Lavin Weekly #52: Walkowicz, Rushkoff, Bazelon, & Lin
1. Lucianne Walkowicz — Mars Is a Lifeboat, Not a Landfall
TED Fellow Lucianne Walkowicz is having a busy summer. She’s featured prominently in the new Werner Herzog Internet-existentialism documentary Lo and Behold, discussing the potential for interplanetary communication using a form of “long-range Internet,” and reminding us of the Net’s vulnerability to the threat of a solar flare. And with Mars exploration on the horizon, she also warns against hanging our hopes on the colonizing of other planets. “The idea that Mars will somehow save us from the decisions we’ve made here [on Earth] is a false one,” she says. “It’s a little like saying that you’re going to go live in the lifeboat, when even lifeboats need somewhere to land.” Walkowicz was also quoted in a recent FiveThirtyEight article about Proxima Centauri b, a newly discovered planet that has the potential to harbor life. Check out the brief clip from Lo and Behold, featuring Walkowicz, below. And stay tuned in the coming weeks for more Walkowicz-penned work.
2. Douglas Rushkoff’s Newest Venture? The Team Human Podcast
Media theorist and author Douglas Rushkoff has a new radio show in the works. Team Human is “a weekly podcast and set of resources enabling human intervention in the economic, technological, and social programs that determine how we live, work, and interact,” and if it’s anything like his books Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus, Present Shock, and Program or Be Programmed, it’ll be jam-packed with insight on how to navigate the brave new economy. Three episodes are already available via the website: a decrying of skyrocketing student debt (guests: Astra Taylor and Thomas Gokey), a plea for environmental sustainability within technology (Richard Maxwell), and a compelling case for worker cooperatives (Esteban Kelly). Check back on September 6 for the next episode.
3. The Death Rattle of Capital Punishment? Emily Bazelon for NYT Mag
In The New York Times Magazine, speaker Emily Bazelon has written an extensive feature, entitled “Where the Death Penalty Still Lives.” With America’s capital punishment on a steep decline (20 states and D.C. have abolished it; four more have placed a moratorium on executions), a curious geographical pattern is forming: two percent of the nation’s counties account for the majority of death-row inmates. And, zooming in further, only 15 counties have handed down five or more death sentences since 2010. One criticism of the death penalty, says Bazelon, is that can be seen as arbitrary; there are no definitive rules as to which murderers live and which die. Moreover, cases have been made that “innocent people have been executed in three states,” and that “the death penalty [is] far more likely if a victim was white, especially if a defendant was black”—troubling assertions, to be sure, that point toward a re-examination of the nation’s stance on capital punishment.
4. Anastasia Lin: Miss World Canada, Human Rights Champion
In 2015, Anastasia Lin was crowned Miss World Canada. But, set to represent her country on the global stage at the Miss World pageant in China, she was denied entry into the nation and declared persona non grata by the Chinese government. The Communist party, evidently, had gotten wind of Lin’s other passion: human rights—specifically, speaking out against abuses perpetrated in China, among them organ harvesting, forced labor camps, and the persecution of the spiritual Falun Gong practitioners. Lin is profiled this week in UK publication The Spectator, and next week will screen her film The Bleeding Edge—a drama centered on China’s organ trade—before the British House of Commons. Called as a witness by the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission a few months ago, Lin will return to Parliament to show her film before British MPs at the request of House Speaker John Bercow. “The human rights abuse is Communist,” she reminds us. “It’s not China, not the Chinese people. It could potentially happen in any country where people are submitted into that kind of system. I was one of them too.” In rousing keynotes, Lin speaks out for those who have been silenced, and takes an outspoken stand against persecution around the world.