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Category Archives: New Utopia

Taylor Swift Just Dropped Her New Song, and It’s Her Darkest Yet – Glamour

Posted: August 25, 2017 at 4:28 am

PHOTO: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Stop everything you’re doing right now: Taylor Swift just dropped her new single, and it’s friggin’ amazing.

It’s called “Look What You Made Me Do,” and it’s by far Swift’s darkest song yet. Listen to it, below:

The track is certainly a departure from Swift’s 1989 sound ( and aesthetic ). She swaps anthemic choruses and sun-drenched hooks for a grimy, electro-tinged bass line. Lyrically, she’s never been this director angry. ” I don’t like your little games. Don’t like your tilted stage. The role you made me play of the fool. No, I don’t like you,” Swift snarls in the beginning of the track before crashing into the cool, techno chorus. “Oooh, look what you made me do,” she repeats over and over with breathy intensity.

The climax of the song happens at the 2:50 mark, when Speak literally speaks, “I’m sorry, the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Oh, ’cause she’s dead!” If this doesn’t signify the beginning of her new era, nothing does.

This new song is the culmination of six days of mysterious promo. Swift hinted new music was coming on Friday (August 18) when she blacked out her Instagram and Twitter pages . However, things really kicked into overdrive on Monday (August 21) when she dropped a video of a snake’s tail on social media. Fans immediately took this as a reference to the snake emoji people started using to describe her after the Kim Kardashian-Snapchat debacle. (Remember that nonsense from 2016 ?) Swift followed this up with another snake video on Tuesdayand then a third one Wednesday morning.

And that’s when it happened: At 12:30 P.M. EST Wednesday, Swift revealed the name of her album ( Reputation ), the cover art (see below), and its release date (November 10). She also included a message that her first single would drop Thursday night, and now here we are: in pop-music utopia.

So what can we expect from this new album? This single suggests Swift’s new direction is darker and grittier than 1989, which took home the 2016 Grammy Award for Album of the Year. Fans should still expect a pop aesthetic, but one grounded in harder beats and sonics than, say, “Blank Space.” We’re definitely on board with that.

This new music is coming off the heels of Swift winning her countersuit against former radio DJ David Mueller. (If you’re unfamiliar with that story, Swift claimed Mueller reached under her skirt and grabbed her bare bottom during a meet-and-greet in 2013. Mueller said the claims were false and sued Swift for $3 million in damages. Swift countersued for just $1and the court sided with her.)

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Utopia: why making fun of government is our favourite joke – The Sydney Morning Herald

Posted: at 4:28 am

Attacking the government is rather like attacking Donald Trump: there’s never any shortage of material and there’s always a ready constituency of folks who will applaud you for doing it.

One wonders, however, at the artistic merits of going after such an obvious target. Is this preaching to the converted? Is it possible to come up with something that has not already been said?

Those questions are not answered by Utopia, a satirical look at the operation of government bureaucracy from Australia’s Working Dog team. Commissioned by the ABC, Utopia takes a fly-on-the-wall look at life within the fictional Nation Building Authority as it oversees some of the nation’s largest infrastructure projects.

Utopiasettles into a familiar pattern. Episodes usually begin with senior NBA bureaucrats Tony Woodford (Rob Sitch) and Nat Russell (Celia Pacquola) absorbed in the detail of a major infrastructure project. They are supported by a team of young staffers, who are invariably too preoccupied with the latest office fad a team dinner, a charity fun run, a new office couch to competently discharge their duties.

More trouble arrives in the form of government liaison officer Jim Gibson (Anthony Lehmann), aided by media manager Rhonda Stewart (Kitty Flanagan). Gibson is there on behalf of the Minister, who is anxious to proceed with the next shiny new “announceable”. Woodford and Russell give frank and fearless advice. They point out major flaws with the policy. They suggest cheaper, more meritorious alternatives. Gibson and Stewart counter, in terms which make it clear that they and their political masters have no capacity to absorb policy detail and are entirely focused on buzzwords and political outcomes.

“The Minister doesn’t care about your picky clauses he cares about nation building!” scolds Stewart.

The episode usually concludes with the revelation that the NBA’s advice has been ignored and the Minister has implemented the policy anyway. Occasionally, the Minister himself makes a cameo appearance. He adds little to the narrative, other than to confirm that the government’s priorities are those conveyed by buzzwords.

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Utopia’s premise, that government policy is driven by spin and short-term political considerations, resonates in the current cynical climate.

However, the writers of Utopia make their point by reducing pivotal players in the policy formation process to idiots. The Minister, Gibson and Stewart are straw men, delivering obviously untenable arguments, which guide the viewer to thinkno one in government knows what they are talking about.

It’s a lazy critique, but the writers get away with it because the viewers are entirely sympathetic.Lampooning “those clowns in Canberra” is hardly a controversial undertaking. Utopia strikes a chord with anyone who has had an experience with government inertia or organisational incompetence. It resonates with those who are concerned about the use of slogans and buzzwords as a substitute for real policy discussion.

