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The Evolutionary Perspective
Daily Archives: September 28, 2019
Posted: September 28, 2019 at 3:47 am
What does it mean to speak? To speak in a way that not only broaches the moral ambiguities of silence, but also probes the limits of speechs capacity to make sense of the world. William Kentridge, the Johannesburg artist and theatre director, addresses this question in a 2018 essay titled Let Us Try for Once. The text forms part of adispersed archive of writings (public lectures, essays, long-form interviews, feral notes) of equal import to his drawing, printmaking, sculpture, film and theatrical productions. Like many of his essays, this recent composition is digressive and fragmentary. Midway through, Kentridge pauses on two European cultural figures with dissimilar approaches to language: German dadaist Kurt Schwitters and Belarusian journalist and writer Svetlana Alexievich, winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature.
Since 2017, when he premiered the work at New Yorks Performa 17 biennial, Kentridge has been performing Schwitterss 1932 sound poem Ursonate: a sonata composed of grunts, pauses, gestures and sounds.1 Kentridge describes its incomprehensible locution Fmms b w t z Uu, for example as evidence of the activity of speaking.2 He contrasts this calibrated play with Alexievichs oral reportage in Zinky Boys (1991), a sensory collage of testimonies based on interviews with participants in the Soviet-Afghan war, a decade-long conflict shrouded by official silence. The young boy took a long time to die and, as he lay there, he said the words for everything his eyes came across, just like a child who is just learning to speak, Kentridge quotes. Sky. Mountain. Tree. Bird. Haversack.
Alexievichs book was published just as white-minority rule in South Africa was coming to an end violently in places but also, crucially, through dialogue and negotiation. (The country is still struggling to articulate apolitics of social reconciliation capable of replacing the racist language of apartheid.) Here we have language at its most basic, in extremis, trying to tie the word to the world, Kentridge observed of Alexievich.3 Somewhere between her unnamed soldier grasping at the radiance of things and Schwitterss meaningless sounds, he adds: We operate with how our language ties us to the world and enables us to make meaning both of the world and ourselves.4 For Kentridge, this is the enigmatic power of speech: its capacity to name phenomena and to ethically situate a speaker within a broader context. But speaking, for Kentridge, is not simply about exposition and articulacy; his vocalism also involves exploring the limits of speech and its ability to truly reveal, defuse or bear witness to history, particularly in South Africa. These limits mark the failure of reason as much as they do the breakdown oflanguage.
Fragmentation is central to Kentridges method. Let Us Try for Once borrows its scrappy form from Theodor Adornos classic Minima Moralia (1951), which Kentridge first encountered in the 1970s. The book provided a crucial insight: One can either take parts or already existing fragments or one can shatter what is there, what seems coherent, and rearrange them as Adorno does in that book, and see what they add up to, he told art historian Tamar Garb in a 2016 interview. This method, which Kentridge applies to his art as much as to his writing, is greatly at odds with his upbringing.
Born into a patrician family of Johannesburg lawyers in 1955, at school Kentridge was a member of the debate club. Rather than instil a sense of faith in his family legacy logical argument and rhetoric the experience seems to have inspired the opposite. Argument and logic became something on top of the world, hovering over its surface, rather than embedded in it, Kentridge explained during the first of his Charles Eliot Norton Lectures at Harvard University in 2012. I became an artist because Irealized I needed a field in which the construction of fictional authorities and imagined quotes would be a cause for celebration, rather than rustication and disgrace.
While studying politics and African studies at Wits University in the mid-1970s, Kentridge joined a Brechtian theatre group and became involved in trade-union politics. His early drawings, posters and theatre works are characterized by a youthful faith in didacticism and indictment; the productive possibilities in the breakdown of language only surface later. In 1986, Kentridge received a Young Artist Award from South Africas National Arts Festival, aprominent honour that included a request for a public lecture. The resulting essay, Art in a State of Grace, Art in a State of Hope, Art in a State of Siege, heralded the beginning of a prolific, if fragmented, writing practice.5
Kentridges ruminative writings provide insight into his cosmopolitan upbringing, Jewish heritage, early rendezvous with drawing, felicitous immersion in the cultural Marxism of 1970s Johannesburg, rejection of irony and urbanity and, not insignificantly, his status as a deserter of his class, to paraphrase Adorno. This corpus of prose, which looks out at the world as much as inwards at the artists own production, doesnt make Kentridges life entirely transparent, but it does thicken an appreciation of his high-modernist tendencies, his love for Russian constructivism and German expressionism, and his arts literary scaffold. That this writing has not received critical attention may owe partly to how Kentridge describes it: as words attaching themselves to his images like captions to photos, or as instruments to detect sonorities in his work.
It is always reflective, Kentridge told me during arecent visit to one of his studios. (He keeps two in the town of his birth.) It is kind of justifying the work after the event. When we met, he was in the process of orchestrating the layout of Why Should I Hesitate: Sculpture, the first museum exhibition devoted exclusively to his sculptural production. Curated by artist Karel Nel for Cape Towns Norval Foundation, the show coincides with Why Should I Hesitate: Putting Drawings to Work, a presentation of Kentridges drawings, prints and films across town at Zeitz MOCAA. Together, the two shows form the largest survey of his work to date.
The artist tells me that he maintains a clear division of labour between the me that writes in my notebook and the self that walks around the studio thinking: how can we continue? It is the latter action of circling in the studio, gathering energy and hovering at the edge of an idea that matters most to him, as he notes in his 2013 essay Thinking on Ones Feet. In his Norton lectures, Kentridge asserts his identity as an artist who believes in the primacy and the necessity for stupidity, particularly in the studio, adding that he is an imperfect critic, especially of his own work. But Kentridges writings are compelling precisely because they range beyond his own practice to offer acute indictments of colonial and apartheid injustice.
Art in a State of Grace was written during a period of intense civil strife and cultural isolation. Its elliptical style and cosmopolitan manners link Kentridge to South African Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer a close family friend whose husband, the art dealer Reinhold Cassirer, pushed the artist to return to drawing in the mid-1980s after aperiod of abandonment that included studying mime in Paris and working in commercial film. With its bathed and perfumed and depilated white ladies, Gordimers 1966 novella, The Late Bourgeois World, describes the social class and racial privilege that Kentridge relentlessly examined in his early drawings and animated films, such as Felix in Exile (1994), which chronicles the lives of capitalist Soho Eckstein and artist Felix Teitelbaum. Gauche in their critique and awkward in their embrace of colour, Kentridges neo-expressionist fables portray a societal structure that, as Gordimer writes in her searing 1983 essay Living in the Interregnum, is built to the specifications of white power and privilege.
Kentridges Art in a State of Grace vocalizes these themes, jumping with Gordimer-like ease and lyricism from refinement to revolution. He describes Vladimir Tatlins unrealized Monument to the Third International (191920) as one of the great images of hope under Bolshevik Communism, albeit one whose ideals were dashed by their betrayals under Stalinism. Betrayed idealism is a recurring theme throughout Kentridges work, most recently in The Head & the Load (2018), a musically ranging, visually layered and textually rich ensemble theatre piece that investigates colonial-era African aspiration against the backdrop of World War I. Some two million Africans served in the war, of whom 250,000 died of disease or were killed in action: a debt that is still under-acknowledged.6
Though Kentridge directly reckons with this violent history, his process-based work does not permit despair. Writing in Art in a State of Grace of Max Beckmanns painting Death (1938), Kentridge states that the work accepts the existence of a compromised society and yet does not rule out all meaning or value, nor pretend these compromises should be ignored. It marks the spot where optimism is kept in check and nihilism is kept at bay. Kentridge sees himself working in this narrow gap: the same breach that separates Alexievichs wartime nihilism from Schwitterss joyful incoherence.
As I sat in the studio with Kentridge, we re-read Art in a State of Grace together, and he marked key passages in red pencil. He was visibly struck, not just by the succinctness and lingering truisms of the lines, but also the articulate certainties of his younger self, which to him felt both proximate and strange. I thought I had to give a talk that was different from an ordinary lecture, Kentridge explained of the genesis of this essay. He used a slide projector to collage image and text: his ambition was to merge the competing elements; to create, in effect, articulate and experiential drawings.
This kind of sparring with and against the lectures form, its conventions and expectations, directly informed Kentridges Norton series. It also undergirds works like The Head & the Load as well as I am not me, the horse is not mine (2008), a lecture-performance in which he discussed research for his then-upcoming 2010 adaptation of Dmitri Shostakovichs 1930 opera, The Nose, at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York. All three works are built on a foundation of language and argument, which Kentridge disassembles and visualizes.
Early Soviet culture, with its contest between egalitarian optimism and totalitarianism, has long intrigued Kentridge. I am not me, the horse is not mine derives its title from a phrase Russian peasants used to deny guilt, which Kentridge unearthed from the testimony of Soviet writer Nikolai Bukharin, who was put on show trial in 1938. Bukharin exemplifies so many of the victims of Stalinism, and stands as a practical example of language and logic taking their belongings and going on their own journey showing that violence and the grotesquely comic are close bedfellows, said Kentridge in a 2011 interview with the Turkish newspaper Todays Zaman, indicating how Joseph Stalins purges robbed language of its reason.
Tragicomic absurdity runs through The Head & the Load, one of the artists most ambitious works, which premiered at Londons Tate Modern. It was a real test to see how incoherent something can be and still make meaning using language as a vehicle of incoherence, Kentridge told me of its collaged music, dance, spoken word, film projections, mechanized sculptures and shadow play. The performance commences with a recitation of various manifestos in English, French, Italian, Swati and Zulu and draws on sound recordings of World War I African prisoners made at the Half Moon Camp near Berlin, Tswana proverbs collected by author and political leader Sol Plaatje, as well as details from a suppressed 1914 letter by Baptist minister and anti-colonialist John Chilembwe, who questioned why Africans should shed [their] innocent blood in Europes war.
This vast polyphony is not always comprehensible, its indictments of the exploitation of black lives in the service of empire subsumed by the effects and exigencies of theatre. There are the words themselves, and their syntax and grammar and their relation to the outside world, Kentridge stated in his Norton lectures. But there is also the discipline of the medium, that which is in between the words the devices which one uses to either pin the words more closely to the world outside or to encourage the listener to make the connection, to convince. Rather than set out to narrow the gap between grammar, argument and its elocution, Kentridge allows for incoherence in his theatre work, leaving room for the audience (and himself) to doubt the authority of what is said.
