Friday, May 20, 2016

Life on Earth

From recent correspondence

Edited by Morris Dean

Today four Canada geese flew close overhead going northward honking to one another. My heart leapt up with joy to be a part of life on Earth that includes such creatures. I winced to remember that I am also a part of the race of creatures some of whom have spent thousands of hours interpreting something they call Scriptures in order to “prove” that the son of a god died to ensure that they could have everlasting life in some fantasyland beyond their fondest hopes. I had the feeling-thought that such animals as Canada geese are at least as noble as us humans, whose great intellects we use for foolishness as often as not.

A good elegy of the Obama presidency “Liberal-In-Chief” [Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, May 23]. Excerpt:
...[T]he President, confronting frustrations with the fact that he wasn’t able to alter the world with the wave of a rhetorical wand, offered an alternative view of how big democratic societies work. They are, he said, like ocean liners: you turn the wheel slowly, and the big ship pivots. “Sometimes your job is just to make stuff work,” Obama said. “Sometimes the task of government is to make incremental improvements or try to steer the ocean liner two degrees north or south so that, ten years from now, suddenly we’re in a very different place than we were. At the moment, people may feel like we need a fifty-degree turn; we don’t need a two-degree turn. And you say, ‘Well, if I turn fifty degrees, the whole ship turns’ ” over. Note that the President wasn’t saying that big ships aren’t worth turning, just that it takes time. Their very bigness is what makes them turn slowly, but their bigness is also what makes them worth turning. [read more]
One of the pieces of correspondence in your April 8 post, “Bernie Sanders occupies Wall Street?,” referred to an article noting that Bernie Sanders’s UK equivalent is Jeremy Corbyn. Just who is Jeremy Corbyn? “Enter Left” [Sam Knight, The New Yorker, May 23] supplies a readable answer. Excerpt:
The astonishing political emergence of Jeremy Corbyn, the left-wing leader of the British Labour Party, is the sort of thing that passes for normal in Western democracies these days. Since the economic crash in 2008, anti-establishment types have cropped up everywhere. Corbyn, a sixty-six-year-old socialist, had never held a position of authority in his party or in government before being elected last summer on a platform of benign economic populism. He is Syriza in Greece; he is Podemos in Spain; he is Sanders in America. His politics rebel against a Britain that is eager to join foreign wars and pallid in the face of social inequality. “There has to be some kind of a reckoning,” Corbyn told me recently. “You actually have to run an economy for the benefit of people, not run for the benefit of hedge-fund managers.”
    Corbyn believes in grassroots policymaking, so many of his plans aren’t fully worked out yet, but they include renationalizing Britain’s railways and giving up its nuclear weapons. He wants to raise taxes on the rich, strengthen trade unions, and replace the House of Lords with an elected chamber. If Labour is reëlected in the next general election, in 2020, Corbyn envisages broad public involvement—in the form of co-operatives or government control—in the nation’s largely privatized energy and housing markets. He has mused in the past about abolishing the British Army. Universities will be free. [read more]
Graveyard : This eerie scene was shot at Menindee Lake in far west New South Wales, and was published in the French National Geographic in May. Julie Fletcher [the photographer] says the “surreal milky green water is a natural phenomenon caused by electromagnetic activity from the lightning hitting the water’s surface.”

Grateful for correspondence, Morris Dean

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