End of week links!

September 24, 2021

It's been an unusually exhausting week.  Semester weeks are always busy, but this one seems a bit more than usual.  I participated in a conference late Thursday and all day Friday, and normally that's a time for me to catch up on stuff I missed earlier in the week; maybe that's why. Anyway, here are some links:


Astonishing. “In this case, U.S. citizens were subject to a real-time tracking system that the U.S. government itself had deemed abusive in China.”


Good discussion of a new book on the history of the humanities, half by a friend of mine, Chad Wellmon.  This line of Chad’s I’ve heard him say before, but never this succinctly, and it provides much food for thought:

“The modern humanities, however historicist they might insist that they are, are a fundamentally presentist project. What makes the humanities modern, for us, is that they are understood as countervailing against very present dangers. In this sense, the modern humanities address not disordered desires, unruly passions, or the presence of evil but historical changes: industrialization, new technologies, natural science, and capitalism. This permanent relationship to the present links the modern humanities to the temporality of crisis.”


On Afghanistan: A fair amount of EU criticism (and at least some of the UK crit too) was motivated by the sudden panicked recognition of the publicly undeniable fact that they were kind of at the mercy of US foreign policy, b/c they simply didn't have the capacity of projective military and transport power to get their people out, despite being by population and GDP larger and richer than the US.  The truth is they spend substantially less on their own defense budgets (a max of about 2/3rds of US budgets as % of GDP), thereby relying on US military power.  Will this change?  Don't bet on it.  Should the US want it to?  To some degree yes, but in other ways, maybe not. An interesting situation, for sure.  


A parallel incident, of course, happened with the AUKUS deal and France.  It also provoked quite a hissy fit.  This seems right to me about that:

“At a time when even France’s greatest sphere of influence, in its former colonies in Africa, is being eroded by competition from China, Russia and Turkey, France needs to draw clear priorities in its foreign policy, Mr. Danjean said.

But trapped in its self-perception as a global power, France struggles to do just that, he said. “


Oh this is good—using Milton to explain why Twitter is Hell: because we carry hell with us wherever we go.

“mostly Twitter is Hell because we…make it so.”

And this:

“Wandering, suspension, open-endedness: such errancy from linear progression isn’t necessarily error.”


Along with being happy, and caring for others, another central model for a flourishing human life is the “psychologically rich life,” according to some psychologists.  This is interesting to me, and not just because one of these psychologists is a colleague of mine; I’ll follow this work.  (Have they read Jonathan Lear’s Happiness, Death, and the Remainder of Life? Worth it if they have not.  Worth it for you, too.)


Story about “The Syllabus,” Evgeny Morozov’s on-line info bundling site.  Interesting story, though so much of a tick-tock that, imho, it doesn’t really pause to reflect on what this means for Morozov’s larger critique of technology.


Helpful small piece on “the rise of the global middle class,” and how it will effect consumption, production, and trade.


That's it, folks!  Here in the foothills of the Blue Ridge, this weekend promises to be glorious.  I'm looking forward to getting out a bit tomorrow, wandering the Rockfish River, looking for a kind of blue quartz that I've sort of become a bit obsessed with.