Unfortunately, however, there is no depth in the analysis. The minister’s a dope. His liaison officer is a used car salesman. The media manager is all spin. These characters are presented with as much human complexity as the Cookie Monster, which explains why Utopia falls flat. There is no dramatic tension because nothing is really at stake.

Utopia’s writers have not made a serious attempt to explore the machinations of government and infrastructure delivery. Instead, they resort to the well-worn narrative of bungling bureaucracy and government incompetence, albeit updated for the 21st century with satirical attacks on Millennials and institutional political correctness.

This represents Utopia’s best material. The staff themselves are a case study in misapprehension and wilful stupidity, which would not be out of place in the dining room of Fawlty Towers.

Once again, a swathe of the cast has been reduced to caricature, this time so that the writers can demonstrate the follies of faddishness and modern political correctness. Unfortunately youcan’t orchestrate tension with a cast of one-dimensional characters. The greatest missed opportunity, however, is on the topic of infrastructure. Australian infrastructure delivery has had a notoriously tortured history. Every project is open to criticism: process, execution and strategic benefit. A project can be meritorious but poorly delivered and vice versa; the nuances are often lost in the heat of public debate. Even with the best of intentions and the best minds, infrastructure is rarely a clear-cut topic.

Utopia is redeemed however because it has delivered exactly what the audience was expecting to see. “The government” is everyone’s favourite standing joke. It is therefore not surprising that Utopia has proved to be popular with its constituency.

RenuPrasad is a comedian and blogger. Twitter: @Renu_OZ

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First Listen: Hercules & Love Affair, ‘Omnion’ – NPR

Posted: at 4:28 am

Hercules & Love Affair’s new album, Omnion is out Sep. 1. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

Anyone who’s engaged disco with the same depth and seriousness that Hercules & Love Affair ringmaster Andrew Butler has, knows that by its nature and at its finest, this is a music of balances made in the spirit of losing one’s balance. And among disco’s glories is how these contrasting fundamentals play out: the celebratory and the elegiac, the social politics and personal emotions, pop songwriting and club functionality, the traditionally soulful and the technologically modern.

Since the beginning, Hercules & Love Affair records have not simply acknowledged these contradictory elements but aspired to find meaning in them. Where so much contemporary disco is an exercise in genre or affectation or worse, nostalgia for a utopia that never was Butler permeates his with more broadly accepted currency. Though it unabashedly began as a classicist’s pop-house take on the contemporary dance-floor, and is still rooted in this world, H&LA music navigates the pathos of today’s life through a panoply of voices and ideas representative of the gender-nonconforming diversity of Butler’s community, tweaking and updating the norms throughout.

Omnion, H&LA’s fourth album, continues tipping the scales in modernity’s favor and disorienting the script. You actually have to take a step back from a track like “Rejoice,” voiced by longtime collaborator Rouge Mary, to recognize it as a sibling of great gospel-disco numbers of yore. That’s because the industrialized dirt of the mix percolating, sequenced keyboards, the synthetic chafe of the vocal filter, the screeching stabs of background voices is a new touch on sanctified old-school uplift. In more clichd hands, “Epilogue” would be a familiar type of album-closer, beatless and doleful, with Gustaph, another longtime H&LA vocalist, fronting a children’s choir while offering broadly stroked social empathy. But here it sounds like the punctuation of a classic synthesizer sci-fi soundtrack and a love letter to The Resistance at the same time. Both speak to the production presence of New York techno engineer, Phil “The Butcha” Moffa, who is part of Omnion’s secret sauce.

Contrast these progressive notes with Butler’s ongoing desire to communicate through beat-wise pop songs, interpreted by nuanced, boldface voices. Sharon Van Etten’s thoughtful confession floats through the synths and brass of the aspirational title track, damning gender pronouns and ascending a sugar-sweet, cloudy chorus. The Horrors lead singer Faris Badwan rides a thick bassline as he updates classic freestyle vibes on the sexually-charged and distant “Controller.” Later on the album he recreates Pet Shop Boys synth-pop vibes with EDM production touches on the song “Through Your Atmosphere.” Then there’s “Are You Still Certain?,” a collaboration with the Lebanese rock band Mashrou’ Leila and its singer Hamed Sinno, which bumps pleasantly on a spine of soft keyboards, funk guitar and bonus percussion. The Arabic vocals, in the midst of all this extreme Western-centricity, is a wonderful surprise as well as a reminder that Beirut’s disco scene was once the stuff of legends.

The clearest example of Butler’s use of disco’s paradoxes lies in a trio of songs at the album’s center, all of which seemingly look beyond the rhythm of the night for their purpose. On “Fools Wear Crowns,” the only Omnion track that Butler sings himself, and which, he confessed to Pitchfork, documents his escape from substance abuse, and “Lies,” wherein Gustaph addresses something like a truth-telling conscience, the backbeats don’t kick in until the tracks are a third of the way through, punctuating the ornamental role these beats serve with more explicitly diaristic purposes.

