Bits from today’s Washington Post feed

Donald Trump mocked at German Carnival: “Make fascism great again”

This (remarkable — of course it’s remarkable, you have it in your news feed) chart shows how U.S. defense spending dwarfs the rest of the world

This Indian soldier survived five miraculous days trapped beneath a 25-foot avalanche

Chinese mall becomes ‘prison’ for bears, belugas, wolves

And, from Harper’s Weekly Review, Phoenix City Council members voted to ban prayer at meetings rather than allow a representative of the Satanic Temple to perform the opening invocation. “It leaves a bad taste,” said a lawyer for the Temple, “in the Satanist’s mouth.” 

Overseas jobs online now!

A character in a story I’m working on is surprised at the online availability of jobs in Afghanistan ::::

…. you could literally find a job in Afghanistan online, from the Army’s Civil Logistics Augmentation Program, which sounded like a rational way to contribute to society — or the destruction of one — to truck drivers where employment may be located in “potentially dangerous areas, including combat or war zones,” and where threats to your life could be from “dangerous forces or friendly fire,” and, in case they’re not killed, candidates need to “work well with others, customers and all levels of management.” Or you can become a “final evaluation consultant” for a human rights organization that calls themselves a “movement working to further human rights for all and defeat poverty.”

Many of the jobs can be applied for right from a smart phone, the good thing being that with Google’s locator services, paid for only by the ads they sell (sure, okay, I believe that) they know a lot about you before you even submit your application – they know you’re interested before you even apply because they know you’ve been looking, and they know where they will have to fly you in from.”

New York: Radiation Spikes 65,000% at Indian Point Nuclear Plant After Leak | Democracy Now!

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced “alarming levels” of radiation after water contaminated with radioactive tritium leaked from the Indian Point nuclear power plant. At one monitoring well, the radiation had spiked 65,000 percent.

The plant’s owner, Entergy Corporation, has said the groundwater contamination at the plant does not pose a threat to the public.

[editor’s note] REALLY?!? NO THREAT TO THE PUBLIC. I THINK WE SHOULD GET THE OWNERS OF ENTERGY DOWN THERE TO THE PLANT TO DRINK SOME OF THE WATER AND HANG OUT, MAYBE HAVE A SLEEPOVER FOR A WEEK OR SO AND SEE HOW MANY OF THEM ARE DIAGNOSED AND DIE OF CANCER BEFORE THEY DIE OF NATURAL CAUSES.

Environmentalists have long called for the closure of Indian Point, citing aging infrastructure and a history of operational issues.

BUT LET’S NOT LISTEN TO THEM BECAUSE THEY’RE ENVIRONMENTALISTS! THEY PROBABLY HAVE NO PROOF, SCIENTIFIC OR OTHERWISE, THAT RADIOACTIVE CONTAMINATION IS BAD FOR HUMAN HEALTH OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT.

Source: New York: Radiation Spikes 65,000% at Indian Point Nuclear Plant After Leak | Democracy Now!

‘When Breath Becomes Air’: How to live, by a doctor who died at 37

This fast-selling memoir by an idealist neurosurgeon facing an early death from cancer gains power and poignancy from its detailed descriptions and reflections on mortality. The power of this book lies in its eloquent insistence that we are all confronting our mortality every day, whether we know it or not. The real question we face, Kalanithi writes, is not how long, but rather how, we will live – and the answer does not appear in any medical textbook. It brings him back, at last, to the books of poetry he left gathering dust when he entered medical school.

Source: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi review – how to live, by a doctor who died aged 37

Hemingway’s Advice on Writing, Ambition, the Art of Revision, and His Reading List of Essential Books for Aspiring Writers

By Maria Popova

“As a writer you should not judge. You should understand,” Ernest Hemingway (July 21, 1899–July 2, 1961) counseled in his 1935 Esquire compendium of writing advice, addressed to an archetypal young correspondent but based on a real-life encounter that had taken place a year earlier.

In 1934, a 22-year-old aspiring writer named Arnold Samuelson set out to meet his literary hero, hoping to steal a few moments with Hemingway to talk about writing. The son of Norwegian immigrant wheat farmers, he had just completed his coursework in journalism at the University of Minnesota, but had refused to pay the $5 diploma fee. Convinced that his literary education would be best served by apprenticing himself to Hemingway, however briefly, he hitchhiked atop a coal car from Minnesota to Key West. “It seemed a damn fool thing to do,” Samuelson later recalled, “but a twenty-two-year-old tramp during the Great Depression didn’t have to have much reason for what he did.” Unreasonable though the quest may have been, he ended up staying with Hemingway for almost an entire year, over the course of which he became the literary titan’s only true protégé.

Source: Hemingway’s Advice on Writing, Ambition, the Art of Revision, and His Reading List of Essential Books for Aspiring Writers – Brain Pickings

Paris Review – The Art of Fiction No. 94, E. L. Doctorow

E. L. Doctorow

“One of the things I had to learn as a writer was to trust the act of writing. To put myself in the position of writing to find out what I was writing. I did that with World’s Fair, as with all of them. The inventions of the book come as discoveries. At a certain point, of course, you figure out what your premises are and what you’re doing. But certainly, with the beginnings of the work, you really don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Source: Paris Review – The Art of Fiction No. 94, E. L. Doctorow

Addicted to Distraction | NYTimes

Unfortunately we all are getting to know this one a little too well. …Fight it, fight it!

ONE evening early this summer, I opened a book and found myself reading the same paragraph over and over, a half dozen times before concluding that it was hopeless to continue. I simply couldn’t marshal the necessary focus.

I was horrified. All my life, reading books has been a deep and consistent source of pleasure, learning and solace. Now the books I regularly purchased were piling up ever higher on my bedside table, staring at me in silent rebuke.

Instead of reading them, I was spending too many hours online, checking the traffic numbers for my company’s website, shopping for more colorful socks on Gilt and Rue La La, even though I had more than I needed, and even guiltily clicking through pictures with irresistible headlines such as “Awkward Child Stars Who Grew Up to Be Attractive.”

During the workday, I checked my email more times than I cared to acknowledge, and spent far too much time hungrily searching for tidbits of new information about the presidential campaign, with the election then still more than a year away.

Source: Addicted to Distraction

Here’s What Kurt Vonnegut Can Teach You About Life | The Huffington Post

Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies — God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.

Source: Here’s What Kurt Vonnegut Can Teach You About Life