Just over half a year ago, I inaugurated a new section of this blog, which I christened “Jerky Reads It For You”, in which I proposed to break down each month’s issue of Harper’s Magazine (among other publications) into a kind of literary distilate, presenting all the most important insights, factoids, and revelations in easy-to-use bite-size form.
And then, after kicking things off with the March issue... silence.
I did get around to reading the April edition, and made extensive notes in the margins... but then I gave that issue away to my friend Mel, known to regular readers of the Daily Dirt (1999-2006) as the inventor of the multi-track video fireplace DVD.
Then I managed to destroy my freaking back somehow.
Then I got serious about working on an very promising film project, about which I hope to be able to reveal more in the coming months.
With all that going on, the issues of Harper’s - to which I subscribed pretty much exclusively for blogging purposes - accumulated, unread, in a sad, sprawling pile next to my bed.
Yes, that’s right! You read right! “Jerky Reads It For You” is back with a vengeance, and in the spirit of completism, I’m going back and reading all those passed-over issues, beginning with the May 2015 edition of this storied and erstwhile publication! I’m sorry about the April issue, but I contacted Mel, and after six months, he no longer has any idea where it it might be.
As I’ve stated before, Harper’s isn’t perfect. However, I believe that it’s currently the only American general interest monthly worth reading regularly. In fact, I think it’s so good that these relatively recent back issues are just as worthy subjects as the freshest editions.
I hope that reading the following précis will give you ALL the vital information contained in this particular issue of Harper’s Magazine, thus saving you the trouble of having to read it, much less purchase it. So go ahead! Clip! Save! Enjoy!
Jim Tucker, University of Virginia professor and subject of a March edition profile about his work with children who exhibit shockingly detailed memories of past lives, writes in to argue that it is TOO possible, you guys!
The rest of the letters mostly refer to an excellent March edition cover story (The Spy Who Fired Me) about how advanced worker “supervision” software is taking a serious physical and mental toll on workers’ lives and livelihoods, specifically at UPS. The letter-writers chime in to say “Me too! My job sucks too!”, claiming that the same Panopticon-Lite philosophy is being applied to retail, manufacturing, and even academia... the poor darlings.
John Crowley takes the Easy Chair slot this month, presenting us with a playful meditation on his early self’s ambition to create a kind of “dream atlas”, mapping out the boundaries of the territories he explores during sleepy-time in a semi-scientific way, only to be simultaneously dejected and intrigued to find out that he’d been beaten to the post by others with the same idea... And that they’ve done a pretty good job of it. If you’re interested in the topic, check out the index of dream motifs put together by Calvin Hall and Robert Van de Castle, a taxonomic system devised in the 60’s and continuously revised up until the present day.
My favorite entries this month include the following juxtaposition:
- Number of yeas in the past decade in which the violent crime rate in the USA has dropped: 8
- In which the majority of Americans have believed that crime is on the rise: 10
[Speculation] Black Hat, White Hat
A disturbing look at the myriad mysteries and suspicious shenanigans surrounding the lead up to, and aftermath of, the 2013 Boston Marathon terrorist bombing by the Tsarnaev brothers. Masha Gessen looks at some of the dangerous conclusion-jumping engaged in by online vigilante sleuths and the so-called “alternative” media figures like Alex Jones and Glenn Beck who cheered them on.
Not that Gessen doesn’t find grounds for considering conspiracy. “The FBI,” she writes, “was less forthcoming about its own relationship with Tamerlan, which began in March 2011, when the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) alerted the agency to the existence of a Chechen from Dagestan living in the Boston area... who had been radicalized.”
And then there’s this:
In 2014, Human Rights watch released a report that analyzed many of those cases and concluded that “all of the high-profile domestic terrorism plots of the last decade, with four exceptions, were actually FBI sting operations--plots conducted with the direct involvement of law-enforcement informants or agents, including plots that were proposed or fed by informants.” ... The rhetoric and actions of the US government and its agents, in their outsize response and their targeting of specific communities, have probably done as much to create an imagined worldwide community of jihadists as have the efforts of al Qaeda and its allies.[Branding] First Responders
Presents a selection of shameless tweets by corporations in the wake of horrific events. For instance, the Gap, which tweeted: “All impacted by #Sandy, stay safe! We’ll be doing lots of Gap.com shopping today. How about you?”
[poem] The Craft Talk
Rae Armantrout’s shitty poetry about writing poetry. Ugh.