At first, the beat also seems secondary to “Running,” a tour de force featuring the vocal trio Ss Ey and the Kirke String Quartet. Yet the sonics that stitch together this Butler lament are motley tribal electronics, swooping strings, the torch-soul incantations of Icelandic sisters and experiencing this counter intuitive fit is otherworldly.

What’s contextually understandable about “Running” on Omnion dissolves when heard outside of the album which, in today’s listening experience, all songs must, especially those by club-oriented artists. And while one imagines only the most adventurous DJ will find room in their set for “Running” maybe deep into a sunrise its balanced address of matters at once literal and metaphysical is a perfect modern expression of disco’s timelessness.

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First Listen: Hercules & Love Affair, ‘Omnion’ – NPR

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The New Utopia by Jerome K. Jerome Reviews, Discussion …

Posted: August 20, 2017 at 6:37 pm

The reference for this short story came across when I was reading about Zamaytin’s novel “We” on Wikipedia. According to it, this short story seems to be the inspiration for “We”. So I searched for it and found it online.

In this story, the narrator dreams of the world of twenty ninth century after meeting a few socialist friends who have been in favor of equality in the society. What he dreams of is a kind of society where all the differences have been abolished and all people are equal. There i

In this story, the narrator dreams of the world of twenty ninth century after meeting a few socialist friends who have been in favor of equality in the society. What he dreams of is a kind of society where all the differences have been abolished and all people are equal. There is no difference between men and women, all of them wear same uniform and have same length of black hair. The system of marriage has been abolished and they live as one large family where they are provided for everything by the State. There is no form of entertainment and no stores for shopping. Even the people are “washed up” twice a day by the State only. The whole process of bearing of children takes place under medical supervision and after their birth, the children are kept in special nurseries till the age of fourteen.

This story was first published in 1891 way before “We”, “Brave New World” or “1984” and it’s glimpses can be found in these latter works too though the story is written in a much lighter manner.

Some quotes:

I looked at the faces of the men and women that were passing. There was a patient, almost pathetic, expression upon them all. I wondered where I had seen that look before; it seemed familiar to me. All at once I remembered. It was just the quiet, troubled, wondering expression that I had always noticed upon the faces of the horses and oxen that we used to breed and keep in the world.

And after he woke up from the dream:

Through the open window I hear the rush and roar of old lifes battle. Men are fighting, striving, carving out each man his own life with the sword of strength and will. Men are laughing, grieving, loving, doing wrong deeds, doing great deeds, falling, struggling, helping one another living!

From the quotes it is clear that Jerome was wary of the whole idea of Utopia and imagined such a society to be devoid of life itself. Interestingly, H.G.Wells is considered to be the inspiration for this story by Jerome.

It is a very short and very good read.

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The New Utopia by Jerome K. Jerome Reviews, Discussion …

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The Russian Revolution Recast as an Epic Family Tragedy – New York Times

Posted: August 18, 2017 at 5:39 am

As these families decorated their apartments, the party declared war against middle-class peasants. Famines brought on by collectivization spread through Soviet Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Russia. Slezkine describes a peasant and his family thrown out of their home in the middle of a winter night, leaving his daughter-in-law frostbitten and her 2-day-old baby dead from the cold. While the peasants ate grass, Stalin requisitioned their grain to fund industrialization in the cities. Please congratulate me on my new party card, a requisitioner wrote to a friend. My heart was overcome with incredible joy, like Id never felt before. In the countryside there was cannibalism. Party officials stumbled over corpses. Peasant women who fled the famine became nannies for House of Government residents. The families who remained behind starved.

The turning point in Slezkines story is the 1934 murder of the Leningrad party head Sergei Kirov. Human emotions had always been at the heart of Bolshevism, Slezkine says. The telephone call on Dec. 1, 1934, changed everything. No one believed human emotions anymore. Now Old Bolsheviks became the targets of their own terror. Nights with fewer than 100 executions were rare, Slezkine writes. At the House of Government there was silence. Everyone talks as if nothing has happened, Aleksandr Arosev wrote in his diary.

Tania Miagkovas daughter, Rada, was 8 when her mother was sent to prison. Tania used her time there to read Das Kapital. When her husband was arrested, Tania switched from Das Kapital to Anna Karenina. When her request for transfer to the gulag to be with her husband was denied, she began to read poetry: Mayakovsky, Blok, Pushkin. To her mother she wrote, A concentration camp? So be it! Over a period of several years? So be it! Long, difficult years? So be it! Mikhas must be accepted back into the party.

