, “The Slow Confiscation of Everything.”

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An Excerpt from The Pale King

In commemoration of tax day tomorrow (The Pale King‘s official release date) and in light of the oh-so-wonderful government budget-slashing going on everywhere, I thought I’d provide this nice little excerpt from Wallace’s The Pale King (a conversation set in 1980):

“Let’s get back to how a Bush or Reagan would triple the [IR]Service budget for a second? Is this good for us on a District level? What are the implications for a Peoria or a Creve Coeur?”

“Of course the marvelous double irony of the Reduce Government candidate is that he’s financed by the coporations that are the backs governmnent tends to be most oppressively on the back of. Corporations, as DeWitt pointed out, whose beady little brains are lit by nothing but net profit and expansion, and who we deep-down expect government to keep in check because we’re not equipped to resist their consumerist seductions by the strength of our own character, and whose appeal to the faux rebel is the modern rhetoric that’s going to get Bush-Reagan elected in the first place, and who are going to benefit enormously from the laissez-faire deregulation Bush-Reagan will enable the electorate to believe will be undertaken in their own populist interests–in other words we’ll have for a president a symbolic Rebel against his own power whose election was underwritten by inhuman soulless profit-machines whose takeover of American civic and spiritual life will convince Americans that rebellion against the soulless inhumanity of corporate life will consist in buying products from corporations that do the best job of representing corporate life as empty and soulless. We’ll have a tyranny of conformist nonconformity presided over by a symbolic outsider whose very election depended on our deep conviction that his persona is utter bullshit. A rule of image, which because it’s so empty makes everyone terrified–they’re small and going to die, after all–”

“Christ, the death thing again.”

“–and whose terror of not really ever even existing makes them that much more susceptible to the ontological siren song of the corporate buy-to-stand-out-and-so-exist gestalt” (David Foster Wallace, The Pale King [New York: Little, Brown & Co., 2011], 149).

Return to Snow(mageddon)y River

This is a fantastic clip critiquing the over-use, over-saturation, and ridiculousness of apocalyptic rhetoric in the media from Stewart the other night.  Both him and Colbert have a long tradition of throwing barbs at the eschatological hyperbole of the media, but this one is simply amazing.  And it is esp. appropriate for both this here blog, the weather outside (how frightful it is),[1] and the fact I wrote on this exact thing a couple of days ago.  Enjoy.

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Not to be outdone, the Baltimore local news also got involved.  I don’t know which is better.  Fox et al or this attempt at emulating their apocalyptic and absurd fear mongering.
All I know is, the snow outside ain’t going anywhere, but, then again, neither is the media.  It has to make you wonder how they would react in the face of an actual apocalyptic scenario.  It wouldn’t be anything like the movies.  But then again, how much more ridiculous could they get.  They might have to get all calm and, idk, objective.

[1] Esp. according to the woman I talked to (completely randomly) on the street yesterday.  She, quote, “hate(d) this shit.”  Why I appeared to be an appropriate person to express this to, is perhaps unimportant, but it is to emphasize that everyone is thinking exactly how frightful the weather is and feel that they have to inform whomever may walk by immediately.  (As if I’m gonna say, “What the hell are you talking about.  This is delightful!”)  That said, I firmly agreed w/ her, and said so.  There is something remarkable about how weather, and more importantly talking about it, creates socialization and connection b/t two people who would never talk to one another otherwise.  This whole week I’ve been experiencing smiles, knowing looks, and a sense of community wholly lacking at other points in the year.  We all agree on one thing, and it brings us together: we hate this shit, and yet. . . , I think there is something good in this agreement.  This is also one of the reasons I like sports.  Esp. in pgh, one always has a common ground from which to begin a conversation w/ a stranger.  Usually talking about the weather is banal to the extreme, the old cliche, that thing that, strangely, causes disconnection b/t people.  But when the unusually strong snowstorm hits the ‘burgh, its like the freaking Superbowl (of conversation starters–and of course the SB coincided w/ this past weekend).  Of course this is great and all, but lord I miss the desert.  At least there the weather didn’t shut down a city, even if it was just as much a part of the conversation.  And it is always apocalyptic, though one never hears about “heat-wave-ageddon,” or “four-months-w/o-rain-Judgment-Day.”  Though that would be hilarious.