[Exchange] The Torment And The Engine
Portions of an interview with Italian novelist Elena Ferrante by The Paris Review. Not much of interest.
[Lore] Spirit Guide
A hilarious list of Thai ghosts and other supernatural creatures that deserve to be featured in a comic book of some sort. My favorite is the Phret, which is a ghost of a greedy glutton, and who therefore has a mouth so small not a single grain of rice can pass through.
[Revision] Copy Cats
Journalism professor Matthew Ehrlich presents an interesting look at how cats have been reported on in the “serious” media (with a special focus on the New York Times) over the past couple centuries.
[Reconstruction] Municipal Bonds
An incredibly depressing series of excerpts “from a class action lawsuit filed in February against the city of Ferguson, Missouri, for excessively fining and imprisoning residents for minor infractions. In March, the Department of Justice concluded that Ferguson relies on the enforcement of code provisions to generate a significant portion of revenue and that the police disproportionately target black residents. African Americans make up 67% of the population of Ferguson, but receive 90% of tickets and face 93% of arrests.” Statistics are one thing, but the Devil really is in the details, like the story of disabled vet Alfred Morris, who... Well, check it out for yourself.
[Chronicle] Family Tradition
A brief but bone-chilling excerpt from Lynching In America, a report published by the Equal Justice Initiative. An excellent appendix to the Ferguson piece, above.
[Metaphor] Lunar Phrases
A bunch of references to the moon in poems by Frank Stanford, for some reason. “The moon is your old shirt”, indeed.
[Fiction] From the Palo Alto Sessions
Excerpt from the novel Book of Numbers, by Joshua Cohen. There is nothing to recommend it.
[Supplication] My App Runneth Over
Hilarious posts made to Instapray, an app that allows users to post and request prayers. All of these prayers happen to be about people asking for prayers to help them overcome their addiction to the Internet and/or the Instapray app. Fish in a barrel? Sure, but tasty fish, regardless.
FROM THE ARCHIVE
Ways of Being Silent, by Tillie Olsen
A partial reprint of a long essay about silence from 50 years ago. A nice preamble to the issue’s major essay...
ESSAY // THE QUIETEST PLACE IN THE UNIVERSE
Digging for dark matter in an abandoned mine
By Kent Meyers
An overlong, overly artful examination of one man’s obsessive quest to discover, then measure, dark matter, using a 100,000 gallon tank full of dry cleaning fluid located at the bottom of an 8,000 foot deep abandoned mine in South Dakota. You can look up Rick Gaitskell and K.C. Russell to learn more about his work in this field.
One thing I learned from this article is that, in the Standard Model, “baryonic matter” is cemented together by the Strong Force, and that this makes up the visible matter of the universe.
The Large Underground Xenon (LUX) Detector was designed to find “theoretical bits of dark matter known as WIMPS”. They love their acronyms!
A bit of background:
In the 1960’s around the time Davis was setting up his tank of dry-cleaning fluid, scientists noticed that stars at the edges of our galaxy seemed to be orbiting faster than they should be, given the galaxy’s measurable mass and gravitational energy. There was only one reasonable explanation: the galaxy had to be more massive than it appeared. Physicists called this unknown mass Dark Matter. ... The matter we can see--in stars, nebulae, and dust clouds--is only 4 to 5 percent of what the universe actually contains. ... The preponderance of evidence now supports the reality of Dark Matter.
Gaitsell and Shutt speak of an altogether different kind of darkness: darkness as substance and presence, not absence. This darkness may turn out to be both far ore ad far less tangible--because it redefines tangibility--than any religion, myth, or comic book has imagined darkness to be.
In The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas Kuhn says that science is a product of Ancient Greece. ... It doesn’t take a Kuhnian however to see that science is pinned to culture. ... On the one hand, science is not motivated by utilitarian concerns; on the other, science leads to utilitarian wonders we cannot predict. In either case, however, science unmoors us by its very nature, which demands that it leave its own past behind, mo matter how assured and comfortable, if new knowledge indicates it should so be left.After a bunch of tests, their device has yet to find Dark Matter. However, “there are scientific successes that can look like failures to nonscientists, and this was one of them. ... Though he hadn’t found what he was looking for, he had mapped an area where looking was useless--and so had narrowed the territory that remained.”
For now, LUX’s core remains :the quietest verifiable place in the universe. Not the world, the universe.
As this pretentious article winds down, the author, Meyer, declares “it’s this poetry I appreciate, the womb of the universe in its dark bigness, its amniotic sea of particles touching that smaller womb we have recognized our tiny Earth to be.”
