The Best Of The Dish Today

Jul 24 2014 @ 9:15pm

A reader highlighted the gallows humor at the Onion, which is on a roll. One story seems particularly pertinent today:

Not enough time was given, it appears, in the case of the UN school, filled with civilian refugees, which was hit today, killing sixteen. The NYT is still saying that the carnage may have been Hamas’ fault. The Guardian reports instead:

The Israeli military first claimed, in a text sent to journalists, that the school could have been hit by Hamas missiles that fell short. Later, a series of tweets from the Israel Defence Forces appeared to confirm the deaths were the result of an Israeli strike. “Today Hamas continued firing from Beit Hanoun. The IDF responded by targeting the source of the fire. Last night, we told Red Cross to evacuate civilians from UNRWA’s shelter in Beit Hanoun btw 10am & 2pm. UNRWA & Red Cross got the message. Hamas prevented civilians from evacuating the area during the window that we gave them.”

An official at the school says they asked for more time to evacuate when the shelling started:

“We spent much of the day trying to negotiate or to coordinate a window so that civilians, including our staff, could leave. That was never granted … and the consequences of that appear to be tragic.” Gunness said the Israeli military were supplied with coordinates of UN schools where those displaced were sheltering. UN sources told the Guardian a call was placed to the Israeli military at 10.55am requesting permission to evacuate but their call was not returned.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu has achieved one of his core aims – to weaken the Palestinian Authority on the West Bank so the project of Greater Israel can proceed with its usual, criminal relentlessness. He’d already done that by rewarding Abbas for his moderation by humiliating him with more and more settlements. Now he has cemented that achievement:

Hamas — which refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist and is considered a terrorist organization by much of the West — is being hailed in the West Bank as the champion of armed resistance, while Mr. Abbas, who leads the alternative camp advocating a negotiated peace deal with Israel, is being excoriated for having failed to achieve a Palestinian state after 20 years of intermittent and fruitless Israeli-Palestinian talks.

And the mass killing of children – financed by you and me – continues.

Today, we grappled with American “Christian” support for “smashing the skulls” and “breaking the spines” of Hamas; I lamented Hillary Clinton’s constant case of the blah blah blahs; we wondered why denialism of climate change is largely restricted to English-speaking countries; and our cover song contest came up with some new entrants.

The most popular post of the day was The Astonishing Actual History Of The Gay Rights Movement – which is enjoying quite a life in social media; followed by God’s Foreign Policy.

Many of today’s posts were updated with your emails – read them all here. You can always leave your unfiltered comments at our Facebook page and @sullydish. 20 more readers became subscribers today. You can join them here - and get access to all the readons and Deep Dish - for a little as $1.99 month. Gift subscriptions are available here for a friend whose birthday is coming up.

See you in the morning.

Best Cover Song Ever?

Jul 24 2014 @ 8:34pm

This song nominee might win just based on the number of readers who submitted it so far – 84:

I’m writing in to nominate my favorite cover of an already well-known song. I’m sure I’m not the only person to submit this one, but it’s got to be the Jimi Hendrix cover of Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower:

Dylan’s poetry is at its best in the song’s lyrics, and it works musically, but you can’t ever go back and listen to the original once you’ve heard Hendrix’s. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a series of guitar solo so perfectly illustrate the drama and stormy environment of a song’s narrative. There are plenty of songs with instrumental sections that manage to paint an even more vivid picture than its lyrics, but this one just blows them all out of the water.

This is a really fun idea for a contest, by the way! Keep up the awesome work!

Another writes, “Hendrix’s version so great that I think people forget it’s actually a cover.” Another adds:

The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s cover of “All Along the Watchtower” is a classic (and easy) choice, but c’mon, even Dylan was impressed by this version. Per Wikipedia, Dylan described his reaction in an interview:

It overwhelmed me, really. He had such talent, he could find things inside a song and vigorously develop them. He found things that other people wouldn’t think of finding in there. He probably improved upon it by the spaces he was using. I took license with the song from his version, actually, and continue to do it to this day.

Live version here. Another points to the “story behind the song“. One more:

And on the subject of Hendrix/Dylan covers, Jimi’s version of Like a Rolling Stone isn’t half bad either. He did a few others, too. But nothing comes close to “All Along the Watchtower”. Play it loud.

Face Of The Day

Jul 24 2014 @ 8:09pm

Wonderground festival Opens Along The Southbank

Fire-breather and sword-swallower ‘The Lizard Man’ poses for a photograph in the ‘London Wonderground’ at the Southbank Centre on July 24, 2014 in London, England. The temporary ‘London Wonderground’ venue, located adjacent to the London Eye and the Royal Festival Hall, offers a program of live entertainment, fairground rides and outdoor bars and runs until September 28, 2014. By Oli Scarff/Getty Images.

