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Some of the wealthiest people in America—in Silicon Valley, New York, and beyond—are getting ready for the crackup of civilization.

By Evan Osnos

NPRのFresh Airでも話していました。

Why Some Silicon Valley Tech Executives Are Bunkering Down For Doomsday
January 25, 20172:44 PM ET

この記事はFORTUNE CEO Dailyというメルマガの紹介がコンパクトにまとまっていたのでそちらを紹介します。核ミサイル格納庫を改築したluxury condo retreatsが出てきますが、ここでは「避難所」みたいな意味でいいのではないでしょうか。世界の終わりが来ても逃げ込めるシェルターこそまさに究極のretreatですね。

"Doomsday Prep for the Super-Rich", in the New Yorker , is everything a magazine article should be: Surprising, nuanced, and layered with multiple levels of meaning. As the title conveys, it's about ultra-wealthy types—mostly in Silicon Valley and Wall Street—who have adopted the sorts of survivalist plans that are possible for those with nine-figure assets. (The article appeared before news broke that venture capitalist billionaire and Trump acolyte Peter Thiel obtained citizenship in New Zealand.) One investment chief tells the writer, Evan Osnos, "I keep a helicopter gassed up all the time, and I have an underground bunker with an air-filtration system." Why, yes, I see how those could come in handy. Readers go on to visit an underground former nuclear missile silo near Wichita, Ks., now converted to luxury condo retreats (in the most literal sense) for the wealthy…when the people with the pitchforks come.

「超金持ちのためのこの世の終わりへの備え」は雑誌ニューヨーカーの記事だが、雑誌記事に必要なものがすべて詰まっている。驚きを与え、考えさせられ、重層的な見方を示してくれている。タイトルが伝えている通り、超富裕層の中で、多くがシリコンバレーやウォール街出身だが、緊急事態の備えをしているタイプについてである。この備えは9桁の資産がないと実行できない。(この記事が出てからベンチャーキャピタリストで億万長者のトランプ支持者Peter Thielがニュージランドの国籍を取得したというニュースが飛び込んできた)。ある投資責任者がライターのEvan Osnosに次のように語った「ヘリコプターの燃料を常に満タンにしているし、地下シェルターには空気清浄装置がある」まあ、これらのことは役立つことはわかる。読み進めると、カンザス州ウィチタにある地下の核ミサイル格納庫を訪れることになる。今は裕福な人のため(まさに文字通りの意味で)豪華マンションの避難所に改築されている。

This isn't a story about a handful of quirky paranoiacs. Osnos diagnoses significantly graver social maladies, and they're hardly limited to a few people: "A survey commissioned by National Geographic found that forty per cent of Americans believed that stocking up on supplies or building a bomb shelter was a wiser investment than a 401(k)." He notes that the doomsday preparations accelerated after 2008, sped up some more during Obama's second terms and yes, continue to mount today. In New Zealand, which you'll discover is the lusher, more aesthetically pleasing alternative to an underground silo in Kansas, 13,401 Americans registered—the first step in applying for citizenship—in the days after Donald Trump was elected president. That's more than 17 times the usual rate, according to Osnos.


By the time this article is done, Osnos has astutely compared today's income inequality and rising resentment of the wealthy (at least, as it's perceived by those affluent people) to a similar era more than a century ago, when John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie were symbols of profligate riches at a moment of stark economic gaps and perceptions of government failure. As Osnos points out, those titans decided to spend their millions to address social ills; the people he describes in this article are using their wealth to flee them.

(この記事が終わるところで、Osnosは今日の収入格差と高まる富裕層への恨み(少なくとも裕福な人が感じているもの)を一世紀以上前の似た時期と鋭く比較している。その時代とはJohn D. RockefellerとAndrew Carnegieが盛大に浪費する金持ちのシンボルとなり、大きな経済格差と政府の失敗という認識があった時である。Osnosが指摘するように、これらの大金持ちたちは大金をはたいて社会問題に取り組んだ。この記事で登場した人物たちは自分たちの富を問題から逃れるために使っている)

ニューヨーカーの記事でもこのような態度はélite survivalism is not a step toward prevention; it is an act of withdrawalと批判気味に書いています。こんな態度の人がシリコンバレーやウォール街にいれば切り捨てられた人々もトランプの唱えるような対策を取りたくなるのもわかります。(賛成はしませんが。。。)

Fear of disaster is healthy if it spurs action to prevent it. But élite survivalism is not a step toward prevention; it is an act of withdrawal. Philanthropy in America is still three times as large, as a share of G.D.P., as philanthropy in the next closest country, the United Kingdom. But it is now accompanied by a gesture of surrender, a quiet disinvestment by some of America’s most successful and powerful people. Faced with evidence of frailty in the American project, in the institutions and norms from which they have benefitted, some are permitting themselves to imagine failure. It is a gilded despair.