I prefer to work from not knowing what I am doing from doubt, from indecision, from failure, Kentridge told me when I interviewed him back in 2005. The artists multi-media theatre work, Ubu and the Truth Commission (1997), a collaboration with the Handspring Puppet Company, underscores the centrality of doubt and the failure of language in his work. The performance abstractly grappled with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission: a legal body convened to reckon with the countrys violent past. In a lecture given in Antwerp in 1997 the year Ubu and the Truth Commission premiered Kentridge expressed his mistrust in the worth of Good Ideas, asserting instead the contingent, the inauthentic, the whim, the practical, as strategies for finding meaning. So, while Kentridge may try to tie the word to the world as he speaks, he fully accepts that meaning is conditional and prone to slipping away.
1 William Kentridge, Let Us Try for Once, lecture at Brooklyn Public Library on 9 December 2018, reprinted on Literary Hub <https://bit.ly/2MFCaKI>2 Ibid.3 Ibid.4 Ibid.5 Kentridge delivered the speech at the Standard Bank National Festival of the Arts Winter School in July 1986. Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev first reprinted the talk in her book William Kentridge (1998).6 Estimates regarding African casualties during World War I vary widely, but probably around 250,000 African soldiers and porters diedduring the war, in addition to around 750,000 civilians.
Why Should I Hesitate: Putting Drawings to Work continues atZeitz MOCAA andWhy Should I Hesitate: Sculpture continues atNorval Foundation, both Cape Town, South Africa, through 23 March 2020.
Main image:William Kentridge, The Head & the Load, 2018, performance documentation. Courtesy: the artist and Goodman Gallery
This article first appeared in frieze issue 206 with the headline Tying the Word to the World.
Here is the original post:
Posted: at 3:45 am
The Education of Brett Kavanaugh, an investigative book published by the New York Times reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly last week, has itself become as much a part of the partisan zeitgeist surrounding the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court as the testimonies from Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee last year.
TheWraps J. Clara Chan sat down with Pogrebin and Kelly on Thursday to discuss the books rollout, the reporting process, and what they see as the larger cultural impact of the Kavanaugh case on history.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
TheWrap: Youve spent several months working on this book, and this investigation could have gone on forever. At what point did you feel like, alright, we need to sit down and actually write this?
Robin Pogrebin: We kind of divided up the work where Kate took his high school years as well as Christine Blasey Ford, and I had the college years as well as Deborah Ramirez. We had a clear division of labor early on, and so our work was cut out for us on that front.
I think we both felt like we went as far as we could with those stories and sources. The other areas that we wanted to cover were his career, as well as the confirmation process, which we felt also deserved a closer look. So I think that once we had covered those main areas, we felt that we had a critical mass of material to work with. We couldnt do everything in this book. But those were the things we wanted to accomplish.
TheWrap: The subtitle of the book is an investigation, but for me, its much more than just an investigation the book is also trying to crack into what exactly [the Kavanaugh case] means in this specific piece of history. But as you know from the varied responses to the book, its such a partisan issue. And sexual assault, in many ways, has become a partisan issue. What does this really mean about the cultural climate that were in when there are these two very distinct divides when it comes to evaluating a set of truths and facts?
Pogrebin: This chapter in our history, as well as, frankly, the reception of the book speaks to a moment in our culture where we are intensely divided along partisan lines. Those political allegiances inform peoples perceptions of current events so that, in a way, peoples minds are made up to some extent before they really have given these characters and these events the full benefit of deep inquiry, which we really wanted to bring to this.
We saw that, on the one hand, for example, there are some people who just assumed Brett Kavanaugh was kind of the epitome of the privileged, entitled white man who sort of symbolized everything thats wrong with the idea that men have an easier time in this culture and that theyre guilty before being proven guilty. And on the one on the other hand, I think there are people who looked at Christine Blasey Ford as an example of #MeToo gone too far, that you could dredge up a charge from 36 years ago that could derail a Supreme Court nomination. So I think what you see here is people reading into these events [with] all sorts of agendas.
What we hoped is that by giving people as many of the facts as we could, as well as perspective from kind of a 360-degree view of things, that perhaps we would not necessarily change minds, but certainly open them.
TheWrap: What would you say to the critics who are quick to jump on, Oh, this is just an anti-Kavanaugh book, or This is a pro-Christine [Blasey Ford] book?
Kelly: We always find it disappointing when people have a sort of contempt prior to investigation. We want, ideally, for people to read the book and then make up their minds as to whether we did a good job or not, or whether they feel that we represented the facts wholesomely enough. Everybody comes to this with their own cultural standpoint, everybody has a worldview, and most people have some sort of political sensibility. So youre bringing your own perspective, oftentimes, and projecting it onto the facts that we had last year. Now, Robin, and I would argue we have a lot more facts to share with you.
While we do find, for example, Dr. Ford to be credible after all this research, some of the things in the book, I think, will surprise people. We have a view of Justice Kavanaugh as an adult and as a professional being a pretty upstanding figure who has seriously mentored women. And I think in a lot of cases, in our view, its not clear that he lied. I think a lot of people feel that he lied repeatedly during his hearings, and that may be the case, [but] were not inside his head, so we dont know for sure. But we spent a lot of time parsing his words and looking at what we understood to be true based on the reporting versus how he framed it, and in a lot of cases, he may have been wrong or he may have been putting a spin on something, but its not necessarily obvious that he lied.
Our hope is to come at people in the book gently and say, Heres what we know. Heres what we set out to do. We know that you probably have your own impressions of things already, but go on this journey with us. Let us kind of reconstruct the 1980s for you, Georgetown Prep and Yale and the friendships and the cultural and social dynamics of the time. Let us walk you through Judge Kavanaughs career and then get to the confirmation hearings and the aftermath of it and then see if you still feel the same way.
TheWrap: You both had personal connections, in different ways, to the story the Yale connection [for Pogrebin], the D.C. connection [for Kelly]. Did any point in this entire investigation make you rethink your own experiences of the cultures that youre talking about in this book?
Pogrebin: It did for me, in terms of reporting the Ramirez experience, because I realized that it made me newly sensitive to the idea that not everyone comes to college with the same kind of armor in knowing how to protect themselves against experiences that might be hurtful or damaging or embarrassing, not necessarily knowing how to navigate social situations, and also, frankly, with just a different degree of confidence and sort of sophistication about some of the situations that you can find yourself in college.
For Brett Kavanaugh, coming from an upper-middle-class background in suburban Maryland, and me coming from the New York City and a private school background, it was more of a seamless transition than it is for other people. And its important to be sensitive to the fact that we all dont start out from the same point in life with the same advantages with the same sense of entitlement.
Kelly: It did cause me to rethink growing up in D.C. and the private school scene a little bit. I went to an all-girls school that was in the same network as Georgetown Prep, which was Kavanaughs school, and Holton Arms, which was Blasey Fords school. I do remember the alcohol, I remember stories about Beach Week, I remember yearbook shaming, and I know that kids were sexually active, as kids are all over the place. But I did not hear at the time about sexual assault. And based on the conversations Ive had with people I know since then, Im quite sure that it was happening.
Its just a reminder to me that there was not the awareness that we have today, there was not the openness about these experiences, and, unfortunately, a lot of people facing feelings of shame and guilt didnt report things that happened and they werent addressed.
TheWrap: Its almost like theres a separate story to be said about how this has made elite prep schools rethink how theyre approaching this kind of conversation with their students and fostering that kind of culture.
Kelly: I know that some of those Washington-area schools are actively grappling with that conversation, including my own alma mater, which is nice to see. If theres any silver lining here, hopefully it is the idea of promoting this conversation.
Pogrebin: Ramirez has this quote in our book where she talks about this poem that someone sent to her [that] made her think about the concept of justice. She didnt necessarily set out to derail Kavanaughs nomination; she thought it was important to bring this information to light so that it will inform those who are making a decision about his fitness for the court. Even with him having been confirmed, she said theres so much good thats come out of this, theres so much good thats yet to come I think what she means by that is having contributed to this conversation and taking these experiences out of the shadows and making sure that people feel less shame around them and expose them and talk about them in an honest way.
TheWrap: Have you heard from Kavanaugh since the publication of the book, or are there any plans to pursue follow-up interviews?
Kelly: We havent heard anything from him. We attempted to alert him to all the significant things in the book, approach that with him and his representative in advance, and he hasnt had any comment.
We would certainly welcome a conversation at any point if he wanted to have it. And yes, we have gotten some additional tips and leads since the book came out and Im actively looking into a couple of them, so well see where it goes. I dont think we had any expectation necessarily of continuing on this reporting when the book came out, but were not going to ignore any leads that may come our way. We feel like its our responsibility to continue pursuing things if theyre brought to our attention.
TheWrap: Many current Democratic presidential candidates and other lawmakers on Twitter have also been calling for Kavanaughs impeachment and are using the book as a frame of reference for why Kavanaugh is not fit for the Supreme Court. I know its not in your position to make a judgment on whether that is the case, but whats next after this?
Pogrebin: One of the things that has really struck us in the process of reporting this book is the sense that the judiciary was supposed to be this kind of last branch of government that was non-political, and its clearly become so political, dating back to the Bork hearings, and then Clarence Thomas, and then the Republicans blocking any kind of evaluation of Obamas candidate, Merrick Garland. Perhaps this is a moment where there will be some kind of national reassessment of trying to get back to a [bipartisan] place.
TheWrap: Were you working with New York Times editors when you were doing this book? Or was this a separate editing process entirely?
Pogrebin: This was a separate process entirely. Even though were both New York Times reporters, and this did grow out of our New York Times coverage, it was a separate enterprise. That said, we have colleagues that we have run things by.
I think we also lean on our New York Times principles quite a bit in terms of our standards for reporting and sourcing and just how we go about this. We both are sort of steeped in a certain kind of an ethic in terms of approaching a project like this that our day jobs definitely influenced the execution of the book.
TheWrap: Since there was a bit of controversy with the rollout of the book [and an excerpt featured in the Times]: Is there anything that you wish you would have done differently either through the reporting process or the rollout of this?
Kelly: I think we clearly should have had just better and earlier internal communication about what was happening with the element of the excerpt that became so controversial. We really regret the degree to which people felt like they were missing a critical sentence, which is in our book. We never want our readers to feel like theyre being deprived of information they need.
I think we also just need to have, all of us, a high degree of sensitivity about this subject matter and how painful it is for people, regardless of their perspective. Whether they are a #MeToo activist or whether they are part of the Federalist Society, people feel very strongly about these issues of fairness and due process that were raised by the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, and it was just this whirlwind of cross-currents between the #MeToo movement, the atmosphere created by the Trump administration, the recent history of Supreme Court nominations and confirmations, the partisanship in Washington, the toxic dialogue on social media where anything can be said, anything goes, and it just all came together in a pretty ugly way. Its kind of a sad chapter. But I also think the strong, immediate, and in many cases, uninformed by the actual book reactions that we have seen to the content of the book are emblematic of the issues that were writing about more broadly.
