You searched for:

unger

Living with hunger

by Chris Bertram on February 6, 2004

I’ve just finished watching Sorious Samura’s documentary “Living with Hunger”:http://www.insightnewstv.com/hunger/ on the UK’s “Channel 4”:http://www.channel4.com/news/2004/01/week_4/30_hunger.html . It seems to be screening worldwide over the next few days including on “CBC in Canada”:http://www.cbc.ca/passionateeyemonday/feature_090204.html and repeatedly on “Discovery/Times”:http://dtc.discovery.com/schedule/episode.jsp?episode=0&cpi=105681&gid=0&channel=DTC in the US. It is an extremely vivid portrait of how some of the world’s poorest people live, how hard they work, and their dignity in conditions tougher than most of us will ever face. Highly recommended.

Reappraisals (repost from 2011)

by John Quiggin on June 30, 2020

  • As Princeton has just repudiated Woodrow Wilson, I thought I’d repost this from 2011, which seems relevant to a lot of current discussion*

As an Australian, I’m not much accustomed to think of political leaders in heroic terms[1], something that reflects the fact that nothing our political leaders do matters that much to anybody except us, and even then most of the decisions that really mattered have always been made elsewhere. So, I’m fascinated by the US activity of ranking presidents and other political leaders, and eager to try my hand.

What has brought this to mind is running across George Will’s campaign against Woodrow Wilson, who always seemed to be presented in hagiographic terms until relatively recently. Much as it goes against the grain to agree with Will on anything, he surely has the goods on Wilson: a consistent racist, who lied America into the Great War, and used Sedition acts and similar devices to suppress opposition. His positive record appears to consist of a variety of “Progressive” measures (in the early C20 sense of the term) many of which were inherited from Teddy Roosevelt, and few of which were particularly progressive from a left viewpoint[2], and his proposal for the League of Nations, where he comprehensively screwed up the domestic politics, leading the US to stay out of the League.

[click to continue…]

The simple but difficult physics of losing weight

by John Quiggin on June 25, 2020

As Eszter said in her post on health living,, everyone has their own story and their own health. That’s true, but we are all subject to the same physical laws. So, here’s my story and some thoughts on the physics.

I managed to lose about 12 Kg over a couple of years, almost entirely through exercise.

The basic physics is simple
(1) weight loss = (kilojoules burnt – kilojoules consumed)*k,
(2) kilojoules burnt = base metabolism + work done

where k ≃ 0.025 is a constant reflecting the rate at which your body converts kilojoules of food energy into kilograms of fat. If you can alter the right hand side of (1) through any combination of diet and exercise then you will lose weight.

The problem is that altering either of these, or even altering while holding the other constant is really hard. Dieting makes you tired and slows your metabolism. Exercise increases your appetite, and also encourages you to flop once you stop exercising. All that’s because your body isn’t evolved to lose weight easily. Hunger and fatigue are both adaptations to stop you doing that. And, even if you can shift (1) enough to lose some weight, (2) puts a limit on how much you can lose. Balance is restored by the fact that your lighter body takes less energy to maintain and move around.

The crucial thing is to find some change for which you have both the willpower to adopt it initially and the willingness to maintain it indefinitely. For me, as I said, that’s been exercise. I aim to burn 4000 kj (about 1000 calories) a day in addition to base metabolism, which implies about 100 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise. That’s logistically feasible for someone with flexible working hours and no kids at home, but very difficult otherwise. And it takes a long while to get to the point where you really enjoy it. That’s why the experts mostly recommend working on diet. But, if you can manage it, I think exercise is the better way to go.

Indefinitely Ill – Post-Covid Fatigue

by Maria on May 18, 2020

What to do when your body forgets how to be well

OK well this is going to be tricky to write because I’m not a doctor and it’s not medical advice, and the more I read around in the displacement activity I often do ahead of a difficult task, the more it becomes plain that striking the balance between speaking anecdotally from, in fairness, somewhat bitter experience, paying due heed to current but still unbelievably partial and fragmentary research, and employing the observational/confessional mode in an attempt to paint myself as a useful cautionary tale suddenly seems so much more complicated than it really needs to be.

Because I really only want to say one thing; if you have had Covid-19 (tested or not), and are getting to a month or two on and still feel like you’ve been hit by a bus, please, for the love of God, rest.

CONVALESCE.

Stop what you are trying to do and listen to your body as it tells you it needs to be quiet now. You will not ‘fight’ your way out of this. It is not a test of your character or your will. You need to stop and listen to the only body you will ever have.