LETTER FROM THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC // DISPLACE IN THE D.R.
A country strips 210,000 of citizenship
By Rachel Nolan
Have you heard about the Dominican Republic’s Constitutional Tribunal, and the ramifications of the decision it came to in the case of Juliana Deguis Pierre?
On September 23, 2013, the tribunal handed down ruling TC/0168/13, “The Sentence”, as it became known around the world. The tribunal revoked Deguis’ citizenship, declaring that her undocumented parents were “in transit” when she was born (in D.R.). Oh, and they also said the Sentence applied to ALL Dominicans with undocumented foreign parents, most of whom, like Deguis, have no family in Haiti, speak little or no Creole, and are not eligible for Haitian citizenship. The decision was retroactive, affecting anyone born in 1929 or later (the affectados). Nearly a quarter million Dominicans now find themselves stateless.Critics of The Sentence seized on comparisons to Nazi Germany not only to show they were appalled but also because there are so few historical precedents for mass statelessness.
Latin American intellectuals of every political stripe have reacted strongly against The Sentence. Conservative Latin American writer Cargas llosa wrote that the Sentene is “a juridical aberration and seems to be directly inspired by Hitler’s famous laws of the 30s handed down by German Nazi judges to strip German citizenship from Jews who had for many years (centuries!) been resident in that country and were a constructive part of its society.”
It can be a shock for Dominicans to move to the United States and find themselves on the other side of the color line. “Until I came to New York, I didn’t know I was black,” wrote the Dominican poet Chiqui Vicioso. Some of the sharpest criticism of the Sentence, and of Dominican treatment of Haitians dmore generally, has come from the 850,000 or so Dominicans living in the United States. Many see their situation... as parallel to that of the Haitians in D.R.This report ends with a brief meditation on the ridiculous nature of the border between Haiti and D.R. on the island of Hispanola. It’s literally an imaginary stripe... And the divide couldn’t be more stark. On one side, a relatively prosperous tropical paradise. On the other? A kind of living Hell of poverty, misery and want.
REPORT // BEYOND THE BROKEN WINDOW
Wilian Bratton and the new police state
By Petra Bartosiewicz
After years of paramilitary-style law enforcement, largely driven by urban rioting in the 60’s and 70’s and by the war on drugs in the 80’s, reformers sought to repair broken relationships between police forces and the citizens they were supposed to be serving. Instead of patrolling streets like an occupying army, police would maintain public safety by engaging with communities. In practice this meant increased foot patrols that brought beat cops into direct contact with residents, as well as working groups that fostered dialogue between police and the community. ... The approach gained so much political currency that the crime bill signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1994 created a federal Community Oriented Policing Services program, which allocated billions of dollars to hire 100,000 new officers, thereby sweetening the policy’s appeal to local law-enforcement departments that were hungry for manpower. When applied thoughtfully, community policing aims to increase the legitimacy of police in the public’s eyes. ... After 9/11, the model was seen as insufficient to meet hte challenges of domestic terrorism. ... So arrived a new policing paradigm ... Known in official parlance as ”intelligence-led policing” and referred to by critics as “speculative policing”. Its arsenal includes cell phone tracking towers, street-camera systems, GPS trackers, automatic license plate readers, and facial recognition software. ... Much of this equipment came to cities at no cost to the municipalities, paid for by federal counterterrorism dollars.Los Angeles’ LAPD, of course, is up to its elbows in this Orwellian mess, thanks in part to William Bratton, the former chief of the department who is currently in his second stint as commissioner of the New York City Police Department and is probably the nation’s most famous law-enforcement officer. Once a champion of community policing, Bratton is now the most vocal proponent of intelligence-led policing.
Police spying in Los Angeles goes back to the city’s Red Squads in the early 20th century, when powerful trade organizations, seeking to thwart unions. Over time, these programs evolved into surveillance and infiltration of groups described as subversive, radical, disloyal, anti-war, dissident, etc. Considering the long-standing corruption and blatant criminality of the LAPD itself over the years, this poses some obvious and glaring problems. And it’s spread all the way across the continent.
