Archive for the 'bookmaggot' Category

the great mortality, by john kelly

“I . . . am waiting among the dead for death to come.”

the dead do not die, by sven lindqvist

He took the Parisians to the limestone quarry, where they could see that their city was an immense mass grave of long-since annihilated creatures. As they had gone under, so would we ourselves, their descendants, go under.

nothing is true and everything is possible, by peter pomerantsev

We used to have this self-centered idea that Western democracies were the end point of evolution, and we’re dealing from a position of strength, and people are becoming like us. It’s not that way. Because if you think this thing we have here isn’t fragile you are kidding yourself.

by the sea shore

We spent the weekend in Point Reyes, which is so beautiful it almost defies photography. The California Field Atlas describes it as an authentic Pleistocene-era prairie by the sea. Philip K. Dick was also moved by:

this wild moor-like plateau that dropped off at the ocean’s edge, one of the most desolate parts of the United States, with weather unlike that of any other part of California.

The giant camels and mastodon that roamed here in the Ice Age are gone, but if you look closely, there’s a herd of not-quite-extinct tule elk grazing out on this headland.

Jeremy was enchanted by the Marconi RCA wireless station, the first and last of its kind. Now that we are home, he’s in his office playing with software-defined radios and emitting atmospheric bursts and Morse code. For my part, I loved the dairy ranches, and imagined myself quitting tech to become a simple farmer, a man of the people, at one with the land.

Of course I am not the first to indulge this fantasy. It forms the substance of Dick’s Confessions of a Crap Artist, Daniel Gumbiner’s The Boatbuilder, and even Summer Brennan’s The Oyster War. All three are at pains to point out that no matter how lovely the place is, it can’t help you escape who you are.

West Marin has dangled before the white mind like a lure for almost five hundred years. In 1579, the pirate Francis Drake in his galleon full of stolen Spanish treasure christened it Nova Albion and claimed it for Queen Elizabeth I. The visitor center on Drakes Beach notes that people in South America used his name to frighten their children, so that’s nice.

The Coast Miwok survive and now form part of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria. Still, anthropologist Betty Goerke calculates that between genocide, epidemic, and aggressive zoning laws designed to maintain high property values, there are fewer people living in Point Reyes today than there were in Drake’s time. It’s a pretend wilderness, like Yosemite and Kur-ring-gai. I’m indebted to its original custodians for how it heals my sore heart.

the boatbuilder, by daniel gumbiner

“It’s okay,” Alejandro said. “You’re not trying to show who you are, you’re just trying to make the thing.”

army of none, by paul scharre

The gun can’t handle its own power.

holding silvan, by monica wesolowska

It’s easy at first to respond to crisis, but this crisis is dragging on and on.

the collected schizophrenias, by esme weijun wang

Produce! Get results! Make money! Make friends! Make changes! Or you will die of despair.

where am i now? by mara wilson

Why, then, did I feel so bitter? Partly because bitter was my default state of being

the oyster war, by summer brennan

California is just a made-up word, like Rivendell, Narnia or Oz.

light and shadow, by mark colvin

At eleven, I still had the wooden toy sailing boat, named after Captain Cook’s Endeavour, that I’d been given when I was six, and I’d go to Kensington Gardens to sail it on the Round Pond and admire the vast radio-controlled sloops and motor-torpedo-boats that adult nerds raced across the waters.

Sydney itself was, physically and socially, very different then: a much-lower-slung, less-skyscraper-dotted city with a far busier harbour. Parts of it could feel provincial, with the emphasis on mowing the nature strip and using the incinerator for the weekly backyard burn-off—a social backwater almost unchanged from the 1950s. But because property prices were so low, there was also a Bohemian side to Sydney, a side which is gone now.

they can’t kill us until they kill us, by hanif abdurraqib

If this year was bad, next year might be even worse, or at the very least it might be harder.

horses in company, by lucy rees

Grazing and browsing animals have not evolved social systems that curb aggression in competitive situations, because these situations do not arise in their natural lives. Their social relations go awry when faced with this unnatural, imposed challenge. Bucket tests do not ‘reveal the hierarchy’ as is claimed: they create one.

celine dion’s let’s talk about love, by carl wilson

Taste is a means of distinguishing ourselves from others, the pursuit of distinction. And its end product is to perpetuate and reproduce the class structure.

witches of america, by alex mar

I imagine a near future in which all my parts might align.

the dealer is the devil, by adrian newstead

Imagine an Australia where the Aboriginal people negotiated a treaty and were never invaded by Europeans; where the trade routes embedded in the great songlines across the continent remained intact. Imagine what Australia could have been like today, if Aboriginal people had continued as the sovereign owners of the country. Imagine the Badi people farming pearls in partnership with Japanese traders; the Gija mining gold and diamonds and trading with the Chinese; the Pintupi sharing culture and wisdom with eco-tourists in a sustainable glass tower adjacent to Uluru; the Eora, enjoying the fruits of environmentally friendly condo development around Sydney Harbour.

little fish, by casey plett

It was always sad leaving here. And how many more times would she be coming back now. Realistically.

craft for a dry lake, by kim mahood

There was a time when the notion of beauty would not have entered my head, when it was simply my place. I did not know it was beautiful

messing about in boats

We enjoyed the Rivercat so much that we’ve taken two more ferries, one around Scotland Island from Church Point and one to the Basin from Palm Beach. Pittwater smells of salt and diesel, the smell of my childhood. There are cormorants and kookaburras, gulls and jellies.

I read this remarkable essay about Australian childrens’ books as well as a thoughtful article about the high country brumbies that I can’t share because it’s paywalled to hell. Like the mustangs in California, Australia’s feral horses wreck delicate ecosystems. Scientists and the traditional owners of country want them gone. But local cattlemen lost grazing land to the Snowy hydro scheme and to the National Parks well within living memory. To them, the brumby cull is the last straw. In the paywalled article, National Party MP Peter Cochran whines: “You don’t have to be black to feel a connection to this land.”

I grew up on stories about brumbies, by Mary Elwyn Patchett and Elyne Mitchell. In them, the wild horse is as much a part of the bush as the possum and the kangaroo. It took me decades to recognize this as a way for white people to lay claim to what wasn’t theirs. When I revisited Patchett hoping to read her books to the kids, I was appalled by her racism. Mitchell’s father was Harry Chauvel of the charge on Beersheba. Both writers are immersed and complicit in the white supremacist, militarized, settler-colonialist narrative that Evelyn Araluen describes in her essay.

Even my beloved Swallows and Amazons, with its naval officer father and its mother who grew up sailing on Sydney Harbour, instructs children in exploration, mapping and conquest. Maybe Westerners can’t have innocent pleasures. There is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth questioning as simply messing about in boats. Do you want empires? Because that’s how you get empires.

i’m afraid of men, by vivek shraya

I’m afraid of women who have internalized their experiences of misogyny so deeply that they make me their punching bag.