“It gets people killed”: Osip Mandelstam and the perils of writing poetry under StalinNadezhda Mandelstam – the poet’s wife and invaluable support throughout his, and their, many years of persecution and exile – wrote in her powerful memoir of both the poet and the era, Hope Against Hope, about the many instances when, confronted with the desperation of their situation, they had asked each other if this was the moment when they, too, could no longer bear to go forward. The final occasion was to be the last night they spent in their Moscow apartment before being banished, without means of providing for themselves, to a succession of rural towns situated beyond a hundred-kilometre perimeter of all major cities. She awoke to find Mandelstam standing at the open window. “Isn’t it time?” he said. “Let’s do it while we’re still together.” “Not yet,” she replied. Mandelstam didn’t argue but she later reflected, “If we had been able to foresee all the alternatives, we would not have missed that last chance of a ‘normal’ death offered by the open window of our apartment in Furmanov Street.” Opting, in that moment, for a little more life changed nothing and Mandelstam soon found himself being moved inexorably towards Stalin’s endgame in the camps.
When Things Go Missing - The New YorkerThe verb “to lose” has its taproot sunk in sorrow; it is related to the “lorn” in forlorn. It comes from an Old English word meaning to perish, which comes from a still more ancient word meaning to separate or cut apart. The modern sense of misplacing an object appeared later, in the thirteenth century; a hundred years after that, “to lose” acquired the meaning of failing to win. In the sixteenth century, we began to lose our minds; in the seventeenth century, our hearts. The circle of what we can lose, in other words, began with our own lives and one another and has been steadily expanding ever since. In consequence, loss today is a supremely awkward category, bulging with everything from mittens to life savings to loved ones, forcing into relationship all kinds of wildly dissimilar experiences.
Scientist explains the psychological function of eulogizing the deceasedThus, eulogizing the life of another after they die is almost like upholding our part of the bargain. We need to believe that others will carry on our memory after our death in order to allay our anxieties, and so we do for them what we hope they will do for us. When you think about it this way, you can see why the eulogy has become such an institutionalized aspect of the funeral ceremony. It satisfies our deeply rooted need to manage our own anxiety and sadness surrounding death and finitude.
Life begins and ends with musicHe took some informal guitar lessons in his twenties from a Spaniard he met next to a local tennis court. After a few weeks, he picked up a flamenco chord progression. When the man failed to appear for their fourth lesson, Cohen called his landlady and learned that the man had killed himself. In a speech many years later, in Asturias, Cohen said, “I knew nothing about the man, why he came to Montreal . . . why he appeared at that tennis court, why he took his life. . . . It was those six chords, it was that guitar pattern, that has been the basis of all my songs, and all my music.”
Trump at his father's funeralWhen, in the summer of 1999, he stood up to offer remarks at his father’s funeral, Trump spoke mainly about himself. It was the toughest day of his own life, Trump began. He went on to talk about Fred Trump’s greatest achievement: raising a brilliant and renowned son. As Gwenda Blair writes in her three-generation biography of the Trump family, The Trumps, “the first-person singular pronouns, the I and me and my, eclipsed the he and his. Where others spoke of their memories of Fred Trump, [Donald] spoke of Fred Trump’s endorsement.”
When to digAs a little girl, she used to help dig a grave before winter came. “You knew someone was going to die,” she says, and if the ground was frozen, the body would have no place to go. “As a kid, you would think: That could be anybody. That could be me.”
A turn in the roadIn the waiting room, the family across from me has brought in food for dinner. They are just opening their Styrofoam containers when a woman approaches, bends to speak with the father, a hand on his shoulder. The daughter leans in, and the son, and the two others I realize must be their partners. Suddenly, the room is spinning. The food drops to the floor. The father just sits there, hands to his face, shaking his head, but the children are weeping, then wailing. Someone stands, staggers, drops to the floor. They all rush out, food wrappers and bags abandoned. It can happen that swiftly, the end of life as we know it. Then, too, time can creep so slowly, even a minute seems endless.
Imre Mécs’s eulogy for Árpád Göncz savages FideszOne time “young democrats” now turn against their principles, seek exclusive power, centralize practically everything, create a new predatory-exploiting stratum of society of their choice, and all that out of the money of the poor. They have institutionalized corruption and poverty, centralized the autocratic system, and oppressed self-governance in every field. They stir up hatred, and ignorance is rampant. Love, which determines the quality of your life, is persecuted and is ‘non-grata’.
