The Future: Bleak, Bleaker, Bleakest

Richard Schiffman reported in The Atlantic today that “time is running out to put the brakes on the planet’s warming, says arguably the most exhaustively researched scientific paper in history,” in “What Leading Scientists Say You Should Know About Today’s Frightening Climate Report.” Thanks to my sister-in-law for drawing my attention to this. And also to my brother for being instrumental building the satellite that brings us this image.

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On a Lighter Note: Thomas Pynchon and Food

In a publication that my home receives regularly (but I tend not to really glance at, being the non-culinary member of my household), Bon Appétit has an article on food in Thomas Pynchon’s novels written by Nicole Villeneuve: “All the Food in Thomas Pynchon’s Books (And What It Means, Sorta).” (That said, this article is mighty short, and I cannot imagine that this is all the food in Pynchon’s novels and stories. . . . I bet the Pynchon Wiki would be of help here. Indeed, even just a quick search of “food” in Mason & Dixon [1997] returns over five-hundred hits. I also wonder if anyone has seriously ever tried to make Pirate Prentice’s famous banana breakfast?)

Diplomatic Solution to Syria?

I have refrained from posting about Syria and the US sabre-rattling in response to chemical weapons attacks both because it would probably be hard to miss in the news and because the situation seems a bit too complex to treat in either a short post or by posting a number of links. But it looks like the US, Russia, and Syria have reached a diplomatic solution, at least according to the BBC. I am a bit surprised and considerably relieved to hear this. Having come of age during the 2000s, I thought such middle-of-the-road compromises, whether between the US and other nations, or within the US gov’t itself, were patently impossible. Obviously this is more complicated than being a simple “solution,” but man, it doesn’t sound like the US will be dropping bombs after announcing that it would/might in this instance, and that is certainly something new in my adult life.

More Bleeding Edge Reviews and The Crisis in the Humanities

This month’s issue of Harper’s Magazine has a lengthy and interesting review of Thomas Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge by Joshua Cohen (article link requires subscription), and an interesting take on the crisis in the humanities (something this blog has posted frequently on this last summer) in Thomas Frank’s monthly column, “Easy Chair,” titled, “Course Corrections.” Frank nicely summarizes many of the issues facing humanists and the humanities today, and ends with a fairly bold call: “The world doesn’t need another self-hypnotizing report on why universities exist. What it needs is for universities to stop ruining the lives of their students [financially]. Don’t propagandize for your institutions, professors: Change them. Grab the levers of power and pull.” (On a semi-related note I’m happy to report that my own current department looks like it is doing just that.)