Quote of the Day: Moderation vs. Justice

From Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail“:

I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate … who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice … Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

Nota Bene: Anne Frank’s Family Tried to Escape to America

In 1941, Anne Frank’s had left Germany for the Netherlands and was trying to escape to America. Her father Otto Frank wrote to a college friend living there asking for help and money to cover the deposit for their visas:

I am forced to look out for emigration and as far as I can see U.S.A. is the only country we could go to … Perhaps you remember that we have two girls. It is for the sake of the children mainly that we have to care for. Our own fate is of less importance.

Because of tightening restrictions on refugees from Europe, pushed in part by hardening anti-foreigner sentiment in America, Otto was unable to secure visas for his family. They went into hiding in 1942.

Anne, her sister, and mother later died in concentration camps.

Nota Bene: The Cat Who Knew When People Would Die

From Siddhartha Mukherjee’s “This Cat Sensed Death. What if Computers Could, Too?”:

Of the many small humiliations heaped on a young oncologist in his final year of fellowship, perhaps this one carried the oddest bite: A 2-year-old black-and-white cat named Oscar was apparently better than most doctors at predicting when a terminally ill patient was about to die … Adopted as a kitten by the medical staff, Oscar reigned over one floor of the Steere House nursing home in Rhode Island. When the cat would sniff the air, crane his neck and curl up next to a man or woman, it was a sure sign of impending demise. The doctors would call the families to come in for their last visit. Over the course of several years, the cat had curled up next to 50 patients. Every one of them died shortly thereafter.

Nota Bene: What’s Soderbergh Reading/Watching?

So every year, Steven Soderbergh—the polymath film/theater/TV director who just can’t quit the movies—puts out a list of everything he watched (TV and movies) and books and stories he read the previous year. He also includes the dates of when he watched/finished reading said objects.

It’s a great list, packed with scads of 1970s classics that anyone familiar with his medium-cool sensibility would recognize shards of in his work—All the President’s Men, The Parallex View—tons of true-crime TV (so much Dateline), and a stack of books that are worth anyone’s time (everything from Robert Caro’s monumental Robert Moses biography The Power Broker to Marlon James’ phenomenal music-crime epic A Brief History of Seven Killings).

He also watched Mad Max: Fury Road and His Girl Friday on the same day. Try it sometime.

Nota Bene: The Prince Edition

The September 2017 edition of The Journal of African American Studies was devoted entirely to the study of one artist: Prince.

According to the editors:

It is our hope that this special issue will inspire readers to access previously untapped reservoirs of creativity, help reorient the thinking of those who endeavor to pursue similar ventures that place Prince at the center of analysis, as well as prompt scholars to devise nuanced and unconventional ways to probe, study, and analyze an artist whose persona and life’s work defied convention…

Nota Bene: Music for the Masses

From Alex Ross’s “Handel’s ‘Messiah’ on Skid Row“:

The first performance of “Messiah,” in Dublin, in 1742, was, according to a contemporary announcement, presented “for the Relief of the Prisoners in the several Gaols.” Proceeds from the première helped the Charitable Musical Society to free a hundred and forty-two people from debtors’ prison…

Nota Bene: Top Risks for 2018

Earlier this week, the risk assessment firm the Eurasia Group published their take on the Top Risks that the world is going to face in 2018. It starts with China (which “loves a vacuum,” particularly the one left by the United States) and ends with Africa and a list of possibly surprising red herrings (among them, “Trump’s White House”):

In the 20 years since we started Eurasia Group, the global environment has had its ups and downs. But if we had to pick one year for a big unexpected crisis—the geopolitical equivalent of the 2008 financial meltdown—it feels like 2018. Sorry…

The full report is here.