“It is quite common to hear high officials in Washington and elsewhere speak of changing the map of the Middle East, as if ancient societies and myriad peoples can be shaken up like so many peanuts in a jar.”

― Edward W. Said

"A developing country that wants to develop its economy must first of all keep natural resources in its own hands."
- Deng Xiaoping

Friday, September 25, 2015

Mapping Migration in the United States


Continue reading the main story Select a year 1900 1950 2012 Where people who lived in each state in 2012 were born Each shape represents where the people living in a state were born. Within a state, larger shapes mean a group makes up a larger share of the population.

On Thursday, we published a series of interactive charts showing how Americans have moved between states since 1900. The charts show striking patterns for many states: You can trace the rise of migrant and immigrant populations all along the Southwest, particularly in Texas and Arizona; the influx of New Yorkers and other Northeasterners into Florida starting in the 1970s; and the growth in the Southern share of the Illinois population during the Great Migration.
In 1900, 95 percent of the people living in the Carolinas were born there, with similarly high numbers all through the Southeast. More than a hundred years later, those percentages are nearly cut in half.
Taken individually, each state tells its own story, and each makes for fascinating reading. As a follow-up, here is the big picture: a map showing all of the states at a given time.


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Which U.S.-China Tech Leaders Met with Xi Jinping (And Why)


Chinese President Xi Jinping met Wednesday in Seattle with top executives of U.S. and Chinese tech companies. Here’s a look at the 28 executives — two of them women — who joined the gathering, which comes at a time of mounting tension over cyberattacks and restrictions on U.S. firms.


Call for Abstracts: True Detective and Philosophy

Call for Abstracts
True Detective and Philosophy
Edited by Jacob Graham & Tom Sparrow
The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series
Please circulate and post widely. Apologies for Cross-posting.

To propose ideas for future volumes in the Blackwell series please contact the Series Editor, William Irwin, at williamirwin@kings.edu

If you have comments or criticisms for the series, please contact the series editor after reading “Fancy Taking a Pop?” and  “Writing for the Reader: A Defense of Philosophy and Popular Culture Books”
Abstracts and subsequent essays should be philosophically substantial but accessible, written to engage the intelligent lay reader. Contributors of accepted essays will receive an honorarium.
Possible themes and topics may include, but are not limited to:
The Virtues of Rust and the Vices of Marty; Ray’s and Marty’s Habits and the Failure of Character; Does Rust Really Know Who He Is?; Where is the Real Woodrugh?; Green Paint and the Contingency of Redemption; The Masks of Criminals and Detectives and the Face of the True Self; Self-Consciousness as an Evolutionary Mistake; Rust’s Pessimism and the Limits of the Bleak; Nietzschean Evaluation of the City of Vinci and its Denizens; Are Ray, Ani, and Frank Beyond Redemption?; True Nihilists in the Bayou?; If “the light’s winning,” Should Rust Despair?; It’s All About the Kids, Maggie: Antinatalism, Happiness, and Parenthood; Erroll Childress: More Than Just a Psychopath; Logic and the Truth of Detective Work; Philosophy as Detection; Frank’s Debts and Debt as a Moral Category; Marty’s Noble Lie and the Murder of Ledoux; Vinci Cops, Crooks, and the Complexity of Social Contracts; Antigone Bezzerides and the Law; Ani Bezzerides and the Women of True Detective; Fragile Masculinity and the Men of True Detective; Feminism and Sexual Violence as Aesthetic Device; True Direction: Pizzolatto, Season 2, and the Risks of Collaborative Creation; Maggie and the Subtleties of Sexism/Misogyny; Thrasymachus’s Challenge to Socrates and the Empty Promise of Justice; Is Ani a Pawn of Patriarchy? Ani and Double Standards; “Time is a Flat Circle”; The Problem of Evil and Theodicy in a World Beyond Good and Evil; Tent Revivals and the Manipulation of the Masses; Rust on Our Capacity for Illusion as Virtue; The “Ontological Fallacy” of Optimism; Rust’s Anti-Teleology: “Surely this is all for me… I’m so fucking important… Fuck You!”; Truth and Falsity of the Cynic; Marty, Rust, and Aristotelian Friendship; Monsters, Maniacs, and the Mundane; Thin Conceptions of Flourishing in a Bleak World; Carcosa, Mythology, and Mysticism; Drugs, Alcohol, and the Doors of Perception; Dependency and the Myth of Autonomy; Rust and the Rationalization of Belief; Tuttle’s and Ledoux’s Master Morality; “The world needs bad men” (Rust).
Submission Guidelines:
  1. Deadline for abstracts (100-500 words) and brief CVs: November 1, 2015
  2. Deadline for first drafts of accepted chapters: February 1, 2016
Kindly submit abstracts (attached as Word document) to: tomsparrow@gmail.com

