Best political essays 2009

But if that turns out not to be politically feasible, we may have start contemplating more drastic fixes. In terms of deploying aerosol injections, this is both blessing and curse. On the one hand, it means that any experimental deployment could be halted quickly if unforeseen consequences arose, and the effects would be short-lived.

On the other hand, once a decision was made to continue, there would be no turning back—not for a thousand years, at least. As CO2 concentrations continued to climb, any interruption in maintenance of the atmospheric dust veil would lead to very rapid warming and a potentially crippling shock to the planet. In " Aquacalypse Now " The New Republic, September 28 , Daniel Pauly shows how governments continue to subsidize their fishing industries, even as they deplete the stocks of one species after another.

At this rate we can expect the stocks of all commercial fish to collapse—taking the marine ecosystems around the world with them. Instead of restricting its catches so that fish can reproduce and maintain their populations, the industry has simply fished until a stock is depleted and then moved on to new or deeper waters, and to smaller and stranger fish.

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And, just as a Ponzi scheme will collapse once the pool of potential investors has been drained, so too will the fishing industry collapse as the oceans are drained of life. Finally, in " See Baby Discriminate " Newsweek, September 5 , which draws on a chapter of their book NurtureShock , Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman look at numerous studies that show that children naturally notice and form assumptions on the basis of racial distinctions. They argue that our general reluctance to talk about race simply allows children to form their own—often disturbing—conclusions.

Rather than teaching children that race does not matter, our silence only teaches them that the subject is something we can't talk about. Shushing children when they make an improper remark is an instinctive reflex, but often the wrong move.

What made Michel de Montaigne the first modern man?

Prone to categorization, children's brains can't help but attempt to generalize rules from the examples they see. It's embarrassing when a child blurts out, "Only brown people can have breakfast at school," or "You can't play basketball; you're white, so you have to play baseball. When adults are challenged to behave like adults, by a child, they can go in one of two directions. Big Think Edge For You.

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Here's what parents should know. When he died, at fifty-nine, he was still revising and, apparently, not at all surprised, since Myself was a protean creature, impossible to anticipate but also, being always at hand, impossible to ignore.

I like to think of the essays as a kind of thriller, with Myself, the elusive prey, and Montaigne, the sleuth, locked in a battle of equals who were too close for dissimulation and too smart for satisfaction. And it may be that Montaigne did, too, because he often warned his readers that nothing he wrote about himself was likely to apply for much longer than it took the ink he used, writing it, to dry.

He was wrong. News of the essays travelled fast.

On the Currency of Egalitarian Justice, and Other Essays in Political Philosophy

The first known English translation, by an exuberantly prolific language tutor named John Florio, went on sale in London at the turn of the seventeenth century, in time for Shakespeare to buy a copy. Thirty years later, the Oxford professor M. Screech did the same for Britain. I admit to tweaking a few of the English quotes, in the spirit of competition and interpretation. You could call them the autobiography of a mind, but they made no claim to composing the narrative of a life, only of the shifting preoccupations of their protagonist in an ongoing conversation with the Greek and Roman writers on his library shelves—and, of course, with himself.

How Gorillaz Makes a Political Statement

In fact, he went to the best parties in the neighborhood. He corresponded with beautiful, educated women who read his drafts. But he never forswore women or, for that matter, the thrill of watching a good battle, or any of the other indulgences of his class. He left his tower in for a year of travelling. Two years later, he agreed to a second term.


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And if Montaigne did not take sides in those wars, it may be that he thought of them as a family matter, which in a way they were. Authors are, of course, sneaky. His evasions are legendary. He writes a great deal about the tyranny of laws but nothing about his fourteen years as a magistrate or his four years as a mayor, or even about his response, as mayor, to the plague that struck Bordeaux toward the end of his second term, leaving a third of the population dead.

He fled. Montaigne, at the time, was thirty-two and, he says, ready to be a dutiful and respectful husband. As for his mother, he alludes to her twice, but only in passing.

Chinua Achebe’s Encounters With Many Hearts of Darkness

Her name was Antoinette Louppes de Villeneuve. She came from a far-flung merchant clan, similar to the Montaignes in wealth and influence, but with the notable exception that, while the Montaignes were then solidly and safely Catholic, some of the Louppes were Protestant, and the family themselves were Sephardic conversos from Saragossa, where their name was Lopez de Villanueva. She arrived at the castle a reluctant bride of sixteen, to marry Pierre Eyquem, an eccentric but apparently exemplary chatelain and a future mayor of Bordeaux himself , and, once having settled her duty to her children by bearing them, she was attached mainly to herself.

For him, the subject of Protestants and Jews who had been barred from practicing their religion in France since the end of the fourteenth century seems to have been, at most, food for his meditations on the absurdities of persecution and the fatal distractions of disharmony. But, when it came to seeing an old Jew herded naked through the streets of Rome, he remained a reporter—curious, compassionate, but not particularly disturbed.

He did not expect much better from the world.

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Relatives, to his mind, were accidents of birth, consideration, and proximity. The genealogy that interested him was the genealogy of thought. He was far more interested in thinking about religion with the Sophists and Skeptics in his library than he was in the part that religion, even his own Catholicism, played in him.

For all that, he was a passionate traveller. His search for the spa that would cure his kidney stones—the disease had killed his father and would eventually help kill him—took him to Switzerland, Austria, and Germany. His love of the classics took him to Italy. He prowled the ghetto, visiting a synagogue, watching a circumcision, and happily cross-examining the rabbi. By the end of his visit he had met the Pope and was made an honorary Roman citizen. Today, we would call him a gentleman ethnographer, more enchanted than alarmed by the bewildering variety of human practices.

The only things I find rewarding if anything is are variety and the enjoyment of diversity.