Audible’s assault on leisure time


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“My writing time needs to surround itself with empty stretches,” the poet Maxine Kumin once wrote in an essay about how caring for her horses made her work possible, providing “the mindless suspension of doing simple, repetitive tasks—mucking out, refilling water buckets, raking sawdust—that allows those free-associative leaps out of which a poem may occasionally come.” The “empty stretches” are enforced by busyness but uncompressed by the pursuit of efficiency; farm work has “no beginning and no apparent end,” and within it the poet’s “contentment in isolation” can expand. I don’t have a barn full of horses, but I’m attempting to take more dog-walks in silence. Instead of doing chores, I’ve been listening to audiobooks while lying in bed—which takes far longer than silent reading, especially when my thoughts wander and I have to rewind. Right now, that torpor is what I like most. I think it’s good for me to waste some time.

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Nora Caplan-Bricker — The Baffler

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Wild Wild Country’s white American provincialism


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The other side of the story.

Yet by framing Rajneeshpuram as a “sex cult” without this historical context, Wild Wild Country elides the fact that plenty of middle-class Indians had the same reaction to the “sex cult” as did citizens of Antelope. Not only that, we also miss out on a crucial irony: that India’s first godless and capitalist guru merely claimed to be a religious teacher for U.S. immigration purposes. Even worse, Wild Wild Countryremoves the capitalist-elitist substrate of the “material spirituality” Rajneesh espoused. Always a smooth operator, Rajneesh tracked his newspaper and magazine coverage, and though his lectures were designed to outrage the Indian masses (in order to ramp up publicity), he often appealed to elite venues such as the Rotary Club and the “cocktail circuit” of Mumbai.

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Noopur Raval & Phalguni Desai — The Baffler

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Why maternal mortality is an oddly American phenomenon


A new study recording a spike in maternal mortality rates in the state of Texas provides a case in point. Published in Birth, and documenting a jump of 87 percent for the years 2011-2015, it has led media analysts to focus on the consequences of funding cuts to reproductive services in states restricting access to abortion. Rightly so: it is estimated that in Texas, where this has been particularly successful, between 1.7 and 4.1 percent of women have tried to self-induce an abortion, attempts that can have serious— sometimes fatal—consequences.

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Helen Charman — The Baffler

Citizen Zuckerberg


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Another interesting piece speculating Zuckerberg as a 2020 presidential candidate. Trump election has done one thing for sure – Anyone is game for becoming the POTUS. 4 years of campaign is more than enough. But, how will it be like to have the CEO as the POTUS.

Lest this sound like hyperbolic alarmism, consider how far CEOs have already come. For the CEO of Exxon Mobil to become Secretary of State was once unthinkable. Not anymore. And let’s be honest: being the CEO of Exxon Mobil gives one superb experience at negotiating U.S. interests (at least the Realpolitik ones) with foreign governments. Being CEO at a top investment bank, hedge fund, or private equity firm is now the primary pipeline to become treasury secretary. Is this perhaps because the two jobs are rather similar? As much as commerce secretary, the modern cabinet position reliably staffed by a CEO, is a joke, it has come to the point where every White House cabinet position, even the presidency itself, is directly staffable by a CEO. Let the cabinet and the presidency itself be filled by commerce secretaries; after all, the business of America is business.

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David V. Johnson — The Baffler

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