The Truth About Chávez Bernie Sanders is wrong — Hugo Chávez was no dictator.

by Gabriel Hetland

jacobinmag.com - /2015/09

Dear Bernie, 
Like millions of Americans, I’ve been watching your campaign with growing excitement. You’re spot on about the pernicious effects of rising inequality and absolutely correct that the United States now resembles an oligarchy more than a democracy. I applaud your willingness to directly and repeatedly denounce the billionaire class that runs this country. And I wholeheartedly support your call for universal health care.  It’s been a joy to watch you make Hillary Clinton squirm as your poll numbers rise. I smile every time I imagine the possibility of a self-described socialist calling for a political revolution winning the Democratic nomination. I’m encouraged that you have made fighting racism a priority in your campaign, alongside the rest of your progressive agenda.


The day 100,000 Iranian women protested the head scarf

A seldom-seen collection of photographs, shot in Tehran in 1979, is challenging perceptions of the feminist movement in Iran

Pip Cummings


When 34-year-old photographer Azadeh Fatehrad first laid eyes on an image by Hengameh Golestan, of women protesting in the streets of Tehran in 1979, she was struck immediately — it was unlike anything she had seen before.  Born in 1981 in Iran, Fatehrad had learned in school that women made a smooth transition to Islamic rules imposed after the 1979 Revolution — in particular adopting a compulsory dress code, the hijab. But Golestan’s image told a different story: thousands of women in the street, protesting the announcement that the headwear would be mandatory.  “I couldn’t believe that photo was taken in Iran — I was completely surprised,” Fatehrad tells Women in the World by email. She describes this kind of historical record as “inaccessible” in Iran.


The Most Diverse Cities Are Often The Most Segregated

By Nate Silver

Urban Diversity - May 1, 2015 

When I was a freshman at the University of Chicago in 1996, I heard the same thing again and again: Do not leave the boundaries of Hyde Park. Do not go north of 47th Street. Do not go south of 61st Street. Do not go west of Cottage Grove Avenue. 1  These boundaries were fairly explicit, almost to the point of being an official university policy. The campus police department was not committed to protecting students beyond the area,2 and the campus safety brochure advised students not to use the “El” train stops just a couple of blocks beyond them unless “traveling in groups and during the daytime.”  What usually wasn’t said — on a campus that brags about the diversity of its urban setting but where only about 5 percent of students are black — was that the neighborhoods beyond these boundaries were overwhelmingly black and poor. The U. of C. has, for many decades, treated Hyde Park as its “fortress on the South Side,” and its legacy of trying to keep its students within the neighborhood — and the black residents of surrounding communities out — has left its mark on Chicago.


Improvement of Global Governance Needs Joint Efforts from China and the US: President Xi

People's Daily - September 22, 2015

China and the US should work together to improve the global governance system, enhance cooperation and jointly respond to major challenges facing mankind, said Xi Jinping on Tuesday ahead of his first official state visit to the US as the Chinese President.  “The global governance system is built and shared by the world, not monopolized by a single country, ” said Xi in a written interview with The Wall Street Journal. “China certainly has no intention to do so.”  China is involved in building the current international system, and has always done its part to uphold the international order and system with the UN as its core and the purposes and principles of the UN charter as its foundation, Xi said.  He added that China stands ready to work with all the other UN member states to build a new type of international relationship featuring win-win cooperation, improve the architecture of global governance, and build a community of shared future for mankind.  Citing the annual shortfall in funding for Asian infrastructural development is around $800 billion, he noted that the Asian Infrastructure Development Bank (AIIB) is established mainly to meet the need of Asian countries for infrastructure development and further cooperation.  “China welcomes the US to join the AIIB. This has been our position from the very outset,” said the president.


Russian Foreign Policy in Historical and Current Context A Reassessment

By Olga Oliker, Christopher S. Chivvis, Keith Crane, Olesya Tkacheva, Scott Boston

RAND - 2015

This Perspective provides an overview and analysis of sources of Russian foreign policy to help explain Russia's actions in Ukraine in 2014 and 2015. It evaluates arguments based on Russian historical strategic interests, economic policy, and domestic policy to determine which explanations, alone or in combination, stand up best to Russia's actual choices and actions. The authors conclude that Russia's general attitude toward Ukraine is largely consistent with historical Russian (and Soviet) thinking about security interests and foreign policy, which have focused on buffer states, influence on its neighbors, and a perception of continued competition with the United States. However, these historical patterns alone are insufficient to fully explain Russian actions. Neither can public opinion, elite interests, or the pursuit of economic growth be defined as key drivers of Russian behavior. Moscow has sought to shape, rather than respond to, public opinion, and has done so with great success. Decisionmaking in the Kremlin has become highly centralized, obviating the possibility of elite group influence. Finally, economic growth goals have been jettisoned, rather than pursued, in this crisis. This said, the authors argue that an important component of the Kremlin's decision calculus also stems from how Russia's leaders, particularly Russian President Vladimir Putin, have interpreted the implications of the Maidan uprising in Ukraine for their own country. As a result, Putin's fear that popular opposition and unrest will threaten his power has led him to endanger many of the things he has worked to build over his tenure.


