Walking Europe’s Winds from the Pennines to Provence

Where-the-wild-winds-areJan Morris at Literary Review:

This extraordinary work is a prime example of that contemporary genre, the ex-travel book. Travel writing as such being a bit obsolete now, since so many readers have been everywhere, the form has evolved into something more interpretative or philosophical. Where the Wild Winds Are is a work of this sort – a thoughtful (and perhaps rather too protracted) relation of a journey on foot across half of Europe – and it contains much admirable descriptive writing of the old sort. It is also, however, something far more interesting than most such enterprises: it describes an expedition into the Winds!

The Winds? Yes, four European winds, sometimes with a capital W, sometimes not, into which, one by one, Nick Hunt goes. He wants to experience and explore them all. Each is rich in history, myth, folklore, superstition and effect. Many of us have travelled across Europe, but as far as I know nobody has hitherto so deliberately explored the kingdoms of the great winds. Scientists, geographers, glider pilots, artists, poets and theologians have investigated and commemorated them, but travel writers never before. Hunt immerses himself in those Windlands and manages to give his readers a blast, a sigh, a shiver of each.

He chooses four named winds out of dozens, four being a geographical sort of number. His first and smallest wind, one I have never heard of before, blows across a northwestern corner of England.

more here.


Gary-indianaAndrew Marzoni at The Quarterly Review:

Indiana hails from New Hampshire, and his contributions to the art world, both as artist and critic, are most often associated with New York, where he moved in 1978: putting on plays in the East Village, exhibiting photographs, and working as chief art critic at the Village Voice in the 1980s, a tenure he fictionalized in his debut novel, Horse Crazy (1989), a haunting Death in Venice for the AIDS era. But before living in Manhattan, Indiana—who changed his last name from Hoisington in a spell of “immense naïveté,” he told the New York Observer’s M.H. Miller in 2014—spent years in California, first as a student at the University of California, Berkeley, in the midst of the antiwar movement, and later in Los Angeles. It is from the perspective of an ex-Californian New Yorker not unlike Indiana himself—Seth, a marginally successful gay magazine writer who checks into the Chateau Marmont on a Condé Nast assignment to profile “a famous movie star who’s recently gone out on a limb, in the words of the movie star’s publicist, by appearing as a homosexual with AIDS in a television drama about AIDS”—that the reader is introduced to Indiana’s Los Angeles in Resentment (1997), the first in a trilogy of crime novels that are currently being reissued by Semiotext(e)’s Native Agents imprint. All three novels are literary remediations—or as Indiana calls them, “pastiches”—of high-profile crime dramas first broadcast on Court TV and the nightly news: in Resentment, Lyle and Erik Menendez, who were sentenced to life without parole for the 1989 murder of their parents, are reimagined as Carlos and Felix Martinez; in Three Month Fever, Cunanan becomes the emotional core of the Versace murder; and in 2001’s Depraved Indifference, murderer, grifter, and modern-day slaver Sante Kimes appears as Evangeline Slote, an always-drunk Liz Taylor deadringer known in the guestbooks of roadside motels from Las Vegas to Sacramento as “Evelyn Carson” and “Eva Annamapu,” among other pseudonyms, any one of which may in fact be her legal name.

more here.

Truth? It’s not just about the facts

Snow-605x454Julian Baggini at the TLS:

Philosophers do have something to contribute to this debate. Alain Goldman pretty much invented the field of social epistemology, which investigates social contribution to knowledge, while Miranda Fricker’s work on testimony has clear real-world implications. When residents of Grenfell Tower complained that they had not been listened to, they provided a textbook example of how having access to truth is not enough if you do not have the social standing for your views to receive “uptake” from others. But for the most part, philosophers are not the best people to address people’s uncertainty over whom to trust. Greater scientific literacy, for example, would do more to reveal the truth in the climate change debate than a semester on epistemology.

There is yet another reason why truth is not as plain and simple as snow is white. In the witness box, we all pretty much agree on what makes a claim true and why: a statement is true if and only if it correctly describes real events. In other contexts, however, what we take to warrant a truth claim varies. In neither maths nor science, for example, is truth primarily a matter of accurately describing the physical world as mind-independent reality.