These chapters on the Stalinist Terror are the most vivid. Over all, Slezkines writing is sharp, fresh, sometimes playful, often undisciplined. The momentum suffers from the narratives overpopulation; and Slezkine falls into digressions about the Exodus, Armageddon and repressed memory theory. Despite meandering, he makes certain arguments clearly: Bolshevism was a millenarian sect with an insatiable desire for utopia struggling to reconcile predestination with free will that is, working ceaselessly to bring about what was supposedly inevitable. Utopias failure to arrive after the Civil War led to The Great Disappointment. In the second half of the 1920s, Soviet sanitariums were filled with Bolsheviks eating caviar, playing chess and suffering from depression.

For Slezkine, two qualities made the Bolsheviks special. The first was wrapping faith in logic: Marxism fused mysticism with scientific rationalism. The second was sheer magnitude: history had known many other millenarian sects, but not on this scale. This book is about the possibilities and limits of social engineering. When in 1934 Evgeny Preobrazhensky said, It has been the greatest transformation in the history of the world, he spoke the truth. The Soviet project was the most far-reaching experiment ever conducted on human beings.

Yet, as Slezkine writes, the Soviet age did not last beyond one human lifetime. Why? He answers: Among the generation enjoying the proverbial happy Soviet childhood, no one read Das Kapital. What they did read was Tolstoy and Pushkin, Heine and Goethe. The Bolsheviks, Slezkine claims, dug their own graves when they gave Tolstoy to their children. The historical novel made it impossible for them to gaze solely into the coming utopia: the parents lived for the future; their children lived in the past. The parents had comrades; the children had friends.

Slezkine plots The House of Government as an epic family tragedy. Last night NKVD agents came and took Mommy away, wrote an 11-year-old boy in 1938. Mommy was very brave. A few days later: Im reading Tolstoys War and Peace. Then, Mommy-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y!!!

Neither Tania Miagkova nor her husband ever saw their daughter again. Like many children of Bolsheviks, Rada was raised by her grandmother. That many of these grandmothers were orthodox Bolshevik sectarians Slezkine observes does not seem to have diminished their family loyalty. The fact that their families were punished for unexplained reasons does not seem to have diminished their Bolshevik orthodoxy. The two sets of loyalties were connected to each other by silence.

Children from the House of Government without grandmothers completed their school days in orphanages. Many went on to be killed fighting the Germans in World War II. Those mothers who did survive the gulag returned years later, aged. They were no longer needed by their children, who had grown up without them. As one woman whose mother returned said, We never really managed to get used to each other again.

Marci Shore is an associate professor of history at Yale and the author of The Taste of Ashes: The Afterlife of Totalitarianism in Eastern Europe.

A version of this review appears in print on August 20, 2017, on Page BR10 of the Sunday Book Review with the headline: The Unbreakable Broken.

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The 70s: Naxalbari, LSD, Poetry and the Emergency – Times of India (blog)

Posted: at 5:39 am

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven.

Or so we thought as we entered the seventies. Smoking weed; falling in love; writing poetry and dreaming of a new and just world order. I had barely entered Presidency College when Naxalbari happened and classmates began to disappear.

They had gone to the forests, in the memorable words of Marxist poet Subhash Mukhopadhyay to fight a war for those who knew not how to. By coincidence, that was when my first book of poems appeared. I got married. All night I stayed awake translating the nine cantos of the Meghnad Badh Kavya, Michael Madhusudan Dutts 19th century epic. I did a day job as an office boy in 14 Bentinck Street where the Chinese shoe shops were.

Satyajit Rays Aranyer Din Ratri had just released. No one had known there was a sexual side to the Brahmo. Shombhu Mitra was still staging Dasachakra based on Ibsens Enemy of the People while Badal Sircar had discovered the Third Theatre and taken his plays out of the proscenium and on to the streets.

Shakti Chattopadhyay, then in his mid-thirties, was lying in the gutters, drunk as usual. His poems scribbled on torn sheets may yet outlive Tagore. Nikhil Biswas had died at 36, leaving behind 10,000 drawings. Yes, it was the best of times.

India was still recovering from the excitement of the Beatles visiting Rishikesh. Ravi Shankar was storming the West, with Yehudi Menuhin at times, with John Lennon other times. Rajneesh was shocking Bombay with his spiritual sermons on free sex.

Dylans harmonica rang in our ears as Blowing in the Wind played everywhere. Madhubala had just passed away. Zubin Mehta was conducting the LA Philharmonic. And I? I was smoking hash with Ginsberg and listening to Howl midst the smell of burning flesh as funeral pyres lit up Calcuttas night sky. Or strolling home at daybreak with the great Ustad after a nightlong concert. No, no one could sing the Malkauns like Amir Khan did.

We were all young then, full of anger and hope. We dreamt of a just world. We believed poverty could be fought and defeated. Che with his trademark beret stared down at us from red posters, though very few among us were actually Red. It was azaadi we yearned for. We protested against the Gulag as loudly as we raised our voice against Mai Lai.

