Source: The New York Review of Books

71 links

www.nybooks.com > Pamela Karlan
Our Most Vulnerable Election
8 oct. 2020 - If Trump leaves the White House on January 20, 2021, he will not go gentle into that good night. Addicted as he is to Twitter and the limelight, he is likely to continue attacking his successor, stirring up his base, and suggesting that the election was stolen, thereby continuing to undermine the legitimacy of the democratic system.
 · us-2020-elections

www.nybooks.com > James Gleick
Simulating Democracy
8 oct. 2020 - Jill Lepore is a brilliant and prolific historian with an eye for unusual and revealing stories, and her new book If Then: How the Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future is a remarkable saga, sometimes comical, sometimes ominous: a “shadow history of the 1960s,” as she writes, because Simulmatics stumbled through the decade as a bit player, onstage for the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, the Great Society, the riots and protests. It began with grand ambitions to invent a new kind of predictive behavioral science, in a research environment increasingly tied to a rising defense establishment amid the anxiety of the cold war. It ended ignominiously, in embarrassment and bankruptcy.
 · advertising · algorithmic-regulation · behavioral-modeling · cambridge-analytica · cybernetics · disinformation · elections · facebook · feedback-loops · profiling · simulmatics · targeting · united-states · vietnam · weather-forecasting

www.nybooks.com > Robert F. Worth
Syria’s Lost Chance
8 oct. 2020 - On June 29, 1920, the Syrian envoy Habib Lutfallah stood before a committee of French senators in the Luxembourg Palace, that vast, baroque monument to France’s grand siècle. He had come to Paris to make a plea for an autonomous Arab state in the lands of the defeated Ottoman Empire. It was late in the day, and the odds were very long: France’s Army of the Levant was already massing in what is now Lebanon, preparing to march eastward and impose a neocolonial regime on Damascus.
 · arab-nationalism · colonialism · democracy · france · islam · liberalism · ottoman-empire · syria

www.nybooks.com > Anne Diebel
Trumps on the Couch
24 sep. 2020 - When it comes to Donald Trump, even the few new stories and bits of perspective his niece Mary’s book can provide add little—it’s not that she doesn’t know him well, it’s that anyone who has followed him with a mild interest already knows him too well to be surprised by revelations of kind or of degree, or to be particularly enlightened by expert opinions on his well-documented traits and tendencies.
 · donald-trump

www.nybooks.com > Jerome Groopman
Lessons from the Worst Years of AIDS
24 sep. 2020 - In the summer of 1982, as a young oncologist at the University of California at Los Angeles, I developed a hacking cough, fever, and loss of appetite. After a few weeks the symptoms did not abate, and I contacted my internist, who ordered a chest X-ray and blood tests. The X-ray showed a patchy pneumonia, and the blood tests an inflamed liver. I underwent more extensive testing, but no diagnosis could be made. I feared that I had AIDS.
 · conspiracy-thinking · covid-19 · gay-rights · hiv-aids

www.nybooks.com > Fintan O’Toole
Night and Day
24 sep. 2020 - The grammar of American presidential elections is, for obvious reasons, Christian. The other party’s candidate is mired in sin and error; ours will bring redemption and salvation. But not this time. Joe Biden is a devout Catholic, yet the shape of his speech accepting the Democratic Party’s nomination at its virtual convention was based on the cosmogony of one of Christianity’s great early rivals, Manichaeanism.
 · body-language · manichaeanism · united-states · us-2020-elections

www.nybooks.com > Peter Brown
No Barbarians Necessary
24 sep. 2020 - Ever since the Renaissance, the fall of the Roman Empire has remained the cherished nightmare of the West. Here are three books calculated to chase this nightmare away. The first, Michael Kulikowski’s The Tragedy of Empire, sets out to tell what actually happened. The second, Walter Scheidel’s Escape from Rome, argues that this fall was, in the long run, the best thing that could have happened to Europe. The third, Janet Nelson’s King and Emperor, is a deeply learned and humane portrait of Charlemagne, a man who wielded supreme power in much of Europe three centuries after the fall of Rome.
 · china · empire · europe · roman-empire · war

