A very long interview with a very thoughtful (and reflective) Lanier. For example, about social media:
There’s one that’s a little complicated, which is the last one. Because I have the one about politics, and I have the one about economics. That it’s ruining politics, it’s empowering the most obnoxious people to be the most powerful inherently, and that’s destroying the world. I have the one about economics, how it’s centralizing wealth even while it seems to be democratizing it. I have the one about how it makes you feel sad; I have all these different ones.
But at the end, I have one that’s a spiritual one. The argument is that social media hates your soul. And it suggests that there’s a whole spiritual, religious belief system along with social media like Facebook that I think people don’t like. And it’s also fucking phony and false. It suggests that life is some kind of optimization, like you’re supposed to be struggling to get more followers and friends. Zuckerberg even talked about how the new goal of Facebook would be to give everybody a meaningful life, as if something about Facebook is where the meaning of life is.
Somehow related to the above.
According to theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli, time is an illusion: our naive perception of its flow doesn’t correspond to physical reality. Indeed, as Rovelli argues in The Order of Time, much more is illusory, including Isaac Newton’s picture of a universally ticking clock. Even Albert Einstein’s relativistic space-time — an elastic manifold that contorts so that local times differ depending on one’s relative speed or proximity to a mass — is just an effective simplification.
"On the myth of a 'real' America". Including:
The quiz delivers, yet again, the message that the 80 percent of us who live in urban areas are not America, treats non-Protestant (including the quarter of this country that is Catholic) and non-white people as not America, treats many kinds of underpaid working people (salespeople, service workers, farmworkers) who are not male industrial workers as not America. More Americans work in museums than work in coal, but coalminers are treated as sacred beings owed huge subsidies and the sacrifice of the climate, and museum workers—well, no one is talking about their jobs as a totem of our national identity.
My erstwhile American coworker grew up in the Fifties, and talked about living in fear of the mushroom cloud. And today?
And it doesn’t even make us safe! All that money, all that knowledge, all that power put into the designing and displaying of weapons of mass destruction and we remain remarkably vulnerable as a nation. After all, in schools, homes, offices, neighborhoods across the country, we are being killed by our kids, our friends, our lovers, our police officers, our crumbling roads and bridges, our derailing trains. And then, of course, there are all those guns. Guns meant to destroy. Guns beyond counting.
Yes, that is indeed a blogroll. So quaint. I put it there yesterday.
You know: ever since I started blogging sometime in 2001, the demise of the independent, personal blog has been projected and the Golden Age of blogging deemed to be over already. I mean: in 2001, I should clearly have been around in 1995. Oh, man: that was blogging. The cool kids have moved on.
But judging from the length of that blogroll, they actually haven't. Not all of them. Other people notice, too, for example Kottke who has been at this longer than I and with much more consistency.
Only a short while ago, people left their blogs behind and claimed that their digital nourishment would henceforth be partaken of in places such as Facebook and Twitter. I, personally, have never really gotten into Twitter, and Facebook? Well: Facebook ...
Is this the return of the independent, personal blog? Perhaps not at the (relative) scale it once had, also because the 'net itself is so much larger today. And not all blogs are that independent and personal. We are swamped by all the celebs and semi-celebs that have blogs on various blogging platforms that are -- in reality -- all about non-disclosed affiliate deals and straight-up false advertising. And probably ghostwritten, too.
Medium? I dunno. The layout is bothersome. And it is not exactly focused and curated so you find a little bit of everything. The good. And the really bad.
So, onwards we go. Keeping up with good, independent content is more importand now than it ever was.
Our time as victims is over
We will no longer ask for justice
Instead we will take our retribution
Kamasi Washington, Fists of Fury
Perhaps the true society will grow tired of development and, out of freedom, leave possibilities unused, instead of storming under a confused compulsion to the consquest of strange stars. A mankind which no longer knows want will begin to have an inkling of the delusory, futile nature of all the arrangements hitherto made in order to escape want, which used wealth to reproduce want on a larger scale. Enjoyment itself would be affected . . . . Rien faire comme une bête, lying on water and looking peacefully at the sky, “being, nothing else, without any further definition and fulfillment,” might take the place of process, act, satisfaction, and so truly keep the promise of dialectical logic that it would culminate in its origin.
Theodor W. Adorno, Minima Moralia
Eintopfsonntag - not as innocent as you would believe.
Yet again: although we have fewer blogs than we used to have, there is splendid stuff out there still.
