Obama's Quick Ascension
Since taking the helm of The New Yorker in 1998, David Remnick has returned the magazine to its profitable glory days. A graduate of Princeton University, he began his journalistic career as a night police reporter at the Washington Post in 1982, becoming the paper's Moscow correspondent in 1988. His coverage of the Soviet Union's collapse led to his Pulitzer Prize-winning 1993 book "Lenin's Tomb." His latest book "The Bridge," is a biography of President Barack Obama. He lives in New York with his wife, Esther Fein, and their three children.
David\r\n\r\n Remnick: Like most people who don’t live in the South Side of \r\nChicago or in Illinois, the first time that I ever heard of him was when\r\n he was running for Senate. And we were looking at The New Yorker for \r\ninteresting Senate, Congressional and state house races to write about \r\nin addition to the presidential race and somebody mentioned this guy, \r\nBarack Obama, that he was interesting and he was quite possibly going to\r\n win and it was a state where all kinds of bizarre things were happening\r\n in that Senate race. Remember the first real great event was his big \r\ndemocratic opponent, Blair Hall, disappeared from the race because of \r\nhis divorce records were opened up and that wasn’t a fine spectacle at \r\nall. And then, of course, there was this big speech. But Obama comes on \r\nthe scene in 2004, and unless you’re a real Illinois political nut, and \r\nhe gave that speech and I went to the Boston convention in the summer of\r\n 2004, and was pretty damned good, he was even better on television. He \r\nhad really learned that fine art of giving a speech to a big crowd and \r\nyet, not over projecting so that it would come off as shouting on \r\ntelevision. So he was really developing his talents in 2004. But I got \r\nto tell you, there’s no way in the world I thought he would be a \r\nPresidential candidate in 2008, much less a successful one.
Question:\r\n Where did the “Joshua Generation” article come from?
David\r\n\r\n Remnick: Well, we wanted to put out an issue of The New Yorker just\r\n after the election. It was pretty clear that Obama was going to win and\r\n there were going to be four or five big pieces. David Grann, Ryan \r\nLizza, were among the writers in that issue. I wanted to write about \r\nrace. And I had written a fair amount about race in my time as a \r\njournalist and Ryan was interested in other things and Grann was going \r\nto write about McCain. And I had written a biography of Muhammad Ali and\r\n knew my way a little bit around the South side of Chicago because that \r\nwas part of the Ali geography, and politics. And I sort of took that on\r\n and I was intrigued by the speech that Obama gave in March, 2007, just \r\nafter he announced for the Presidency. In Selma, Alabama, at the \r\ncommemoration of the great, you know, Bloody Sunday events and the march\r\n from Selma to Montgomery, and he declared—first of all he gave his \r\ngreat thanks to what he called the Moses generation; the Moses \r\ngeneration being the Civil Rights Generation. The generation that gave \r\nso much opportunity to people that were coming down the line that \r\nsucceeded on the Civil Rights Act, on voting rights, on breaking open \r\naccess to institutions like institutions of higher learning that Obama \r\nbenefited from. After all, he went to nothing but elite institutions: \r\nOccidental, Columbia, Harvard Law School. This would not have been \r\npossible without the Moses Generation and even that which went before \r\nit.
Then he declares himself the head of the Joshua Generation, \r\nhis generation, people in their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, who benefited from \r\nthese elders. And he does this incredibly ballsy thing. He says, “I’m \r\nthe leader of the Joshua Generation,” and he goes right after the \r\nAfrican-American vote because if you remember, Hillary Clinton, the \r\nClintons, thought they had a pretty good purchase on the \r\nAfrican-American vote because of their long associations. And Obama was \r\nchallenging them.
Question: Was it inevitable that \r\nObama would win the African-American vote?
David Remnick:\r\n Well, first of all, in order to get the Democratic nomination for the \r\npresidency, the African-American vote is a very big deal. You have to \r\npursue that vote and pursue it hard. Not in Iowa, of course, where there\r\n aren’t very many, but elsewhere down the line. Obama could not assume \r\nthat vote was his. Remember, who knew who Barack Obama was at that \r\npoint? Very few people, really insiders, people who had watched one \r\nspeech from him some time ago. He had to really pursue it. The Clintons \r\ndidn’t assume that they would win it, but they had a real historical \r\npurchase on it. They had associations certainly with lots and lots of \r\nblack leaders from around the country, after all, he had been President \r\nfor eight years, they had done a lot of time in black churches and black\r\n groups. There was a real relationship there. There were a lot of \r\nloyalties. And a lot of members of the Civil Rights generation and \r\npeople of that generation, media, show business, and in business, people\r\n who were going to be donating money, had long associations with the \r\nClintons. Somebody like Vernon Jordan and people who ran BET. So Obama \r\ncouldn’t just jump in and by dative of his being African-American assume\r\n he was going to get that vote. He had to go out and win it.
