Welcome to the Martians! We now live in a world stranger than science fiction | Salon.com

In an age of surging authoritarianism, our world is increasingly like science fiction – and not in a good way

By Tom Engelhardt, Published November 26, 2021 4:00AM (EST)

Donald Trump | Aliens (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

Who knew that Martians, inside monstrous tripodal machines taller than many buildings, actually ululated, that they made eerily haunting “ulla, ulla, ulla, ulla” sounds? Well, let me tell you that they do — or rather did when they were devastating London.

I know that because I recently reread H.G. Wells’s 1898 novel “War of the Worlds,” while revisiting an early moment in my own life. Admittedly, I wasn’t in London when those Martian machines, hooting away, stalked boldly into that city, hungry in the most literal fashion imaginable for human blood. No surprise there, since that was almost a century and a quarter ago. Still, at 77, thanks to that book, I was at least able to revisit a moment that had been mine long enough ago to seem almost like fiction.

Editor’s Note: This is about authoritarianism, Trump, and attacks on American Democracy.

Continue reading Welcome to the Martians! We now live in a world stranger than science fiction | Salon.com

Is science stuck? The “Great Stagnation Debate,” explained | Salon.com

By Michael Bhaskar, Published November 26, 2021 2:00PM (EST)

CERN (European Organization For Nuclear Research) (Luis Davilla/Cover/Getty Images)

For most of history, it was by no means obvious what was an irreducible material — what we now call a chemical element. But investigators discovered the building blocks of the universe and, in so doing, built an extraordinary foundational account of chemistry.

This history displays an uneven gradient of progress. Some elements, like gold, copper or iron, had been known for centuries. Early experimenters developed an understanding of elements like carbon and sulfur. From there, though, an infrastructure of techniques and tools, knowledge sharing and accumulation was required for exploration to keep going.

Nonetheless, as the picture began to fill out individuals were still capable of making a huge impact. In the late eighteenth century, the British scientist Sir Humphrey Davy alone predicted the existence of elements like potassium, sodium and calcium, and was then able to isolate them. Around the same time the discovery of fundamentals of chemistry like hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen altered the chemical lexicon forever.

Excerpted from “Human Frontiers: The Future of Big Ideas in an Age of Small Thinking” by Michael Bhaskar. Reprinted with permission from The MIT PRESS. Copyright 2021.

Source: Is science stuck? The “Great Stagnation Debate,” explained | Salon.com

Robert Bly, Poet Who Gave Rise to a Men’s Movement, Dies at 94 – The New York Times

His most famous, and most controversial, work was “Iron John,” which made the case that American men had grown soft and feminized. It made him a cultural phenomenon

By Robert D. McFadden, Nov. 22, 2021

Robert Bly in 1975. He was a prolific poet, essayist and translator and had been a galvanizing force in the antiwar movement of the Vietnam era. Credit…Gerard Malanga

Robert Bly, the Minnesota poet, author and translator who articulated the solitude of landscapes, galvanized protests against the Vietnam War and started a controversial men’s movement with a best seller that called for a restoration of primal male audacity, died on Sunday at his home in Minneapolis.

He was 94. The death was confirmed by his wife, Ruth Bly. From the sheer volume of his output — more than 50 books of poetry, translations of European and Latin American writers, and nonfiction commentaries on literature, gender roles and social ills, as well as poetry magazines he edited for decades — one might imagine a recluse holed up in a North Woods cabin.

And Mr. Bly did live for many years in a small town in Minnesota, immersing himself in the poetry of silent fields and snowy woodlands.

Source: Robert Bly, Poet Who Gave Rise to a Men’s Movement, Dies at 94 – The New York Times

Bobby Flay Sets New Deal With Food Network After Stalled Negotiations – Variety

By Cynthia Littleton, Nov 22, 2021 4:00am PT

David Giesbrecht

Bobby Flay and Discovery’s Food Network have reached an agreement on a new three-year contract, a deal that comes about six weeks after negotiations stalled because the sides were too far apart on financial terms.

The celebrity chef, restaurateur and author has set an exclusive pact that will keep him in the Discovery family through the middle of the decade and up to his 30th on-air anniversary with the cabler.

The new contract also expands the scope of content opportunities available to Flay’s Rock Shrimp Productions, which produces most of his shows for Food Network. And the wide-ranging deal comes just as Discovery is poised to grow significantly through its pending merger with WarnerMedia.

Source: Bobby Flay Sets New Deal With Food Network After Stalled Negotiations – Variety

Nancy Pearl, ‘America’s Librarian,’ knows why people need libraries – CSMonitor.com

Nancy Pearl, possibly America’s best-known librarian and recommender of books, shares her thoughts on choosing what to read, and when to stop reading.

By Rebekah Denn, Correspondent, November 16, 2021

Susan Doupe, Courtesy of Nancy Pearl

It’s not every librarian who has an action figure modeled after her. But Nancy Pearl, who was honored at the National Book Awards on Nov. 17, comes to her superhero status by her encyclopedic knowledge of books and powerfully engaging recommendations in almost every form of media.

In 1998, Ms. Pearl launched a program at the Seattle Public Library called “If All Seattle Read the Same Book,” which led to the worldwide group-reading phenomenon known as One Book, One City.

In 2009, Ms. Pearl’s ability to connect readers with the right book gained a wide following when she published “Book Lust: Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment, and Reason,” which became a surprise hit.

More recent work includes “Book Lust” sequels, a novel, and a collection of author interviews. Known as “America’s Librarian,” Ms. Pearl received the 2021 Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community for her work in expanding audiences for reading. Past recipients include poet Maya Angelou and NPR’s “Fresh Air” host Terry Gross.

Source: Nancy Pearl, ‘America’s Librarian,’ knows why people need libraries – CSMonitor.com