How the pandemic has shaped our future: from the built environment, to the way we work, to the way we learn.
With vaccinations underway, we’re edging closer and closer to the end of the pandemic. This week, On The Media looks at how the pandemic has shaped what’s possible for the future — from the built environment to the way we work to the way we learn.
1. Sam Kling [@SamKling2], American Council of Learned Societies public fellow, on whether cities like New York were bound to become hubs for disease. Listen.
2. Vanessa Chang [@vxchang], lecturer at California College of the Arts, explains how pandemics of the past have been instrumental in shaping architecture; Mik Scarlet [@MikScarlet] delineates the social model of disability; and Sara Hendren [@ablerism], author of What Can A Body Do?: How We Meet the Built World, describes how the wisdom of people with disabilities can inform the redesign our post-pandemic world. Listen.
3. OTM reporter Micah Loewinger [@micahloewinger] tells the story of how distance learning saved his friend's life. Listen.
The West tends to focus on security, but entertainment and commerce are the key goals here
The boutique fitness phenomenon sold exclusivity with a smile, until a toxic atmosphere and a push for growth brought the whole thing down.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning, bestselling author of The Warmth of Other Suns examines the unspoken caste system that has shaped America and shows how our lives today are still defined by a hierarchy of human divisions.
"As we go about our daily lives, caste is the wordless usher in a darkened theater, flashlight cast down in the aisles, guiding us to our assigned seats for a performance. The hierarchy of caste is not about feelings or morality. It is about power--which groups have it and which do not."
In this brilliant book, Isabel Wilkerson gives us a masterful portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings.
Beyond race, class, or other factors, there is a powerful caste system that influences people's lives and behavior and the nation's fate. Linking the caste systems of America, India, and Nazi Germany, Wilkerson explores eight pillars that underlie caste systems across civilizations, including divine will, bloodlines, stigma, and more. Using riveting stories about people--including Martin Luther King, Jr., baseball's Satchel Paige, a single father and his toddler son, Wilkerson herself, and many others--she shows the ways that the insidious undertow of caste is experienced every day. She documents how the Nazis studied the racial systems in America to plan their out-cast of the Jews; she discusses why the cruel logic of caste requires that there be a bottom rung for those in the middle to measure themselves against; she writes about the surprising health costs of caste, in depression and life expectancy, and the effects of this hierarchy on our culture and politics. Finally, she points forward to ways America can move beyond the artificial and destructive separations of human divisions, toward hope in our common humanity.
Beautifully written, original, and revealing, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents is an eye-opening story of people and history, and a reexamination of what lies under the surface of ordinary lives and of American life today.
Violent altercations at political rallies have emerged at various times in US history – sometimes in stronger form than in 2016.
A rag doll in freefall. Matt Griggs was seconds from death, at the whim of a combine beyond his control, pinballing against the interior of the cab. The massive machine, a 35,000 lb. behemoth, was roughly 4’ in the air, at the peak of a bizarre aerial jump that could never qualify for even the most outrageous Dukes of Hazzard script. Dropping back to the ground, the front tires touched down on a narrow, rural Tennessee backroad, catapulting Griggs from the box in an explosion of glass and depositing him in a skidding heap on the blacktop.
the hand of God ❧
read “statistical mechanics”
Annotated on October 15, 2020 at 08:05AM
A post signed by nearly all of the Washington Square News staff accused its new adviser, a longtime journalism professor, of being “rude and disrespectful.”
Krug was an associate professor of history at George Washington University (GWU) (2012–2020) until becoming the focus of controversy after she disclosed in an essay that she had lived for years under assumed racial and ethnic identities (including that of being half-Algerian-American and half-German-American and of being a Bronx-bred Afro-"boricua" (Afro-Puerto Rican) who went by the self-described "salsa" name of "La Bombalera"). In a September 3 2020 blog post, Krug confessed that: "I have eschewed my lived experience as a white Jewish child in suburban Kansas City under various assumed identities within a Blackness that I had no right to claim: first North African Blackness, then US rooted Blackness, then Caribbean rooted Bronx Blackness."
As the original manuscript for Don Mclean's 1971 classic is sold at auction, fans may finally discover what the "Song of the Century" is really about.
In ancient myth – and novels by authors from Neil Gaiman to Toni Morrison – these ambiguous figures are sometimes repressive, sometimes inspiring
The Mabinogion, translated by Sioned Davies
In You Goddess! we use “supernatural female” as a definition of goddess and this allows us to include the story of Blodeuwedd, who was created out of flowers by a wizard as a wife for his friend, but who kicks over the traces and finds her own partner. Bloeuwedd appears in this medieval collection of Welsh stories. The first English translation was published in the 19th century by the linguist, go-getter and driver of the Welsh renaissance, Lady Charlotte Guest. This 2007 translation by Sioned Davies is a fantastic contemporary version. In the past Blodeuwedd has been taken as a cautionary tale about adultery, but to modern readers she appears as a floral rebel breaking free from male control. Sadly things don’t end well for her and her metamorphosis from vegetable to human ends with her wizard enemy turning her into an owl. She lives on as the inspiration for Alan Garner’s The Owl Service. ❧
This has been on my list for a bit. I’m also reminded that I ought to get back to The Celtic Myths: A Guide to the Ancient Gods and Legends by Miranda Aldhouse-Green
Annotated on September 09, 2020 at 10:09PM
Could a marriage policy first pursued by the Catholic Church a millennium and a half ago explain what made the industrialized world so powerful—and so peculiar?
