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Back to Work by John Waters | Articles | First Things
These trends coincided with the widespread absorption of women into the public workplace. The conventional wisdom had it that this had to do with feminism, or “women’s lib,” as men and dissenting women called it. In reality, it had much more to do with the dissemination of technology, which opened the world up to the physically delicate. Factory work, in which human skills had been coded, tabulated, and redistributed as a set of mechanistic functions, could be carried out by machines or relatively ­unskilled personnel. Working as a tradesman was becoming increasingly undesirable, if not ­actually scorned. The wages of skilled employees, including locomotive drivers and signalmen, were forced down, while the salaries (the distinction was critical) of pen pushers went up. It was as if those who had become “educated” were entering into a conspiracy to render themselves relevant. They downgraded those who actually did things, while valorizing their own “­supervisory” functions.

In the new dispensation, consumption supplanted personal creativity as the measure of identity. In the old order, a man trained as a carpenter was more than a man. A woman entitled to call herself a dressmaker was someone from whom a judgment emanated in an elevated way. Now, identity could be purchased rather than earned: What you lost in human dignity and self-realization in the rat race, you bought back in the boutique or the motor showroom.

THIS IS THE SECOND OF YOUR THREE FREE ARTICLES FOR THE MONTH.

“Creativity” became the capacity to operate ­various systems, processes, and technologies and to switch between equally mundane and unsatisfying functions under the illusion of mastery. The machines needed to be “clever” to carry out their allotted functions, so their operators, though no more than button pushers, were enabled to feel smart. This, together with the even deeper illusion of autonomy conferred by individualism, convinced the post-1960s generations that they were not merely the most free but the most creative ever to grace planet Earth. In truth, ­creativity had been surrendered with the skills, trades, and crafts that now belonged to the machines.
work  tech  technique  automation 
7 days ago
Universities need to plan for a dark future if academics prefer their own Plan B | THE Features
Viewed positively, the exit of high-level expertise from the academy into a variety of other socially valuable sectors where it might not ordinarily have gone, such as school education, is a good thing. And even those who do not end up in such careers – an educationalist I interviewed had left to sell gelato; the cancer geneticist was seriously considering insurance – often find energising and productive ways of using their intellect outside the academy.

Still, most skilled and economically significant professions in which almost 40 per cent of workers want to leave would be viewed as being in crisis. Even if there are plenty of young would-be academics in the queue to replace them, universities’ relinquishment of specialists from virtually all fields of knowledge, often at the peak of their capacities, has to be seen as a threat to sustainable, long-term knowledge production.
academe 
11 days ago
Culture and Social Behavior
Neither psychology nor economics is currently theoreti- cally well-equipped to explain the origins of institutions [53]. To get there, to build a theory of cultural evolution capable of explaining where institutions come from, researchers have gone back to the basics, to reconstruct our understanding of human evolution and the nature of our species [54,55,56 ,57]. These approaches, rather than ignoring our species extreme reliance on culture, have used the logic of natural selection and mathematical modeling to ask how natural selection might have shaped our learning psychology to most effectively extract ideas, beliefs, motivations and practices from the minds of others. This intellectual move dissolves the destructive dichotomy between ‘evolutionary’ and ‘cultural’ explana- tions and fully incorporates cultural explanations under an expanded Darwinian umbrella. The hypothesized cultur- al learning mechanisms can, and have been, empirically tested in both the laboratory and field, in infants, children and adults from diverse societies [54,58–63].
This foundation then allows theorists to model cultural evolution by building on empirically established psycho- logical mechanisms. The result is cultural evolutionary game theory [64]. This powerful tool has already been deployed to understand the emergence of a wide range of social norms and institutions, including those related to social stratification [65], ethnic groups [66], cultures of honor [67], signaling systems [68], punishment [69–71] and various reputational systems [72,73]. Of course, this research program is really just getting started.
culture  evolution  sociology 
12 days ago
Why China May Never Democratize - Bloomberg
there are two powerful arguments that China will not become democratic. First, China never has been democratic in thousands of years of history, and perhaps that history simply will continue. 

Second, the middle to upper middle class is still a minority in China, and will stay so for a long time. A smaller country can build up in percentage terms a larger middle class, by exporting, than can a very large and populous country. There’s just not enough demand in global markets to elevate all or even most of the Chinese people, and so Chinese inequality likely will stay high, to the detriment of democratic forces.

In essence, many of the wealthier Chinese trust the Communist Party to look after their interests more than they trust elections. Furthermore, the current political performance of the West is not in every way the ideal exemplar for democracy.
china  democracy  politics 
16 days ago
Friedrich Nietzsche: A Philosophical Biography // Reviews // Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews // University of Notre Dame
But there are three distinctive interpretive claims Young makes that are sure to invite challenges from the specialists. (The first two claims will be familiar to those who have already read Young's Nietzsche's Philosophy of Religion.) The first is that an overarching aim of Nietzsche's philosophy is to provide "a new religious outlook to re-found culture" (181, my emphasis). This may seem a wholly implausible claim to make on behalf of the man who wrote "God is dead" and was the author of the Antichrist. But what is meant by "religious"? If we suppose that what Young means is not much more than having a certain reverential attitude toward, well, something, then the claim is quite plausible. For Nietzsche certainly had that: he revered many things, including life, nobility, health, hardness, strength, and cultural achievement. And there certainly is a religious fervor permeating Zarathustra as well as Nietzsche's other passionate texts. So, to the extent that Young means only to say that Nietzsche had a kinda religiousy outlook upon what he understood as virtues, he is surely right. But in fact Young often means more than just this. He thinks Nietzsche maintains that the "higher men" will need to raise up divine beings, at least as heuristics to guide their efforts and orient their post-Christian society, and he comes awfully close to claiming that Nietzsche proposes a return to Greek polytheism (518). That is a bit much. Surely, one thinks, we can draw some distinction between the sort of "life-attitude" Nietzsche advocates and a temperament that is more properly understood as religious -- a distinction arising perhaps from the icy intellect Nietzsche thinks one must have in order to see things properly. It is hard to imagine returning to our idols, even as heuristics, once we have seen through them.

The second controversial interpretive claim is that Nietzsche, far from trying to demolish traditional morality, was out to "re-found" the sorts of values we might today identify with communitarianism. Young returns to this claim frequently throughout his book, and it must be said that he gathers up surprisingly good evidence for it. Nietzsche did see himself as a "good European," and consistently despised the growing German Reich, so it is no stretch to see his overall concerns as cosmopolitan. But in the end, on Young's reading, when we find out that Nietzsche wants a society infused with compassion and high culture, and that he might look favorably upon one that finds its unity in a shared effort to combat global warming (! - 479), one is left wondering whether Nietzsche has been tamed into something more familiar and friendly to our own moral sensibilities. Indeed, why would Nietzsche prophesy that someday his name would be associated with "something frightful -- of a crisis like no other on earth, of the profoundest collision of conscience, of a decision evoked against everything that until then had been believed in, demanded, sanctified" -- if in the end all he wanted to establish was that we as a community need to care more about one another and about higher culture? Young writes, thinking of Zarathustra, "For the ideal leader, indeed for any truly healthy person, the prosperity of the community (of humanity) as a whole is the defining meaning of their lives. For the healthy person, personal meaning is communal meaning" (516). But this would mean that very little of Young's Nietzsche would present much of a challenge to any contemporary liberal, which should alert us to the possibility that something important has gone missing. When Nietzsche urged that we move beyond good and evil, did he really just mean trading in the Ten Commandments for the Green Party?

The third controversial claim is that, by the end of his life, Nietzsche had repudiated the "will to power" doctrine, or at least had backed off it so that it was only a claim about the value of health to bring happiness to a human life. This brings us to a fine example of Young's sleuthing through texts. The short version of Young's careful account (over 536-549) is that Nietzsche started working on a sizable, definitive work entitled The Will to Power in 1885. It was to be his theory of everything. And so we find, in notes and publications continuing through 1888, many attempts to advance the will to power as a metaphysical doctrine. But in letters to his friends Nietzsche began to confess that the project was not coming together as he had hoped, and indeed "had gone down the plug hole [ins Wasser gefallen]." Some of his materials were repackaged into what became Twilight of the Idols, and other materials were designated for a new multi-volume work, the Revaluation of All Values. According to Young's account, the change in strategy resulted principally from Nietzsche (a) recognizing that the will to power doctrine, in its most sweeping, metaphysical guise, was simply implausible, as well as (b) coming to conclude that the overly systematic nature of the enterprise was in conflict with his own philosophical temperament. Vestiges of the will to power doctrine remain in Nietzsche's mature account of what constitutes a healthy psychology, Young maintains, but the big systematic metaphysics finally disappears from his horizon. I find Young's arguments for this claim compelling (though I do not fully agree with his account of Nietzschean health).
Nietzsche  religion  Christianity 
17 days ago
Anglicans on the Wittenberg trail – Covenant
What makes me grateful for Luther, I said to my friends on our trip to Germany, was that he was the theologian who, more than any other, put into words the treasure I had found in Anglicanism. It was Luther who had taught me what I might have learned just as well from Augustine, Hooker, or Ramsey, but in God’s providence didn’t: that the point of my weekly cupping of my hands to receive the body of Christ and my opening my mouth to drink his blood was that I might receive a “visible word,” a palpable, edible reminder that my standing with God didn’t depend on some experience or attitude or posture I could drum up on my own but rather on God’s own unilateral gift. For that reason, Wittenberg, no less than Canterbury, feels like home.
Anglican 
24 days ago
3 April 2010: Easter Vigil | BENEDICT XVI
An ancient Jewish legend from the apocryphal book “The life of Adam and Eve” recounts that, in his final illness, Adam sent his son Seth together with Eve into the region of Paradise to fetch the oil of mercy, so that he could be anointed with it and healed. The two of them went in search of the tree of life, and after much praying and weeping on their part, the Archangel Michael appeared to them, and told them they would not obtain the oil of the tree of mercy and that Adam would have to die. Later, Christian readers added a word of consolation to the Archangel’s message, to the effect that after 5,500 years the loving King, Christ, would come, the Son of God who would anoint all those who believe in him with the oil of his mercy. “The oil of mercy from eternity to eternity will be given to those who are reborn of water and the Holy Spirit. Then the Son of God, Christ, abounding in love, will descend into the depths of the earth and will lead your father into Paradise, to the tree of mercy.” This legend lays bare the whole of humanity’s anguish at the destiny of illness, pain and death that has been imposed upon us. Man’s resistance to death becomes evident: somewhere – people have constantly thought – there must be some cure for death. Sooner or later it should be possible to find the remedy not only for this or that illness, but for our ultimate destiny – for death itself. Surely the medicine of immortality must exist. Today too, the search for a source of healing continues. Modern medical science strives, if not exactly to exclude death, at least to eliminate as many as possible of its causes, to postpone it further and further, to prolong life more and more. But let us reflect for a moment: what would it really be like if we were to succeed, perhaps not in excluding death totally, but in postponing it indefinitely, in reaching an age of several hundred years? Would that be a good thing? Humanity would become extraordinarily old, there would be no more room for youth. Capacity for innovation would die, and endless life would be no paradise, if anything a condemnation. The true cure for death must be different. It cannot lead simply to an indefinite prolongation of this current life. It would have to transform our lives from within. It would need to create a new life within us, truly fit for eternity: it would need to transform us in such a way as not to come to an end with death, but only then to begin in fullness. What is new and exciting in the Christian message, in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, was and is that we are told: yes indeed, this cure for death, this true medicine of immortality, does exist. It has been found. It is within our reach. In baptism, this medicine is given to us. A new life begins in us, a life that matures in faith and is not extinguished by the death of the old life, but is only then fully revealed.
christian  death 
27 days ago
Where Weird Music Meets Mindfulness: At Church, Apparently | Pitchfork
Why people all over aren’t organizing more secular performances at churches—discovering what beauty lurks right in their neighborhoods even if they aren't religious—remains a mystery to Sweeny. He says it’s as easy as picking up the phone and asking who minds the calendar there. “Churches are specifically designed to be acoustically and architecturally beautiful, but they're the least utilized venues,” he says. “There’s an event every Sunday, but for the most part it's empty. I don't want to just use a venue. It's like it's commodified then. People go there, they pay the price, they know what they're going to see.” Sweeny hopes to use as many churches around New York City as he can, his dream being to book something special at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the fourth largest church in the entire world.

For practical reasons, churches also make great venues in these mercurial times. DIY spaces like Brooklyn’s 285 Kent and Glasslands were shuttered by the pressures of the real estate market earlier in the decade, while others including Denver’s Rhinoceropolis and L.A.’s Non Plus Ultra have closed over safety concerns, police/fire department attention, and landlord disputes. Churches are neighborhood hubs that local law enforcement are likely to leave alone—perhaps the last sanctuaries in heavily policed cities. [...]

In the past, Sweeny would refer to the BAC as a temporary autonomous zone—a kind of space where the event-goers could change and make their own. In a way, that’s what he’s doing with churches around Brooklyn, helping others to activate sacred buildings in alternative, but equally spiritual, ways. That idea may not seem radical these days—church shows aren’t a new thing, and Sweeny himself saw the potential of First Unitarian after attending events there thrown by Issue Project Room—but even a half-century ago, the image would have seemed like something out of a science fiction novel. Still, Sweeny maintains, “I think the people who designed and built these buildings, brick by brick, in the 1800s would be delighted to see how they are being used now.”
church  music  culture  spirituality 
27 days ago
Burgess as Historical Novelist | Unbound
To write historical fiction well, an author needs to be able to bring together two skill-sets that aren't always found together in the same writer. On the one hand, he or she must be able to do all the things that make a ‘regular’ or set-in-the-present-day novel work: narrative, characterisation, style and form. On the other, s/he must be able to do what the best Science Fiction and Fantasy writers do—worldbuilding, as it is sometimes called: the creation, without strain or infodumping, of a world radically different to the one in which we happen to live.
Bad historical novels tend to be full of historical cliché, as a sort of shorthand way of indicating that otherness. Worse, they tend put basically modern characters in period costume and stick a sword, or a fan, in their hands: always a betrayal of the radical difference of history as such. Whatever else your chosen historical period was to the people who lived in it, it was certainly more than just fancy dress. Burgess did neither thing. The same skill that created the powerfully estranged worlds of A Clockwork Orange and The Wanting Seed enabled him to mark out the worlds of his historical novels vividly and deftly, and always in a maner that respected the past's contrariety. The same insight into character, and extraordinary command of style and form, enabled him to put together novels that work brilliantly on their own terms as novels.
history  fiction 
27 days ago
How the Southern Poverty Law Center Enraged Nominal Conservatives Into Betraying Free Speech Values | Popehat
But the SPLC's conduct is core, classic political speech. Ranting political generalizations about other people and groups and parties is exactly what the First Amendment protects. The SPLC's classification of a dizzying array of entities as "hate groups" may be unfair, unprincipled, immature, and even immoral. But it's also opinion absolutely protected by the First Amendment. Only provable statements of fact can be defamatory. It's certainly possible that the SPLC could make a false and defamatory statement of fact about a group in the course of classifying it as a "hate group" — for instance, by falsely attributing a statement to the group, or falsely claiming the group participated in some specific act. But that's not what's at issue in Liberty Counsel's cowardly-indirect attack on the SPLC. Their complaint says the defamation is the "hate group" classification. "Hate" and "hate group" are not provable statements of fact. They're opinion. You may think the opinion is stupid and without basis, but that doesn't magically turn it into a fact. You may think that having such an opinion expressed about you is very harmful, but that doesn't turn it into a fact either. "Hate group" occupies a place in the American lexicon with "SJW" and "cuck" and "fake news" and "far left" and "extremist" and "death party" and "party of death" and "libtard" and "wingnut" and anything else you'll see people shout at each other on Twitter. "Hate" and "hate group" aren't factually provable, because they're based on opinion. The opinion that being against gay marriage or affirmative action or generous immigration makes you a "hate group" may be stupid, but it's inescapably an opinion. [...]

Liberty Counsel knows this. These are not stupid lawyers. These are unethical lawyers, abandoning core American civic virtues to indulge in politics by other means. Liberty Counsel is part of the "do it to them because they did it to us" movement — the belief that, because some liberals someplace supported restrictions on free speech, it's acceptable to abuse the system to go after the free speech rights of these liberals here.
freespeech 
28 days ago
Shock, Dismay In Academia At Scorpion Acting Like Scorpion | Popehat
Nobody realized this could happen, unless you count everyone who isn't a moron or a dogma-blind partisan. Exceptions to free speech — like exceptions to rights in general — are applied disproportionately by the powerful against the less powerful. That's the way the system works. Expecting other results is idiotic.

Vapid orthodox censorious hordes who have been pushing for the ouster and marginalization of conservative voices on campus: go back and rethink your life. Conservatives crowing over this worm turning: stop being assholes and step up to defend speech consistently. I don't care who started it; you're not an eight-year-old. Act like a grown-up with principles.
freespeech 
28 days ago
The Class Renegade | by Colm Tóibín | The New York Review of Books
Those of us who move from the provinces pay a toll at the city’s gate, a toll that is doubled in the years that follow as we try to find a balance between what was so briskly discarded and what was so carefully, hesitantly, slyly put in its place. More than thirty years ago, when I was in Egypt, I met a cultivated English couple who invited me to stay in their house in London on my way back to Ireland. They could not have been more charming.

The only problem was that they had an Irish maid who, as soon as I arrived as their guest, began to talk to me in the unvarnished accent of home, as though she had known me all of her life. Since she was from a town near mine, we spoke of people we knew in common or knew by name or reputation. It was all very relaxed and friendly.

Later, after supper, my two English friends asked me if I minded them raising a subject that troubled them. Did I know, they asked, that my accent and tone, indeed my entire body language, had changed when I met their maid? I was almost a different person. Was I aware that I had, in turn, changed back to the person they had met in Egypt once I was alone with them again?

I asked them, did they not also speak in different ways to different people? No, they insisted, they did not. Never! They seemed horrified at the thought. They looked at me as if I was the soul of inauthenticity. And then I realized that those of us who move from the periphery to the center turn our dial to different wavelengths depending on where we are and who else is in the room. In this world, memory becomes a form of reparation, a way of reconnecting the self to a more simple time, a way of hearing an old tune before it became textured with orchestration.
codeswitching 
28 days ago
Turn Off, Drop Out: Why Young Chinese Are Abandoning Ambition
Sang culture is actually an evolved form of the once-prominent notion of xiaoquexing — fleeting moments of joy found in everyday life. For instance, buying a loaf of fresh bread — still hot from the baker’s oven — taking it home, and gnawing on the heel as you cut the rest into slices. Slipping through the undisturbed surface of a deserted swimming pool in the early hours of the morning, and pushing off from the wall with your foot. Listening to the chamber music of Brahms as you contemplate the silhouettes of leaves on a paper window, created by the gentle sunlight of an autumn afternoon.

If xiaoquexing is an appreciation of the little triumphs to be found amid life’s monotony, then sang culture is a similar emphasis, even an exaggeration, of a pervasive feeling of loss.

Fleeting joy forms the underlying context of sang culture. To be sang is not to be in a state of complete despair; instead, the term evokes the sense of disenfranchisement that certain young people feel as a result of being excluded from some of life’s supposedly greater pursuits, such as home ownership, the accumulation of personal wealth, and the attainment of social mobility. Sang culture is a first-world problem: Its adherents wallow in grievances that contrast starkly with the much more pressing problems faced in most other developing nations.
china  Japan  ethics  youth 
28 days ago
Digital humanities as a semi-normal thing | The Stone and the Shell
If “data” were a theme — like thing theory or the Anthropocene — this play might now have reached its happy ending. Getting literary scholars to talk about a theme is normally enough.

In fact, the play could proceed for several more acts, because “data” is shorthand for a range of interpretive practices that aren’t yet naturalized in the humanities. At most universities, grad students still can’t learn how to do distant reading. So there is no chance at all that distant reading will become the “next big thing” — one of those fashions that sweeps departments of English, changing everyone’s writing in a way that is soon taken for granted. We can stop worrying about that. Adding citations to Geertz and Foucault can be done in a month. But a method that requires years of retraining will never become the next big thing. Maybe, ten years from now, the fraction of humanities faculty who actually use quantitative methods may have risen to 5% — or optimistically, 7%. But even that change would be slow and deeply controversial.

So we might as well enjoy the current situation. The initial wave of utopian promises and enraged jeremiads about “DH” seems to have receded. Scholars have realized that new objects, and methods, of study are here to stay — and that they are in no danger of taking over. Now it’s just a matter of doing the work. That, also, takes time.
DH 
5 weeks ago
Symposium: Is Free Speech Under Threat in the United States? | commentary
While politically correct shaming still has great power in deep-blue America, its effect in the rest of the country is to trigger a furious backlash, one characterized less by a desire for dialogue and discourse than by its own rage and scorn. So we’re moving toward two Americas—one that ruthlessly (and occasionally illegally) suppresses dissenting speech and the other that is dangerously close to believing that the opposite of political correctness isn’t a fearless expression of truth but rather the fearless expression of ideas best calculated to enrage your opponents.

The result is a partisan feedback loop where right-wing rage spurs left-wing censorship, which spurs even more right-wing rage. For one side, a true free-speech culture is a threat to feelings, sensitivities, and social justice. The other side waves high the banner of “free speech” to sometimes elevate the worst voices to the highest platforms—not so much to protect the First Amendment as to infuriate the hated “snowflakes” and trigger the most hysterical overreactions.

The culturally sustainable argument for free speech is something else entirely. It reminds the cultural left of its own debt to free speech while reminding the political right that a movement allegedly centered around constitutional values can’t abandon the concept of ordered liberty. The culture of free speech thrives when all sides remember their moral responsibilities—to both protect the right of dissent and to engage in ideological combat with a measure of grace and humility.
freespeech 
5 weeks ago
Divided on Reconciliation – The Living Church
There may be some who are not comfortable about engaging in ministry with the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, but Truro has a long history of joint ministries involving EDV, including Five Talents and the Lamb Center. While we recognize our deep differences on some issues, we have chosen to focus on what unites us as people who believe in the resurrected Lord, rather than on what divides us. With this ministry, Truro is following a long heritage. We also take comfort in the three-year test period which will let all parties determine if we are truly following God’s calling. We have discerned that this ministry is indeed a calling from God, and events have lined up to reinforce that discernment. But if it is not of God, not infused with the Holy Spirit, then it will not produce Godly fruit. Both parties are happy to submit to this testing/discernment period to be sure we are following God’s plan for us. [...]

A letter from the Rt. Rev. John Guernsey, Bishop of the ACNA’s Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic:
Truro leaders have made clear to me that the heart of this initiative is evangelistic. They desire to build loving relationships and, through them, to win back to the truth of the Scriptures those who have departed from the historic Christian faith. And they desire to lead to Christ those who do not know Jesus as the Crucified and Risen Lord, the only Savior of the world. I certainly support such goals and pray for even more fruit from Truro’s dynamic evangelism ministries.

At the same time, as I have been made aware of the vision for this Institute, I have repeatedly expressed to the Truro leadership my deep concerns over the possibility of their conducting this ministry in partnership with the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. Because of the false teaching of the Episcopal Church, I asked them not to enter into a joint ministry with the Episcopal Diocese. The issues that divide us are of first importance and to partner with the Episcopal Church is to give the mistaken impression that these concerns are merely secondary. If I thought that the issues that divide us were secondary, I would never have left the Episcopal Church.

The Truro leadership has chosen to proceed in joint ministry with the Episcopal Diocese in spite of my opposition. I am deeply grieved by this, and I hope Truro will reconsider.


[FWIW, I see Bishop Guernsey's response as encapsulating everything that's wrong with ACNA]
ecumenism  Anglican 
5 weeks ago
John Stuart Mill’s Intolerant Faith and the Religion of Liberalism
The use of the suffix -phobe by liberals to describe dissenters’ positions on such issues suggests that holding particular views is akin to suffering from a mental illness. Such demagoguery is increasingly accompanied by soft sanctions such as mandatory diversity training. Sometimes liberal censuring assumes harder forms such as hauling people before Star Chamber-like human rights commissions that make a mockery of due process. In these and other ways, contemporary liberalism exhibits tendencies toward what the conservative Cambridge historian Maurice Cowling described in his 1963 book Mill and Liberalism as “moral totalitarianism.” In the same book, Cowling challenged the widespread view of John Stuart Mill as the secular saint of tolerance. According to Cowling, Mill’s liberalism constituted nothing less than an alternative religion: one that turns out to be a rather fideistic faith that demands submission from nonbelievers. Not surprisingly, reactions to Cowling’s thesis were almost uniformly hostile. Fifty-four years later, however, Cowling’s analysis of Mill’s liberalism provides insights not only into liberal intolerance in our time but also into how to address it.
liberalism 
5 weeks ago
Free Speech, The Goose, And The Gander | Popehat
And yet, the "we're just applying their rules to them" theory has some heft. It's not because of the nasty, disruptive little totalitarians themselves. Antifa scum and pseudo-educated campus thugs are not legitimate foundation for any adult's philosophy. No, the bit of plausibility comes from the reaction of people in authority, people who ought to know better, people whose conduct is somewhat more fairly attributed to a larger political groups. A few hysterically censorious kids screaming for a professor's termination for crimethink do not threaten the foundations of free speech, but Yale lauding them does. Relatively few thugs disrupting a speech and even physically assaulting a professor don't call into question the culture's support for free speech, but Middlebury offering weak slaps on the wrist and shrugs for that violent behavior does. A violent mob in Berkeley does not undermine the legitimacy of free speech doctrine — a mob is a mob — but Berkeley's timorousness or indifference in the face of violent censorship does. Students furious at a professor disagreeing with them don't call into question the nation's commitment to freedom, but state officials refusing to guarantee a professor's safety do. In short: the regrettable behavior of officials who have failed to stand up to disruption of speech are the people most responsible for legitimizing further disruptions of speech, whoever commits them.