One thing is for sure – I won’t lose any sleep over targeted strikes aimed at regime military bases and chemical weapons plants which may provide Syrians with a short respite from the daily killing. And I will never see people who place grand narratives over lived realities, who support brutal regimes in far off countries, or who peddle racism, conspiracy theories and atrocity denial, as allies.
No words required.
Fried Brain Sandwich, anyone?
"Closer examination, however, reveals Peterson’s ageless insights as a typical, if not archetypal, product of our own times: right-wing pieties seductively mythologized for our current lost generations.""
"The traditional explanation for the retail apocalypse is that Walmart and Amazon killed malls and big-box stores, but that account is incomplete -- the real story includes massive asset-stripping by debt-financed private equity vultures who paid themselves lavishly to run beloved businesses into the ground."
"He can fail to show up for an appointment, or forget he owes you money, and the world treats it as though it were cute."
"Dylan has also gone from not thinking about those whose lives he has passed to actively trying to forget them, to erase them as if their existence in his mind will interfere in his art. He has a realization that most people are stuck in their lives and won’t explore in the way he thinks is crucial to artistic creation."
"The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. led directly to hip-hop, an era of black American culture, politics, and art that is often contrasted with his legacy."
"Some have tried to reconcile these findings with the late-exodus narrative by claiming there may have been an early, but ultimately doomed, first wave migration out of Africa some 120,000 years ago, after which humans more or less stayed put on the continent for another 60,000 years. Others have argued there were several migrations in and out of Africa throughout this whole period."
"The collapse of the Soviet Union was chaotic? You should have seen the start. After the Bolshevik party took power, the former Russian Empire descended into anarchy. Proper anarchy, with bells on."
Something to read, perhaps
- Neoliberalism as lack of self-restraint
- The Free Market Threat to Democracy
- Mysterious origin of domesticated horses ‘turned upside down’ by DNA analysis
- “We are workers, not slaves”
- Priceless Moments: How Capitalism Eats Our Time
- Icelandic Battles Threat of Extinction!
- How Much Money Do You Need to Be Happy? A New Study Gives Us Some Exact Figures
- Getting away with murder
- colson whitehead interview: i have to know the destination
Just something I found on the web:
The growth of political “confusionism”, the mixture of “conspi” (conspiratorial), nationalist, far-right and apparently ‘left-wing’ has been one of the features of the last years. This is one of the factors that has made overt anti-semitism an issue today.
Research from my PrejudiceLab at Goldsmiths, University of London shows that people who score high on the collective narcissism scale are particularly sensitive to even the smallest offences to their group’s image. As opposed to individuals with narcissistic personality, who maintain inflated views of themselves, collective narcissists exaggerate offences to their group’s image, and respond to them aggressively.
Instead, Rapport’s book demonstrates how attention to the specific geography and social forces of a city can illuminate a critical question about which the new global history has little to say: Why do people in some places—but not others—become radicalized, driving revolutions into previously uncharted territory?
Eliminating the mortgage interest deduction causes house prices to decline, increases homeownership, decreases mortgage debt, and improves welfare. Our findings challenge the widely held view that repealing the preferential tax treatment of mortgages would depress homeownership.
In the abstract, the transnationality of the single market fits with left-wing ideals. But let's look at the reality. Every mass social movement that has laid a national democratic challenge has found itself confronted by the infrastructure of the EU
You say, how do you know it’s dark money? Obviously, it’s not all provided. The answer is very straightforward. We’ll see this cash coming in from an entity, usually has kind of a fake charitable name attached, and then you will see the cash coming out but no cash going in. That’s what they’re legally allowed to do because everybody knows these are not charities. They are in fact there to do politics. And so, you can tell the dark money easily. When we look at the dark money for Trump in the final weeks we were astonished, ’cause Trump had — and there’s actually a clip of Trump saying he wouldn’t take dark money.
There are two main contributing factors to our declinism attitudes: the biases known as the “reminiscence bump” and the “positivity effect.” The first, as clinical psychiatrist Dale Archer explains, is the tendency for adults to have more vivid, pleasant memories and feelings of nostalgia for events that occurred during adolescence and adulthood. Basically, the world tends to seem like a brighter, better place when we look back at the good ol’ days of our youth, but the reality is that we were just less stressed about work, probably didn’t have to worry about money, and didn’t pay much attention to the news.