Both (New York mayor Rudi) Giuliani and Bratton had been enormously influenced by the Broken Windows theory of policing, which argues that petty disorderly behavior, left unchecked, can lead to an increase in serious crime, and should therefore be aggressively targeted. ... But the policing innovation for which Bratton has become most famous, which coupled zero tolerance with data-driven approach, was CompStat, a crime-tracking system that launched in 1995. CompStat uses data analysis to identify crime hot spots, on the premise that allowing police to focus manpower will reduce crime rates. ... In 1996, Amnesty International reported that police brutality and excessive use of force in New York City, in many cases involving bystanders or directed against suspects already in custody, had become a widespread problem that needed to be urgently addressed.
CompStat has lead to a new, future-leaning iteration called “predictive policing”, which aims to accumulate data points so that police could antiipate where future criminal activity was likely to occur... Say hello to PredPol! This, of course, involves massive surveillance on an unprecedented scale. Bretton’s take? “I don’t think the public is too concerned with us using technology to prevent crime. People don’t get upset when doctors use technolgy to prevent Alzheimer’s or caner.”The article author found some people who had run ins with the police based on surveillance in public spaces. Photographers being roughed up by thuggish cops threatening to put them on permanent “No Fly” or flagging lists, which means they’d be stopped at airports and even bus terminals for the rest of their lives. And then there are the SARs... Suspicious Activity Reports, bankrolled by Homeland Security and the FBI. Nothing for anybody to abuse their authority with there, right? A selection of SARs showed a sad plethora of busybodies reporting seeing “Asians taking pictures of public spaces” and professionals reading “potential terrorist propaganda” (which apparently means anything written in Arabic).
Face to face citizen encounters with police surveillance are the most tangible proof of the watchful gaze of law enforcement, but they are far fro the only evidence. As the narratives in many of the SARs make clear, the officers who initiate the reports often make no contact with their subjects, which means that the subjects themselves do not know that they are being monitored. .... The rules governing the storage of intelligene data are confusing and contradictory. The LAPD for example retains all SARs, even those that prove unfounded, for at least one year, and shares them with the local fusion center, which keeps them for up to five more years. The FBI is allowed to keep this data for THREE DECADES.The Urban Areas Security Initiative was put together by Homeland Security for the apparent purpose of doling out tons of cash to municipalities in order to get them to willingly put together mass surveillance infrastructure. And cities have been eating up those ooey-gooey UASI funds. For instance, “the Stingray can reveal the location of a suspect’s phone in real time, but it sucks up the data of other nearby phones as well, including those that have no connection to the investigation.”
In 2012, UASI money was used to cover the $1,000 entry fees of hundreds of law enforcement professionals to a private island retreat off the |California coast, near San Diego, where they were made to take part in a massive “zombie invasion” exercise. Mad, but true!
The Drug War was the catalyst for the militarization of local law enforcement, in direct contravention of the Posse Comitatus Act, which was relaxed by Congress, which allowed for a massive flow of tanks, helicopters, bomb sniffing robots and assault rifles to local police. This is when urban communities became occupied territories.
Though rationalized on a counter-terrorism basis, predictive policing and the array of technological surveillance tools that enable it are generally levied against the same categories of citizens who have always attracted the attention of the police: minorities, protesters, activists and the poor. In 2005, Bratton announced that a cutting-edge camera surveillance network would be installed in the Jordan Downs housing project, one of Los angeles; poorest communities. The equipment was donated by Motorola. The next year, Bratton was appointed to Motorola’s board.In 2007, the LAPD attempted to establish a “Muslim Mapping” program similar to one created by the NYPD to monitor the city's ethnic makeup and demographics. Activist Hamid Khan says “We’re in a very critical moment where policies of social control are being legitimized as part of a national-security infrastructure. We’re moving beyond Broken Windows. Now they can get you before the window is even broken.”
LETTER FROM WALES // THE DAY OF THE KNOTWEED
Battling Britain’s most destructive invasive plant
By Sara Knight
Man, this one was a tough read. One bad issue can fuck up one’s appreciation for a magazine. I think the editors of Harper’s should consider that, and maybe occasionally put out slimmer issues instead of stuffing them with sub-par content, such as this article about freaking weeds.
Since it breached the redbrick walls of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, in West London, at some point during the 1850s, Japanese knotweed has colonized pretty much every corner of the British Isles, but nowhere with more assiduity than the wet valles and clean towns of South Wales.
The weed entered Britain in a box of forty Chinese and Japanese plants that was opened by the clerks at Kew Gardens on August 9, 1850.
The weed now present in more than 70 percent of the 3,859 ten-cm recording squares of the British Isles is a single female clone.... Making it the largest female organism on the planet.