NGOs and Global Policy-Making

By James A. Paul

Global Policy Forum - June 2000

Organizations like Oxfam, Greenpeace, Amnesty International and thousands of others serve the public on a national and international scale. Known variously as "private voluntary organizations," "civil society organizations," and "citizen associations," they are increasingly called "NGOs," an acronym that stands for "non-governmental organizations." The United Nations system uses this term to distinguish representatives of these agencies from those of governments. While many NGOs dislike the term, it has come into wide use, because the UN system is the main focus of international rule-making and policy formulation in the fields where most NGOs operate.
Charitable and community organizations, separate from the state, have existed in many historical settings, but NGOs are primarily a modern phenomenon. With the extension of citizenship rights in Europe and the Americas in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, people founded increasing numbers of these organizations, as instruments to meet community needs, defend interests or promote new policies. The French writer Alexis de Toqueville emphasized the importance of what he called "political associations" as institutions of democracy, uniquely numerous and influential in the United States at the time of his famous visit in 1831. New legal rules for private corporations, emerging at this same time, provided modern juridical authority for the organizations and increased their defenses against state interference.


Xi Jinping’s Message to America A ChinaFile Conversation

Taisu Zhang, Graham Webster, Orville Schell, David Shambaugh    

CHINA FILE - September 22, 2015

China’s President Xi Jinping addressed an audience of more than 700 American businesspeople in Seattle on Tuesday evening on the first stop on his first state visit to the United States. Regular ChinaFile Contributors who offer their reactions below. —The Editors

There were a number of substantial themes in Xi’s speech—the usual promises to stay the course on market reforms, the insistence on China’s status as a developing country, the plea for mutual “deep” cultural understanding (something that I sympathize with), the pledge to seek peaceful growth and not hegemony, the promise to welcome NGO and NPO operations in China, and the emphasis on economic integration with Central Asia and the Asian Pacific.
The thing that caught my immediate attention, however, was how Xi defined the “Chinese Dream” at the beginning of the speech. Since the term was first issued a few years ago, its definition has always been somewhat ambiguous, indeed purposefully so—and, when defined more concretely, has usually incorporated a wide array of issues, ranging from national pride to economic growth to traditional culture to geopolitical security and prominence. For example, in his recent , Xi vaguely described the “Chinese Dream” as a reaction against historical humiliation and suffering, and a general desire for national “rejuvenation.”


China: The Superpower of Mr. Xi

Roderick MacFarquhar

THE NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS - August 13, 2015 Issue 

The Governance of China by Xi Jinping Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 515 pp., $16.95 (paper) Chinese Politics in the Era of Xi Jinping: Renaissance, Reform, or Retrogression? by Willy Wo-Lap Lam Routledge, 323 pp., $145.00; $50.95 (paper)

In the almost one-hundred-year existence of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), its current general secretary, Xi Jinping, is only the second leader clearly chosen by his peers. The first was Mao Zedong. Both men beat out the competition, and thus secured a legitimacy their predecessors lacked.1 Why was Xi chosen?
The Beijing rumor mill had long indicated that the outgoing elders were looking for a “princeling” successor, that is the son of a senior first- generation revolutionary. Princelings, it was apparently felt, had a bigger stake in the revolution than most people, and thus would be the most determined to preserve the rule of the CCP.
Xi’s father, Xi Zhongxun, was a respected vice-premier and member of the CCP Central Committee known for his moderate views, but he fell afoul of Mao in 1962 and was purged, then was rehabilitated and returned to high office after the Chairman’s death. Xi Jinping thus has the additional legitimation of being “born red,” as Evan Osnos put it recently in The New Yorker.


Global poor to rise as World Bank adjusts poverty line

RUSSIA TODAY - 24 Sep, 2015

The World Bank has dramatically revised its definition of poverty for the first time in 25 years, the Financial Times reports. Anyone earning less than $1.90 a day will be classified as poor, which will greatly increase the number living in poverty.
The last time the World Bank raised the poverty line by 25 cents to the current $1.25 per day was in 1990. The leading countries are meeting on Friday to adopt 17 new so-called "sustainable development goals" that will define global development policy up to 2030.


