The New York Times surrenders to the left on race
"And the 1619 Project is all about advancing a radical political agenda. The message it aims to convey is clear: The United States is and always has been, from its very origin, a racist country infected by a white supremacist ideology that has birthed and nurtured institutions and systems — from Congress to capitalism — that systematically disadvantage black Americans. Political actors of the present have a simple choice: They can either embrace (invariably left-liberal or socialist) policies that will begin the process of dismantling these pervasive forms of structural injustice — or they can oppose doing so and ensure that the injustices continue, with toxic racism remaining where it has been for the past four centuries, at the very center of American life. Those are the choices."
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2 days ago
Alt-Meat Trounces Animal Meat's Massive Inefficiencies
"The potential flexibility of plant- and cell-based meat producers to switch from one product to another within a species category (from loin to spare rib) or between species much more fluidly and inexpensively than conventional meat producers translates to substantial market advantages. Add to this a shorter production cycle that facilitates real-time response to demand, and it becomes clear that plant-based and clean meat producers are well-equipped to make judicious use of their production lines and to operate more consistently within their ideal profit margin. While the planet arguably benefits the most from these meats’ higher production efficiencies, the market efficiency gains will be hugely beneficial for the bottom line."
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3 days ago
Opinion | Why Philosophers Shouldn’t Sign Petitions
"We’d never approach questions such as “Are possible worlds real?” or “Is knowledge justified true belief?” by petition, so why are we tempted to do so in the case of questions around sex, gender and hurtful speech? The answer is that the latter question involves real feelings and real people, and it is about something that is happening now — for all these reasons, it strikes us as being of grave importance. The petition writers are thinking to themselves, this time it really matters. I think it is a mistake for a philosopher to take the importance of a question as a reason to adopt an unphilosophical attitude toward it."
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4 days ago
The Revolt of the Feminist Law Profs
"Such cases, Gersen told me, are not outliers: “They really became the modal way in which these things are enforced.” These apparent reductiones ad absurdum are the inexorable result of encouraging people to regard their intimate relations through the lens of the sex bureaucracy. “We are giving young people the idea that the unhappiness that they have about their relationships is a matter to be taken up with the authorities,” Gersen said. “In this very large continuum of unpleasant interactions that can happen, at some point you draw a line and say, ‘These are consensual, these are not consensual.’ Lots of people disagree about where to draw the line. But most people would want to draw a line so there is such a thing as consensual sex.” She went on, “Everyone who works in the Title IX world, if you talk to them about the nature of these factual claims, for the most part we are not talking about accusations of forcible or coercive conduct.”"
from instapaper
4 days ago
Athleisure, barre and kale: the tyranny of the ideal woman
"The ideal chopped-salad customer needs to eat his $12 salad in 10 minutes because he needs the extra time to keep functioning within the job that allows him to afford a regular $12 salad in the first place. He feels a physical need for this $12 salad, as it’s the most reliable and convenient way to build up a vitamin barrier against the general malfunction that comes with his salad-requiring-and-enabling job. As Matt Buchanan wrote at the Awl in 2015, the chopped salad is engineered to “free one’s hand and eyes from the task of consuming nutrients, so that precious attention can be directed toward a small screen, where it is more urgently needed, so it can consume data: work email or Amazon’s nearly infinite catalog or Facebook’s actually infinite News Feed, where, as one shops for diapers or engages with the native advertising sprinkled between the not-hoaxes and baby photos, one is being productive by generating revenue for a large internet company, which is obviously good for the economy, or at least it is certainly better than spending lunch reading a book from the library, because who is making money from that?”"
from instapaper
4 days ago
A Walk In Hong Kong (Idle Words)
"The protesters learned in 2014 that having leaders was a weakness. Once the leadership was arrested, the heart went out of the occupy movement, and it lost momentum. So in 2019, there is no leadership at all. The protests are intentionally decentralized, using a jury-rigged combination of a popular message board, the group chat app Telegram, and in-person huddles at the protests.

This sounds like it shouldn’t possibly work, but the protesters are too young to know that it can’t work, so it works."
from instapaper
5 days ago
Prayer isn’t a gumball machine | The Christian Century
When early Christians prayed for those in prison, they showed up at the prison to feed the prisoners so often that they were made fun of by the Roman comedian Lucian (Passing of Perigrinus 12). When they prayed for the sick, they did not simply ask God for healing; they anointed the sick with oil in a healing ritual (James 5:14). Praying in this tradition demands that we not only talk to God, but also that we align our body and our actions with God’s will.

Huckabee is not the first person to suggest that prayer works like a gumball machine. He’s part of a tradition of American thinking about prayer that judges those who suffer and absolves the praying person of any responsibility to act. It has been thriving for decades.

But applying this theology to gun violence may be the single most dangerous abuse of prayer in our lifetimes. This is a case in which we simply can’t afford to pray and walk away. If we need more prayer, as Huckabee posits, then it must be the kind of prayer that is unceasing, the kind that seamlessly transitions into the daily work of bringing about God’s kingdom on earth.
prayer  christian  ethics 
8 days ago
A Conversation with Leslie Jamison - Image Journal
One thing I’ve thought a lot about as I have tried to turn certain personal experiences into narrative is: I’ve noted my own knee-jerk tendency to lean into the crutch of total self-deprecation as a self-protective gesture. I judge myself very harshly on the page as a way of preempting the judgment of readers. I’m saying, “Every bad thought you could have about me, I’ve already had about myself. So I’m going to inoculate you against having it.”

A really self-ennobling narrative is a bad idea for lots of reasons: it reduces the truth; it’s oversimplified. But I think an unequivocally self-deprecating narrative can be too simplistic in the same way. If you reduce your consciousness to something wholly good, you’re not telling the most complicated version of the story, and if you reduce your consciousness to something wholly dismissed, you’re not telling the most complicated version of the story either. Complexity is what I’m always trying to be in search of, whether I’m writing fiction or nonfiction, whether I’m writing about myself or somebody else.
autobiography  from instapaper
9 days ago
Book Review: Secular Cycles
One thing that strikes me about T&N’s cycles is the ideological component. They describe how, during a growth phase, everyone is optimistic and patriotic, secure in the knowledge that there is enough for everybody. During the stagflation phase, inequality increases, but concern about inequality increases even more, zero-sum thinking predominates, and social trust craters (both because people are actually defecting, and because it’s in lots of people’s interest to play up the degree to which people are defecting). By the crisis phase, partisanship is much stronger than patriotism and radicals are talking openly about how violence is ethically obligatory.

And then, eventually, things get better. There is a new Augustan Age of virtue and the reestablishment of all good things. This is a really interesting claim. Western philosophy tends to think in terms of trends, not cycles. We see everything going on around us, and we think this is some endless trend towards more partisanship, more inequality, more hatred, and more state dysfunction.

Secular Cycles offers a narrative where endless trends can end, and things can get better after all. Of course, it also offers a narrative where sometimes this process involves the death of 30% – 50% of the population.
history  economics  politics  population  from instapaper
9 days ago
What Is Democratic Socialism?
Over the course of the twentieth century, workers in these countries won full employment, a strong welfare state, and high levels of unionization. But they never successfully challenged the source of capitalist class power: their ownership rights over the major national corporations.

As a result, in the last thirty or so years, a reinvigorated capitalist class in these countries has led a persistent and successful campaign to roll back these progressive achievements. These failed progressive experiments show that our democratic socialist vision has to go far beyond the narrow limits that today’s newly minted socialism experts on cable news will allow.

That’s not because we are gluttons for politically difficult tasks, or because we are political purists. If we could win the better world that progressives, social democrats, and democratic socialists all want without challenging and eventually eliminating the power of capitalists, we’d happily take the easier route.

It’s precisely because it’s not so easy to change the world under capitalism that we are socialists.
socialism  from instapaper
9 days ago
Socialism and the Democracy Deficit
For those who held to this understanding of liberty, an economy distinguished by a substantial inequality of wealth was a structure of likely domination that imperiled democracy. Forbath has succinctly summarized the core argument of this tradition. “Its gist is simple: Gross economic inequality produces gross political inequality. You can’t have a constitutional republic, or what the Framers called a ‘republican form of government,’ and certainly not a constitutional democracy, in the context of gross material inequality among citizens, for three reasons: It produces an oligarchy in which the wealthy rule; it destroys the material independence and security that citizens must have in order to think and act on their own behalf and participate on a roughly equal footing in the polity and society; and it impedes access to basic goods that are the foundation of dignity and standing in one’s own eyes and in the eyes of the community.” Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis purportedly summed things up even more succinctly: “We must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.” [...]

Rather than trying to quarantine American politics from the consequences of economic inequality by means of campaign finance regulation and other political reforms, a more effective and stable response to the democratic deficit, one consistent with the distributive tradition, would be to address its cause. Instead of shielding the remnants of democracy and republican liberty from further trespasses at the hands of the wealthy, democrats should attack the source of their power—to deprive them of their disproportionate wealth and prevent its re-accumulation. At the same time, principled democrats should ensure that all citizens have the material independence and security that political equality and democracy require.