See the article here:
Op-Ed: Larry Johnson’s Twitter Feed Is Full Of Sexism And Homophobia Masked As The Word Of God – BET
Posted: at 3:45 am
If you search for former NFL all-pro running back Larry Johnsons Twitter profile, youll come across the following in his bio.
Broke Records for the Nittany Lions ~ Broke Records for the Chiefs ~ More importantly I Broke the Devils hold on my soul (1Tim. 1:13-16).
First Timothy Chapter One verses 13-16 reads as follows in the King James Bible:
Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.
"And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
"This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
"Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.
Johnson was that blasphemer if you hear him tell it. He says when he stopped playing in the NFL, it left a big void in his life and he tried to fill it with all the wrong things.
The trappings of fame and celebrity were what he identified with. Alcohol, money and chasing women. Secular things. Or things separate from Yah or God.
When those secular things left him feeling empty and void of any feeling of self, when he no longer had fame, money and women he was at his lowest.
He was desperate and needed to find work, but because of his arrests, that was a daunting task.
It was in that dark hour he said he fell to his knees and surrendered his soul to Yah.
During this period he began doing internet research on the occult, found conspiracy groups on YouTube, and studied what he could find about the fabled Illuminati.
Johnson said he was thirsty for knowledge and a spiritual path. He became convinced that the world was about more than whats on the surface and that there is a sinister battle being waged by evil forces. His mission is to be a rebel for God and speak the truth.
Fast forward to today and if you do even a cursory audit of Johnsons timeline, its wild.
He goes in on athletes and entertainers, all people he believes are into pagan worship and sworn blood sacrifice to false idols.
Whats interesting is Johnson finds an opportunity in every news item related to a famous individual to espouse his theories and doctrine. His explanation of the Antonio Brown situation is a perfect example.
If you read between the lines, and thats a dangerous proposition with anything Johnson tweets, he believes nothing serious will happen to Brown as a result of these sexual assault allegations because he has made some kind of sacrafice.
Johnson also used the hashtag #GoatGodplan while calling out the mercurial wide receiver, Antonio Brown.
Its easy to mock this as the musings of a conspiracy theorist, but Johnson believes this stuff wholeheartedly and zealously.
He holds nothing back and attacks the biggest and most popular names in the zeitgeist.
You could make the argument he does it for publicity. But despite his name being referenced seemingly weekly as a nutjob, whats the upside?
When Hot Girl Summer creator and rapper Meg Thee Stallion shared some personal thoughts on Twitter about her late mother and the success shes now experiencing, Johnson saw it as an opportunity to share his views.
After my mom passed I promised myself I was going to keep going hard [because] not only is music my dream but it was her dream for me too. I have days where I want to go hide and cry because shes not here, but I know that aint what she would want me to do! I know shes proud of me!
Johnson replied tweeting:
A coincidence: her mother, who was her manager died in the month of March 2019, the same month of her break out. [The] Music industry [is] filled with the easily [corruptible], fatherless children looking for Satan to be the 'daddy' they never had.
Just this past Sunday (September 22) Johnson seemed to respond to Megs fans on Twitter.
Johnson seems to think his backlash from Megs fans is a simple misunderstanding over them thinking hes upset she would never date him.
In a not uncommon sexist response, he lists some of the better famous women he says hes dated. And it appears, as far as hes concerned, his message to Meg and her fans comes from a place of spreading the truth, not jealousy.
One of Johnsons latest targets is none other than LeBron James. Johnson believes James is part of this lost generation that has sold their souls for fame and fortune.
In a series of tweets Johnson makes reference to devil horn signs Bron makes before and/or during games.
Johnson took it a step further on Sunday (September 22) drawing reference to a Canaanite deity and the ritual of child sacrifice. His tweet had pictures of LeBron Bronny James Jr. and Drake.
For what its worth, Johnson also believes the NFL and NBA are pushing effeminate agendas for non altruistic reasons.
Whether or not you believe what Johnson is preaching, and I find this extremely dubious on a variety of levels, he is not alone in his beliefs.
For every person that dismisses him as sexist, homophobic or a religious zealot, he has many, including people in the Black community, that believe he is the light in a dark place.
Some questions need to be asked. Why does sexism and homophobia shrouded under the cover of religion still have a place in the Black community?
Religion is very important to the Black community and should not be minimized. Christianity in particular. According to the Pew Research Center, roughly eight in 10 Black people identify as Christian.
By and large the majority of enslaved Africans were not Christian when they arrived. Stripped from their native land, customs and rituals, many Africans and their descendants embraced Christianity, finding comfort in the Biblical message of spiritual equality and deliverance.
The Black church was a key cornerstone of building a community post enslavement and was essential in the civil rights movement.
In adopting Christianity, unfortunately some Black people adopt the belief that homosexuality is an abomination.
Throughout the Bible, women are largely depicted as vessels to bear children and support a man in managing a household. Seldom having their own agency.
Anything secular or of the world is sin (our actual nature if you believe), and souls must be cleansed from such ills. Religion has its place, and if thats what is needed to help an individual get through life and have a sense of purpose, far be it for me to criticize.
I grew up in a Pentecostal house, my father spent time ministering in a church in Brooklyn when I was a kid, and my mother has advanced degrees in theology and religious studies.
On an intellectual level, I understand blind faith and zealotry. But I cant help but question the type of dogmatic doctrine and conflicting messages inherent in Christianity.
God is presented as omniscient, omnipotent and the creator of all things. He is also presented as a God of enduring love and everlasting mercy and forgiveness. But God is also presented as jealous and vengeful if you dont do exactly as commanded. See the contradictions.
If Johnson and other believers' ultimate goal is to spread the good news, how is it accomplished by spewing negativity?
If you want people to join or come to know him, wouldnt an atmosphere of inclusivity need to be present? Does anything about Johnsons feed seem welcoming and inclusive?
No, this is more of the same. Religion in its worst form is something created by men (allegedly inspired by God) to control and restrict. If you do your research, those that typically benefit from religion, in the macro, are men.
If Johnson was still bankrolled with millions, would he be on this crusade of exposing truths?
Thats the thing about religion, just like Twitter, it tends to find a lot of people when they are at their most vulnerable. For good or bad.
(Photo: G Fiume/Getty Images)
Posted: at 3:45 am
It's that time again! Time to reflect on a decade gone by in the world of cinema. The technology, the politics, the zeitgeist of the 2010s, we captured it all on screen for generations to come.
And basically they'll see we lived on a staple diet of superhero movies.
But maybe that's what we needed in the 2010s. Multiple viewing treats that immerse us in a familiar, happy place. We also had plenty of love for the smaller-scale indies, the gems that open windows into the lives of others and change us for the better.
So what movies are we talking about exactly? We're talking about the best ones. An assembly of CNET staffers voted on the best movies of the 2010s. You probably won't agree entirely with the results, but at the very least, on this one occasion, Boyhood beats Birdman.
Here are our top 30 movies of the decade, ranked.
Tom Hardy plays Max in Mad Max: Fury Road.
We start at the top with a movie that did not win the Best Picture Oscar like many thought it would in 2016. But listen, George Miller's fourth in the Mad Max series careens on as one of the best action movies of all time. Tom Hardy replaces Mel Gibson as the enigmatic Max, alongside the clear standout and heart of the film: Charlize Theron as the one-armed Imperator Furiosa. In Miller's visionary post-apocalyptic Oz, they attempt to save "the wives," women selected for breeding, from the tyrannical Immortan Joe. The entire movie takes place over one absolutely bonkers chase sequence. Its cinematic stats are jaw-dropping: Miller used 3,500 storyboards and took 480 hours of raw footage. He overcame a decade of roadblocks -- recasting, location changes and creative resets (he explored the possibility of a 3D live-action version) -- before achieving high-octane imaginative insanity.
Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) as Spider-Man in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
There was no question what movie would win the Best Animated Feature category at the 2018 Oscars. Into the Spider-Verse stole our hearts by boldly ignoring the fact we've had three cinematic Peter Parkers and introducing five more. They stem from Marvel's multiverse, wisely made less complicated by producers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who focus on the Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) graffiti artist, hip hop-appreciating version of Spidey. Morales teams up with the versions from other universes -- including a bizarre and completely hilarious cartoon pig known as Peter Porker -- to fight supervillain Kingpin. Over 140 animators combined computer animation with a hand-drawn style to mimic a comic book look. Inventive visuals, fresh storytelling and embracing the comic books' wackiness helped make the first non-white Spider-Man one of the best.
Ellar Coltrane over the years in Boyhood.
Boyhood is, logistically speaking, a bit of a miracle. In order to tell a story about growing up, Richard Linklater sporadically filmed a young Ellar Coltrane every year for 12 years, from ages 6 to 18. His character, Mason, lived between his divorced parents (Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette) in Texas. The project flirted with potential film-ending pitfalls: For one, what if a teenage Coltrane strayed from acting? But Linklater delivered his best ever film. It won BAFTAs, Golden Globes and a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Arquette in 2014. Yet some still feel a little salty about Boyhood's award season. Boyhood lost the Best Picture Oscar to Birdman, a less warm, familiarly wholesome tale, more a technical and existential tour de force. On this occasion, the people have spoken.
Daniel Kaluuya as Chris Washington in Get Out.
Get Out isthemodern horror movie. It's the perfect coming together of horror, comedy and satire on racism. The setup to the punch line -- or in horror's case, the jump scare -- takes exact timing. As one half of comedy duo Key & Peele, Jordan Peele is extremely well-equipped to achieve both. His directorial debut has a scarily loaded setup: a young black man (Daniel Kaluuya) meets his white girlfriend's (Alison Williams) middle-class liberal parents. Their comments about how fine they are with their daughter's boyfriend are comedy gold... with a delayed squirm. Peele's exciting new voice brought horror, laughs and deeply unsettling self-reflection.
Saorise Ronan and Beanie Feldstein in Lady Bird.
On paper, Lady Bird reads like a conventional coming-of-age story. It covers the usual milestones: losing virginity, going to prom, graduation. But in between those lines is a raw, specific relationship between 17-year-old Christine McPherson (Saoirse Ronan), who insists everyone calls her Lady Bird, and her hard working and barely appreciated mother Marion (Laurie Metcalf). First-time solo director Greta Gerwig writes a love letter to her hometown, Sacramento, infusing it with brilliantly layered comedy. "I wish I could live through something," Lady Bird says with the narcissism of a 17-year-old. She's self-titled, as in, she says Lady Bird is the name "given to me by me." The warmth, hilarity and at times confronting revelations of teenagehood flood through Gerwig's singular lens.
Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone in The Favourite.
