Can the world stop genocide?

The Rwandan genocide in 1994 seemed to mark a turning-point. Hutu officers organised most adult Hutus to slaughter their Tutsi neighbours. Perhaps 500,000 people were hacked or beaten to death in 100 days. A small un “peacekeeping” force in the capital, Kigali, stood by. By the time the West decided that something needed to be done, the genocide was over, having been stopped by an army of Tutsi rebels. Afterwards, Western leaders vowed never to let anything like it happen again.

Macron’s Marie Antoinette Moment

I appreciated this piece on the Yellow Vest protests not framing the movement out of context as an indicator of the viability of climate policy.

For a story actually about rural citizens taking to a city for a dramatic protest explicitly about climate (smooth segue), look to India where more farmers and farm workers than ever are killing themselves over damaged crops—320,000 since 1995—attributable to decreased average rainfall, more frequent extreme events, drier seasons, and later and shorter monsoons. In April 2017, 150 farmers “sat for almost a month at Delhi’s protest hub of Jantar Mantar. They sat buck-naked, holding the bones of neighbors who had committed suicide."

Most farmers, though, aren’t really changing their methods to adapt to a warming climate and water scarcity. Instead, they are boring into the ground 200 feet to find water—but, even at that depth, they often find none. Or they’re growing conventional crops that have guaranteed government prices, even though they use too much water and provide fewer nutrients. Rice and wheat are seriously affected by climate change but still dominate cultivation.

Related: the New York Times’ year in climate journalism

How McKinsey & Co. has helped raise the stature of authoritarian governments

Related: A brief history of Islam in China , contextualizing the ongoing detention, torture, and surveillance of an estimated one million Uighur Muslims and other Muslim groups in the Xinjiang region

Metaphor-blindness in the Bible, Wittgenstein, Robert Frost, and Shakespeare

Related and timely: I was just re-reading the Paris Review’s objection to misappropriation of “slouching towards X” as an idiom leading to “the widening gyre of heavy-handed allusions to WB Yeats’s ‘The Second Coming’”

Notes on trap music (h/t Junho)

I’m not convinced of all points but don’t know enough to confidently disagree. Quick selling point: it pairs quotes from WEB Du Bois with 21 Savage and Young Thug with bell hooks. It compares “Mask Off” to “A Raisin in the Sun”, Migos to Napoleon. Archive of the Harvard professor author’s cultural writing here .

Trap is a form of soft power that takes the resources of the black underclass (raw talent, charisma, endurance, persistence, improvisation, dexterity, adaptability, beauty) and uses them to change the attitudes, behaviors, and preferences of others, usually by making them admit they desire and admire those same things and will pay good money to share vicariously in even a collateral showering from below. This allows the trap artist to transition from an environment where raw hard power dominates and life is nasty, brutal, and short to the world of celebrity, the Valhalla of excess, lucre, influence, fame — the only transparently and sincerely valued site of belonging in our culture. It doesn’t hurt, of course, that insofar as you’re interested in having a good time, there’s probably never been a sound so perfectly suited to having every kind of fun disallowed in conservative America.

The ‘We’ in ‘How We Missed The Rise of Right-Wing Extremism’

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, dir. Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman, Bob Persichetti

Not really a thing I “read” (I should change the name of this blog series), but I watched “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” this week. It turned out to be one of the best movies I’ve watched from this year and easily the most fun. I can’t remember the last time a movie positively defied my expectations this much; I was expecting it to be a direct-to-TV production based on its title and its featuring a talking-pig character, plus this is the studio (Sony) that bungled the live-action Spider-Man franchise and last year gave us the “Emoji Movie”. This blew me away, so much so that I’ll bullet-point some superlatives below:

  • It might be the funniest movie to come out this year. I found the humor in The Death of Stalin to be far beneath Armando Iannucci’s other work. I have not seen Vice, Sorry to Bother You, Girls Trip, Eighth Grade, or mid90s.
  • It’s the best superhero movie since at least The Dark Knight if you don’t count the recent Planet of the Apes trilogy. Which you should. Not only does Caesar definitely qualify as a superhero (I got into a weirdly heated argument about this where I also found myself also embracing the implication that by analogy, Jesus is a superhero too), he’s the best superhero ever put to screen
  • It’s the best animated movie since either Rango Kung Fu Panda 2, or Toy Story 3. I liked Zootopia and Kubo and the Two Strings, but this year’s Spider-Man is just better and visually more creative. For all the praise Pixar gets for its increasingly realistic animation, Spider-Man (and to a lesser extent, the Kung Fu Panda series) make compelling counter-arguments for animation that doesn’t pretend to not be animation.

Had more to share, but this post was long enough.