www.nybooks.com > José Manuel Prieto
The Battle Over the Cuban Five
24 sep. 2020 - On September 12, 1998, ten alleged Cuban spies from the group known as La Red Avispa (the Wasp Network) were arrested in South Florida by the FBI during an early-morning raid. They were charged with conspiracy to commit crimes against the United States, conspiracy to commit espionage, and acting as unregistered agents of a foreign government. Half of the accused cooperated with the district attorney’s office and received reduced sentences. The others—Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González, and René González, who came to be known as the Cuban Five—denied the accusations. The saga of their imprisonment, trial, and release is the subject of North of Havana by Martin Garbus, the renowned civil rights attorney who joined the case in 2012, after the death of the Cuban Five’s lawyer, Garbus’s longtime friend Leonard Weinglass.
 · cuba · justice · special-period · spying · united-states

www.nybooks.com > Robert Kuttner
Can We Fix Capitalism?
24 sep. 2020 - For enthusiasts of capitalism, democracy and the market are said to be handmaidens. Both depend on the rule of law. Both express aspects of liberty, prizing opportunity and mobility. During the era of classical liberalism, which began in the late eighteenth century, free commerce and political freedom advanced in tandem. Monarchies gave way to republican rule; open markets replaced royal monopolies and inherited privileges. For about a century the franchise gradually expanded, and markets became the primary mode of commerce. The brand of democratic capitalism that emerged in the West after World War II included not just those earlier hallmarks but such liberal values as tolerance, compromise, and enlarged civic participation, as well as regulatory and social welfare policies to buffer the less savory tendencies of markets. Modern capitalism reflected a grand social bargain.
 · autocracy · capitalism · china · citizenship · democracy · free-trade · globalization · inequality · john-rawls · justice · liberalism · poverty · rule-of-law · russia · united-states

www.nybooks.com > Sarah Boxer
Back to the Drawing Board
24 sep. 2020 - Sitting at home this summer, quarantined with my paper, my pen, and my anxieties, I dipped into Lynda Barry’s latest you-can-do-it-too book, Making Comics. It seemed the perfect tonic—part doodle, part manual, part therapy. Trouble was, Barry’s exercises soon awakened a couple of my latent anxieties—Devwahrphobia (fear of homework) and Atelodemiourgiopapyrophobia (fear of imperfect creative activity on paper)—which almost made me shut the book. But then it dawned on me that Barry’s genius—yes, she is certified, having gotten a MacArthur Fellowship earlier this year—is tightly bound to her ability to confront her demons and make them get up and dance for her. Barry has even drawn a book about them: One! Hundred! Demons!, based on a sixteenth-century Zen scroll.
 · comics · drawing

www.nybooks.com > Jay Caspian Kang
Ball Don’t Lie
27 aug. 2020 - For its non-Black, liberal fans, basketball exists in a sort of triple consciousness. They love basketball in part because it allows them access to Blackness. This, however, comes with guilt and discomfort, which gets processed into a monolithic and easily accessible politics of what these days is called “allyship,” which then needs to be codified and rubberstamped by the esteemed white men who know the players the best. Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr serve as models for white allies. Underlying all this is a pressing need to understand Black people.
 · activism · advertising · basketball · black-culture · black-struggle · boxing · nike · power · sports · united-states

www.nybooks.com > Bill McKibben
130 Degrees
20 aug. 2020 - The upheaval caused by Covid-19 is a harbinger of global warming. Because humans have fundamentally altered the physical workings of planet Earth, this is going to be a century of crises, many of them more dangerous than what we’re living through now. The main question is whether we’ll be able to hold the rise in temperature to a point where we can, at great expense and suffering, deal with those crises coherently, or whether they will overwhelm the coping abilities of our civilization.
 · climate-change · covid-19

www.nybooks.com > Fara Dabhoiwala
Speech and Slavery in the West Indies
20 aug. 2020 - Slavery was foundational to Britain’s prosperity and rise to global power. Throughout the eighteenth century the empire’s epicenter lay not in North America, Africa, or India but in a handful of small sugar-producing Caribbean islands. The two most important—tiny Barbados and its larger, distant neighbor Jamaica—were among the most profitable places on earth. On the eve of the American Revolution, the nominal wealth of an average white person was £42 in England and £60 in North America. In Jamaica, it was £2,200. Immense fortunes were made there and poured unceasingly back to Britain.
 · caribbean · freedom-of-speech · haiti · jamaica · slavery · united-kingdom · united-states