Olivia Coleman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone bring the kind of acting calibre you expect to this Yorgos Lanthimos misadventure. The Greek director well and truly established his distinctive weird, experimental style with The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Deer. He loves to cross a line and does so multiple times in The Favourite, a period piece turned cat-and-mouse psychological thriller featuring characters named Wanking Man and Nude Pomegranate Tory. Underneath the politics and the corsets, you'll even find a melancholy love story.
Alfonso Cuaron's Roma.
Watching Alfonso Cuaron's Roma is almost like flipping through a beautifully-shot album of 1970s Mexico. Cuaron tells a semi-autobiographical story about a middle class family through the lens of a young housekeeper. It's a story about people living, brought to life by Cuaron's deft magic.
Okoye (Danai Gurira) from Black Panther.
Marvel movies proved they could keep on evolving with Ryan Coogler's Black Panther. The 2018 film bucked the superhero formula with its Afro-futurist setting, family saga and James Bond gadgetry. The bold claws of an auteur are all over this comic book blockbuster.
Alicia Vikander in Ex Machina.
The walls meticulously close in on the programmer, his boss and the iRobot they interact with in Alex Garland's Ex Machina. The tense, thoughtful sci-fi set in a remote cutting-edge cabin raises big questions and upgraded Alicia Vikander to even greater star status.
Philip Seymour Hoffman in The Master.
The Master was not the deep-dive into Scientology's origins many might have expected. Paul Thomas Anderson sews together the fictional life of Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), leader of a religious movement known as "The Cause," and his tension with the yin to his yang, Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix). The 2012 character drama, dealing with a world recovering from World War II, is a poetic epic.
Joaquin Phoenix in Her.
Spike Jonze's 2013 romance between a lonely man and his Siri-like AI is even more frighteningly relevant today. Samantha (Scarlet Johansson) is the soothing, intimate voice in Theodore Twombly's (Joaquin Phoenix) ear, but the bounds of her programming soon go beyond sprucely organizing his life. Jonze's future is both vividly-realized and always rooted in the complexities of the human heart.
Barry Jenkins' three-part story about a physically and emotionally abused black man has been described as genre-defying. From childhood to adulthood, three actors (Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders and Alex Hibbert) play Chiron with soulful naturalness. In covering difficult subject matter, from the drug underworld to sexual identity, Moonlight runs deep. The 2016 Best Picture Oscar winner is gorgeous to look at and accompanied by an exquisite soundtrack.
Andrew Garfield, Joseph Mazzello, Jesse Eisenberg and Patrick Maple in The Social Network.
David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin friended each other to make a powerfully nerdy, talky movie about Mark Zuckerberg and the inception of Facebook. Equally absorbing are its themes of friendship and loyalty in a playground of petty politics. A superb Jesse Eisenberg as the insensitive, conflicted genius was a revelatory match for Fincher's technical talent.
2011's Drive starring Ryan Gosling.
Ryan Gosling's strong, silent Hollywood stunt driver moonlights as a getaway driver. So Drive is basically the coolest movie ever. Its dreamlike, electronic soundtrack -- perfect for travel at night -- layers meaningful messages into a violent fairy tale about an unconventional hero.
Sally Hawkins and Doug Jones in The Shape of Water.
Guillermo del Toro's 2017 Best Picture Oscar winner is a more than unconventional horror-romance between a mute woman and a dead-eyed fish-man. It balances a harsh 1960s setting with fairy tale magic painted into its big, beautifully-detailed sets. Only del Toro could pull this madness off.
Avengers: Infinity War.
The sheer size of this blockbuster, with its sky-high budget, A-listers and ravenous fandom, make Anthony and Joe Russo's film all the more impressive. To culminate 20 Marvel films in a two-part showstopper is experimental madness on its own. But to end (spoiler) the first of those parts with almost all your heroes losing... who says all superhero films are predictable?
This is Christopher Nolan's insane, original concept: a professional thief, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, steals information by infiltrating the subconscious. Sorry, Mr. Nolan, how are you going to do this? The answer is incredibly engrossingly. Somehow Nolan made a film about dreams both substantial and visceral, with a thrilling dose of physics-defying action.
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) uses one mind-boggling continuous shot to literally follow a deluded movie star in the lead up to his latest role on a Broadway show. As you can imagine, sanity, narcissism and basically everything to do with the human condition bleeds through this showbiz satire. The 2014 Best Picture Oscar winner was a creative tour de force for Alejandro Gonzlez Irritu and some comeback for Michael Keaton.
Spotlight shines a light on the real-life investigative team of journalists called "Spotlight" from the Boston Globe. In the early 2000s, they helped expose the child abuse committed by Catholic priests in the Boston area. The 2015 Best Picture Oscar winner wound gripping tension into the unglamorous legwork of journalists, played by a perfectly-balanced ensemble including Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton and Rachel McAdams.
2010's Toy Story 3.
The third in Pixar's Toy Story series seemingly wrapped up the stories of Woody, Buzz and their owner, Andy, in the most poignant, heartbreaking way possible -- until a fourth film followed 10 years later. Still, Toy Story 3 stands as the example of how to blend family wholesomeness with plaything torture horror. One of the best kids movies for grownups out there.
Toni Collette in 2018's Hereditary.
When your grandma dies, cult-related ordeal after ordeal doesn't tend to ensue. But in Hereditary, it does! That's not to mention the slowly sickening insecurity Annie Graham (a better than ever Toni Collette) feels in her relationship with her children. Ari Aster's directorial debut constructs its shock-horror moments with the delicate hand of someone building a miniature house. He treats his characters with the same attention to detail, and when it all comes crashing, the impact is traumatic. One of the horror genre's greats.
2015's What We Do in the Shadows.
A mockumentary about idiotic vampires who share a flat in Wellington, New Zealand, is the kind of content we came to expect from director-writer-actor Taika Waititi. After delivering the best ever vampire comedy as well as the brilliant Hunt for the Wilderpeople, he was ingeniously snapped up by Marvel to direct Thor: Ragnarok.
2013's 12 Years a Slave.
Steve McQueen doesn't let up in telling the incredible, brutaltrue story of Solomon Northup, a gifted violinist who had the rug pulled out from under him when he was sold into slavery. His 12 years of hardship is detailed here in a story that delves into the darkest recesses of Louisiana in the 1840s. More than just a prestige, period film, it's a difficult but necessary viewing experience.
Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons in 2014's Whiplash.
What is essentially a thriller about jazz introduced the world to the rare talents of Damien Chazelle, who would go on to make La La Land and First Man. Whiplash pit Andrew (Miles Teller), an ambitious drumming student, against the abusive Fletcher (J.K. Simmons). This tense, exhaustive journey into the perils of percussion deserves a standing ovation.
Alex Garland's followup to Ex Machina takes us into a mysterious, body horror-inducing quarantined zone of mutating plants and animals. With five female leads including Natalie Portman, this intelligent story featuring a bear scene as memorable as The Revenant's is unique in more ways than one.
Timothe Chalamet in 2017's Call Me By Your Name.
Based on Andr Aciman's novel, this deeply affecting romance between 17-year-old Elio (Timothe Chalamet) and 24-year-old Oliver (Armie Hammer) is, unsurprisingly, beautiful to look at. From the 1980s idyllic Italian countryside to the slow-burn romance, Luca Guadagnino directs a mesmerizingly dreamy summer experience.
2015's The Witch.
Robert Eggers' directorial debut is an exercise in restraint. That's his most terrifying asset and it pays off when the religious family at the heart of The Witch descends into madness. In 1630s New England, a bleak, far-back world where you deserve an award for understanding the accents, supernatural horrors brew to terrifying ends. You'll never look at the outskirts of a wood in the same way.
2016's Hunt For The Wilderpeople.
The movie before Taika Waititi took on Thor: Ragnarok follows the oddball mismatch of troublesome Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) and the grizzled Uncle Hec (Sam Neill). Through a series of sad, absurd and touching events, they find themselves the subjects of a national manhunt. The balance between humanity and comedy is what Taika Waititi does best.
2015's The Force Awakens.
J.J. Abrams relaunched one of the biggest franchises of all time by affectionately pairing familiar parts with fresh new faces and even cuter helpful droids. Starring Daisy Ridley and John Boyega, this welcome shot of fun space adventure took us back into the operatic war between dark versus light.
Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman.
A turning point in the DC Extended Universe came when Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman climbed out of the trenches. The World War I-set origin story introduced the world to Gal Gadot in a role she was born to play. Her shining beacon of hope fills this earnest, good old-fashioned tale of heroine versus Greek god of war.
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Posted: at 3:45 am
Are we running out of time to stop climate change? Nearly a year has passed since the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that limiting global warming to the 1.5-degree Celsius (2.6 degrees Fahrenheit) mark by the end of the century a goal set to stave off the worst impacts of climate change "would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society."
Some politicians and writers have thrown their hands up in the air and argued that it's too late, and that human civilization is simply not up to the task. Others, meanwhile, took the report as a call to arms, reframing one of its points as a political organizing message: We have only 12 years to stop climate change, and the clock is ticking. (A year later, we're down to 11.)
But the full picture is both more and less dire than a slogan can capture. We can't stop climate change because it's already here, and it's already too late to reverse many of its catastrophic effects. What's true is that things are on track to get much worse over the course of this century, and that if we're going to stop those things from happening, society is going to have to start hitting some important deadlines fast. There's a big one coming 12 years after the IPCC report. Blowing through it won't immediately plunge society into a "Mad Max"-style dystopia, as some have suggested perhaps tongue in cheek but it will make sure everything keeps getting steadily worse, and it will make turning things around down the road that much harder.
Related:The Reality of Climate Change: 10 Myths Busted
Some scientists are nervous that overemphasizing the 2030 deadline might mislead the public about the nuances of climate change. But others pointed out to Live Science that activists have a task that's different from that of researchers one that requires straightforward goals and clear, simple ideas.
The IPCC report, which the U.N. climate science body released Oct. 8, 2018, revealed that the best path to limiting warming to an increase of 1.5 C by 2100 involves cutting net human carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions 45% by 2030 (12 years after the report was published) and then cutting emissions further to net zero by 2050. It was far from the first dire warning that the agency had issued. But this one seemed to take root in the public discourse around climate change, possibly because of how news stories summarized the report. An Oct. 8, 2018, headline in The Guardian read, "We have 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe, warns UN." Vox headlined its article "Report: we have just 12 years to limit devastating global warming." Smithsonian.com wrote, "The World Was Just Issued 12-Year Ultimatum On Climate Change."
In an interview with writer Ta-Nehisi Coates three months later, on Jan. 21, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D.-N.Y., spelled out how the report's conclusions had entered the zeitgeist:
"Millennials and Gen Z and all these folks that come after us are looking up, and we're like, 'The world is going to end in 12 years if we don't address climate change, and your biggest issue is how are we gonna pay for it?'"
