Times Like These require Links

February 01, 2021

Catch the allusion?


This I think is a good sign about governments standing up to tech companies.  The degree of tech pushback suggests how scared they are.


Phil Klay, great fiction writer, and veteran of the Iraq war, reviews a great journalistic retelling of the 2016-17 battle of Mosul, James Verini's They Will Have to Die Now.  The wisdom in the following passage is deeper than simply what happened in the north of Iraq four years ago: “Even now, despite the past two decades, and despite the veritable library of books like Verini’s telling us otherwise, Americans still elect administrations that treat Iraq like a blank slate, without history or context or national pride, and which will respond to our actions only as we wish. Which is a roundabout way of saying that yes, books like Verini’s very much matter, or at least should—especially if we’re going to be involved, for the foreseeable future, in a country where history old and new lives as vibrantly as it does in Iraq.”  Reminds me of a Joseph Conrad letter to someone—his publisher, perhaps?—about how the interview between Marlow and Kurtz's "Intended," in Conrad's own words, "locks in—as it were—the whole 30000 words of narrative description into one suggestive view of a whole phase of life and makes of that story something quite on another plane than an anecdote of a man who went mad in the Centre of Africa."  In a way, Klay's review points out that Verini's book is trying to do something similar.  It did, for me anyway.


Wow, what to say about this?  A remarkable example of, what? ethical displacement? democratic avoidance? But then again I’m not sure I have a better thought—get some experts together, have them hash it out.  But on what basis will the experts be chosen?  As ever, who guards the guardians?


A cool story about the (possible) deciphering of an alphabetic script found only on fifteen small clay tablets, uncovered in one place in the Jordan Valley between 1964 and today. 


Lauren Oyler, a very astute reviewer of others’ works who is not afraid to say that the Emperor or Empress is lacking a full set of clothes, is about to publish a novel of her own.  Here’s an interview with her.  Good to read.


Finally, a pretty good piece and I had no idea Grohl is only 52.  Hell, I’m 51.  It's amazing what he’s managed to live in his life.  And how coherent his life has become, at least in this retelling:

“I just want to stay alive and play music, especially after Nirvana,” he said. “When Kurt died, I truly woke up the next day and felt so lucky to be alive, and so heartbroken that someone can just disappear. I decided to take advantage of that, for the rest of my life.”


We should all feel lucky to be alive.  Some days it's easier than others.  Hopefully this is a good day for you.  If not, then maybe tomorrow.  You are lucky to be alive.  We're lucky you're alive, too.  I mean that.  Be well.