Oliver Sacks on Learning He Has Terminal CancerI want and hope in the time that remains to deepen my friendships, to say farewell to those I love, to write more, to travel if I have the strength, to achieve new levels of understanding and insight. Advertisement Continue reading the main story Advertisement Continue reading the main story This will involve audacity, clarity and plain speaking; trying to straighten my accounts with the world. But there will be time, too, for some fun (and even some silliness, as well). Continue reading the main story Recent Comments CT February 19, 2015 As the mother of an autistic child with a brilliant, very alive mind I thank you deeply for helping open minds to all of the wonderful human... Nightwood February 19, 2015 Dear Dr. Sacks. Some people say there are no miracles in this immense universe. Still, some how you popped up and became a walking, two... Diane McIntyre February 19, 2015 Dr Sacks, you are-- and have been-- my hero. Live with verve. See All Comments I feel a sudden clear focus and perspective. There is no time for anything inessential. I must focus on myself, my work and my friends.
Archeologist Beheaded by ISIS After Refusing to Lead Them to Valuable Artifacts
Laptops 'ain't gonna happen!' -- NYT columnist in 1985Was the laptop dream an illusion, then? Or was the problem merely that the right combination of features for such lightweight computers had not yet materialized? The answer probably is a combination of both views. For the most part, the portable computer is a dream machine for the few. The limitations come from what people actually do with computers, as opposed to what the marketers expect them to do. On the whole, people don't want to lug a computer with them to the beach or on a train to while away hours they would rather spend reading the sports or business section of the newspaper. Somehow, the microcomputer industry has assumed that everyone would love to have a keyboard grafted on as an extension of their fingers. It just is not so.
Imagining Carr as Gawker's editor in chief.Q. You said recently that Ta-Nehisi Coates would be your dream Gawker executive editor. Why? What does he offer, or represent? A. I’m not going to talk about individual candidates. But we are looking for a mixture of news judgment, intellectual framework and humanity. The ideal candidate was actually a colleague of yours, David Carr, now sadly no longer with us. Q. Is humanity an important component of journalism? A. Yes, David Carr was described as the most human of humans. Let the writers run a little wild, but they need to be saved from their own selves by editors with a conscience.
The pressure to ignore end of life preferencesEven with all his wishes documented, Jack hadn’t died as he’d hoped. The system had intervened. One of the nurses, I later found out, even reported my unplugging of Jack to the authorities as a possible homicide. Nothing came of it, of course; Jack’s wishes had been spelled out explicitly, and he’d left the paperwork to prove it. But the prospect of a police investigation is terrifying for any physician. I could far more easily have left Jack on life support against his stated wishes, prolonging his life, and his suffering, a few more weeks. I would even have made a little more money, and Medicare would have ended up with an additional $500,000 bill. It’s no wonder many doctors err on the side of overtreatment.
Remembering Brian ClarkAs president of GMD Studios (originally Global Media Design), Clark helped construct the web realities for Nothing So Strange and Freakylinks, extending the narrative storytelling of film and television onto the internet. He continued exploring different ways of telling stories through his work on beloved alternate reality games like Sega’s Beta-7, Audi’s Art of the Heist, and Eldritch Errors. His projects delighted in stretching the boundaries of fictional worlds outside their comfort zones, asking players to do everything from “stealing” SD cards out of cars on display at events to joining characters at a Lovecraftian cabin in the woods. Clark worked tirelessly behind the scenes to mentor new creators in the space, offering them help on everything from the craft of subversive storytelling to the realities of running a small business, including knowing what to charge for their work. He delighted in playing with other peoples’ creations and testing their limits, whether that meant donning a Ronald Reagan mask and dancing under his “Jihadi Jazzhands” persona, or creating a well-endowed, chain-smoking sock puppet named “She-Crab” for a game originally intended for children. He was an irrepressible prankster, leading to frequently outlandish conversations punctuated by his staccato laughter. His impact was not limited to the alternate reality gaming and transmedia storytelling arenas: he was a founding member of Indiewire, helped create an online marketplace for brand journalism, worked on a documentary about the next generation of astronauts, has been accused on occassion of inventing the spambot, and found a creative use for LinkedIn’s “endorsements” functionality.
Don Featherstone, Inventor of the Pink Flamingo (in Plastic), Dies at 79 - The New York TimesTo sculpt his first assignment, a three-dimensional duck, Mr. Featherstone went out and bought a live one, keeping it tenderly in the sink as he copied it before releasing it in a local park. His next assignment was a flamingo. These proved harder to come by. Working from photographs in National Geographic, he created a three-foot-high creature, typically sold as one of a pair: one bird upright, the other head down, as if grazing. With its insouciant stance and saturated pink promise of endless summer, Mr. Featherstone’s flamingo blew his duck out of the water. An index of its novelty that first year could be found in the Sears catalog, which offered the birds for $2.76 a pair but saw fit to include instructions: “Place in garden, lawn, to beautify landscape.”