He \r\ngoes to Iowa, which is a white state and he won the Iowa caucuses \r\nrunning on the kind of appeal that you would have seen in previous \r\nyears, like Gary Hart. Remember, he was appealing to kind of \r\nwell-educated, liberal-leaning party whites, party regulars. And they \r\ncame out in droves for him because of the level of organization in the \r\nstate. He wins the Iowa primary, and that starts to give people around \r\nthe country ideas. Suddenly, he’s on a much more equal footing with \r\nHillary Clinton and so black folks in places like South Carolina, which \r\nis a crucial primary state, said, “Uh, I see.” There's a chain reaction \r\nthat occurs. Now, that’s not to say that black people voted for Barack \r\nObama in South Carolina because they had some kind of permission from \r\nwhite people. But black folks didn’t want to be voting for a symbolic \r\ncandidate. That had happened before. There had been many symbolic \r\ncandidates, and there had even been Jesse Jackson in ’84, and ’88.
There\r\n\r\n is not Barack Obama, by the way, without Jesse Jackson. Jesse Jackson, \r\nfor all his faults, did an enormous historical good by breaking down the\r\n barriers toward the political imagination of having a successful \r\nAfrican-American presidential candidate.
Question: \r\nWould Obama have been able to chart the course he did if he had come \r\nfrom a more traditionally African-American establishment?
David\r\n\r\n Remnick: Well, it’s worthwhile to kind of fact check the \r\nstrangeness of Barack Obama’s beginnings in racial ethnic and identity \r\nterms. He grows up, with the exception of a sojourn in Indonesia, in \r\nHawaii. And if you’ve ever been to Hawaii, first of all, there’s this \r\nfeeling of great, almost isolation in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. \r\nAnd it’s a place that prides itself on variation, on multi-culturalism. \r\nPeople using that word long before it was fashionable on the mainland. \r\nAnd yet it’s a multi-culturalism lacking one very striking think in \r\nAmerican terms, black folks. And most of the black population in Hawaii,\r\n the little that there is, is on military bases. And Obama goes to one \r\nof the fanciest schools in the country, this private school called \r\nPuntaho, in Honolulu which looks like Exit or Andover, if you imagined \r\nright near the beach, lockers outside. People walking around in their \r\nshorts – I mean it’s just fantastically; it looks like a high school \r\ncreated by Annette Funicello, or something, you know. A beach fantasy of\r\n what high school could be.
And he goes there and it’s diverse \r\nin some sense. There’s lots of Asian kids of all kinds, all the various \r\nstrips that you see in Hawaii, but just a couple of black kids. And when\r\n he goes home at night, it’s to white grandparents. So, how does he \r\nlearn how to be what he sees in the mirror? He pursues it by watching \r\nthings on television, listening to certain records, reading certain \r\nbooks. He goes out and assertively goes after it. And he does it then \r\ngeographically by going to Los Angeles, but he’s kind of in Pasadena, \r\nand that’s not good enough for him. He goes to Columbia, which is of \r\ncourse, close to Harlem and finally he winds up on the south side of \r\nChicago, and there he’s finally able to find community, a sense of \r\npurpose, a sense of idealism, a church, a black church specifically, and\r\n he really begins to solve these identity questions there.
By \r\nthe time he gets to Harvard Law School, these things are resolved for \r\nhim, but when you go into public life, it’s a question of how people see\r\n you. So he’s got to struggle with these questions all over again when \r\nhe does things like run for Congress, or State Senate.
The President couldn't assume he would get the African-American vote just because he was black. He had to go out and win it.