As Huffman, of Reddit, observed, our technologies have made us more alert to risk, but have also made us more panicky; they facilitate the tribal temptation to cocoon, to seclude ourselves from opponents, and to fortify ourselves against our fears, instead of attacking the sources of them. Justin Kan, the technology investor who had made a halfhearted effort to stock up on food, recalled a recent phone call from a friend at a hedge fund. “He was telling me we should buy land in New Zealand as a backup. He’s, like, ‘What’s the percentage chance that Trump is actually a fascist dictator? Maybe it’s low, but the expected value of having an escape hatch is pretty high.’ ”

記事のタイトルはthe survival of the richest(金持ち生存)でしたが、the survival of the fittest(適者生存)のもじりですね。

the survival of the fittest
the principle that only the people or things that are best adapted to their surroundings will continue to exist

survival of the fittest
a situation in which only the strongest and most successful people or things continue to exist

"Survival of the fittest" is a phrase that originated from Darwinian evolutionary theory as a way of describing the mechanism of natural selection. The biological concept of fitness is defined as reproductive success. In Darwinian terms the phrase is best understood as "Survival of the form that will leave the most copies of itself in successive generations."



もう2週間も前のNew Yorkerの記事になってしまいました(汗)渡辺由佳利さんのSNSに親しんでいる人ならマサチューセッツ州にあるナンタケット島を何度も目にしていますよね。そこである研究がされているそうです。

Through DNA editing, researchers hope to alter the genetic destiny of species and eliminate diseases.
By Michael Specter

ナンタケット島に生息する人もかかるライム病という感染症を保菌するwhite-footed mouse(シロアシネズミ)に対し、遺伝子ドライブでライム病を持たないネズミを島全体に放してライム病を根絶しようとする取り組みのようです。

Esvelt has spoken about Lyme dozens of times in the past year, not just on Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard but at forums around the world, from a synthetic-biology symposium in Chile to President Obama’s White House Frontiers Conference, in Pittsburgh. At every appearance, Esvelt tells the audience that he wants his two young children—he has a three-year-old son and a daughter who is almost one—to grow up in a Lyme-free world. But that’s not really why he speaks at infectious-disease meetings, entomology conventions, and international conservation workshops. He has embarked on a mission that he thinks is far more important.

Esvelt and his colleagues were the first to describe, in 2014, how the revolutionary gene-editing tool crispr could combine with a natural phenomenon known as a gene drive to alter the genetic destiny of a species. Gene drives work by overriding the traditional rules of Mendelian inheritance. Normally, the progeny of any sexually reproductive organism receives half its genome from each parent. But since the nineteen-forties biologists have been aware that some genetic elements are “selfish”: evolution has bestowed on them a better than fifty-per-cent chance of being inherited. That peculiarity makes it possible for certain characteristics to spread with unusual speed.

Until crispr came along, biologists lacked the tools to force specific genetic changes across an entire population. But the system, which is essentially a molecular scalpel, makes it possible to alter or delete any sequence in a genome of billions of nucleotides. By placing it in an organism’s DNA, scientists can insure that the new gene will copy itself in every successive generation. A mutation that blocked the parasite responsible for malaria, for instance, could be engineered into a mosquito and passed down every time the mosquito reproduced. Each future generation would have more offspring with the trait until, at some point, the entire species would have it.

gene driveについては下記のナショジオの記事などは日英で読めます。

Genetic Engineering to the Rescue Against Invasive Species?
Scientists call for a public discussion on development of emerging "gene drive" technology.

By Katie Langin, National Geographic



At the meeting on Nantucket, Esvelt assured residents that he and his team fully understood the implications of manipulating the basic elements of life. He said that he regards himself not just as a biologist but as the residents’ agent; if they stop showing interest in the research, he will stop the experiments. He also insists that he will work with absolute openness: every e-mail, grant application, data set, and meeting record will be available for anyone to see. Intellectual property is often the most coveted aspect of scientific research, and Esvelt’s would be posted on a Web site. And no experiment would be conducted unless it was approved in advance—not just by scientists but by the people it is most likely to affect. “By open, I mean all of it,” Esvelt said, to murmurs of approval. “If Monsanto”—which, fairly or not, has become a symbol of excessive corporate control of agricultural biotechnology—“did something one way,” he said, “we will do it the opposite way.”




渡辺由佳里さんも「今だからこそ、届けたいストーリー」というエッセイを寄稿していました。渡辺さんがストーリーの力を信じているところは『ジャンル別 洋書ベスト500』の本の選択にも表れていますね。



マイ・ブラザーズ・キーパー ~ 黒人少年の未来のために:ヒューマン・バラク・オバマ第9回


ちょうどKinder Than Solitudeを書いたYiyun Liさんが立て続けにエッセイと短編小説をNew Yorkerに発表していました。短編小説の方はご本人が朗読もしてくれています。


By Yiyun Li

The Writer's Voice: New Fiction from The New Yorker
Yiyun Li Reads “On the Street Where You Live”


Choosing to renounce a mother tongue.

