RSS

Tag Archives: Society

The cult of Columbine: how an obsession with school shooters led to a murder plot

It was an extremely online romance, as many were in 2014: they followed each other on Tumblr, then they became Facebook friends, then they started chatting. James Gamble was 19, aimless and unemployed. Lindsay Souvannarath was 22, with a newly minted degree from a small liberal arts school in Iowa and vague plans to join the Peace Corps.

Over the next seven weeks, Lindsay and James would come to feel that their meeting was part of some great cosmic plan. They were in similar places in their lives: young adults still living with their parents, socially awkward, virgins. They did not spend much time talking about the mundane building blocks of adulthood – school, family, work – in part because those parts of life had felt hostile to both of them for a long time. Instead, they discussed the other things they had in common – how they both walked stiffly and too fast; how as soon as they entered a room, other people could sense that something about them did not quite fit. How they could tell that strangers were afraid of them. How they had grown to like it, in a way, the perverse kind of power that came from being the kind of person everyone else wanted to stay away from.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/aug/20/cult-of-columbine-how-the-high-school-shooting-motivated-a-murder-plot

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 10, 2019 in Reportages

 

Tags: , ,

Why can’t we agree on what’s true any more?

We live in a time of political fury and hardening cultural divides. But if there is one thing on which virtually everyone is agreed, it is that the news and information we receive is biased. Every second of every day, someone is complaining about bias, in everything from the latest movie reviews to sports commentary to the BBC’s coverage of Brexit. These complaints and controversies take up a growing share of public discussion.

Much of the outrage that floods social media, occasionally leaking into opinion columns and broadcast interviews, is not simply a reaction to events themselves, but to the way in which they are reported and framed. The “mainstream media” is the principal focal point for this anger. Journalists and broadcasters who purport to be neutral are a constant object of scrutiny and derision, whenever they appear to let their personal views slip. The work of journalists involves an increasing amount of unscripted, real-time discussion, which provides an occasionally troubling window into their thinking.

But this is not simply an anti-journalist sentiment. A similar fury can just as easily descend on a civil servant or independent expert whenever their veneer of neutrality seems to crack, apparently revealing prejudices underneath. Sometimes a report or claim is dismissed as biased or inaccurate for the simple reason that it is unwelcome: to a Brexiter, every bad economic forecast is just another case of the so-called project fear. A sense that the game is rigged now fuels public debate.

https://www.theguardian.com/media/2019/sep/19/why-cant-we-agree-on-whats-true-anymore

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 10, 2019 in Reportages

 

Tags: , ,

Spot the psychopath

Psychopath. The word conjures up the image of a cold-blooded killer, or perhaps a fiendishly clever but heartless egoist. There’s Ted Bundy, who in the 1970s abducted women, killed them, and had sex with their decomposing bodies. Or Hannibal Lecter from the film The Silence of the Lambs (1991), who cunningly escaped his various confinements and ended up eating the people he despised. In the popular imagination, psychopaths are the incarnation of evil. However, for an increasing number of researchers, such people are ill, not evil – victims of their own deranged minds. So just what are psychopaths, and what is wrong with them?

According to the Hare Psychopathy Checklist – first devised in the 1970s by the Canadian criminal psychologist Robert Hare and since revised and widely used for diagnosis – psychopaths are selfish, glib and irresponsible. They have poor impulse control, are antisocial from a young age, and lack the ability to feel empathy, guilt and remorse. Psychopaths steal, lie and cheat, and have no respect for other people, social norms or the law. In some cases, they torture defenceless animals, assault other children or attempt to kill their siblings or parents. If caught, they fail to take responsibility for their actions, but tend to blame others, their upbringing or ‘the system’. According to some recent calculations, more than 90 per cent of male psychopaths in the United States are in prison, on parole or otherwise involved with the criminal justice system. Considering that psychopaths are thought to make up only around 1 per cent of the general population, that number is staggering. Because of this close link to criminality, psychopathy used to be known as ‘moral insanity’.

https://aeon.co/essays/you-have-more-in-common-with-a-psychopath-than-you-realise

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 30, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: ,

For the sake of life on Earth, we must put a limit on wealth

It is not quite true that behind every great fortune lies a great crime. Musicians and novelists, for example, can become extremely rich by giving other people pleasure. But it does appear to be universally true that in front of every great fortune lies a great crime. Immense wealth translates automatically into immense environmental impacts, regardless of the intentions of those who possess it. The very wealthy, almost as a matter of definition, are committing ecocide.A few weeks ago, I received a letter from a worker at a British private airport. “I see things that really shouldn’t be happening in 2019,” he wrote. Every day he sees Global 7000 jets, Gulfstream G650s and even Boeing 737s take off from the airport carrying a single passenger, mostly flying to Russia and the US. The private Boeing 737s, built to take 174 passengers, are filled at the airport with around 25,000 litres of fuel. That’s as much fossil energy as a small African town might use in a year.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/sep/19/life-earth-wealth-megarich-spending-power-environmental-damage

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 20, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , ,

Margaret Atwood’s work illustrates our need to enjoy other people’s pain

A well-crafted worldwide publicity campaign is raising expectations for The Testaments, Margaret Atwood’s sequel to her Handmaid’s Tale. This, perhaps, is the right moment to take a deeper look into the reasons of our fascination with the dark world of the Republic of Gilead.

Since Gilead is run by Christian fundamentalists, the best way to begin is with theology.

