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It is also thanks to lingering communist-era networks that a fog of misinformation still shrouds the events of the 1989 Christmas revolution itself. Wild rumors and conspiracy theories continue to swirl around Ceause?cu’s execution, the street battles in which over a thousand people lost their lives, and the empowerment of a clique of second-tier communists. Was this a full-fledged revolution or just a palace coup? Romanians are still wondering. Had they been duped and then abused by Ceause?cu’s aides posing as radical reformers? The legitimacy of the revolution and of Romania’s current democracy hinge on the answers to these questions. The power of the new oligarchs, and Herta Mueller’s experiences, seem to indicate that Ceause?cu’s ouster was a putsch and nothing more. –“Past Forward,” Paul Hockenos, Boston Review
A musicologist will tell you that a raga is a specific mode, a series of notes that serve as the basis for improvisation, but Pandit Pran Nath and his students would tell you something else, that a raga is a living soul the performer invokes like a celestial, numinous presence moving behind and between the notes, a cosmic teacher that the performer, if he is successful, embodies and transmits, dissolving the boundaries between singer, listener, and song. Each raga comes assigned to a certain time of day, but many artists ignore them in performance, regarding the designations as conventional and dispensable; Pandit Pran Nath only sang midnight songs at midnight. The Malkauns raga is one such, a druggy pentatonic nocturne that some superstitious musicians refuse to play on the grounds that it attracts demons; it works like a powerful narcotic, replacing clock time with another temporality altogether. Do not attempt to operate a motor vehicle under its influence. Put on the recording from 1976 and prepare to lie down on something soft: those four simple syllables Pran Nath sings — go vin da ram — are the name of God. –“Lord of the Drone: Pandit Pran Nath and the American Underground,” Alexander Keefe, Bidoun
So how should America respond? The country’s cold war experience offers a useful strategy. The stalemate imposed by “mutually assured destruction” that prevented the US-Soviet conflict from igniting created a sense of stability. Today, the US and China are locked in a new form of “mutually assured economic destruction,” a dependence that can force some degree of co-operation even as political, economic and security disputes simmer. America still needs China to help finance its debt. For the moment, China needs access to US consumers to keep unemployment in check and for continuing foreign investment. Even if the Chinese economy becomes more driven by domestic demand, consumers will still want access to foreign-made products. The two sides will be doing business for decades to come. –“China vs America: Fight of the Century,” Iam Bremmer, Prospect
Home-made in China: a submarine, flying saucers and a helicopter;
“Harry Potter and the Chinese Overseas Students at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry” and other unofficial sequels;
speak Kinaray-a? Waray-waray? Ivatan? CUNY wants you!
More from Rafe Bartholomew:
Fleming awoke in the dark and his room felt loose, sloshing so badly he gripped the bed. From his window there was nothing but a hallway, and if he craned his neck, a blown lightbulb swung into view. The room pitched up and down and for a moment he thought he might be sick. The word “hallway” must have a nautical name. Why didn’t they supply a glossary for this cruise? Probably they had, in the welcome packet he’d failed to read. A glossary. A history of the boat, which would be referred to as a ship. Sunny biographies of the captain and crew, who had always dreamed of this life. Lobotomized histories of the islands they’d visit. Who else had sailed this way. Famous suckwads from the past, slicing through this very water on wooden longships.
A welcome packet, the literary genre most likely to succeed in the new millennium. Why not read about a community you don’t belong to, that doesn’t actually exist, a captain and crew who are, in reality, if that isn’t too much of a downer on your vacation, as indifferent to one another as any set of co-employees at an office or bank? Read doctored personal statements from underpaid crew members — because ocean life pays better than money! — who hate their lives but have been forced to buy into the mythology of working on a boat, separated now from loved ones and friends, growing lonelier by the second, even while they wait on you and follow your every order.
Rank of Detroit among major U.S. cities whose residents give the largest portion of their income to charity:
A South Dakota researcher concluded that only scant blood spatter results when chain saws are used to dismember pigs.
Four people were arrested for using a remote-controlled hexacopter to fly two pounds of tobacco to prisoners inside the yard at Calhoun State Prison in Georgia.
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Our congratulations to Alice Munro, winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature