An incomparable video tribute to an incomparable actor and artist. Thanks to Caleb Slain for the video.
A brief homage to one of the great athletes of my childhood. I was never the biggest Allen Iverson fan, but in his prime there was no better perimeter scorer. From this video, you can see his preternatural scoring touch. Happy retirement to the Answer.
I love coffee but “I hate space” #gravity #gravitymovie #theoscars #theacademyawards #sandrabullock #georgeclooney #michaelbreach #baristart #latteportrait #latteart #instadaily #picoftheday #epicfilms #space #hollywood #baristaofthestars #nyc #astronaut #nasa #spacetravel
World’s greatest comic-strip creator Bill Watterson (Calvin & Hobbes) debuted his first cartoon in 18 years in this poster for the documentary Stripped. The doc deals with the decline of the newspaper industry and the rise of the internet, and the parallel shift in traditional print cartoons versus digital imitations. Pretty fascinating.
Note: This short screed is a reaction to this article in the New York Times. Read that first.
By now pretty much everyone with a internet connection and a Gawker bookmark has heard the story of the soccer-field beheading in rural Brazil last year. (If you haven’t, Jere Longman wrote the most comprehensive and gripping account for the New York Times.) A couple months ago there was another ritual beheading, this time of a former professional soccer player who had his quartered remains delivered to his wife by the perpetrators.
Multiple perspectives have come from these now-world news events, but these crimes — just two examples of the unspeakable, everyday crimes that constitute the skyrocketing murder rate in Brazil — really boil down to a fundamental question: “What is a human life worth in Brazil?”
In many ways this question is a difficult one for Americans to understand. For all Americans talk about inequality, infringement and disenfranchisement, there is a still a basic, inherent regard for our fellow citizens that’s built into our psyches whether we like it or not.
Sure, we say “fuck the police” but we still expect them to be there if someone breaks into our house or pulls a knife on the subway. We say “fuck the government” but we pay our taxes and in return we’re given incredible social services at a fraction of the cost we would pay if they were privately distributed. (Imagine curbside trash pick-up being gouged at Uber cab rates during the recent rash of snowstorms in New York.)
Therein lies the fundamental misunderstanding we have with the rest of the world. We can read and study and converse as much as we want but at a certain point there’s just too much of a gap between the expectations we have for our own lives and those in the rest of the world.
Back to the beheadings (this being only the most recent method du jour for sending a message in Brazil). I would wage that many Americans, upon first hearing this news, asked “Where were the authorities? Maybe I can comprehend this senseless violence — it happens everywhere, to a certain extent — but I’m more concerned that there’s been little retribution for these murders.”
That’s where the above NYT Op-Ed comes in. In it, Sao Paolo writer Vanessa Barbara talks about the military police — a relic from the former dictatorship — and their unfortunate position in Brazil. They seem to have no friends, existing outside the social caste (70 percent of Brazilians don’t trust them) and the government (they can be discharged for organizing politically in any way), all while being the only line of defense between the influential and hyper-violent organized crime units and the Brazilian populace. They’re subjected to military law and, therein, subjected to harsher punishments for mistakes than many of the dangerous villains they hunt on the favela streets. They are paid next to nothing, and often take on (illegal) work as security guards.
In short, the police force has been systematically dehumanized by the very government it serves. Rendered helpless and hopeless, the police have long exacted revenge on their enemies. And for a long time, that has largely been limited to the criminal presence in Brazil. Now, as Barbara notes, that has extended to middle class protestors who fill the street during the ongoing protests that will extend into the World Cup. While police should be the leading the charge for government reform, they are instead extending the same violent retribution to innocent citizens that they have extended to criminals for years.
So why are we as a global community surprised when the police react — or better yet, don’t react — the way they do? When they execute a criminal in the back of a police car, rather than seeing him set free by the courts only to arrest him again days later, why should we be shocked? When they don’t bring charges against the obvious suspect, why should be taken aback? When they shoot or beat senseless a peaceful protester, why does this treatment seem so cruel and unusual?
Because it is, for us.
Crime is a problem in Brazil, and will continue to make headlines through mid-July. But when we hear these stories of unspeakable violence, we must take a step back and realize that crime is crime everywhere — everyone knows the basic difference between right and wrong — but the way a country governs, the way the police enforce the laws, the way the civilians see the dichotomy between police and organized crime, those are fluid. And they’re especially fluid in Brazil.
Welcome to the World Cup 2014.
In the first place, I admit that I treed a rheumatic grandfather of mine in the winter of 1850. He was old and inexpert in climbing trees, but with the heartless brutality that is characteristic of me, I ran him out of the front door in his nightshirt at the point of a shotgun and caused him to bowl up a maple tree, where he remained all night, while I emptied shot into his legs. I did this because he snored.
— Mark Twain, in The Presidential Candidate, an essay published prior to the 1880 election. In it, Twain declares his intention to run for office and proceeds to “own up in advance to all the wickedness I have done.” Like much of Twain’s work it is almost eerily applicable to the present political situation, and it’s almost as if Twain is transcribing directly from Stephan Colbert’s cue cards.
(Thanks to Lapham’s Quarterly for posting the essay).
Thanks, Obama (c/o Charlie Hulme)