The west – run by a generation that believes the market is the solution to everything – suddenly found you cannot outsource strategy; that there are situations in which the boss of JP Morgan cannot help you; and that the pursuit of legally dubious wars of conquest, by legally indefensible means, flattens the public appetite for force for a generation.
If Russia invades Ukraine its likely aim will be to partition it; its longer term aim will be to get the west to accept that partition and carry on as normal.”
Film critics are perfectly capable of posing the standard, well-worn questions about the female body and the male gaze. The summer blockbuster Star Trek Into Darkness drew flack for its (far more ridiculous) underwear scene, as did Blue is the Warmest Color for its pornified lesbian sex. But in both of these cases, the bodies we see onscreen are clearly meant to titillate. Bullock claims that this was not her or Cuarón’s intention. Her intense, pre-Gravity workout regimen was a means of getting into character, she argues: “I wanted to remove what she looked like as a woman, what reminded her of being feminine and motherly, just so that the body was a machine.” Indeed, the critics who praise her body don’t seem to lust after it so much as wish they possessed it. It is the achievement of a woman at the top of her career. Through a combination of hard work and the most up-to-date technology, Bullock appears to have beaten age. But it’s hard to find her body sexy, because one can’t imagine touching her: She doesn’t look pliable, or even tangible.
Bodies in 3D cinema appear to have volume but no mass. The 3D body is hollow, a hologram; blood and guts don’t seem to animate it. Action films once made much of their protagonists’ pain. In Die Hard, Bruce Willis winced through every bruise and blow while maintaining his ironic cool. By contrast, Bullock’s body appears invulnerable. But she is anything but cool-headed. Her anxiety doesn’t seem to come from the threat of physical pain. Rather, she is overwhelmed with the amount of information she must process: coordinates, shuttle manuals, ornate procedures. Like a junior law associate trying to keep up with an ever-increasing workload, Bullock remains physically safe as she grows ever more spiritually shaken. More than any recent Hollywood film, Gravity presents the body as mere operational device, a cursor, an avatar who performs a set of actions. It is workflow cinema.”
I would suggest that it leads us to picture the humanities as something like a form of life, or better, because vaguer still, as something like a world, an institutionalized world. A world that contains smaller worlds. A simultaneously beleaguered and privileged world whose members typically belong to other, somewhat ontologically similar worlds, too.
The main reason to think in such terms is to avoid betraying what is central to the humanities: that they cannot be properly defined in terms of their parts, in terms, for instance, of their instrumentalities or avoidance of instrumentality, or of the dispositions they nurture, or of the interests they nourish and serve, or of the knowledge and techniques they produce, or of the professional/bureaucratic protocols they enact; or of the ethics perhaps still installed within them. They cannot be limited to their constitutive rules or methods or personae or models or “values.” Those who join them can find their own paths through them and the rule-bound institutions they are based in, outside of essences and definitions, making their own connections and alliances, as in a world. And they don’t share a single project, if indeed they have projects at all.”
The monsters that are waging a struggle for power in the Ukrainian capital are constantly changing places, like partners in a dance. All of them now have spent time in power, if not on a national then at least on a local level. All of them, including the neo-fascists from the “Svoboda” party, have managed to be caught embezzling. All of them show an identical determination to defend and maintain the existing socioeconomic order, whose crisis is obvious.
However events now develop, it can be stated that the specifically Ukrainian model of democracy, built on an equilibrium between two oligarchic blocs, is coming to an end. Whichever group wins out in Kiev, it will be able to hold onto power only by establishing a harsh authoritarian regime. In this situation, the question of who should be considered the less and who the greater evil is simplified immensely. The “greater evil” will inevitably be the group that achieves victory. Meanwhile, we shall be able with complete justification to designate the group that goes down to defeat as the “lesser evil”, since unlike the victor, it will not succeed in realising its destructive potential.”
Parties have “lost the ability to control the process,” said Jim Nicholson, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, partly because of legislation that cut the flow of money to party committees. “The party can’t coordinate with these super PACs and neither can the campaigns, so there’s a lot more chaos and disequilibrium in the campaigns. And the party structure clearly has a diminished role because they don’t have the resources they used to have.”