Here's the thing: Scientists never said the world was going to end in 12 years if we don't stop climate change. Even researchers known for ringing the alarm bells on climate change are far more likely to speak in terms of decimal places and nonlinear effects than to talk about the end of civilization as we know.
Prominent activists rarely bring up doomsday, either. Messages from the Global Climate Strike organizers and the U.S.-based Sunrise Movement focus on long-term climate shifts, not an impending, sudden disaster. Still, the 12-year deadline looms large in the culture.
"It has achieved an absoluteness in its role in societal dialogue that's not in line with scientific fact," said Katharine Mach, a climate scientist at the University of Miami and one of several lead authors of the IPCC report.
"The world will not end if we pass 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming above preindustrial levels," Mach said.
Related: 8 Ways Global Warming Is Already Changing the World
And failing to hit a 45% reduction target won't lead to 1.5 C of warming by 2030, as Lini Wollenberg, a University of Vermont climate researcher and leader of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security, told Live Science. It does, however, increase the chances of hitting 1.5 degrees C by 2100 and experiencing many more climate catastrophes on our way through the 21st century, Wollenberg said.
The issue is that any program set up to mitigate warming will have two basic components: short-term cuts to emissions and longer-term efforts to pull carbon out of the atmosphere. (This doesn't necessarily mean giant, futuristic CO2-sucking machines, but may mean things like growing forests.)
"Some people I'm hazarding industry and those focused on maintaining a growth-focused economy would argue that we don't want to sacrifice things in the short term, and that society will figure out the technology to deal with it later," Wollenberg said.
But every year of delay on cutting greenhouse gas emissions means that carbon-capture efforts down the road will have to be even more fantastical and dramatic (including heavy reliance on carbon-capture technologies that may never work). And each year in which we do nothing, the world will cross more climate tipping points that will be difficult to undo, Wollenberg said.
The year 2030 has been bouncing around climate-policy documents for a while, Wollenberg said. (It also turned up in the Paris Agreement, for example, as did the goal of net zero by 2050.) Researchers saw that target as part of a reasonable time frame for drawing down emissions without it resulting in unbearable economic costs or having humanity rely too heavily on future carbon-capture efforts, she said.
"It could have been 2020, 2012 or 2016," Wollenberg said, adding that 2030 "used to seem a lot further away."
The 1.5 C target was picked for similar reasons an effort to balance what's possible against what's necessary. But, similar to the 12-year time frame, 1.5 degrees is a target set by scientists, not an immutable scientific fact.
"We know that the risks go up [as temperature rises]. We're already experiencing widespread impacts of the changing climate," Mach said, pointing to the ongoing consequences of 2019's 1 C (1.8 F) of warming above preindustrial levels. "It will be greater at 1.5 degrees of warming, and may go up from there in some very substantial ways with severe, irreversible impacts."
Holding warming to 1.5 degrees won't reverse climate change. In fact, the catastrophic impacts in that idealized scenario will be much worse than they are now.
Colin Carlson, an ecologist at Georgetown University who studies how climate change influences infectious diseases, said that one problem with imagining that we have 12 years until a huge disaster hits is that such thinking obscures the ongoing horrors of climate change in 2019.
"Climate change has already killed hundreds or thousands or more of people," Carlson said, "through malaria, through dengue, through a hundred other avenues that we're only now starting to be able to quantify."
Mosquito-borne diseases flourish in a warming world, his research has shown. And the world has already warmed enough that many people have gotten sick and died from those diseases people who otherwise would have been spared.
Related: 5 Deadly Diseases Emerging from Global Warming
"So this is not as simple as 'Can we stop this coming?' It's already here," he said.
Similarly, Wollenbergs work has shown that severe climate impacts are devastating food production worldwide in 2019. Vast regions of North and South America, Asia and Africa are becoming too hot for growing grains. The soil in low-lying, coastal regions of Bangladesh and China is getting saltier as rising seas contaminate groundwater, threatening rice production. (A few places are becoming more hospitable to certain crops. A warming Vermont, for example, is growing more hospitable to peaches, even as a shortened ski season threatens its economy.) The overall impact is to drive up food prices and create global unrest. Long term, these trends will make it impossible for some countries to produce enough food to feed their populations, she said.
To manage all that complexity, researchers tend to break down responses into two broad categories: mitigation and adaptation. Mitigation is, in short, the work of preventing climate change from worsening. Reducing emissions and growing forests fall into this category.
Adaptation is learning to deal with the warming that's already here and the additional warming that's coming: building sea walls and flood-abating salt marshes around coastal cities; studying changes in precipitation so farmers know when to plant their crops; and engineering crops to better withstand harsh environments.
But ultimately, all the researchers Live Science contacted said these problems become less catastrophic with less warming. Holding the world to a 1.5-C warming increase by the end of the century creates much more manageable short- and long-term problems than holding it to 2 C of warming, which is much less harmful to Earth than 3 C, which is much more survivable than 4 C, which is still less catastrophic than 6 C and so on. None of those possible futures necessarily leads to a charred, lifeless global desert in our lifetimes. But each increase is almost unimaginably more dire for life on this planet than the one preceding it.
"It's always worth it to prevent more warming," Mach said.
With regard to the spread of mosquito-borne diseases, Carlson said, "We can stop it. Mitigating climate change is truly the silver bullet. Sometimes it is as simple as, 'If we stop climate change, we can stop a lot of the bad health impacts that are coming.'" (Though the devil is in the details, he added. The level of disease reduction will depend on how fast the carbon-mitigation project moves, and its effects won't be felt immediately or equally everywhere.)
The science points relentlessly to one reality: The best way to deal with climate change is to start cutting emissions now. It's easier to stop warming by keeping CO2 in the ground now than it is to pull carbon out of the air later. And mitigation makes adaptation much more effective.
Bringing up the 12-year time frame, then, is a way of drilling down on the first step the world has to take to move down the most effective mitigation path still available even if it doesn't capture the full scope of the issue.
So, is it irresponsible for public figures to employ the 12-years rhetoric?
"I think the role of public figures is to set visions and create the urgency that we need," Wollenberg replied. "The scientific community is sometimes uncomfortable with that, but if you started talking to the general public about, 'Well, you could trade off your long-term emissions and delay the decline by 5%, or we could do a 4% reduction every year, but that would contrast with a 7% reduction where we could wait until 2035,' it would not be an effective message."
I would blame the public figures who aren't taking steps more than I would blame the people who are trying to promote a vision," she said.
We're at a point in time when people are feeling the effects of climate change on their lives, said Jewel Tomasula, a doctoral student ecologist at Georgetown University, who studies the health of salt marshes in New Jersey. As Live Science has previously reported, the world in 2019 is hotter, monster storms are more frequent, diseases are on the move, and fires and floods are happening more often. Talking about 2030, Tomasula said, is about creating a window for activism to take effect a decade of meaningful global movement on the problem.
"Science is great for understanding the problem," she said. "Climate change is a physical problem, and we can work on it with our data and really understand it. But that's not what's really going to fix it. The way that problems like this have been addressed in the past is by having that political will and mobilization."
The notion of a 12-year deadline can be misleading and obscures some of the hedging and nuance scientists like to emphasize. But it also seems to offer climate mobilizers a focal point for their efforts, and people really are getting out into the streets.
Originally published on Live Science.
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Posted: at 3:45 am
In times of turmoil, we turn to books to get a sense of the world around us. Nonfiction provides us a clear-cut, unreserved portrait of our present and where it might lead us to. Here is my selection of the top nonfiction books of 2019 that will not only expand your horizons but are also compulsively readable.
I dare you all to not howl with laughter while reading anything written by Adam Kay. HisThis Is Going to Hurtwas a phenomenal, record-breaking bestseller with its impeccable blend of humor and poignancy. Here he continues to simultaneously crack us up and make us feel sympathy for the hectic life of hospital staff during Christmas time.
One of the most esteemed contemporary name in nonfiction, the writer of The Empathy Exams is back with another blistering book. Biting and honest, this collection of essays revolve around themes of longing and obsession.
Award-winning writer Saini explores the bases of race in science throughout history. A vital and urgent addition to political science.
One of the most hysterically comical books you will read this year, Irby is at her smartest, candid best here. No wonder Roxane Gay loves it. If you are a fan of Fleabag, you will love this collection of self deprecating, outrageous and painfully awkward encounters.
From the NBA-winning author and cultural icon, this is a sharply realized, poetic, and sophisticated memoir of a transformative year in Smiths life.
A legacy of the #MeToo movement, this timely anthology provides daring and honest insights into the factors and patriarchal structures enabling this abuse against women. FeaturingBlack, Latinx, Asian, and queer voices, this book is a galvanizing effort to propagate this much needed movement.
In this powerful book, Evans tears down racial myths which has been fortified by some of our most prolific scholars. The nature vs nurture debate regarding race is deconstructed with pertinent knowledge.
Tracking the cultural pivot of pop culture from the Western world to the East with examples of K-pop, Shah Rukh Khan, and Turkish soap operas. An important zeitgeist of our time. Entertaining and incisive.
A brazen and audacious collection of personal and social essays from a queer icon. By turns sensitive and scathing, Tea leads timely and important conversations about our current culture.
Qandeel Baloch was a controversial social media star in Pakistan who was murdered by her brother in 2016. This timely book attempts to piece together her life journey from the small village in Punjab to her stint in a womans shelter after her troubled marriage and finally to her rise to fame.
Zadie Smith hailed this as a whip-smart, challenging book. Imagine Rebecca Solnit for the millennial. Tolentino gives razor-sharp cultural commentary about our era of hyper individualism and tech obsession with shrewd insight.
A path-breaking peek into the privates lives of three ordinary women. This book portrays a brazenly intimate portrayal of womanhood, love and desire.
A devastating memoir about a mother mourning the tragic death of her 25-year-old son in an accident. A beautifully fragmented and hope filled book about embracing love and death.
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Posted: at 3:45 am
Photo: House of Commons/PA Wire/PA Images
Sometimes political events prove so dangerous and shocking that we are compelled, almost through self-preservation, to focus on the immediate developments, and understand only much later how much has been irrecoverably broken and lost. This was such a week.
On Tuesday the highest court in the land found that the prime minister had abused his power, misled parliament, and broken the law. It upheld the earlier verdict of the Scottish judges, who found that the PM had effectively lied to the Queen. If Boris Johnson had a shred of decency, integrity or responsibility, he would have resigned on the spot. Such an act would have been expected and demanded ofany other PM in modern history even by their own party. Johnson is not such a man.