In mathematics, truth attains a kind of Platonic purity and certainty. If a formula or proof is correct, then it is necessarily correct. The truth of mathematics holds independently of what facts might obtain in the world. The laws of physics could change but the maths wouldn’t. That’s why Hume distinguished between the truths of mathematics, which he said involved the “relations of ideas”, with “matters of fact”, truths about the world.

more here.

Leaving “America” Behind

Michelle D. Commander in Avidly:

But even when you cease to be slaves, you are yet far removed from being placed on an equality with the white race. You are cut off from many of the advantages which the other race enjoy. The aspiration of men is to enjoy equality with the best when free, but on this broad continent, not a single man of your race is made the equal of a single man of ours. [Even when you] go where you are treated the best…the ban is still upon you.

–Abraham Lincoln, “Address on Colonization to a Deputation of Negroes,” 1862

Emancipation_MemorialWe are in the midst of an interminable bloody season. In the past few months alone, white domestic terrorists have heaped violence on the unsuspecting at an alarming rate, and even after the recent tragic events in Charlottesville, our elected officials are doing very little to tamp down this upsurge in outwardly expressed supremacism. Their collective failure to name racialized brutality for what it is along with their refusal to work earnestly to defeat it renders complicit each one of them whose sole actions are stale, pedestrian utterances of regret in the aftermath. Americans should not be wholly surprised by such disturbances occurring in our public spaces in such rapid succession. We had every indication of this possibility. Take, for instance, President Trump’s now-infamous question from the campaign trail. “What do [African Americans] have to lose….What the hell do you [African Americans] have to lose?” Trump’s spectacle was an affected performance of a “tell it like it is” posture before a near-white audience; as he feigned a desire to win the Black vote, Trump sarcastically rattled off a list of what he deemed to be African American failures, including the community’s supposed naive faithfulness to the Democratic party.

With a mocking tone, Trump connected Blackness to inherent deficiency, offering a thinly-veiled reinforcement to his base that the Trump/Pence ticket subscribed to notion that somehow African Americans are pathologically irresponsible, impoverished because of their own laziness and lack of grit, and owners of nothing from which it would hurt them to part. The most significant extrapolation from this particular dog whistle and the Trump administration’s contemptible actions thus far is this: Black bodies are the vessels upon which anything can and will continue to occur unabated in the name of upholding white supremacy.

More here.

Survival of the Prettiest

David Dobbs in The New York Times:

DarwinA little over a decade after he published “On the Origin of Species,” in which he described his theory of natural selection shaped by “survival of the fittest,” Darwin published another troublesome treatise — “The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relationship to Sex.” This expanded on an idea he mentioned only briefly in “Origin.” Sometimes, he proposed, in organisms that reproduce by having sex, a different kind of selection occurs: Animals choose mates that are not the fittest candidates available, but the most attractive or alluring. Sometimes, in other words, aesthetics rule. Darwin conceived this idea largely because he found natural selection could not account for the ornaments seen in many animals, especially males, all over the world — the bright buttocks and faces of many monkeys and apes; the white legs and backside of the Banteng bull, in Malaysia; the elaborate feathers and mating dances of countless birds including bee-eaters and bell-birds, nightjars, hummingbirds and herons, gaudy birds of paradise and lurid pheasants, and the peacock, that showboat, whose extravagant tail seems a survival hindrance but so pleases females that well-fanned cocks regularly win their favor. Only a consistent preference for such ornament — in many species, a “choice exerted by the female” — could select for such decoration. This sexual selection,as Darwin called it, this taste for beauty rather than brawn, constituted an evolutionary mechanism separate, independent, and sometimes contrary to natural selection. To Darwin’s dismay, many biologists rejected this theory. For one thing, Darwin’s elevation of sexual selection threatened the idea of natural selection as the one true and almighty force shaping life — a creative force powerful and concentrated enough to displace that of God. And some felt Darwin’s sexual selection gave too much power to all those females exerting choices based on beauty. As the zoologist St. George Jackson Mivart complained in an influential early review of “Descent,” “the instability of vicious feminine caprice” was too soft and slippery a force to drive something as important as evolution.