So the question that democrats should ask of American socialists is whether socialism is the only or the best way to attack oligarchy and address the crisis of republican liberty that we are facing. What do they mean by “democratic” socialism, and how does the socialism they foresee comport with republican liberty? And even if it does prove complementary with the material demands of democracy, is it the only or the best way to rescue our democratic republic from oligarchy?

socialism  from instapaper
9 days ago
Socialism in No Country
Unfortunately, no self-identified socialist regime in the world—all of which have been installed by professional revolutionists in the Marxist-Leninist tradition—has ever been the least bit democratic. No democratically elected legislative body has ever voted to take control of their nation’s “means of production,” except to the most modest extent. Jacobin magazine, which could reasonably serve as the house organ of the YDSA, points to Salvador Allende’s brief presidency of Chile as an example of a situation in which true socialism might have been democratically installed, had it not been for America’s intervention.

There’s good reason to be skeptical of that claim. [...]

Certain politicians, and gullible or careless members of the press, persist in claiming that social democracy is a form of socialism. This misconstruction enables conservatives to label proposals such as Medicare for All as socialist projects, and results from the erroneous assumption that if socialists support a particular program, that means the program is ipso facto socialist. Jacobin writers have been admirably straightforward in refuting this mischaracterization of social democracy. Neal Meyer, in a Jacobin piece titled “What Is Democratic Socialism?,” offers the following fair-minded description of social democracies: “Societies with robust social safety nets and labor movements that check the worst tendencies of capitalism and limit the power of the wealthy in key ways.” What, then, exactly, is Jacobin’s objection to Scandinavian-style social democracy, especially given the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s annual surveys that consistently show Scandinavians among the most contented people in the world? What the writers object to, you finally realize, is any significant degree of power remaining in the private sphere—they appear to want, exactly as Bakunin accused Marx of wanting, a total concentration of power in the state. The rejoinder that under their form of socialism the state would be restrained through a system of direct democracy is hardly reassuring, or realistic.
socialism  from instapaper
9 days ago
If journalists would cover abortion with impartiality, maybe they could gain the trust of Trump voters
Evangelicals and other Americans for whom faith matters need reassurance that journalists provide a trustworthy and honorable public service, with a powerful tool — a flashlight. When we shine that light without partiality, the public gains the knowledge, insight and understanding to become better citizens and better-informed voters.

When it comes to reporting on abortion, I worry that like the Democratic Party, whose candidates appear to march in ideological lockstep, some of us have dropped our flashlights and picked up hammers.

That makes us putty in the hands of Trump, who continues to build his dangerous narrative about an evil, treasonous media. The people I used to cover are buying it. I wonder what would happen if we reported on their concerns with more dignity and respect. Maybe they would challenge the president, instead of us. We're running out of time.
abortion  from instapaper
10 days ago
[Criticism] Like This or Die | Harper's Magazine
At the end of his life, after he’d stopped writing, Philip Roth made a habit of talking about the impending death of the novel, which was sure to transpire within a couple of decades of his own. Screens were sapping the public’s attention. “There was never a Golden Age of Serious Reading in America,” he told Le Monde in 2013, “but I don’t remember ever in my lifetime the situation being as sad for books—with all the steady focus and uninterrupted concentration they require—­as it is today. And it will be worse tomorrow and even worse the day after. My prediction is that in thirty years, if not sooner, there will be just as many people reading serious fiction in America as now read Latin poetry.” Franzen, for his part, says he’s turned to Hollywood because ours is “an age when the novel is in retreat and people are looking for reasons not to have to read a book.”
reading  novel  from instapaper
10 days ago
What Lies Beyond Capitalism? A Christian Exploration by David Bentley Hart
Essentially, capitalism is the process of securing evanescent material advantages through the permanent destruction of its own material basis. It is a system of total consumption, not simply in the commercial sense, but in the sense also that its necessary logic is the purest nihilism, a commitment to the transformation of concrete material plenitude into immaterial absolute value. I expect, therefore, that – barring the appearance, at an oblique angle, of some adventitious, countervailing agency – capitalism will not have exhausted its intrinsic energies until it has exhausted the world itself. That would, in fact, mark its final triumph: the total rendition of the last intractable residues of the merely intrinsically good into the impalpable Pythagorean eternity of market value. And any force capable of interrupting this process would have to come from beyond.
capitalism  politics  church  from instapaper
11 days ago
Public Theology in Retreat - Los Angeles Review of Books
If David Bentley Hart represents anything, it is that there is more to Christianity in public than debauched power politics, more to theology than the caricatures of the unknowing. It is a rich, demanding tradition that hates injustice, loves the truth, privileges the downtrodden, adores the beautiful, and refuses to give even one inch to the atomizing, reductive forces of a technocracy rushing to impose the future on us all. It knows, but what it knows is mystery. It is not what you wish it were, and it will not affirm what you already believe. But then, who would want that? “Our longing for transcendence is inextinguishable in us,” and though our age obscures it, “we are nevertheless still open to the same summons issued in every age to every soul.” Come and see.
theology  from instapaper
11 days ago
He Predicted The 2016 Fake News Crisis. Now He's Worried About An Information Apocalypse.
That can lead to something Ovadya calls “reality apathy”: Beset by a torrent of constant misinformation, people simply start to give up. Ovadya is quick to remind us that this is common in areas where information is poor and thus assumed to be incorrect. The big difference, Ovadya notes, is the adoption of apathy to a developed society like ours. The outcome, he fears, is not good. “People stop paying attention to news and that fundamental level of informedness required for functional democracy becomes unstable.”
media  socialmedia  HTT  from instapaper
11 days ago
Sorry, But We Can’t Just Hack Our Way Out of Climate Doom
One issue with afforestation, or planting trees where previously there were none, is that it can leave less land for farming. If not done strategically, that might lead to a bump in food prices. Reforesting logged lands is great, but if you don’t work out how those trees are going to get water, or if you end up taking water away from agriculture, you’ll either have a wasted effort or a very unhappy populace. There are tradeoffs, and there are roadblocks. “And if they’re not addressed,” says Pasztor, “then we’re going to do the usual that humanity does, is that we solve one problem and we create three others.”

That applies to individual countries too—a geoengineering project in one nation could end up becoming a menace to the neighbors. Let’s say a country does something drastic, like unilaterally spraying aerosols in its airspace, which would bounce solar energy back into space and cool its climate. This is still a theoretical approach, known as solar geoengineering, and researchers are only beginning to explore how it would work, if it would work, and what the repercussions might be. “As a global community, we do not know nearly enough about the impacts of solar geoengineering to evaluate who would benefit, who would be harmed, and by how much,” says UC Berkeley agricultural economist Jonathan Proctor, who studies the potential effects of the technique.
climate  from instapaper
13 days ago
Shostakovich Quartet No. 8 in C Minor, Opus 110
In her recent biography of the composer, Laurel Fay suggests an even darker autobiographical significance. In the spring of 1960, just before his trip to Dresden, Shostakovich was named head of the Union of Composers of the Soviet Federation, and the Russian government clearly expected such a position to be held by a party member. Under pressure to join the party, the composer reluctantly agreed and then was overwhelmed by regret and guilt. There is evidence that he intended that the Eighth Quartet, a work full of autobiographical meaning, should be his final composition and that he planned to kill himself upon his return to Moscow. Five days after completing the quartet, Shostakovich wrote to a friend: “However much I tried to draft my obligations for the film, I just couldn’t do it. Instead I wrote an ideologically deficient quartet nobody needs. I reflected that if I die some day then it’s hardly likely anyone will write a work dedicated to my memory. So I decided to write one myself. You could even write on the cover: ‘Dedicated to the memory of the composer of this quartet.’ ”
music  from instapaper
13 days ago
When Did Everyone Become a Socialist?
Still, among New York’s creative underclass — cash poor but culturally potent — it feels like everything but socialism is now irrelevant. “I’ve noticed that there’s a kind of baseline assumption in the room that everyone is a socialist,” says Brostoff. “And if they’re not, it’s because they’re an anarchist.” Coolheaded Obaman technocracy is out; strident left-wing moral clarity is in. And while this atmospheric shift is felt most acutely among the left-literary crowd, it’s also bled into the general discourse, such that Teen Vogue is constantly flacking against capitalism and one of the most devastating insults in certain corners of the internet is to call someone a neoliberal.