Invasive species often inspoire wonder, at first. After observing fleas in the early 19th century, the people of Aituktaki, one of the Cook Islands in the South Pacific, concluded from their restless nature that they must be the souls of dead white men.
Darwin theorized about the catalogue of effects - on invaders and invaded alike - that must have followed the disembarkation of the first colonists in the New World. He pictured European pets and farm animals, unchecked by enemies and masters, running amok in the vastness. “The common cat, altered into a large and fierce animal, inhabits rocky hills.”To get rid of the knotweed, what you really need is patience.
It takes five years of repeated applications, in the spring and in the late summer, for the chemicals to go through the plant and kill the rhizomes. There are two ways to go about it: spray the leaves and canes, or inject the poison into the stems. Stem injection is better for targeted work, gives a higher dose to each cane, and sounds more efficacious. In truth, the two methods work equally well... Or poorly. In the UK, the only other technique, which is rarely used, is to dig out a plant completely. This means excavating to a depth of two meters and a radius of seven meters, and carting the resulting 308 cubic meters of earth to a specially designed landfill. The remaining soil must be lined with a copper membrane.Of course, Harper’s might lose their liberal credentials if they didn’t make a trite comparison between weeds and mankind. “There is no weedier or more invasive species than mankind.” Yawn.
“I could sum up the future in one word,” JG Ballard said in 1994, “and that word is boring. The future is going to be boring.”
Just like this article!
MEMOIR // IN SEARCH OF A STOLEN FIDDLE
From the pawnshops of Portland to the con men of Craigslist
By Abe Streep
It turns out a lot of professional musicians - including classical musicians - have their instruments stolen... and they really, REALLY don’t like it when that happens. Bummer, man!
A few victimized musicians have attempted to take matters into their own hands. The guitar tech for Radiohead, who goes by Plank, ran a blog called Strings Reuinited, on which he posted notices about stolen instruments. In Santa Barbara, California, a marketing executive and part-time musician named Chris Stone runs a similar operation, called Screaming Stone, which has led to the return of over half a million dollars worth of equipment since its inception.Abe ends the article thusly: “Still, in the afternoons, while playing in my back yard, I wonder where the Czech violin is. It could be on the floor of a pawnshop in one of the Vancouvers. More likely it’s in a dumpster or a ditch. But let;’s pretend, as I often do, that some kid has it. Maybe he’s a decent player, not good enough for a conservatory but a little bored with Bach and Brahms. Maybe he wants to figure out something a little more fun. I hope he learns to drop his elbow, lie back, and sit a few tunes out. I hope he chops on the two and hte four, and stays there, in the pocket. I hope he finds a good teacher, and that he follows only some of that teacher’s leads. I hope he spills a littel beer on the fiddle, and that he playus along to records. And i hope he never leaves it in the car.”
STORY // FOR SOMETHING TO DO
By Elmore Leonard
This story, about drunken men quick to anger and fight, a 30 30 rifle, two rednecks getting chloroformed and a gal named Julie, was written in the 50s. It feels very contemporary, with a fine cadence to the dialogue and the prose in general. Worth the ten minutes it takes to read.
REVIEWS // NEW BOOKS
By Christine Smallwood
This month’s reviewed books are Counternarratives: Stories and Novellas, by John Keene. Smallwood calls it “an extraordinary work of literature. Keene is a dense, intricate, and magnificent writer. He was an early member of the Dark Room Collective, which in the 80s and 90s incubated a significant group of African-American poets... Counternarratives is his first book of prose in 20 years. An encounter narrative is usually a letter or diary entry written by a colonizer about his so-called discover of native peoples, but Keene’s narratives meld fact and fiction, speculating about events that happened, or didn’t happen but could have... or should have.” The first and best section of Counternarratives contains psychosexually intense stories about colonization, slave rebellion, witchcraft and sorcery and Catholicism.
The combination photo collection, diary and creepy confessional that is French artist Sophie Calle’s Suite Venitienne (1983, re-released in a prestige edition) is probably going to give a few photographers some dangerous ideas of their own. See, Calle, who normally photographed strangers, made a project out of stalking an unsuspecting acquaintance, Henri B., during his vacation in Vienna.
Nell Zink’s new novel, Mislaid, is about a lesbian-packed all-girl college, and was previously featured in the Readings section of Harper’s. I didn’t care for what I saw.
