FRIDAY | 28 JUNE 2013

ENVIRONMENT

OBAMA ON CLIMATE CHANGE: THERE IS NO CONGRESS

Jonathan Chait | New York Magazine

Obama’s plan consists of a long list of small measures along with one large unannounced one. The small measures include using federal land for green energy, toughening up appliance standards, and a long list of other initiatives that, taken together, add up to a significant climate response. The other half is applying the Clean Air Act to greenhouse-gas pollution (as the Supreme Court has previously required). Obama committed himself to doing that, but the details of the regulations won’t come out until next year.

The full reality of Congress’s dysfunction, and Obama’s unique ability to circumvent it on this one issue, has not really sunk in.

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CIVIL RIGHTS

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THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT: AN END TO RACISM BY JUDICIAL ORDER

Jelani Cobb | The New Yorker

There’s a curious logic undergirding the decision, one that suggests a kind of judicial engineering if not activism. The Court’s argument that the election and reëlection of an African-American President are evidence that the V.R.A. is no longer needed is roughly akin to arguing that declining crime rates mean we can comfortably strike down laws forbidding robbery. Minority voting turnout and registration rates “approach parity” in these places precisely because the V.R.A. serves as a deterrent to and recourse for voting discrimination. The violent subjugation of black voters in the South has all but vanished, but that overt kind of racism isn’t the best barometer of progress. Simple political interest—not raving negrophobic bigotry—has too often been enough to inspire efforts to diminish black turnout.

Reading the opinion it’s possible to forget that a grand total of three African-Americans senators and two governors have been elected in the past hundred and thirty-six years, only one of them in a Southern state.

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BASEBALL

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MY BULLISH HEART

David Henry | Paris Review

Satchel Paige, children, was the greatest and the most enthralling pitcher the game has yet seen. His simple but brilliant (and apparently unlearnable) “hesitation pitch” could throw any hitter off his stride and enfeeble even the mightiest sluggers. Legend has it that in an exhibition game against a team of major-league all-stars, Satch intentionally walked the bases loaded, then ordered his fielders back into the dugout while he struck out the side. Social custom and Jim Crow laws kept him bouncing around the Negro leagues, and the Mexican and Latin American leagues, for the first twenty-two years of his professional career. He didn’t pitch his first major-league game until 1948, when the Cleveland Indians signed him at age forty-two, the oldest rookie ever. Paige pitched his final game for the Kansas City Athletics at the age of sixty. Braves owner William Bartholomay signed him in 1968, ostensibly as a pitcher, but primarily as a coach, so that Paige could accrue enough time to qualify for a major-league pension.

And so there he stood, glaring down at me through a pair of black-rimmed glasses. Did I speak to him? I did not. I turned to a pillar of salt. Had I been the apostle Paul, I would’ve tumbled off my horse.

To this day, I still get wobbly and even more tongue-tied than usual when speaking to a player in uniform. I felt it again when I cleared my throat before addressing Matt Buschmann. Buschmann had been with the Bulls barely a week, called up from Montgomery, when he started and won the series opener on Saturday. I asked him about the difference between playing in Double-A and Triple-A. I stood poised, ready to scribble down his insights on the pace of the game or the power of the hitters—stuff only a pitcher might know.

“The cities are bigger,” he replied.

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DOCUMENTARY

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ANDREW TELLING’S NEW RAPHA PIECE IS A MUST WATCH

Rob Alderson | It’s Nice, That

By jove he’s done it again! One of our favourite filmmakers Andrew Telling has produced another piece for Rapha and once again it’s a fantastic few minutes of great-looking, genuinely insightful stuff. Nowhere to Nowhere takes us inside the Rapha Condor JLT team with the actual cycling a looming – if background – presence throughout. Instead this is about the reality of life as a racing cyclist; the logistics, the practicalities and the preparation, the mental highs and sacrifices that all go into the mix. Andrew’s eye for shots which both look amazing and genuinely aid the story he is trying to tell is at full throttle throughout. Terrific stuff!

