Life and the Arts

A reflection on life and the arts from a progressive perspective. Here you will find social commentary on movies, the performing arts, issues of cultural significance and life in general.

Century of Disaster

Picture credit: Eduardo Galeano courtesy Don Usner/Lannan Foundation Eduardo Galeano - Uruguayan novelist Eduardo Galeano, a champion of the underdog, is known for his beautiful turns of phrase that read more like poetry than prose. His 2009 book, Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone, is a collection of 600 vignettes that contemplate life’s contradictions, both historical and contemporary. From Fidel Castro to the Berlin Wall, Galeano’s reflections provide a powerful and mesmerizing commentary on history, its people and its injustices. This excerpt of his book...

The World's 10 Most Dangerous Foods People Actually Eat

Picture credit: Raw cashew nuts courtesy Elements for Life Jodie Gummow - Many of us take pride in experimenting with adventurous new foods, especially when we travel abroad. But, as tempting as these mysterious delicacies can often appear, some of them can make us violently ill or even worse can be fatal.  So without further ado, here are 10 of the world’s most dangerous foods according to Conde Nast Traveler, that you can eat but probably shouldn’t. You have been warned! 1. Raw Cashews. Most of us wouldn’t hesitate to buy a bag of these...

Bread and Circuses: How Dystopian Fantasy Distracts Us from Our Dystopian Reality

Picture credit: Photograph of Jean-Leon Gerome Glenn Ashton - Two millennia ago the Roman commentator Juvenal wrote of “panem et circensis,” bread and circuses, to demonstrate how the masses had abandoned political responsibility in exchange for full bellies and extreme entertainment. In Juvenal’s times entertainment was of the gladiatorial variety. Today the violence of gladiators has been replaced by sports heroes and teams where rules constrain the violence, or by cinema and television featuring violence as gratuitous as the...

Five Reasons Why I Refuse to Watch the World Cup

Picture credit: Controversial Argentinian soccer player Luis Suarez courtesy Heeren Mistry/Deviant Art Sonali Kolhatkar - Soccer (or football, as the rest of the world refers to it) is the most popular sport globally. But can you love the game while hating the World Cup? The 2014 World Cup tournament in Brazil has attracted record numbers of American viewers, with reports of 23 million people having tuned in to a single match between the U.S. and Portugal alone. Worldwide, the numbers are expected to be even more staggering over the course of the entire tournament, given that half the planet tuned in to the...

How Eating Broccoli Can Protect You from Air Pollution Dangers - Study Reveals Surprising Results

Picture credit: Cook Think Cliff Weathers - Daily consumption of broccoli can go a long way in protecting people from the harmful effects of air pollution, a study from Johns Hopkins University has found. A clinical trial, conducted in Jiangsu Province — one of China’s most polluted regions — found that consuming a beverage that included broccoli sprouts helped participants to excrete toxins associated with particle and ozone air pollution. A compound in broccoli, sulforaphane, has been shown in previous studies to...

Maybe We Shouldn't Be Worried About E-Cigarette Liquids

Picture credit: Mother Nature Network Samantha Felix - E-liquids - the liquid nicotine used to refill reusable e-cigarettes - are sold legally nationwide. But in the last couple of days, the seemingly harmless, smoke-free liquids have sparked some starkly contrasting media attitudes. Matt Richtel of The New York Times writes that e-liquids are a dangerous poison—even more so than tobacco in some cases. But Reason.com‘s Jacob Sollum vehemently counters Richtel’s assertions, writing that, considered more broadly, e-liquids...