David Carr's 'Lasting Totem' - Stelter reflectsMy wife doesn’t hoard email the way I do. But she’s glad she held onto the one David sent her when I was on the verge of two big life changes: Marrying her and joining CNN. Looking back, I couldn’t help but notice this email had no typos or abbreviations. “this next unfolding will be a pleasure to watch, although from a greater distance,” he wrote. “and of all the choices brian has made, you are and will be the most important one.” On the evening of the wedding, February 22, 2014, David arrived early and stayed late, taking photos with my family members and beaming with fatherly pride. Earlier in the day, I had sent a love letter and a necklace over to the bridal suite where Jamie had been getting ready. Nice touch, right? Until I recently reread his emails, I’d forgotten who deserved the credit.
Was Dianne White Clatto first!?!Establishing whether Ms. Clatto was actually the nation’s first full-time black weathercaster is problematic. “I have checked with numerous sources, and they all agree: She was the first black female weathercaster on television in the United States,” said Bob Butler, a reporter with KCBS Radio in San Francisco and the president of the National Association of Black Journalists. Advertisement Continue reading the main story Advertisement Continue reading the main story Advertisement Continue reading the main story An article in the Sept. 4, 1963, issue of Variety headlined “St. Louis’s KSD-TV Sepia Weather Gal” said she would be “the first of her race to be booked as regular on-the-air talent in some years at a local commercial TV station here.” Jet magazine unequivocally credits Trudy Haynes, a New York native, as the nation’s first black weathercaster and television reporter. She joined WXYZ in Detroit in September 1963. But Ms. Haynes said in an interview that if Ms. Clatto began in 1962, then she would have indeed been the first. The reference guide “Contemporary Black Biography” describes June Bacon-Bercey as the first black female television meteorologist in the country, in Buffalo in 1970. (That was the same year that John Amos began playing Gordy Howard, the black weatherman on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”) “Weather on the Air: A History of Broadcast Meteorology,” by Robert Henson, says only that Steve Baskerville became the first black weathercaster on network television, for the “CBS Morning News,” in 1984. And in 1996, Mr. Roker began working as the regular weekday weather anchor on the “Today” show. Ms. Clatto was unquestionably a hometown pioneer who, she told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “felt the weight of the world on my shoulders” as a role model during her early years of broadcasting.
Memory of JamesWhen I stepped out of the camper, I was slightly elevated and could see out across the clearing where we had spent the day. Pairs of my friends and loved ones were all around the area, holding each other and quietly grieving. Almost like an unchoreographed dance, pairs of people would break apart and then silently move to another embrace. It was an involuntary, yet graceful, ebb and flow of mourners taking turns breaking down and giving support.
Dooce® signs off with a non-sequitorThank you for being here on this journey with me, my girls and my dogs. I hope you’ll stick around for the next chapter which, let’s be honest.
The website is dead, long live the platformIf in five years I’m just watching NFL-endorsed ESPN clips through a syndication deal with a messaging app, and Vice is just an age-skewed Viacom with better audience data, and I’m looking up the same trivia on Genius instead of Wikipedia, and “publications” are just content agencies that solve temporary optimization issues for much larger platforms, what will have been point of the last twenty years of creating things for the web?
Where the wonderful CGC revolution ends?An unidentified individual or group responsible for uploading videos that simply show a woman opening Disney toys made an estimated $4.9 million last year, more than any other channel for 2014, according to OpenSlate, a video analytics platform that analyzes ad-supported content on YouTube.
Alexander Grothendieck, Math Enigma, Dies at 86Alexander Grothendieck, who for an unknown reason was named Raddatz at birth (not Schapiro, Tanaroff or Grothendieck), was born in Berlin on March 28, 1928.
Kerry Lou Ketchum King, aka Mama Bear, Ms. King, Mom, Big Blonde Tiger, Helga, and Speak No Evil, shuffled off this mortal coil June 17 at 4:20 a.m. in her sleep. One can only assume late-night TV literally bored her to death. […] She was the Lorelai Gilmore to her daughter's Rory and the two had the inseparable bond only a single parent/only child team can have. […]Her daughter wishes to express her condolences to everyone who didn't have a mom as staggeringly stupendous as hers. Really, you missed out. She is survived by […]one slightly brain-addled Chocolate Lab, Hershey, countless brilliant friends and two Jeep Grand Cherokees that will most likely survive the nuclear holocaust along with cockroaches and Keith Richards.