America

The President-Elect’s First War, Part II

By Andrej Mrevlje |

In 90 days, Donald Trump intends to report the true facts of the alleged Russian hacking during the November elections. At least, that is what the president-elect promised during his first press conference in months, just nine days before he is to be sworn as the new president. Trump’s words made it sound as though, with his own intelligence agencies in command, he will be in position to rewrite history. Nothing will ever be the same again, Trump seems to warn his citizens from high up in his golden tower.   Read more »

America

Thiel, the Contrarian

By Andrej Mrevlje |
Burning of the Capital, 1812.

As I write this, I think we’re losing it. I am looking through my window of my fourth-floor apartment and see a spread of low buildings below me — low enough that you can see the wavering American flag on every government building in town. It is 21 degrees Celsius today (70 degrees Fahrenheit) in Washington, D.C., and all of a sudden, I got drunk off that fragrant smell that only comes with the spring, when the soil starts breathing again after a long, cold winter. That is how someone can feel after six years of living in New York, where “Mother Nature” has been suppressed. Moving to Washington, D.C. — especially on a day like this — it feels like moving to the past that I am not able to locate yet. But it does not matter since I am well-aligned with the spirit of the time. Read more »

America

The President-Elect’s First War

By Andrej Mrevlje |

As I write this, the battle for control over the country’s intelligence agencies rages on. There is chaos in Washington, D.C., where Congress is back in session and the signals coming from Trump Tower are already colliding with the government.

Yesterday the Senate Armed Services Committee interrogated Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who reiterated that Russian agents interfered in the U.S. election and dismissed the credibility of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange a day after the president-elect appeared to back Assange over the Intelligence Community.  Read more »

America

From Mao to Trump

By Andrej Mrevlje |

As the New Year starts, the world seems to be stepping into a new era — literally. As if, all of a sudden, the Gregorian calendar is no longer valid and the world needs to start counting from the beginning. On January 20 of the year 2017, according to the old calendar, the new Trumpian calendar will start the first day of the first month in Year 0001.

The world is obsessed with Donald Trump. I work with the news and do commentary stories and reporting, so I have to read through and filter a lot of material every day. In the 25 years that I have been working in the field of the professional news business, I never experienced one single news story that would occupy so much space as Donald Trump currently does. Perhaps  terrorism can match Trump for the story that we all live and chew at the moment, but little — if anything — else does.

So no matter where we look — wherever our already Trump-saturated minds may seek asylum — Donald Trump always pops up again out of nowhere. Read more »

Art

Maestro Marshall

By Andrej Mrevlje |
Kerry James Marshall, School of Beauty, School of Culture (2012)

I do not make art. But I do consume it. And if I am happy for anything — besides meeting old friends in New York over the holidays — it’s that I learned from a man by the name of Kerry James Marshall. Until I saw his show at the Met, I didn’t know anything about him. Nothing, nada. I had gone to Met with my wife to see Paul Klee, whom I adore because of his crystal-clear ideas and presentation. Every time I see Klee, his art makes me happy. With his art, I can travel to places I’ve never been. Had I left the gallery having seen Klee’s art only, I would have been happy enough. I was sazio di arte, as Italians would say — “full of art.”  Read more »

Food

Rooftop Farming

By Andrej Mrevlje |

I will always remember how amazed I was when I learned that Italians — the proud craftsmen of everything “made in Italy” — import 10 percent of their entire production of canned tomatoes from China.

The fact that there was Chinese tomato sauce on pizza napoletana or in ragù bolognese sulle pappardelle was amazing news. That is until I remembered that China — the land of hunger for decades, whose land is less than 10 percent arable — is now exporting 32,000 tons of peeled tomatoes to Italy. Sure, Italians reprocess and can the Chinese tomatoes, then label them as “made in Italy” and probably re-export them. I was not shocked by the potential fraud — I am quite familiar with the Italian talent for finding loopholes in the law. But I was horrified by the thought that China — which, a mere two decades ago, was unable to feed its own people — now has the largest agricultural output in the world.

 Read more »

America

Play it in your own Backyard, Mr. President

By Andrej Mrevlje |

Why is President Obama suddenly trying to change the track of his presidency? After a month of apparent reconciliation that was supposed to guarantee the smooth passage of power to the president-elect, Obama has unexpectedly decided to take a sharp turn and look into Russian meddling in the 2016 elections by ordering the national intelligence community “to conduct a ’full review’ of Russian interference in the campaign,” according to Mother Jones. A few days later, Obama escalated, hinting “that the United States would retaliate for Russia’s efforts to influence the presidential election while asserting that ‘we need to take action,’ and ‘we will,’” as reported by the New York Times.

 Read more »

America

Trump Heads Back to the Future

By Andrej Mrevlje |

The election of Donald Trump for president of the United States is not just insane (as many liberals might say); painful (in Michelle Obama’s words); unpredictable (Nate Silver); desirable (Vladimir Putin); or threatening (China). It’s more — Trump is revenge against human ignorance, a boomerang that has returned to those who thought that his election would be like a Martian being elected president of the United States. And who on Earth would ever expect that a Slovenian immigrant would become a resident at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?

With Trump’s appearance on the national political scene, America is discovering a new genre of writing — Trumpology. Serious effort has been put into trying to figure out something that is virtually incomprehensible and undefinable.  Read more »

Science

Translating Artificial Intelligence

By Andrej Mrevlje |

It has been quite some time since I put most of my dictionaries aside. I have a huge collection of them. But these days, most of my printed dictionaries are gathering dust on bookshelves. As I write this post, only “Garner’s Modern American Usage” sits on my desk. It is a pleasant read and can hardly be called a dictionary.

As we spent most of our time at computers, reading, taking notes or writing, we — or I, at least — rarely consult the heavy printed editions of the various dictionaries available. As pleasant as they might be to use, searching through printed dictionaries is time-consuming, and you only receive a short, matter-of-fact answer to your query. We have been using Google search and Google Translate as our main dictionary for years now. You just need to open another tab on your screen — or now even an app on your mobile device — and you dive into an ocean of meanings. I never — or very rarely — use Google Translate for entire sentences or whole paragraphs. I usually use it word-by-word, playing with it across various languages in order to grasp the meaning of the word I want to use when I read or write.

 Read more »

Russia

On Soviet Time

By Andrej Mrevlje |

It’s rare to find anything positive about Russia these days. But I found one story that I think is interesting, if for no other reason than because it’s about Russia’s industrial history and the transfer of technology without eliminating jobs or creating market friction. It’s a story about how, when the market crashed in 1929, the Soviets bought a bankrupt watch manufacturer from Ohio and transferred it to Russia, which was in its second decade of its socialist revolution. Back then, Russia had no history in watchmaking, but the country soon revolutionized the obsolete technology that they had bought from the United States. From loud tick-tock watches, Soviets started to make more sophisticated, silent, well-designed watches. Perhaps because they needed to measure the time until the Soviet Union reached communism? It never happened, and after they became the world’s best watchmakers for a couple of decades, the Swiss — who were already known for making the world’s best chocolate — started to make even better watches. And while the world’s best watches left, communism never arrived.

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