I have returned

September 30, 2022

It's been a couple weeks of busy-ness: a conference in Rome, then a conference I was co-organizing (really, one whose organization was done by our grad students, whom I co-oversaw), and now just a week of trying to get back to a baseline of work. I'm far from caught up, but it's possible to imagine other things. Like some new links. Here they are!


A nice piece about the exhibit of century-old photographs (well, century-old photographic plates, newly printed on fresh photographic paper) of much of Black Charlottesville.  Exhibit is highly recommended, if you can get down here for it!


American politics today—not just polarized but calcified.  This makes sense to me, alas.


Really good piece on China’s current economic situation, and what's likely coming:

“China’s growth has created three Chinas—the Spain-level 60-million megacity growth poles, which also possess the world’s second-leading high-tech economy; the Poland-level 300-million coastal economy, which is the world’s largest export manufacturing mechine ever (and which is mostly integrated with the rest of the world much more than with China’s interior), and the Peru-level one-billion interior economy, whose performance has been very good by global-south standards but sub-par by Pacific Rim standards.”


Piece about hyperbole in public discourse and “semantic bleaching,” suggesting our use of over-the-top praise is not entirely a personal defect, but due to structural problems. 


Good piece on a new movie:

“Some might argue that such liberties don’t matter, especially if they’re in service of empowering women, educating audiences, and enjoying the cast’s prowess in martial arts. But it’s no use elevating marginalized narratives if you’re going to mangle them. (Conservatives are already seizing on the film’s inconsistencies to delegitimize reckonings with the legacy of slavery as hypocritical.) The film’s miscarriage of history also diminishes its expressive potential. “White” period dramas are allowed antiheroes, ambiguity, and realpolitik. Somehow, though, when Black history is involved, the narrative shrinks to a didactic freedom fable.”


Fascinating piece about the totally ad-hoc volunteer group NAFO, which is fighting Russian trolls on the cyberfront of the Russia-Ukraine war.


Christine Korsgaard's Dewey Lecture is absolutely wonderful. If you're at all interested in philosophy, you will enjoy it. For instance, what she says about “defensiveness” in writing sticks with me.  


Good interview with Branko Milanović, author of Capitalism, Alone – – one of the best books out there about the current economic system. Curiously, here he critiques Fukuyama, though in fact it’s hard for me to see that the two of them are genuinely in much disagreement


And here’s a review by Milanović, of a collection of Xi Jinping’s sayings. As you might guess, the reviewer doesn’t think Xi’s sayings will create the kind of political culture he says he wants to create.


I missed this when it came out, but it is good. Kat Rosenfeld on the whole Dave Weigel/Felicia Sonmez fracas in June at the Washington Post. Her main point is that we’re all living in a world of endless suspicion and paranoia, and we all think that the slightest slip can reveal who we “really” are, and never in a good way. Social media is a huge accelerant of this, but also a context-setting device that sharpens our paranoia. She’s right. This is bad. This condition, that is. We should resist it. And resist those who invite us to live in it.


Just say no, everybody. To people who mostly say no.