Print out a fact-sheet from the Internet and press it into the hands of your loved ones whose patience with your infirmity is beginning to ebb – perhaps they are beginning to talk about it being ‘just stress’ or how ‘we’re all TIRED’ – and withdraw in whatever ways you can to slowly, vitally heal.

If you can remotely afford it, and even if you can’t really, take the time off work and school, church or party or volunteering of all kinds, withdraw indefinitely from every not-essential-to-life activity and commit an uncapped amount of time to your recovery. Maybe you can’t quite afford to, or maybe you really, really don’t want to ask for whatever financial help and longer timelines you need, but try and take the fatigue, brain-fog, sore throat, ringing in the ears, swollen glands, weird headaches, all-over body-ache and all manner of covid symptoms still lingering long after the blood-work says your body has cleared it and – and I’m sorry this is scary, but it may help – try to imagine still feeling like this a year from now, or five years or even twenty, and think about the finances of that.

Now calmly regard that fear and ask what it demands. See how this re-orders your priorities. Now thank your fear and put it away.

Think of post-viral fatigue as climate change for the human body. It’s here but not here; you acknowledge the immediate effects but haven’t really got your head around their implications. You need to invest heavily up-front and in the face of widespread disbelief to avoid medium and long-term catastrophe. Understand the threat is both insidious and in your face. Some symptoms are obvious and acute, but others you’re too mired in to even fully see. As you’re dealing with the thing itself, you’re also enmeshed in a struggle of knowing, trying to figure out what is real. Understand that recognising and dealing with this illness with the urgency and seriousness it demands may give you the best chance of coming out strong and whole. Understand that whether this happens is not entirely in your hands. [click to continue…]

Freedom, lockdown, and COVID-19

by Chris Bertram on May 6, 2020

Despite the UK now having the highest death toll from COVID-19 in Europe and the second-highest in the world after the United States, the right-wingers of the Telegraph and the Spectator, abetted by the erstwhile Marxists of Spiked! and similar persist in denouncing lockdown as a tyrannical assault on freedom. It is clear that compulsory social distancing measures do indeed reduce people’s negative liberty by constraining the set of actions they can legally perform. Most people, however, view this as a sensible price to reduce the threat COVID-19 presents to each of us and to others, particularly the most vulneralble, the elderly, health workers, transport workers etc. After all, if you are dead then your freedom is worth nothing.

As students of freedom know, however, there is more than one way of understanding the concept. Libertarians who are extraordinarily sensitive to the least legal limitation on negative freedom are usually completely immune to the idea that structural features of capitalist society are coercive and freedom-limiting. In particular, they either fail to notice or deny that the workplace is coercive. After all, the people who work for the person to whom they are now subordinate freely contracted into that position, didn’t they? I don’t think I need to repeat the familiar points about choices, options, and structural oppression here.

Instead I invite you to consider what will happen if and when lockdown is lifted. Jerry Cohen made the point in his essay “Are Disadvantaged Workers Who Take Hazardous Jobs Forced to Take Hazardous Jobs?” that you can’t force someone to do what they are unfree to do. If workers are unfree to contract for less than the minimum wage or to work in unsafe conditions they bosses can’t (legally) force them to do those things. The same, rather obviously, goes for lockdown. People who are more-or-less confined to their homes can’t easily be forced to work in workplaces that expose them to the threat of COVID-19. (I know that even under lockdown many workers, such as health workers and bus drivers are effectively so forced, and COVID has rather powerfully exposed some of the divides that exist among different groups of workers.)
[click to continue…]

On seeing Astra Taylor’s What is Democracy?

by Chris Bertram on October 22, 2019

I went to see occasional Timberite Astra Taylor’s remarkable film *What is Democracy?* last night. It takes us from Siena, Italy to Florida to Athens and from Ancient Athenian democracy through the renaissance and the beginning of capitalism to the Greek debt crisis, occupy and the limbo life of people who have fled Syria and now find themselves stuck. It combines the voices of Plato and Rousseau with those of ordinary voters from left and right, Greek nationalists and cosmopolitans, ex-prisoners, with trauma surgeons in Miami, Guatemalan migrants in the US, with lawmakers and academics, and with refugees from Syria and Afghanistan. All the while it poses the questions of whether democracy is compatible with inequality and global financial systems and the boundaries of inclusion.