I quit college. Not for politics but for poetry. Poetry, for me, was hope. It was azaadi from the tired clichs of politics. I started a magazine that brought together the best voices. Agyeya and Faiz, Muktibodh and Yevtushenko, Octavio Paz.

Brewing next door was a war. The young students of East Bengal took on the Pakistani army with the poetry of Shamsur Rahman echoing in their hearts: Freedom is a voice everyone hears; freedom is a voice everyone fears. I remember Kaifi telling students in Dhaka that poetry alone can win the war for them.

Around that time, a young man quit his job in Calcutta and caught a train to Bombay to try his luck at the movies. KA Abbas gave him his first break. But it took him a few more years and a film with Rajesh Khanna to be noticed.

A script by two young men, Salim and Javed defined his real role: the role of the Angry Young Man ready to set the skies on fire in his pursuit of hope and justice. It started with a small film called Zanjeer but soon went well beyond cinema. It defined the indomitable spirit of the seventies and raised its richest baritone: Rage.

The rhetoric of non violence had already tired. The young were seeking hope, a new Utopia in a world without answers. Doubt and dilemma dogged them. That is when Bachchan picked up the gauntlet and showed them the way out. India found a new hero. He stood up for the weak and the poor. He fought against injustice and crime. And yes, he was violent when violence was required. He was the new moral compass, the voice that whispered in our ears: Fight back.

The long war in Vietnam had ended. Free Bangladesh was born by the will of its young writers and poets. And India showed it will not cower before the Emergency, come what may. It was a reassertion of our will. The left, the right, everyone got together to fight back the darkness. Till Mrs Gandhi submitted to the will of the people.

The eighties came with the assassination of John Lennon. Andrei Sakharov was arrested in Moscow. The Rubiks Cube arrived. So did the first 24 hours news channel by CNN. Mrs Gandhi returned to power. Mikhail Gorbachev broke the Kremlins grip. The USSR was no more the USSR. Pac-Man took Japan by storm. Led Zeppelin broke up. And Uttam Kumar died. So did Mohammed Rafi. And Sahir. By then I had married again. The Emergency was over. Mrs Gandhi was back in power just one day before my birthday. Naxalbari was also over. My poetry gave way to journalism.

Two years later, Kapil brought home the World Cup. I moved to Bombay. Amitabh won an election and went to Parliament. (I made the same mistake a decade later.) Bofors broke out. And the world as we knew it had changed forever.

The seventies was about freedom, hope, courage. Each one of us against the world, living out our bravest moment. Will that ever come back again? I doubt it.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

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Freedom, poetry, rebellion and music … when we lived our bravest moments – Economic Times

Posted: August 16, 2017 at 6:40 pm

Dylan was Blowin’ in the Wind, theatre had hit the streets, Indira was forced to submit to people’s will It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven.

Or so we thought as we entered the Seventies. Smoking weed; falling in love; writing poetry and dreaming of a new and just world order.

I had barely entered Presidency College when Naxalbari happened and classmates began to disappear. They had gone to the forests, in the memorable words of Marxist poet Subhash Mukhopadhyay, to fight a war for those who knew not how to. By coincidence, that was when my first book of poems appeared. I got married. All night I stayed awake translating the nine cantos of the Meghnad Badh Kavya, Michael Madhusudan Dutt’s 19th-century epic. I did a day job as an office boy in 14 Bentinck Street where the Chinese shoe shops were.

Satyajit Ray’s Aranyer Din Ratri had just released. No one had known there was a sexual side to the Brahmo. Shombhu Mitra was still staging Dasachakra, based on Ibsen’s Enemy of the People, while Badal Sircar had discovered the Third Theatre and taken his plays out of the proscenium and on to the streets.

Shakti Chattopadhyay, then in his midthirties, was lying in the gutters, drunk as usual. His poems scribbled on torn sheets may yet outlive Tagore. Nikhil Biswas had died at 36, leaving behind 10,000 drawings. Yes, it was the best of times.

India was still recovering from the excitement of the Beatles visiting Rishikesh. Ravi Shankar was storming the West, with Yehudi Menuhin at times, with John Lennon other times. Rajneesh was shocking Bombay with his spiritual sermons on free sex. Dylan’s harmonica rang in our ears as Blowin’ in the Wind played everywhere. Madhubala had just passed away.

Zubin Mehta was conducting the LA Philharmonic. And I? I was smoking hash with Ginsberg and listening to Howl ‘midst the smell of burning flesh as funeral pyres lit up Calcutta’s night sky. Or strolling home at daybreak with the great Ustad after a nightlong concert. No, no one could sing the Malkauns like Amir Khan did.

We were all young then, full of anger and hope. We dreamt of a just world. We believed poverty could be fought and defeated. Che with his trademark beret stared down at us from red posters, though very few among us were actually Red. It was azaadi we yearned for. We protested against the Gulag as loudly as we raised our voice against Mai Lai.

