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Reading

Sunday Reads

Long Reads

An Aesthetic of Blackness: Strange and Oppositional
by bell hooks

As artist and critic, I find compelling a radical aesthetic that seeks to uncover and restore links between art and revolutionary politics, particularly black liberation struggle, while offering an expansive critical foundation for aesthetic evaluation. Concern for the contemporary plight of black people necessitates that I interrogate my work to see if it functions as a force that promotes the development of critical consciousness and resistance movement.

Placial Justice: Restoring Rehabilitation and Correctional Legitimacy Through Architectural Design
By Victor J. St. John

If we must live with jails and prisons, which in my view is debatable, then the author suggests we use affective architecture to increase perceptions of justice, fairness, and positivity in criminal justice buildings.

Mass Incarceration Poses a Uniquely American Risk in the Coronavirus Pandemic
By Alice Speri

The fragmentation of the U.S. criminal justice system — a sprawling, decentralized bureaucracy with thousands of jurisdictions and powerholders — has long served to hide the full cost of mass incarceration. Comprehensive data on those the U.S. deprives of their freedom is virtually impossible to obtain in a timely fashion, if at all. The coronavirus crisis has laid bare this systemic failure more than ever. The country’s more than 3,000 jails, in particular, function like fiefdoms. While state corrections departments oversee prisons, and the Bureau of Prisons runs federal facilities, jails operate under the authority of thousands of local officials. Only a handful of states collect data from their jails.

Isaac Kasamani/AFP via Getty Images

Fighting the ghost
By Harriet Salem

This article was published in Delayed Gratification before the COVID crisis was a pandemic. The subject is Ebola and vaccination development. Reading this in light of COVID is very interesting and may point to some future directions. “In November 2019 a highly effective vaccine against Ebola was cleared for use by the European Commission. But as Harriet Salem found out on the border of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda, huge obstacles remain on the path to beating this horrifying disease.”

‘You’re Fired!’ Retrotopian Desire and Right-Wing Class Politics
By Simon Schleusener

This essay will explore the way in which the populist right has utilized the realms of popular culture and the media in its struggle for hegemony.1 Along these lines, I will focus on Donald Trump’s former reality show, The Apprentice, drawing attention to the show’s prefiguration of precisely the right-wing class politics that was in many ways constitutive of Trump’s election as president – and which is still one of the key features of Trumpism today. In the course of the essay, I will also analyze certain facets of the online culture wars (cf. Nagle 2017), particularly examining right-wing efforts to pit feminists and working-class men against each other.

State Surveillance: Exploiting Fear during the Pandemic Crisis?
By Kirsten Hillebrand

During the pandemic crisis, state surveillance measures violated citizens’ privacy rights to track the virus spread. Little civic protest resulted—“safety first”? Indeed, many measures were implemented during the crisis without ever having been discussed in advance of the event of a crisis, which may raise ethical considerations, as individual consent to surveillance may change while experiencing fear.

Shorter Reads

Free Up the Prisoners
Anis Shivani

Why immigrant advocates should move from reform of prisons to abolition. And, In Migrating to Prison, Cesar Cuauhtémoc García Hernández puts both the financial and political motives for the explosive rise of immigration imprisonment into broader context. Migrating to Prison makes the persuasive case that the astronomical boom in imprisonment of immigrants stems from exactly the same root causes, both financial and political, as the dramatic escalation in mass incarceration. The case for abolition of prisons in general and immigrant prisons in particular rests on the same grounds.

For us to heal, we must be willing to not fear, fear.
By Irene Lyon

Fear is a biological and survival necessity. The cascade of neurochemical reactions lets us know, at lightning speed, that something is not right. Nature designed fear with speediness in mind. To understand how we embed the biological message that fear is to be feared and that fear is supposed to be scary, it’s important to understand how early life experiences, usually traumatic ones, trap fear.

Now Is the Time to Take Radical Steps Toward Housing Equity
By Chris Tittle

The current pandemic and economic crisis reveals in new ways just how cruel the private housing market can be. In April, one third of all renters could not pay rent—and 20 million more people have filed for unemployment since then. Research by the Eviction Lab shows how damaging eviction has always been to families and communities – evictions during COVID-19 might effectively amount to a death sentence for some people.

Bonus Material

If you just need something beautiful and kind, then enjoy this performance by Ryuichi Sakamoto. Be sure to turn on subtitles/captions so you get the translation from Japanese.

Ryuichi Sakamoto: Playing the Piano for the Isolated
Performed on April 2, 2020 in Tokyo
Published on YouTube on May 16, 2020

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Reading

Sunday Reads

Long Reads

Creation in Confinement: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration
By Nicole R. Fleetwood

“In popular entertainment, journalism, and documentaries, images of “life behind bars” fascinate, horrify, and titillate. They also offer a familiarity with prison as a cornerstone institution of modern life, but one that the majority of people never enter. The nonincarcerated public comes to recognize prison and the people in prison almost exclusively through a set of rehearsed images created by the state and by nonincarcerated image-makers—images like arrest photos, mug shots, the minimal furnishings of the prison cell, fortress-like walls, barbed wire, bars, metal doors, and the executioner’s chair.”