But we can, and should, do better. Commitment to free speech as an American value — as an element of American exceptionalism — has always required tolerating evil and injustice and idiocy. We don't refrain from disrupting speech because the speakers deserve it, or because we've been treated fairly by the speakers or their allies. We refrain from disruption — and ought to punish those who disrupt — because free speech is the necessary prerequisite of a society based on individual rights and freedoms. It's the right that's the gateway to all other rights. Shrugging and abandoning it as a value is an abandonment of our commitment to all rights.
academentia  freespeech 
5 weeks ago
The Sovereign Myth - Niskanen Center
I suggest that the sense of control that is often attributed to voters in the olden days was really a sense of satisfaction with outcomes. Long years of economic growth in the West, broadly shared in, and in excess of the expectations of people who had lived through wars and economic collapse, propelled this satisfaction. In retrospect, though, it’s easy to flatter ourselves that, if things went well, it’s because we made such good decisions. Things look rather different when expectations are suddenly, sharply disappointed, as in the 2008 financial crisis and its aftermath. It’s all too easy for opportunistic politicians in such moments to tell the story: the reason why things went so badly is that control was taken away from you — whether by faceless international bureaucrats, greedy financiers, or alien others, whether they have immigrated or are still in their countries of origin, producing and competing against you.

This doesn’t, of course, amount to a strictly economic explanation of support for populist authoritarianism. The simple versions of the “economic anxiety” explanations for who supports such political movements have been widely debunked. But I think it is part of what makes fertile ground for such holist and fear-based political movements. The loss of the feeling of control can, moreover, go past economic questions; the demagogue can promise a restoration of control to the real people on social and cultural matters, too.
politics  economics 
5 weeks ago
The Man in the Box | The New Yorker
That’s how the Tardis got stuck as a police box, but it doesn’t explain why it started out that way. That explanation may lie in the history of policing. Beat policing is a British invention. British police are called bobbies because the London Metropolitan Police, a model for police forces all over the world, was created by Home Secretary Sir Robert (Bobby) Peel, in 1829. Doctor Who polices worlds. The idea of a world’s policeman dates to the First World War and began to come into common usage near the end of the Second. In 1943, during a birthday dinner for Winston Churchill, F.D.R. called upon the allied powers—the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and China—to serve as the world’s “four policemen.” In 1945, the four policemen became the United Nations Security Council.

“Doctor Who” is, unavoidably, a product of mid-twentieth-century debates about Britain’s role in the world as its empire unravelled. It is also one of the stranger means by which British culture has reckoned with the horrors of the Second World War, the apocalyptic doomsaying of the Cold War, and the lasting madness of twenty-first-century terrorism. Superman, who first appeared in 1938, thwarted gangsters and thugs and criminal masterminds. But Doctor Who, created in the postwar, postcolonial, atomic age, inherited the agony of helplessness: he believes he can use his power to travel through time and space to undo unspeakable slaughter, only to find that, very often, he cannot. “Imagine you were in Pompeii and you tried to save them but in doing so you make it happen,” he says, trying to explain to a woman who is about to die in a nuclear explosion that he is powerless to prevent it. “Everything I do just makes it happen.” (He tries anyway. Moments after he saves her life, she kills herself.)

Doctor Who” is a chronicle of the impossibility of rescue. Yet it contains within it both a liberal fantasy about the heroism of the West in opposing atrocity and a conservative politics of self-congratulation, which, in the end, amount to the same thing. “You act like such a radical,” an alien said to the Doctor, not long ago, “and yet all you want to do is preserve the old order.”
tv  history  England 
6 weeks ago
Our Common Creed: The Myth of Self-Authorship - Julian Baggini
The shift to belief in sole self-authorship was not a step in the wrong direction but a step too far. That is why it is misleading to describe what we believe in today as individualism. The Enlightenment emphasis on the rights and responsibilities was progressive and we should not seek to reverse it. All we need to do is to accept that this was never meant to be a new religion in which humans became gods. Sustainable individualism requires us to accept that our individuality is only made possible by the society we grow up and live in. We should indeed strive to be the authors of our own lives, but we must acknowledge that the setting and the other characters are not under our control and that even we were sketched out before we could start to write our own scenes.

In place of the myth of sole self-authorship we need a different creative metaphor, perhaps that of jazz musicians, who must try to forge their own creative paths but are never anything like the sole authors of their lives. In such a life there are chances for individuality to shine, through solos and compositions. But even these are not isolated achievements. Every performance comes in the context of a history, a tradition, a discipline. To play is almost always to play with others, and to get the best for yourself you need them to get the best for themselves too.
6 weeks ago
The ‘Global Order’ Myth | Andrew Bacevitch
Yet collectively, the actions and episodes enumerated above do not suggest a nation committed to liberalism, openness, or the rule of law. What they reveal instead is a pattern of behavior common to all great powers in just about any era: following the rules when it serves their interest to do so; disregarding the rules whenever they become an impediment. Some regimes are nastier than others, but all are law-abiding when the law works to their benefit and not one day longer. Even Hitler’s Third Reich and Stalin’s USSR punctiliously observed the terms of their non-aggression pact as long as it suited both parties to do so. My point is not to charge à la Noam Chomsky that every action undertaken by the United States government is inherently nefarious. Rather, I am suggesting that to depict postwar U.S. policy in terms employed by the pundits quoted above is to whitewash the past. Whether their motive is to deceive or merely to evade discomfiting facts is beside the point. What they are peddling belongs to the universe of alt facts. To characterize American statecraft as “liberal internationalism” is akin to describing the business of Hollywood as “artistic excellence.”
politics  history 
6 weeks ago
Bob Dylan - Nobel Lecture
I had all the vernacular down. I knew the rhetoric. None of it went over my head – the devices, the techniques, the secrets, the mysteries – and I knew all the deserted roads that it traveled on, too. I could make it all connect and move with the current of the day. When I started writing my own songs, the folk lingo was the only vocabulary that I knew, and I used it.

But I had something else as well. I had principles and sensibilities and an informed view of the world. And I had had that for a while. Learned it all in grammar school. Don Quixote, Ivanhoe, Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver's Travels, Tale of Two Cities, all the rest – typical grammar school reading that gave you a way of looking at life, an understanding of human nature, and a standard to measure things by. I took all that with me when I started composing lyrics. And the themes from those books worked their way into many of my songs, either knowingly or unintentionally. I wanted to write songs unlike anything anybody ever heard, and these themes were fundamental.

Specific books that have stuck with me ever since I read them way back in grammar school – I want to tell you about three of them: Moby Dick, All Quiet on the Western Front and The Odyssey.
dylan  music  lit  bloggable 
6 weeks ago
What Gershom Scholem and Hannah Arendt Can Teach Us About Evil Today - Los Angeles Review of Books
The first letter Scholem wrote Arendt after reading her book — the initial broadside in an exchange that was ultimately made public — began with a number of concessions to Arendt’s position on the Jewish role in facilitating the operation of the Holocaust. Having spent the past 50 years occupying himself with Jewish history, Scholem declares, he is well aware of the abysses in this narrative: “a demonic decay in the midst of life, insecurity in the face of this world […] and a weakness that is perpetually confounded and mingled with debasement and with lust for power.” It’s invariable, he asserts, that in times of catastrophe these tendencies come to the fore. The question that the young were asking in Israel of how all those millions could have allowed themselves to be killed was valid, he allowed. Arendt was right to want people to reflect on such matters. What he cannot countenance is the idea that such a harrowing dilemma could be resolved with a snappy formula. What is unbearable to him, Scholem writes, is the “malicious tone” Arendt has adopted to discuss matters of such profundity. It is Arendt’s “light-hearted style,” the note of “English flippancy” she has favored over that of pity for Eichmann’s victims — just as she has preferred snarkily caricaturing Eichmann himself to seriously analyzing his character — that repulses Scholem.
history  ethics  evil  politics  war 
6 weeks ago
Our Common Creed: Secular Humanism, Reimagined - @theosthinktank - Theos Think Tank
The strange fact is that secular humanism is rooted in Christianity. Its moral universalism is an adaptation, or mutation, of Christianity. And it is not just the humanism that is rooted in Christianity: the secularism is too. It is a paradox: secularism has Christian roots. And it is this interestingly paradoxical story that can give the creed solidity. Because of its surprising religious roots, secular humanism is not the bland obviousness that it is assumed to be.
 
Let’s put it this way. Our public creed, secular humanism, has two major problems. It seems vague, insubstantial, it melts into air. And it is difficult to articulate one aspect of it, its secularism, without alienating religious believers. These problems are largely solved when it is seen as a tradition deriving from Christianity. This story of its origins thickens it up, and involves rather than alienates religious believers. [...]

We must tell and retell this simple yet paradoxical story. Christianity gave rise to a post-religious creed, secular humanism. This story used to be widely accepted in some form: it was basic to the Whig worldview, and to British socialism (Tony Benn, for example, often highlighted the origin of socialism in the biblical prophets and radical reformers). Perhaps it is implied in the British constitution, which is narrative-shaped: religious unity gradually gives way to post-religious liberty. But increased secularization and multiculturalism edged it aside, made it seem a defunct assumption. And of course it was the sort of narrative that postmodernists competed in rubbishing. To some extent, such developments were healthy: the story of Christianity-begets-humanism had become complacent, unconsidered, stale. Clumsy versions of it had to be cleared away. But what other story do we have? If we do not tell this story, we have no serious story to tell about the nature and origin of our values. We either imply that they arise naturally, if people are rational (which is false), or we evade the issue altogether.

Our task is to find new freshness in this story. Only so can our shared creed be solidified, built up.

Will this task fall to Christians? To a large extent yes (semi-Christian agnostics might lend a hand, and so might Jews and others). But such Christians must defy the majority Christian view, which disparages secular humanism. The relationship between secular humanism and Christianity is inevitably tense. For secular humanism has an air of superiority: it is a non-religious form of moral universalism, and this allows it to be more fully universalist, in that it overlooks religious difference in asserting fundamental human unity. Of course this makes Christians wary: this creed seems to imply that religion is superseded, exposed as limited, divisive. But Christians should resist this reaction. The proper Christian attitude to secular humanism is to affirm it as the right public ideology, but to say that it is nevertheless thin, that it has no strong account of life’s meaning and purpose, but gravitates to an evasive shrug. It cannot say why we should affirm this moral universalism; it does not understand that this vision derives from the thicker narrative of religion. In other words, the right public (or political) ideology is necessarily thin. So the Christian should think on two levels: secular humanism is the right public creed, for the unifying of a diverse nation, and yet Christianity is very much still needed, as it provides meaning on a deeper level.
humanism  secularity  Christianity 
6 weeks ago
Hilary Mantel: why I became a historical novelist | Books | The Guardian
The pursuit of the past makes you aware, whether you are novelist or historian, of the dangers of your own fallibility and inbuilt bias. The writer of history is a walking anachronism, a displaced person, using today’s techniques to try to know things about yesterday that yesterday didn’t know itself. He must try to work authentically, hearing the words of the past, but communicating in a language the present understands. The historian, the biographer, the writer of fiction work within different constraints, but in a way that is complementary, not opposite. The novelist’s trade is never just about making things up. The historian’s trade is never simply about stockpiling facts. Even the driest, most data-driven research involves an element of interpretation. Deep research in the archives can be reported in tabular form and lists, by historians talking to each other. But to talk to their public, they use the same devices as all storytellers – selection, elision, artful arrangement. The 19th-century historian Lord Macaulay said, “History has to be burned into the imagination before it can be received by the reason.” So how do we teach history? Is it a set of stories, or a set of skills? Both, I think; we need to pass on the stories, but also impart the skills to hack the stories apart and make new ones.
history  fiction 
6 weeks ago
Analysis finds significant drop in humanities majors but gains in liberal arts degrees at community colleges
Most of the data released today will likely depress humanities professors. But those at community colleges may have reason to celebrate an analysis released on their institutions.
Much of the data about associate degrees at community colleges does not break out majors with the same granularity as can be found for bachelor's degrees. So the data that follow use a combination of degrees, including the popular liberal arts and liberal studies degrees, to track trends in the humanities at community colleges. Almost all of those programs involve substantial instruction in humanities disciplines.
Using that definition of humanities, the study found that 2015 saw a continuation of a trend in which associate degrees conferred in the humanities have increased in number every year since 1987, by an average of 4.3 percent per year.
humanities  academe 
6 weeks ago
Notes From An Emergency
Given this scary state of the world, with ecological collapse just over the horizon, and a population sharpening its pitchforks, an important question is how this globalized, unaccountable tech industry sees its goals. What does it want? What will all the profits be invested in?