Some of the testimonies are arresting: the ex-prisoner turned barber who tells us of his nine years in a US prison of a hunger strike when the authorities tried to take the library away and of his problems adjusting to life of the outside, to being around women, and the fact that he’s denied the vote. And all the time he’s telling you this with attention and passion he’s clipping a customers beard, which adds a note of tension. We hear from trauma surgeons who tell us of the levels of violence in Miami – so much blood that the city is used for training by medics from the US military – and the shock of cycling from one neighbourhood to the next and experiencing swift transitions from opulence to utter destitution. We hear from a young Syrian woman who relates how she had to leave Aleppo after her mother was wounded by a stray bullet in her own home and whose idea of democracy is a country where she can lie safely in her bed.
[click to continue…]

Giovanni Buttarelli

by Maria on August 22, 2019

A few years ago I was on a panel about the Internet of Things. There were five of us, plus the moderator, sitting in a line across the stage of the Brussels convention centre; reps from Google and, I think, a big Korean chaebol, Giovanni Buttarelli, the European Data Protection Supervisor, Wojciech Wiewiórowski the Assistant European Data Protection Supervisor (though he might have still been the Polish DPC at that point), and me. I was there – I think – because the moderator knew me and I can usually be relied upon in these situations to stir a little, but not too much.

It all took a while to get going because Google, a major sponsor, took some of the allotted time to screen a video about how the Internet of Things would also include the Internet of Clothes, and how this would be great for Europeans because the ‘smart’ fabrics in question were hand-woven French jacquard. The infomercial was followed by a lengthy and remarkably self-serving presentation from the Google executive, and we all had to sit up on the stage looking interested for a good fifteen or twenty minutes. Finally, the panel-proper began and our moderator lobbed a softball for each of us to answer in turn.

Everyone was quite measured and politely took their cue from the Google framing, which was that Europe needed to ‘focus on innovation’, ‘provide an enabling regulatory environment’, and basically make the Single Market safe for surveillance capitalism. What none of us realised was that once the video had finished screening behind us, it had been replaced by a live Twitter feed which the now quite grumpy audience was quickly populating with dissent. We on the stage couldn’t read the sarcasm and frustration that had filled up the hashtag, so when it came to my turn and I let rip a quick but genuinely exasperated little monologue that ended with a rhetorical question about how we data-subjects would even afford to buy smart things after we’d all been automated out of existence, the applause and even a few whoops took us all by surprise.

Giovanni caught my eye and grinned. Anyone, and I mean anyone, in receipt of a smile like that – loaded as it was with canniness, grace, deep and multiply enfolded intelligence, and sheer downright mirth – would walk a long way to see it again.

[click to continue…]

I’ll Find You Ronnie

by Belle Waring on May 27, 2019

Roar has a concept EP about Phil Spector imprisoning his Ronnie Spector (formerly of the Ronettes) in their mansion, surrounded by barbed wire fences and guard dogs. It is the greatest thing to happen to me in months. Actually though. My younger daughter recommended it to me strongly, but I didn’t listen to it right away. More fool me, because that was like a week and a half I wasn’t listening to it on repeat, and I’ll never get those days back. It’s creepy and beautiful and combines wall of sound type sections with terrifyingly beautiful rock I don’t totally know how to characterize. I got to tell her in turn that she would like Apples in Stereo, which she does due to certain transitive properties of liking music. (They were in a loose group of bands including Neutral Milk Hotel, so you know they are good.) There is only one thing for which Roar should be criminally prosecuted, and that is that both the songs and the EP itself are too goddamn short. My second favorite song, Duck or Ape, is 1:39! It’s verse chorus verse chorus achingly beautiful bridge to nowhere that’s two. Lines. Long. I feel that 2:59 (with some wiggle room) is the perfect length for a song, accepting that Sufjan Stevens can make me cry for 6:25 or Joanna Newsom can write songs about the tragic outcome of interstellar battles and I’m cool with that. (More on the 2:59 anon.)

“Christmas Kids” is about that time Phil Spector got ahold of a pair of twins and brought the children to Ronnie as a Christmas present. Surprise! Actual human beings as a gift! Bet you wonder where I got them! The children (they adopted one more) came out much later to say that they were imprisoned also and at times kept in cages. Ronnie broke free, barefoot, with the help of her mom. She gave up all future music earnings because she was so terrified he would kill her after she escaped as he had always threatened. Phil Spector didn’t go to jail on the back of any of this? He had to murder someone first? I agree that he’s a towering genius of production and song writing, but uh…how exculpatory is that really? I’m sure Ronnie and the children will feel better if they forgive him.