Nostalgic For Nietzsche, Ctd

Jul 24 2014 @ 7:42pm

Michael Robbins, whose review essay on the intellectual shallowness of the New Atheists sparked a number of reader dissents, writes in responding to his would-be critics:

It’s a good idea to at least try to get an argument straight before you attack it, but I’ve found that the people most likely to leave a comment or shoot off a huffy email are the least likely to do so. This is unsurprising – thoughtful people take time to consider different views and to consider how they challenge what they think. The huffy responders already know it all – they’ve got their preconceptions and assumptions armed for bear. For example, one of your readers writes:

If Michael Robbins wants us to worry that the decline of organized religion implies some loss of certainty about the foundations of our ethics, we will need some data showing that religiosity correlates with ethical behavior.

Well, I guess it’s a good thing I don’t want anyone to worry about that. I didn’t say a word about “organized religion.” I specifically denied that I was arguing that a coherent moralityNietzsche187c requires theism. And does this reader really suppose that Nietzsche believed that religiosity correlates with ethical behavior – or, I should say, does he not understand Nietzsche’s argument in On the Genealogy of Morality about what “ethical behavior” really is and where it comes from?

The point is simply that a morality predicated on Enlightenment rationalism retains its Christian foundations, at the expense of coherence. Therefore the moral codes we retain after the death of God are grounded in nothing, a point the Neo-Darwinians underscore every time they trumpet that article of faith, the “morality gene.” It is not enough to argue that we can simply ground our morals in ourselves, in our conceptions of the good (for one thing, it is self-evident that we don’t agree about what these conceptions should consist in).

That religious people of the past were often quite as murderous and duplicitous as we is beside the point, properly understood. We are talking about the loss of a coherent worldview, about grounds, not about practices. Anyone interested in the history of the shaping power of mental conceptions should understand why such a loss is a problem.

Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue is still the best book to address this.

Read On

All Publicity’s Good Publicity?

Jul 24 2014 @ 7:08pm

Joe Pinsker explains how anti-ACA ads actually inspired people to sign up for Obamacare:

Niam Yaraghi, a researcher at the Brookings Institution recently tried to determine the impacts these ads had on enrollment. His analysis, which he detailed in a blog post, compared states’ per-capita ad spending with their enrollment rates, and found that it was often the case that the more money spent on anti-ACA ads, the more Americans signed up for coverage—a trend made more impressive by the fact that, in the run-up to this fall’s midterm elections, the advertising budget of the ACA’s opponents was about 15 times the size of that of the law’s supporters.

Why might this be the case? “There are basically two theories,” Yaraghi told On The Media last week. “The first one is that with the negative ads, citizens’ awareness about this subsidized service increases, and the more ads they see, the more they know that such a service exists. … The other theory is that citizens who were exposed to an overwhelming number of ads about Obamacare are more likely to believe that this service is going to be repealed by the Congress in the near future … [so] he or she will have a higher willingness to go and take advantage of this one-time opportunity before it goes away.”

Konnikova chronicles how dilly-dallying “dates back to the very beginnings of civilization”:

As early as 1400 B.C., [psychologist Piers] Steel told me, ancient Egyptians were struggling with basic time management. “Friend, stop putting off work and allow us to go home in good time,” read some hieroglyphs, translated by the University of Toronto Egyptologist Ronald Leprohon. Six hundred years later, in 800 B.C., the early Greek poet Hesiod voiced a similar feeling, warning us not to “put your work off till tomorrow and the day after, for a sluggish worker does not fill his barn, nor one who puts off his work.” In 44 B.C., Cicero deemed “slowness and procrastination” always “hateful.” …

The sentiment survived intact through more recent times. In 1751, Samuel Johnson remarked, “The folly of allowing ourselves to delay what we know cannot be finally escaped is one of the general weaknesses which, in spite of the instruction of moralists, and the remonstrances of reason, prevail to a greater or lesser degree in every mind; even they who most steadily withstand it find it, if not the most violent, the most pertinacious of their passions, always renewing its attacks, and, though often vanquished, never destroyed.” He concluded that it was “natural,” if not praiseworthy or desirable, “to have particular regard to the time present.”