The PM did not apologise. He did not show humility. He instead doubled down. Johnsons Commons appearance on Wednesday evening delivered the most repulsive parliamentary spectacle this country has seen in our lifetimes.The prime minister wailedthat parliament was betraying the people. He declared it should stand aside. He used the phrase surrender act no fewer than 15 times. When one MP invoked the memory of her friend Jo Cox and pleaded with the PM, for her colleagues safety and her own, to moderate his language, he responded that her complaint was humbug. Indeed, he tumbled to a further nadir by opining that MPs could honour Coxs memory by getting Brexit done. It was a gleeful festival of cruelty. People left the chamber in tears. Here was a group of MPs begging our countrys leader to temper his rhetoric, not as a political opponent but as a human being, and he jeered in their faces.
This was nothing to do with trade, or free movement, or sovereignty. It wasnt about fishing quotas or the EU budget or the bureaucrats in the European Commission. Brexit was not supposed to be like this. Nobody voted for this. How, in the name of Britain, did we get here?
First we look at the language. History shows that before hardlinedemagogues take control of the peoples will, they must first take control of the peoples lexicon. Johnsons calm repetition of the word surrender was no mere attempt at ridicule. He didnt use it tomake a joke. It was, rather, a deliberate, concerted and explicit effort not simply to smear his opponents but to delegitimise them.
It is not really about the word itself, but the context in which it was used. Johnson is attempting to reframe language and normalise that reframing. Such an endeavour seeks toradicalise people, whipping up a righteous popular fury that we have somehow surrendered to our historic enemies and rivals across the Channel by attempting tosave jobs and medicinesupplies. The British government is implicitly likening MPs to traitors in an imaginary war with our closest allies.
This is not just aquestion of abstract morality but peoples safety.Johnsons language does not occur in a vacuum. It matters. It filters through. And it has consequences. Johnson must know this. He knows that Coxs murderer cried Britain first as he attacked her. He knows that MPs are receivingfloodsof threats and abuse. He knows that the words surrender and betrayal wave a match over a public stage doused with fuel. It is simply that he doesnt care.
It is here that Johnson and Dominic Cummings reveal themselves.The PMdeclared that the best way to ensure that every parliamentarian is properly safe is to get Brexit done. Cummings went a step further when an MP complained about a death threat and he simply told him to support a deal. Never mind that there is currently no Brexit deal to approve even if MPs wanted to. It is beyond all limits of obscenity that the prime minister and his chief of staff should use MPs personal safety as a tool of blackmail or bargaining chip.
But this is where we come to the figure of Johnson himself.SomeMPs genuinely care about what they do. Others are merely entertained by it. The ideathat our PM might work for anysense ofthe common goodis a fiction. A lifetime of profound entitlement has delivered him nothing but reward.Now, having attained his lifelong goal of becoming prime minister, he fixes his sights on the nationalistglory hefeels he deserves.
And yet Johnson could do none of this on his own. He depends entirely on his enablers. The Tory party unmaskeditself this week, finally and for all time. Hundreds of its MPsgathered in the Commons. They heard their leader traduce parliament, challenge the judiciary and defend law-breaking. They did not walk out in disgust. They gave him a sustainedround of applause.
The old Conservative Party, for all its faults, has withered and died. Like the US Republicans who have provided such key inspiration, the Tories have entirely remodelled themselves in the image of the demagogue who leads them. They have sacrificed theirhonour on thealtar of promised electoral success.Conservative MPsare either wholly committed to the zeitgeist of anarchist destruction or nodding supinely and looking the other way. This is the party of monarchy, dependable government and law and order, and the PM istrampling all of thembut nothing trumps the nebulous concept of party loyalty. All are culpable.
This week wewitnessed the next stepsof a very deliberate revolution. This is the end of civility and the end of playing by the rules. Language has no more limits and basic decency has no more value. This is Trumps Britain in ways we can only begin to compute. Our country, its institutions and its future are at stake, and the people charged with their protection are carefully crushing them.
In the end this is not about Brexit, but about who we are as a country, and as people. Something has died: something of ourcompassion, our care, our respect for one another. The sense of bereavement is real and justified. But we have not lost everything. The struggle for our political and civiclives now begins.
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Why does vintage photography gives some people "the willies? Whether or not you've noticed this, the portrait subjects in the oldest black and white images are almost always glaring sternly into the lens.
I love antiques and visiting vintage shops. In my years of browsing through those dusty old shelves (with their musty yet oddly satisfying odor), I've collected dozens of stereographs. These are side-by-side photographic prints of nearly identical images, which create a three-dimensional image when viewed through a stereoscopic viewer. Stereographys invention by Sir Charles Wheatstonef in 1838 only 22 years after the first primitive photograph is historically remarkable.
My fascination with stereography has produced a small library of vintage stereograph portraits ranging across a wide array of subjects. It includes images of proud or stoic Native Americans, high-collared aristocrats, even a U.S. president. But the subjects rarely have even a faint smile. Whats with all that grimness?
The most significant explanation for the glum faces in vintage portraits is a technical one: long exposure times. In late 19th to early 20th century, photographic film wasn't as sensitive to light as modern film (or camera sensors) and required exposure times of several seconds to several minutes. Those minutes-long exposures did become less common as advancements in film were made throughout the 1900s.
Since any movement during a long exposure could create "ghosting" aberrations and ruin the sharpness of a photo, subjects were instructed to sit absolutely still during portrait sessions. Smiling requires many facial muscles to work in unison, but those muscles don't have the stamina to sit stay fixed over the course of several minutes. Some past accounts describe children being harnessed to chairs to keep them still enough for a long exposure.
How hard is it (for someone not a professional model) to hold a long smile for a camera? An entertaining 2010 case of smiling angst led to the "Hide the Pain Harold" meme: a desperately grinning Hungarian fellow who became an internet sensation for his bizarre grimace in various photo sets, apparently due to facial fatigue from forcing a smile during long photo shoots.
Also theorized as contributing to the lack of cheery faces in old-time portraits is the fact that dental care wasn't as commonplace or advancedin the 19th century. The typical solution for decaying teeth was to pull them. No wonder people were reluctant to show their off their chompers.
Cultural factors also see to have contributed to the lack of smiling in those early photographic portraits. First, the then-popular genre of "post-mortem photography" influenced a deadly serious (as it were) demeanor even in photos of the living. The grisly act of posing the dead as animate beings didn't exactly popularize smiling photo portraits. That photographic fashion tapered off early in the 20th century. I don't see it making a comeback anytime soon.
Additionally, smiling was once seen by the elite as a sign of idiocy. And since photography used to be a luxury exclusively enjoyed by the wealthy, the culture of dignity and seriousness may have also impacted the demeanor of photographic subjects.
There are, however, exceptions to the aristocratic zeitgeist of photography from the late 19th and early 20th century. Although photographed smiles of this period were rare, they can be found. A Flickr group has been dedicated to finding and re-posting the elusive "Smiling Victorian."
Historians and sociologists have offered various explanations (beyond long exposure times) for the rarity of cheerful expressions in vintage photographs, but the larger picture might have had to do with something we still work with today: the shifting vicissitudes of individuals and culture.
Smiling always has cultural connotations. Smiling at a stranger in North America can make a different impression from state to state and city to city. Whereas a smiling stranger might be seen as welcome in a socially relaxed area, that stranger could be taken as naive or even suspicious in a more conservative place. Suspicion can also prevail in some big cities, where eye contact is commonly avoided as a method of self-preservation.
Are there examples of photography from that era that make you wonder what was behind their smile (or lack thereof)? Please share with us in the comments section.
Lead image/s via Wikimedia Commons, all are in the public domain.
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Fifty years ago, the consortium of Heuer-Leonidas, Breitling, Buren-Hamilton and Dubois Dpraz vied with lone wolves Zenith and Seiko in the race to launch the worlds first automatic chronograph movement. How did these brands keep their developments secret? And how did the watch world change? We searched the past for clues.
In this picture from the 1970s, Jack Heuer (left) shows Formula 1 racing champions Niki Lauda (second from left) and Clay Regazzoni how their golden automatic chronograph is made.
While reading his daily newspaper on the morning of Jan. 10, 1969, Jack Heuer, general director of the Heuer watch brand, suffered such a shock that he almost dropped his coffee cup. A short article announced that Heuers competitor Zenith had developed the worlds first automatic chronograph and was already showing functional prototypes of El Primero. How could this be true? Jack Heuers company was part of a consortium that had been working on this very same task under tremendous time pressure and the strictest secrecy for the past three years. The launch of Caliber 11 was scheduled for March 3. How could Zenith have beaten them to the punch?
This story is one of the most fascinating narratives in the history of the modern watch industry. It took place in a year that, like the entire previous decade, was characterized by technical progress and profound social change, including the first manned landing on the moon, the maiden flight of the Boeing 747 jet and the flower power movement. The whole decade was supercharged by the economic boom, especially in the automotive industry, and by spectacular auto races, whose champions thrilled large crowds. The zeitgeist of new mobility and communication was omnipresent. The world was ticking to a steadily accelerating rhythm: more and more powerful cars rolled off the assembly lines and more and more people could afford to buy them.
Brand ambassador Steve McQueen with the Heuer Monaco, which encased the new Caliber 11.
The Swiss watch industry, which cultivated centuries-old traditions, tried to keep pace with the innovation of this new era: they knew that their industry had no choice but to renew itself if it hoped to keep up with the faster pace of the times, particularly with the looming specter of competition from the Far East. In retrospect, we can see that the Quartz Crisis, which would jeopardize the very survival of Switzerlands watchmaking industry a decade later, had already begun to cast its shadow toward the West. Faultfinders would later claim that technological progress had caught the Swiss napping. Developing a modern automatic chronograph became a kind of Holy Grail for big-name manufacturers in the elite world of short time measurement.
Considering the wide selection of self-winding chronographs available today, its difficult to imagine how great a challenge this threefold problem posed. Never before had anyone succeeded in coaxing the practicality of an automatic winding system and the popular functionality of a chronograph into the narrow confines of a wristwatchs case.
The first automatic chronograph in the world: Zenith premiered El Primero with great pride and pomp.
Gerd-Rdiger Lang, who was employed by Heuer at the time and would later found the Chronoswiss brand, recalls the situation. The automatic chronograph was the greatest horological invention of the 20th century, which had otherwise produced nothing genuinely groundbreaking in this field. Switzerlands chronograph manufacturers hoped it would give them access to new markets and serve them as an innovative and sales-boosting bestseller if they could launch it before Omega, which led the chronograph market at the time.
Jack Heuer, former general director of the Heuer Swiss watch brand, was one of the key players in the development of the automatic chronograph.