What is the plan?

The honest answer is: rocket ships and immortality.

I wish I was kidding.

The best minds in Silicon Valley are preoccupied with a science fiction future they consider it their manifest destiny to build. Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are racing each other to Mars. Musk gets most of the press, but Bezos now sells $1B in Amazon stock a year to fund Blue Origin. Investors have put over $8 billion into space companies over the past five years, as part of a push to export our problems here on Earth into the rest of the Solar System.
politics  tech  internet 
6 weeks ago
Israel Proves the Desalination Era Is Here - Scientific American
We are standing above the new Sorek desalination plant, the largest reverse-osmosis desal facility in the world, and we are staring at Israel’s salvation. Just a few years ago, in the depths of its worst drought in at least 900 years, Israel was running out of water. Now it has a surplus. That remarkable turnaround was accomplished through national campaigns to conserve and reuse Israel’s meager water resources, but the biggest impact came from a new wave of desalination plants.
Bar-Zeev, who recently joined Israel’s Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research after completing his postdoc work at Yale University, is an expert on biofouling, which has always been an Achilles’ heel of desalination and one of the reasons it has been considered a last resort. Desal works by pushing saltwater into membranes containing microscopic pores. The water gets through, while the larger salt molecules are left behind. But microorganisms in seawater quickly colonize the membranes and block the pores, and controlling them requires periodic costly and chemical-intensive cleaning. But Bar-Zeev and colleagues developed a chemical-free system using porous lava stone to capture the microorganisms before they reach the membranes. It’s just one of many breakthroughs in membrane technology that have made desalination much more efficient. Israel now gets 55 percent of its domestic water from desalination, and that has helped to turn one of the world’s driest countries into the unlikeliest of water giants.
science  water 
6 weeks ago
How to Worry about Climate Change | National Affairs
A more dispassionate placement of climate change alongside a range of worrying problems does not mean there is nothing to worry about. But it points away from sui generis mitigation at all costs and toward an existing model for addressing problems through research, preparation, and adaptation. It suggests that analytical exercises that would never be applied to other worrying problems, like assigning a "social cost" to each marginal unit of carbon-dioxide emissions, are as inappropriate as estimating a "social cost of computing power" as it brings humanity closer to a possible singularity, or a "social cost of international travel" as it elevates the risk of a global pandemic. Taxes on any of them are closer to political statements than efficient corrections of genuine externalities, and each would be more likely to stall meaningful economic and technological progress than to achieve a meaningful reduction of risk.

Lessons might run in the other direction as well: We are not focusing as much on other challenges as we should. And perhaps, if climate change were consigned to its rightful place in the crowd, some additional attention might be available to concentrate elsewhere. If the level of research support, policy focus, and international coordination targeted toward climate change over the past eight years had gone instead toward preventing and managing pandemics, imagine the progress that could have been made. For a fraction of the cost of de-carbonizing an industrial economy, it could be hardened against cyber attacks; with a fraction of the attention corporations pay to their own purported climate vulnerability, they could make real strides in their own technological security.
climate 
6 weeks ago
The New Idolatry: On the (Mis)Uses of Diversity in Academia Today – Opinion – ABC Religion & Ethics (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Yet precisely this is what the prevailing use of diversity stubbornly fails to recognize. The underlying problem here is that even as the concept of diversity serves manifestly normative (moral) purposes, it does so in an environment - that of contemporary, liberal-secular academia - characterized by fierce, indeed irrational resistance to all forms of normativity. Yet where normative assumptions shape moral claims and administrative decisions, even as normativity is routinely disavowed and disparaged as so much metaphysical backwardness, the result is not knowledge but idolatry.

It is this destructive habit of equivocation, whereby moral claims are routinely advanced and enforced even as their normative foundations are strenuously disavowed, that is particularly troubling. For it prevents us from understanding and prioritizing the metaphysical foundations on which, modern liberal-secular protestations notwithstanding, a just and humane community will always depend.

The present generation of faculty, administrators and public intellectuals ought to resist the temptation of catechizing the next generation into an idolatrous parroting of political notions such as diversity, while simultaneously refusing to scrutinize their normative foundations. Otherwise, modern academia will end up corrupting its core values of research and teaching, reflection and dialogue, values that today no less than in Plato's Athens or thirteenth-century Paris remain the foundation any authentic intellectual community.
academentia 
6 weeks ago
In Defense of Cultural Appropriation - The New York Times
In 1955, Emmett Till’s mother urged the publication of photographs of her son’s mutilated body as it lay in its coffin. Till’s murder, and the photographs, played a major role in shaping the civil rights movement and have acquired an almost sacred quality. It was from those photos that Ms. Schutz began her painting.


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COMMENTS
To suggest that she, as a white painter, should not depict images of black suffering is as troubling as the demand by some Muslims that Salman Rushdie’s novel “The Satanic Verses” should be censored because of supposed blasphemies in its depiction of Islam. In fact, it’s more troubling because, as the critic Adam Shatz has observed, the campaign against Ms. Schutz’s work contains an “implicit disavowal that acts of radical sympathy, and imaginative identification, are possible across racial lines.”

Seventy years ago, racist radio stations refused to play “race music” for a white audience. Today, antiracist activists insist that white painters should not portray black subjects. To appropriate a phrase from a culture not my own: Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
ethics  politics  art 
6 weeks ago
Bernie’s Relativism Test Is Bad for Muslims and All Religious Believers | Public Discourse
Vought’s critics have accused him of “demonstrating a clear hostility to religious pluralism.” For them, this supposed “hostility” lies in Vought’s assertion that his own religious beliefs are true and that others’ are false. On the contrary, it is his critics who are hostile to religious pluralism. They do not simply object to the way he expressed himself, but to the fact that he expressed himself. They seek to allow in the public square only those who believe as they do: that all religious beliefs are equally true. The notion that all beliefs are true, otherwise known as relativism or postmodernism, is of course a creed in its own right, holding that nothing is objectively true or false, and that there is no absolute right or wrong. Requiring all government officeholders to be relativists is precisely the opposite of what was intended by the framers of the Constitution.

The obvious irony is that if this were the case, Muslims themselves would be banned from public office—at least if “Muslim” means a believer in a religion rather than simply a member of an amorphous identity group. The Qur’an states: “And whoever desires other than Islam as a religion, never will it be accepted from him, and in the Hereafter he will be among the losers” (Qur’an, Ali ‘Imran 3:85). This verse is as far from relativism as Vought’s comments that Muslims are condemned. Thus, any Muslim unwilling to repudiate the belief that Islam is objectively true and that other religions are, at least in critical respects, objectively false, would be unqualified to serve under Bernie’s relativism test.
politics  religion 
6 weeks ago
Outskirts by John Grindrod review – life in the green belt
Grindrod’s evocative and intelligent exploration of the green belt and its place in our national consciousness is part history and part memoir. He deftly weaves the two together, transforming what might otherwise have been a dry, technical discussion of planning and housing policy into a heartfelt narrative. The author of Concretopia, a celebration of postwar British architecture (“I do love a bit of concrete”), Grindrod considers the green belt to be “as much a part of the postwar city as tower blocks, flyovers and streets in the sky”. But the idea of a green buffer between town and country is not new. It reaches back to Thomas More’s Utopia, with its towns separated from each other by swaths of countryside in which citizens could “walk abroad in the fields”. In 1580 Elizabeth I tried to impose a green belt on London to curtail the city’s growth. But her diktat was ignored by the wealthy and merely increased the population density within the city, making life worse for ordinary Londoners – plus ça change.
nature  city 
6 weeks ago
A church of divine mission: Will we die for communion?
God does not call us merely to submit to the counsel of our friends. That would be too light a thing, and hardly cruciform. He calls us to submit to the oppressive, perhaps even arbitrary and mysterious, judgment of our enemies, even if they are our Christian sisters and brothers, baptized all. God does not call us merely to live within the constraints of communion. He summons us to come and die for those who would deny communion, in this way to give our Yes to every No — dying to self, dying to and for the world, dying for the sake of our enemies, taking up our cross and following him. Only then, perhaps, will he raise again the weeping ruins of our division. And so I close with a final set of questions: How far will we go in pursuing communion? Will we go even to the cross?
anglican 
6 weeks ago
Northrop Frye, The Great Code: The Bible and Literature | Robert Alter
Reading Job with Christian, typological eyes, Frye asserts that “Job lives in enemy territory, in the embraces of heathen and Satanic power which is symbolically the belly of the leviathan, the endless extent of time and space.” Every element of this statement happens to be false. There are no heathen in this scrupulously monotheistic book. There is equally no “Satanic power” in Job: the Adversary or Prosecuting Attorney (he is never designated with a proper name in the Hebrew) is not the Satan of Christian demonology and has no “territory” or power independent of God. A figure of ancient Near Eastern folklore rather than of mythology proper, he is one of a vaguely conceived crowd of benei elohim, divine beings, with a specific function of oppositionalism in the narrative. It is only later tradition that will develop him into the Prince of Evil. The Book of Job is concerned obsessively with man’s finitude and not at all with endless time and space, and I fail to see by what mental gyration Job could be said to be living in the belly of the leviathan.

Yet Frye goes on to conclude about the ending of the book: “The fact that God can point out these monsters [leviathan and behemoth] to Job means that Job is outside them, and no longer under their power.” Frye of course exhibits an archetypal kneejerk response to leviathan and behemoth, assuming, because leviathan is elsewhere mythological, that they must both be mythological and demonic creatures in the Book of Job. But, if one really bothers to read the context, it is perfectly clear that these two strange beasts are part of a grand zoological catalogue, that they are the crocodile and the hippopotamus, quite realistically rendered in many respects, though with a degree of poetic hyperbole that draws on mythology for heightening effects. The poet’s point is that both are exotic and uncanny beasts dwelling along the Nile, far from Job’s observation, and thus are vividly part of that vast panorama of creation beyond his ken. In any case, they are not represented in the poem as evil; on the contrary, they are objects of God’s providential supervision as Creator; and in no sense could anything that preceded lead us to imagine Job was ever in either of their bellies, figuratively or otherwise. One could hardly have invented a clearer case in which the adhesion to archetypes has led a gifted mind to drastic misreading.
bible  reading  Job 
6 weeks ago
No Mandate For Britain | The American Conservative
It strikes me as wildly implausible that the British people were, as of a few weeks ago, solidly behind Red Toryism, and are now suddenly enamored of 1980s-vintage Socialism. These wild swings are evidence, rather, of how shallowly held any such beliefs are, and how restless the public is for someone who can speak to their anxieties in a language of confidence. In that sense, I suspect May’s original theme was pretty correct as an expression of what the British people want, and the problem is that confidence collapsed that she could deliver it. But a few slips and mistakes would not cause a collapse of confidence of this magnitude and rapidity if that confidence were not itself shallow in the first place.

That lack of confidence is pervasive, and it’s due to the fact that nobody, left, right or center, really has an answer for the deep forces ripping apart the fabric of Western societies. The rise of hundreds of millions of Asians into the middle class, the huge increase in migration from South to North, the severing of cultural and economic ties between city and countryside — these trends are stronger than individual states, and simply declaring yourself against them or their effects is not the same as having a response.
politics  Europe  Brexit 
6 weeks ago
London Terrorist Attack Draws Indecent Media Response | National Review
The reason the subject changes so quickly from the people dying in the street to the potential victims of backlash is obvious. Islamist terror is politically inconvenient for advocates of mass migration from the Islamic world. To talk about it honestly might lead people to notice that the Czech Republic, which doesn’t have mass migration from the Islamic world, also doesn’t have Islamist terror attacks. And because of that, Czechs also typically don’t engage in these self-criticism sessions over Islamophobia.

But there is a deeper reason why so many in the media reach for car accidents and lightning bolts and other disasters that have no moral content. They know that deep down they really don’t share a society with the Islamic extremists. Their fellow citizenship exists only on paper, not as a social reality, and it gives them no authority to speak into that subculture, nor any hope of using their public platforms to reason with its members. They have admitted by this evasion the very fact that they wish no one to acknowledge: that these fellow citizens are alien to us.
politics  Europe 
7 weeks ago
76 Reasonable Questions to ask about any technology by Jacques Ellul
Ecological
What are its effects on the health of the planet and of the person?
Does it preserve or destroy biodiversity?
Does it preserve or reduce ecosystem integrity?
What are its effects on the land?
What are its effects on wildlife?
How much, and what kind of waste does it generate?
Does it incorporate the principles of ecological design?
Does it break the bond of renewal between humans and nature?
Does it preserve or reduce cultural diversity?
What is the totality of its effects, its "ecology"?

