Just came across an essay by the ethics powerhouse Peter Singer. To read his work is to sign up for some serious soul-searching. This gem packs in ethics, evolutionary psychology, determinism, gene-hacking and (thus) transhumanism.
Marx once wrote: "The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is, to change it." He was not thinking of genetic change, but his comment will soon apply to that area, too. Within the present century, we are likely to learn how to change the genes of future generations to make human nature flow in the direction we want it to flow. That knowledge will bring an awesome responsibility, a responsibility that some think should never be exercised: the responsibility of deciding to improve human nature.
If you have 10 minutes and a spittle shield, check out Keith Olbermann's rant on the administration's craven attempt to immunize AT&T, Verizon, and the other telecom giants from prosecution for selling you and me out to the NSA. Two amazing factual nuggets in here:
1. The son of Bush's new attorney general, Mukasey, works for a law firm representing Verizon; thanks, Senator Feinstein!
Suds flew Tuesday night at a Literary Death Match at the dance club Harlot. The competition, sponsored by Opium, a New York "journal of literary humor," featured four writers representing literary magazines.
The judges: Porchlight series co-founder Beth Lisick on performance, Jon Wolanske of the theatrical troupe Killing My Lobster on "intangibles," and Zyzzyva founder-editor Howard Junker on literary merit.
The first round pitted Joyce Maynard, representing Canteen, reading against Stephen Elliott, representing McSweeney's.
Judge Junker, leading off, was not positive. According to Elliott, reached the next day, Junker said, "Stephen Elliott is a writer of no literary merit." Junker, reached the next day, said his comment was that the piece "made me laugh a couple of times, but otherwise had no literary merit." Since the exact wording of this is essential if readers are to form their own opinions, I asked Opium co-founder Todd Zuniga to transcribe the words from a tape of the event. If Junker's recollection was accurate, said Elliott, he would buy him a new shirt. The exact comment, as transcribed: "Stephen Elliott made me laugh occasionally, but as a writer, I think he has no literary merit.'' In this particular Memory Death Match, Elliott takes the game.
Elliott said he was taken aback by criticism he said referred not to a particular piece but to his work in general.
Then, in a throng of people socializing offstage, Junker passed Elliott in the crowd, an opportunity the writer used to toss his beer on the judge and to make a humorous "bring it on" gesture. (He would never have engaged in a physical fight, he said later.)
"All of a sudden my shirt was drenched," said Junker. "I had no idea where it came from. I ... looked back and saw Stephen Elliott had thrown his drink on me. I walked past him to tell the organizers that I was going home." Litquake's Jack Boulware took up Junker's duties.
"I don't understand why Junker left last night," said Elliott the next day. "I had a shirt in my bag he could have borrowed."
Great piece in the April 07 issue of Mother Jones by Bill McKibben, author of Enough, on the intersection of economics and psychology. "Happynomics" is a deft moniker. The answer McKibben provides at the end, small farms, feels a little anticlimactic, but hey, maybe thinking small really is the answer.
In the name of neither art nor commerce nor the Spanish Inquisition is it permissible to publish someone's work, particularly her most intimate thoughts, without consent. Indeed, it is disturbing that you apparently made no effort to return this diary to its owner by leaving word at that McDonald's, for example, or putting up posters in the neighborhood.
Your editing might protect the diarist from some embarrassment, but not all: surely the people who know her well would deduce her identity. But even if she were impervious to embarrassment, you may not peremptorily publish. "Postmodern" is one word for what you propose; there are others that are more accurate and less self-serving.
Damnation! So where does that leave Found, a publication which has provided many of us with ample diversion?