The word socialism has become a kind of blank canvas on which young leftists project their political desires. The reason to call it socialism, the lefty journalist Kate Aronoff has said, is because people are calling it socialism. At least in Brooklyn, and the spiritual Brooklyns of America, calling yourself a socialist sounds sexier than anything else out there, without necessarily advocating anything too risky.
socialism  from instapaper
13 days ago
"And (Apart From Your Grace) There is No Health In Us" | The North American Anglican
Thus the Cranmerian phrase is not a stylistic exaggeration, but rather part of a biblical pattern of abandoning our own defenses, prerogatives, possessions. And herein lies the significance of the clause’s ending: “in us.” Not “in us in Christ.” But “in us” in the sense of “in us ourselves, in us considered by ourselves.” When considered by ourselves—“in us”—no part of us is well, no part is healthy. There is no health in us.

Moreover, the qualifying gloss throws off the balance of its sentence. This clause is the last in a sentence of three clauses: “[1] We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; [2] And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; [3] And there is no health in us.” The first two clauses are longer and precisely balanced. The third sharply departs from the parallelism of the previous clauses in syntax and length, maintaining their sense even while shifting the mood to a more emphatic assessment of our condition.
BCP  Anglican  christian  sin  from instapaper
15 days ago
Hidden with Christ (Barth on Colossians 3:3) - The Scriptorium Daily
Barth argues that when Christ says, “I will return,” his return has three forms: he returns to his disciples after his death and burial, at the resurrection. He returns to his disciples after his ascension in the person of and by the ministry of the Holy Spirit, at Pentecost. And he will return to his disciples when he comes to judge the living and the dead, at the parousia. These are three forms of the return of Christ, and they mutually inform each other.

This is why Barth can say that in the second coming of Christ, this same event of Christ’s resurrection will be “repeated and renewed and consummated.” (IV/3;318-9) Developing this idea further, Barth asserts that the best analogy for the resurrection of Christ is the Christian in affliction. (IV/3:645)
theology  from instapaper
15 days ago
Bullshit jobs and the yoke of managerial feudalism - Open Future
The whole “lean and mean” ideal is applied much more to productive workers than to office cubicles. It’s not at all uncommon for the same executives who pride themselves on downsizing and speed-ups on the shop floor, or in delivery and so forth, to use the money saved at least in part to fill their offices with feudal retinues of basically useless flunkies.

They have whole teams of people who are just there, for instance, to design the graphics for their reports, write accolades for in-house magazines no one reads, or in many cases, who aren’t really doing anything at all, just making cat memes all day or playing computer games. But they are kept on because the prestige and even sometimes the salary of any given manager is measured by how many people he has working under him.

[...] unless you get very lucky, your choices are largely limited to two options. You can get a basically bullshit job, which will pay the rent but leave you wracked with the guilty feeling that you are being forced, against your will, to be a fraud and a parasite. Or, you can get a helpful, useful job taking care of people, making or moving or maintaining things that people want or need - but then, likely you will be paid so little you won’t be able to take care of your own family.

There is an almost perfect inverse relation between how much your work directly benefits others, and remuneration. The result is a toxic political culture of resentment.
culture  economics  work 
16 days ago
The Problem with Facebook Is Facebook: Siva Vaidhyanathan on Antisocial Media
One of the perverse things about both Facebook and Google is that because their money came so early and so easily, they think of themselves as market actors that are liberated from the market. Venture capital has a distorting power. It encourages inefficiency in the distribution of resources, it encourages bad actors, and it encourages foolish ideas. So much money chasing so many bad ideas gets abused and wasted by so many bad people.

I think we should call a halt to it. If companies want funding, they should have to go public early. We should slow down the culture and say we want there to be fewer moonshots. We want an economy with more solid businesses, ones that grow slowly, that are tested over time, and that have to be run by grownups.
Facebook  socialmedia  from instapaper
16 days ago
Video-Game Violence Is Now a Partisan Issue
Ferguson insists that the debate about video-game violence will live as long as there are video games to play and researchers to study them. “But the evidence is very clear that there’s not a relationship between violent video games and violence in society. There’s not evidence of a correlation, let alone a causation,” he says. Other researchers have come to the same conclusion, and the American Psychological Association issued a public statement in 2017 discouraging politicians and journalists from connecting games and violence. In his own recent studies on longitudinal behavior, Ferguson and his collaborators conclude that violent games don’t appear to predict anything useful about violent thoughts or acts—not physical aggression, social aggression, or even cyberbullying.
violence  games  from instapaper
17 days ago
Rituals of Childhood
The United States has institutionalized the mass shooting in a way that Durkheim would immediately recognize. As I discovered to my shock when my own children started school in North Carolina some years ago, preparation for a shooting is a part of our children’s lives as soon as they enter kindergarten. The ritual of a Killing Day is known to all adults. It is taught to children first in outline only, and then gradually in more detail as they get older. The lockdown drill is its Mass. The language of “Active shooters”, “Safe corners”, and “Shelter in place” is its liturgy. “Run, Hide, Fight” is its creed. Security consultants and credential-dispensing experts are its clergy. My son and daughter have been institutionally readied to be shot dead as surely as I, at their age, was readied by my school to receive my first communion. They practice their movements. They are taught how to hold themselves; who to defer to; what to say to their parents; how to hold their hands. The only real difference is that there is a lottery for participation. Most will only prepare. But each week, a chosen few will fully consummate the process, and be killed.
violence  childhood 
18 days ago
Motion Smoothing Is Ruining Cinema
Higher frame rates have a curious effect on how we process cinematic images. At the 2016 New York Film Festival, I attended the much-hyped world premiere of Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, a supposedly revolutionary picture that had been shot at a frame rate of 120 fps, about a young soldier who relives the trauma of his Iraq deployment over the course of an NFL playoff halftime show during which his platoon’s feats are celebrated. The action was as smooth as it could be, and the 120 fps images did look hyperreal, as advertised — like we were in a limo with the characters as they joked around, or in combat as bullets whizzed past them. But the movie was in no way immersive. It was the exact opposite: The acting felt stiff, the story bogus, and the filmmaking amateurish.

A couple of months later, as it neared theatrical release, I saw Billy Lynn again, this time projected at a typical 24 fps. It’s not a great picture by any stretch of the imagination, but to my bewilderment, the performances were now engaging; the drama that had felt so unwieldy was now occasionally moving. No major cuts or additions had been made. I was watching the same movie, but this time, I was watching it at the frame rate at which movies are supposed to be experienced. And suddenly, it all kind of worked.
film  from instapaper
19 days ago
Do College Admissions by Lottery - Behavioral Scientist
The solution to this problem is an admissions lottery. If selective schools use a lottery, the pressure balloon that is engulfing high-school kids will be punctured. Instead of having to be better than anyone else, they will just have to be “good enough”—and lucky. Anyone who is good enough gets her name thrown into the hat and has the same chance of admission as anyone else with a name in the hat.

A lottery like this won’t correct the injustice that is inherent in a pyramidal system in which not everyone can rise to the top. Nothing will. But what it will do is reveal this injustice for what it is, instead of pretending otherwise. And arguably, it is more just than the current system.
university  from instapaper
22 days ago
Liberals deny science, too
Yet the study also found that these scholars were less willing to consider evolutionary explanations for other aspects of human behavior, especially those relating to male-female differences. Less than 50 percent considered it plausible that that "feelings of sexual jealousy have a significant evolutionary biological component," for instance, and just 36.4 percent considered it plausible that men "have a greater tendency towards promiscuity than women due to an evolved reproductive strategy.” While it is hard to be absolutely definitive on either of these issues (we weren't there to observe evolution happen), evolutionary psychologists have certainly argued in published studies that people exhibit jealousy in sexual relationships in order to ensure reproductive fidelity and preserve the resources that come from a partner, and that men are more promiscuous because they are not constrained in how often they can attempt to reproduce.
science  from instapaper
22 days ago
Against Against Billionaire Philanthropy
George Soros donated/invested $500 million to help migrants and refugees. If he had given it to the government instead, would it have gone to some more grassroots migrant-helping effort?

No. It would have gone to building a border wall, building more camps to lock up migrants, more cages to separate refugee children from their families. Maybe some tiny trickle, a fraction of a percent, would have gone to a publicly-funded pro-refugee effort, but not nearly as much as would have gone to hurting refugees.