When Uncle Sam Rolled Out the Magic Carpet for Hajj

By Nick Danforth

In 1952 an unidentified young photographer—wearing a bow-tie, looking at his camera, presumably at work for the US government—stands by a C-54 transport plane on a Beirut tarmac. In front of him, Muslim pilgrims in white robes prepare to board the plane en route to Mecca. Another photographer for the United States Information Service captures the whole scene, complete with the US Air Force logo on the plane’s fuselage.  It was an American PR dream, a propaganda coup so good that the government photographs carefully documenting it were deemed superfluous and have seldom if ever been seen. Shortly after arranging for several thousand stranded pilgrims to be airlifted from Beirut to Saudi Arabia, the State Department cabled its Middle Eastern embassies telling them best not to go overboard trumpeting the story. Local press would do the work for them, and with too much boasting the embassy risked promoting the story to the point they “killed it with self praise.”


Xi's US visit can enhance China's standing on the world stage

By Earl Bousquet

Chinese President Xi Jinping's latest visit to the United States is significant for many reasons. It will allow the USA and the PRC to once again review and exchange on the state of mutual ties, as well as bilateral concerns about global political, economic, security and cyberspace issues. Additionally, they can share their differing interpretations of other major issues and events elsewhere.  Washington will lay down the usual red carpet and it will be all smiles when the two presidents meet. However, lurking in the deep recesses of their minds will be their growing mutual interests and concerns about where their respective countries stand on the world stage, today and tomorrow.  China is concerned about the USA's continuous promotion of risky incursions and tensions in the South China Sea, as well as the implications of Japan's recent decision to dump pacifism in favor of a return to militarism.  On the other hand, Washington is worried about the demonstrable global effects of China's growing economic power, as seen in the recent global stock exchange responses to China's currency value adjustments. Washington is also worried about the possible implications China's economic slowdown might have on the USA.  Not on the agenda, however, are the two leaders' separate interpretations of China's growing role as a global political and economic game-changer. A leading member of the BRICS, China is also leading the creation of the new and growing alternative global financial institutions which offer better terms to developing countries than the World Bank and the IMF.

What China’s slowdown means for BRICS

RUSSIA AND INDIA REPORT - 23 September 2015 

S C Ralhan, specially for RIR The shock devaluation of the Chinese Yuan has hit other emerging market economies, from Russia, South Africa, India to Brazil, whose exports are now comparatively more expensive, and there are fears of a round of copycat depreciations that could see a "currency war" break out.
China has cut its growth target for 2015 to 7%, the slowest expansion in over two decades. August Data shows it will be a stretch to hit even that. China is faring worse than many had expected. Its deceleration is a major reason for the sell-off of global commodities, from iron ore to coal, over the past two years. At a basic level, it was inevitable that the Chinese growth rates of the past three decades, which averaged 10% a year, would wane. The law of large numbers (financial, rather than statistical) applies to nations as well as to companies: the bigger an economy gets, the harder it is to keep growing at a fast clip.
Growth is a prime function of changes in labour, capital and productivity. When all three increase, as they did in China for over one and half decade, growth rates are superlative. But they are all slowing now. China’s working-age population peaked in 2012. Investment also looks to have topped out (at 49% of GDP, a level few countries have ever seen). Finally, China’s technological gap with rich countries is narrower than in the past, implying that productivity growth will reduce, too.


Long Live Pakistan: Pakistan Zindabad

Fifty Year Later: A Brief History of the Immigration Act of 1965

Today’s post comes from Rebecca Brenner, an intern in the History Office at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

Fifty years ago on October 3, 1965, at the base of the Statue of Liberty, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Immigration Act of 1965 into law.
The act was an important milestone in American immigration history. It was a significant improvement from the National Origins Act of 1924, which barred Asian immigrants, limited Latin American immigrants, and established rigid immigration quotas for European countries.
These quotas, established in an era of post–World War I isolationism and xenophobia, lasted from 1924 through 1965:
  • Armenia: 124
  • Australia: 121
  • Austria: 785
  • Belgium: 512
  • Czechoslovakia: 3,073
  • Estonia: 124
  • France: 3,954
  • Germany: 51,227
  • Great Britain and Northern Ireland: 34,007
  • Hungary: 473
  • Irish Free State: 28,567
  • Italy: 3,845
  • Latvia: 142
  • Lithuania: 344
  • Netherlands: 1,648
  • Norway: 6,453
  • Poland: 5,962
  • Russia: 2,248
  • Sweden: 9,561
  • Switzerland: 2,081
  • Yugoslavia: 671
Aliens needed to apply for spots on the quota in their country of birth, regardless of where they and their family lived. Some quota waiting lists were a dozen years long, while others were not filled.


