Back with more block-rocking links

March 26, 2021

Sorry for my silence; it's been busy.  But the links keep piling up!

A surprising fracas in a think tank led Dan Drezner to pen this nice piece that offers an interpretation of this event, as well as a useful contextualization of why it grew so heated so quickly, especially given the long-term dynamics of think tanks.  Worth a read.


To this American academic, this story suggests that a number of European (especially post-imperial) countries, not only France, have no idea what some of the most basic challenges facing all the world today actually are. If they continue to respond to these questions with denial and defensiveness, they will only postpone a reckoning that is coming for them, too.


This is nice, but there is always a downside. Here the issue is about differentiating distinct levels of semantic coherence. Semicolons are useful as ligatures and as signs of relative caesura; they are complemented by full stops as well. 


A good update on efforts to save and restore the American Chestnut tree.  Seems that there are several strategies underway.  Perhaps in a century, something good will be possible.


Interesting suggestion about how Chief Justice Roberts’s own position has changed on the Supreme Court, simply by fact of people moving around him, and this larger observation about the contemporary legal conservative movement:

“The question of standing is an important aspect of the larger question of who gets access to the courts, and until recent years, conservative judges took a narrow view of standing. That was consistent with their constrained view of the role of the federal courts. A wide-open courthouse door was seen as an invitation to judicial activism.

Once part of the conservative DNA, that attitude began to change as “judicial activism,” once an epithet, morphed into “judicial engagement,” now a laudable goal in conservative circles. After all, the courts are increasingly friendly. Why avoid them? Why not use them?”


Rich piece about Edward Said and the making of Orientalism, a “making” that is only partly about the writing of the book, and as much about its post-publication reception.  As it points out, Said eventually organized his thinking to profess “a humanist universalism that then (as now) was quite out of fashion in the very field he had so enriched and transformed.”


A nice—though very Lutheran—reading of the final scene in the TV version of The Queen’s Gambit, from 2020.


Look, the NordStream 2 pipeline is a cynical device of Russian power-politics that they bribed the Germans to allow.  It harms Europe and damages the US, further isolates the Ukraine and really strengthens only Russia.  The Germans must back away from this, no matter what the Russians cry.  This piece only begins to explain why.


Last but not least: A beautiful essay on the way that an “incarnational aesthetic” creates an opening to combine historical awareness of contingency with a transcendental insistence on the permanence of the revealed beautiful.


Be well everyone.  Stay safe!  Spring is here, where we are; if it's not where you are yet, it is coming, I promise.  Keep the faith.