The idea that we should divert money from freeing the incarcerated, saving animals, and reuniting families – to instead expanding incarceration, torturing animals, and separating families – seems monstrous to me, even (especially?) when cloaked in communitarian language.
charity  from instapaper
23 days ago
Academic Freedom, Even for Amy Wax
Amy Wax’s case is hardly unique in making some students feel like she might not think highly of them or value their contributions to the campus community. Infamously, the argument now being turned against Amy Wax is the exact same argument that was turned against Stephen Salaita when the University of Illinois sought to unhire him because some Jewish students might be reluctant to take his classes. It is the exact same argument that was turned against Marc Lamont Hill at Temple University, against Kevin MacDonald at Cal State-Long Beach, and against Joy Karega at Oberlin. It is the same argument that has been turned against professors who engage in racially inflammatory rhetoric that might make white students think they would be judged by the color of their skin, as with Johnny Eric Williams at Trinity or George Ciccariello-Maher at Drexel or Zandria Robinson at Memphis. It is not hard to imagine the same kind of argument being turned against professors who publicly announce that conservatives are too dumb to engage in serious academic work, as with Robert Brandon at Duke or Jason Rosenhouse at James Madison, or against professors who denounce members of fraternities, as with Jonathan Zimmerman at Penn or Lisa Wade at Occidental, or against professors who argue that legacies or athletes are improperly admitted to universities.
academicfreedom  from instapaper
23 days ago
Was Paul unclear in his teaching on sexuality? | Psephizo
E P Sanders is very interesting in this regard; like many other scholars, whilst he is clear about what Paul means, he does not see Paul’s view as in any sense binding on his own views as a Christian.
Paul’s vice lists are generally ignored in church polity and administration. Christian churches contain people who drink too much, who are greedy, who are deceitful, who quarrel, who gossip, who boast, who once rebelled against their parents, and who are foolish. Yet Paul’s vice lists condemn them all, just as much as they condemn people who engage in homosexual acts (p 372).

Sanders is spot on here: you cannot pick and choose, and if you take Paul seriously on one issue, you must surely take him seriously (or not) on all issues. Sanders’ conclusion is to treat them all as non-binding—but of course there is an alternative response available.
bible  sexuality  from instapaper
26 days ago
An Ecomodernist Manifesto
Humans will always materially depend on nature to some degree. Even if a fully synthetic world were possible, many of us might still choose to continue to live more coupled with nature than human sustenance and technologies require. What decoupling offers is the possibility that human- ity’s material dependence upon nature might be less destructive.

The case for a more active, conscious, and accelerated decoupling to spare nature draws more on spiritual or aesthetic than on material or utilitarian arguments. Current and future generations could survive and prosper materially on a planet with much less biodiversity and wild nature. But this is not a world we want nor, if humans embrace decoupling processes, need to accept.
ecology  climate  World 
27 days ago
No Climate Event in 2,000 Years Compares to What’s Happening Now
What makes those older eras different from modern warming is coherence—that climate change is happening today just about everywhere at the same time. “That coherence cannot be explained by the natural variability of the climate system,” Steiger said. And it does not characterize any previous era.

“This study is another nail in the coffin of the idea of that there was a globally warm or cold period that fit tidily into a specific couple of centuries,” said Yarrow Axford, a climate scientist at Northwestern University, in an email. She was not involved in writing the new paper. The idea that the Little Ice Age or eras like it were uniform global events was “already dying within the scientific community,” she said, yet that idea remains “perennially popular with nonexperts who want to sow doubt about the significance of the dramatic and truly global warming that has occurred in the past century."
climate  from instapaper
29 days ago
Facebook Negotiated Its Rules - Bloomberg
The idea of passing a law to ban bad stuff is not to give the FTC more power to negotiate stricter settlement conditions. The idea of passing a law to ban bad stuff is to ban the bad stuff. If Congress passed a law restricting social media companies’ data collection practices, then the FTC wouldn’t need to include those restrictions in a consent decree with Facebook, because those restrictions would be in the law. Facebook would be bound by them, not because it agreed to them, but because they would be the law. Twitter and Google and other yet-to-be-invented internet services would also be bound by them, even without agreeing to them, because they would be generally applicable national rules about internet privacy passed by the legislative body in the name of the people, rather than the product of negotiations with one company.
law  socialmedia 
29 days ago
Man Who Built The Retweet: “We Handed A Loaded Weapon To 4-Year-Olds”
“It was very easy for them to brigade reputational harm on someone they didn't like,” Wetherell said, of the Gamergaters. “Ask any of the people who were targets at that time, retweeting helped them get a false picture of a person out there faster than they could respond. We didn't build a defense for that. We only built an offensive conduit.”

Gamergate was a "creeping horror story for me," Wetherell said. "It dawned on me that this was not some small subset of people acting aberrantly. This might be how people behave. And that scared me to death.”
socialmedia  from instapaper
29 days ago
Amy Wax’s Critics Unfairly Smeared Her. But She’s Wrong. | National Review
My next objection to Wax is that she wildly overestimates the extent to which European society represents some sort of cultural match with the United States. American culture and European culture have been drifting apart for decades on a key metric — religiosity. Secular nationalists may not care about this, but European-biased immigration is secular-biased immigration, and that will alter American culture in appreciable ways.

Many Americans don’t fully appreciate just how godless European culture has become. The data are clear and overwhelming. Comparisons between European and American measures of religiosity show that the vast majority of European nations aren’t as religious as the least-religious American states.

Poland, one of the most religious European countries, would be the 48th most religious American state, just below Connecticut in the percentage of adults who are “highly religious.” Every single other large European nation is far more secular than New Hampshire, America’s least religious state, often by a large margin. A mere 33 percent of New Hampshire adults are “highly religious.” Compare that to 11 percent in the U.K., 12 percent in France, 21 percent in Spain, 27 percent in Italy, 12 percent in Germany, and 17 percent in Russia.
politics  culture  immigration  from instapaper
4 weeks ago
Of Pulpits and Preaching
A pulpit reminds the preacher that he or she stands in a tradition and under a discipline. I’m always grateful when I step into one of the pulpits in the Diocese of Springfield and see a brass plaque right where my text goes, quoting the Greeks who approached Philip in John 12:21 with the request, “Sir, we would see Jesus.” The pulpit is a sign, both to the congregation and the preacher, that preaching is not a free-lance endeavor. It exists within a network of accountability — accountability to the gospel, accountability to leading people to “see Jesus.” A sermon is never rightfully “a few words about what’s on my mind.” It is a weighty privilege, a joyful responsibility, worthy of the preacher’s best art and craft in the moment. The whole communion of “saints, prophets, apostles, and martyrs” is listening in to hear a word of good news.

In a similar fashion, a pulpit reminds the congregation that they are not in church to be entertained or enthralled, and that the preacher speaks with authority. In the Anglican tradition, one of the visible symbolic acts in the liturgy of ordination is when the bishop presents the new priest with a Bible, saying, “Receive this Bible as a sign of the authority given to you to preach the Word of God …” That conferral of authority is a solemn moment. Those listening to a sermon owe the preacher a presumption of trust that he or she has indeed wrestled with the message, and is, in fact, delivering a “word from the Lord.” Somehow, a proper pulpit helps make that trust more credible; a plexiglass stand, not so much.
preaching  Anglican  from instapaper
4 weeks ago
Magic Wormhole
This package provides a library and a command-line tool named wormhole, which makes it possible to get arbitrary-sized files and directories (or short pieces of text) from one computer to another. The two endpoints are identified by using identical "wormhole codes": in general, the sending machine generates and displays the code, which must then be typed into the receiving machine.

The codes are short and human-pronounceable, using a phonetically-distinct wordlist. The receiving side offers tab-completion on the codewords, so usually only a few characters must be typed. Wormhole codes are single-use and do not need to be memorized.
tech  from instapaper
4 weeks ago
Human Dignity between Kitsch and Deification
The challenge to the humanistic approach is to find a justifying attribute, that is, a good-making feature of humans by virtue of which each and every human being deserves respect. Being human is not usually regarded as good enough to justify respect because it is regarded as a merely descriptive term to designate a biological species and hence has no moral bearing. Against this common view, I maintain that being human is the right title to justify respect as humans. Moreover, other justifying attributes shoot either too high or too low, whereas being human is right on target. An example of shooting too low is respect for humans as potential victims. An example of shooting too high is respect for humans as potential moral legislators. Shooting too low involves kitsch; shooting too high involves deification. Both are seductive traps. My concern in this essay is to clarify what I believe these traps to be and to extricate the discussion from some claptraps that go along with it.
humanism  from instapaper
4 weeks ago
Defender of Utopia’s Remnant
This capacity to think beyond any one idiom and to fashion an amalgam that draws on multiple critical languages is what makes his project so unique, so truly cosmopolitan, and so essential. At its heart is a profoundly unfashionable commitment to—or what Kant would call a “practical faith” in—the liberal-bourgeois institutions of the present world as the only viable or plausible institutional framework within which we may reasonably hope. His concern with the “exhaustion of utopian energies,” a phrase he uses repeatedly, does not entail for him the collapse of moral absolutes. Even if no ideal world is realistic today, we may still operate with ideals. He is aware of critics, including Reinhold Niebuhr in an earlier generation, who have warned that faith in adjustment qua adjustment is inevitably technocratic and finally sterile and will exhaust itself over time. The fact that, in Germany, such criticisms seem more often launched from the right than from the left has inclined Habermas to take them less seriously than he might have. Nonetheless, he has recognized their bite. So where can hope for such ideals, and their nourishment, be found?
politics  culture  utopia  from instapaper
4 weeks ago
Move Over, San Andreas: There’s an Ominous New Fault in Town
When I spoke with Brian Wernicke, the Caltech geologist, he offered an ideal example of timeful thinking. Wernicke believes that the Walker Lane hypothesis is potentially not ambitious enough. He pointed out that over tens of millions of years, the crust beneath Nevada has been stretched east to west so dramatically that it's only about half as thick as it used to be. Like a well-worn piece of denim, it could easily begin to tear. The pent-up stress that currently appears to be migrating from the San Andreas to the Walker Lane might instead be taken up by the Wasatch Fault, which passes through Salt Lake City. In other words, Wernicke said, the Pacific Ocean could someday inundate central Utah.