I quit college. Not for politics but for poetry. Poetry, for me, was hope. It was azaadi from the tired cliches of politics. I started a magazine that brought together the best voices. Agyeya and Faiz, Muktibodh and Yevtushenko, Octavio Paz.

Brewing next door was a war. The young students of East Bengal took on the Pakistani army with the poetry of Shamsur Rahman echoing in their hearts: Freedom is a voice everyone hears; freedom is a voice everyone fears. I remember Kaifi telling students in Dhaka that poetry alone can win the war for them. Around that time, a young man quit his job in Calcutta and caught a train to Bombay to try his luck at the movies.

KA Abbas gave him his first break. But it took him a few more years and a film with Rajesh Khanna to be noticed. A script by two young men, Salim and Javed, defined his real role: the role of the Angry Young Man ready to set the skies on fire in his pursuit of hope and justice. It started with a small film called Zanjeer but soon went well beyond cinema. It defined the indomitable spirit of the seventies and raised its richest baritone: Rage.

The rhetoric of non-violence had already tired. The young were seeking hope, a new Utopia in a world without answers. Doubt and dilemma dogged them. That is when Bachchan picked up the gauntlet and showed them the way out. India found a new hero. He stood up for the weak and the poor. He fought against injustice and crime. And yes, he was violent when violence was required. He was the new moral compass, the voice that whispered in our ears: Fight back. The long war in Vietnam had ended.

Free Bangladesh was born by the will of its young writers and poets. And India showed it would not cower before the Emergency, come what may. It was a reassertion of our will. The left, the right, everyone got together to fight back the darkness. Till Mrs Gandhi submitted to the will of the people.

The Eighties came with the assassination of John Lennon. Andrei Sakharov was arrested in Moscow. The Rubik’s Cube arrived. So did the first 24 hours news channel, by CNN. Mrs Gandhi returned to power. Mikhail Gorbachev broke the Kremlin’s grip. The USSR was no more the USSR. Pac-Man took Japan by storm. Led Zeppelin broke up. And Uttam Kumar died. So did Mohammed Rafi. And Sahir.

By then I had married again. The Emergency was over. Mrs Gandhi was back in power a day before my birthday. Naxalbari was also over. My poetry gave way to journalism. Two years later, Kapil brought home the World Cup. I moved to Bombay. Amitabh won an election and went to Parliament. (I made the same mistake a decade later.) Bofors broke out. And the world as we knew it had changed forever.

The Seventies was about freedom, hope, courage. Each one of us against the world, living out our bravest moment. Will that ever come back? I doubt it.

(Pritish Nandy is a poet and journalist)

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LIBRARY MATTERS – A brave new (virtual) world – The Daily Progress

Posted: at 6:40 pm

Video games have come a long way since the very first console, the Magnavox Odyssey, was released in 1972.

Augmented and virtual realities are now on the rise as gamers find more ways to distract themselves from their actual reality. But what happens when the line between real and virtual begins to blur? How will virtual realities shape our future? Explore these concepts by picking up one of these fascinating novels about video games and the people who play them:

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline Immersing himself in a mid-21st-century technological virtual utopia to escape an ugly real world of famine, poverty and disease, Wade Watts joins an increasingly violent effort to solve a series of puzzles by the virtual world’s creator.

Lock In by John Scalzi When a new virus causes 1 percent of the population to become completely paralyzed in body but not in mind, the United States pursues a scientific initiative to develop a virtual-reality world for victims, with unexpected consequences.

Reamde by Neal Stephenson When his own high-tech startup turns into a Fortune 500 computer gaming group, Richard Forthrast, the black sheep of an Iowa family who has amassed an illegal fortune, finds the line between fantasy and reality becoming blurred when a virtual war for dominance is triggered.

Omnitopia Dawn by Diane Duane Dev Logan, the genius programmer responsible for a popular, massive multiplayer online game, Omnitopia, guards a secret about his invention it is no longer simply a program, it has become sentient.

Monkeewrench by P.J. Tracy Grace McBride and the team at her software company are horrified when events in their murder mystery computer game are replicated in the real world by a ruthless killer, a situation that prompts them to analyze the game in order to anticipate his next move.

Armada by Ernest Cline Struggling to complete his final month of high school only to glimpse a UFO that exactly resembles an enemy ship from his favorite video game, Zack Lightman questions his sanity before becoming one of millions of gamers tasked with protecting the Earth during an alien invasion.

Enders Game by Orson Scott Card A veteran of years of simulated war games, Ender believes he is engaged in one more computer war game when in truth he is commanding the last fleet of Earth against an alien race seeking the complete destruction of Earth.

For the Win by Cory Doctorow In a future where poor children and teenagers work for corrupt bosses as gold farmers, finding valuable items inside massively-multiplayer online games, a small group of teenagers work to unionize and escape this near-slavery.

