The absence of faces is an accidental effect of the difficult lighting conditions, but I like the way the image can be read as a reduction of the situation to social roles. The two people deserve to be identified, however, in language if not by faces. The man on the left is Patrick O'Hare, an anthopologist from Glasgow (via a doctorate at Cambridge) now working on a comparative study of cardboard publishing in Latin America, and the woman on the right is Paulina Navarro, one of the publishers of El Pato con Canclas Editorial, a cartonero imprint from San Luis Potosi. She's reading from her book of poetry, Vivir Mata (Living Kills). Every copy of the book is different. Here's the cover the one I bought:

This is one of the great coincidences of history. Fidel, the dapper law student in the center, was scheduled to meet with Gaitan that afternoon. But Gaitan, the candidate of the people and the likely victor in the next presidential election, was murdered when he went out for lunch. And so, instead of a meeting, there was a riot that tore down much of el centro Bogotá and the beginning of a civil war that has continued, under different names, until today.

Siempre he imaginado que la participación espontánea de Fidel Castro en el #Bogotazo fue decisiva para su lucha posterior en Cuba. Desde entonces Colombia está en guerra civil, el fuego no se extingue; desde entonces Cuba ha sido, pese a todo, un ejemplo de resistencia ante el monstruo norteamericano y un pilar de la salud y la educación. Gaitán no sobrevivió al espíritu traicionero de Colombia, como no lo hiciera Santander. En cambio, por fortuna, Fidel Castro sobrevivió al Bogotazo, como el Che, que viniera en 1952 enardecido por el fútbol, sobreviviera a Los Andes en cenizas. Al parecer el 2016 se nos quiere llevar a todos los personajes históricos. ¿Qué pasaría en el mundo cuando muriera Fidel? Era la vieja pregunta. Pues ahí está. Ojalá una respuesta sea la reconciliación entre los habitantes del país que empieza en el Río Grande y va hasta la Patagonia, para recordar a Martí. #HastaSiempreComandante En la foto se ve a #FidelCastro el 9 de abril de 1948 en Bogotá.

A photo posted by Albeiro Montoya Guiral (@amguiral) on

My family supplies other examples of this slippery slope of collaboration. Take my own. In 2012, I was working as the editor-in-chief of a popular science magazine called Vokrug Sveta when Vladimir Putin, who fancies himself an explorer and a nature conservationist, took a liking to the publication. His administration launched a kind of friendly takeover of the magazine, one that the publisher could not refuse. I found myself in meetings with the Russian Geographic Society, of which Putin was the hands-on chairman. They wanted me to publish stories about their activities, most of which, as far as I could tell, were bogus. In exchange, they promised to help the magazine: at one point every school in Russia was ordered to buy a subscription (like many Kremlin orders, this one ended in naught). I felt a slow rot setting in at a magazine I loved, but I kept telling myself that I could still do a good job—and keep many fine journalists gainfully employed. Then I was asked to send a reporter to accompany Putin on his hang-gliding adventure with a migrating flock of endangered Siberian cranes. I refused—not on principle but because I was afraid that the reporter would see and describe something that would get the magazine in trouble. The publisher fired me, but then Putin called me in for a meeting and offered me my job back—legally, it wasn’t his to offer, but for practical purposes it was.

In comparison to the Putin regime’s major abuses of power and suppression of the opposition, the story of the cranes and my firing does not deserve a mention. All that happened as a result of the hang-gliding trip (from what I know) was that two or three of the cranes were badly injured for the sake of the president’s publicity stunt, and I lost my job. But I also lost a bit of my soul and the sense of moral agency I had earned over decades of acting like my best journalist self. When Putin offered me my job back after the trip, I hesitated to say no: I loved that job, and I thought I could still edit a good magazine and keep some fine journalists employed. I didn’t want to imagine what would happen the next time I was asked to cover a Putin photo op or a fake story produced by his Geographic Society, which siphoned money off like every other part his mafia state. Fortunately for me, my closest friend said, “Have you lost your mind?,” by which she meant my sense of right and wrong.

Source: Trump: The Choice We Face | by Masha Gessen | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books

Today I made the trek to the Marcus South Shore multiplex to see Rusalka, the Met Live in HD simulcast of the performance at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. $24 for a four-hour experience, including two ample intermissions. It was, for me, a powerful experience. This is only the second Met Live in HD production I've seen, and, not coincidentally, the second time I've understood the fuss about opera. Renee Fleming's voice was luscious and buttery, all the other singers were very good, and the production, though old-fashioned, made consistent dramatic sense--though I must admit the wood nymphs put me to sleep whenever they appeared. Maybe their musical theme has a powerful effect on the sleep centers of my brain, or maybe the lack of dramatic momentum during their frolics just gave me an opportunity to doze. 

