Links R Us

October 19, 2020

Just some stuff.  


Burt Bacharach is amazing, and it’s good to hear he’s doing ok during this whole pandemic thing.


An interesting piece on the new media world, via (and about) the prism of the Grey Lady.


How the US, South Korea, and North Korea have remembered the US invasion of Inchon—on September 15, 1950.


A thought, not exactly strange, but that I had never had before: the world’s southernmost tree.  


Community colleges matter, they matter a great deal, and we don’t seem to care much about them, but we should:

In the last recession, for-profit colleges were generally a bad deal for students. Graduates had lower earnings, were less frequently employed and had greater student debt than similar students who attended public colleges. Outcomes were particularly poor in online institutions.

These problems appear to be intrinsic features of for-profit education. Markets only work well when there is a shared understanding of product quality among buyers and sellers. But in education, quality is amorphous and multidimensional. Students agree to pay up front, and only find out whether they got a good deal many years later. As a result, students are highly vulnerable to the opportunism of for-profit colleges, which are inevitably tempted to increase profits by cutting corners.

By contrast, community college job training programs substantially increase participants’ earnings, and because tuition costs are relatively low, they typically provide a good return on public investment.

OK?  Cool cool cool.


Interesting analysis of “the rise of identity Catholicism.”  Not the cleanest article, but this struck me as interesting: "the rise of “identity Catholicism,” where affiliation with the church serves a social and political purpose but is no longer associated with distinctive moral beliefs or with a transformational encounter with divinity." That seems right to me--"Catholic" has a meaning within a fundamentally political & lateral field of significances (almost in Bourdieuean terms), but doesn't suggest first and foremost any clear & unified attempt at ("vertical" or "depth") development in the person's moral & theological views towards unity. In other (sociological) words, the Culture Wars make it impossible to coherently practice what the Catholic church purports to preach. It's "life" vs "dignity", etc..


Good piece by Alan Jacobs stating some old truths that are helpful to hear re-stated:

To read old books is not simply to escape our current condition of frenetic standstill, the torrent of data and demand managed moment by moment (though, to my mind, occasional escape is not a bad thing). Rather, it’s a kind of judicious stepping back, the taking of a few deep breaths before plunging back in. An opportunity for reflection, a reminder that there are, to borrow a phrase from Truman Capote, “other voices, other rooms”: people with concerns and hopes and fears quite different from ours, but nevertheless recognizable, just as human as ours are. In encountering the past, we decenter ourselves, if only, inevitably, to resume center stage again. But now perhaps with a better understanding.


Interesting contrast: “compassionate helping is good for you and for others. But empathetic distress is destructive of the individual in the long run.”  But note the total fixation on psychological literature, without any significant attention to other fields.  (Consider the Jacobs piece I mentioned just above--which would point to some ways to learn compassion, I think, even if the psychologists wouldn't accept it.)  This disciplinary narrowness strikes me as problematic, not least because of the so-called replication crisis in psychology.  There's a great book waiting to be written about this, by someone who cares about public information.


Be well!