Writer, professor and musician Sheila Liming joins us in Hell! to talk about her recently published book, "Hanging Out: The Radical Power of Killing Time". www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/71726…ila-liming/
Sheila Liming is an associate professor at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont, where she teaches classes on literature, media, and writing. She is the author of two books, What a Library Means to a Woman and Office. Sheila also plays the accordion and bagpipes.
Image: Unknown (artist), Ministry of Aircraft Production (publisher/sponsor), Fosh and Cross Ltd, London (printer), Her Majesty's Stationery Office... read more
In 1131 – (886 years ago) – a Danish prince named Canute Lavard was killed by his cousin Magnus, who viewed him as competition for the Danish throne. Canute was the son and nephew of Danish kings and had been chosen by his uncle, King Niels of Denmark, to establish peace with the Slavic warriors who kept attacking the area of what is now the border between Denmark and Germany. Canute’s success in that assignment made him a contender for kingship, a favorite of the Holy Roman Emperor, and a target of the jealous hatred of Magnus, the son of King Niels. A few years after murdering Canute, Magnus himself would die in battle, still trying to cement his own claim to the throne. Canute, meanwhile, would be canonized as a Roman Catholic saint in 1169.
In 1355 – (662 years ago) – Inês de Castro, the mistress of Crown Prince Pedro of Portugal, was beheaded in front of her own children on orders of Pedro’s father, King Afonso IV. Inês had been a lady-in-waiting to Constança of Castile, Prince Pedro’s lawful wife, whom he had been forced to marry for political reasons. Pedro and Inês became passionate lovers, and after Constança died of childbirth, Pedro went on to have four more children with Inês. But King Afonso still would not let his son marry Inês, since he feared that it would confuse future claims of royal succession, which could escalate into bloody political conflict. Instead, the king sent three courtiers to kill Inês. When the king died two years later, Pedro inherited the throne and had two of the courtiers executed by having their hearts ripped out of their bodies as he watched. Pedro then announced that he and Inês had been secretly married, thus retroactively and posthumously making her queen. On his orders, her body was exhumed, dressed in royal finery, presented to the court, and then given a majestic reburial. In ensuing centuries the story of Inês de Castro would be told in countless works of literature, and would give rise to a conversational expression that persists in Portugal to this day: “Agora é tarde; Inês é morta” — It’s too late, Inês is dead.
In 1948 – (69 years ago) – Captain Thomas Mantell, a twenty-five-year-old Air National Guard pilot and World War II veteran on routine patrol in the skies... read more
Mark wrote the piece The Real Trump for New York Review of Books.
Alexandra is author of Assassin of Youth: A Kaleidoscopic History of Harry J. Anslinger's War on Drugs from University of Chicago Press.
Julianne wrote the article Digital Redlining: How Internet Service Providers Promote Poverty for Truthout.
Jeff is starting off 2017 on a high T note.
2: Hillary on the internet: Feminism, civility and the minefield of online dissent. / Amber A'Lee Frost
5: Don't believe the Russia hype: Who profits from the new Red Scare? / Andrew Cockburn
6: Why the public never bought Hillary's Anti-Social-Democratic agenda. / Liza Featherstone and Doug Henwood
8: On domination, extinction, and capitalism's long history of slaughter. / Ashley Dawson
10: Fuck work: The case against full employment, and for guaranteed income. / James Livingston
Welcome to the Moment of Truth: the thirst that is the drink.
It's important at all times, but especially at such times as these, when tragedy and catastrophe dominate the news, to remember the origins of conflict. Obviously, our understanding of the origins of conflict depend on our point of view. What historical period are we in? Where do we live? What language do we speak? What economic class do we inhabit? What is our social position, and how likely is it to change? And how far back are we willing to go when we look for the origins of conflict?
We might as well begin at the beginning. In the beginning, a spontaneous fluctuation out of nothing created the Big Bang. That may seem to be going a bit farther back than necessary, but maybe not. After all, if we're going to consider root causes, why not consider the root of all roots?
It's a little silly, I guess. Nonetheless, let's see what fruit the tree of silliness bears. We eat the fruit of worse trees every day. Silliness isn't the worst of human crimes.
Immediately after the Big Bang, there was a great deal of heat and expansion. It's possible the heat was so hot it couldn't even be called heat. I'm not even sure what I mean by that but, trust me, odds are there are at least three cosmologists who know what I'm talking about, even if I don't.
Leaving aside heat, then, there was expansion. Expansion, now there's a cause of conflict. And to think it all started with the Big Bang. It's a cosmic principle, expansion. In human terms it's gone by various names: Manifest Destiny, lebensraum, and the popular umbrella, imperialism.
Is it possible that the desire of some groups of humans to control ever larger areas of land can be traced all the way back to the beginning of the universe? No, it's not. See what kind of truth the tree of silliness can bear? We've already debunked a notion that, in the desire to acquire greater territory, humans are channeling a cosmic principle.
The question arises now: why is it even necessary to debunk a doctrine no one holds? I would answer, We've tried debunking doctrines people do hold, and that hasn't worked out at all. We can't even debunk easily disproven lies that the most transparently mendacious people tell. Studies have shown both that people are reluctant to accept new information running counter to their beliefs, and that even when they're open to contrary... read more
In 1944 – (72 years ago) – on the second day of the Battle of the Bulge during World War II, members of a Nazi German combat unit intercepted a US truck convoy near Malmedy, Belgium, took some 120 American troops prisoner, confiscated their weapons, herded them into a field, and mowed them down with machine guns and pistols. Eighty-one soldiers were killed in what became known as the single worst atrocity against US troops in Europe. News of the Malmedy massacre had a major impact in the States, and led to war crimes trials in 1946, in which forty-three German soldiers were sentenced to death and another twenty-two to life in prison. But legal and political disputes over details of the defendants’ arrest and trial eventually led to none of the death sentences being carried out —and by 1956 all the convicted war criminals had been released. One of the German commanders went to live in France, where he received constant death threats. He finally died on Bastille Day 1976, when his house was set on fire by arsonists who were never apprehended, and firefighters arrived to find that their equipment had been sabotaged.
In 1961 – (55 years ago) – In Niterói, Brazil, near Rio de Janeiro, a circus attended by three thousand people went down in a massive fire. The Gran Circus Norte-Americano featured some 60 humans and 150 animals performing inside an enormous tent pitched in the city’s central square. The circus tent was advertised as being made of nylon, but it was actually made of cotton treated with paraffin wax. When fire broke out during a trapeze performance, the flames spread so fast that the whole tent was consumed in five minutes. Some 500 people were killed, including about 350 children.
In 1967 – (49 years ago) – Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt, who had cooperated with US President Lyndon Johnson by sending Australian troops to the war in Vietnam, went for a swim at a beach south of Melbourne that was noted for its often dangerous riptides. Holt, then fifty-nine years of age, was known to be an athletic type and a good swimmer, but he was also suffering from health problems, having collapsed in a parliament session some months earlier. Soon after swimming into the surf, he disappeared under a wave — and before long, Australian police, navy, and air force personnel were out over the ocean in what quickly... read more
Andrew wrote the article The New Red Scare in the December issue of Harper's.
Ed will cover new modes of living, collaborative solidarity and insurgent media but I couldn't fit that in the above headline.
Dan wrote the recent article How Centrists Failed Immigrants for Jacobin.
Viet is author of the book Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War from Harvard University Press.
Michael will take us through the highs and lows of the year in craft beer.
A radical turn from his hammock-bound MOT last week.