The Ides of March Tikkunista Tweets
There’s a new pope, and that’s big spiritual news if you are Catholic, and political news if you’re not. Why? Because it marks the change in political power within the Roman Catholic church to the South, as the New York Times highlights in an excellent infographic. That’s part of the wider flow in political and economic power from the North to the South: Juan Cole offers ten examples. The Guardian offers 13 key facts on the new Pope, and follows up with a detailed look at his “Occupy the Vatical” economic views; “Human rights are violated by…unfair economic structures creating huge inequalities.” Andy Borowitz satirizes US/ Vatican elections. In particular, one can see the huge synergy between the rise of left-wing governments in South America, and a local pope who supports those views. Here are a wonderful set of graphs showing the change in the lives of Venezuelans under Chavez, and a nicely nuanced piece summing up his legacy.
It was International Women’s Day last week, and here’s an In Focus spread of 38 pictures. You can watch the the first part of Anita Sarkeesian’s work on women in video games, which shows how things haven’t progressed far from the 1950’s, when radioactive dirt was spread on a TV model’s face to measure the efficacy of different skin creams. But some women have the power, as I observe in an enthusiastic review of Patti Smith’s appearance in Toronto last week. Change is coming, and perhaps faster to the Middle East than most places, as you can see by exploring a dynamic new website Free Arabs, (slogan: Democracy, Secularism, Fun). Stephen Walt pulls together a variety of sources looking at the chances of change emerging from Obama’s upcoming Israel trip (synthesis: no), while there’s a wonderful interview with American Jewish Poet Hilton Obenzinger on Israel, Zionism, Judaism and the differences between them.
Help, it’s the police! Forbes is frightened by the sheer power of the National Security juggernaut: “1.6 Billion Rounds Of Ammo For Homeland Security? It’s Time For A National Conversation.” Cory Doctorow’s new book, Homeland is out, and it’s a wonderful detailed story of how Marcus, the hero of Cory’s previous book Little Bother fights Homeland Security. WSJ compared it favourably to 1984 and it’s a free download from Cory’s website, where you can then buy a print copy for a school that wants it. Cory’s book also offers a state-of-the-art look at surveillance technology, and ways of fighting it. That’s something that’s not going away, as a minute spent on this real-time overview of cyber-attacks throughout the world will convince you. Money is not only funnelling into Homeland security: it’s funnelling into banks. Data is Beautiful offers a lovely infographic of how the 37 US banks of 1990 have merged into four, while CNN reports that over 60% of US bankruptcies are caused by medical bills. In Europe, Joseph Stiglitz reports, election results show voters increasingly rejecting austerity.
Not only are voters fighting back, but so is nature. Despite climate change deniers, plants are moving north, as this fine and comprehensive piece from climate crocks shows. The only thing to do is to align with nature, and never have you seen a more delightful video on how to do that than this Ron Finley TED talk on being a guerrilla gardener in South Central L.A. Plant seeds are blowing in the wind, and a new study on wind farms reports that “wind farm sickness” is psychosomatic.
Four essential essays for you this week. The first is My Father/ My Husband, by D. Lawless on his wife’s descent into Alzheimer’s. It’s seven pages, and so good that it’s worth reading on Amazon’s “look Inside” link. Really. Getting Schooled, by Garret Keizer is a powerful piece about teaching in US high schools, and the challenges and rewards. If you are or have been a teacher, you’ll want to read this one. The Edge has a hugely entertaining piece on further research into how the languages we speak shape the way we think, and we close with a photo essay showing children the world over with their favourite toys.
Lots of the photos in this week’s links were taken with perfect timing. Twisted Sifter leads, with “50 most perfectly timed photos ever”, but clearing your roof of snow in a single move, and how to NOT pass another car (even in Russia) are close behind. So is this shot of Pluto and Zeus fighting it out (sibling rivalry?) as lightning hits a volcano. Other photo spreads from Big Picture are on shorelines, and this year’s Iditarod Trail race. And nothing could be a more perfect Twitter feed than this link, to a live soundtrack of the birds in the Brazilian rainforest.