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William Trevor, 1928–2016

‘William Trevor, the last great short story writer of the 20th century — so, very possibly, the last great short story writer — died on Sunday at 88. Trevor had an uncanny ability to confer dignity and elegance on the ordinary sadness at the heart of life, and in his best work the everyday miseries we fail to observe because they are so quotidian are elevated to the kind of grand tragedy other writers take entire novels to convey…’

Source: The Awl

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Umberto Eco Makes a List of the 14 Common Features of Fascism

  1. The cult of tradition. “One has only to look at the syllabus of every fascist movement to find the major traditionalist thinkers. The Nazi gnosis was nourished by traditionalist, syncretistic, occult elements.”
  2. The rejection of modernism. “The Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, is seen as the beginning of modern depravity. In this sense Ur-Fascism can be defined as irrationalism.”
  3. The cult of action for action’s sake. “Action being beautiful in itself, it must be taken before, or without, any previous reflection. Thinking is a form of emasculation.”
  4. Disagreement is treason. “The critical spirit makes distinctions, and to distinguish is a sign of modernism. In modern culture the scientific community praises disagreement as a way to improve knowledge.”
  5. Fear of difference. “The first appeal of a fascist or prematurely fascist movement is an appeal against the intruders. Thus Ur-Fascism is racist by definition.”
  6. Appeal to social frustration. “One of the most typical features of the historical fascism was the appeal to a frustrated middle class, a class suffering from an economic crisis or feelings of political humiliation, and frightened by the pressure of lower social groups.”
  7. The obsession with a plot. “The followers must feel besieged. The easiest way to solve the plot is the appeal to xenophobia.”
  8. The enemy is both strong and weak. “By a continuous shifting of rhetorical focus, the enemies are at the same time too strong and too weak.”
  9. Pacifism is trafficking with the enemy. “For Ur-Fascism there is no struggle for life but, rather, life is lived for struggle.”
  10. Contempt for the weak. “Elitism is a typical aspect of any reactionary ideology.”
  11. Everybody is educated to become a hero. “In Ur-Fascist ideology, heroism is the norm. This cult of heroism is strictly linked with the cult of death.”
  12. Machismo and weaponry. “Machismo implies both disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual habits, from chastity to homosexuality.”
  13. Selective populism. “There is in our future a TV or Internet populism, in which the emotional response of a selected group of citizens can be presented and accepted as the Voice of the People.”
  14. Ur-Fascism speaks Newspeak. “All the Nazi or Fascist schoolbooks made use of an impoverished vocabulary, and an elementary syntax, in order to limit the instruments for complex and critical reasoning.”

Source: Open Culture

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URGENT: proposed law would charge protesters with terrorism

‘This is a disaster. A new law proposed by a State Senator in Washington would allow the authorities to charge protesters with “economic terrorism,” and slap them with serious felony charges that could lead to jail time, just for making their voices heard.The outrageous proposed bill would make any form of protest that causes an “economic disruption” a class C felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison. It wouldn’t just apply to people who engage in illegal acts or vandalism, it could be used to prosecute any person or group who organizes a protest that authorities deem as “disruptive.” Broadly interpreted, this law could apply to time honored traditions of nonviolent dissent like boycotts and civil disobedience.

Charging protesters with terrorism clearly violates the First Amendment and is an attempt to silence legitimate dissent. Please sign the petition telling lawmakers to reject this dangerous legislation.’

Source: Action Network

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Where Are All The Aliens?

‘Where are all these aliens we suppose exist? If they do exist, why have they not colonized the entire galaxy by now? There are several common answers, and recently Dr. Brian Cox has sided with one of the least pleasant ones: that “One solution to the Fermi paradox is that it is not possible to run a world that has the power to destroy itself and that needs global collaborative solutions to prevent that”.   In other words, a civilization that has the ability to communicate across space might not have a long life expectancy — as it would also have the ability to destroy itself. Stephen Hawking is inclined to agree, stating that “I don’t think we will survive another 1,000 years without escaping beyond our fragile planet”. This idea is a popular solution, but not one that we like to think about…’

Source: Big Think