Social
Does it serve community?
Does it empower community members?
How does it affect our perception of our needs?
Is it consistent with the creation of a communal, human economy?
What are its effects on relationships?
Does it undermine conviviality?
Does it undermine traditional forms of community?
How does it affect our way of seeing and experiencing the world?
Does it foster a diversity of forms of knowledge?
Does it build on, or contribute to, the renewal of traditional forms of knowledge?
Does it serve to commodity knowledge or relationships?
To what extent does it redefine reality?
Does it erase a sense of time and history?
What is its potential to become addictive?

Practical
What does it make?
Who does it benefit?
What is its purpose?
Where was it produced?
Where is it used?
Where must it go when it's broken or obsolete?
How expensive is it?
Can it be repaired?
By an ordinary person?

Moral
What values does its use foster?
What is gained by its use?
What are its effects beyond its utility to the individual?
What is lost in using it?
What are its effects on the least advantaged in society?

Ethical
How complicated is it?
What does it allow us to ignore?
To what extent does it distance agent from effect?
Can we assume personal, or communal responsibility for its effects?
Can its effects be directly apprehended?
What ancillary technologies does it require?
What behavior might it make possible in the future?
What other technologies might it make possible?
Does it alter our sense of time and relationships in ways conducive to nihilism?

Vocational
What is its impact on craft?
Does it reduce, deaden, or enhance human creativity?
Is it the least imposing technology available for the task?
Does it replace, or does it aid human hands and human beings?
Can it be responsive to organic circumstance?
Does it depress or enhance the quality of goods?
Does it depress or enhance the meaning of work?

Metaphysical
What aspect of the inner self does it reflect?
Does it express love?
Does it express rage?
What aspect of our past does it reflect?
Does it reflect cyclical or linear thinking?

Political
Does it concentrate or equalize power?
Does it require, or institute a knowledge elite?
It is totalitarian?
Does it require a bureaucracy for its perpetuation?
What legal empowerments does it require?
Does it undermine traditional moral authority?
Does it require military defense?
Does it enhance, or serve military purposes?
How does it affect warfare?
Is it massifying?
Is it consistent with the creation of a global economy?
Does it empower transnational corporations?
What kind of capital does it require?

Aesthetic
Is it ugly?
Does it cause ugliness?
What noise does it make?
What pace does it set?
How does it affect the quality of life (as distinct from the standard of living)?
technology 
7 weeks ago
Unsolving the City: An Interview with China Miéville – BLDGBLOG
Miéville: Some really interesting stuff has been done with psychogeography—I’m not going to say it’s without uses other than for making pretty maps. I mean, re-experiencing lived urban reality in ways other than how one is more conventionally supposed to do so can shine a new light on things—but that’s an act of political assertion and will. If you like, it’s a kind of deliberate—and, in certain contexts, radical—misunderstanding. Great, you know—good on you! You’ve productively misunderstood the city. But I think that the bombast of these particular—what are we in now? fourth or fifth generation?—psychogeographers is problematic.

Presumably at some point we’re going to get to a stage, probably reasonably soon, in which someone—maybe even one of the earlier generation of big psychogeographers—will write the great book against psychogeography. Not even that it’s been co-opted—it’s just wheel-spinning.

BLDGBLOG: In an interview with Ballardian, Iain Sinclair once joked that psychogeography, as a term, has effectively lost all meaning. Now, literally any act of walking through the city—walking to work in the morning, walking around your neighborhood, walking out to get a bagel—is referred to as “psychogeography.” It’s as if the experience of being a pedestrian in the city has become so unfamiliar to so many people, that they now think the very act of walking around makes them a kind of psychogeographic avant-garde.
geography  city 
7 weeks ago
THEATER - The Gospel According to Alec McCowen - NYTimes.com
While he played the lead in Peter Shaffer's ''Equus'' in New York and toured Britain as Shakepeare's Antony, Mr. McCowen learned St. Mark, three verses early each morning for 16 months; but without much belief in the project's ultimate success. When Mr. McCowen finally summoned up the pluck to deliver the Gospel to four friends, they disconcerted him by going into a huddle afterward and discussing Jesus's character, oblivious of his presence. ''Do you think it will work?'' he asked. ''Well, of course,'' they replied impatiently, and continued their debate.

As he later realized, their reaction was actually a compliment. And when in 1978 he gave his first public performance of ''St. Mark's Gospel'' for a nervous management in the northern city of Newcastle, there was definitive proof of the Gospel's power to arrest and intrigue. The key moment came when a little old lady seized him after he had finished one evening and said with open astonishment what critics and audiences were soon to be repeating all over England and America: ''It was as good as a play.''
bible 
8 weeks ago
Devotion at home, the vindication of Anglicanism
At the turn of the year, we sat down with our kids and asked them how they wanted to pursue at a closer relationship with God in 2017. My daughter, Clare, said that she wanted to pray for the nations at dinner every day. My son, Luke, said that he wanted to wake up every morning to pray the daily office with me. I said Sure, thinking that like most New Year’s declarations it would not last the week. But my eight-year-old set his alarm clock at 6:15 a.m. and has been with me almost every morning in 2017 (well at least Monday through Friday; piety has its limits). This has made skipping Morning Prayer impossible for me. Yes, my son has encouraged me to pray more!

Sometime in February, Clare decided that she wanted to wake up too. The psalms move a little slower now and the responses are more halting, but we are happy to have her. So, most mornings you can find the three of us downstairs on the couch, usually groggy and sometimes grumpy, praying the office. This may seem like an exercise in a parent bragging on the faith of his children (we take the victories when we can). But it is not. Something deeper stirs in me when I see that my children have for the most part memorized the creeds, prayers, and confessions. It is a vindication of Anglicanism. It is why I came into this tradition in the first place.
Anglican  christian  from instapaper
8 weeks ago
How Google Book Search Got Lost – Backchannel
Machine-learning tools that analyze texts in new ways are advancing quickly today, Sloan notes, and “the culture around it has a real Homebrew Computer Club or early web feel to it right now.” But to progress, researchers need big troves of data to feed their programs.

“If Google could find a way to take that corpus, sliced and diced by genre, topic, time period, all the ways you can divide it, and make that available to machine-learning researchers and hobbyists at universities and out in the wild, I’ll bet there’s some really interesting work that could come out of that. Nobody knows what,” Sloan says. He assumes Google is already doing this internally. Jaskiewicz and others at Google would not say.

Maybe, when some neural network of the future achieves self-awareness and find itself paralyzed by Kafka-esque existential doubts, it will find solace, as so many of us do, in finding exactly the right book to shatter its psychic ice. Or maybe, unlike us, it will be able to read all the books we’ve scanned — really read them, in a way that makes sense of them. What would it do then?
google  books  information  from instapaper
8 weeks ago
The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge
Flexner’s story was not just one of scientific progress, but also a history of how scientists and other scholars have cobbled together the funding they have needed, often from wealthy patrons of the arts and sciences. In the twentieth century, essentially for the first time, researchers became dependent on what seemed, for a while, to be a consistently growing federal research budget. Now, as the government sinks further in debt, and as other priorities clamor for attention, researchers need to figure out what to do when the government does not answer their calls. The answer is that they need to study Flexner’s enormously successful methods.

One of the best reasons to reissue The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge today is to remind us of how many path-breaking and life-changing discoveries have been made possible by philanthropic support. To help today’s researchers learn how to tell that story as well as Flexner did, Princeton University Press could perform an important service by adding his other Harper’s essay to the next edition. Titled “Adventures in Money-Raising,” it is both a chronicle of how he established some of America’s greatest medical schools and a first-class primer on how to ask people to part with large sums in the interest of worthwhile causes. Those of us who believe that basic research is such a cause need to emulate the entrepreneurial Flexner so that useless research will continue to change the world in unexpected ways.
education  from instapaper
8 weeks ago
Reinhold Niebuhr, Washington’s Favorite Theologian
Do Comey, Obama, and other powerful people read Niebuhr because he tells them to act with humility and caution? Or is it because Niebuhr tells them that moral men have to play hardball? The most likely answer is both, and we should find that more than a little troubling.
politics  theology  from instapaper
8 weeks ago
Research Institutions Now Cater to the Prejudices of Wealth
The question Drezner doesn’t ever ask explicitly is: What is the ideas industry’s real product? If the plutocrats who dominate the market demand ideas that are already congenial to them, then they aren’t evaluating ideas based on their efficacy — as, indeed, they have little incentive to do if they are insulated from their consequences. It’s probably not an accident that the industry Drezner describes frequently sounds like a luxury brand of entertainment, the ideas akin to the witty confections served up by Louis XVI’s courtiers in the French film “Ridicule.”

I make the comparison advisedly, for looming in the background of Drezner’s narrative is Donald Trump. Drezner calls Trump the “brassiest thought leader in existence,” but this is to stretch his own definition of the term beyond utility. Trump won the presidency substantially by running against the entire edifice of ideation that Drezner’s book describes, both traditional academic experts and the Davos and think tank sets. He may well be a consequence of many of the trends Drezner identifies. It remains to be seen just what ideas, if any, that consequence has.
ideas  from instapaper
8 weeks ago
Martha C. Nussbaum Jefferson Lecture
The Greeks and Romans saw a lot of anger around them. But as classical scholar William Harris shows in his fine book Restraining Rage, they did not embrace or valorize anger. They did not define manliness in terms of anger, and indeed, as with those Furies, tended to impute it to women, whom they saw as lacking rationality. However much they felt and expressed anger, they waged a cultural struggle against it, seeing it as destructive of human well-being and democratic institutions. The first word of Homer’s Iliad is “anger”—the anger of Achilles that “brought thousandfold pains upon the Achaeans.” And the Iliad’s hopeful ending requires Achilles to give up his anger and to be reconciled with his enemy Priam, as both acknowledge the frailty of human life.

I believe the Greeks and Romans are right: anger is a poison to democratic politics, and it is all the worse when fueled by a lurking fear and a sense of helplessness. As a philosopher I have been working on these ideas for some time, first in a 2016 book called Anger and Forgiveness, and now in a book in progress called The Monarchy of Fear, investigating the relationship between anger and fear. In my work, I draw not only on the Greeks and Romans, but also on some recent figures, as I shall tonight. I conclude that we should resist anger in ourselves and inhibit its role in our political culture.
philosophy  politics  from instapaper
8 weeks ago
Conservative Postmodernism - The Imaginative Conservative
The modern world has now ended only in the sense that we have now seen enough of it to judge it. Although we have reason to be grateful for the wealth, health, freedom, and power that modern achievements have given us, we know that the individual’s pursuits of security and happiness will remain always pursuits—and not possessions. So even as the modern world continues to develop, we can be free of its characteristic delusion, its utopianism. We can speak of its strengths and its limitations from a perspective “outside” modernity, and that perspective is the foundation of conservatism today. Conservatives can be (perhaps the only) genuinely postmodern thinkers. The reason we can see beyond the modern world is that its intention to transform human nature has failed. Its project of transforming the human person into the autonomous individual was and remains unrealistic; we can now see the limits of being an individual because we remain more than individuals. The world created by modern individuals to make themselves fully at home turns out to have made human beings less at home than ever.
politics  conservatism  postmodernism  from instapaper
8 weeks ago
Where Did the Great Hollywood Baseball Movie Go? - The New York Times
Baseball, more than any other American sport, has an extensive visual archive, and the change in imagery — the sharpening of focus, the addition of color — always created a sense of progress across eras. Babe Ruth winks in grainy, flickering black and white. In the 1951 home run known as “the shot heard round the world,” you can see Bobby Thomson’s swing, but the camera that tracks the ball out of the park is so jumpy, unsteady and late to the trajectory that it looks as if it were shot on an iPhone by someone six beers in. Bob Gibson and Sandy Koufax come through in blurry, bright color, but you can rarely see their faces as they wind up and throw. By the 1975 World Series, when Boston’s Carlton Fisk seems to will the ball to stay fair with his flapping arms until it’s a home run, you can see the “27” on Fisk’s back and the square outline of his jaw, but the field still looks as if it were lit by mosquito zappers. Baseball nostalgia is tied to the way the game looked at any given moment in the past; the progress of the game is told, more than anything else, by the changes in its imagery.