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LIBRARY MATTERS – A brave new (virtual) world – The Daily Progress

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Did you know ‘apology’ and ‘civil war’ were coined the same year? Thank Merriam-Webster’s new Time Traveler feature – Los Angeles Times

Posted: at 6:40 pm

Merriam-Webster, the venerable dictionary publisher known for its often snarky Twitter account, unveiled a new feature on Monday that lets users go back in time.

The online dictionary’s Time Traveler feature allows curious amateur linguists and cultural historians to enter a year and see all the words that were initially recorded in other words, published in that period.

Both apology and civil war were first used in 1533, for example. Other words and phrases that made their first appearances in English that same year include famed, harangue, excrement, good-for-nothing, ovation, ungrateful, vigilance, preposterous, carrot, turnip and utopia.

The project is extensive, allowing users to choose options time beginning in before 12th century to 2010, the year that brought us “Arab spring” and “gamification.”

“Exploring Time Traveler is surprising and enlightening, with many words first recorded much earlier or later than one might expect,” the dictionary publisher said in a news release. “Prima donna and unsportsmanlike date back to 1754, while neurotypical wasnt recorded until 1994.”

Many recent years have yielded words that have become common parts of the American English vocabulary, such as “photobomb” (2008), “hashtag”(2007), “bucket list” (2006) and “sexting” (2005).

Not all of the recent words will be instantly familiar to the general public, however. It’s unlikely that you’ll hear “roentgenium” (2004, a type of radioactive element) or “rock snot” (2005, a single-cellalgae) in casual conversation unless you run in some esoteric circles.

Merriam-Webster included a caveat in its news release: “Note that there is some art to these facts: antedating happens regularly, and first-known-use dates are subject to frequent (but not instant) updating, as new evidence is uncovered.”

That might explain why the dictionary has the word “cheesesteak,” the iconic Philadelphia sandwich that dates to the 1930s, as being first recorded in 1977, the same year that saw “brewski” (a beer, of course) entered the language.

Still, users might be surprised at how long some popular slang words have been around. According to the dictionary, people have been “chillaxing” since 1999, “face-palming” since 1996 and “smack talking” since 1992.

Lisa Schneider, Merriam-Webster’s chief digital officer and publisher, suggested that users explore milestone years using the new feature.

“Its entertaining to see what words were first used the year you were born, or the year you graduated college, and its especially interesting to discover a word that has been around for centurie slonger than (or is much newer than!) you might expect,” she said.”Were thrilled to extend this new feature to our users, and invite them to explore along with us.”

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Did you know ‘apology’ and ‘civil war’ were coined the same year? Thank Merriam-Webster’s new Time Traveler feature – Los Angeles Times

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Life in fossil-fuel-free utopia – Canada Free Press

Posted: August 14, 2017 at 12:38 pm

Life without oil, natural gas and coal would most likely be nasty, brutish and short

Al Gores new movie, a New York Times article on the final Obama Era manmade climate disaster report, and a piece saying wrathful people twelve years from now will hang hundreds of climate deniers are a tiny sample of Climate Hysteria and Anti-Trump Resistance rising to a crescendo. If we dont end our evil fossil-fuel-burning lifestyles and go 100% renewable Right Now, we are doomed, they rail.

Maybe its our educational system, our cargo cults easy access to food and technology far from farms, mines and factories, or the end-of-days propaganda constantly pounded into our heads. Whatever the reason, far too many people have a pitiful grasp of reality: natural climate fluctuations throughout Earth history; the intricate, often fragile sources of things we take for granted; and what life would really be like in the utopian fossil-fuel-free future they dream of. Lets take a short journey into that idyllic realm.

Suppose we generate just the 25 billion megawatt-hours of todays total global electricity consumption using wind turbines. (Thats not total energy consumption, and it doesnt include what wed need to charge a billion electric vehicles.) Wed need more than 830 million gigantic 3-megawatt turbines!

Spacing them at just 15 acres per turbine would require 12.5 billion acres! Thats twice the land area of North America! All those whirling blades would virtually exterminate raptors, other birds and bats. Rodent and insect populations would soar. Add in transmission lines, solar panels and biofuel plantations to meet the rest of the worlds energy demands and the mostly illegal tree cutting for firewood to heat poor families homes and huge swaths of our remaining forest and grassland habitats would disappear.

The renewable future assumes these eco-friendly alternatives would provide reliable, affordable energy 24/7/365, even during windless, sunless weeks and cold, dry growing seasons. They never will, of course. That means we will have electricity and fuels when nature cooperates, instead of when we need it.

With backup power plants gone, constantly on-and-off electricity will make it impossible to operate assembly lines, use the internet, do an MRI or surgery, enjoy favorite TV shows or even cook dinner. Refrigerators and freezers would conk out for hours or days at a time. Medicines and foods would spoil.