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FOOD

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HOW JUNK FOOD CAN END OBESITY

David H. Freedman | The Atlantic | print

In fact, McDonald’s has quietly been making healthy changes for years, shrinking portion sizes, reducing some fats, trimming average salt content by more than 10 percent in the past couple of years alone, and adding fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, and oatmeal to its menu. In May, the chain dropped its Angus third-pounders and announced a new line of quarter-pound burgers, to be served on buns containing whole grains. Outside the core fast-food customer base, Americans are becoming more health-conscious. Public backlash against fast food could lead to regulatory efforts, and in any case, the fast-food industry has every incentive to maintain broad appeal. “We think a lot about how we can bring nutritionally balanced meals that include enough protein, along with the tastes and satisfaction that have an appetite-tiding effect,” said Barbara Booth, the company’s director of sensory science.

Such steps are enormously promising, says Jamy Ard, an epidemiology and preventive-medicine researcher at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and a co-director of the Weight Management Center there. “Processed food is a key part of our environment, and it needs to be part of the equation,” he explains. “If you can reduce fat and calories by only a small amount in a Big Mac, it still won’t be a health food, but it wouldn’t be as bad, and that could have a huge impact on us.” Ard, who has been working for more than a decade with the obese poor, has little patience with the wholesome-food movement’s call to eliminate fast food in favor of farm-fresh goods. “It’s really naive,” he says. “Fast food became popular because it’s tasty and convenient and cheap. It makes a lot more sense to look for small, beneficial changes in that food than it does to hold out for big changes in what people eat that have no realistic chance of happening.”

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DOCUMENTARY

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THE MAKERS OF THINGS

Alasdair Alain | MAKE

Filmed almost entirely in the garage workshops of the members of the Society, the series of films evokes an atmosphere that’s possibly uniquely British, and it transports me back to my childhood. I can almost smell the wood shavings in the last of the four films.

If I had to live without it I could, but it’s something that’s been a part of me for a very long time. I’ve always been someone who makes things. That’s what I do, it’s always been a hobby. I’m a scientist by training—professionally—life’s work. But I’ve always been a maker of things.

As well as the film series, Anne also created a newspaper. It houses the extra stories and excerpts from the interviews that didn’t make it into the films, not because they weren’t fascinating, but because they needed a different medium to express them; as an accompaniment to the film series it acts almost like a projectionist’s commentary, or a more traditional programme you’d get at a theatre.

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LAW

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THERE WAS NO CLEAR CONSTITUTIONAL REASON TO STRIKE DOWN DOMA, BUT THE SUPREME COURT DID IT ANYWAY

Eric Posner | Slate

So there is this vague idea that certain constitutional interests standing alone may not invalidate statutes, but may suffice when combined together. Something like this idea might ultimately be the basis of Kennedy’s opinion. Gay people do not form a suspect class, but they almost do. Same-sex marriage is not a longstanding tradition, but same-sex relationships are. Federalism principles are not broken but they are eroded. Put together three almost violations, and you have a real violation.

But I think trying to find a jurisprudential explanation for this opinion, like the opinions in Fisher and Shelby Country, is a fool’s errand. Same-sex marriage is advancing while affirmative action is receding because that’s what the relevant majorities of the justices care about.

KENNEDY’S DOMA OPINION IS A HISTORIC, THRILLING FULL THROATED CALL FOR EQUALITY

Emily Bazelon | Slate

Today he used the word dignity nine times, by my count, this time joining it to the concept of liberty the court has now embraced.

The constitutional flaw in DOMA, Kennedy wrote, was that its enactment and text demonstrate “interference with the equal dignity of same-sex marriages.” This dignity was conferred by states like New York (now numbering 12), which recognize same-sex marriage. DOMA stomped into this domain of domestic relations “to identify a subset of state-sanctioned marriages and make them unequal,” Kennedy wrote. “The principal purpose is to impose inequality, not for other reasons like governmental efficiency.” Then there is this classic Kennedy line: “Responsibilities, as well as rights, enhance the dignity and integrity of the person.”

THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT RULING IS ABOUT THE CONSERVATIVE IMAGINATION

Richard Posner | Slate

The majority opinion in Shelby acknowledges that racial discrimination in voting continues, but notes that the situation has improved since 1965 and that the procedures in the current Voting Rights Act do not make a clean fit with the current forms and pattern of discrimination. Ordinarily however a federal statute is not invalidated on the ground that it’s dated. I hardly think the Supreme Court justices believe (as did Alexander Bickel) that “desuetude” is a constitutional doctrine. And the criticisms of the statute in the majority opinion are rather tepid. That’s why the court’s invocation of “equal sovereignty” is an indispensable prop of the decision. But, as I said, there is no doctrine of equal sovereignty. The opinion rests on air.

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ECONOMICS

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THE FED’S BAD TIMING

Felix Salmon | Reuters

Bullard has two problems with this. The first is that monetary policy is in large part an expectations game, and a key part of monetary easing, up until now, has been a concerted effort to move away from giving guidance on when monetary policy might change in the future. Now that the dates have reappeared, says Bullard, that unambiguously constitutes “tighter policy”.

Secondly, says Bullard, one of the reasons that central bankers tend to care more about inflation than they do about unemployment is that they have more control over inflation than they do over unemployment. But right now, inflation is going in the wrong direction: it’s falling, rather than rising towards the Fed’s inflation target. So this is not the time you want to start tightening policy.

The consequences of the Fed’s statement are profound. The Fed spent years trying to get control of long-term interest rates — but we’ve just seen a rise in those rates which was so sharp and dramatic that it has taken the breath away from even hard-bitten Treasury traders.

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SCULPTURE

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DIGITAL GROTESQUE, A 3D-PRINTED ROOM

John Baichtal | Make Magazine
digital grotesque 3d printing

Tokyo University of the Arts’ Materializing exhibition features Digital Grotesque, a 1:3 scale model of an entirely 3D-printed room, extruded out of sandstone and then gilded. It is the creation of Swiss artists Michael Hansmeyer and Benjamin Dillenburger. It looks super cool! [via The Fox is Black]

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PSYCHOLOGY

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THE UPSIDE OF TRAUMA

Mark Obbie | Pacific Standard

POST-TRAUMATIC GROWTH AS an object of study grew out of psychologist Richard Tedeschi’s curiosity about a common but lofty human quality: wisdom. After he observed a kind of heightened wisdom among the bereaved and people suffering from physical handicaps, he began to ask: How exactly did people come by this change? Why did only certain people sustain it? What defines such psychological growth, and can it be measured? Out of those questions, Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun, his research partner at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, developed a series of studies that became their life’s work and the beginning of a subfield in positive psychology.

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HEALTH

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WHY DON’T WE USE CONDOMS FOR ORAL SEX?

Jake Blumgart | Pacific Standard

Earlier this month Michael Douglas told the Guardian that his throat cancer was “caused by something called HPV, which actually comes about from cunnilingus.” The dangers associated with the terrifying new strain of gonorrhea are greatest for those who give oral sex to men, but the risk of HPV-related oral cancers seems higher for those who go down on women. A 2012 study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 10 percent of men and 3.6 percent of women have HPV in their throats. (It should be noted that the virus’ presence is not a guarantee of cancer.) Along with these sexually-transmitted infections, pretty much everything else is transmittable through oral sex: Standard-issue gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, hepatitis B, and chlamydia, the second easiest-to-catch STI in America after HPV.

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MEDIA

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THE RISE OF THE ARTIST NEWSSTAND

Allison Meier | Hyperallergenic

This summer several art newsstands are bringing independent media to the city streets and subways, with piles of zines and DIY publications offered in the tradition of newsstands. Handsomely constituting a small trend, the newsstands currently installed in New York and Los Angeles are looking to engage a larger public with offbeat media, while still acting like a hub of information and interaction — just like any other newsstand.

