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In a way it is even humiliating to watch coal miners working. It raises in you a momentary doubt about your own status as an ‘intellectual’ and a superior person generally. For it is brought home to you, at least while you are watching, that it is only because miners sweat their guts out that superior persons can remain superior. You and I and the editor of the Times Literary Supplement and the Nancy Poets and the Archbishop of Canterbury and Comrade X, author of ‘Marxism for Infants’–all of us really owe the comparative decency of our lives to poor drudges underground, blackened to the eyes, with their throats full of coal dust, driving their shovels forward with arms and belly muscles of steel.

George Orwell — The Road to Wigan Pier

– Superior Persons –

Most mass-entertainments are in the end what D.H. Lawrence described as ‘anti-life’. They are full of a corrupt brightness, of improper appeals and moral evasions. To recall instances: they tend towards a view of the world in which progress is conceived as a seeking of material possessions, equality as a moral leveling, and freedom as the ground for endless irresponsible pleasure. These productions belong to a vicarious, spectators’ world; they offer nothing which can really grip the brain or heart. They assist a gradual drying-up of the more positive, the fuller, the more cooperative kinds of enjoyment, in which one gains by giving much. They have intolerable pretensions; and pander to the wish to have things both ways, to do as we want and accept no consequences.

Richard Hoggart — The Uses of Literacy (1957)

– The Uses of Literacy –

Benjamin Bratton: What’s Wrong with TED Talks

Our problems are not puzzles to be solved. This metaphor implies that all the necessary pieces are already on the table, they just need to be rearranged and reprogrammed. That’s not true. Innovation defined as puzzles and rearranging pieces and adding more processing power, is not some big idea that’s going to disrupt the broken status quo: that precisely is the broken status quo.

What’s Wrong with TED Talks? — Benjamin Bratton at TEDxSanDiego 2013

Via Nikolay.

Do What You Love?

Do What You Love?

Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life! Before succumbing to the intoxicating warmth of that promise, it’s critical to ask, “Who, exactly, benefits from making work feel like nonwork?” “Why should workers feel as if they aren’t working when they are?” In masking the very exploitative mechanisms of labor that it fuels, DWYL is, in fact, the most perfect ideological tool of capitalism. If we acknowledged all of our work as work, we could set appropriate limits for it, demanding fair compensation and humane schedules that allow for family and leisure time.

And if we did that, more of us could get around to doing what it is we really love.

Miya Tokumitsu — In the Name of Love (Slate)

The Mystery of Guns in America

The Mystery of Guns in America

…one which baffles most of the rest of the civilized world

You can have guns for hunting. You can have them to ward off Mexican drug lords or whoever is going to storm into your house. Keep them there, in a locked safe. And if we by chance ever need a well-regulated militia for a revolution or zombie apocalypse, by god, we’re going to be really happy you were born with a micro-penis.

Matt Bors — Dear Gun Nuts

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