Walter Benjamin Surrealism: The Last Snapshot of the European Intelligentsia

Intellectual currents can generate a sufficient head of water for the critic to instal his power station on them. The necessary gradient, in the case of Surrealism, is produced by the difference in intellectual level between France and Germany. What sprang up in 1919 in France in a small circle of literati—we shall give the most important names at once: André Breton, Louis Aragon, Philippe Soupault, Robert Desnos, Paul Eluard—may have been a meagre stream, fed on the damp boredom of postwar Europe and the last trickle of French decadence. The know-alls who even today have not advanced beyond the ‘authentic origins’ of the movement, and even now have nothing to say about it except that yet another clique of literati is here mystifying the honourable public, are a little like a gathering of experts at a spring who, after lengthy deliberation, arrive at the conviction that this paltry stream will never drive turbines.

Cultural Revolution Shaped Xi Jinping, From Schoolboy to Survivor



BEIJING — When the pandemonium of the Cultural Revolution erupted, he was a slight, softly spoken 13-year-old who loved classical Chinese poetry. Two years later, adrift in a city torn apart by warring Red Guards, Xi Jinping had hardened into a combative street survivor.
His father, a senior Communist Party official who had been purged a few years earlier, was seized and repeatedly beaten. Student militants ransacked his family’s home, forcing them to flee, and one of his sisters died in the mayhem. Paraded before a crowd as an enemy of the revolution and denounced by his own mother, the future president of China was on the edge of being thrown into a prison for delinquent children of the party elite.


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

U.S. Eases Some Limits on Cuban Travel and Commerce



WASHINGTON — The White House on Friday announced wide-ranging changes to loosen travel, commerce and investment restrictions on Cuba, moving to fulfill President Obama’s goal of breaking down barriers between Washington and Havana even as the American embargo remains in place.
The rules will allow American companies, including telecommunications and Internet providers, to open locations and hire workers in Cuba, facilitate financial transactions between the two nations and remove limits on the sums that can be taken to the island nation. They are to take effect on Monday on the eve of the visit to Washington by Pope Francis, a proponent of the reconciliation who quietly helped broker the agreement between Mr. Obama and President Raúl Castro last year.


China Has a Plan to Take Over Central Asia — and America Loves It

By John Hudson
FOREIGN POLICY - September 18, 2015

LAHORE, Pakistan — Moments after landing at Lahore’s international airport one ordinary day in September, crowds of Chinese professionals jockeyed for position in an immigration line that was as long as it was slow. For airport officials in Pakistan’s second-largest city, the sudden influx of Chinese nationals was unremarkable: The same thing is happening in cities and towns across the country.
In the southwestern town of Gwadar, Chinese nationals run a deep-sea port offering direct access to the Indian Ocean. In the Gilgit-Baltistan region near Kashmir, Chinese laborers just finished the restoration of five tunnels on a critical 500-mile highway that connects Pakistan to China. And at a hill town resort near the capital of Islamabad, Chinese diplomats recently dove headfirst into the kind of messy internal politics they’ve long sought to avoid, rolling up their sleeves and taking part in peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.


Descent into hell: Mumbai's dehumanised sewer workers

BBC - 16 September 2015

About 30,000 conservancy workers, also known as sweepers, are employed by the civic authorities in the Indian city of Mumbai.  The workers, all of them Dalits - formerly known as untouchables - collect garbage, sweep the city streets, clean the gutters, load and unload garbage trucks and work in the dumping grounds.  And "without exception, all of them despise their work", says photographer Sudharak Olwe who documented their lives over a period of a year.


Monday, September 21, 2015

How to Be Emotionally Intelligent



What makes a great leader? Knowledge, smarts and vision, to be sure. To that, Daniel Goleman, author of “Leadership: The Power of Emotional Intelligence,” would add the ability to identify and monitor emotions — your own and others’ — and to manage relationships. Qualities associated with such “emotional intelligence” distinguish the best leaders in the corporate world, according to Mr. Goleman, a former New York Times science reporter, a psychologist and co-director of a consortium at Rutgers University to foster research on the role emotional intelligence plays in excellence. He shares his short list of the competencies.
Realistic self-confidence: You understand your own strengths and limitations; you operate from competence and know when to rely on someone else on the team.
Emotional insight: You understand your feelings. Being aware of what makes you angry, for instance, can help you manage that anger.
Resilience: You stay calm under pressure and recover quickly from upsets. You don’t brood or panic. In a crisis, people look to the leader for reassurance; if the leader is calm, they can be, too.
Emotional balance: You keep any distressful feelings in check — instead of blowing up at people, you let them know what’s wrong and what the solution is.
Self-motivation: You keep moving toward distant goals despite setbacks.