REVIEWS // NEW MUSIC
By Terry Castle
In honor of the release of a new release by Incredible String Band member Robin Williamson - Trusting in the Rising Light, Castle writes:
Is there anything more shaming than doting on the electrified English folk-rock of the late sixties and early seventies? It’s taken me, I confess, a dreadfully long time to come to terms with it - to acknowledge that I adore, nay, have always adored, the whole tambourine-tapping, raggle-taggle mob of them: Pentangle, Fairport Convention, Sandy Denny, John Renbourn, Shirley Collins, Bert Jansch, Martin Catthy, Steeleye Span, Maddy Prior, Richard and Linda Thomson, Lindisfarne. I still venerate Jethro Tull and its leader, the psychedelic flutist Ian Anderson, unforgettable for his dandified overcoat, harelike skittishness and giant comic aureole of red beard and frizy hair.I agree. I also like when he writes about his decades-long descent into musical pretentiousness:
Cage and Webern, Harry Partch, rediscovered Baroque opera played on period instruments, obscure blues vamps, Renaissance polyphony, historic recordings from the decaying urns of forgotten French record companies, Ligeti etudes, Pauline Oliveros, Captain Beefheart, and Moroccan gnawa music - these became preferred listening. Manfred Eicher’s muchplauded German boutique label, ECM, notorious for its cerebral emphasis on the more severe strains of avant-garde chamber music and stark, echt-minimalist jazz (mostly northern European) became a go-to source for hardcore experimental stuff.
And certain things are indubitably better when reexperienced. One of the unsung pleasures of encroaching senility, or so I’m finding, is how many things from the past suddenly reveal themselves as even more awesome than you thought they were the first time. The Four Tops, for example. Madame Bovary. Studebaker station wagons. Little baby rabbits. Schopenhauer. You’re not embarrassed by any of it anymore. The plastic seat covers. The pellets. The World as Will and Representation.REVIEW // DISSOLUTION BY DETAILS
Bellow and the problems of literary biography
By Ruth Franklin
The Life of Saul Bellow: To Fame and Fortune, 1915-1964, by Zachary Leader, and There Is Simply Too Much to Think About: Collected Nonfiction by Saul Bellow are both examined in this in-depth essay. Bellow fans might find much to enjoy here, but they won’t learn anything new (Bellow was conflicted about his Jewishness?! Gee! You don’t say!). As for the rest of us, at least we learn that a superior (if less exhaustive) bio is James Atlas’ Bellow: A Biography (2000).
REVIEW // THE DEEP, DARK, UGLY THING
Can shame shape society?
By Laura Kipnis
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, by John Ronson and Is Shame Necessary? by Jennifer Jacquet.
Say you tweet something you mean to be funny and edgy to your Twitter followers - all 170 of them - before boarding a plane to South Africa to visit relatives., something about hoping you don’t get AIDS in Africa, which of course you won’t, because you’re white. You can afford to be funny because you’re not racist - your relatives are ANC supporters, after all - you’re merely commenting on racially disproportionate AIDS statistics in Africa. Who would take you literally? Except that you wake up after an eleven hour flight to find almost a hundred thousand tweets calling you every vicious name imaginable. You’re one of the top worldwide trends on Twitter, the most hated racist on the planet. ... Welcome to modern shaming, where an ill-considered joke can ruin your life.Neither book reviewed in this essay is all that curious about the psychology of shame. Their territory is the ethics of shaming. Ronson is prety much against the whole business, while Jacquet, in a surprise twist, is rather a fan. Her appreciation for shaming stems from political optimism: she believes in human improvability and thinks that shame could be what it takes to get people to shape up, especially those acting against the public good.
It’s an interesting essay, about two interesting books that both have something important to say, with messages worth hearing, even though they seemingly contradict. On the whole, I side with Ronson in that I feel that most online shamers do it for the LULZ, and not out of any sense that they may be making the world a better place. In many ways, however, these books actually compliment each other. Bottom line: If you’ve got (or ever plan on having) something to lose... Watch what you say.
Here's my favorite passage from this month's collection of scientific discoveries:
Psychoogists warned against treating autism with antifuntals, antivirals, bleach enemas, camel's milk, chelation, chiropractic, craniosacral therapy, dolphins, extended breast-feeding, Floortime, gluten-and casein-free diets, horses, hyperbaric oxygen, hypnotherapy, magnetic shoe inserts, marijuana, megavitamins, neurofeedback, nicotine patches, orthodox psychoanalysis, Pepcid, probiotics, rebirthing, secretin, sensory-motor integration, sheep stem cells, Son-Rise, testosterone, testosterone reducers, trampolines, vision therapy and weighted vests.