Darwin’s sexual selection theory thus failed to win the sort of victory that his theory of natural selection did. Ever since, the adaptationist, “fitness first” view of sexual selection as a subset of natural selection has dominated, driving the interpretation of most significant traits. Fancy feathers or (in humans) symmetrical faces have been cast not as instruments of sexual selection, but as “honest signals” of some greater underlying fitness. Meanwhile, the “modern synthesis” of the mid-1900s, which reconciled Darwinian evolution with Mendelian genetics, redefined evolutionary fitness itself not in terms of traits, but as the survival and spread of the individual genes that generated the traits. Genes, rather than traits, became what natural selection selected.

And so things largely remained until now. This summer, however, almost 150 years after Darwin published his sexual selection theory to mixed reception, Richard Prum, a mild-mannered ornithologist and museum curator from Yale, has published a book intended to win Darwin’s sex theory a more climactic victory. With THE EVOLUTION OF BEAUTY (Doubleday, $30), Prum, drawing on decades of study, hundreds of papers, and a lively, literate, and mischievous mind, means to prove an enriched version of Darwin’s sexual selection theory and rescue evolutionary biology from its “tedious and limiting adaptationist insistence on the ubiquitous power of natural selection.” He feels this insistence has given humankind an impoverished, even corrupted view of evolution in general, and in particular of how evolution has shaped sexual relations and human culture.

More here.

Amitava Kumar’s “The Lovers” is an ‘in-between’ book, containing elements of both fiction and non-fiction

Vineet Gill in The Guardian:

ScreenHunter_2831 Sep. 22 20.28The narrator of V.S. Naipaul’s 1987 novel, The Enigma of Arrival, is a man twice displaced—first by forces of history and then by the drive of ambition. India, the home of his ancestors, has no real meaning for him since he has never lived there. His childhood home, Trinidad, he had abandoned years ago, seeking a better alternative, better suited to his idea of the writer’s life, in the West. And after having spent two decades in London as a writer of some renown, he has now moved to Wiltshire in the English countryside, hoping to find another, more hospitable home. To be “a man in tune with the seasons and his landscape”, he says, is “…an especially happy condition”. But do writers have any use for this at-homeness that Naipaul’s narrator pines for?
At its core, Amitava Kumar’s new novel, The Lovers, is an attempt to address some version of that question. The novel’s protagonist, Kailash, is an immigrant in 1990s America—a college student with an eye on an academic career, as well as an apprentice writer trying, in the usual Naipaulean vein, to find his subject and voice. America makes him feel like an outsider. It is always, he writes, “someone else’s country”. As for India, it acquires a special place in memory, a distant dream accessible only through stories and legends, through aerogrammes and international calls, through self-cooked meals and kitschy American adverts featuring images of the Taj Mahal or of Gandhi.
“For so many years,” Kailash tells us at the beginning of his narrative, “the idea of writing has meant for me recognising and even addressing a division in my life: the gap between India, the land of my birth, and the US, where I came as a young adult.” So the deracinated writer refuses to choose between the two subjects of home and away, mining his material rather in that culturally-rich divide that lies somewhere in the middle.
It’s not much use stressing the point that the trajectory of Kailash’s life—especially his journey from India to America—mirrors that of Kumar’s. Naipaul was pulling a similar trick in The Enigma of Arrival, which, for all its autobiographical conceits, teasingly carries the tagline “A Novel” on its cover (as does The Lovers, by the way). What’s important is that both these books remind us, each in its own way, that in literature, ambiguities are always more welcome, and more resonant than certitudes.
More here.

From galaxies far far away

Press release of the Pierre Auger Collaboration:

2017-09_dipoleIn a paper to be published in Science on 22 September, the Pierre Auger Collaboration reports observational evidence demonstrating that cosmic rays with energies a million times greater than that of the protons accelerated in the Large Hadron Collider come from much further away than from our own Galaxy. Ever since the existence of cosmic rays with individual energies of several Joules1 was established in the 1960s, speculation has raged as to whether such particles are created there or in distant extragalactic objects. The 50 year-old mystery has been solved using cosmic particles of mean energy of 2 Joules recorded with the largest cosmic-ray observatory ever built, the Pierre Auger Observatory in Argentina. It is found that at these energies the rate of arrival of cosmic rays is ~6% greater from one half of the sky than from the opposite one, with the excess lying 120˚ away from the Galactic centre.