An Object At Rest - Animation Short Film

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Islamic fashion market set to be worth $327bn by 2020

ARABIAN BUSINESS - September 7, 2015

The Islamic fashion market is projected to grow by six percent annually to be worth $327 billion by 2020, according to new figures released ahead of a major summit being held in Dubai next month.
In 2014, Islamic, or modest, fashion sector expenditure reached $230 billion, constituting 11 percent of the global fashion market.
But the sector will be worth $327 billion by 2020, according to the upcoming State of the Global Islamic Economy report, to be published in conjunction with the Global Islamic Economy Summit taking place in Dubai this October.
The 2015 summit, organised by Dubai Chamber, the Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre (DIEDC) and Thomson Reuters, is set to gather over 2,000 policymakers, thinkers and business leaders on October 5-6 at Madinat Jumeirah.


Spirit Guides

Students crave emotional mentorship from their teachers that their parents can’t give them. There’s nothing wrong with that. 

By William Deresiewicz

THE ATLANTIC - Aug. 14 2014

Excerpted from Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and The Way to a Meaningful Life by William Deresiewicz. Out Aug. 19, from Free Press.
If you want a good education, you need to have good teachers. It seems ridiculous to have to say as much, but such is the state that matters have reached, both in academia and in the public conver­sation that surrounds it, that apparently we do. Between the long-term trend toward the use of adjuncts and other part-time faculty and the recent rush to online instruction, we seem to be deciding that we can do without teachers in college altogether, at least in any meaningful sense. But the kind of learning that college is for is sim­ply not possible without them

The Ivy League, Mental Illness, and the Meaning of Life

William Deresiewicz explains how an elite education can lead to a cycle of grandiosity and depression.

Lauren Cassani Davis

THE ATLANTIC - Aug 19, 2014

The former Yale English professor William Deresiewicz stirred up quite a storm earlier this month with his New Republic essay “Don’t Send Your Kid to the Ivy League”—a damning critique of the nation’s most revered and wealthy educational institutions, and the flawed meritocracy they represent. He takes these arguments even further in his upcoming book, Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life. Part cultural commentary, part philosophical treatise on the meaning of education itself, the book reads like a self-help manual for ambitious yet internally adrift adolescents struggling to figure out how to navigate the college system, and ultimately their own lives. Deresiewicz, who is also the author of A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship and the Things That Really Matter, spoke to me on the phone from his home in Portland, Oregon.


Class and the Classroom How Elite Universities Are Hurting America

By George Scialabba

Foreign Affairs - March/April 2015 Issue

One of the most fruitful ideas to emerge from twentieth-century social theory is Max Weber’s notion of the “iron cage” of purposive rationality. Weber argued that once some principle of organization—market competition, say, or ideological orthodoxy—has achieved dominance in the spheres of production and governance, the rest of a society’s institutions find themselves gradually but inexorably adopting the same principle. In an ideology-dominant society, everything fluid turns to stone; in a market-dominant society, everything solid melts into air.
Not everything, of course. The iron cage is, like most other useful theoretical notions, an ideal type. All societies retain protected (or neglected) spaces where not-yet-rationalized traditions and communities flourish. Still, although the mills of rationalization turn slowly, they grind exceedingly fine. In time, Weber believed, every practice or institution in a modern society, regardless of its original purpose, experiences an irresistible pressure to adapt to the society’s fundamental organizing principle.
That’s one way to understand the story told by Excellent Sheep, William Deresiewicz’s important jeremiad on the deterioration of higher education in the United States. Deresiewicz chronicles how in recent decades U.S. colleges and universities have reflected and reinforced the ascendance of neoliberalism, which has served as the organizing principle of American society for the past 30 years or so. Deresiewicz, who taught English at Yale for ten years before leaving academia in 2008, laments the way that U.S. universities have replaced the traditional quest for liberal enlightenment with the goals and demands of late capitalism: consumer sovereignty, labor-market flexibility, debt financing, “scientific” management and marketing, and technologically driven increases in productivity. Universities have gone from nourishing their students’ spirits to facilitating their careers—especially careers in finance and consulting.


Friday, September 18, 2015

Why I’ve finally given up on the left

Left-wing thought has shifted towards movements it would once have denounced as racist, imperialist and fascistic. It is insupportable