The Newsstand, which opened earlier this month in the Lorimer/Metropolitan G and L train connection in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, was curated by Lele Saveri of the 8-Ball Zine Fair for creative media company ALLDAYEVERYDAY. Lodged in the space of a former MTA newsstand, there are international zines and offerings from publishers like Desert Island Books, Miniature Garden, Dashwood Books, Hamburger Eyes, and Peradam, and some magazines organized by McNally Jackson. A sticker machine sits out front, and small stacks of press are even offered for free.

vnewsstandbburg05Allison Meier

newsstandbburg02Allison Meier
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ART

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ROBOT ART: HARVEY MOON’S DRAWING MACHINES

Booooooom!

Harvey Moon had a difficult time drawing, so he made a machine to do it for him. To further confuse the idea of “the artist” he lets a cricket control the machine.

HarveyMoon3
HarveyMoon4

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ART

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THE UNSEEN LIVES OF MINIATURE CEMENT PEOPLE

Twisted Shifter

Isaac Cordal is a Spanish artist that has been working on his own projects since 1999. His ongoing series entitled Cement Eclipses began in art school in 2002 but he didn’t start placing them on the streets until 2006, with his first piece laid in the city of Vigo, Spain.

Cordal makes the tiny sculptures in his apartment/home studio. He has placed them in major cities all around Europe including: London, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Milan, Berlin and Brussels. “Small interventions in big cities,” is how Cordal characterized Cement Eclipses.

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isaac cordal 01

isaac cordal 02

isaac cordal 03

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MUSIC

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‘EXILE IN GUYVILLE’ AT TWENTY

Bill Wyman | The New Yorker

There were still LPs back then, and “Exile” was designed as a double album—it was, the young singer-songwriter claimed, a song-by-song counterpart to the Rolling Stones’ “Exile on Main St.,” designed to be consumed in 5-4-5-4 bursts matching the sides of the original two records of the Stones’ dense classic. Thus fortified, the songs jump out at the listener. They are built around Phair’s distinctive style, and the guitar lines that mark so many of her compositions display a musicality that is still underappreciated (“Strange Loop,” “Explain It to Me,” “Gunshy”). One of the unexpected signifiers of “Exile” was the sound of a diminutive woman sometimes straining to accomplish the guitar part that she’d written. This was paralleled by Phair’s melody lines, which forced her voice, which was not innately strong, to attempt everything from an almost guttural throatiness to a thin soprano. Part of the point of the record was that Phair (a) had written the songs and (b) was going to sing them, no matter the damage.

liz phair - exile in guyville
AMAZON: Autographed copy of Exile in Guyville CD $129.99

Liz performing Polyester Bride and 6’1″at Sessions at West 54th. Also includes a short segment of David Byrne interviewing Liz.

MIKAL CRONIN: MCII

Evan Minsker | Pitchfork

“Do I shout it out?/ Do I let it go?/ Do I even know what I’m waiting for?/ No, I want it now/ Do I need it, though?” Throughout MCII, Mikal Cronin gets in these ruts. His lyrics are delivered as someone who’s never fully sure of his next move and who’s completely unclear about his ambitions. He’s sure that he’s in love, but he keeps letting it slip away. Somehow, he keeps mucking up his day-to-day communication. It never used to be like this. He keeps talking about how time is getting away from him, which might be his way of acknowledging a crisis about getting older, though it’s just as likely that he’s accidentally spending hours clicking on YouTube videos. He wonders if he’s wrong. (He doesn’t think so.) He consistently has good intentions, but he’s inadvertently prone to choking on the follow-through. He sums up his turmoil pretty well in “See It My Way”: “I hear the song– I wanna sing along with you/ But when I try I’m out of tune/ I turn and walk away.” It’s a sweet and snappy sentiment from someone who’s ultimately out of sync. This is Cronin’s pop poetry for the aloof.

So it’s somewhat ironic that MCII is also his most fully realized, beautifully arranged, and well-crafted work to date.

mikal cronin MCII