Charles Bukowski has a poem where he roundly dismisses the idea that good writing can only occur under ideal conditions. “Baby,” the final stanza reads, “air and light and time and space / have nothing to do with it / and don’t create anything / except maybe a longer life to find / new excuses / for.” Well, sure. Air and light and time and space are useless on their own. But they don’t hurt—and since when was I taking life advice from Bukowski? I didn’t even like Bukowski.
There is a whole complex history behind the trend toward the straight quote in favor of the curly quote, which began with the typewriter but was exacerbated, like many other things in the very late 20th century, by the computer. And while curly quotes are still preferred by editors (and especially book editors, who tend to exhibit ferocious loyalty to the traditions of their rather old trade), the straight quote has become a staple of Internet writing thanks to the complexities of code.
In Baltimore, you can tell a lot about the politics of the person you’re talking with by the word he or she uses to describe the events of April 27, 2015. Some people, and most media outlets, call them the “riots”; some the “unrest.” Guy was among those who always referred to them as the “uprising,” a word that connoted something justifiable and positive: the first step, however tumultuous, toward a freer and fairer city. Policing in Baltimore, Guy and many other residents believed, was broken, with officers serving as an occupying army in enemy territory — harassing African-American residents without cause, breeding distrust and hostility.
In 2016, the United States Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division concurred, releasing a report accusing the city’s Police Department of racial discrimination and excessive force. The city agreed to a “consent decree” with the federal government, a set of policing reforms that would be enforced by a federal judge. When an independent monitoring team was selected to oversee the decree, Guy was hired as its community liaison. This was where she wanted to be: at the forefront of the effort to make her city a better place.
But in the years that followed, Baltimore, by most standards, became a worse place. In 2017, it recorded 342 murders — its highest per-capita rate ever, more than double Chicago’s, far higher than any other city of 500,000 or more residents and, astonishingly, a larger absolute number of killings than in New York, a city 14 times as populous. Other elected officials, from the governor to the mayor to the state’s attorney, struggled to respond to the rise in disorder, leaving residents with the unsettling feeling that there was no one in charge. With every passing year, it was getting harder to see what gains, exactly, were delivered by the uprising.
The latest AI algorithms are probing the evolution of galaxies, calculating quantum wave functions, discovering new chemical compounds and more. Is there anything that scientists do that can’t be automated?
Bell is one of many Indigenous people who are privately and publicly engaged with the restoration of their food cultures, returning to a more traditional diet through activities like sustenance hunting—practices long under threat of eradication but not gone forever.
Indigenous food sovereignty was decimated by design: the separation of people from their historic food systems and land is not a side effect of colonialism but a function of it. Canada’s formation is a history of legislating First Nations, Inuit, and Métis out of existence, including by erasing Indigenous food cultures: the Gradual Civilization Act, the banning of potlatch ceremonies, the signing of treaties that exchanged life-sustaining hunting grounds for farmland, livestock, and pitiful amounts of cash. All of it was designed with the purpose of elimination through assimilation.
Power is the goal, money only the means. But such ravenous ambition must be hidden under a respectable mask—a mask provided by classical music.
It’s so over-the-top that at first it seems like a lark — or, since this is Dworkin, just another example of her resolve to see oppression everywhere. Soon, though, it turns into a more searching exploration of what her confrontational approach might challenge her readers to do. “Not to think about different things,” she writes, “but to think in different ways.”