I relayed Wernicke's idea about the Wasatch Fault to Faulds. After a few seconds of thoughtful silence, he said that one way to think of this would be: What happens after the San Andreas has become a dormant scar in the landscape and the Walker Lane is the definitive plate boundary in the West? Where will the seismic stress go then? Perhaps, he suggested, the Walker Lane will intersect in the far future with Canada's Queen Charlotte Fault, which stretches from Vancouver Island to Alaska. At that point, Faulds told me, you might see the emergence of a genuine megafault, which could begin tearing chunks from North America as far east as Montana. “Maybe that's what Wernicke was talking about,” he said. [...]

Amos Nur, one of the originators of the Walker Lane idea, told me that cultural evidence of this kind can be easy to miss. A decade ago, he wrote a book called Apocalypse: Earthquakes, Archaeology, and the Wrath of God, about the collapse of civilizations following earthquake storms—devastating sequences of seismic upheaval. In the course of his research, Nur found that historians often overlook ancient earthquakes because written documentation of their occurrence is rare. Yet the physical ruins left behind by these events testify to the presence of catastrophic forces lurking in the landscape. Nur's unsettling conclusion is that earthquake damage throughout human history has been substantially underestimated.
geology  from instapaper
5 weeks ago
Life Finds a Way: What Evolution Teaches Us About Creativity - Andreas Wagner - Google Books
I have been visiting the Santa Fe Institute regularly for almost twenty years, and on these visits, I never know who I will meet—writers, physicists, educators, archeologists, or biologists. But I do know that kicking around ideas with them will be as stimulating as LEGO is to children. Many of their ideas linger in my mind for weeks, eventually germinating into new research projects and discipline-crossing books—like this one.

The tricks by which small institutions can accelerate recombination are hard to emulate at larger universities. One of them is smallness itself, which avoids anonymity. By constantly bumping into each other, visitors are bound to engage. Then there is a semi-secluded location, preferably outside a city center, which prevents people from wandering off for lunch or coffee—they talk to each other instead. Shared meals served on-site achieve the same effect. And finally there is the physical space. Large and comfortable communal areas stimulate scientists to exchange ideas, contrasting with the small and shared offices given to even the most distinguished visitors. (Try enforcing that at a university.)

While institutes like these are no substitute for the teaching portfolio and billion-dollar infrastructure of universities, they are models for effective recombinators of the future. They already leave a footprint far beyond their size and have produced hugely influential collaborations in areas as different as sociology and biology.
creativity  institutions  scale 
5 weeks ago
Against Lie Inflation
I think of this as a sort of sensitivity-and-specificity statistics problem, setting a threshold to divide the population into two groups. If you have a very strict threshold for “abuser”, maybe only someone who inflicts serious physical injuries, then you can use it to separate the most abusive 1% of people from the other 99%. If you have a very weak threshold for “abuser”, so low that 99% of people qualify, then you can use it to separate the 1% least abusive people from the other 99%. If you set it in the middle, you can separate the more abusive half of the population from the less abusive half. If “abuser” picks out the most abusive 1% of people, it transmits a lot of information in a small number of cases. If it picks out the most abusive 99% of people, it transmits very little information in a large number of cases (and now “not an abuser” transmits a large amount of information in a small number of cases!). If the boundary is set at 50%, it transmits an equal moderate amount of information about everyone.
HTT  from instapaper
5 weeks ago
The utterly pathetic Republican Party
Republicans like to pretend that they hate Washington. It's the Swamp, a place of corruption that sucks the lifeblood out of the private sector, which is where the real action is. Don't believe it for a second. On Tuesday, Republicans had a chance to demonstrate that they care about something nobler than keeping their powerful perches in the nation's capital — to tell the country that they think it's un-American for the president of the United States to talk like a hateful imbecile about members of Congress — and instead they chose to send the message that they couldn't care less. Because in a party whose voters are in thrall to Trump, that's the price of keeping their precious jobs.
politics  from instapaper
5 weeks ago
QR is King
This summer I spent a month in Beijing. I’d last lived in China in 2016, and I was relieved to find my favorite noodle shops in their usual niches. But this time round, navigating the city felt inexplicably different. The cabs I tried to hail passed me by. On the subway, other riders jostled past me, swiping their phones at the turnstiles as I fumbled with my ticket. When I tried to sneak into the cafeteria in Renmin University for a cheap lunch, clutching my grubby backpack, I made it past the guards only to be stopped at the cash register—apart from student cards, the only form of payment accepted was Alipay.

It gradually dawned on me that this was why Beijing felt like a different city from the one I knew: in the two years since I’d left, the whole city had switched over to mobile payments on China-specific platforms to which I, a foreigner, had no access. These days in Beijing, the green and blue logos of mobile payment providers WeChat Pay and Alipay appear everywhere, from breakfast stalls to five-star hotels.
china  tech  surveillance  from instapaper
5 weeks ago
Coke, Sir Edward (1552–1634), lawyer, legal writer, and politician | Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Deriving little from William the Conqueror—that is, finding the source of law in popular custom and judicial wisdom rather than in royal command—Coke gave mythic dimensions to the common law by tracing legal doctrines into dim antiquity. Following Sir John Fortescue he claimed that the unwritten law of England had operated unchanged since the days of the druids. He traced parliament to Anglo-Saxon days, possibly back to the conventus described by Tacitus, and he held that the rule against distraining beasts of the plough had been established by the mythical Celtic lawgiver Dunwallo Molmutius. This penchant for anachronism, common among Tudor lawyers, has been derided as a pathology of 'the common-law mind'. Yet Coke's myth-making was rooted less in mentality than in ideology. Like the Tudor divines who unearthed proofs that the Church of England was as ancient as the Church of Rome and preceded the establishment of papal authority, the lawyers' efforts to trace their discipline to a glorious British past reflected nationalist sentiment; the venerability of the common law reflected the heroic character of the English people. It was also a useful weapon against the encroachment of civil law. Fittingly, it was from Geoffrey Chaucer that Coke took his favourite judicial saying: 'out of the old fields, as men saith, cometh at this new corne fro yere to yere'.
history  law 
5 weeks ago
The botched assisted dying debate - UnHerd
So let’s fast-forward to a world in which assisted dying is now an option. An 85-year-old grandmother, no longer able to look after herself, has received a diagnosis that she is terminally ill and has only a few months to live. Does she go into a fiendishly expensive nursing home which will exhaust her lifetime’s savings? Or does she bow out? No one in the family has said a word to her. Yet she feels a pressure – her decisions have been complicated by the possibility of assisted dying.

Eventually, she settles on assisted dying. She’s not escorted to the clinic with a son holding a gun to her head. No grandchild has attempted to manipulate her. No one has said anything to her, in fact, so no independent assessment panel will pick up on overt coercion.

And yet, who’s to say that what’s really going on is a grandmother choosing to die prematurely because she feels she has become a burden? Are we really okay with that?
euthanasia  from instapaper
5 weeks ago
A Herd Has No Mind | National Review
E.g., the symbiotic relationship between Antifa and Proud Boys is identical to that of the Democratic party and the Republican party in its dynamic, each faction providing the other the one thing whose absence would rob the opposite party, and hence the entire symbiotic relationship, of its coherence: a mortal enemy. The Proud Boys and Antifa are playing the same game of make-believe. They are not seriously competing for political power: They are playing with each other, just as if they were playing softball or tiddlywinks. You will remember that energetic partisans left and right in 2016 reserved their bitterest invective for those who declined to choose between the salted and the unsalted sh** sandwich and subordinate themselves to one faction or the other with the appropriate gusto. Tribal opposition is part of the game; independent criticism is not.
politics  from instapaper
6 weeks ago
Self-Censorship on Campus Is Bad for Science
However, when one assumes that everyone is a blank slate, differences between what males and females do can be explained only by bias and harassment. The conclusion is obvious: All STEM fields are cesspools of sex discrimination. This is what happens when ideology replaces biology. It’s become taboo to even mention the possibility that men and women might have different preferences.

