July 2011/Second Week

¶ Juan Cole’s list of ten things that emerging Arab democracies ought to do in order to avoid the failures that endanger that of the United States merits a ringing endorsement. (We would add only a caution about definining the legal status of corporations very carefully, with a view to ensuring that no business organization has more power than a human being.) It’s a reminder that our country has sunk back into the unsociable individualism of the Gilded Age. ¶ In case you think we’re exaggerating about Gilded Agery, have a look at Chris Hedges’s highly critical review of Andrew Rossi’s documentary, Page One: Inside the New York Times. As Yves Smith notes in her commenting blog entry, the ugly behind-the-scenes reality that Hedges outlines is common, with variations, to American elite organizations. (TruthDig; via Naked Capitalism)

¶ Never enthusiastic about Barack Obama, we have nevetheless resisted, until it was no longer possible, giving up on him entirely. We’ll let Yves Smith, as progressive a voice as we know, make the (ghastly) case for Obama as the worst president since Herbert Hoover. We can only hope that his failure will put an end to the elite faith in testable meritocrats who may or may not possess crucial political vision. (Naked Capitalism) ¶ The awful truth about H&M, which Sarah Laskow confesses she already knew, but how is one to stay cool in the summer heat? (GOOD)

¶ At 3 Quarks Daily, Jeff Strabone writes about Cy Twombly’s classicism, about which there is nothing neoclassical. “Were Twombly’s chalk-scribble paintings the next step beyond cryptography or its opposite?” ¶ John Warner writes about his great-uncle, Alan Seager, author of the widely copied and altered story, “The Window.” Will a New York Review Books edition of Amos Derby be long in coming? (The Morning News)

¶ Joe Moran watches the cricket at Old Trafford. Many of the other spectators don’t.

I never cease to marvel at the extent to which groups of men, despite having paid forty pounds each for a ticket and over the odds for countless pints of inferior lager with a fake German name, will spend the entire day doing almost anything – playing bongos, making towers out of empty plastic beer glasses, screaming at Robbie Savage in the executive boxes to try to get him to wave – rather than watch the unfolding spectacle in front of them.

Also in the entry, some neat quotes from Duncan Hamilton’s book, A Last English Summer. ¶ Infrastructurist‘s Melissa Lafsky is getting married, but she knows so much about the cyclotron of wedding planning that you wonder if it’s for the first time. “5. THE REAL STRESS OF WEDDING PLANNING IS THINKING EVERYTHING MEANS SOMETHING.” Major wisdom! (The Awl)

¶ Our admiration of Sam Sifton’s prose, whether or not he’s writing about restaurant, is second to no one’s — which is perhaps what reduced us to giggling with delight at Darryl Campbell’s parody, “Sam Sifton Reviews His Late Night Snack,” at The Bygone Bureau. Lashings of delight!

Have a Look: ¶ Ekaterina Smirnova. (Art Cat) ¶ Maria Popova has a little list. A list of lists! (She would be missed!) ¶ Andwhile we’re on the Popova, Strange Maps with a vengeance! (Brain Pickings)

Noted: ¶ Violinist/Violist/Composer Josef Suk, great-grandson of Antonin Dvorak, 1929-2011. (Telegraph) ¶ “Under the Sea: Life on a lost shipping container.” (BoingBoing; via Marginal Revolution) ¶ “Cities Soak Up More Carbon Than We Thought” (GOOD) ¶ The Turing Test, played between human beings (liberals versus conservatives; believers versus atheists). We’re not sure that the Turing template is helpful, because both players are, after all, human. and this sounds a lot like the Clarence Darrow test. (Cosmic Variance) ¶ There’s only one thing that we know about boat racing and that is J Class. (A Continuous Lean) ¶ Learning Chinese in Sweden. (GOOD)