September 20, 2020
In February, Fenomenos do Semba, an Angolan dance studio, posted a video of members line dancing to the track while carrying their plates of food and eating. The video gave the song a whole new lease of life as a pan-African African pop anthem. The Angolan clip kicked off the #JerusalemaDanceChallenge across the continent and soon beyond from nuns and monks in France, to a bridal party in Zimbabwe, and a flash mob in Germany–How South Africa’s “Jerusalema” became a pan-African hit, then a global dance favorite by Norma Young. Here is the video for Master KG’s and Nomcebo’s Jerusalema, and here is Burna Boy’s remix. [via Chisomo Kalinga, PhD]
"Judicial supremacy" -- the idea that the courts, and the Supreme Court in particular -- have the final word on constitutional law and popular rights, is a disputed idea. Former Stanford Law Dean Larry Kramer has argued for years that the founders understood that "the people, themselves" ultimately must exert democratic control over the Court; Lincoln took the same view. Kramer views the brief flowering of the Warren Court as seducing liberals to defer to the traditionally conservative SCOTUS; Larry Tribe disagrees. Debate over the rule of the Court means a relook at its power is gaining adherents both left and right. One enduring proposal is that the Court should fundamentally be focused on strengthening democracy, while ceding control in other areas. At the moment, that's not going great.
A chicken wing is actually three conjoined parts and their popularity in the US is more recent than you might think. Calvin Trillin's Short History of the Buffalo Chicken Wing runs to nearly 3000 words. In July, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo was thought to have said that chicken wings are not substantive food (he did not). Buffalo rebelled, a little (lulzy insta song).
The man who "almost married" Princess Margaret, who saved Prime Minister John Diefenbaker from drowning, who served in what could arguably be called one of the most politically talented federal Cabinets in Canadian history (the Cabinet of Prime Minister Lester Pearson that included three future prime ministers--Pierre Trudeau, Jean Chrétien and John Turner and other political heavyweights such as Allan MacEachen, Mitchell Sharp and Judy LaMarsh) and who will known as one of Canada' shortest-serving prime ministers has died. Prime Minster John Turner was 91. [more inside]
In her new book If Then, Jill Lepore examines how the Simulmatics Corporation, launched during the Cold War, mined data, targeted voters, manipulated consumers, and destablised politics, decades before Facebook, Google, and Cambridge Analytica. Read her New Yorker article on the subject and listen to her interview on Talking Politics. [more inside]
Madeline McIntosh and the Rise of Penguin Random House. "After a steep drop at the start of the pandemic, book sales not only recovered but surged. Unit sales of print books are up nearly 6 percent over last year...and e-book and digital audiobook sales have risen by double digits. Reading, it turns out, is an ideal experience in quarantine...."People were watching a lot of Netflix, but then they needed a break...” Ms. McIntosh said. “A book is the most uniquely, beautifully designed product to have with you in lockdown.” [more inside]
"One Hundred Sentences About the City of the Future: A Jeremiad" by Alex Irvine (2008) and "Reliable People" by Charlie Jane Anders (March 2020) depict future elections, including personal media feeds, aliens, and Humans of Distributed Network Origin. And: in October 2018, Mozilla invited two speculative fiction authors to describe elections in the future. "Hello, I’m Your Election" by Genevieve Valentine (caution: dark) and "Candidate Y" by Malka Older (audio for both) take different approaches to integrating data mining and Q&A into voting processes. [more inside]
Everyone has a Tom Pritchard story. Only I have his bike. "I’ve called it mine, but that’s not exactly accurate. I didn’t buy it. Maybe it belongs to the universe. I feel like it found me. And that’s this story. The bike came to me by death, but this is a story about a life, one life, really lived."