Sadly, students do not seem to realize that their good intentions may lead them to resist learning scientific facts, and can even harm their own goal of helping women and ethnic minorities. The existence of any genetic differences between males and females, or between different ethnic groups, does not imply that we should treat members of those groups differently. Denying reality and pretending that differences do not exist—as if this were the only possible path toward equality—is dangerous. If you believe that moral equality relies on biological equality, this makes your moral views susceptible to future research that might reveal biological inequalities. Instead, equality and equal opportunity for all should be the default position, regardless of potential biological differences.
science  academentia  from instapaper
6 weeks ago
The High Cost of Electric Vehicle Subsidies | Zero-Emissions Vehicles

• Broad-based adoption of ZEVs will increase overall emissions of sulfur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, and particulates, compared with the same number of new internal combustion engines. The simple fact is that, because of stringent emissions standards and low-sulfur gasoline, new gasoline-powered cars and trucks today emit very little pollution, and they will emit even less in the future.

• While new ZEVs will reduce CO2 emissions compared with new internal combustion vehicles, the overall reduction will be less than 1% of total forecast energy-related U.S. CO2 emissions through 2050. That reduction will have no measurable impact on world climate—and thus the economic value of CO2 emissions reductions associated with ZEVs is effectively zero.

• Subsidies for ZEVs and the required infrastructure to support them benefit the higher-income consumers who can afford to purchase them at the expense of lower-income consumers who cannot. In California alone, the total cost of ZEV subsidies, including federal tax credits and state rebates for ZEV purchases, as well as subsidies for private and public charging infrastructure, is likely to exceed $100 billion.
climate  travel 
6 weeks ago
How Antifa's Apologists Fell in Love With Street Violence - Quillette
Princeton University’s Omar Wasow studied protest movements in the 1960s and found that violent upheaval tended to make white voters more conservative, whereas nonviolent protests were associated with increased liberalism among white voters. “These patterns suggest violent protest activity is correlated with a taste for ‘social control’ among the predominantly white mass public,” wrote Wasow in his study.

This is something that President Richard Nixon understood quite well. In 1969, he received a memo from an aide warning him to expect increased violence on college campuses in the spring. The president grabbed a pen and scrawled a single word across the document: “Good!” He knew something many activists failed to grasp: Law-and-order policies become more palatable to the silent majority when leftists are punching people in the streets.
politics  violence  from instapaper
6 weeks ago
Why did I go to a charismatic worship service in an arena?
It came to me that all ministry was in this moment. These people had been taken and broken; my prayer partner and I had blessed them; and now we were all sharing in the feast of grace and truth. They had brought me their griefs and struggles, like bringing gifts to the altar. Now they were bringing their hunger and faith, and they were recognizing, in the broken pieces of bread, their place in God’s heart and God’s place in theirs. And it mattered not that I scarcely spoke their language or that I had begun with the arrogance of one who thought he could judge people by old-fashioned songs or lugubrious liturgy. We were in Isaiah 2, and the nations were streaming to the mountain of the Lord. The body of Christ, made flesh, was being taken and blessed, broken and given, over and again. I had the privilege of being part of it, and I wanted to be part of it forever.
worship  from instapaper
6 weeks ago
Albert Camus | Open City
The course of my own life was changed, similarly and irrevocably, by one of my teachers. The first author I came across who expressed the sense of class-displacement that ensued was D.H. Lawrence in Sons and Lovers. A little later I could be heard reciting Jimmy Porter’s tirades from Look Back in Anger by John Osborne. Then, from Raymond Williams, I learned the political and moral consequences and obligations of being educated away from the life you are born into. Finally, in Camus, who made the most immense journey from his origins, I found someone who stated, in the most affirmative and human terms, the ways in which he remained dependent on them. This understanding did not come painlessly but eventually, in a sentiment that is wholly alien to the likes of Osborne, he achieved "something priceless: a heart free of bitterness."
reading  education 
7 weeks ago
Thieves of Experience: How Google and Facebook Corrupted Capitalism - Los Angeles Review of Books
All of Facebook’s information wrangling and algorithmic fine-tuning, she writes, “is aimed at solving one problem: how and when to intervene in the state of play that is your daily life in order to modify your behavior and thus sharply increase the predictability of your actions now, soon, and later.” This goal, she suggests, is not limited to Facebook. It is coming to guide much of the economy, as financial and social power shifts to the surveillance capitalists. “The goal of everything we do is to change people’s actual behavior at scale,” a top Silicon Valley data scientist told her in an interview. “We can test how actionable our cues are for them and how profitable certain behaviors are for us.”

Behavior modification is the thread that ties today’s search engines, social networks, and smartphone trackers to tomorrow’s facial-recognition systems, emotion-detection sensors, and artificial-intelligence bots. What the industries of the future will seek to manufacture is the self.
socialmedia  Facebook  google  capitalism  from instapaper
7 weeks ago
How the Welsh fought back
The earliest poetry in Welsh is a cluster of short epigrammatic verses – englynion – written in the margins of a ninth-century Latin manuscript of the work of Juvencus, a fourth-century Spanish Christian writer. The spelling looks impenetrable to a modern Welsh reader, but read aloud (you can hear them online in a recording made by the National Museum of Wales) these verses are unmistakably recognisable as Welsh in vocabulary and cadence. They would be more easily understood by a contemporary Welsh speaker than an Anglo-Saxon poem of the same vintage would be by a modern English speaker, even if their meaning would not instantly be clear. And the form of the poetry would also be recognisable – englynion are still composed by much the same rules as the Juvencus poet uses, though there is now a greater variety of englyn forms in addition to the simple three-line stanza in the manuscript.
poetry  language  from instapaper
7 weeks ago
The Disciplinary Corporation | National Review
Nike is willing to act as an instrument of Chinese nationalism, just as firms such as Facebook and Google are willing, and sometimes even eager, to knuckle under to political pressure from governments as different as the one in Beijing and the one in Berlin. Sometimes, this is obviously crass commercial self-interest, but sometimes it is ideological as well. The corporation’s role in American community life is not merely economic: The corporation is a source of status and indeed a source of meaning for those affiliated with it, and what guides the executive decisions within Facebook and Twitter is as much ideological as financial calculation. What ideology will our corporate giants embrace? That is one of the most important and least explored questions of our time.
capitalism  from instapaper
7 weeks ago
Christian martyrs in orange jumpsuits | The Christian Century
While more detailed martyrologies will appear in future, a wonderful account of the story has already appeared in Martin Mosebach’s richly rewarding book The 21: A Journey into the Land of Coptic Martyrs (Plough, 2019). In a strikingly brief space, Mose­bach has much to tell us about each of the martyrs as individuals and about their families. The 21 is also deeply informative about the state of Coptic Egypt, and about martyrdom, and even about Coptic liturgy. The book’s only flaw is that it is so emotionally moving that it is difficult to read without frequent breaks.

When the ISIL killers first publicized their act in 2015, they declared that they were “chopping off the heads that had been carrying the cross delusion for a long time.” As a move to suppress the “cross delusion,” the killings failed spectacularly. In fact, we might recall one of the great political speeches of the last century, when Pádraig Pearse recalled all the violence that Great Britain had used to suppress the spirit of Ireland, and we might adapt his words today: “They think that they have foreseen everything, think that they have provided against everything; but the fools, the fools, the fools!—they have left us our faithful dead!”
7 weeks ago
Jony Ive’s Fragmented Legacy: Unreliable, Unrepairable, Beautiful Gadgets
Two of Rams’ other principles point to the things we most want to see happen in a post-Ive Apple: “Good design emphasises the usefulness of a product whilst disregarding anything that could possibly detract from it,” and “Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the user.” Those of us living the dongle life, or wondering what the TouchBar is really for, have a thing or two to say about respect and usefulness.

It’s time for Apple to refocus on all of the aspects of good design. Ive’s influence has brought us more than a billion beautifully made, accessible products. But beautiful has come at the cost of usefulness, durability, respect for the user’s resourcefulness, and the environment. There are Braun juicers and razors and furniture from Rams’ time still usable today, but we won’t be able to say the same in twenty years about today’s MacBooks or AirPods. That’s a shame. Apple can do better.
design  apple  from instapaper
7 weeks ago
We know a lot less than we think about the world – which explains the allure of “simplism”
Simplist solutions are seized upon because we don’t like to feel that we don’t understand things. When you don’t understand something, you feel less sense of agency over it, and as the 2016 Leave campaign realised, people get scared and angry when they don’t feel in control.

Simplism is changing the way we feel about each other, too. Dan Kahan, a Yale professor, is one of America’s leading experts on political polarisation, and one of his findings is that partisanship results from incuriosity. If you have a very different opinion to me on immigration, that might be because you have a very different experience of it from me. But to contemplate your different life experience requires an expense of brainpower to which most of us are unwilling to commit. It’s more efficient to dismiss others as bigoted or gullible.
HTT  from instapaper
7 weeks ago
The Birth, Death, and Rebirth of Postmodernism
Indeed, in 2019 the pendulum seems to have swung as far away from “postmodernism” as possible. The sentence “Trump is a racist” is now regularly pronounced on CNN as if it were a simple fact, equivalent to “Trump is 6'3".” The assumption is that racist means a specific thing and Trump is definitely that thing. Or again, when people today refer to “social justice,” a term postmodernism would have been reluctant to use, they see no need to define the term. No simulacrum here: We all know what social justice would and should look like.