Strangely quiet but normal speed: Christmas Kids

Last two lines, why you got to pierce my heart like that and then leave me to press repeat until my thirst is slaked? Duck or Ape

Wit’s End

by John Holbo on February 18, 2019

I’m reading two books called Wit’s End at the same time, which deserves a prize, or I am committing Yvor Winter’s Imitative Fallacy. The first is witzend [amazon associates link]. The second is Wit’s End: What Wit Is, How It Works, and Why We Need It[amazon], by James Geary. [click to continue…]

Today I conclude my reflections on Art Young, occasioned by the great new book about him [amazon associates link]. For those disinclined to purchase, I found a copy of one of his books, On My Way (1928), in free PDF form. (Doc announces itself as legal. No copyright renewal, so it seems.) Anyway, in honor of my earlier, literary maps post: say! the endpapers make a swell map!

But the Art path I shall trace in this post is not from Monroe, WI, to Bethel, Conn. A few years back I published a survey article on ‘caricature and comics‘. On the one hand, caricature is a minor art form – not necessarily low but distinctly niche. Funny line drawings of celebrities. On the other hand, formally, caricature is very old and very broad. This produces categorial dissonance. Caricature techniques are at the root of styles we don’t think of as caricature. This is the main thesis of Gombrich’s Art and Illusion, by the by. (No one seems to have noticed, but it’s true.)

In that essay I make some points with reference to the case of caricaturist-turned-Expressionist, Lyonel Feininger, but I could have used Art Young.

But let me start at the beginning, regarding Young. I like reading stories of youthful artistic influence, so here is his, pieced together from the new book and other sources. [click to continue…]

Jeremy Hardy is dead

by Harry on February 1, 2019

When I reached my late thirties I became very anxious about the possibility that I would never find anyone my age or younger funny. At the time, all the comedians I loved were considerably older than me and, for the most part, I’d liked them for years. I did, always, hold in my head that slender woman with long hair who had driven me and a bunch of Trots into fits of laughter sometime in the late 80’s and who had to be around my age.

I had missed the comedy boom in the UK (driven by people around my age) because I was out of the country, and foreign media culture was inaccessible in the States. (And, I’m sorry, but I struggle to think of an American television or radio show that I find funny — even Roseanne, which was entirely brilliant, wasn’t really brilliant because it was funny). Of course, now, I’ve learned to my relief that young(ish) people can be really funny, and I feel entirely relaxed about living a long life if that’s what fate has in store. The first step was first listening to Jeremy Hardy on The News Quiz, and, after a long time of finding him hilarious and lovable, discovering that he was about 15 years younger than his comic persona — only a couple of years my senior! And then that he was friends with Linda Smith who was also 15 years younger than her comic persona! I sometimes wondered whether you had to (roughly) share his politics to find him funny: my evidence against this is that my friend from secondary school who says she’s voted for every major political party loved him as much as I do and, now, Hugo Rifkind’s charming twit.

Here are two of my favorites. FIrst, Jeremy Hardy singing Hallelujah in the style of George Formby.

And here he is chatting with Mark Steel. A long, rambling, chat about fame.

If, as I doubt, there is an afterlife, it has become a much more realistic utopia, much funnier, and enormously less tuneful, in the past couple of weeks.

Erik Olin Wright 1947-2019

by Harry on January 23, 2019

I’m sorry to report that Erik Olin Wright has died. He was diagnosed with an acute form of leukemia last spring, and, after various interventions, has been in decline for the past few weeks. He spent his last weeks mainly in the hospital, surrounded by his family, and plentiful visits from numerous friends and former students, socializing to the end. I apologize if what follows is a little incoherent: I wasn’t really ready for the news.

My own first memories of Erik long predate meeting him. The first is regular visits to the EOA bookshop on the Cowley Road when I was 16, and sitting on the floor reading Class, Crisis and the State, because it seemed kind of expensive to buy (John Carpenter was watching me and really not seeming to mind that I was reading an entire book though, I should say, without ever creasing it in the slightest). I later, in graduate school, wrote an essay on Analytical Marxism which I sent to Socialist Review only to receive a very kind rejection on the grounds that they were just about to publish an essay by Erik on the same topic (which seemed, entirely reasonable to me; even more so when I read the essay). When I later told these stories in graduate seminar we taught together he expressed disbelief that I was so much younger than him, something that might have been insulting except for the fact that, even then, he had twice the life force I have ever had. I met him on January 22nd 1992 just after my job talk at Madison: he kindly invited me to stay on for the subsequent 2 days to attend the conference on Associations and Democracy.