By Yiyun Li

A metaphor’s desire to transcend diminishes any human story; its ambition to illuminate blinds those who create metaphors. In my distrust of metaphors I feel a kinship with George Eliot: “We all of us, grave or light, get our thoughts entangled in metaphors, and act fatally on the strength of them.” My abandonment of my first language is personal, so deeply personal that I resist any interpretation—political or historical or ethnographical. This, I know, is what my husband was questioning years ago: was I prepared to be turned into a symbol by well-intentioned or hostile minds?

別の場所でもEnglish is my private language.とあくまで個人的なものであると書いています。

When we enter a world—a new country, a new school, a party, a family or a class reunion, an army camp, a hospital—we speak the language it requires. The wisdom to adapt is the wisdom to have two languages: the one spoken to others, and the one spoken to oneself. One learns to master the public language not much differently from the way that one acquires a second language: assess the situations, construct sentences with the right words and the correct syntax, catch a mistake if one can avoid it, or else apologize and learn the lesson after a blunder. Fluency in the public language, like fluency in a second language, can be achieved with enough practice.

Perhaps the line between the two is, and should be, fluid; it is never so for me. I often forget, when I write, that English is also used by others. English is my private language. Every word has to be pondered before it becomes a word. I have no doubt—can this be an illusion?—that the conversation I have with myself, however linguistically flawed, is the conversation that I have always wanted, in the exact way I want it to be.

In my relationship with English, in this relationship with the intrinsic distance between a nonnative speaker and an adopted language that makes people look askance, I feel invisible but not estranged. It is the position I believe I always want in life. But with every pursuit there is the danger of crossing a line, from invisibility to erasure.




New Yorkerは毎週月曜日発売なので今日すでに次の号が出てしまっていますが、先週の記事で読み応えがあったものを紹介します。地名の英語発音は日本と違うものが結構あるので慣れるしかなさそうです。

The Mosul Dam is failing. A breach would cause a colossal wave that could kill as many as a million and a half people.

By Dexter Filkins

Words checked = [6449]
Words in Oxford 3000™ = [81%]


酒井啓子 中東徒然日記





But, in the months that followed, American officials inspected the dam and became concerned that it was on the brink of collapse. The problem wasn’t structural: the dam had been built to survive an aerial bombardment. (In fact, during the Gulf War, American jets bombed its generator, but the dam remained intact.) The problem, according to Azzam Alwash, an Iraqi-American civil engineer who has served as an adviser on the dam, is that “it’s just in the wrong place.” Completed in 1984, the dam sits on a foundation of soluble rock. To keep it stable, hundreds of employees have to work around the clock, pumping a cement mixture into the earth below. Without continuous maintenance, the rock beneath would wash away, causing the dam to sink and then break apart. But Iraq’s recent history has not been conducive to that kind of vigilance.


As the Iraqi soldiers dug in, they were vulnerable to the fluctuations of the Tigris. In 1954 and again in 1969, floods had swept through the south of Iraq, separating Basra from the rest of the country. “Historically, when there is above-average flooding on the Tigris, southern Iraq becomes one large lake,” the retired official told me. Iraq’s leaders feared that they were due for another flood, which would strand the Army. “It was of the utmost importance to begin construction of the dam as quickly as possible,” the official said.

The decision to build the dam started a decades-long argument over who is responsible for the looming disaster. Nasrat Adamo, a former senior official at the Iraqi Ministry of Irrigation, told me that a consortium of Swiss firms hired to oversee the process assured government officials that the gypsum problem could be managed. “We listened to the top experts,” he said. “Everybody agreed that this would not be too serious.” Adamo remains bitter. “The Iraqi government—in a way, I think they were cheated,” he told me. But other people who were involved in building the dam argued that the Iraqis should have been more cautious: the Swiss explained clearly that the site was problematic, and geologists working in the area had raised concerns for decades. They also noted that Soviet and French companies bidding on the project had asked for further surveys and been told that there wasn’t time. Iraqi officials were terrified of disappointing Saddam. Adamo told me that the Minister of Irrigation feared for his life: “If the dam failed, he would be hanged.”



Perhaps the simplest solution is to scrap the dam entirely and make a deal to lease Turkish dams north of the border. But the political instability in the region makes such an accord practically impossible. Another option is to re-start construction of the half-completed dam at Badush, but the smaller reservoir would likely require tens of thousands of acres of land to be removed from cultivation. A third option, which has lately gained currency, is to erect a “permanent” seal of the existing dam wall—a mile-long concrete curtain dropped eight hundred feet into the earth. This would cost an estimated three billion dollars. The Iraqi government—nearly paralyzed by internal conflicts—seems unlikely to impose a solution anytime soon.