Petrochemical feed stocks would be gone so we wouldnt have paints, plastics, synthetic fibers or pharmaceuticals, except what can be obtained at great expense from weather-dependent biodiesel. Kiss your cotton-polyester-lycra leggings and yoga pants good-bye.

But of course all that is really not likely to happen. It would actually be far worse.

First of all, there wouldnt even be any wind turbines or solar panels. Without fossil fuels or far more nuclear and hydroelectric plants, which rabid environmentalists also despise we couldnt mine the needed ores, process and smelt them, build and operate foundries, factories, refineries or cement kilns, manufacture and assemble turbines and panels. We couldnt even make machinery to put in factories.

Wind turbines, solar panels and solar thermal installations cannot produce consistently high enough heat to smelt ores and forge metals. They cannot generate power on a reliable enough basis to operate facilities that make modern technologies possible. They cannot provide the power required to manufacture turbines, panels, batteries or transmission lines much less power civilization.

My grandmother used to tell me, The only good thing about the good old days is that theyre gone. Well, theyd be back, as the USA is de-carbonized, de-industrialized and de-developed.

Ponder America and Europe before coal fueled the modern industrial age. Recall what were we able to do back then, what lives were like, how long people lived. Visit Colonial Williamsburg and Claude Moore Colonial Farm in Virginia, or similar places in your state. Explore rural Africa and India.

Imagine living that way, every day: pulling water from wells, working the fields with your hoe and ox-pulled plow, spinning cotton thread and weaving on looms, relying on whatever metal tools your local blacksmith shop can produce. When the sun goes down, your lives will largely shut down.

Think back to amazing construction projects of ancient Egypt, Greece or Rome or even 18th Century London, Paris, New York. Ponder how they were built, how many people it took, how they obtained and moved the raw materials. Imagine being part of those wondrous enterprises, from sunup to sundown.

The good news is that there will be millions of new jobs. The bad news is that theyd involve mostly backbreaking labor with picks and shovels, for a buck an hour. Low-skill, low-productivity jobs just dont pay all that well. Maybe to create even more jobs, the government will issue spoons, instead of shovels.

That will be your life, not reading, watching TV and YouTube or playing video games. Heck, there wont even be any televisions or cell phones. Drugs and alcohol will be much harder to come by, too. (No more opioids crisis.) Water wheels and wind mills will be back in fashion. All-natural power, not all the time.

More good news: Polluting, gas-guzzling, climate-changing cars and light trucks will be a thing of the past. Instead, youll have horses, oxen, donkeys, buggies and wagons again grow millions of acres of hay to feed them and have to dispose of millions or billions of tons of manure and urine every year.

Therell be no paved streets unless armies of low-skill workers pound rocks into gravel, mine and grind limestone, shale, bauxite and sand for cement, and make charcoal for lime kilns. Homes will revert to what can be built with pre-industrial technologies, with no central heat and definitely no AC.

Ah, but you folks promoting the idyllic renewable energy future will still be the ruling elites. Youll get to live better than the rest of us, enjoy lives of reading and leisure, telling us commoners how we must live. Dont bet on it. Dont even bet on having the stamina to read after a long day with your shovel or spoon.

As society and especially big urban areas collapse into chaos, it will be survival of the fittest. And that group likely wont include too many Handgun Control and Gun Free Zone devotees.

But at least your climate will be stable and serene or so you suppose. You wont have any more extreme weather events. Sea levels will stay right where they are today: 400 feet higher than when a warming planet melted the last mile-thick glaciers that covered half the Northern Hemisphere 12,000 years ago.

At least it will be stable and serene until those solar, cosmic ray, ocean currents and other pesky, powerful natural forces decide to mess around with Planet Earth again.

Of course, many countries wont be as stupid as the self-righteous utopian nations. They will still use fossil fuels, plus nuclear and hydroelectric, and watch while you roll backward toward the good old days. Those that dont swoop in to conquer and plunder may even send us food, clothing and monetary aid (most of which will end up with ruling elites and their families, friends, cronies and private armies).

So how about this as a better option?

Stop obsessing over dangerous manmade climate change. Focus on what really threatens our planet and its people: North Korea, Iran, Islamist terrorism and rampant poverty, disease, malnutrition and early death among the billions who still do not have access to electricity and the living standards it brings.

Worry less about manmade climate cataclysms and more about cataclysms caused by policies promoted in the name of controlling Earths climate.

Dont force-feed us with todays substandard, subsidized, pseudo-sustainable, pseudo-renewable energy systems. When better, more efficient, more practical energy technologies are developed, they will replace fossil fuels. Until then, we would be crazy to go down the primrose path to renewable energy utopia.

Paul Driessen is a senior fellow with the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow and Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, nonprofit public policy institutes that focus on energy, the environment, economic development and international affairs. Paul Driessen is author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power, Black death

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Life in fossil-fuel-free utopia – Canada Free Press

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