Accordingly, if postmodernism can now refer to anything, it can only be a historical period, from around 1960 to 2000. What, then, about our own moment? Surely there is no use calling ours the post-­postmodern, especially since — and this is the real complication — even as postmodernism has gone away, modernism is still very much with us.
postmodernism  from instapaper
7 weeks ago
Transformation as Homecoming by Charles Foster - Little Toller Books
I was drinking red wine with an old Greek Orthodox priest, somewhere in the southern Peloponnese. We’d been talking about the British writer, Bruce Chatwin, who at the end of his life said that he wanted to be admitted into the Greek Orthodox church. (He died of AIDS before he was). ‘Would he have stayed in Orthodoxy?’ I wondered aloud. ‘Or would Byzantium have been just another exotic location to add to his collection?’

‘I don’t know about him’, said the priest, ‘but there is one sure fire way of telling whether someone will last. The ones who stay with it always, always, say that they have found their way home. That they have always really been Orthodox, however long they’ve been a Jehovah’s Witness, or a Satanist, or a Communist. The conversion – the transformation – is actually a reversion: a rediscovery: an acknowledgment of something that has always been.’
religion  transformation  from instapaper
7 weeks ago
There Is Only Trump
“In my office I have a bookshelf groaning with all these conservative tomes,” Lowry said. “My Russell Kirk. My Friedrich Hayek. All the rest. When Trump was rising in the primary I would look at those shelves and say, as conservatives, we’ve always thought that ideas matter. They don’t matter at all!"
ideas  politics  from instapaper
7 weeks ago
Tom Shippey reviews ‘Invasion of the Space Invaders’ by Martin Amis and ‘Dicing with Dragons’ by Ian Livingstone · LRB 30 December 1982
Agonistic, aleatory, vertiginous, mimetic: those are four classes of game, or more accurately four game-elements which can be combined in different ways to create different genres. Mimetic games, obviously, are games in which the players pretend to be someone or something else. In their developed form we don’t call these ‘games’ any more, but ‘plays’, and furthermore hardly any of us now participate in them. We watch them all the time, and that gives one kind of fun, but the fun of mimesis itself is much rarer – regarded, even, with some suspicion. Charades are no longer popular; and while it’s OK for little boys to run round wearing Liverpool shirts or shouting ‘I’ll be Trevor Francis,’ this is strongly frowned upon for even slightly bigger boys. One remembers the games teacher in Kes who ran the whole football session so he could pretend he was Bobby Charlton. Everybody does this in their heads, just like Walter Mitty, but let it show and it’s classified as perverse, immature, not an acceptable form of fun at all.

Vertiginous games are much simpler and can’t have changed much (except for water-skiing) from their primitive ancestors. They’re games that exploit the thrill of falling, or not quite falling: skating, high-board diving, driving sports-cars, whirling small children round and round and round. Aleatory ones are games with a strong element of chance built in, dice games, card games, most of them dependent on gambling even if it’s only for matches. Finally, agonistic games are games with two sides. Chess is one, football another. They don’t look much alike, but in both you must ‘start fair’, both depend on tactics, and in both, like it or not, a major thrill is not playing or even winning, but beating someone else: ‘beat’ is first recorded with this sense in a sporting context in 1770, with reference (significantly enough) to cricket.
games  play 
8 weeks ago
Building a Cathedral — The Prepared
As Dr. Atif Ansar, a professor in major project management at Oxford, frames it, most infrastructure projects (the dams and bridges that are focus of Ansar’s research) are binary. They are done, or not; a 99% complete bridge is not very useful. Cathedrals, one the other hand, are not binary. The aspiration may be much larger, but in essence, a single room could act as a cathedral. Salisbury cathedral took a full century to build, but services commenced almost immediately in a temporary wooden chapel. At St. John the Divine, the congregation used the crypt for the first services in 1899, just seven years after construction commenced. Cathedrals, Ansar posits, are accretive – they gain value as they are built, “like a beehive.” Accretive buildings pose a challenge for the iron triangle, because the scope is, by nature, open-ended; the project will never be complete.

Accretive projects are everywhere: Museums, universities, military bases – even neighborhoods and cities. Key to all accretive projects is that they house an institution, and key to all successful institutions is mission. Whereas scope is a detailed sense of both the destination and the journey, a mission must be flexible and adjust to maximum uncertainty across time. In the same way, an institution and a building are often an odd pair, because whereas the building is fixed and concrete, finished or unfinished, an institution evolves and its work is never finished.
architecture  makers  institutions  from instapaper
8 weeks ago
Immigration Policy: Bordering on Madness | National Review
The United States is not good at incarceration — strange, given that we get so much practice at it. Whether it is roasting homeless veterans to death in Rikers Island or the systematic rape and abuse that characterizes our prison system, Americans are among the world’s most incompetent and dangerous jailers.

Part of that is the familiar deficiency of American public administration — American prisons are what happen when you create a hermetically sealed society with the DMV lady as dictator-for-life — and part of that is our sick culture: We view rape and abuse as a motivating, and at least wincingly tolerated, part of the penitential mix. We make feature-length comedy films that consist of little more than prison-rape jokes. We think the answer to terrorism is electing the guy who promises to be “very hard on the families.”

And very hard on the families is what we are.
politics  immigration  ethics  from instapaper
8 weeks ago
The Internet Has Made Dupes—and Cynics—of Us All
The internet is increasingly a low-trust society—one where an assumption of pervasive fraud is simply built into the way many things function.

People do adapt to low-trust societies, of course. Word-of-mouth recommendations from familiar sources become more important. Doing business with family and local networks starts taking precedence, as reciprocal, lifelong bonds bring a measure of predictability. Mafia-like organizations also spring up, imposing a kind of accountability at a brutal cost.

Ultimately, people in low-trust societies may welcome an authoritarian ruler, someone who will impose order and consequences from on high. Sure, the tyrant is also corrupt and cruel; but the alternative is the tiring, immiserating absence of everyday safety and security.
internet  society  from instapaper
8 weeks ago
The Trouble Starts if Facebook’s New Currency Succeeds
But how the Libra Association will use its power is anyone’s guess. The white paper is long on happy talk and short on details. The point is that, along a plausible future path, it will gain immense power, and it’s not beholden to the public, unlike the central banks that manage national currencies. For all the glitzy futurism of cryptocurrencies, Libra is a step backwards in social and political terms, just the way bitcoin tried to throw us back into the age of the gold standard. Until central banks were created in the 19th and early 20th centuries, dead-tree versions of the Libra Association were plentiful. They included family dynasties like the Medicis and the Rothschilds, and massive private banks. Driven by profit and able to operate across national borders, they accumulated massive political power without feeling loyalty to any particular nation—until governments finally reined them in.
socialmedia  from instapaper
8 weeks ago
How Free Speech Dies Online - Quillette
Richard Spencer, the white nationalist who coined the term “alt-right,” has lately been calling for more explicit speech codes on Twitter and YouTube, so he can form a new “code or lingo” with which to spread his ideology under this new more restrictive regime. It makes sense that Spencer would be skeptical of the idea of free speech, because he holds the basic premises of liberalism in contempt. This is something he has in common with the people who want to ban him. Spencer accepts that those in power will restrict his speech, because if he were in their position, he’d do the same.

So Spencer invites speech codes because he prefers a rigid set of rules to a more nebulously-defined set of principles that will simply declare his ideology to be forbidden and ban him for being persona non-grata, without needing to find him responsible for any specific rules violation beyond just generally being Richard Spencer.
freespeech  from instapaper
8 weeks ago
Authenticity under Fire
One big problem with authenticity is that there is a lack of consensus among both the general public and among psychologists about what it actually means for someone or something to be authentic. Are you being most authentic when you are being congruent with your physiological states, emotions, and beliefs, whatever they may be? Or are you being most authentic when you are congruent with your consciously chosen beliefs, attitudes, and values? How about when you are being congruent across the various situations and social roles of your life? Which form of "being true to yourself" is the real authenticity: was it the time you really gave that waiter a piece of your mind or that time you didn't tell the waiter how you really felt about their dismal performance because you value kindness and were true to your higher values?
emotion  psychology  person  from instapaper
8 weeks ago
Principles and Distinctives of Anglican Ceremonial | The North American Anglican
In George Herbert’s famed A Priest to the Temple, he gives a rather similar description of the Parson’s duty to the Church. He cites St. Paul’s first Epistle to the Corinthians as giving “two great and admirable rules in things of this nature.” The Apostle writes “But all things should be done decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40) and “Let all things be done for building up” (1 Corinthians 14:26). This, Herbert calls the “middle way between superstition and slovenliness.” In his mind, the Parish is to be at once beautiful and seemly, and yet not so lavish that holiness resides in things as opposed to the people, or the reverent worship of God itself. Concerning these twin principles, he goes on to conclude that the first servers for the “honour of God, the second for the benefit of our neighbor”. Thus, the very environment of worship is a fulfilling of the Law. Not even our Churches and Temples, even “external and indifferent things,” are safe from this paramount duty towards Almighty God and Neighbor (Luke 10:27). The services of the Church are entirely preoccupied with this insistence of Our Lord.
Anglican  liturgy  BCP  from instapaper
8 weeks ago
Your Professional Decline Is Coming (Much) Sooner Than You Think
What’s the difference between Bach and Darwin? Both were preternaturally gifted and widely known early in life. Both attained permanent fame posthumously. Where they differed was in their approach to the midlife fade. When Darwin fell behind as an innovator, he became despondent and depressed; his life ended in sad inactivity. When Bach fell behind, he reinvented himself as a master instructor. He died beloved, fulfilled, and—though less famous than he once had been—respected.