Last week, I watched a replay of David Ortiz’s game-winning home run in the 12th inning of Game 4 of the 2004 A.L.C.S. It happened nearly 13 years ago, but it could have been last October, the way the scene was presented: the HD video, the score at the top of the screen, Joe Buck calling balls and strikes. We may be past the point when the only way to distinguish among coming eras will be by the change in uniforms. In terms of action and detail, the post-HD eras are likely to all look the same — our eyeballs can’t take in much more than what’s being beamed out to today’s 4K and 1080p televisions. Baseball’s visual clock, which once kept time for a changing country, now seems frozen.
8 weeks ago
When People Were Proud to Call Themselves ‘Neoliberal’
"To Lippmann and his peers, such as Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises, neoliberalism was meant as a new kind of liberalism that espoused, contrarily to what was expected of liberals, laissez-faire capitalism. The free market was thought to have conditioned the Great Depression, and came to be associated with the reviled assumption of Republicans such as President Herbert Hoover who had assumed that the economy would right itself. To these “new” liberals, the interventionist, state-directed policies of the New Deal instituted by Franklin Roosevelt had revealed themselves as equally unwise, and neoliberalism sought to strike a middle ground.

Lippmann and the other neoliberals disagreed as to just where that middle should be, but the general idea was that to be a neoliberal was to be on what intellectuals and social-justice activists would, or at least might, consider to be the proper side. The economist Milton Friedman took up the cause and became a respected celebrity, with a hit PBS series outlining his principles. Starting in the late 1970s, a cadre of writers at The New Republic, which Lippmann had helped to found, proudly bore the neoliberal label. They saw themselves as opposed to, rather than allied with, conservative organs such as the National Review."
from instapaper
8 weeks ago
Mission Control 101: How to Use Multiple Desktops on a Mac
"Mission Control is one of those Mac features that’s easy to ignore but makes everything better once you learn about it, mostly because of the multiple desktops feature. Master using those, and the quick ways to switch between them, and you’ll wonder how you ever used your Mac any other way."
from instapaper
8 weeks ago
Fusionism Once and Future
"“Natural conservatism” had to be supplemented with rational criticism, Meyer insisted, because so many recent changes had been destructive of inherited wisdom and prudential norms. In order to respond to those errors, “Today’s conservatism cannot simply affirm. It must select and adjudge. It is conservative because in its selection and in its judgment it bases itself upon the accumulated wisdom of mankind over millennia, because it accepts the limits upon the irresponsible play of untrammeled reason which the unchanging values exhibited by that wisdom dictate.”

Because “conscious conservatism” required distinctions between desirable and undesirable changes, the opposition between reason and tradition was a false dichotomy. Instead of rivals, the two sources of knowledge were intertwined in a productive tension that Meyer characterized as “reason operating within tradition: neither ideological hubris creating Utopian blueprints, ignoring the accumulated wisdom of mankind, nor blind dependence on that wisdom to answer automatically the questions posed to our generation and demanding our own expenditure of mind and spirit.”"
from instapaper
8 weeks ago
Angela Merkel’s blunder, Donald Trump and the end of the west
The final flaw in Ms Merkel’s approach is that it displayed an uncharacteristic deafness to the echoes of history. One of the truly impressive things about modern Germany is that, more than any other country I can think of, it has thought hard about the lessons of history, and learnt them with thoroughness and humility. So it is baffling that a German leader could stand in a beer-tent in Bavaria and announce a separation from Britain and the US while bracketing those two countries with Russia. The historical resonances should be chilling.

None of this is meant to suggest that Ms Merkel is on the same moral and political level as Mr Trump. The US president has repeatedly displayed contempt for core western values — from freedom of the press to the prohibition on torture and the support of democracies around the world.

As a result, some have even proclaimed that the German chancellor is now the true leader of the western world. That title was bestowed prematurely. The sad reality is that Ms Merkel seems to have little interest in fighting to save the western alliance.
Europe 
8 weeks ago
Can States Be Christian? | Comment Magazine
So the key point here is that nations don't have agency. In order to "be Christian," you have to have agency. And nations aren't agents. But states do have agency; so they can as a matter of fact aspire to be Christian, and there are such things as Christian states. As an empirical fact, that's true. The question is, is that legitimate? Here's my argument: states that aspire to exercise corporate religious agency are doing something illicit. They're reaching beyond their proper bounds of competence. Religious agency is not something that states should aspire to express. They are political and legal agents, and they should stay within that remit. This remit does not include defining or endorsing religious identity or religious confession. This is partly simply because most states—perhaps all states—contain religiously plural populations so that a single state-endorsed identity or confession could not as a matter of fact embrace every citizen. That's an empirical point. But I want to go further and say that, normatively, seeking to act as a confessional agent is a breach of the state's proper constitutional competence. [...]

There's this terrible fear, I think, in a lot of Christians, that if we let go of the formal constitutional ties, and even historical non-constitutional privileges, that somehow the fabric of society will unravel beyond our control. The fact is, it already unravelled beyond our control decades ago! What I'm calling for is a recognition that that age has gone and it's not going to come back. And further, that normatively we should not seek to restore it.

Another reason is this: I wonder if part of the fear derives from a suppressed awareness that if the church were to lose its remaining public privileges, then it would be all up to us as Christians to work to keep Christianity in the public square. It would involve the hard slog of working from the grassroots, from the bottom up, over the long term, doing public theology over ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty years, with many failures but perhaps a few successes. The fear is that it's all going to come down to that hard, and possibly unsuccessful, work, and that we're not going to get any help from the state in that task of missional transformation. People I think at some visceral level cannot quite bear that thought.
politics  christian  religion 
8 weeks ago
Andrew Sullivan: The Pope and the Pagan
If Trump were to issue his own set of beatitudes, they would have to be something like this

Blessed are the winners: for theirs is the kingdom of Earth.

Blessed are the healthy: for they will pay lower premiums.

Blessed are the rich: for they will inherit what’s left of the earth, tax-free.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for oil and coal: for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciless: for they are so, so strong.

Blessed are the liars: for they will get away with it.

Blessed are the war-makers: for they will be called very, very smart.

Blessed are those who support you regardless: for theirs is the Electoral College.

Blessed are you when others revile you and investigate you and utter all kinds of fake news about you. Rejoice and be glad, for the failing press is dying.
politics 
8 weeks ago
Facebook Doesn't Understand Itself
"Facebook is unconstrained by centuries of interpretations of constitutions and legal precedents. It could do whatever it wanted.

They could systematically aim for harm minimization not speech maximization. That change of assumptions would lead to a different set of individual guidelines on posts. The popular children's online world, Club Penguin, for example, offered multiple levels of language filtering as well as an "Ultimate Safe Chat" mode that only allowed pre-selected phrases to be chosen from a list. At one point, a thousand words were being added to the software's verboten list per day. But “allow[ing] as much speech as possible” has been part of the ideology of this generation of social media companies from the very beginning.

Getting people to post more, as opposed to less, is the core of Facebook’s mission as a company. It is no surprise that the companies built on sharing that have been the most successful come from the United States, which is the most pro-free speech country in the world."
from instapaper
8 weeks ago
The Power of Patience
"Given all this, I want to conclude with some thoughts about teaching patience as a strategy. The deliberate engagement of delay should itself be a primary skill that we teach to students. It’s a very old idea that patience leads to skill, of course—but it seems urgent now that we go further than this and think about patience itself as the skill to be learned. Granted—patience might be a pretty hard sell as an educational deliverable. It sounds nostalgic and gratuitously traditional. But I would argue that as the shape of time has changed around it, the meaning of patience today has reversed itself from its original connotations. The virtue of patience was originally associated with forbearance or sufferance. It was about conforming oneself to the need to wait for things. But now that, generally, one need not wait for things, patience becomes an active and positive cognitive state. Where patience once indicated a lack of control, now it is a form of control over the tempo of contemporary life that otherwise controls us. Patience no longer connotes disempowerment—perhaps now patience is power.

If “patience” sounds too old-fashioned, let’s call it “time management” or “temporal intelligence” or “massive temporal distortion engineering.” Either way, an awareness of time and patience as a productive medium of learning is something that I feel is urgent to model for—and expect of—my students."
from instapaper
8 weeks ago
The National Endowment for the Humanities Isn't Shutting Down
"“NEH is not in the process of shutting down,” Wasley told me over email. “As an agency of the Executive Branch of the Federal government, NEH answers to the President and must support his proposed budget, including his request that Congress eliminate the agency.”

In other words, the NEH (and, presumably, the NEA) requested the money to pay for its closure because it had to. And if it hopes to survive this assault, it probably plans to continue following procedure and remaining nonpartisan. The NEA has been only slightly more vocal about Trump’s budget plans; it hasn’t released a statement this week, but when the proposal to eliminate the agency was first formally announced in March, NEA Chairman Jane Chu expressed her team’s disappointment, then went on to note: “As a federal government agency, the NEA cannot engage in advocacy, either directly or indirectly. We will, however, continue our practice of educating about the NEA’s vital role in serving our nation’s communities.”"
from instapaper
8 weeks ago
The Open Society And Its Enemies - K.R. Popper - Google Books
The whole problem of educating man to a sane appreciation of his own importance relative to that of other individuals is thoroughly muddled by these ethics of fame and fate, by a morality which perpetuates an educational system that is still based upon the classics with their romantic view of the history of power and their romantic tribal morality which goes back to Heraclitus; a system whose ultimate basis is the worship of power. Instead of a sober combination of individualism and altruism (to use these labels again)—that is to say, instead of a position like ‘What really matters are human individuals, but I do not take this to mean that it is I who matter very much’—a romantic combination of egoism and collectivism is taken for granted. That is to say, the importance of the self, of its emotional life and its ‘self-expression’, is romantically exaggerated; and with it, the tension between the ‘personality’ and the group, the collective…

It is under the influence of such romantic ideas that individualism is still identified with egoism, as it was by Plato, and altruism with collectivism (i.e. with the substitution of group egoism for the individualist egoism). But this bars the way even to a clear formulation of the main problem, the problem of how to obtain a sane appreciation of one’s own importance in relation to other individuals. Since it is felt, and rightly so, that we have to aim at something beyond our own selves, something to which we can devote ourselves, and for which we may make sacrifices, it is concluded that this must be the collective, with its ‘historical mission’. Thus we are told to make sacrifices, and, at the same time, assured that we shall make an excellent bargain by doing so. We shall make sacrifices, it is said, but we shall thereby obtain honour and fame. We shall become ‘leading actors’, heroes on the Stage of History; for a small risk we shall gain great rewards. This is the dubious morality of a period in which only a tiny minority counted, and in which nobody cared for the common people. It is the morality of those who, being political or intellectual aristocrats, have a chance of getting into the textbooks of history. It cannot possibly be the morality of those who favour justice and equalitarianism; for historical fame cannot be just, and it can be attained only by a very few. The countless number of men who are just as worthy, or worthier, will always be forgotten.

The romantic historicist morality of fame, fortunately, seems to be on the decline. The Unknown Soldier shows it. We are beginning to realize that sacrifice may mean just as much, or even more, when it is made anonymously. Our ethical education must follow suit. We must be taught to do our work; to make our sacrifice for the sake of this work, and not for praise or the avoidance of blame. (The fact that we all need some encouragement, hope, praise, and even blame, is another matter altogether.) We must find our justification in our work, in what we are doing ourselves, and not in a fictitious ‘meaning of history’.

History has no meaning, I contend. But this contention does not imply that all we can do about it is to look aghast at the history of political power, or that we must look on it as a cruel joke. For we can interpret it, with an eye to those problems of power politics whose solution we choose to attempt in our time. We can interpret the history of power politics from the point of view of our fight for the open society, for a rule of reason, for justice, freedom, equality, and for the control of international crime. Although history has no ends, we can impose these ends of ours upon it; and although history has no meaning, we can give it a meaning.
politics  history  democracy 
8 weeks ago
Kathryn Tanner - David Brown's Divine Humanity
If classical christologies have the tendency to allow the divinity of Christ to push out or evacuate his humanity, the problem has more to do with the way divinity is attributed to Christ and where one looks for divinity in Christ's own life. And in this classical christologies would fail to follow through on the implications of their own most basic claims. On my understanding of those basic claims, Christ is divine because God has given rise to a fully human life which remains God's own. God is the one living this human life for that reason – because this strictly human life remains God's own in unity with it, because this is God's own life in virtue of God's being one with the humanity of Christ in assuming it to itself – and not because Jesus has a divine subjectivity or centre of consciousness and agency something like a human one, just better, to replace or supplement his human one. What makes Christ divine is that activity of God by which God remains united with what God is not, lying behind and giving shape to the whole human existence of Christ; Christ is not divine because one can isolate within his life certain divine powers or capacities comparable to human ones and existing alongside his human ones – although often classical christologies suggest something like that. Instead, what reveals the divinity of Jesus’ human life is the way the whole of that life is being made over according to a divine pattern, rather than any discrete divine aspects one can pick out within it. Divinity is apparent in Jesus’ life not from any particular superhuman characteristics or activities which might well suggest that in those respects Jesus is no longer human; divine power appears, instead, in and through every human act and power of Christ insofar as they have saving effects. Jesus saves us from death, for example, by dying in just the way any human being would. His death isn't any different, exhibiting in itself any extraordinary powers; it is a simply human death in that sense. What's different about it is the fact that it saves – its unusual effects – and that is what prompts one to say God that is at work there – in those simply human events – with power.