Russell Craig: Self Portrait, 2016

Russell Craig/Photo by Kisha Bari, provided by the Soze Agency
Russell Craig: Self Portrait, 2016
Russell Craig/Photo by Kisha Bari, provided by the Soze Agency

The datafication of teaching in Higher Education: critical issues and perspectives
By Ben Williamson, Sian Bayne & Suellen Shay

“Although ‘datafication’ – the rendering of social and natural worlds in machine-readable digital format – has most clearly manifested in the commercial domain, such as in online commerce (e.g. Amazon), social media (Facebook, Twitter), and online advertising (Google), it has quickly spread outwards to encompass a much wider range of services and sectors. These include, controversially, the use of facial recognition and predictive analytics in policing, algorithmic forms of welfare allocation, automated medical diagnosis, and – the subject of this special issue – the datafication of education.”

Why climate change is a pandemic in slow motion (and what that can teach us)
By Rob Wijnberg

“If this time is showing us anything, it’s this: we are able to transform society on a global scale in order to protect ourselves from danger. Now is the time to solve not just one crisis, but two at the same time.”

Short Reads

Beyond Rights: COVID—19, Conservatives and the Responsibilities of American Christianity
By David C. McDuffie

“In claiming religious freedom as a justification to act contrary to public health advice, some conservative Christian leaders in the United States are choosing to risk American lives so that their congregations can attend to their spiritual needs. Though most Christian communities have suspended traditional worship in adherence of social distancing guidelines, David C. McDuffie sees the defiant behaviour of the minority as rooted in a common supernatural understanding of Christian duty.”

We’re Still Living and Dying in the Slaveholders’ Republic
By Ibram X. Kendi

“Slaveholders disavowed a state that secured any form of communal freedom—the freedom of the community from slavery, from disenfranchisement, from exploitation, from poverty, from all the demeaning and silencing and killing. The freedom from. The freedom from harm. Which is to say, in coronavirus terms, the freedom from infection.”

How Serbian activists started a nationwide anti-authoritarian protest during COVID-19 lockdown
By Miloš Budimir

What began as a nightly cheer for healthcare workers has inspired thousands of people to bang pots and pans, blow whistles and blast music to protest Serbia’s ruling regime.

The COVID Crisis Is Reinforcing the Hunger Industrial Complex
By Andrew Fisher

“The existence of this unholy alliance poses the fundamental question of: “Why end hunger when anti-hunger work is so profitable to all parties?” Through supporting anti-hunger organizations, corporations reduce their labor costs, garbage disposal fees, and tax bills while building their reputations as socially responsible firms.”

Is Our War With The Environment Leading To Pandemics?
By Fiona Armstrong, Anthony Capon And Ro McFarlane

“It might be clear to readers here that human health depends on healthy ecosystems. But this is rarely considered in policy decisions on projects that affect natural ecosystems – such as land clearing, major energy or transport infrastructure projects and industrial-scale farming.”

BONUS – Videos

Life-Making, Capitalism and the Pandemic: Feminist Ideas about Women’s Work with Susan Ferguson and Tithi Bhattacharya

Martin Luther King, Jr. on Income Inequality and Redistribution of Wealth + James Baldwin

Categories
Reading

Sunday Reads

This week I was tested for COVID-19 because I had a few of the symptoms associated with the virus. It took 3-days to get the results and I’m happy to share it came back negative. Therefore, the first two articles are about COVID.

COVID Test Results

Most of us have received vaccinations at some point in our lives. If we’ve traveled, you may have taken additional vaccinations. No vaccine has been created in less than four years (mumps in 1963-1967). The long read on the front page of today’s New York Times offers insight into the complexity of vaccines. Profits and Pride at Stake, Race to Vaccine Intensifies.

The next article takes a unique deeper look at COVID-19 as it relates to quantum phenomena. The article offers two contrasting future scenarios – Surveillance capitalism and Ecological and social emancipation. We look at the spiritual sphere, social sphere, and political sphere. Searching for the Anti-Virus | Covid-19 as Quantum Phenomenon.

I’ve long known the Amish shun traditional health insurance. And because some Mennonites (my background) also shun insurance, I was very interested in reading this article. If you are remotely curious how The Amish handle healthcare, then this article is for you. One can see the benefits of community-based care that other communities could likewise benefit from. The Amish Health Care System.

This next one is a history essay. As an undergrad, I received my degree in History and typically enjoy reading these types of essays. It is also important for anyone working in social justice as we look at the deportation of native peoples on Turtle Island. It also carries present-day implications, especially in light of the Navajo Nation being among the highest infection rates in North America. Indian Removal.

