In the News 13.04.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
Thursday 13th April, 2017
Will London Fall?
London may be the capital of the world. You can argue for New York, but London has a case. Modern London is the metropolis that globalization created. Walk the streets of Holborn, ride an escalator down to the Tube and listen to the languages in the air. Italian mingles with Hindi, or Mandarin, or Spanish, or Portuguese. Walk through the City, the financial district, and listen to the plumbing system of international capitalism. London is banker to the planet.
London is ancient yet new. It is as much city-state as city, with a culture and economy that circulate the world. London manages to be Los Angeles, Washington and New York wrapped into one. Imagine if one American city were home to Hollywood, the White House, Madison Avenue, Wall Street and Broadway. London is sort of that.
Sam Siatta was deep in a tequila haze, so staggeringly drunk that he would later say he retained no memory of the crime he was beginning to commit.
It was a few minutes after 2 a.m. on April 13, 2014. Siatta had just forced his way into a single-story home in Normal, Ill., a college town on the prairie about 130 miles southwest of Chicago. A Marine Corps veteran of the war in Afghanistan, he was a 24-year-old freshman studying on the G.I. Bill at the university nearby, Illinois State. He had a record of valor in infantry combat and no criminal past. He also had no clear reason to have entered someone else’s home, no motive that prosecutors would be able to point to at trial — no intention to rob, no indication that he knew or had even seen before any of the three young female teaching students who lived inside, or the boyfriends who were with two of them.
Two of the women and one of the men had awakened minutes earlier when they thought they heard someone opening and closing the front door. It had been an unnerving sensation, the feeling that an intruder had stepped into the home. They tried to settle themselves and return to bed, only to be jolted by a house-shaking bang — the sound of Siatta hitting the back door with such force that he splintered the jamb.
What Is Good Rhetoric?
Philosophers have had a longstanding problem with rhetoric. The standard view of the quarrel is well-known: philosophy is a truth-directed activity concerned with reasoned argument, while rhetoric is uninterested in truth and concerned merely with persuasion. This view is often traced to Plato, but it is too crude. As Plato himself recognised, philosophers need to present their ideas in persuasive form if they are to gain acceptance, and there are uses of rhetoric that can further our commitment to truth rather than frustrate it. The power of an effective speaker to captivate an audience is apt to arouse our suspicion in democratic politics, yet we should also acknowledge that the practice of rhetoric can serve a civic purpose. The real question here is what distinguishes good rhetoric from bad rhetoric.
Plato was deeply interested in this question. Although a concern for truth pervades his thought, this is not the main or the most important problem he has with rhetoric in his dialogues. To understand Plato’s critique, we need to read it against the backdrop of a deep mistrust of persuasive speaking that he shared with his contemporaries following Athens’ loss of the Peloponnesian War against Sparta in the late fifth century BCE. Apart from the huge death toll and casualties suffered by the city, the loss had a monumental impact on the Athenian psyche. In the Laws, usually regarded as Plato’s last work, he has his Athenian Visitor state that ‘[E]very Greek takes it for granted that my city loves talk and does a great deal of it, whereas Sparta is a city of few words, and Crete practices cunning more than talk.’
Read the rest of this article at aeon
Confessions of a Reluctant Gentrifier
Shortly after we married, my husband and I moved to a part of Chicago that was once known as No Man’s Land. At the turn of the century, this was the sparsely populated place between the cities of Chicago and Evanston, a place where the streets were unpaved and unlit.
This neighbourhood is now called Rogers Park, and the city blocks of Chicago, all paved and lit, run directly into the city blocks of Evanston, with only a cemetery to mark the boundary between the two municipalities. The Chicago trains end here, and the tracks turn back in a giant loop around the gravel yard, where idle trains are docked. Seven blocks to the east of the train station is the shore of Lake Michigan, which rolls and crashes past the horizon, reminding us, with its winds and spray, that we are on the edge of something vast. There are a dozen empty storefronts on the avenue between the lake and the train station – a closed Chinese restaurant, a closed dry cleaners, a closed thrift shop, a closed hot-dog place. There is an open Jamaican restaurant, a Caribbean-American bakery, a liquor store, a shoe store, and several little grocery markets. Women push baby carriages here, little boys eat bags of potato chips in front of the markets, and men smoke outside the train station while the trains rattle the air.
Read the rest of this article at The Guardian
Mike Judge, the Bard of Suck
From “Idiocracy” to “Silicon Valley,” the writer and director has established himself as America’s foremost chronicler of its own self-destructive tendencies.
As we took a seat in the back of the Commissary, a restaurant on the Sony Pictures Studios lot, Mike Judge pointed out a man seated two booths away. It was Tom Rothman, the chairman of Sony Pictures and former head of Fox’s film division, where he oversaw the rocky release of Judge’s 2006 film, “Idiocracy.” The movie imagined America 500 years in the future, populated and ruled by absolute morons, its infrastructure crumbling, its cities piled high with trash, everyone anesthetized by impossibly stupid television like the hit show “Ow! My Balls!” Though the film finished shooting in 2004, the studio mothballed it for more than a year. When “Idiocracy” was finally released, it wasn’t screened for critics or promoted in any other way — there wasn’t even a trailer — and it was shown in only seven cities, New York not among them. The studio, it seemed, was fulfilling the bare minimum of its contractual obligations, as if hoping that the movie would just go away.
I asked Judge about a rumor that surrounds the film: that Fox spiked it because it lampooned so many of Fox’s advertisers, not to mention Fox News itself. (Its anchors, in the film, look as if they just walked in from a porn set.) Judge explained that, actually, the movie had tested abysmally with audiences. And because his first live-action film, “Office Space,” had become a hit despite initially bombing, Fox figured it might as well not bother with much marketing — that the movie would take off on its own or recoup its budget in the home-video market. But he’d heard the other version of the story too.
As if on cue, Rothman approached our table, wearing glasses and a pinkish Oxford, carrying an antique lacrosse stick with a tennis ball in the basket, cradling it back and forth as he talked. He was with a friend named Lars Tiffany, who was wearing a Virginia Lacrosse shirt and, as a matter of fact, had recently been installed as the head coach of men’s lacrosse at the University of Virginia, and had taken his team to the studio to meet Rothman. “This is Mike Judge himself,” Rothman said to Tiffany. Then Judge introduced me to Rothman, explaining that I was from The Times: “Be careful what you say.”
“You’re doing a profile of Mike?” Rothman asked, beaming with excitement, which seemed to be his default mode. “You can’t possibly do a profile of Mike without talking to me! About his [expletive] movie career! Goddamn right! ‘Office Space’! ‘Office Space’ and ‘Idiocracy’!” Judge, who speaks so softly I often found myself nudging my recorder closer to him, was beginning to tell Rothman that we had just been talking about “Idiocracy” when Rothman started up again. “O.K., so lemme just say, I’ll give you the simple answer: ‘Office Space’ is to his credit, and ‘Idiocracy’ is entirely my fault.” He turned to Judge. “Right?”