Henrich, who directs Harvard’s Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, is a cultural evolutionary theorist, which means that he gives cultural inheritance the same weight that traditional biologists give to genetic inheritance. Parents bequeath their DNA to their offspring, but they—along with other influential role models—also transmit skills, knowledge, values, tools, habits. Our genius as a species is that we learn and accumulate culture over time. Genes alone don’t determine whether a group survives or disappears. So do practices and beliefs. Human beings are not “the genetically evolved hardware of a computational machine,” he writes. They are conduits of the spirit, habits, and psychological patterns of their civilization, “the ghosts of past institutions.” ❧
Annotated on September 06, 2020 at 11:03AM
WEIRD people have a bad habit of universalizing from their own particularities. They think everyone thinks the way they do, and some of them (not all, of course) reinforce that assumption by studying themselves. In the run-up to writing the book, Henrich and two colleagues did a literature review of experimental psychology and found that 96 percent of subjects enlisted in the research came from northern Europe, North America, or Australia. About 70 percent of those were American undergraduates. Blinded by this kind of myopia, many Westerners assume that what’s good or bad for them is good or bad for everyone else. ❧
This is a painful reality. It’s also even more specific to the current Republican party. Do as we say, not as we do.
This is the sort of example that David Dylan Thomas will appreciate.
Annotated on September 06, 2020 at 11:09AM
By the time Protestantism came along, people had already internalized an individualist worldview. Henrich calls Protestantism “the WEIRDest religion,” and says it gave a “booster shot” to the process set in motion by the Catholic Church. Integral to the Reformation was the idea that faith entailed personal struggle rather than adherence to dogma. Vernacular translations of the Bible allowed people to interpret scripture more idiosyncratically. The mandate to read the Bible democratized literacy and education. After that came the inquiry into God-given natural (individual) rights and constitutional democracies. The effort to uncover the laws of political organization spurred interest in the laws of nature—in other words, science. The scientific method codified epistemic norms that broke the world down into categories and valorized abstract principles. All of these psychosocial changes fueled unprecedented innovation, the Industrial Revolution, and economic growth. ❧
Reading this makes me think about the political break in the United States along political and religious boundaries. Some of Trumps’ core base practices a more personal religion and are generally in areas that don’t display the level of individualism, but focus more on larger paternalistic families. This could be an interesting space for further exploration as it seems to be moving the “progress”(?) described by WEIRD countries backward.
Annotated on September 06, 2020 at 11:19AM
If Henrich’s history of Christianity and the West feels rushed and at times derivative—he acknowledges his debt to Max Weber—that’s because he’s in a hurry to explain Western psychology. ❧
This adds more to my prior comment with the addition to Max Weber here. Cross reference some of my reading this past week on his influence on the prosperity gospel.
Annotated on September 06, 2020 at 11:21AM
Henrich defends this sweeping thesis with several studies, including a test known as the Triad Task. Subjects are shown three images—say, a rabbit, a carrot, and a cat. The goal is to match a “target object”—the rabbit—with a second object. A person who matches the rabbit with the cat classifies: The rabbit and the cat are animals. A person who matches the rabbit with the carrot looks for relationships between the objects: The rabbit eats the carrot. ❧
Annotated on September 06, 2020 at 11:25AM
Toppling the accomplishments of Western civilization off their great-man platforms, he erases their claim to be monuments to rationality: Everything we think of as a cause of culture is really an effect of culture, including us. ❧
Annotated on September 06, 2020 at 11:27AM
He refutes genetic theories of European superiority and makes a good case against economic determinism. His quarry are the “enlightened” Westerners—would-be democratizers, globalizers, well-intended purveyors of humanitarian aid—who impose impersonal institutions and abstract political principles on societies rooted in familial networks, and don’t seem to notice the trouble that follows. ❧
Annotated on September 06, 2020 at 11:29AM
At the Canada-U.S. border, I encountered a study in contrasts.
It did not have to be this way. But as Trump aptly said of himself and his policy, “It is what it is.” He accepted more disease in hopes of stimulating a stronger economy and winning reelection. He’s waiting now for the return on that bet. As so often in his reckless career, his speculation seems to be that if the bet wins, he pockets the proceeds. And if the bet fails? The losses fall on others. ❧
A very apt description of Trump’s life philosophy. Also a broad perspective at how many Republicans and Libertarians seem to view the world economically: privatizing profits and socializing losses.
Annotated on September 06, 2020 at 10:55AM
Colm Ó Broin is an Irish speaker from Clondalkin, Dublin, and a member of Conradh na Gaeilge. He has been involved with Áras Chrónáin in Clondalkin and Cainteoirí Chill Mhantáin in Wicklow Town organising social events for Irish speakers for several years. He worked as a journalist for the Irish language newspapers Gaelscéal and Lá and has spoken and written widely about the many myths that surround the Irish language, including articles in The Irish Times, The Journal and Broadsheet.ie Colm Ó Broin is an Irish speaker from Clondalkin, Dublin, and a member of Conradh na Gaeilge. He has been involved with Áras Chrónáin in Clondalkin and Cainteoirí Chill Mhantáin in Wicklow Town organising social events for Irish speakers for several years. He worked as a journalist for the Irish language newspapers Gaelscéal and Lá and has spoken and written widely about the many myths that surround the Irish language, including articles in The Irish Times, The Journal and Broadsheet.ie This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx
Dr Michael Dempster - Full Interview. Speaking to 'The Big Night In' Dr Dempster discusses the origins of the Scots language, Scots in popular culture, place names, common attitudes and various initiatives to encourage people to use and understand their own Scots tongue.
Mention around 23 minutes about the Anglicization of Scots words that not only don’t make sense, but remove the relationship between the people and their land.
Nineteen-year-old says he is ‘devastated’ after being accused of cultural vandalism