Nick Cohen

The Spectator - 19 September 2015

‘Tory, Tory, Tory. You’re a Tory.’ The level of hatred directed by the Corbyn left at Labour people who have fought Tories all their lives is as menacing as it is ridiculous. If you are a woman, you face misogyny. Kate Godfrey, the centrist Labour candidate in Stafford, told the Times she had received death threats and pornographic hate mail after challenging her local left. If you are a man, you are condemned in language not heard since the fall of Marxist Leninism. ‘This pathetic small-minded jealousy of the anti-democratic bourgeois shows them up for the reactionary neocons they really are,’ a Guardian commenter told its columnist Rafael Behr after he had criticised Corbyn.
Not that they are careful about anything, or that they will take advice from me, but the left should be careful of what it wishes for. Its accusations won’t seem ridiculous soon. The one prophesy I can make with certainty amid today’s chaos is that many on the left will head for the right. When they arrive, they will be greeted with bogus explanations for their ‘betrayal’.
Conservatives will talk as if there is a right-wing gene which, like male-pattern baldness, manifests itself with age. The US leftist-turned-neocon Irving Kristol set the pattern for the pattern-baldness theory of politics when he opined that a conservative is a liberal who has been ‘mugged by reality’. He did not understand that the effects of reality’s many muggings are never predictable, or that facts of life are not always, as Margaret Thatcher claimed, conservative. If they were, we would still have feudalism.
The standard explanation from left-wingers is equally self-serving. Turncoats are like prostitutes, they say, who sell their virtue for money. They are pure; those who disagree with them are corrupt; and that is all there is to it.


To break class barriers, students must end up in unexpected places

Universities pay lip service to equality, yet the system functions as a huge social filter. Real fairness will take a radical rethink

Tim Blackman  Vice-chancellor of Middlesex University


We are repeatedly told that higher education can advance social mobility. Universities are rewarded with extra funding for recruiting students from areas with low participation rates, and there are various schemes to help bright young people from disadvantaged backgrounds get to the “top” universities, the super-selectives.
But these initiatives operate within a sector that drives inequality through selection. Prior attainment is correlated with social class, so differentiated academic entry requirements immediately filter young people into a class hierarchy of institutions. This is compounded by companies that offer highly paid jobs recruiting only from the top of this hierarchy. Higher education should be about realising potential with great teaching, not unfair selection into privileged networks. We often say we value diversity but continue with a system that judges institutions according to their social class make-up. It is time for a radical rethink.


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Life Smartphone AND Twitter

Life Smartphone

Stromae - carmen

How to Live Wisely



Imagine you are Dean for a Day. What is one actionable change you would implement to enhance the college experience on campus?
I have asked students this question for years. The answers can be eye-opening. A few years ago, the responses began to move away from “tweak the history course” or “change the ways labs are structured.” A different commentary, about learning to live wisely, has emerged.
What does it mean to live a good life? What about a productive life? How about a happy life? How might I think about these ideas if the answers conflict with one another? And how do I use my time here at college to build on the answers to these tough questions?


Why the Rich Are So Much Richer

By James Surowiecki

The New York Review of Books -  September 24, 2015 Issue

The Great Divide: Unequal Societies and What We Can Do About Them by Joseph E. Stiglitz Norton, 428 pp., $28.95

Rewriting the Rules of the American Economy: An Agenda for Growth and Shared Prosperity by Joseph E. Stiglitz The Roosevelt Institute, 114 pp., available at www.rewritetherules.org

Creating a Learning Society: A New Approach to Growth, Development, and Social Progress by Joseph E. Stiglitz and Bruce C. Greenwald Columbia University Press, 660 pp., $34.95; $24.95 (paper)

The fundamental truth about American economic growth today is that while the work is done by many, the real rewards largely go to the few. The numbers are, at this point, woefully familiar: the top one percent of earners take home more than 20 percent of the income, and their share has more than doubled in the last thirty-five years. The gains for people in the top 0.1 percent, meanwhile, have been even greater. Yet over that same period, average wages and household incomes in the US have risen only slightly, and a number of demographic groups (like men with only a high school education) have actually seen their average wages decline.
Income inequality has become such an undeniable problem, in fact, that even Republican politicians have taken to decrying its effects. It’s not surprising that a Democrat like Barack Obama would call dealing with inequality “the defining challenge of our time.” But when Jeb Bush’s first big policy speech of 2015 spoke of the frustration that Americans feel at seeing “only a small portion of the population riding the economy’s up escalator,” it was a sign that inequality had simply become too obvious, and too harmful, to be ignored.
Something similar has happened in economics. Historically, inequality was not something that academic economists, at least in the dominant neoclassical tradition, worried much about. Economics was about production and allocation, and the efficient use of scarce resources. It was about increasing the size of the pie, not figuring out how it should be divided. Indeed, for many economists, discussions of equity were seen as perilous, because there was assumed to be a necessary “tradeoff” between efficiency and equity: tinkering with the way the market divided the pie would end up making the pie smaller. As the University of Chicago economist Robert Lucas put it, in an oft-cited quote: “Of the tendencies that are harmful to sound economics, the most seductive, and…the most poisonous, is to focus on questions of distribution.”
Today, the landscape of economic debate has changed. Inequality was at the heart of the most popular economics book in recent memory, the economist Thomas Piketty’s Capital. The work of Piketty and his colleague Emmanuel Saez has been instrumental in documenting the rise of income inequality, not just in the US but around the world. Major economic institutions, like the IMF and the OECD, have published studies arguing that inequality, far from enhancing economic growth, actually damages it. And it’s now easy to find discussions of the subject in academic journals.


