WE’LL ALWAYS HAVE BERLIN
Thirty years on from the fall of the Berlin Wall, Alexander Wells writes from Berlin. What lessons does Germany’s experience of the legacy of genocide and Nazism hold for the American south’s struggle to accept its role in slavery and Jim Crow? After World War I the US government offered to pay for widows and bereaved relatives to visit soldiers’ graves in Europe — but insisted on segregating the trip.
Elsewhere, Germany announces a long-term plan to significantly increase defence spending. What was behind Emmanuel Macron lamenting the “brain death” of NATO? Bloomberg explains. Chris Patten argues that things will only start improving when democracies relearn the post-war lesson that international cooperation is the only thing that really solves problems.
DEAD SET ON DISRUPTION
Bankrobber-turned-philosopher Bernard Stiegler argues that what makes us distinctly human is under threat from big tech and “computational capitalism”. Controversial take alert: introducing tech in schools, and ramping up STEM education, undermines educational outcomes and simply designs students to become exploitable workers.
How did modern humans drive Neanderthals to extinction? A new theory suggests a tiny advantage eventually became overwhelming. And now for some seriously good news: the US dairy industry is facing a long-term, major decline in the consumption of dairy milk (or, to give it its more accurate name, animal cruelty in a glass), so much so that the biggest US milk company has just filed for bankruptcy.
GREAT HATCHET JOBS OF OUR TIME
At The American Conservative, Andrew Bacevich sinks his teeth into a standard-issue neocon piece on US policy in the Middle East and doesn’t rest until it’s torn to shreds. At the National Review, right-wing attempts to claim smoking as a celebration of freedom come in for a richly deserved ridiculing.
Closer to home, Canberra journalist Marcus Mannheim has kept track of how Australia’s major newspapers have editorialised at each election. Boris Johnson is repeating one of Winston Churchill’s worst mistakes (no, not Gallipoli or the failure to defend Singapore). And no, Bolivian leader Evo Morales wasn’t the victim of a coup. Elswhere, Jay Nordlinger on what to do about the toxic problem of the Erdogan regime in NATO.
Japanese schools are rethinking some of their absurd rules designed to keep students docile and conformist. Inter-generational warfare is a distraction from class warfare (bonus points for a good list of things millennials have killed — such Marxist takes always remind me of Life of Brian when Brian tries to stop the fight in the sewers: “Brothers, we should be struggling together!” To which the men reply: “We are!”)
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Jeff Sparrow on the class issues around the growing hostility to the horse-torture industry (and the reaction from the powerful elites that support it). A meditation on why crying is useless and some ways to stop it. And Bish Marzook on abandoning Dana Scully as a model for female professionals.
IT’S THEIR DYSTOPIA, WE JUST LIVE IN IT
Google is using a loophole in US law to gobble up health data on tens of millions of Americans.
Still need another reason to boycott Uber? Its CEO — can we just call Silicon Valle CEOs Top Bros or something? — just dismissed the murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi on the order of Saudi Arabia’s ruler as a “mistake” that should be forgiven. And why did he do that? Because the Saudi tyranny’s wealth fund owns a large chunk of Uber and has a seat on the board. Dara Khosrowshahi tried to row back his comments once they attracted criticism. But he and other Bros just love the Saudis’ blood-spattered money — billions of it are invested in major Silicon Valley firms.
Meanwhile, the US military is assembling a truly colossal global biometric database of everyone it ever comes in contact with, including allied personnel.
THE BELLY OF AN ARCHITECT
Architects love monumental library designs. But the most successful libraries operate at much smaller scales. The most monumental library design of all was never built — like most of Etienne-Louis Boullée’s work, which has now been brought to digital life in a short film, sadly without the music of Wim Mertens (try this for a soundtrack instead).
A history of hostile public architecture in New York. Celeste Liddle on going carless in Melbourne. And autumnal colours (is there a better word to say than “autumnal”?) from around the northern hemisphere.
A philosopher mourning his dog searched for a book on the canine-human relationship to provide solace, and couldn’t find one. So he wrote it.
I promise I will stop with the dog videos.