The Weekly Reckoning is back. SHABOOMZ. Now your Sundays are complete again. Where else could you learn, for example, that the new Maroon 5 album is pretty terrible? Anyway, on with the reckoning of things on a weekly basis.
1. HASHTAG EXPLAINED Users of Twitter will by now have noticed the hashtag #EconomistBookReviews, usually accompanied by an atrociously neo-liberal summary of a beloved book (my favourite so far, via @AmericanStudier: “There’s no record at all of Sauron’s impressive record creating jobs for Orcs and growing the Mordor economy”). What’s it all about, you ask? You probably don’t want to know, but here goes.
In an anonymous review of The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism – a book whose titles succinctly captures its premise – author Edward Baptist was criticized for “not writ[ing] an objective history of slavery. Almost all the blacks in his book are victims, almost all the whites villains.” The reviewer tried to make the case that slave owners had a vested interest in treating slaves well in order to maximize their own profit, which reminds me of a woman I met in Texas who let me know that “colored folks were happier as slaves because they were cared for”. The Economist withdrew the piece and issued an apology, but appended the entire review for our delectation. Which I guess is The Economist’s version of #sorrynotsorry.
2. PUBLICATION DELAYED Margaret Atwood is writing (or will write, or maybe has written) a piece that won’t be published for 100 years. She’s the first author to volunteer work for The Future Library Project by Scottish artist Katie Patterson. Patterson has planted 1,000 trees in Oslo. Once a century has elapsed the trees will serve as the future medium for Atwood’s work, when they will be cruelly cut down and turned to pulp. I foresee a few scenarios: 1) in 2114 trees will be recognized as sentient beings and granted a full suite of rights; 2) the oceans will swallow most of the trees by that point, their skeletal boughs protruding from the cold salt waters of the Northeast Gyre; 3) starving hordes of displaced peoples escaping the NanoGov Mediterranean Comprise will have built a thriving treetop community within the canopy; or 4) we’ll all sit down to what we hope will be a literary masterpiece but will turn out to be a stream-of-consciousness rant against unscrupulous dry cleaners in the greater Toronto area.
3. MORTALITY CONSIDERED This is an incredibly fascinating piece about the unbelievable population decline in post-Communist Russia. Five per cent of the Russia n population dying between 1992 and 2007? Yikes.
4. PIGS THEFTED At this point I’m sick and tired of telling people to lock up their pigs. So maybe, just maybe, this story of pig thievery in Humboldt will convince you. What you do with this information I leave to you. *slips on sunglasses* *looks to the sky* *flies away*
5. TRANSPORTATION PRIVATIZED Hey look, that story about the pyjama-clad nine-year old who took back the means of transportation from the socialist tyranny of Saskatoon Transit has made Gawker.com. Not since Dick Assman has Saskatchewan been so famous.