[click to continue…]

Time to join the generation game? Definitely

by John Quiggin on November 7, 2018

A little while ago, I partially recanted my long-standing rejection of the idea that “generations” are a useful way of thinking about such issues as political attitudes. The UK elections showed a very strong age effect, reflecting the way that the politics of nostalgia, represented by Brexit, appeal to the old and appal the young.

The same appears to be true of “Make America Great Again”, at least according to the exit polls. In every racial group, there’s a clear cohort effect, with the younger cohorts favouring the Democrats.

Exit poll results, by age and race

The Republicans had majority support only among whites over 45.

[click to continue…]

Owning the Peanut Gallery

by Maria on September 23, 2018

https://twitter.com/henryfarrell/status/1043306749854449664

Ted Cruz has been accused of debating Beto O’Rourke in the style of a US college debater, more concerned with winning points than hearts. Twas ever thus.

In the autumn of 1992 I turned up at McGill University, Montreal. I’d wanted to go to France on Erasmus but didn’t qualify. One of my uncles, an economist at UCD, had cast around his desk for a flyer or a phone number, I don’t remember which. He named some other places, then Montreal, which we remembered was in Quebec, where two Belfast cousins had settled some time after my grandmother’s family took them in during the war. One of those cousins, Sean, still lived in Montreal, and was a pathologist at the university. His brother, the novelist Brian Moore, had written a novel about Jesuits in Algonquin that had been made into a film the year before, and featured a scene still etched in my memory of a cute, skinny young priest trying to maintain his dignity as he curled out a shit over the side of a long canoe, to the merriment of the First Nations guys rowing it. That was the clincher, so to speak.

In the first week at McGill, I auditioned for a play and tried out for the debate team. I was cast as a pillar in a Greek drama (no, I don’t know how that would have worked, either), and sent to represent McGill at a novice’s tournament in Bates College, Maine. Debating it was, then.

College debating in Ireland was just free entertainment on a Thursday or Friday night, with speakers prowling the pit of the merely medium-sized Theatre M, throwing out gags and being heckled viciously by what we then called friends, and what I now know were more like colleagues, the hacks in the box at the very top. There were often name-brand invited speakers, usually treated a little more respectfully, but only up to a point and the point was to be either masterful or entertaining, and ideally both. [click to continue…]

Time to join the generation game?

by John Quiggin on September 18, 2018

As regular readers will know, I’ve spent a generation or more [1] deriding what I call the generation game – the idea of dividing the population up into birth cohorts (categories based on year of birth) such as Boomers, X-ers and so on (Millennials weren’t invented when I started) and assigning them various supposed characteristics. Most of the time, this exercise is little better than astrology. To the extent that there is any semblance to reality it simply reflects the fact that young people are, and always have been, different from old people.

But just as I have managed to get some traction with this idea, genuine cohort effects have emerged in politics in many countries. The sharpest case is Britain, where people over 65 voted massively for Brexit in the referendum and the Conservatives in the recent election, while those aged 18-24 went even more sharply the other way. As the map linked here shows, if only 18-24 year olds were voting, based on current polling data, the Conservatives would not have won a single seat[2]. If only those over 65 voted, the Conservatives would win 575 and the combined opposition 54.

This is a massive difference and can’t AFAICT be fully explained by differences in education, ethnic composition and so forth. It also represents a huge shift on the part of older cohorts, who were part of the electorate that gave Labour three terms not long ago. While there is some tendency for people to become more conservative as they age, it’s normally much more limited than this.

The explanation in simple terms, is Brexit. Most of the time, elections involving competing visions of the future. In the UK case, from the 1990s until Brexit, the contest was between hard-line Thatcher-style neoliberalism and Third Way Blairite soft neoliberalism. In the course of such debates, both sides routinely claim to be on the right side of history, to own the future and so on.

By contrast, Brexit represented an appeal to a (partly imaginary) past, against the present and the future. With the exception of a handful of neoliberal ideologues, who saw Brexit as a path to a free-market future, most Leavers were motivated by nostalgia for the glories of the past, and were willing to sacrifice the interests of the young to make a gesture in that direction.

What’s true of Brexit is true, though not to quite the same extent, of the culture war politics that have now become dominant on the political right in much of the English-speaking world. It’s driven in large measure by old men who lost the cultural battles of the 1960s and 1970s, and have never got over the fact.

The result is a situation where the right is appealing directly to members of older age cohorts with the result that younger cohorts are moving left. The most immediate effect has been to wipe out the support base of centrists of the Blair-Clinton-Keating type, who fail to appeal to either group.’m

[click to continue…]