A Complex ConstructionChronograph fans had no choice but to wear hand-wound models because the thorny technical dilemma of a self-winding time writer remained unresolved. The first hurdle was to overcome the energy problem. When a chronograph is switched on, its seconds hand and its counters for the elapsing minutes and hours consume much more energy than a classic time display, so they demand much greater performance from the self-winding mechanism. Watchmakers also had to leap a high bar by devising a design that would intelligently combine the two complex mechanisms, deploy the various additional components (especially the rotor) in an optimally space-saving arrangement, and provide the necessary passageways to accommodate the numerous drive shafts. All of this, it should not be forgotten, had to be accomplished within the diminutive volume of a wristwatchs case. These ambitious goals occupied the brightest minds at R&D departments in the 1960s, where they pursued their quest for solutions while preserving the utmost secrecy.
We now know that the first company to begin developing a self-winding chronograph wristwatch was Zenith, which started the project in 1962 and planned to launch the worlds first automatic chronograph to coincide with the companys centennial in 1965. But this ambitiously early date could not be kept: four more years would come and go before the project could be completed and the first prototype could be made available.
The joint development of Caliber 11 was advanced under the aegis of Willy Breitling (left). The Breitling Navitimer Chrono-Matic from 1969 (right) had a bezel that was marked with the characteristic slide rule.
A Coalition of CompetitorsProject 99 was the code name under which some of the most important specialists in short-term measurement joined together: Breitling, Heuer-Leonidas and Hamilton-Buren. The establishment of this illustrious circle was preceded by a request from a highly specialized movement designer and true specialist of his era, Grald Dubois, who directed the technical department at Dpraz & Cie. Founded in 1901 and based at Le Lieu in the Valle de Joux, this company ranked among the biggest suppliers of chronographs and owed its reputation to numerous developments in the field, including the column-wheel mechanism and the first adjustable module chronograph (Caliber 48), which debuted in 1937. Grald Dubois was the grandson of the companys founder and had long been in favor of developing an automatic chronograph, but its realization required an investment that was too large for his company to finance on its own.
Grald Dubois contacted Willy Breitling in 1965. Breitling, who was head of the Grenchen-based watch brand, was immediately enthusiastic about the project. The duo asked Jack Heuer, general director of Heuer-Leonidas, to join them. Heuer agreed because he shared their belief that the future belonged to the automatic chronograph. The fourth member of the group was Buren, the movement manufacturer that was acquired by the American brand Hamilton in 1966. The same year, after the costs had been contractually allocated and the patent rights had been granted, the consortium kicked off the development, which took place in secret. Gerd-Rdiger Lang, who joined the Heuer company as a watchmaker in 1968, recalls that no one on the staff had the slightest inkling of the secret project.
This coalition of competitors marked the beginning of a unique collaboration among rival brands and suppliers. Their alliance bore fruit with the debut of Caliber 11 three years later. Breitling designated this movement as the Chrono-Matic. Heuers dials bore the same name, albeit with a slightly different spelling Chronomatic.
An Unexpected OpponentBut a Japanese giant was not asleep. Seiko, which had been in the premium segment with its Grand Seiko models since the early 1960s and now competed with Swiss manufacturers, also began a similar development in the mid-1960s. Seikos secret project was code named 6139. A year earlier, when the world was watching the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Seiko had presented its first chronograph wristwatch, which still relied on manual winding. Meanwhile, the brand had also begun developing a totally different technology: quartz. But that, as they say, is another story.
Three Different Technical ApproachesAll three competitors were striving to achieve the same goal, but each pursued its own technical approach. The magic number 36,000 came into play at Zenith. This figure needs no explanation among chronograph enthusiasts, who are well aware that it specifies the number of semi-oscillations completed per hour by the balance in automatic caliber El Primero. Its fast-paced balance vibrated at the previously unattainably speedy frequency of 10 beats per second, which enabled this automatic chronograph movement to accomplish the unprecedented feat of measuring elapsed time to the nearest 1/10th of a second. Another distinctive feature of this technology was the integrated architecture of the chronograph mechanism. El Primero was a self-contained ensemble with a ball-borne central rotor and a column wheel instead of a cam. An especially clever detail was that the movement needed neither a module nor an additional mechanism. And notwithstanding its high frequency, El Primero offered a remarkably long 50-hour power reserve and had been miniaturized so its innovative technology could fit into a space measuring just 6.5 mm by 29.33 mm. Each characteristic was a success and the entire ensemble was nothing short of spectacular. Moreover, El Primero was also aesthetically pleasing: the harmony embodied by the original construction, which still distinguishes El Primero calibers today, has raised the pulse rates of generations of chronograph fans.
The original El Primero had a tricompax dial and displayed the date between 4 and 5 oclock. This layout has remained unchanged.
Many large watch manufacturers subsequently equipped their chronograph wristwatches with Zeniths trailblazing masterpiece. Probably the best-known example is the Cosmograph Daytona: Rolex began encasing a modified version in its chronographs in 1987. This transformed the Daytona into a self-winding chronograph. The Daytona continued to encase Zeniths movement until the year 2000, albeit with a reduced oscillating frequency of only 28,800 hourly vibrations and a balance wheel equipped with Microstella adjusting screws. Other brands, including Bulgari, Daniel Roth and Ebel, also relied on El Primero. Ebel launched a perpetual calendar wristwatch based on Zeniths movement in 1989.
A Modular Construction with a Micro-rotorIn contrast to Zeniths integrated architecture, the Project 99 consortium pursued an approach based on a modular concept similar to one used in early pocketwatches with complications. The chronograph mechanism was mounted on a plate in Caliber 11 (the Chrono-Matic) with oscillating pinion coupling. Three screws affixed this independent unit to the bridge side of the movement. The oscillating pinion coupled the chronograph to the gear train. To provide sufficient space, the team abandoned the concept of a central winding rotor positioned above the movement and opted instead for a planetary rotor, which Buren had developed under the leadership of technical director Hans Kocher in 1954. One consequence of the movements architecture with its integrated micro-rotor was that the crown had to be positioned on the left side of the case. This feature was later marketed using the slogan: The chronograph that doesnt need winding. Simpler assembly and maintenance were the perceived advantages of the sandwich-style construction as an independent frame that can be easily removed and replaced. As at Heuer, this covert project was declared classified at Breitling. Everything related to the development of Caliber 11 was discussed in encrypted form during clandestine meetings in back rooms. Only a few confidants of watchmaker Marcel Robert and Willy Breitling were privy to the confidential endeavor.
The Heuer Monaco from 1969 not only set standards with Caliber 11, but was also one of the first square watches with a waterproof case.
Seiko chose a third path. The brand had secretly developed a watch that demonstrated Seikos high degree of technical sophistication and would prove its precision three years later when this timepiece with its yellow dial ticked on the wrist of American astronaut William R. Pogue in outer space. The 6139 also relied on an integrated construction with column wheel, central rotor and energy-efficient vertical coupling, as well as the magic lever, a specialty that Seiko had used since 1959 to increase the efficiency of the winding mechanism. Mounted directly on the rotor shaft, the magic lever tapped all the energy of the oscillating weight, regardless of the rotors direction of rotation. A date display and a day-of-the-week indicator with quick correction were also installed.
The Tension MountsLets go back to Jan. 10, 1969, the date on which Zeniths press release announced, The merit of this outstanding creation makes the entire Swiss watch industry shine on the worlds major markets, where the competition is growing increasingly fierce. Jack Heuer called a breakfast meeting to decide how to proceed. The partners agreed to stick with their plan of simultaneous press conferences in Geneva and New York on March 3, 1969. In the presence of Heuer, Willy Breitling and Hans Kocher, the Caliber 11 Chrono-Matic was presented with great ceremony to the worlds journalists. Judging by their enthusiastic response, the reporters apparently werent bothered by the fact that the consortium had crossed the finish line nearly two months after its arch rival. Grald F. Bauer, president of the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (FH), opened the event in Geneva at 5 p.m. local time. Praising the technical masterpiece, Bauer highlighted the team spirit that had made it possible to launch this new high-performance product for the Swiss watch industry. Heuer had prepared answers to questions about Zeniths El Primero, but was surprised that the journalists didnt ask any. The simultaneous press conference in Manhattan, which began at 11 a.m. Eastern Time, was also attended by high-ranking Swiss industry representatives, including the President of the U. S. Foreign Office of the Swiss watch industry and Switzerlands Consul General in New York. The international edition of the Journal suisse dhorlogerie et de bijouterie dedicated its front page and a 16-page supplement to the event. The magazines headline declared: Three Swiss companies worked behind closed doors and launched a watch that doesnt really exist: the automatic chronograph. Willy Breitling emphasized the importance of innovation for the industry in general and especially for the company that his grandfather had founded saying, Certain stages in the development of a brand are decisive for its future. Today we are witnessing an event of capital importance, and I am sure you realize that it is a source of great joy for us.
Heuer Caliber 11: Each company in the consortium encased the Chrono-Matic caliber in one of its best-selling watches.
Three PremieresEach member of Project 99 selected its best-selling watches to encase the Chrono-Matic. Breitling ensconced it in the Navitimer and Chronomat; the first collection also included a cushion-shaped model, a new interpretation of the square chronograph from 1966 and a tonneau with a divers bezel. Heuer put Calibre 11 inside the Carrera, the Autavia and the new Monaco. The Monaco blazed new trails not only with its modern self-winding movement but also with the worlds first water-resistant square case. Hamilton launched the elegant Hamilton Chrono-Matic with a legendary panda dial, which is available today in a nearly identical look. An unmistakable feature of all these models was the crown on the left side of the case, where it demonstrated that this automatic chronograph no longer needed manual winding.
Automatic Caliber 11 debuted inside Hamilton Chrono-Matic A from 1971, with a 37-mm stainless-steel case and a panda dial, which is enjoying popularity again today.
Silence Is GoldenAll brands in the consortium presented the innovation in March 1969 in Basel at the Mustermesse, the Sample Fair that would later become Baselworld. Jack Heuer received a compliment from an unexpected source: Shoji Hattori, Seikos president, visited Heuer at the stand and congratulated him on his technical breakthrough. Heuer said, Naturally, I was very flattered. But Mr. Hattori didnt divulge even the slightest hint that Seiko was showing its 6139 at the fair. Heuer subsequently expressed his admiration for Seikos rather clever product strategy. Before the international launch of a new watch, its maker typically tests it first on the domestic market to solve any remaining problems. As in the fable of the tortoise and the hare, Seikos apparent slowness ultimately paid off. According to Jack Heuer, the Japanese company brought sales of Heuers product almost to a standstill on the U.S. market a few years later, a disappointment that he also attributed to an unfavorable exchange rate. Heuer nevertheless ended the 1969 financial year with record-breaking results: the brand increased sales by 34 percent thanks to the Caliber 11 Chrono-Matic. The original caliber was manufactured until 1970 and afterward further developed into Caliber 12. Heuer continued producing the movement until 1985. The Autavia was the last model to encase Caliber 11. Breitling used it from the end of 1968 to 1978.