The message of Dvořák's opera appears to be: 

1. If you are a magical immortal creature, especially a water-based one, avoid those treacherous humans, with all their incomprehensible socially-motivated passions. No good will come of miscegenation with one of them. You'll find yourself in cut-for-music-video version of Les Liaisons dangereuses, with no opportunity to learn their evil human games.

2. However, if you do fall in love with a human, dooming both of you forever, it is possible that beauty will come of it--ravishing, heart-rending beauty--but only if your love is pure and strong.
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Today, the permanent campaign already dominates the lives of members. Ryan Grim of the Huffington Post got his hands on a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee PowerPoint presentation recommending that vulnerable incumbents allot four hours per day on the phone asking people for money — or roughly the same amount of time allotted for hearings, votes and meeting with constituents, combined. And that schedule didn’t include raising money at events. Former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) estimated that senators spend two-thirds of their time asking people for money.

via Think more competitive midterms would help? They’d actually make things worse. - The Washington Post.

After several days, it is still my considered opinion that with this post, The Dish became the most important media outlet in America, at least for those of us who value serious discussion of current issues.

A reader shares a harrowing series of stories and insights on corporal punishment, which at times borders on torture:

via “Psychological Suspense That No Child Is Equipped To Manage” « The Dish.

The anonymity of the post, however, raises an important question: what if it's fake? What would that mean? Does it matter if this is real or fiction? In other words, how would my reaction to this piece change if I knew:

  • That the author was an "ambitious but unknown writer" who deceived The Dish into publishing a short story as if it were heartfelt personal testimony?
  • That the author was an "activist for abused children" who felt it necessary to trick The Dish into publishing a composite narrative as if it were heartfelt personal testimony?
  • That the author was a "parent abused by the legal system" who seeks to discredit the anti-spanking movement by planting, and later on revealing, a hoax?
  • That the author was an unknown "ordinary person" who really had experienced the events she describes? (In other words, that the piece really is exactly what it seems to be.)
  • That the author was a "famous person" who really had experienced the events she describes? (In other words, that the piece pretty much what it seems to be, except that the author is famous.)

Personally, it makes a great deal of difference to me. I would feel cheated if I learned that the writer's lines about struggling to put this experience into words turned out to be a literary device, not the simple confession of someone who in fact struggled to put lived experience into words. And I'm quite sure that the piece is pretty much exactly what it seems. If one wanted to discredit the anti-spanking movement with a hoax, one would never write a piece so eloquent, detailed, and grounded. I also doubt that the "ambitious but unknown writer" could pull off anything this good. That leaves the "activist for abused children" who might combine the stories of several abused-but-now-grown-children into a single searing narrative. That would still bother me, as did the revelations about Mike Daisey's monologue about the Apple factories in China.

But the piece is anonymous, and we can't check it out. So we have to trust Andrew and the team at The Dish.

In some ways, we respond this piece -- this piece of anonymous but (presumably) vetted personal testimony -- the way we respond to fiction. We can't check the facts, so we rely on the voice, the internal evidence: yes, this feels real, this is the way things are. In many other ways, however, we respond to in way utterly different than our response to fiction. It matters that there is a real person behind it, that these things actually happened in the life of one specific person (even if we don't know who that person is.) Fiction (at least literary fiction in the tradition descended from Chekov) asks us to enter into a world where the facts may or may not be true but the themes and the emotions and the struggles achieve some sort of universality. Testimony is something different, more immediate. It's part of a current debate about public events. We give it credence not for it's literary merit (though it is very well-written, it isn't--and better not be--a piece of crafted artifice) but because we presume there is a real person behind it saying: Here's what I know about this issue. This is what happened to me.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. If there were a name attached to the piece, I suspect there would already be investigative reports on cable news and subpoenas to appear in front of congressional committees. Does our national conversation have room for voices like this one: passionate, eloquent, personal, and anonymous?

The problem is that if you reveal everything about yourself or it’s discoverable with a Google search, you may be diminished in your capacity for intimacy. This goes back to social penetration theory, one of the most cited and experimentally validated explanations of human connection. Developed by Irwin Altman and Dalmas A. Taylor in the 1970s, the theory holds that relationships develop through gradual and mutual self-disclosure of increasingly private and sensitive personal information.

“Building and maintaining an enduring, intimate relationship is a process of privacy regulation,” said Dr. Altman, now an emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Utah. “It’s about opening and closing boundaries to maintain individual identity but also demonstrate unity with another, and if there are violations then the relationship is threatened.”

Thought of another way, information about yourself is like currency. The amount you spend on a person signifies how much you value the relationship. And that person compensates you in kind. That’s why it feels like theft when someone tells your secrets or data miners piece together your personal history — using your browsing habits, online purchases and social networks — and sell it. And it’s also why if you’re profligate with information about yourself, you have precious little to offer someone really special.

via We Want Privacy, but Can’t Stop Sharing -