Lavin Weekly #46: Garrett, Pinker, & Nair
1. Brexit Fallout Goes Beyond Politics: Laurie Garrett for Foreign Policy
Britain’s decision to secede from the EU is, on the surface, a move with definite political and economic repercussions. But in Foreign Policy, public health speaker Laurie Garrett argues that Brexit is also a major global health risk. The falling British pound will mean a steep decline in the value of remittances sent home to developing countries from immigrants in the U.K. Furthermore, U.N. initiatives like the Joint U.N. Program on HIV/AIDS will see significant losses. A contribution of 15 million pounds from the British government, formerly equivalent to $22.2 million, now only amounts to $19.5 million. And to Garrett, Brexit may only be the beginning—a rising tide of nationalism in the U.S. and several European states could see similar consequences. “The great danger of this moment in history,” says Garrett, “Is a retrenchment behind the walls and ideals of me-first nationalism and the death of dreams of a better, safer, wealthier world for all of humanity.” For the extended article, head over to Foreign Policy.
2. Nature or Nurture? Actually, It’s Both: Steven Pinker on NPR
Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker was featured on a new episode of NPR’s TED Radio Hour, asking a simple yet vexing question: nature or nurture? Are we, as the popular 20th-century discourse goes, a “blank slate,” waiting to be written on once we enter the world? Or do we possess certain innate, immutable characteristics from birth? As it turns out, the answer is a little bit of both. To Pinker, the age-old debate is a false one—our personality is shaped both by our genes and our environment. “It’s a mistake to think that if there is an effect of the environment, that shows that we’re blank slates, or conversely, if there is such a thing as human nature, then we are robots and we’re programmed to walk into walls and be completely insensitive to our environment. It’s just the wrong way to think about it,” Pinker argues. And in his keynotes, he’s just as incisive, asking bold questions about the human mind and answering them with conviction.
3. Mira Nair’s Queen of Katwe to Premiere in Europe at London Film Festival
Mira Nair’s new film Queen of Katwe—the story of Ugandan chess prodigy Phiona Mutesi—will see its European premiere October 9th at the London Film Festival. Mutesi, a ten-year-old girl from the Katwe slums of Kampala, discovers chess by chance and soon lands a place in the World Chess Olympiads as a Woman Candidate Master. The film stars Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo, and is set for a limited North American release on September 23rd, followed by a general theatrical release a week later on the 30th. Nair, the celebrated filmmaker behind Monsoon Wedding, The Namesake, and Salaam Bombay! (nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film), is a riveting storyteller—and her latest effort should prove no exception.