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



Where Have You Gone, Angelina Jolie? Celebrities Vanish From Fashion’s Front Row | Ruth La Ferla, The New York Times

More troubling, still, is the widening view that fashion itself is losing much of its vaunted cachet.

“The shows are not cool anymore,” said Teri Agins, the author of the 2014 book “Hijacking the Runway: How Celebrities Are Stealing the Spotlight From Fashion Designers,” which chronicles the evolution of the celebrity front row. European houses may still attract stars of a certain caliber, Ms. Agins noted, some drawn by Europe’s cachet, others compelled by high-paying cosmetic and marketing contracts. But in New York, she said, “the novelty is gone.”

Oversaturation has played a role. In recent years, invitations were issued, vetted and approved by teams of publicists, Hollywood agents, high-powered stylists and, as often as not, the stars themselves, many of whom are snapped each season hopscotching from show to show, their influence diluted by their ubiquity.


Boycotting Ivanka’s Brand Annoys Donald Trump—but Does It Achieve Anything Else? | Amy Wilentz, The Nation

I'm not saying I agree, but this is an interesting take on the matter: 

And where is the boycotters’ sacrifice in not buying at Nordstrom? That’s the thing: To be powerful, a boycott ought to cause at least some discomfort on both sides—or at least they historically have done so. The original boycotts in Ireland in 1880 were hugely dangerous for all involved, as were the boycotts of the civil-rights movement. Even the legendary grape boycott on behalf of the farm workers entailed a sacrifice from citizen boycotters—no grapes. What kind of politics are we engaged in when a boycott means not using a credit card for unneeded purchases, and then afterwards, while crowing over victory, using a credit card for unneeded purchases? It’s all so easy—like drone warfare.


Global Affairs

The new underground railroad | Jason Markusoff, Maclean's

They’re seeking refuge to the north because they fear deportation under the tough U.S. asylum system that existed before Donald Trump—and more and more these days, they’re not even trying their chances in the harsher new regime. “When I got to Canada, I felt so happy. I escaped from Donald Trump,” says Mouna, a Djiboutian who walked across the border three weeks after the U.S. election. 

...The routes they take are impossibly dark, through scrub brush, mud, snow and water, fuelled by fear of getting caught and turned back south. But after fleeing from beatings and risk of death back home, and long journeys often of detention and other perilous pathways, the entry to Canada is just their last mile of hell.


Why Latin America is the deadliest place for environmentalists | The Economist

Why is Latin America so deadly? One reason is its abundant natural resources, which attract enterprises of all sorts, from multinationals to mafias. When prices are low, as they are now, the most rapacious do not go away; to maintain their profits they become more aggressive, says David Kaimowitz of the Ford Foundation, which gives money to good causes...

Often...the resisters are from indigenous groups; a third of the environmentalists murdered in 2015 belonged to such groups. Their defence of traditional livelihoods like fishing often complements global campaigns on issues like climate change. Indigenous peoples and other small communities manage territories that contain nearly a quarter of the carbon sequestered in tropical forests, estimates Rights and Resources International, an advocacy group. Their alliances with international pressure groups have brought more attention but have not reduced the violence.



Anthony Bourdain's Moveable Feast | Patrick Radden Keefe, The New Yorker

As “Parts Unknown” has evolved, it has become less preoccupied with food and more concerned with the sociology and geopolitics of the places Bourdain visits. Lydia Tenaglia calls the show an “anthropological enterprise.” Increasingly, Chris Collins told me, the mandate is: “Don’t tell me what you ate. Tell me who you ate with.” Bourdain, in turn, has pushed for less footage of him eating and more “B roll” of daily life in the countries he visits. It has become a mantra for him, Collins said: “More ‘B,’ less me.”

Since visiting Beirut, Bourdain has gone on to Libya, Gaza, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, seeking to capture how people go about their daily lives amid violent conflict. To viewers who complain that the show has become too focussed on politics, Bourdain responds that food is politics: most cuisines reflect an amalgamation of influences and tell a story of migration and conquest, each flavor representing a sedimentary layer of history. He also points out that most shows about food are premised on a level of abundance that is unfamiliar in many parts of the world.


Scholars Behind Bars | Jonathan Zimmerman, The New York Review of Books

Students report that classes are “totally absorbing,” which is clearly evident in the classrooms. The intensity of student engagement is seen in the consistently lively class discussions. The study rooms are always full. In one-on-one conversations with faculty, students often report having read several more books than the ones assigned in order to investigate the topics at hand more deeply. They regularly ask for comments on essays they have written not for class, but just to express their views about someone running for office or an event in the news. On occasion, they buttonhole professors to talk about some particularly challenging philosophical puzzle they have been contemplating, such as how one knows what is and is not fair. Others have wanted to discuss an idea they have for a book they want to write or an organization they hope to establish once they are home.

That’s not the kind of intellectual atmosphere you will find on most American campuses. But these students aren’t on Bard’s campus; they’re in jail. 


Feature image by Nick Iwanyshyn for Maclean's

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