In his Summa Theologica, philosopher Thomas Aquinas concludes that the blessed in the kingdom of heaven will see the punishments of the damned in order that their bliss be more delightful for them. Aquinas, of course, takes care to avoid the obscene implication that good souls in heaven can find pleasure in observing the terrible suffering of other souls, because good Christians should feel pity when they see suffering. So, will the blessed in heaven also feel pity for the torments of the damned? Aquinas’s answer is no: not because they directly enjoy seeing suffering, but because they enjoy the exercise of divine justice.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/margaret-atwood-handmaids-tale-testaments-human-rights-slavoj-zizek-a9105151.html

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 16, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , ,

The Airbnb Invasion of Barcelona

In 1904, the city of Barcelona received a petition for development from Eusebi Güell, an industrialist and a patron of the arts. Güell had bought a tract of land on the flank of Muntanya Pelada, or Bald Mountain, which rises above the plain that extends to the city’s port. Güell had ambitious plans for his hillside property: it was to be designed by Antoni Gaudí, the celebrated architect, with sixty houses set on the bosky grounds. Güell’s business model, which required prospective residents to invest in the project before their houses were constructed, was flawed, and only two were ever built. But the grounds were completed. Serpentine paths twisted up the hillside, and at the center of a spectacular bifurcated staircase there was a fountain in the form of a lizard, its skin composed of mosaic shards in blues and yellows.

The development was sold to the city in 1922, four years after Güell’s death, and became a beloved public park, with the lizard as its icon. In time, Park Güell proved too beloved for its own good, and by 2013 nine million visitors were traipsing through it annually. “The Park has almost stopped being used as a park,” a municipal report noted at the time. It had become, instead, a “tourist place.” That year, in an effort to mitigate the damage and crowding caused by so much foot traffic, the city introduced a fee to access the park’s “monumental core,” which includes Gaudí’s staircase, and also limited the number of tickets sold to eight hundred an hour.

From the local government’s perspective, the change was a success: the year after the restrictions were introduced, the number of visitors fell to 2.3 million. Still, the flow remains constant. When I arrived at Park Güell at 11 a.m. on a Tuesday morning in February—hardly peak season—I couldn’t get in for another two and a half hours. When I finally entered the monumental core, at a cost of ten euros, it was as bustling as Coney Island’s boardwalk on a sunny Sunday afternoon, and Instagramming admirers formed a mob around Gaudí’s lizard.

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/04/29/the-airbnb-invasion-of-barcelona

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 28, 2019 in Reportages

 

Tags: , ,

Why the Greens should stop playing God

The state of the planet is forcing itself into the centre of the human mind. For increasing numbers of people, climate change is a palpable fact. Island communities and coastal cities are suffering the effects of rising sea levels, and all of us experience extreme weather and disjointed seasons.

Centre-ground politicians have accepted that some kind of action, more radical than any that has been implemented so far, has become urgently necessary. Everyone but the most stubborn climate denialists realises that an unprecedented change is taking place in the world that humans have inhabited throughout their history.

At the same time, as T.S. Eliot wrote in Four Quartets, “humankind cannot bear very much reality”, and thinking on the subject is increasingly delusional. A by-product of worldwide industrialisation based on fossil fuels, the shift that is underway was set in motion by human beings. It does not follow however that humans can stop it.

Why the Greens should stop playing God

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 9, 2019 in Reportages, Uncategorized

 

Tags: ,

Something is wrong on the internet

https://medium.com/@jamesbridle/something-is-wrong-on-the-internet-c39c471271d2

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 6, 2019 in Reportages

 

Tags: , , , ,

Abolire il carcere, prove di utopia in Europa

Una mattina di qualche inverno fa, il freddo di Padova aveva seccato i terreni intorno al carcere Due palazzi e gelava il fiato di decine di persone davanti al suo ingresso. Erano giornalisti e familiari di detenuti, ed erano lì per partecipare a un convegno organizzato dall’associazione Ristretti orizzonti. Tra loro c’era una ragazza di diciotto anni. Piccola e magra, era contenta e nervosa per il padre, che doveva intervenire a uno degli incontri. Lui era in prigione da quando lei era nata. Lei non aveva mai mangiato un gelato con lui. Le chiesi qual era stata la cosa più complicata da gestire in tutti quegli anni. Ci pensò un po’ su, poi rispose: “All’inizio è stato il pensiero che mio padre fosse innocente, poi il dover fare i conti con i suoi sbagli, infine il giudizio degli altri. Per tutti sono solo la figlia di un ergastolano. Ho cominciato ad avere meno paura di questo giudizio quando ho capito che il carcere è uno specchio. Giudichiamo i detenuti e le loro famiglie, ma dimentichiamo che stiamo giudicando anche il nostro riflesso”.

https://www.internazionale.it/opinione/giuseppe-rizzo/2019/06/19/abolire-carcere

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 18, 2019 in European Union

 

Tags: ,

Carmageddon: it’s killing urban life. We must reclaim our cities before it’s too late

What is the best way of wrecking a city? Pour cars into it. Heavy traffic, 50 years of research shows, breaks up communities, disrupts social life and crushes local cultures. Noise drowns out conversation and drives people indoors. Pollution makes streets inhospitable. Cars take up the space that might have been used for children to play, adults to meet, and local projects to grow.

Street life is treated as an impediment to traffic. In cities all over the world it has been cleared for cars. Stalls, hawkers, football and cricket games, old people playing dominoes, chess or pétanque: all must make way for the car. So much land is required for driving and parking that there is little left for human life. In cities like Barcelona that curb traffic, cars use about 25% of the urban area. In cities like Houston that don’t, they use 60%. The car eats the public space that could otherwise become parks, cycle lanes, markets and playgrounds.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jun/20/cars-cities-land-rover-pollution-urban-spaces

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 17, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: ,