The fundamental problem, then, lurking behind the docetic tendencies of classical christology which kenotic theologies lament, would be the temptation to look for Christ's divinity in a divine nature comparable to his human one. As Schleiermacher argued, I believe effectively, the transcendence of God means that God doesn't have a nature like that to be put in any simple relations of comparison and contrast with human nature, along some single, shared continuum (and this would hold whatever one means more specifically by nature – properties, entities, or powers and capacities). God does not, for example, have a mind in any way like a human mind, just bigger and better, knowing everything completely, rather than some things and only partially. Only when anthropomorphised in that way do divine attributes threaten to push out or render redundant Christ's human capacities and characteristics. Although Christ is divine (for the reasons mentioned above), one should therefore say that the only nature Christ has, strictly speaking, is a human one.

By misdiagnosing the problem with classical christologies, kenotic ones merely repeat it. They too think of the divine nature along a continuum with a human nature; and that is what sets up a competitive relation between such natures – the more there is of the one, the less of the other. Rather than have the divine nature overwhelm Christ's human one, kenotic christologies would rather see constraints put on the divine nature so that Christ can lead a fully human life. The better choice clearly, especially given modern developments in biblical criticism and human psychology, but a choice hamstrung by the very same set of assumptions shared with its opponents. In classical christologies the temptation to evacuate the humanity of Christ has nothing fundamentally to do, in short, with affirmations of divine impassibility or coercive divine power; it is rooted, instead, in ideas with which kenotic theologians agree.
theology  christian 
8 weeks ago
Rob MacSwain - Introduction - Theology, Aesthetics, and Culture
As for method, Brown’s openness to divine action, grace, truth, religious experience, and even revelation outside of Scripture, orthodox tradition, and the Christian community raises natural concerns about normative criteria, especially when he speaks of the ‘limitations of biblical insights’ being ‘corrected’ by later tradition. For example, Kathryn Tanner states that Brown’s ‘belief that the incarnation endorses human creativity—more strongly, that here God has abandoned Godself to a tradition of interpretation—seems wildly lopsided and quite inadequate soteriologically’. This concern about criteria has been raised in almost every review of Brown’s five volumes, is considered in detail in various chapters in this book, and is the focus of a promised forthcoming monograph from Brown, so it will not be treated at length in this introduction. It is indeed a major issue and, for many, a stumbling block in the reception of Brown’s project.

It may, however, be helpful to observe that even if Tanner’s statement is a correct summary of Brown’s position (which he denies), it is also a paradigm example of what Brown would (rightly or wrongly) consider criteria ‘set in advance’ that fail ‘to grapple sufficiently with the way the world is’. But if careful historical study leads to the conclusion that the best way to construe the Christian tradition in all its bewildering diversity and remarkable development is what Brown calls ‘divine accommodation’, then the soteriological (p.8) implications will just have to sort themselves out accordingly. In other words, as Brown sees it, although he indeed defends the distinction between ‘historical original’ and ‘theological truth’, the relation between them must be carefully and continually negotiated, and in particular doctrinal considerations such as soteriology cannot drive our historical interpretations willy-nilly. [...]

Brown worries, however, that the persistent failure of Christians to accept the fallible and messy character of Scripture, the Church, and human knowledge in general means that ‘Christianity is now progressively entering into a world of self-deception where it must inevitably seem less and less plausible in the modern world.’ This is, of course, a familiar apologetic concern, and one that is soundly dismissed by certain schools of theology. But as Brown sees it, the problem is not that religious belief requires ‘rational’ support in the face of secular sceptism, but rather that the Church and its theologians have embraced instrumental reason and a utilitarian value-system, both of which undermine the real reasons why people actually believe and come to faith.

Thus, according to Brown, the ‘fundamental thesis’ underlying all five volumes is that ‘both natural and revealed theology are in crisis, and that the only way out is to give proper attention to the cultural embeddedness of both’. So, as indicated above, the focus on biblical revelation and Christian tradition in the first two volumes shifts to the trilogy’s concern with religious experience mediated through both nature and human culture in all its forms: (p.9) art and architecture, place and pilgrimage, gardens and sporting events, food and drink, music and dance, sacrament and liturgy, metaphor and drama. These are all aspects of life that were once central to Christian theology, but which have become peripheral, and Brown seeks to reconfigure theology so that these matters are once again integral to the discipline.
theology  Anglican 
8 weeks ago
John Webster, a year on | Shored Fragments
He taught us, though, to approach that history with a different orientation. We were not studying a genealogy, not attempting to understand how we had got to here, whether ‘here’ was regarded as a good place to get to or not; instead, we were reading theologians as theologians, women and men engaged in the shared task of explicating divine truth. A couple of years back in the graduate seminar he had us all reading Ritschl, whose ideas were perhaps as far from John’s as any ideas could be. But we did not study Ritschl as Barth would have done, as a chapter in a narrative of decline; we read Ritschl as last year we read Kate Sonderegger, as someone who was seriously trying to understand the gospel, and so someone to be read seriously

There is challenge here: assigning writers to ‘their place in history’ is a way of refusing to consider their claims on our thinking. This is what John would never do, not with writers with whom he shared a great deal, and not with writers with whom he disagreed profoundly. As theologians, they were attempting to speak of the reality of God, and of all else in the light of that reality; as theologians, they deserved to be taken seriously, not relativised; they should be voices which can challenge us, not merely specimens to be studied.
theology  from instapaper
9 weeks ago
Letting Trump Be Trump
Reading Steyn’s argument brings to mind the 1980s-conservative cry of “let Reagan be Reagan!,” issued whenever the Reagan administration disappointed their ideological hopes. But in that era you had a president who had spent years and decades arguing for and debating and honing the set of ideas called Reaganism, and so when his White House strayed from those ideas an appeal to the president’s true beliefs was a reasonable response. Whereas today “let Trump be Trump!” is a much emptier appeal, because on the available evidence this emptiness simply is Trump: A talented mountebank with zero policy knowledge who exploited a set of ideas with underappreciated appeal but lacks the aptitude or zeal to implement them, preferring to rage against his cable-news coverage while House backbenchers write “his” budget and the Pentagon conducts “his” foreign policy and the Freedom Caucus amends “his” health care bill to make it still more politically toxic.

If this is the case then it’s correct but also a little beside the point to complain about how the wreckers and establishment types and Ryanists are all betraying the voters by submarining Trumpism. The betrayal starts at the top, with a president who doesn’t care enough and probably never really did.
politics  election2016  from instapaper
9 weeks ago
Why I don't believe in God - Marginal REVOLUTION
That all said I do accept that religion has net practical benefits for both individuals and societies, albeit with some variance.  That is partly where the pressures for social conformity come from.  I am a strong Straussian when it comes to religion, and overall wish to stick up for the presence of religion in social debate, thus some of my affinities with say Ross Douthat and David Brooks on many issues.

5. I am frustrated by the lack of Bayesianism in most of the religious belief I observe.  I’ve never met a believer who asserted: “I’m really not sure here.  But I think Lutheranism is true with p = .018, and the next strongest contender comes in only at .014, so call me Lutheran.”  The religious people I’ve known rebel against that manner of framing, even though during times of conversion they may act on such a basis.

I don’t expect all or even most religious believers to present their views this way, but hardly any of them do.  That in turn inclines me to think they are using belief for psychological, self-support, and social functions.  Nothing wrong with that, says the strong Straussian!  But again, it won’t get me to belief.
atheism 
9 weeks ago
Living 'The Handmaid's Tale' — courtesy of the secular liberal elites of L.A.
Finally, the Handmaids. As in the fictional Gilead, real-life elite-class Wives have something of a fertility problem, although it’s related not to environmental degradation but delayed marriages and childbearing attempts of women who pursue high-power careers. Thanks to 30 years of advances in egg-transfer technology since Atwood published her novel, today’s gestational surrogates don’t have to get into embarrassing “threesome” sexual positions with the Commanders and their Wives in order to do their jobs. And they tend to be drawn not from the ranks of political dissidents, but from the financially strapped Econowife class (military bases are common surrogate-recruiting centers) who are willing to put up with a year’s worth of uncomfortable hormone treatments and possible pregnancy problems for the $40,000 or so that they receive.

Still, as in Gilead, there is definitely a class of female pariahs on whom the elites heap condescension, contempt and, when they can, punishment for holding views at variance with what the elites deem correct. They’re not called Handmaids, of course. They’re called Deplorables.
politics  feminism  from instapaper
9 weeks ago
Education Technology as 'The New Normal'
Education needs to change, we have long been told. It is outmoded. Inefficient. And this “new normal” – in an economic sense much more than a pedagogical one – has meant schools have been tasked to “do more with less” and specifically to do more with new technologies which promise greater efficiency, carrying with them the values of business and markets rather than the values of democracy or democratic education.

These new technologies, oriented towards consumers and consumption, privilege an ideology of individualism. In education technology, as in advertising, this is labeled “personalization.” The flaw of traditional education systems, we are told, is that they focus too much on the group, the class, the collective. So we see education being reframed as a technologically-enhanced series of choices – consumer choices. Technologies monitor and extract data in order to maximize “engagement” and entertainment.

I fear that new normal, what it might really mean for teaching, for learning, for scholarship.
edtech  academe  from instapaper
9 weeks ago
In Defense of the Reality of Time
Why might one think that time has a direction to it? That seems to go counter to what physicists often say.

I think that’s a little bit backwards. Go to the man on the street and ask whether time has a direction, whether the future is different from the past, and whether time doesn’t march on toward the future. That’s the natural view. The more interesting view is how the physicists manage to convince themselves that time doesn’t have a direction.

They would reply that it’s a consequence of Einstein’s special theory of relativity, which holds that time is a fourth dimension.

This notion that time is just a fourth dimension is highly misleading. In special relativity, the time directions are structurally different from the space directions. In the timelike directions, you have a further distinction into the future and the past, whereas any spacelike direction I can continuously rotate into any other spacelike direction. The two classes of timelike directions can’t be continuously transformed into one another.

Standard geometry just wasn’t developed for the purpose of doing space-time. It was developed for the purpose of just doing spaces, and spaces have no directedness in them. And then you took this formal tool that you developed for this one purpose and then pushed it to this other purpose.
philosophy  physics  science  time  from instapaper
9 weeks ago
The Parable Of The Talents | Slate Star Codex
The obvious pattern is that attributing outcomes to things like genes, biology, and accidents of birth is kind and sympathetic. Attributing them to who works harder and who’s “really trying” can stigmatize people who end up with bad outcomes and is generally viewed as Not A Nice Thing To Do.

And the weird thing, the thing I’ve never understood, is that intellectual achievement is the one domain that breaks this pattern.

Here it’s would-be hard-headed conservatives arguing that intellectual greatness comes from genetics and the accidents of birth and demanding we “accept” this “unpleasant truth”.

And it’s would-be compassionate progressives who are insisting that no, it depends on who works harder, claiming anybody can be brilliant if they really try, warning us not to “stigmatize” the less intelligent as “genetically inferior”.
intelligence  genetics 
9 weeks ago
“Janesville” and the Costs of American Optimism - The New Yorker
“Janesville” is haunting in part because it’s a success story. In the face of vast forces—globalization, automation, political dysfunction, the Great Recession—the people of Janesville do nearly everything right. Reading “Janesville,” one is awed by the dignity and levelheadedness of its protagonists, who seem to represent the best of America. At the same time, the narrative of “Janesville” unfolds within a larger, more fatalistic context. Matt Wopat’s efforts at retraining are inspiring but, from the beginning, doubtful: if it were that easy, there wouldn’t be books like “Janesville.” The steel industry in Gary, Indiana, began its decline forty years ago; how likely is it that, forty years from now, Janesville will have escaped Gary’s fate? Goldstein is a talented storyteller, and we root for her characters as, moment by moment, they try their hardest. In truth, we’re inspired by the same narrative of hope that politicians draw upon when they talk about job training, and which Forward Janesville uses to attract new businesses to town. It’s sobering to think that the autoworkers, too, are caught up in this story.