The Seiko 5 Speedtimer from 1969 was an integrated automatic column-wheel chronograph with vertical coupling and magic lever.
The PresentEl Primero is the only one of these pioneering movements from 1969 that has been uninterruptedly manufactured from its debut to the present day, except for a brief hiatus during the Quartz Crisis. El Primero received a boost after Zenith was acquired by the LVMH Group in 1999. The high-frequency movement served as the basis for a flurry of new developments. These included additional modules to support diverse displays, as well as modifications with a partially skeletonized base plate so the escapement could be viewed through an aperture in the dial. El Primero Caliber 4021 was introduced with an additional power-reserve display and even with a tourbillon. Caliber 4031 combined a minute repeater with chronograph, alarm and second time zone. El Primero Stratos Flyback Striking 10th kept time during an extraordinary adventure on Oct. 14, 2012, when Felix Baumgartner jumped from the stratospheric altitude of 39 kilometers with this watch strapped to his wrist. His plunge made him the first human being to outpace the speed of sound. Baumgartner and his timepiece survived the acceleration, altitude, pressure and temperature differences unscathed. The watch worked just as well after landing as it did on take off.
The stopwatch function and the time display each have their own escapement system in the Zenith El Primero 9004, which enables the Defy El Primero 21 to measure elapsed intervals to the nearest 1/100th of a second.
Half a century after its premiere, El Primero remains the worlds most accurate serially manufactured chronograph thanks to its ability to measure brief intervals to the nearest 1/10th of a second. It also has won more awards and commendations than any other chronograph. Zenith set another record in 2017 with the debut of the Defy El Primero 21 chronograph, which can clock elapsed intervals not merely to the nearest 1/10th, but to the nearest 1/100th of a second. This mechanical feat is made possible by El Primero 9004, in which the stopwatch function has its own movement with a separate escapement that oscillates at a frequency of 360,000 vibrations per hour (50 Hz).
Although the original Caliber 11 is no longer manufactured, the brands that participated in its development are still justifiably proud of their innovation. TAG Heuers Product Director Guy Bove said, TAG Heuer has presented numerous precise timepieces during the past 150 years, but probably none of them has left as an indelible a mark on watchmaking as the Chrono-Matic. The Monaco, which once encased Caliber 11, is currently in the limelight in its 50th anniversary year. A different limited-edition Monaco will be unveiled at each of several commemorative events taking place in Europe, the United States and Asia. The historical and technical highlights of this icon are chronicled in the new book Paradoxical Superstar, published in May 2019.
Monaco Calibre 11, the successor to the famous square timepiece that premiered in 2015, features automatic Sellita Caliber SW300 with a Dubois Dpraz module. Price: $5,900.
Grand Seikos Spring Drive Chronograph GMT SBGC231 in a titanium case is one of the Japanese manufacturers highlights this year. Price: $12,900.
Seikos Chairman and CEO Shoji Hattori says that the launch of the automatic chronograph movement was part of the success story that led to the development 30 years later of Spring-Drive technology, which plays a central role in the launch of new versions of the Grand Seiko in 2019.
The WinnerNow lets return to the conundrum of who, in fact, developed the first automatic chronograph. Which brand stands on which step of the winners podium cannot be answered unequivocally from todays vantage point. What is certain is that each brand achieved a success of its own. While the first prototype of El Primero was introduced at the beginning of 1969, Breitling, Hamilton and Heuer didnt unveil their development until three months later, but they were able to present the largest number of functioning prototypes at the Mustermesse in Basel. And Seiko premiered its first self-winding chronograph wristwatches in May of the same historic year. How it was possible for several manufacturers to present the most important watch innovation of the postwar era all in the same year remains puzzling even today. From a purely horological perspective, El Primero has been Number One for 50 years: It set standards not only in technical terms, but it was also a feast for the eyes, almost poetic in its beauty, said Gerd-Rdiger Lang.
This article was originally presented in the August 2019 issue of WatchTime.
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Like Ernest Hemingway, Frank Lloyd-Wright and Andy Warhol, the product designer Grald Genta emerges from the 20th Century as a towering figure in his field. But unlike his fellow artists, few, outside of watchmaking circles, know his name. We may never see such dominance again from a designer, especially because in-house teams have largely ousted the freelance ringer. However, during the post-WWII decades when he was active, Europeans and Americans still championed the lone genius above all else, and Genta became a brand in his own right: a man sought out by the thriving luxury industry to titillate the jet-set with elite, forward-thinking products ranging from eyeglasses for Cartier to a long list of paradigm-shifting watches, most of which are thriving as current offerings today.
Born in Geneva in 1931, Genta earned his Swiss Federal Diploma as a jeweler and goldsmith in 1951 at age 20. By 23, Genta was designing watches for the storied watch house Universal Genve. Today, collectors herald his Universal Genve Polerouter of the 1950s and the Golden and White Shadows of the 1960s as classics of the early Mid-Century style, itself a revival of the Bauhaus Schools high-minimalism that the Nazis so bitterly interrupted. Gentas designs from this time resonate with the refreshed aesthetics and abundant optimism of the post-War era.
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The Polerouter used an innovative micro-rotor to wind the watch, and despite a long-lasting patent dispute with Benrus, early models sported the clever device as part of the Caliber 215 movement, which could withstand the magnetic havoc of flying over the North Polea new challenge for pilots en route from Copenhagen to Los Angeles for SAS airlines. This unique movement started Gentas love affair with designing thin watches around thin movements. Universal Genve would riff on Gentas Polerouter for decades, making everything from dive watches to gold dress watches under the moniker.
The Polerouters dial was the template for 1959s Genta-designed Omega Constellation, which would angle the steel outer dial to become the now famous pie pan that showed up on more than a few Seamasters, and which continues to adorn modern Constellations. Gentas Constellation marks the end of distinct period for the designer, as he would soon turn to far more groundbreaking designs.
Genta came back to Universal Genve in the 1960s to design the Golden Shadow and White Shadow. The Shadows show Gentas new found fascination with ultra-thin elliptical cases, which again relied on ultra-thin movements with micro-rotos, and later Bulovas pre-quartz electronic Accutron movements. The Shadows were revolutionary in their technology and their design, and this caught the eye of Patek Philippe, who hired Genta to design 1968s Golden Ellipse.
Many consider The Golden Ellipse a masterpiece of Mid-Century watchmaking, if also Pateks first mimical design (there would be another in the Genta-designed Nautilus of 1976). The Golden Ellipse debuted in 1968 and has had a healthy run that peaked in the 1970s, tapered down to jewel-encrusted womens models during the 1990s, and eventually came back to its roots in recent decades. In 2008, Patek Philippe celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Golden Ellipse with a platinum reissue, and for the watchs 50th Anniversary in 2018 Patek released a modern sized gold version. True to the original, the 2018 Golden Ellipse runs on Pateks Caliber 240 with a micro-rotor that brings the watchs thickness below 6 mm.
The 1970s turned out to be Gentas decade of hits. He delivered classics for Bulgari, Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe, and IWC. In 1975, Bulgari released the oddly named Bulgari Bulgari, a watch that defied all expectations one might have had for Gentas work. Genta used an ancient Roman coin as the inspiration for the Bulgari Bulgaris bezel, engraving it deeply with the brand name twice (thus the odd name), and he drew upon the columns of ancient Roman architecture as inspiration for the cylindrical case. The Bulgari Bulgari has been a running hit for the Italian brand for decades. Theyve since acquired Gerald Gentas own eponymous watch brand and have captured the imagination of watch fans with Gentas Octo Finisimo, which, in true Genta style, continually breaks thinness records.
In terms of overall impact within the watch industry, Gentas Royal Oak for Audemars Piguet is arguably his greatest achievement. This nautically inspired watchwhich Genta claims to have designed in one eveningcertainly transformed Audemars Piguet from a respected brand into an industry powerhouse, but the Royal Oak also created the entire luxury sports watch category. The Royal Oak came out in 1970, and it captured the emerging fashion zeitgeist, which breezily combined casual attire and high fashion; think designer jeans and leisure suits, and you get the gist. Few watches are as instantly recognizable, broadly loved, and shamelessly imitated.
It was Patek Philippe who imitated Audemars Piguet most blatantly by hiring Genta to design the now-classic Nautilus. Released in 1976, the Nautilus was Pateks first sports watch, and because of its similarity to the Royal Oak, it garnered mixed reviews from hardcore Patek fans. But the Nautilus had the desired effect of attracting the growing consumer base for elegant sports watches to Patek Philippe, a traditional brand that feared going out of vogue as the world rushed along at supersonic speeds. Today the Nautilus is perhaps more of a hit than it ever was, with waiting lists for steel models going on for years. Any misgivings over its imitative nature have been long forgiven and/or forgotten, and the Nautilus looks as hip today as it did in the 1970s.
IWC was another brand that needed a new look to keep pace with the fast-changing fashions of the 1970s, and in 1976 they introduced the Genta-designed Ingenieur as their entry into the luxury sports watch category. Though less celebrated than the Royal Oak or the Nautilus, the Ingenieur rounds out a trio of 70s hits from Genta. All three of these watches have been in continuous production since they first arrived on the scene.
In the 1980s, Genta went on to create his own eponymous brand (eventually acquired by Bulgari). Gentas company produced watches that get the chairs creaking in the auction houses as people crane their necks to witness the bids soar. And while Gentas own brand was filled with masterpieces, they were mostly made in small numbers for elite watch aficionados, and thus never gained the popularity a watch can achieve via big brand marketing.
But there was one more dressy sports watch for Genta to design for a famous brand, this time Cartier. The Pasha de Cartier had been around since the 1930s when Mr. Cartier designed an elegant yet waterproof watch specifically for the Pasha of Marrakech, who swam daily. In 1985, Cartieralways charmingly late to the gameupdated the Pasha as a luxury sports offering. With 100m of water resistance, Arabic numerals, and a round case, Gentas Pasha was pushing the boundaries of what a Cartier could be, but he counterbalanced these innovations by including Louis Cartiers own Vendome lugs and signature nipple crown topped with a blue sapphire.
The Pasha is not currently on offer from Cartier, but it opened the floodgates for Cartier to indulge in round watches. Today there are numerous round models within the Cartier catalog, and each of them carries Gentas touch.
Genta created all kinds of watches for brands like Timex, Benrus, Seiko, and Rolex (check out the Rolex King Midas for a truly unique piece). These watches were less celebrated than the icons above, yet they demonstrate, if only in sheer numbers, how broad-reaching Gentas influence was on watch design. Though we can account for the disappearance of the lone genius designer to various cultural, technological, and economic factors, perhaps we are closer to the truth in saying that Gerald Genta was one-in-a-million, and that the stars aligned to raise this ambitious young Swiss kid to his now legendary status among the great artists of the 20th Century.
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