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Melissa Selby

Items from 9 people Melissa Selby follows

Todd Suomela
  • Laura McKenna’s piece is part of a perennial microgenre in the world of #Content: the “What Are They Thinking?” piece. It’s a type of essay that presents a certain group’s professional choices as daft and self-injurious, and asks (with more or less faux-sympathy, depending) why they persist. Don’t they know how deluded this is? Don’t they see? The secret sauce in this well-worn type of click-generation is that it provides people who don’t feel very good about their lives with some other group of people who, we are to imagine, feel even worse about theirs. I may never have written that novel; I may not have played past single-A ball; I may have never gotten further than Improv Olympic; but, by god, I’m not some sad French poetry PhD student. That person, that’s the real loser. The person set up as the object of greater scorn isn’t a gas station worker or someone on food stamps, because those people are seen as too lowly to be part of the competition in the first place. The targets have to be people who are seen as potential competition within aspirational culture. The ego-salving function of “What Are They Thinking?” pieces is what they call in the biz the “value added,” the click generator. It’s such a proven revenue generator that Slate hired Rebecca Schuman to do it full time.
Todd Suomela
  • IMAGINE a future in which humanity’s accumulated wisdom about Earth — our vast experience with weather trends, fish spawning and migration patterns, plant pollination and much more — turns increasingly obsolete. As each decade passes, knowledge of Earth’s past becomes progressively less effective as a guide to the future. Civilization enters a dark age in its practical understanding of our planet.

    To comprehend how this could occur, picture yourself in our grandchildren’s time, a century hence. Significant global warming has occurred, as scientists predicted. Nature’s longstanding, repeatable patterns — relied on for millenniums by humanity to plan everything from infrastructure to agriculture — are no longer so reliable. Cycles that have been largely unwavering during modern human history are disrupted by substantial changes in temperature and precipitation.

    As Earth’s warming stabilizes, new patterns begin to appear. At first, they are confusing and hard to identify. Scientists note similarities to Earth’s emergence from the last ice age. These new patterns need many years — sometimes decades or more — to reveal themselves fully, even when monitored with our sophisticated observing systems. Until then, farmers will struggle to reliably predict new seasonal patterns and regularly plant the wrong crops. Early signs of major drought will go unrecognized, so costly irrigation will be built in the wrong places. Disruptive societal impacts will be widespread.

  • Civilization’s understanding of Earth has expanded enormously in recent decades, making humanity safer and more prosperous. As the patterns that we have come to expect are disrupted by warming temperatures, we will face huge challenges feeding a growing population and prospering within our planet’s finite resources. New developments in science offer our best hope for keeping up, but this is by no means guaranteed.

    Our grandchildren could grow up knowing less about the planet than we do today. This is not a legacy we want to leave them. Yet we are on the verge of ensuring this happens.

     
     

Todd Suomela

A toxic web: what the Victorians can teach us about online abuse | Technology | The Guardian

Connects the long struggle to standardize food safety in the 19c to the current struggle to respond to online harassment.

Shared by Todd Suomela, 7 saves total

Todd Suomela
  • Little in Trump’s biography suggested he would grow up to lead a mass protest movement rooted in anti-establishment rage. How can a person who was handed such a plushy life speak so naturally to working-class resentments? How is it a man who inherited a fortune can so confidently reassure the Last—men and women who only a year or so ago he would have cheerfully called out as “losers”—that they, under President Trump, shall be First? Avoiding a lot of Rosebud doublespeak, I think we can trace Trump’s political instinct to a less personal, more sociological source. In this we need only look to his birth certificate. There we see that Donald John Trump was born on June 14, 1946. Is it possible Trumpismo, in its disdain for norms of speech and conduct, in its underlying craving for apocalyptic violence, is traceable to one simple fact? In almost plain sight, beneath the worldly swagger and breathtaking arrogance, lies Donald Trump the baby boomer.
  • The baby boomers were made a generation by a war they did not fight; a war, in fact, they evaded fighting. Between the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, in August 1964, and March 1973, when the last troops exited Saigon, 27 million young American men came of draft-eligible age. Of those 27 million, 11 million were called up, and only 1.6 million saw combat duty. In the ’60s, thanks to a brutal and unpopular war, draft evasion became something of a cottage industry. Medical doctors, dentists, psychiatrists—all were enlisted by middle-class parents to get their kids out of having to fight. In addition to the standard deferments, a young man with a high IQ, social connections, or a decent quantity of opportunistic cynicism could avoid being sent into combat, often simply by appearing respectable (haircut, yes sir, no sir) in front of a draft board.
  • Trump’s identity as a boomer wasn’t made at Woodstock or Selma. Like most boomers who grew up in the ’50s, he is a member of his generation by virtue of having evaded service. But only next comes the defining move: After evading service, the boomer proclaims, against all the evidence, a personal authenticity rooted in a militarylike valor. Outside the Democratic convention hall in 1968, Norman Mailer flattered the legion of young protesters by telling them they “had the courage to live at war for four days in a city which was run by a beast,” referring to Mayor Daley and the thuggish Chicago police force, to which the assembled responded with a roar of absolute delight. Over and over, the author of The Naked and the Dead exhorted the protesters as fellow soldiers. This is only one high-profile instance: Read any first-person account of the protest movement, and you find young collegians prying themselves out from under the shadow of their low-status doubles, dying in Vietnam, by announcing themselves as warriors.

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