Our weekly guide to what you may have missed.
“A science fiction fantasy from the sixties with a view to the sea.” We tend to forget about the Olympics once they’re over, but the games often leave behind quite a lot. In a series of vignettes in Granta, writers living in Beijing, Athens, and elsewhere recall the changes the Olympics brought to their communities, and what remains of the spectacle. “I happen to live in the Olympic neighborhood, built twenty years ago for the games,” says Santiago Roncagliolo, from Barcelona. “This is the point where past meets present, and you wonder which is the real one. I still have no answer.”
One thing that’s clear about post-Olympic London, however: “the gloves come off,” says Dave Zirin in Edge of Sports (thanks, ZNet). International spectacle could hardly distract many Londoners from a crumbling economy, harsh austerity, and a blossoming national security state, and London politics are about to get messy. What will the city remember 20 years from now?
Video: The Center for Investigative Journalism takes on industrial ag in The Hidden Cost of Hamburgers, a new animated short (reposted by Civil Eats). Bottom line: beef is a big rip-off. For every ounce of beef that’s made, a pound of greenhouse gases are also produced. And that says nothing for other externalized costs, like health risks, water pollution, and mistreatment of workers, to name a few. Oh, and we’re addicted to it.
From Colossal: Recreating Van Gogh masterpieces with colored newsprint and pieces of wood.
Climate change has been the forefront of a lot of people’s minds this summer, along with a lot of very difficult questions about our role in confronting crisis and adapting to change. But for Sarah Gilman, one of the biggest questions is how to deal with a loss of this magnitude. Writing in High Country News, she wonders how we “grasp the obliteration of so much we have known and loved,” as we move very quickly from world to another entirely different one. Reflecting on creative responses like Maya Lin’s “What is missing” project, Gilman’s own answer points toward the future. “Looking forward, grieving for what has been,” she says, “we must remember that loss is not new to the world, and that loss is also possibility.”
President Obama may have put the kibosh on Keystone XL, but that didn’t stop TransCanada from trying to make it happen in smaller pieces, especially in the southern plains. But activists in Texas have no intention of letting that happen, says Forrest Wilder in The Texas Observer. Construction on the pipeline could begin very soon, which is why Tar Sands Blockade got into gear on Thursday with “a sustained campaign of civil disobedience” to block the project in East Texas. Dozens of people have signed on, marking a new chapter in what Wilder calls “one of the biggest environmental fights of our time."
The blockade in Texas makes a powerful statement, says Bill McKibben in Think Progress (via Grist), and invokes the civil disobedience last year that eventually spurred action from Washington. What’s more, the actions come at an appropriate time, as similar protests have erupted in places like West Virginia, Montana, and the Pacific Northwest over coal exports and mining. The fight over Keystone XL united a lot of disparate groups of people last year, says McKibben, and that can happen again.