www.nybooks.com > David Cole
The Court’s Declarations of Independence
20 aug. 2020 - When the Supreme Court’s 2019–2020 term opened last October, with LGBTQ discrimination, gun rights, abortion, immigration, and state funding of religious schools on the docket, it promised to be both controversial and deeply partisan. The Court then added cases on whether President Trump could block Congress and a grand jury from obtaining his personal financial records, and whether employers who objected to contraception on religious grounds could refuse to provide their employees with insurance that paid for it. This was Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s second term on the Court, and it afforded a real test of how his replacement of the more moderate Anthony Kennedy would alter the Court’s character. Republicans, who had long made picking “reliable” conservative justices a priority, were eager to reap their rewards.
 · abortion-rights · gay-rights · united-states · us-supreme-court

www.nybooks.com > Michelle Kuo
What Replaces Prisons?
20 aug. 2020 - Sociologists tend to agree that the threat of harsh prison conditions or lengthy sentences doesn’t act as a deterrent to crime. Studies are particularly decisive on the issue of juvenile crime, showing that prisons effectively serve as “schools” in which young people become criminals. In many states, up to 80 percent will be rearrested within three years of getting out of jail. What would a world with a vastly reduced reliance on prisons and police look like?
 · australia · black-struggle · justice · new-zealand · prison-reform · prisons · restorative-justice · south-africa · united-states

www.nybooks.com > David Luban
America the Unaccountable
20 aug. 2020 - The Trump administration has declared war on the International Criminal Court—the world’s only permanent court whose mandate is to pursue cases of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. President Trump issued an executive order on June 11 that authorizes severe sanctions on ICC employees, as well as the court itself, if it goes forward with planned investigations of alleged war crimes by the US or its allies. (Though not named in the order, Israel is the sole US ally now under ICC scrutiny that fits its terms.)
 · afghanistan · international-criminal-court · israel · palestina · torture · united-states

www.nybooks.com > Michelle Nijhuis
Buzz Buzz Buzz
20 aug. 2020 - Humans have spent decades trying to teach other animals our languages—sometimes for convenience or amusement, sometimes out of scientific curiosity—but we’ve made little effort to learn theirs. Today, as a virus from another species upends human society, the usefulness of communicating with animals on their own terms is suddenly more imaginable.
 · animal-rights · data-protection · democracy · ethics · music

www.nybooks.com > Darryl Pinckney
‘We Must Act Out Our Freedom’
20 aug. 2020 - I will look for you in the stories of new kings. Juneteenth isn’t mentioned in the writings of W.E.B. Du Bois or Carter Woodson, the founder of The Journal of Negro History. I haven’t yet come across a description of the first Juneteenth celebrations equivalent to Colonel Thomas Wentworth Higginson’s report of the ceremonies for the Emancipation Proclamation as it was read aloud on Port Royal Island, South Carolina, on New Year’s Day, 1863. Black troops, white commanders, white clergymen, white women schoolteachers, black women schoolteachers, and the formerly enslaved turned resisters gathered at the sober campground to ratify in their hearts the next covenant of the Republic.
 · black-struggle · covid-19 · inequality · police-violence · reparations · slavery · united-states

www.nybooks.com > Jessica T. Mathews
The New Nuclear Threat
22 jul. 2020 - The deployed nuclear arsenals of the US and Russia have been reduced by nearly 90 percent, but we are not safer today—quite the reverse. After decades of building just enough weapons to deter attack, China is now aggressively modernizing and enlarging its small nuclear arsenal. Russia and the US are modernizing theirs as well with entire menus of new weapons. Activities in space are enlarging the global battlefield. Advances in missile technology and conventional weapons “entangle” scenarios of nuclear and nonnuclear war, making outcomes highly unpredictable.
 · cold-war · nuclear-war · russia · united-states

www.nybooks.com > Michael Pollan
The Sickness in Our Food Supply
12 may. 2020 - “Only when the tide goes out,” Warren Buffett observed, “do you discover who’s been swimming naked.” For our society, the Covid-19 pandemic represents an ebb tide of historic proportions, one that is laying bare vulnerabilities and inequities that in normal times have gone undiscovered. Nowhere is this more evident than in the American food system. A series of shocks has exposed weak links in our food chain that threaten to leave grocery shelves as patchy and unpredictable as those in the former Soviet bloc. The very system that made possible the bounty of the American supermarket—its vaunted efficiency and ability to “pile it high and sell it cheap”—suddenly seems questionable, if not misguided. But the problems the novel coronavirus has revealed are not limited to the way we produce and distribute food.
 · animal-rights · bio-industry · covid-19 · food · going-local · united-states