Universities take baby steps towards diversity

Cara Aitchison 

Cara Aitchison is vice-chancellor of St Mark & St John University in Plymouth 

The Guardian - Thursday 3 September 2015 

Since its foundation in 1583, there have been only 33 principals of the University of Edinburgh. Oxford University, on the other hand, has installed nearly 300 vice-chancellors in almost 800 years. But while the post-holders of the top job in Scotland’s and England’s top universities might differ in number, they share in common one salient fact: all 300-plus have been men.
But now, at last, there is a growing list of UK universities which have recently announced the appointment of their first female vice-chancellor, including the University of Oxford, where professor Louise Richardson will take up the post in 2016.
Higher education is an increasingly crowded, commercialised and competitive global market, and the sector is undoubtedly entering an era of greater diversity. The leadership skills required by vice-chancellors are more varied than ever, and the relationships between vice-chancellor, board of governors (university court in Scotland) and internal and external stakeholders are complex.
Steps towards diversity
The concern about the lack of diversity in choosing vice-chancellors is now mirrored by fears that the lack of diversity on university boards may stifle innovation and hinder the development of the ethical and sustainable relationships required to deliver successful global businesses.


Thursday, September 3, 2015

Some 3 billion people will enter the middle class by 2050, almost all of them in the developing world

Michael Schuman

Bloomberg Businessweek - September 3, 2015

Remember when emerging economies were supposed to save us all? After the 2008 financial crisis, the traditional engines of global growth—the U.S., Western Europe, and Japan—stumbled into recession. To the rescue came the once-poor developing world. China, India, Brazil, and other up-and-comers powered the global economy through the historic downturn. The meek were inheriting the earth.
Not completely, as it turns out.
Today, as the U.S. recovery gains steam and even debt-burdened Europe stirs to life, the emerging world has tumbled into trouble. Growth is slowing, currencies are plunging, and investors are fleeing. Fears of a protracted slowdown in China sparked a worldwide stock selloff in August. The turmoil has even resurrected terrifying memories of previous emerging-markets crises, like East Asia’s rout in 1997, igniting jitters that the fragile global economy faces yet another financial debacle.
But international investors are making a big mistake. The emerging world will be just fine, thank you. The global business community is allowing short-term uncertainty to cloud the long-term reality of the changing global economy: Emerging markets are still our future.


Where Are the Syrian Refugees?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Will Europe pass the refugee test?

Will Europe pass the refugee test?

Harun Yahya, Istanbul

JAKARTA POST - Mon, August 31 2015

Last week we saw tragic images from Macedonia of refugees trying to cross the border. Thousands of poor people massed on the frontier maybe never imagined they would be met with violence from the Macedonian police or razor wire intended to stop them crossing. These people had fled countries where wars were taking place and set off on voyages of death on bow-up boats to Greece.  The words roll easily off the tongue, but more than 2,000 migrants have died on the Mediterranean, the main scene of this activity. Just as they were rejoicing at having made it, those refugees managing to complete the voyage of death never expected to be welcomed in such a way by an European Union (EU) country.  We are speaking about Syrian, Eritrean, Somalian, Iraqi and Afghan refugees headed for Germany in order to guarantee their lives. They have left their countries, not for a better life or due to poverty, but to survive.  The words of one young refugee from the Macedonian border town of Gevgelija clarify the situation: “Any country is better than my country. In my country, there is war and killings.” Risking death to escape death is a huge statement of despair, yet sad to say, few people living in comfort may realize this.


12 migrants drown heading from Turkey to Greek island

HURRIYET DAILY NEWS - Wednesday,September 2 2015

At least 12 migrants believed to be Syrians drowned as two boats sank after leaving southwest Turkey for the Greek island of Kos, Doğan News Agency reported on Sept. 2. It said a boat carrying 16 Syrian migrants had sunk after leaving the Akyarlar area of the Bodrum peninsula, and seven people had died. Nine people were rescued and the coastguard was continuing its search for two people still missing. Separately, a boat carrying six Syrians sank after leaving Akyarlar on the same route. Three children and one woman drowned and two people survived after reaching the shore in life jackets. Tens of thousands of Syrians fleeing the conflict in their homeland have descended on Turkey's Aegean coast this summer to board boats to Greece, their gateway to the European Union. Aid agencies estimate that, over the past month, about 2,000 people a day have been making the short crossing to Greece's eastern islands on rubber dinghies.