In the view of Professor Karl-Heinz Kampert (University of Wuppertal), spokesperson for the Auger Collaboration, which involves over 400 scientists from 18 countries, "We are now considerably closer to solving the mystery of where and how these extraordinary particles are created, a question of great interest to astrophysicists. Our observation provides compelling evidence that the sites of acceleration are outside the Milky Way". Professor Alan Watson (University of Leeds), emeritus spokesperson, considers this result to be "one of the most exciting that we have obtained and one which solves a problem targeted when the Observatory was conceived by Jim Cronin and myself over 25 years ago".

Cosmic rays are the nuclei of elements from hydrogen (the proton) to iron. Above 2 Joules the rate of their arrival at the top of the atmosphere is only about 1 per sq km per year, equivalent to one hitting the area of a football pitch about once per century. Such rare particles are detectable because they create showers of electrons, photons and muons through successive interactions with the nuclei in the atmosphere.

More here. [Thanks to Sean Carroll.]


Andy Fitch in the Los Angeles Review of Books:

Img_8398This conversation focuses on Josiah Ober’s books The Rise and Fall of Classical Greece, Democracy and Knowledge: Innovation and Learning in Classical Athens, and Political Dissent in Democratic Athens: Intellectual Critics of Popular Rule. Ober, Mitsotakis Professor of Political Science and Classics at Stanford University, focuses on the contemporary relevance of the political thought and practice of the ancient Greek world. From probing the complicated (and intellectually generative) social status of economically powerful yet politically marginalized elites, to prioritizing democratic-tending Athens’s distinct capacities for producing/sharing both practical and specialized fields of knowledge, to reconceptualizing the commercial prowess and relatively egalitarian distribution of wealth across ancient Greece’s diversified macro-ecology, Ober consistently has prompted new methods for rethinking when, how, and why dialogue might open up eudaimonic possibilities within the lives of its participants. And even as these methods have received praise across numerous academic disciplines, Ober never has lost his deft touch for showing why our own ever-provisional democratic culture (both inside and outside the academy) ought continually to look to classical precedent as one practical means for engaging the most pressing social questions of the present. Ober’s latest book Demopolis: Democracy before Liberalism in Theory and Practice, recently published by Cambridge University Press, will be the subject of a sequent conversation.

More here.

the addict’s life

3b1402d4-947f-11e7-8177-dcdb1e4e95ab4-800x537Eric J. Ianelli at the TLS:

Years ago, in what now seems like another life, a friend said to me, “Your entire existence can be reduced to a three-part cycle. One: Get fucked up. Two: Fuck up. Three: Damage control”. We hadn’t known each other very long, probably two months at most, and yet he had already witnessed enough of my regular blackout drinking, just one of the more obvious manifestations of addiction’s self-perpetuating vortex, to have got my number. With a wry smile, he went on to hypothesize more generally – and, I suspect, only half-jokingly – that addicts are bored or frustrated problem-solvers who instinctively contrive Houdini-like situations from which to disentangle themselves when no other challenge happens to present itself. The drug becomes the reward when they succeed and the consolation prize when they fail.

There is a recognizable and rueful truth to that. A lifetime spent in my own ambivalent company and more than two decades alongside others in recovery has shown me that the addictive mind is naturally busy and likes to stay that way, even (or especially) when repeated attempts are made to switch it off. When the illness is running full tilt, with all the strategizing, debating, rationalizing, formulating and cajoling that entails, the mind finally has enough activity to keep itself occupied. But what makes addiction so all-consuming – “a species of madness”, in Coleridge’s words – is its physical component. The addict’s body and brain, at once diplomats and double agents, work both collaboratively and antagonistically to create an unwavering impetus towards a single self-destructive end. When the brain can no longer justify pursuing the addictive release, the body positively yearns for it; and when the body declares itself utterly spent, the brain obsesses until it has no choice but to oblige.

more here.

rejecting Modernity

4729Mark Boyle at The Guardian:

