Week In Review

Week In Review

The Week In Review is a roundup of interesting, inspiring or thought-provoking things I've read this week. "How are you to imagine anything if the images are always provided for you? To defend ourselves...we must learn to read. To stimulate our own imagination, to cultivate our own consciousness, our own belief system. We all need these skills to defend, to preserve, our own minds." -- Adrien Brody  

 

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Fashion

Image via The New York Times; from left: Valerie Macon/Agence France-Presse -- Getty Images; Ethan Miller/Getty Images; Paul Buck/European Pressphoto Agency; Lucy Nicholson/Agence France-Presse -- Getty Images

Image via The New York Times; from left: Valerie Macon/Agence France-Presse -- Getty Images; Ethan Miller/Getty Images; Paul Buck/European Pressphoto Agency; Lucy Nicholson/Agence France-Presse -- Getty Images

How to Dress a Celebrity | Vanessa Friedman, The New York Times

This is an interesting look into the business decisions that dictate what we see on the red carpet, which then becomes a moment of cultural importance (yes, albeit brief), all of which ultimately still leaves me wondering: should red carpet fashion be a thing?

The point was, neither [Alicia Vikander, Ruth Negga] resembled anyone else. They didn’t look as if they had copied a best dress from yesteryear, nor did they look like fashion aspirants who had just stepped off the runway. They looked like what viewers could only assume was themselves. Or at least the selves they wanted to introduce to the world. That kind of definition requires careful planning, coordination and some sort of personal connection between model and modeler. And it is this connection that often seems to be missing from so much of what we see these days, and why so many dresses just, well, miss. It has fallen victim, presumably, to falling film revenues, which in turn have made lucrative endorsement deals evermore important to a celebrity’s bank balance.

 

Should designers dress Melania and Ivanka? The question is more complex than it seems. | Robin Givhan, The Washington Post

I continue to feel that this is a very important cultural conversation we're having about the role of fashion in our society (in case you missed it, my thoughts here). 

Critics of those designers who’ve voiced their reluctance to dress the new first lady have maintained that it’s a designer’s job to simply make clothes — that they should keep personal opinions out of it and not pass judgment on people who wear their clothes. But over time, society has demanded much more from the fashion industry. It expects Seventh Avenue to be cognizant of its impact on young women predisposed to eating disorders. It rallied against the industry’s lack of diversity. It has pressured the industry to concern itself with the labor practices of its subcontractors and to create clothes that empower women instead of objectify them.

Society expects fashion to be philanthropic and awake to the world in which it exists. So doesn’t taking a stand on a new administration and its policies — in the most direct manner possible — fall into that category?

 

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Global Affairs

Image via New Earth Media

Image via New Earth Media

The Rights of Nature: Indigenous Philosophies Reframing Law | Kiana Herold, IC Magazine via Truthout

Indigenous battles to defend nature have taken to the streets, leading to powerful mobilizations like the gathering at Standing Rock. They have also taken to the courts, through the development of innovative legal ways of protecting nature. In Ecuador, Bolivia and New Zealand, indigenous activism has helped spur the creation of a novel legal phenomenon -- the idea that nature itself can have rights. The 2008 constitution of Ecuador was the first national constitution to establish rights of nature. In this legal paradigm shift, nature changed from being held as property to a rights-bearing entity... 

The notion that nature has rights is a huge conceptual advance in protecting the Earth. Prior to this framework, an environmental lawsuit could only be filed if a personal human injury was proven in connection to the environment. This can be quite difficult. Under Ecuadorian law, people can now sue on the ecosystem's behalf, without it being connected to a direct human injury.

 

Why Millennials Aren’t Afraid of Socialism | Julia Mead, The Nation

...Bernie Sanders shuffled onto the national political stage and offered an analysis: Poverty isn’t a natural phenomenon; it exists because a few people own far more than their fair share. He also offered a solution: The government could act on behalf of those of us just barely treading water. The government’s role, Sanders argued, is to correct the rampant inequality in this country by taxing the rich and using that money to offer real social services....Not only did he name the right problem—inequality, not poverty—he named the culprit. I didn’t know you could do that. To me, and to hundreds of thousands of my peers, Sanders’s (and Corbyn’s) socialism doesn’t feel antiquated. Instead, it feels fresh and vital precisely because it has been silenced for so long—and because we need it now more than ever. 

 

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Humanity

Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty

Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty

The Music Donald Trump Can't Hear | Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker

This music was often made in protest, and frequently made best by the most oppressed among us. And so politics and our political life have always wrapped and unwrapped around that music, left and right and in between. Back in the sixties, Dylan seemed to state the times they were a-changin’, and Merle Haggard sang out for the Okies from Muskogee—and then Dylan ended up learning more from Merle than Merle did from him. The intertwining of country music with the George W. Bush years—“Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning?” for example—was as credible and deeply felt as any of the enwrappings by, say, Springsteen of Obama.

And so the inability, so far, of Donald Trump to get any significant musicians from any of those traditions, rock or country or blues or Broadway, to sing at his Inauguration is not a small comic detail but a significant reflection of this moment in history. 

And while you're at it, here's the Borowitz Report on the latest entertainer to drop out of performing at Trump's inauguration.

 

The Hermit Who Inadvertently Shaped Climate-Change Science | J. Weston Phippen, The Atlantic

In 1973 Barr had dropped out of college and made his home an abandoned mining shack at the base of Gothic Mountain, a 12,600-foot stone buttress. The cold winds blew through the shack’s wood slat walls as if they didn’t exist; he shared the bare dirt floor with a skunk and pine marten, his only regular company for much of the year. Barr had moved from the East Coast to the Rocky Mountains precisely because of the solitude, but he couldn’t escape boredom. Especially that first winter. So he measured snow levels, animal tracks, and in spring the first jubilant calls of birds returning. He filled a notebook with these observations; then another notebook. This has continued now for 44 years...

Barr’s notes have now appeared in dozens of research papers focused on climate change science. His notebooks on the first and last snow, the snowpack levels in between, and when hibernating animals wake and when the birds return to the the high alpine environment have provided an unexpected glimpse back into a world scientists never recorded. And from the past, scientists have gained a little more understanding of the the world’s warming future.

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That's all folks. What have you read this week? 

 

Feature photograph Jimmy Nelson, Before They Pass Away

MLK and the Style of Substance

MLK and the Style of Substance

Should Red Carpet Fashion Be a Thing?

Should Red Carpet Fashion Be a Thing?