The positivity effect, on the other hand, is the idea that as we get older we tend to remember more positive things than negative.
k-punk's political incarnation wrote one of the few decidedly Marxist books that has acquired bestselling status and is widely known - even to the degree that "capitalist realism" now most often means what Mark says it means in this book. And a good book it is, admirably short and precise. It attacks our neoliberal shithole head on - but also, and as importantly, has issues with the whole post-something and identity politics and what not. Call me an Alt-Marxist if you want: I shall not complain.
A nice read with a twist: a police officer that is a dropout from an Oxbridge institution, drinks a wee bit too much, drives an old and eccentric car, and has troubles with the old love life: not Morse, but a woman. And a story that also twists and turns and does manage a plausible but still surprising hard left at the very end.
Part of a trilogy of Yorkshire Noir, and dark they are indeed. Not a nice place in any way, Yorkshire, in the year 1974. We are left to somewhat root for a young investigating journo, but even he is an absolute dick in many ways. The rest of the cast are hardly much better. But books such as these show that a political thriller does not have to heavy handed nor does it need to wear rosy, tinted glasses.
The South, it is hot and humid and 2 girls - years apart - disappear. The trick is that the book is almost entirely told backwards which gives the whole unreliable narrator thing (and that is also present) an interesting spin. Nice read, but once you get beyond the awesomeness of the narratological trick, exactly how interesting are the left overs?
So, another book about a missing girl. Except not like any other, quite. As we follow the ebb and flow of life in a valley in the North of England through 13 years, a lot happens and a lot does not. Any moment we expect something to happen, Rebecca to be found, but instead we see and hear and smell life in the village as seasons come and go, years come and go, people grow up, fall in love and fall out of love, get sick, die, start over, and the badgers and the foxes do their thing in the woods, year after year. The memory of the girl is always there, in the back, but not more prominent than the fact that somebody burned burn a shed, the school got a new heating system, the snow fell in the next valley, and the village lost the annual cricket match, yet again. The prose is glorious throughout, but you need to pay attention, slow down, and let the life in the village flow past you.
Sunday morning at the old Reeperbahn.
A reading list
As always procrastinating. Someday I will write something my own self; meanwhile:
To call a tendency deviant — as we might be tempted to do with the alt-right — is already to discount the responsibility of the orthodoxy in breeding the deviancy. Could it be that “new cultural items” are introduced into the cultic milieu through the agency of the orthodoxy to the extent that the cultic milieu becomes a useless concept? How, in fact, do we separate the dominant and the variant? When the president of the United States is in large part sympathetic to the so-called cultic deviancy, and when he is in fact backed by nearly half the population, then the framework really falls apart.
Capitalism as it currently exists has come into question; huge numbers of voters support nationalization of utilities and widespread price and rent controls. This poses the question: how can you defend actually-existing capitalism?
In the last year, it’s occurred to me, on more than one occasion, that Trump is a Coasian grotesque. Making deals and giving orders: that’s all he knows how to do. Except that he doesn’t. As we’re seeing, he’s really bad at both.
The theory has its origin in John C. Calhoun, a proponent of slavery, and James M. Buchanan, an opponent of the civil rights movement. Both used the language of oppression and freedom to defend elitism, characterizing any kind of redistributive movement as a form of oppressive control exercised by the majority (poor people, which, in America, overwhelmingly means racialized people) against a downtrodden, endangered minority (the one percent, again, overwhelmingly white people).
We live in a society that makes a fetish out of work. One's trajectory through the education system is (supposedly) guided by getting a decent job at the end of it. People's engagement with social security is supposed to be a temporary thing with the object of throwing them back into the workplace at the earliest opportunity. And if people aren't working, they're feckless and bone idle and made to feel that way - never mind how unemployment always exceeds the number of vacancies.
If the South depends on having black people to kick around, Midwestern whites often see people of color as ever new and out of place, decades after the Great Migration. The thinking goes like this: America is an experiment, carried out in its purest form here in the Midwest; people of color threaten the cohesion on which the whole experiment may depend. Thus, while Southern history yields story after story of the most savage, intimate racist violence—of men castrated and barbecued before smiling crowds, dressed as for a picnic—Midwestern history is a study in racial quarantine.
A new study, led by the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture, gives the impression that a large-scale shift to organic farming would largely bring environmental benefits. And indeed, that’s how the paper has been covered. But if we look under the hood, the findings are dependent on several pretty questionable assumptions about diets and production systems that, together, make the paper’s conclusions hard to take too seriously.