Big picture aside, most of what afflicts us today – cancer, obesity, mental illness, diabetes, stress, auto-immune disorders, heart disease, along with those slow killers: meaninglessness, clock-watching and loneliness – are industrial ailments. We create stressful, toxic, unhealthy lifestyles fuelled by sugar, caffeine, tobacco, antidepressants, adrenaline, discontent, energy drinks and fast food, and then defend the political ideology that got us hooked on these things in the first place. Our sedentary jobs further deplete our physical, emotional and mental wellbeing, but instead of honestly addressing the root cause of the illness we exert ever more effort, energy, genius and money trying to treat the symptoms and contain the epidemics.

on writing and gender

Anne-Enright-007Anne Enright at the London Review of Books:

In 2015, the novelist Catherine Nichols sent the opening pages of the book she was working on to fifty literary agents. She got so little response she decided to shift gender and try as ‘George’ instead. The difference amazed her. ‘A third of the agents who saw his query wanted to see more, where my numbers never did shift from one in 25.’ The words, as written by George, had an appeal that Catherine could only envy. She also, perhaps, felt a little robbed. ‘He is eight and a half times better than me at writing the same book.’

This was hardly a scientific study, but it is tempting to join her in concluding that men and women are read differently, even when they write the same thing. If a man writes ‘The cat sat on the mat’ we admire the economy of his prose; if a woman does we find it banal. If a man writes ‘The cat sat on the mat’ we are taken by the simplicity of his sentence structure, its toughness and precision. We understand the connection between ‘cat’ and ‘mat’, sense the grace of the animal, admire the way the percussive monosyllables sharpen the geometrics of the mat beneath. If the man is an Irish writer we ask if the cat is Pangúr Ban, the monk’s cat from the ninth-century poem of that name – the use of assonance surely points to the Gaelic tradition – in which case the mat is his monk’s cell, a representation of the life of the mind, its comforts and delineations.

more here.

A Novelist’s Powerful Response to the Refugee Crisis

James Wood in The New Yorker:

RefugeeEarlier this summer, my family spent a week in an Italian village near Menton, just over the border that Italy shares with southern France. Dry hills, the azure Mediterranean, scents of rosemary and lavender, a lemon tree in the garden. Well, lucky us. Daily, we crossed the border into France and back again into Italy. We didn’t have to stop, and the listless border guards barely glanced at our respectable little hired car, with its four white occupants. They were a good deal more interested in the African migrants, who gathered with persistent hopelessness on the Italian side of the border, just a few feet from the guard post. We saw the young men everywhere in that Italian hinterland—usually in groups of two or three, walking along the road, climbing the hills, sitting on a wall. They were tall, dark-skinned, conspicuous because they were wearing too many clothes for the warm Riviera weather. We learned that they had made their way to Italy from various African countries and were now desperate to get into France, either to stay there or to push on farther, to Britain and Germany. “You might see them in the hills,” the genial woman who gave us the key to our house said. “Nothing to be alarmed about. There have been no problems—yet.” Near that house, there was a makeshift sign, in Arabic and English: “Migrants, please do not throw your garbage into the nature. Use the plastic bags you see on the private road.”

I had read moving articles and essays about the plight of people like these—I had read several of those pieces out loud to my children; I had watched terrible reports from the BBC, and the almost unbearable Italian documentary “Fire at Sea.” And so what? What good are the right feelings if they are only right feelings? I was just a moral flaneur. From inside my speeding car, I regarded those men with compassion, shame, indignation, curiosity, profound ignorance, all of it united in a conveniently vague conviction that, as Edward VIII famously said of mass unemployment in the nineteen-thirties, “something must be done.” But not so that it would disturb my week of vacation. I am like some “flat” character in a comic novel, who sits every night at the dinner table and repetitively, despicably intones, without issue or effect, “This is the central moral question of our time.” And, of course, such cleansing self-reproach is merely part of liberalism’s dance of survival. It’s not just that we are morally impotent; the continuation of our comfortable lives rests on the continuation—on the success—of that impotence. We see suffering only intermittently, and our days make safe spaces for these interruptions.