Rob Stein, a founder of the Democracy Alliance, one of the largest clubs of donors on the left, agreed.
“The devolution of the two-party system has begun,” Mr. Stein said. “Money is leaving the parties and going to independent expenditure groups. These now are fracturing the ‘big tents’ of our old two-party system into independent, narrow and well-funded wings.””
“That if by agent you mean a being or entity that makes a difference in the world without quite knowing what it is doing, there are more agents in the world than human beings alone. Many forces, including lava flows, viruses, germs, animals, and thoughts charging through electrochemical currents across the human body-brain network, possess some characteristic of agency to some degree. And human beings possess these characteristics to a lesser extent than the most consummate ideals of autonomy, freedom, and sovereignty suggest. The creative element in agency is enabled by “litter” in the world; but litter also restricts and confines the scope of agency.”
“At the heart of the show are a number of mysteries that continually foreground two central issues familiar in us in a number of recent US quality dramas: the problem (or puzzle) of other minds, and the nature of time especially its handling of past, present and future (perhaps we can call it the problem of history in fictional worlds). Both seem to me connected to, in ways that remain unclear, to some standing questions of modernism and modernity, not least the problem of whether it is possible to articulate the nature of meaning within the limits or range of a particular medium. The matter of other minds concerns (to put it crudely) the question of how we take human subjectivity to mean, for example, how we can reliably know others and, therefore, ourselves, when the standard shared understandings of the world are under accelerated erasure. In a lot of television fiction which unfolds over time we are confronted with characters who are often, within the patterning of plot, struggling with this problem, both with themselves and with one another. This is further complicated by the matter of time, specifically the ways we are shown such – often painful – efforts to understand self and other as part of an unfolding series of episodes, self-contained packages of drama which nonetheless articulate with a wider whole, or plan which in turn trades on the sedimented history it depicted and the possibilities of future episodes. This is more than a matter of duration and repetition (although the long form drama can handle such things with delicacy and skill): it allows us to witness and absorb the creation of the history of such efforts and the subsequent impact, if there is any, of the character’s own acknowledgement, denial or mistaken apprehension of that history.”
Cluebot efficiently removes the most egregious types of vandalism. But tools like Huggle offer users more ambiguous examples of potential vandalism, then provide little in the way of nuanced response. Halfaker sees that as a problem for the social aspect of Wikipedia: he points to the 2007 peak and notes that new contributions haven’t necessarily gotten worse. People are just as likely today to botch up their first edit. And Wikipedia has never been, from a user-experience standpoint, incredibly welcoming. But encouraging vandalism-fighters while alienating new users does Wikipedia a disservice in the long run. “These design decisions had consequences that no one could have known about,” Halfaker says.
Part of what Halfaker’s trying to emphasize is that Wikipedia is not just a battlezone: it’s not simply barbarian hordes throwing themselves against the gates. It’s also a place of collaboration among strangers, with all of the complex social interactions that entails. He’s found, for example, that not everyone wants to use Snuggle, because it doesn’t fit into their already-established means for stopping vandalism and helping new users. People being people, they have their own often idiosyncratic way of doing things. Halfaker’s larger project, of improving “newcomer socialization” on Wikipedia, involves devising better ways for novices and veterans to reach common ground.”
“This whole conversation is pretty much for rich kids only. The way it proceeds tips you off to it as well. Like most cultural pieces, it is not about people as a whole, kids as a whole, or anything like that. It is about people with high socioeconomic status. Taking risks that will harm conventional indices of merit (grades, scores, activities, whatever) is probably fine enough for a rich kid for whom the negative consequences are not so great. Like we saw before with Ezra Klein, you can screw up in high school and come out with a 2.2 GPA and somehow get into an elite top 100 university, if you come from the right background.”
“One consequence of this tension in the laws of public discourse is a problem of style. In addressing indefinite strangers, public discourse puts a premium on accessibility. But there is no infinitely accessible language, and to imagine that there should be is to miss other equally important needs of publics: to concretize the world in which discourse circulates, to offer its members direct and active membership through language, to place strangers on a shared footing.”