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Friday
Nov162018

Quentin's Weeknotes 11/10/18-11/16/18

This week:

Friday
Nov092018

Quentin's Weeknotes 11/3/18-11/9/18

This week:

  • I read volume 9 of Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples' brilliant and poignant graphic novel "Saga". The only question I have is whether we'll see Ponk Konk again...
  • Just in time for election day, I finished political scientist David Faris' new book "It's Time to Fight Dirty: How Democrats Can Build a Lasting Majority in American Politics". Faris argues that the Republican party has spent the last two and a half decades waging a war of procedure on government--rather than running and governing based on a political philosophy, they have exploited ambiguities in the constitution and law, as well as previous reliance on governmental 'norms' to entrench conservative governance throughout Washington D.C. Faris' prescriptions to combat this are quite bold, and include no-brainer policies like a national holiday on election day, and statehood for the 4 million US citizens who live in Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. However, he also advocates for more radical inteventions, including splitting up electoral behemoth California into 7 states, and packing the US Supreme court with additional jurists, as well as retiring existing jurists after a period of service on the court.
  • I voted in NY-19, a tight race where the newcomer Antonio Delgado ultimately prevailed. I also drove a van from Hartwick to take students to the polls, and helped the Otsego County Democratic Party with last minute Get-out-the-vote efforts.
Friday
Nov022018

Quentin's Weeknotes 10/27/18-11/2/18

This week:

Monday
Oct222018

Quentin's Weeknotes 10/20/18-10/26/18

This week:

  • I read Andrew Bacevich's Open Letter to Elizabeth Warren. Bacevich is a former professor at my alma mater, Boston University, and a scholar and thinker whose deep humanism and broad historical perspective on American foreign policy I find genuinely fascinating and engaging whenever I read it. His basic argument in the letter is that a progressive domestic policy needs to be matched by a difficult but necessary conversation about the limits of American intervenionist foreign policy. He says that any president must engage with the reality of climate change and its geopolitical consequences, the redistribution of global power from the America and Europe to other places (largely China), and the growing threat of State and non-State cyber warfare.
  • I read the socialist historian Mike Davis' interview in Jacobin, where he addresses some of the specific population issues he laid out in his book Late Victorian Holocausts (which I must confess that I own, but have yet to read). In this interview, Davis argues that the deaths resulting from the coercive pull of profit-making, imperialism, and modernity rival or even exceed the routinely (and rightly) discussed atrocities of socialist and communist states in the 20th century. These morbid numbers games are useful only rhetorically, but are worth remembering, particularly as we stare down a climate catastrophe, caused by untrammeled capitalist growth and already causing extreme suffering.
  • As part of my on-going masochistic exercise of reading all of Jeff and Ann Vandermeer's edited tome "The Weird", I read the cult-novella "The Other Side of the Mountain" by Michael Bernanos, printed in its entirety therein.  It's a strange and wonderful story of an unnamed young boy who joins up with a sailing ship, whose journey starts with tragedy and horror, and ends on an island with something much more bizarre and wondrous. I don't want to spoil it, but it's a wonderful piece of eco-fiction, where the characters are encreasingly enveloped by an alien landscape that seems to exist outside of anyone's ability to comprehend, and may be either indifferent or malevolent to their presence.
  • The Yager Museum held it's annual storytelling even "The Horror in the Museum." Every year, students, faculty, and staff read or perform their favorite pieces of spooky fiction and drama, and its always a blast. This year we had fantastic readings of Poe, Lovecraft, Stephen King, folktales, and original works by students and staff. I coordinate this event and it's one of my favorite things in the year. Fun fact: the event is named for a story that Lovecraft ghost-wrote/revised for Somerville, MA native Hazel Heald.
Friday
Oct122018

Quentin's Weeknotes 10/6/18-10/12/18

This Week:

  • I went to the Massachusetts coast with my family. We watched whales off the coast of Gloucester, wandered around Rockport, and then spent Sunday in Boston playing on the Common, eating at Durgin Park, and grabbing pastry at the other great North End bakery.
  • I read this interview with a political scientist named Sean Illing, who argues that after a long string of disappointing electoral and policy defeats, the democrats need to shift from a war of policy ideas to a war of procedure, which he argues is what the Republicans have been doing since the 1990s. Two of the major policies he mentions are breaking California up into several smaller states, and granting statehood to Puerto Rico and D.C. This would essentially pack the Senate and Congress with reliably Democratic votes for long enough to pass progressive legislation and install a more reliably progressive court system. It breaks precident, but not any actual rules. Corey Robin made much the same argument on Monday, arguing that we have to argue that "The principle to mount against that scandal of democracy is simple: one person, one vote. In a democracy, no one’s vote should count for more than any other person’s vote." Doing so would require a radical re-shifting of the three anti-democratic pillars of the constitution: the Supreme Court, the Senate, and the Electoral College.
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