The lesson for you and me, especially after 50: Be Johann Sebastian Bach, not Charles Darwin.
aging  from instapaper
8 weeks ago
We Have Never Been Social – Kathleen Fitzpatrick
The project has as its working title We Have Never Been Social: Rethinking the Internet. It revisits the history of the Internet’s development and, in particular, the rise of the social media structures that have come to dominate so much of our experience of networked communication, arguing that a significant part of what has led us to the mess we find ourselves in today — with corporate entities tracking our every move while ignoring (or abetting) the growth of violent radical movements just under the surface, undermining not just how we interact with one another in casual ways but the very organization of our formal, public, political lives — is a desperately flawed model of sociality, one that is in fact not just un-social but anti-social. These structures allow us to talk to one another and to form connections with those who share our interests and concerns, for sure, but they are predicated on a hyperindividualism that is not just contrary to but actually corrosive of the kinds of deliberation necessary to a productive public life.
internet  socialmedia  criticism  from instapaper
8 weeks ago
SIFT (The Four Moves)
Author’s note: Back in early 2017 I introduced the “four moves”, a set of strategies that students could use on the web instead of checklist approaches such as CRAAP and incoherent lists of tips. The moves were based on my own experience teaching civic digital literacy and emerging research from Sam Wineburg and his team. While they were presented simply, they actually encoded deep knowledge about how people go wrong on the web, and were the result of intensive honing, simplification, and conversations with experts.
internet  pedagogy  writing  research  from instapaper
8 weeks ago
Our metrics, ourselves: A hundred years of self-tracking from the weight scale to the wrist wearable device - Kate Crawford, Jessa Lingel, Tero Karppi, 2015
The recent proliferation of wearable self-tracking devices intended to regulate and measure the body has brought contingent questions of controlling, accessing and interpreting personal data. Given a socio-technical context in which individuals are no longer the most authoritative source on data about themselves, wearable self-tracking technologies reflect the simultaneous commodification and knowledge-making that occurs between data and bodies. In this article, we look specifically at wearable, self-tracking devices in order to set up an analytical comparison with a key historical predecessor, the weight scale. By taking two distinct cases of self-tracking – wearables and the weight scale – we can situate current discourses of big data within a historical framing of self-measurement and human subjectivity. While the advertising promises of both the weight scale and the wearable device emphasize self-knowledge and control through external measurement, the use of wearable data by multiple agents and institutions results in a lack of control over data by the user. In the production of self-knowledge, the wearable device is also making the user known to others, in a range of ways that can be both skewed and inaccurate. We look at the tensions surrounding these devices for questions of agency, practices of the body, and the use of wearable data by courtrooms and data science to enforce particular kinds of social and individual discipline.
tech  surveillance  QS  from instapaper
8 weeks ago
Buribunk!: Carl Schmitt: The Buribunks: Ahistorico-Philosophical Meditation (1918)
Every Buribunk, regardless of sex, is obligated to keep a diary on every second of his or her life. These diaries are handed over on a daily basis and collated by district. A screening is done according to both a subject and a personal index. Then, while rigidly enforcing copyright for each individual entry, all entries of an erotic, demonic, satiric, political, and so on nature are subsumed accordingly, and writers are catalogued by district. Thanks to a precise system, the organization of these entries in a card catalogue allows for immediate identification of relevant persons and their circumstances. If, for example, a psychopathologist were to be interested in the pubescent dreams of a certain social class of Buribunks, the material relevant for this research could easily be assimilated from the card catalogues. In turn, the work of the psychopathologist would be registered immediately, so that, say, a historian of psychopathology could within a matter of hours obtain reliable information as to the type of psychopathological research conducted so far; simultaneously—and this is the most significant advantage of this double registration—he could also find information about the psychopathological motivations that underlie these psychopathological studies. Thus screened and ordered, the diaries are presented in monthly reports to the chief of the Buribunk Department, who can in this manner continuously supervise the psychological evolution of his province and report to a central agency.
socimedia  futurism  from instapaper
8 weeks ago
Book Review - The Executive Unbound - By Eric A. Posner and Adrian Vermeule
Posner and Vermeule belong to the school of legal realism, now dominant in law schools, which believes the law is always the consequence of some power greater than the law, in their case the rational calculation of benefit and cost. Like most economists, they can see no reason for resisting such calculations.

Yet Posner and Vermeule still claim to hold to the rule of law. They do not object to being called professors of law. Students listen to them and readers buy their books because they teach the law, not because they are professors of executive domination, servants of the administrative state. It seems that the rule of law cannot be sustained without the formality and the majesty of a system of law that people ­respect.
law  politics  from instapaper
8 weeks ago
The impossibility of religious freedom
All of this activity, legislative and judicial, has placed a heavy burden on the words religion and religious, words that are constantly repeated in both the majority and dissenting opinions in Hobby Lobby and Wheaton College. The adjective “religious” appears on virtually every page of the more than 100 pages of opinions, modifying a wide range of words. Likewise, the word “religion” seems to be both everywhere and nowhere. Is it really possible to distinguish the religious from the non-religious in these cases? Do we have a shared theory of religion that permits such distinctions to be made? Isn’t the religious always mixed with the political and the cultural and the economic? The constant repetition of the adjective seems necessary only in order to reify a notion about which everyone is, in fact, very uncertain.
religion  religiousfreedom  from instapaper
8 weeks ago
Mansplaining religion
Rereading Moustafa’s Constituting Religion in the same week in which I was re-reading Ahmed’s What is Islam?, both fascinating and important works, has dramatized for me the challenges faced by those of us who would teach religion today—under the flag of religious freedom–because I think most of religious studies does understand itself to fly under such a banner. I want particularly to note the effort of many in the academy today, notwithstanding the thorough critique of the category, to stabilize religion in service of liberal norms. (Those who would teach outside those norms are also captive in many ways to the same legal logic, given the dominance of law’s religion today.) There is a sense in which many of us in religious studies today conceive our job to be to teach people that Shahab Ahmed rather than the Malaysian court has got it right when it comes to Islam—with parallel oppositions relevant in other national and religious contexts. Is it our job to do that? Why should people listen to us? Have we carefully considered what exactly is at stake in this effort? Do we understand why—and if—religious choices are being made, whether by Malaysians or by Americans?
religion  from instapaper
8 weeks ago
How a Catholic bishop and Jordan Peterson became fellow travelers - Religion News Service
The trouble here is that new atavists and their fellow-traveling Christians ultimately rest their assumptions on different metaphysical traditions. At their core, “new atavists” are Nietzschean materialists (a charge that could be leveled, too, at Peterson). They look to the past as a source of masculine, primordial strength: glorifying power and inherent biological hierarchies.

Christian theology, by contrast, rests on a subversion of that very hierarchy: on the narrative of a God who is at once the glorious king of the universe and the physically broken carpenter who finds that glory on the cross. It rests not on biological fact — reproduction, death and evolution of the powerful — but on a Resurrection that overcomes it.

Theology, then, not politics, is what makes Barron’s misty-eyed admiration for Peterson dangerous. The new atavists and Christian traditionalists may be effective allies now, but they’re going to have to part ways at the foot of the cross. If not, religious traditionalists may find themselves seduced by the power — and social media reach — of a theology fundamentally incompatible with their own.
Catholic  theology  from instapaper
8 weeks ago
Pope Benedict: The Eucharist Is Not Fully Understood.
“In the Eucharistic celebration,” he said, “we do not invent something, but we enter into a reality that precedes us, more than that, which embraces heaven and earth and, hence, also the past, the future and the present. This universal openness, this encounter with all the sons and daughters of God is the grandeur of the Eucharist: We go to meet the reality of God present in the body and blood of the Risen One among us.”

It is because of this, the Holy Father affirmed, that liturgical prescriptions are not mere “external things” but “express concretely this reality of the revelation of the body and blood of Christ.”

Hence, he contended, the best catechesis on the Eucharist is the Eucharist itself, well celebrated.
liturgy  Catholic  eucharist  from instapaper
8 weeks ago
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