Early in 2016, under American prodding, the Iraqis reopened negotiations with Trevi S.p.A., the Italian firm. In September, a team of engineers, hired at a cost of three hundred million dollars, arrived at the dam to perform a crash repair job. Their main task is to install updated equipment, designed to fill the voids beneath the dam more precisely, and to repair the broken control gate. Under the contract, the Italians will do the grouting for a year, and then leave the equipment with their Iraqi counterparts. The engineers say that they are confident they can prevent the dam’s foundation from washing away. But Pierluigi Miconi, Trevi’s project manager, told me that some of the voids may require tens of thousands of gallons of grout. In some cases, he said, it may take days to fill a single void. “This is an urgent project,” he said.


ああWest Virginia

First Ladyのミシェル・オバマを中傷した件がありましたが、ちょっと前にブログで取り上げたWest Virginia州で起こったのでした。まあたまたまなんですけど。。。

West Virginia official who called Michelle Obama an 'ape in heels' fired following outcry
Nick Allen, washington

15 NOVEMBER 2016 • 7:02PM

Officials in an all-white part of West Virginia sparked outrage across America after referring to Michelle Obama as an "ape in heels".

The mayor of the town of Clay resigned and the director of a local government-funded agency was also removed from her job following the racist comment.

記事タイトルではreferring to Michelle Obama as an "ape in heels"とan apeとなっていますが実際のコメントだとa Apeとなっています。ネイティブも間違えるから冠詞を勉強しなくてはいいなんて暴論は吐きませんが難しい部分もありますよね。

Taylor wrote: "It will be so refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady back in the White House. I'm tired of seeing a Ape in heels (sic)." 


The town of Clay has a population of 491, none of whom are black, according to latest US Census figures.
Clay County has 9,000 people and 0.2 per cent of them are black.
In the recent US presidential election 77 per cent of voters in Clay County backed Mr Trump.

スルーしていましたが先月のNew YorkerのカバーストーリーもWest Virginiaを取り上げていたんです。

West Virginia used to vote solidly Democratic. Now it belongs to Trump. What happened?

By Larissa MacFarquhar


By Larissa MacFarquhar , NOVEMBER 10, 2016

Before Obama was elected, it had been Jones’s experience that most people in West Virginia didn’t talk much about race; they didn’t live near any black people, so the subject didn’t come up. When Obama was elected, people started to talk about it more, but they felt inhibited because most didn’t want to seem racist. Then, when Trump started his campaign, he gave a legitimacy and a voice to thoughts that people had had but which they’d been afraid to talk about in public. “Now the lid is off,” he said. “People feel free to say what they really think.”

印象に残ったのはこの記事冒頭に出てくる“I think our country has finally started to wake up to the fact that everything’s soft,”という言葉。

The first thing he felt was relief that Clinton would not be extending Obama’s coal regulations. Four more years of those would have been the end of Logan, he thought. But the election had not been just about Obama, or Clinton, or even Trump, he felt: it was something deeper that people had been responding to. “I think our country has finally started to wake up to the fact that everything’s soft,” he said on Wednesday. “You don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings, and everybody seems to be getting a handout without having to work. I don’t want to come off as callous, but I’m telling you it feels that way. Nothing’s good anymore. And I think for the first time people stood up and said, ‘We’re tired of the direction we’ve been going down for the last eight years.’ “

日本のメディアも取り上げたので覚えている人も多いでしょうが、この言葉は今年の夏のクリント・イーストウッドの発言とかぶります。彼は弱腰になっている世代をpussy generationと呼んでいました。

Clint and Scott Eastwood: No Holds Barred in Their First Interview Together
Think your old man is a ball-buster? Try being the son of Clint Eastwood. And then try making a name for yourself in the family business. This month, as Clint and Scott Eastwood go head-to-head at the box office, father and son sit down together for an interview for the first time.


ESQ: Your characters have become touchstones in the culture, whether it's Reagan invoking "Make my day" or now Trump … I swear he's even practiced your scowl.
CE: Maybe. But he's onto something, because secretly everybody's getting tired of political correctness, kissing up. That's the kiss-ass generation we're in right now. We're really in a pussy generation. Everybody's walking on eggshells. We see people accusing people of being racist and all kinds of stuff. When I grew up, those things weren't called racist. And then when I did Gran Torino, even my associate said, "This is a really good script, but it's politically incorrect." And I said, "Good. Let me read it tonight." The next morning, I came in and I threw it on his desk and I said, "We're starting this immediately."
ESQ: What is the "pussy generation"?
CE: All these people that say, "Oh, you can't do that, and you can't do this, and you can't say that." I guess it's just the times.