Jenny Erpenbeck’s magnificent novel “Go, Went, Gone” (New Directions, translated from the German by Susan Bernofsky) is about “the central moral question of our time,” and among its many virtues is that it is not only alive to the suffering of people who are very different from us but alive to the false consolations of telling “moving” stories about people who are very different from us. Erpenbeck writes about Richard, a retired German academic, whose privileged, orderly life is transformed by his growing involvement in the lives of a number of African refugees—utterly powerless, unaccommodated men, who have ended up, via the most arduous routes, in wealthy Germany. The risks inherent in making fiction out of the encounter between privileged Europeans and powerless dark-skinned non-Europeans are immense: earnestness without rigor, the mere confirmation of the right kind of political “concern,” sentimental didacticism. A journey of transformation, in which the white European is spiritually renewed, almost at the expense of his darkly exotic subjects, is familiar enough from German Romanticism; you can imagine a contemporary version, in which the novelist traffics in the most supple kind of self-protective self-criticism. “Go, Went, Gone” is not that kind of book.

More here.

Alternative splicing, an important mechanism for cancer

From Phys.Org:

CancerCancer, which is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, arises from the disruption of essential mechanisms of the normal cell life cycle, such as replication control, DNA repair and cell death. Thanks to the advances in genome sequencing techniques, biomedical researchers have been able to identify many of the genetic alterations that occur in patients that are common among and between tumor types. But until recently, only mutations in DNA were thought to cause cancer. In a new study published in the journal Cell Reports, researchers show that alterations in a process known as alternative splicing may also trigger the disease.

Although DNA is the instruction manual for cell growth, maturation, division, and even death, it's proteins that actually carry out the work. The production of proteins is a highly regulated and complex mechanism: cellular machinery reads the DNA fragment that makes up a gene, transcribes it into RNA and, from the RNA, makes proteins. However, each gene can lead to several RNA molecules through alternative splicing, an essential mechanism for multiple biological processes that can be altered in disease conditions. Using data for more than 4,000 from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA project), a team led by Eduardo Eyras, ICREA research professor at the Department for Experimental and Health Sciences of the Pompeu Fabra University (DCEXS-UPF), has analyzed the changes in alternative splicing that occur in each tumor patient and studied how these changes could impact the function of genes. The results of the study show that alternative splicing changes lead to a general loss of functional domains, and particularly those domains related to functions that are also affected by in patients.

More here.

Friday Poem

What Makes a Poem

The barley
and the manner of its malting
its standing up to the wind
its sprouting and drying
its gradual ripening

The water
and the manner of its flowing
traces of peat and mineral
its floral and honey notes

The mash tun
and the manner of the yeasting
where malt and water mix
starch turning to sugar
the draining of the wort

The still
and the manner of its tending
its shape, column or pot,
the ancient skill of the coppersmith

The cask
and the manner of its keeping
the flavors of the wood
the subtle art of the cooper
its tempering of sublimities

and the manner of its passing
of its passing

The maltmaster
and the manner of his knowing
the manner of his loving
the grain, the water, the copper, the wood,
and the slow ferment of years.

by David Solway
from Canadian Poetry Online

Yuval Noah Harari, visionary historian, author of two dazzling bestsellers on the state of mankind, takes questions from Lucy Prebble, Arianna Huffington, Esther Rantzen and a selection of Guardian readers

Andrew Anthony in The Guardian:

ScreenHunter_2828 Sep. 21 23.37Last week, on his Radio 2 breakfast show, Chris Evans read out the first page of Sapiens, the book by the Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari. Given that radio audiences at that time in the morning are not known for their appetite for intellectual engagement – the previous segment had dealt with Gary Barlow’s new tour – it was an unusual gesture. But as Evans said, “the first page is the most stunning first page of any book”.

If DJs are prone to mindless hyperbole, this was an honourable exception. The subtitle of Sapiens, in an echo of Stephen Hawking’s great work, is A Brief History of Humankind. In grippingly lucid prose, Harari sets out on that first page a condensed history of the universe, followed by a summary of the book’s thesis: how the cognitive revolution, the agricultural revolution and the scientific revolution have affected humans and their fellow organisms.

