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Reading, Looking, Listening, . . . Questioning
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serial-pod

Just over a year ago, millions of people became fascinated with Serial, a podcast dedicated to rehashing the events of a 1999 Maryland murder trial. In that trial, popular high school student Adnan Syed was convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. The podcast, aired more than fifteen years after Syed’s conviction, raised a number […]

ZiR
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English servant, washing in tub

Downton Abbey, now in its sixth and final season, has been a TV phenomenon, with audiences in more than 200 countries, including 160 million viewers in China. In the US it is the most popular PBS program ever, and, during the 2014-15 viewing year, it came out twentieth in popularity among all network and cable […]

ZiLL
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  It turns out that a runaway best-seller in Germany is a local forest ranger’s book about the communal life of trees. The Hidden Life of Trees will appear in English translation next fall. Trees help each other out. If their limbs block a neighbor’s light, they’ll sometimes lean away, and many trees do better […]

ZiR
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Residents of Flint, Michigan continue to be subjected to dangerously high lead levels in their drinking water. The long-term effects are likely to be catastrophic, especially when it comes to the brain development of Flint’s young children. Naturally, questions have arisen about what members of the Michigan state government knew, and when they knew it. Local […]

ZiR
from Amazon site for African Mask Wall Decor World Peace Wise Man Bamboo Root Mask Bali Mask

A follow-up to a previous discussion of how experts, and the media that aids and abets them, and the class interests that pay these experts’ salaries—they’re in the mask-making business.   A January 26 New York Times story reported that “according to an independent analysis” the proposed trade pact between North American countries, the United […]

ZiR
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I was startled to read in yesterday’s Boston Globe that a scholarly paper on “the God particle” (the Higgs boson) had 5,154 authors. I wondered if they hired a stadium for the signing and celebration. I usually think of science as dancing with poetry. An odd couple, you’ll say, but I’ve learned from Thoreau that […]

ZiR
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On Monday, the Supreme Court issued its decision in the case of Montgomery v. Louisiana, essentially deciding that many prisoners serving life without parole who were juveniles when they committed their crimes may be granted a chance at freedom in their lifetimes. The case comes three years after Miller v. Alabama, which held that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for […]

ZiR
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I’m not sure what led me to open Moby Dick again. It’s become a book to browse rather than “get through.” And when a passage pops up, one can’t be in a rush. Going slowly I can unravel serpentine sentences that so often deliver gold. Why just now? Perhaps because I’ve moved to the seacoast […]

ZiR
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Iiu Susiraja Rakennettua-tunnetta 22014

Sublime Ugliness — from a Nordic point of view Transgressing orthodox understandings of beauty, Iiu Susiraja is challenging our ideas of what a public portrait might look like.   I have been thinking a lot about ugliness lately. It all started with a visit to an exhibition by the Finnish artist Iiu Susiraja (born 1975).[1] […]

ZiLL
Categories: Drew Whitcup, ZiR | 1 Comment
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The documentary series Making a Murderer, currently airing on Netflix, is generating a lot of reaction from viewers and commentators. Many people (including hundreds of thousands who have signed a petition) are clamoring for the release of the show’s central figure, convicted murderer Steven Avery. Avery was falsely accused and convicted of an assault in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin […]

ZiR
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17th century Schandmask (or shame masks) - a German form of punishment

By William Eaton   . . . the intellectuals of the time . . . went on playing with ideas que no tenían más función que la de mascaras—that served only as masks. Octavio Paz, El laberinto de la soledad (The Labyrinth of Solitude)[1]   At a few moments in his recent, fruitful discussion of class […]

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Categories: Drew Whitcup, ZiR | 1 Comment
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By William Eaton   . . . the intellectuals of the time . . . went on playing with ideas que no tenían más función que la de mascaras—that served only as masks. Octavio Paz, El laberinto de la soledad (The Labyrinth of Solitude)[1]   At a few moments in his recent, fruitful discussion of class […]

ZiR

February 8, 2016

After the hatchet-job Kathryn Schulz did on Thoreau in The New Yorker, I don't find her credible. She assumes the role of iconoclast and litigates against her subjects. Schulz accuses the filmmakers, like the prosecutors of Avery and Dassey, of being selective in the evidence they present, but Schulz did the same thing when she put Thoreau on trial for "hypocrisy." I have not seen "The Making of a Murderer" nor did I read Schulz's article, but I would caution anyone about taking this writer at her word.

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By William Eaton   . . . the intellectuals of the time . . . went on playing with ideas que no tenían más función que la de mascaras—that served only as masks. Octavio Paz, El laberinto de la soledad (The Labyrinth of Solitude)[1]   At a few moments in his recent, fruitful discussion of class […]

ZiR

February 1, 2016

The quotes from Ruskin and Jameson make wonderful side bars to the story I follow here. I didn't know either of these passages, but they add an important dimension to the picture I try to focus.

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By William Eaton   . . . the intellectuals of the time . . . went on playing with ideas que no tenían más función que la de mascaras—that served only as masks. Octavio Paz, El laberinto de la soledad (The Labyrinth of Solitude)[1]   At a few moments in his recent, fruitful discussion of class […]

ZiR

February 1, 2016

Interesting to connect Big Science to Gothic cathedrals. And hard to think of Gothic cathedrals in this context without thinking of John Ruskin's championing of them, e.g. in "The Stones of Venice." Snatching a few lines from that text: "Wherever the workman is utterly enslaved, the parts of the building must of course be absolutely like each other; for the perfection of his execution can only be reached by exercising him in doing one thing, and giving him nothing else to do. The degree in which the workman is degraded may be thus known at a glance, by observing whether the several parts of th...

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