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"Nothing but naked people: fat ones, thin ones, old, young…"
"The Yellow Sands", 1888, John Reinhard Weguelin; source: Wikimedia Commons<h3>Naked revolution</h3><p>Yet long before anyone knew about beach fashion, naturism was trendy. Bathing naked in the sea was going on in England as early as 1840. However, during the reign of Queen Victoria, this pleasure was outlawed. But it popped up again among the conservative Germans. In 1898, the first Naturist Club was founded in Essen and in 1900 the Wandering Birds group (<em>Wandervögel</em>) was scouring the country for uninhabited places and naked sunbathing. In the same year, Heinrich Pudor wrote <em>The C</em><em>ult of </em><em>the </em><em>Nud</em><em>e</em>, winning the hearts of contemporary supporters of naturism.</p><p>In the 1920s, on the back of this, members of the Movement for Natural Healing (<em>Naturheilbewegung</em>) organized naked sunbathing for the improvement of health. Persuaded by Pudor's theory of the healing properties of the sun and wind, which could be absorbed through the skin, they launched the naked revolution.</p><p>Pudor's book became the naturists' manifesto and soon after, not far from Hamburg, the Free Body Culture (<em>Freikörperkultur</em>, or FKK) movement was founded. This spread through other German centres and brought together thousands of people. The FKK still operates under the same name today.</p><p>The cult of the naked body even wrote itself into the ideology of fascist Germany, which advocated a pure, Aryan race. But in 1933, Hermann Göring issued an order that defined nudity as "the greatest threat to the German soul" and, with that, criminalized naturist organizations. But this wasn't the end of the movement. The naturists went underground, continuing their activities under the guise of improving physical fitness.</p><p>In 1936, the idea was even floated of having a naturist display to open the Berlin Olympic Games. It was quickly dropped. Despite this, in 1939 the naturists managed to organize their own Games in the Swiss village of Thielle.</p>
A strange weakness in the Earth's protective magnetic field is growing and possibly splitting, shows data.
- "The South Atlantic Anomaly" in the Earth's magnetic field is growing and possibly splitting, shows data.
- The information was gathered by the ESA's Swarm Constellation mission satellites.
- The changes may indicate the coming reversal of the North and South Poles.
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Crows have their own version of the human cerebral cortex.
Action-packed pallia<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQ0NzkyMS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNzk1NzM1OH0.Tjb3zulFW2gwhteR124F9HGbmdnCqNqQFOBQouieTJ8/img.png?width=980" id="2bbc9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2907e4035e553565f4446e968ee73d92" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Fun with Ozzie and Glenn<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQ0Njk2MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxMzY4Njc2MX0.ZgpsPMCK6qOj2o0kErvVPjdua1EnMCIwCuHHGrb3LiY/img.jpg?width=980" id="acbeb" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2e286fecbb228a5ca8aa26fcd19f95a2" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="two crows in a tree" />
Ozzie and Glenn not pictured
Credit: narubono/Unsplash<p>The kind of higher intelligence crows exhibited in the new research is similar to the way we solve problems. We catalog relevant knowledge and then explore different combinations of what we know to arrive at an action or solution.</p><p>The researchers, led by neurobiologist <a href="https://homepages.uni-tuebingen.de/andreas.nieder/" target="_blank">Andreas Nieder</a> of the University of Tübingen in Germany, trained two carrion crows (<em>Corvus corone</em>), Ozzie and Glenn.</p><p>The crows were trained to watch for a flash — which didn't always appear — and then peck at a red or blue target to register whether or not a flash of light was seen. Ozzie and Glenn were also taught to understand a changing "rule key" that specified whether red or blue signified the presence of a flash with the other color signifying that no flash occurred.</p><p>In each round of a test, after a flash did or didn't appear, the crows were presented a rule key describing the current meaning of the red and blue targets, after which they pecked their response.</p><p>This sequence prevented the crows from simply rehearsing their response on auto-pilot, so to speak. In each test, they had to take the entire process from the top, seeing a flash or no flash, and then figuring out which target to peck.</p><p>As all this occurred, the researchers monitored their neuronal activity. When Ozzie or Glenn saw a flash, sensory neurons fired and then stopped as the bird worked out which target to peck. When there was no flash, no firing of the sensory neurons was observed before the crow paused to figure out the correct target.</p><p>Nieder's interpretation of this sequence is that Ozzie or Glenn had to see or not see a flash, deliberately note that there had or hadn't been a flash — exhibiting self-awareness of what had just been experienced — and then, in a few moments, connect that recollection to their knowledge of the current rule key before pecking the correct target.</p><p>During those few moments after the sensory neuron activity had died down, Nieder reported activity among a large population of neurons as the crows put the pieces together preparing to report what they'd seen. Among the busy areas in the crows' brains during this phase of the sequence was, not surprisingly, the pallium.</p><p>Overall, the study may eliminate the layered cerebral cortex as a requirement for higher intelligence. As we learn more about the intelligence of crows, we can at least say with some certainty that it would be wise to avoid <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/26/science/26crow.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">angering one</a>.</p>