Darger’s Dark Art

Jul 24 2014 @ 6:07pm

4022388919_3cec992437_z

Abigail Welhouse viewed the work of outsider artist Henry Darger at New York’s Andrew Edlin Gallery. She considers how his background informed his strange and poignant work:

Henry Darger was locked up in the Illinois Asylum for Feeble-Minded Children because of “self-abuse,” the preferred early-1900s euphemism for masturbation. He worked as a janitor, and it wasn’t until he died that his landlord discovered yards upon yards of scrolls in his apartment, including often-disturbing artwork and a 15,000-page novel. The images form a fractured fairy tale, familiar and yet completely their own thing. The cheerful colors manage a melancholy. When the children smile, it’s only because they don’t know what horrors may come next. …

I wonder how Darger felt, living as an artist in secret. His remarkable talent was hidden from the people who saw him every day, who looked over at him and made their own assumptions. Meanwhile, his head held gorgeous, gruesome masterpieces.

(Photo of section of Henry Darger’s “The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinnian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion” at an outsider art exhibition in Lausanne, Switzerland, via Flickr user cometstarmoon)

Truvada And Women

Jul 24 2014 @ 5:39pm

It’s been a telling facet of the debate so far that the potential for the drug among women has been absent. This is often the case with AIDS drugs – the gay white rich men pioneer the treatments and only then do others get in on the action. But in some ways, it seems to me, the liberating potential of the anti-HIV drug is even greater for many women, especially in the developing world. A huge factor in their risk profile is the fact that their sexual partners often refuse to use condoms, and, in patriarchal societies, women are put at risk. Truvada might help shift that power differential. Two steps that could speed that process:

WHO needs to quickly issue guidance on PrEP for all of the populations that can benefit. The data are strong enough to warrant this move, as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently showed with its guidance that recommended that doctors consider oral PrEP for anyone at high risk of HIV infection … Gilead Sciences Inc., the maker of Truvada, needs [also] to move swiftly to secure regulatory approval in countries where PrEP is most needed. This starts with the countries that hosted clinical trials, where, tragically, PrEP is now out of reach. In two of those countries, South Africa and Thailand, Gilead recently filed for approval. This is an important and welcome step but the process needs to happen much faster and in more places. That requires both more aggressive efforts by Gilead and the willingness of national regulatory authorities to quickly review and approve the company’s applications.

The sooner the better. Update from a reader:

As a biomedical journalist, I have written about HIV for 20+ years. The US is the only place where regulators have approved a Truvada indication for PrEP; that label indication is not approved in Africa, Europe, even Canada. So it is appropriate to deal with PrEP in the context of the US. The CDC estimates that women constitute 20% of new infections and 24% of persons living with HIV in the US. The only data we have on who was prescribed PrEP was presented at ICAAC last September. In the first year after approval, 1774 persons started PrEP; 48% were women.

So it is decidedly NOT true that rich white gay men have been getting PrEP at the expense of other less favored socio-demographics.

Sneaker Sustainability

Jul 24 2014 @ 5:15pm

Bonnie Tsui spotlights the footwear industry’s embrace of knitting:

[K]nit technology just might transform the entire traditional shoemaking process. Athletic shoes make up 30 percent of all footwear sales, and Nike and Adidas dominate, with$14.5 billion and $9.5 billion in sales, respectively, in 2013. Widespread use of the knitting technique could boost the industry’s efficiency—cutting down on materials, labor, shipping, and time, as the products can be made start-to-finish in one place. In its latest sustainability report, Nike states that a Flyknit running shoe is made with 80 percent less waste than a typical Nike design. Consider that Americans buy an average of seven pairs of shoes a year—that’s more than two billion new pairs annually—and you begin to see the difference that a change in manufacturing could make. …

With knitting, you start with a single thread, and you only use as much yarn as you need. “Picture a flat pattern in a butterfly shape,” says [James] Carnes [the global creative director of sport performance for Adidas]. “With the knitting process, you only make that. That’s the breakthrough. You can build into the single knitted layer all the functionality you need, by adjusting the density of the knit in different areas”—a tighter weave to give the foot more arch support, say, or a thinner, breathable weave to create more airflow.

Putin Isn’t Backing Down

Jul 24 2014 @ 4:42pm

Janine Davidson is distressed:

[T]he lack of de-escalation and the media war being conducted by Putin are both alarming signals to the international community that this tragedy has not fractured the resolve of the pro-Russian separatists, nor those in the shadows supporting them. Since the downing of MH-17, pro-Russian separatists have used surface-to-air missiles to bring down two more Ukrainian military jets; for now, there seems no interest in dialing down hostilities.

Eugene Rumer advocates talking to Putin:

Read On