From time to time, “Janesville” pauses to acknowledge the mostly immovable reality in which its characters are enmeshed. When Matt realizes that there are no jobs at the power company, Goldstein writes, “his mind churns on this jam he is in.” The government is paying to retrain him; G.M. is honoring its union contract; he is trying his best to find better work. When he asks himself “the exceedingly hard question of whether he missed a clue, whether he overlooked some narrow passageway that would have led him out of the maze,” he concludes that he has not. There is no way out of the maze. This is a hard fact for Matt to acknowledge. If we’re to confront the full scale of the problems he faces, we need to acknowledge it, too.
politics  economics 
9 weeks ago
Federalism for the Left and the Right - WSJ
For her part, Heather Gerken of Yale Law School, the leading advocate of “progressive federalism,” argues that in contested areas ranging from health care to the environment, the states and federal government govern best when operating shoulder-to-shoulder. “Take a look at telecom, the AFDC [antipoverty program], Medicaid, drug enforcement, workplace safety, health care, immigration, even national security law,” she writes. “In these integrated regulatory regimes, the states and federal government have forged vibrant, interactive relationships that involve both cooperation and conflict.”

A respect for federalism and state autonomy is perhaps the only way that all sides can peacefully coexist in today’s political environment. With dysfunction now reigning on Capitol Hill and federal courts increasingly ready to strike down the unilateral action of presidents, Americans will at least be able to take some comfort in local autonomy and control. In these polarized times, citizens who strongly disagree with each other may be able to unite around the goal of making federal power less intrusive and national politics less of a contest where the winner takes all.
politics  subsidiarity 
9 weeks ago
Foucault investigates – Duncan Kelly on Oeuvres, I & II
Here, then, is one major way to align Foucault’s astonishingly fertile projects that developed during the 1970s. The combined plans for and histories of sexuality, alongside the histories of various ways in which bodies and states were classified, disciplined and punished, were all part of a related concern to construct overlapping genealogies of the Western self and its soul, and his own self and soul as part of that general process or optic. As he had written in Surveiller et punir (1975), the soul is both “an effect and an instrument of a political anatomy”. It is “the prison of the body”, and the object of his book was a “correlative history” of this “modern soul and a new power of judgement”, underpinned by a juridical-scientific apparatus, that had come to manage it. This might help to pinpoint his own very particular engagement with the conceptual opposition, so central to post-war French thought, between the political (le politique), and the sphere of politics or government (la politique) where law intersects. His focus on what he called a hermeneutics of the subject worked across both fields. This sort of interest, which Stuart Elden has recently discussed in Foucault’s Last Decade (2016), requires us to recognize that although his canvas was vast and his corpus extensive, his work always and self-consciously remained partial even in its very capaciousness. It was continuously supplemented rather than replaced or rejected. Foucault was neither a lumper nor a splitter, but an inveterate tinkerer. He well knew the impossibility of going beyond contexts or frames of reference to the writing of anything like pure history, untainted by prejudice, self-interest or present-mindedness on one side, or of providing a complete account of epistemologically self-contained practices on the other. There never was any one pure moment of rupture (coupure) that could fully explain change, conceptual or otherwise, a thinly veiled blow directed towards his contemporary Althusserian colleagues who were busy formulating the idea of Marx’s epistemological rupture towards a new, anti-humanist and therefore scientific analysis of capital. Foucault demurred, because he wanted to show that “the history of thought could not have the role of revealing a transcendental moment” (“l’histoire de la pensée ne pourrait avoir ce rôle révélateur du moment transcendental”). It was better seen, “in short, as a kind of historical phenomenology” of particular moments. This in turn made sense of his claim that “at the deepest level of Western knowledge”, Marx introduced no real dis­continuity.
theory 
9 weeks ago
500 years after Luther, the law/gospel insight remains almost true
Zahl, of course, knows this. Indeed, there is an attempt to first grant a limited or biblical definition of terms before adopting Luther’s theologically expansive abstraction. But it does not seem to matter:

What most of us think of when we think of “the law” in religious terms is the capital-L Law of God, the Oughts and Ought Nots that we find spelled out in the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount (emphasis added).

The problems here are several. First, in Paul’s actual use, nomos cannot be reduced to the Ten Commandments, though they make a useful summary of Torah in certain respects. But it is much more problematic to count the Sermon on the Mount as “law,” and one gets there only by a precarious hermeneutical sleight of hand. No, the Sermon on the Mount and the rest of our Lord’s “moral instruction” are but one of many iterations of the “gospel of the kingdom.” It is hard to overstate the unfortunate consequence of calling the gospel law, not least as though St. Paul had authorized the exchange. [...]

No less significant, the law/gospel hermeneutic is insufficiently Pauline because it highlights a single thread of controversy — justification apart from works [of the law] — and treats it as a center, yea, bulwark. Missing in this picture is Paul’s generous new-covenant/new-creation anthropology that renders redeemed persons able to rejoice in the imperatives of Scripture as gospel, as signs of the fulfilment of our eschatological participation in Christ. Just as conspicuously absent is the Pauline pneumatology, whereby once-captive-failing-and-[possibly-]despairing persons are granted the new covenant promise whereby enmity turns to love, rebellion to holy desires, and disobedience to joyful obedience. The once righteousness-wanting are now those wanting righteousness. We awake in Christ to find not that we must but that we can, and raised with Christ we find that we had always wanted to.
theology  from instapaper
9 weeks ago
A Brief Introduction to Law & Gospel
Remember that Law and Gospel are necessarily related and therefore cannot be separated. This is why Lutheran Christians prefer to talk about “distinguishing” or “discerning” Law and Gospel, rather than separating Law from Gospel. Just as the words of the Bible are bound up into a single authoritative and holy scripture, so, too, are the words of law and gospel bound up into a single divine Word that does what God wants it to do (see Isaiah 55:11-12). Biblically speaking, faithfully confessing, you can neither have law without gospel, nor gospel without law. If you read and apply the word of God as law only, you get legalism. If you read and apply the word of God as gospel only, you get antinomianism (the belief that the law has no use).
theology  from instapaper
9 weeks ago
Humans Accidentally Created a Protective Bubble Around Earth
According to satellite data, the inner edge of the belts is much further from Earth now than it was in the 1960s, when humans sent fewer VLF transmissions. Scientists suspect that VLF wasn’t around, the radiation belts would hover closer to Earth.

The researchers believe the bubble could help protect Earth from solar flares, which release huge amounts of energy, or coronal mass ejections that discharge hot material called plasma. Both events send can radiation particles into Earth’s atmosphere, which could disrupt radio waves and overload electrical power grids.

The bubble also extends the reach of human influence on this tiny dot in the universe. Technology has, in a very short time, left a mark on the landscape of the Earth in countless ways, diverting whole rivers, razing forests for farmland, and pumping enough gases into the atmosphere to alter the global climate. In the early 1960s, the U.S. military tried to build an artificial bubble of its own, and launched billions of whisker-thin copper wires into orbit. Scientists hoped the material would coalesce into a ring around the Earth that would protect the nation’s communications systems—crucial in the fight against the Soviets—from solar storms. It didn’t work, though. The key, it appears, is a little help from the universe itself.
science  climate 
10 weeks ago
Which are the British institutions that matter most? - CapX
"And I think this was a great mistake made by the architects of the EU – the mistake of thinking that nationalism was the cause of the World Wars and that the answer to the avoidance of war was to redefine loyalty so the nation state had nothing to do with it.

It is true that there is this passionate thing called nationalism which we have seen exhibited by the Nazi Party in Germany and elsewhere in Europe as well, and versions of this extreme, quasi-religious devotion to the national idea do crop up here and there all across the world.

But national identity as a form of loyalty is not like that and this is where we should distinguish nationalism as a quasi-religion from ordinary, decent patriotism, which is loyalty and devotion to a particularly national identity which one has inherited."
from instapaper
10 weeks ago
How to Follow a Twitter Feed in Your RSS Reader
"RSS readers are a great way to keep on top of the news. Unfortunately, a lot of sites have moved away from RSS and towards just publishing all their articles on a Twitter stream. This isn’t so good if you want to make sure you keep up to date with a particular site; anything they post will get buried in your timeline with a million other Tweets. What you can do, however, is convert their Twitter feed to an RSS feed. Here’s how."
from instapaper
10 weeks ago
RORATE CÆLI: Latest statistics: seminarians down in the USA and the world
The summary notes that "In 2015 there is decline in the number of priests from the previous year, thus reversing the upward trend that characterized the years from 2000 to 2014." To be exact, there were 415,656 priests in 2015, compared to 415,792 in 2014. (Looking into reports from previous years we find that there were 405,178 priests in 2000 -- when the upward trend began again -- 406,411 in 2005, 408,024 in 2007, 412,236 in 2010, and 414,313 in 2012.) Tellingly the decline from 2014 to 2015, while slight, is attributed to the decrease in the number of priests in Europe (less 2,502) outweighing the increases in the rest of the world (up by 2,366). Although the Vatican report does not mention it, it is no secret that very large numbers of European and North American clergy are in the age range of late 70's to 90's, which explains why the official statistics for priests in Europe and North America have little to do with the actual (and much reduced) number of priests available for, or capable of, pastoral duties on the ground. As these priests -- the last of those ordained in the period between 1945 and 1965 --continue to die off in even greater numbers due to illness and extreme old age within the next decade or so, we expect that the negative effect on worldwide priesthood numbers will become even more pronounced. (According to the summary, priests in Europe account for 43% of priests worldwide.)
Catholic 
10 weeks ago
The Invention of Numbers - Education & Culture
Everett chronicles a great deal of evidence suggesting that humans are hardwired in the brain to distinguish one, two, and three, but no more. There are unwritten languages that can mark nouns and verbs as singular and plural but also trial—but none that mark the “four-al” or beyond. Hunter-gatherer people’s languages tend to have “real” numbers for just one, two, three, and four, with four often being something like “two-two.” Note that even in English, we say not “one-th,” “two-th” or “three-th” but have irregular, one-off forms: first, second, and third, where first and second have no sign of one and two and third is only forcedly relatable to three. After that, however, come the predictable fourth, fifth, sixth, and so on. Babies are best at distinguishing one, two, or three things; beyond that, it gets messy. Roman numerals had simple strokes up to three, but then detoured into subtractive complication with the IV for four.
math  thinking  neuroscience  language 
10 weeks ago
Mobile - Matt Gemmell
"I was just blind to the fact that computers (as in desktop-type machines) were a temporary, strange, niche case; an artefact of immature technology. Pointing devices and pixel-precision, with very high information and interaction density to squeeze the most out of limited and low-resolution screen space, complete with minuscule text and navigational elements. But things have moved on. We have a vast majority of non-expert users, and touch interaction, and high-resolution large displays, and human-scale presentation.

It’s time to stop worshipping at the altar of the Weird Machine, because almost nothing else in the world is designed or used like computers are.

The real world is mobile. Simple, task-centric interfaces, used under suboptimal ergonomic conditions, amidst distractions. That’s our daily experience; it’s our life-context. It took me this long to make the trivial realisation that traditional computers are the glaring exception."
from instapaper
10 weeks ago
Sending Jobs Overseas
"lobalization used to be called a “miracle.” It resembled one. It showered certain people with blessings they had not expected, in ways that could not be explained by logic. How could Nike be the world’s most successful shoemaker when it owned scarcely any shoe factories? Globalization’s cheerleaders, from Columbia University economist Jagdish Bhagwati to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, made arguments from classical economics: by buying manufactured products from people overseas who made them cheaper than we did, the United States could get rich concentrating on product design, marketing, and other lucrative services. That turned out to be a mostly inaccurate description of how globalism would work in the developed world, as mainstream politicians everywhere are now discovering.

Certain skeptics, including polymath author Edward Luttwak and Harvard economist Dani Rodrik, put forward a better account. In his 1998 book Turbo-Capitalism, Luttwak gave what is still the most succinct and accurate reading of the new system’s economic consequences. “It enriches industrializing poor countries, impoverishes the semi-affluent majority in rich countries, and greatly adds to the incomes of the top 1 percent on both sides who are managing the arbitrage.” Left unexplained was what had happened to make trade suddenly produce consequences so widely divergent from those it had produced for centuries."
from instapaper
10 weeks ago
Why Liberals Aren’t as Tolerant as They Think
"You might think that the mind-expanding enterprise of education would reduce prejudice. But according to another presentation at the SPSP meeting, it does not. It does, however, teach people to cover it up. Maxine Najle, a researcher at the University of Kentucky, asked people if they would consider voting for a presidential candidate who was atheist, black, Catholic, gay, Muslim or a woman. When asked directly, participants with an education beyond high school reported a greater willingness to vote for these groups than did less-educated participants. But when asked in a more indirect way, with more anonymity, the two groups showed equal prejudice. “So higher education seems to instill an understanding of the appropriate levels of intolerance to express,” Najle told me, “not necessarily higher tolerance.”"
from instapaper
10 weeks ago
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