My last piece is a few years old (2015) and primarily for library nerds. It’s short too! “Databases embody the exclusionary nature of academic discourse. Students are on the outside, in search boxes, using natural language that the database most likely won’t understand. On the inside of the databases are millions of articles written by experts.” Covers gatekeeping, socioeconomic status, and justice within the realm of academic discourse. Smashing the Gates of Academic Discourse.

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Politics Reading Technology

Sunday Reads

Hello friends. We’ve been spending a lot of time in our homes these past weeks. It feels disruptive. Unsettled. I hope you find these articles interesting.

One of my favorite places to read is The Intercept. They focus on investigative journalism. Today I will be spending 5-hours on Zoom calls. And since Zoom has been in the news a great deal lately, this article takes a deep dive into some technical aspects of the tool. Did you know they’ve gone from about 10m users to over 300m users in the last few weeks? Yikes! Read Zoom’s Encryption is “Not Suited for Secrets” and has Surprising Links to China, Researchers Discover.

A short article from Behavioral Scientist on why social distancing can feel so difficult and how we can improve upon it. Increasing Social Connection While “Social Distancing”

Yes, we’re still in the middle of an election for president. This article from Current Affairs takes a long look at both Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. It actually has something to say for people in both camps. It’s long. Everything Has Changed Overnight.

For the nerds and librarians: Wikipedia Is the Last Best Place on the Internet. A fun and interesting read from Wired.

Back in the 80s, the only solution for getting sober was going to Alcoholics Anonymous. Today, there is a plethora of solutions such as Refuge Recovery, Celebrate Recovery, and SMART Recovery. To name a few. But which one really works? This article in the New York Times tries to answer that question in Alcoholics Anonymous vs. Other Approaches: The Evidence Is Now In.

Grab a cup of coffee and happy reading.
Kenley

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Coffee and letter
Categories
Reading

Sunday Reads

Normally this semi-weekly post will include 4-5 long reads to enjoy. This week I offer only one. It’s definitely a long read and even more definitely worth your time. Please read.

The Coronation by Charles Eisenstein. It’s about the coronavirus but so so much more.

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Buddhism Environment Library Reading

Sunday Reads

I often seek inspiration from people or communities that step out and stand for something. Actually doing something meaningful. The Wet’suwet’en Nation is one such community. In the effort to protect the environment, we need communities like this to be heard. No Surrender: Inside the Wet’suwet’en Protest Camp That Refused to Cede Land for a Pipeline, from The Intercept, looks in detail at their efforts.

Speaking of stepping out. My colleague Meredith Farkas did just that by opening writing about mental health within the library community. Check out LISMentalHealth: That time my brain and job tried to kill me from Information Wants To Be Free. I know the feelings expressed here all to well.

As a Buddhist practitioner, I was very much appreciated this next piece by Kritee published in Lions Roar. We too can and should take action. Why Bodhisattvas Need to Disrupt the Status Quo.

Aldous Huxley argued that all religions in the world were underpinned by universal beliefs and experiences. Was he right? What can we learn from Perennial Philosophy? Are we seeing more spiritual convergence?

And now for something completely different, and yet, still right up my alley. This one is a tech piece. Is Apple an illegal monopoly? For those who know me, I’m definitely an Apple guy and strongly situated in their camp. So, I found this article interesting. Apple’s Secret Monopoly.

Happy reading!

Categories
Reading

Sunday Reads

I’ve been suffering from some boredom lately. In some ways it’s a good thing, but it’s definitely not something I’m not very used too. When I came across this article by Neel Burton, I had to give it a read. He writes, “How might we, mere mortals, best cope with boredom?” in Boredom is but a window to a sunny day beyond the gloom.

A close follow up to the boredom, is the benefit of walking. Ferris Jabr explores this idea in Why Walking Helps Is Think. Just today I took a 3-mile walk without headphones and I was surprised at home much creativity arose.

Another topic that I’ve been living with has to do with liminal space. I’m definitely in between. Claudia Smith takes this to driving, parking lots, and hotel hallways. When her narrative takes the reader down Westheimer, I can completely envision the space having spent a few months in Houston last year. Check out In Between.

Some of the finest investigative journalism comes from The Intercept. This piece is a wake up call for the environmental movement, particularly in light of the current administration. Makes me feel some solidarity with those in Oregon struggling to make a difference. Read A Canadian Energy Company Bought an Oregon Sheriff’s Unit by Will Parish and Alleen Brown.

Illustration: Alex Petrowsky for The Intercept

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The last piece today is food for thought. It’s a criticism of the left and how they’ve lost their way. It’s not all to agree with, but certainly enough to turn a head. Umair Haque writes, “When the left gives up on its fundamental values of gentleness, decency, humanity, friendship, expansiveness, curiousity — and replaces them with spite, rage, intimidation, hostility, conformity, and tribalism…in what way is it different from the hard right?” in It Was the Worst Decade for the Left Since the 1930s. How Come Nobody Much Noticed — or Cares?

I hope you enjoy these pieces as much as I did.

Kenley