It is a dazzlingly bold introduction, which the remainder of the book lives up to on almost every page. Although Sapiens has been widely and loudly praised, some critics have suggested that it is too sweeping. Perhaps, but it is an intellectual joy to be swept along.

It’s one of those books that can’t help but make you feel smarter for having read it. Barack Obama and Bill Gates have undergone that experience, as have many others in the Davos crowd and Silicon Valley. The irony, perhaps, is that one of the book’s warnings is that we are in danger of becoming an elite-dominated global society.

More here.

How Communists and Catholics Built a Commonwealth


Nathan Schneider in America:

Boulder, Colo., is a town full of characters, and Richard Warner was one of them. Dr. Warner—a psychiatrist, anthropologist and transplanted Englishman, with ruddy cheeks and wavy hair—held a particularly zealous conviction that any patient with mental illness could recover and, further, that the best medicine is living as normal a life as possible. He could not tolerate any clinical ambition he perceived to be short of that. He wanted to care for people in a way that did not seem to add up, business-wise—at least until he borrowed an idea from Italy.

Dr. Warner died in 2015. His chief legacy is a company, Colorado Recovery, that provides services in the Boulder community to adults with serious mental illness. It is housed mainly in an office on a residential street, its Ionic columns and white fences tucked behind a pair of trees along the sidewalk. Some of the 150-or-so clients it serves in a given year live in a group home a short walk away. Other companies have wanted to buy Colorado Recovery over the years; some still call and make offers. But by the time of his death, Dr. Warner transferred ownership and control of Colorado Recovery to its employees, along with some families of its clients, who hold non-voting investor shares. The clients have a budget to design their own services. Dr. Warner knew that no buyer—whether an aggressive holding company or a well-intentioned nonprofit—would run it the way he had, so he turned it into a cooperative.

“It’s a very unusual for-profit model,” says Ruth Arnold, Colorado Recovery’s chief executive officer. “It’s not really profit-driven. We’re charging as much as we need to survive.”

Dr. Warner’s widow, Lucy Warner, summarizes the model this way: “It’s sort of where radical and duh come together.”

Colorado Recovery’s structure is an anomaly in the U.S. health care industry, but it was an outgrowth of something larger and older.

More here.

Back in 1982 I was dealing acid at Jim Morrison’s grave and that’s when I first met Vladimir Putin

From Daily Kos:

VladbeforeAnd yeah, he always had “that look…” That way of staring straight through you into some faraway, unknowable beyond. It was there when I first saw him, but nothing compared to what he looked like when we said goodbye. That’s the story I’m going to tell you now: I’ll try to keep it short.

I forget how the idea of selling acid at Jim Morrison’s grave first occurred to me, but when it did it seemed like a pretty good one. Turned out it was too – it only took about a week and a half hanging out in Pere LaChaise to finance my next three months in Europe. I bought two sheets of blotter on Telegraph and mailed it a friend in Paris accordionned inside a cassette mailed with a bunch of other cassettes. It was decent, garden variety blotter, and I called it “Electric Warrior” because that was the T-Rex cassette I sent it in. Between the market forces of supply, demand, and relative strengths of the Franc, Dollar and various Kroner at the time, I was able to pull in close to a thousand percent profit and still be offering a good deal to the stream of quiet Scandinavians who flowed through to pay their respects to the Lizard King. When they’d ask “Where’s it from?” I’d say “Berkeley”and their eyes would go wide and they’d repeat the word “Berkeley” like it was Xanadu.

So anyway, it was something like my third day on the job and along with the Norwegians, Danes and Swedes there’s this quiet Russian dude with a guitar, Vladimir, who’s there to pay his respects like the rest of us. Although he wasn’t interested in my product, when he found out I was from San Francisco he got really animated and wanted to hear everything I could tell him about it – the music especially. I guess like a lot of people he thought it was just 1967 forever by the bay with the Airplane and the Dead still playing in the park… I told him about the handful of Dead shows I’d seen, and he got a far off look and said “Just to see Jerry…Y’know? Just to be there and see his fingers and lips moving and hear the music at the same time… Man…” he sighed. “Hey now,” I said, “it’ll happen.” He just shook his head in that way people do when there’s just too much to explain. Vlad was like that a lot.

More here.