“The Abby Hoffman of the Right: Donald Trump.” By David Brooks.

The following essay by David Brooks  was published today in the NYT.  It is a must-read essay.

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It has to be admitted that Donald Trump is doing exactly what he was elected to do.

He was not elected to be a legislative president. He never showed any real interest in policy during the campaign. He was elected to be a cultural president. He was elected to shred the dominant American culture and to give voice to those who felt voiceless in that culture. He’s doing that every day.

What’s troubling to me is that those who are the targets of his assaults seem to have no clue about what is going on. When they feel the most righteous, like this past weekend, they are actually losing and in the most peril.

Let me try to explain what I think is happening:

After World War II the Protestant establishment dominated the high ground of American culture and politics. That establishment eventually failed. It tolerated segregation and sexism, led the nation into war in Vietnam and became stultifying.

So in the late 1960s along came a group of provocateurs like Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin and the rest of the counterculture to upend the Protestant establishment. People like Hoffman were buffoons, but also masters of political theater.

They never attracted majority support for their antics, but they didn’t have to. All they had to do was provoke, offend the crew-cut crowd, generate outrage and set off a cycle that ripped apart the cultural consensus.

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The Trouble With Living in a Swamp: Houston’s Floods Explained (First published in 2016)

This is an amazing read given the situation in Houston.  Via the Houston Chronicle  (2016). As bait, I’ve pasted in the first paragraphs.

Hubris comes to mind when reading this. The ass-kicking, oil-drilling Texas cowboy giving Earth the finger.

King Solomon comes to mind: “…vanity of vanities, all is vanity…”  950 BCE

A link to the article follows.

 


“The Trouble With Living in a Swamp”  by Dylan Baddour (2016)

“Things get bad when Houston floods. Water swamps homes, takes lives and shuts down the city. But it should be so much worse. There shouldn’t even be a city here.

But there is, and most Houstonians casually accept the enormous drainage system—the bayous, creeks and gullies—that keep it precariously dry in a former wetland.

Early settlers drained marshes to build Houston town in a muddy bog. Fast forward less than 200 years and the city stands above water, mostly, thanks mostly to 2,500 miles of managed waterways—the flying distance from Houston to Quito, Ecuador—that whisk the floods out to sea.”

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http://www.houstonchronicle.com/local/explainer/article/The-trouble-with-living-in-a-swamp-Houston-7954514.php

 

Wonder

This little elf girl earthchild. Her cinched belt, her smock, her disappeared feet, and, most especially, her wonder. May we never show too wise to give over to genuine wonder. To hold there.


Photo: Iain McKell

http://iainmckell.com/

 

 

Still More Sad

First.

Today in Steubenville, OH,  a man shot and wounded the judge who was overseeing a wrongful death lawsuit again him. The shooter, who was killed, was the father of a Steubenville High School football player who, when he was 16, was convicted of raping a 16 year-old girl.

Second

James Wright, a poet whose work was well known in the 1960’s and 70’s, was born in Martin’s Ferry, WV. Martins Ferry is next door to Steubenville, OH. It is (and was) coal country, and both towns and the area generally have always been stressed economically. Wright’s most famous poem (it’s brief) is titled “Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, OH.”  It is about high school football. It is about poverty and despair and violence.  It is about how the brief moments of high school glory can help folks (young and old) to momentarily forget.

Three

I hope you will take a few moments to notice and work through how the news story plays off the poem, how it enriches the poem, how it makes life still more sad.

Four

AUTUMN BEGIN IN MARTINS FERRY, OH

In the Shreve High football stadium,
I think of Polacks nursing long beers in Tiltonsville,
And gray faces of Negroes in the blast furnace at Benwood,
And the ruptured night watchman of Wheeling Steel,
Dreaming of heroes.

All the proud fathers are ashamed to go home.
Their women cluck like starved pullets,
Dying for love.

Therefore,
Their sons grow suicidally beautiful
At the beginning of October,
And gallop terribly against each other’s bodies.

If Everyone Ate Beans Instead of Beef

What follows is an excerpt from an article written by James Hamblin and published online by The Atlantic on August 7, 2017. To read the entire article, follow the link at the bottom of the post.

I think you will be surprised by what you read here.

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Helen Harwatt is a researcher trained in environmental nutrition, a field focused on developing food systems that balance human health and sustainability. She’s interested in policy, but realistic about how much progress can be expected under the aforementioned leadership. So she and colleagues have done research on maximizing the impacts of individuals. As with so many things in life and health, that tends to come down to food.

Recently Harwatt and a team of scientists from Oregon State University, Bard College, and Loma Linda University calculated just what would happen if every American made one dietary change: substituting beans for beef. Continue reading