solnit

My novel "Walkaway" will hit shelves in 2017

Update: Utopia's title is now "Walkaway" and it drops on April 25, 2017.

My biggest (and, IMO, best) adult novel has just sold to Tor for a very pleasing sum of money; it will hit shelves in 2017. Read the rest

Greece's creditors demand casino rights, archaeological sites, selloff of EUR50B of national assets

Already sold: most of Greece's airports -- for sale: gas transmission, oil refineries, power company, post office, national highways, water company. Read the rest

Trickle-down kids' TV: Sesame Street will air on HBO 9 months before PBS

A show conceived to help low-income kids keep up with their affluent peers will now be "paywalled so that rich kids can watch it before poor kids can." Read the rest

Phil Gramm: "exploited worker" AT&T CEO "only" got $75m

The former Texas GOP Senator testified that AT&T CEO Edward Whitacre was an "exploited worker," whose $75 million golden handshake proved "bigotry that is still allowed in America...bigotry against the successful." Read the rest

Greece says NO

The people of Greece have rejected the debt-finance terms offered by the "troika" (European Central Bank, IMF, European Commission), which would have required the country to slash its social services as a condition of continued loans to support the debt that previous governments amassed in the runup to the 2008 crisis. Read the rest

When Firms Become Persons and Persons Become Firms: outstanding lecture

UC Berkeley Political Scientist Wendy Brown came to the London School of Economics last week to discuss her book Undoing the Demos, and her lecture (MP3) is literally the best discussion of how and why human rights are being taken away from humans and given to corporations. Read the rest

Brian Wood's Starve: get to your comic shop now!

Brian "DMZ" Wood's new comic from IMAGE is Starve, and issue one, which just hit shelves at your local comic shop is the strongest start since Warren Ellis's Transmetropolitan. Read the rest

Why parents in Cincinnati camp out for 16 days to get a kindergarten spot

Scarce kindergarten places at magnet schools like the Fairview-Clifton German Language School are awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis to parents who camp out for weeks, clearing their tents every morning so the kids won't be disturbed by the tent-city on the school's lawn. Read the rest

Seattle's tent cities

Seattle has America's fourth-largest homeless population and virtually everything homeless people do is illegal in Washington State, which has added 288 new offenses related to homelessness to its statute-books since 2000 -- amazingly, this did not convince those homeless people to stop being homeless. Read the rest

Corporations influence politics, but not in the way you think you do

It's not that they buy politicians (there's some of that), it's that they order their workers donate to, write to, and vote for their preferred politicians, with reprisals for employees who don't toe the company line. Read the rest

Letter from the post-work dystopian future

Joel Johnson's short sf story "Hello and Goodbye in Portuguese" is a series of letters between a brother and sister on either side of the post-work divide: the have, and the have-not. Read the rest

Anti-austerity parties soar in Spanish elections as Greece threatens default

Two new, anti-establishment parties (including one that grew out of the indignados movement -- a kind of Spanish precedent to Occupy) took key seats in regional and municipal elections in yesterday's Spanish election, which is a kind of dress rehearsal for the upcoming national elections. Read the rest

America's growing gangs of armed, arrest-making, untrained rent-a-cops

With just a (very) little training and some paperwork, you can become a "special conservator of the peace," empowered to carry a gun, wear a badge and arrest your fellow citizens, all while wearing a POLICE vest, even though you're not a cop. Read the rest

Grim meathook future, Singapore style

Charlie Stross's "Different Cluetrain" is a set of theses describing the future we live in, where capitalism not only doesn't need democracy -- it actually works better where democracy is set aside in favor of a kind of authoritarian, investor-friendly state. Read the rest

Elite Panic: why rich people think all people are monsters

Here's a quote on "Elite Panic" from Rebecca Solnit, It's an idea I'm fascinated by, particularly the notion that if you believe that people are fundamentally a mob waiting to rise up and loot but for the security state, you will build a security state that turns people into a mob of would-be looters.

The term "elite panic" was coined by Caron Chess and Lee Clarke of Rutgers. From the beginning of the field in the 1950s to the present, the major sociologists of disaster -- Charles Fritz, Enrico Quarantelli, Kathleen Tierney, and Lee Clarke -- proceeding in the most cautious, methodical, and clearly attempting-to-be-politically-neutral way of social scientists, arrived via their research at this enormous confidence in human nature and deep critique of institutional authority. It’s quite remarkable.

Elites tend to believe in a venal, selfish, and essentially monstrous version of human nature, which I sometimes think is their own human nature. I mean, people don't become incredibly wealthy and powerful by being angelic, necessarily. They believe that only their power keeps the rest of us in line and that when it somehow shrinks away, our seething violence will rise to the surface -- that was very clear in Katrina. Timothy Garton Ash and Maureen Dowd and all these other people immediately jumped on the bandwagon and started writing commentaries based on the assumption that the rumors of mass violence during Katrina were true. A lot of people have never understood that the rumors were dispelled and that those things didn't actually happen; it's tragic.

Read the rest

How people really behave during disasters

If you expect a massive earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis to lead to panic in the streets and every-man-for-himself struggles, then you've probably been surprised by the Japanese response to their country's woes. But, before you start waxing philosophical about how different the Japanese are from your home country, consider what's known about how people—people all over the world—actually behave in disasters. Hint: A lot of the stories you've heard about crime and mayhem are either myths, or overblown accounts that don't represent the vast majority. The London Independent's Johann Hari writes for the Huffington Post:

In her gorgeous book A Paradise Built In Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise In Disaster, Rebecca Solnit shows how this is how almost everybody responds to disaster, across continents and across contexts. When power grids are destroyed and city grids demolished, social grids light up.

This is so cross-cultural -- from Haiti to New Zealand -- that it is probably part of an evolved instinct inherent to our species, and it's not hard to see why. We now know that 60,000 years ago, the entire human race was reduced to a single tribe of 2000 human beings wandering the savannahs of Africa. That was it. That was us. If they -- our ancestors -- didn't have a strong impulse to look out for each other in a crisis, you wouldn't be reading this now.

Yet there are a few examples stubbornly fixed in the popular imagination of people reacting to a natural disaster by becoming primal and vicious.

Read the rest

Harpers essay on how disaster always equals more authority

Luke Mitchell of Harpers says: "We have excerpts from a great essay by Rebecca Solnit up at Harper's right now, about how authorities deal with disaster, and I am hoping I can get it as well distributed as humanly possible, because it might help to build a counter-narrative to the story that is being constructed this very minute about what is going on in New Orleans. Rebecca's argument is that disaster always calls authority into question, and when authority is in question, the powers that be will often attempt to create a narrative of human behavior that calls for (surprise) even greater authority.

"It's a great essay, and the postscript (written yesterday, for the Web only) plugs it into what is going in New Orleans (in terms of mythical race riots and cannibalism) more directly. (Also, if we get lots of traffic, the powers that be here at the magazine will let me do more of these sorts of things.) The amazing thing is, Rebecca wrote the essay before Katrina hit. Indeed, we were printing the piece that Monday." Link Read the rest

Previous PageNext page

:)