Meh, just some links

March 09, 2021

Nothing special.  A pretty day here--hopefully where you are too.


This is terrific: a conversation with one of the first people to worry about the attention economy:

“Attention is a bit like the air we breathe. It’s vital but largely invisible, and thus we don’t think about it very much unless, of course, it becomes scarce. If that’s the case — to extend a tortured metaphor — it feels as if our attention has become polluted. We subsist on it, but the quality has been diminished. This is certainly true in my life, where I’ve become so reliant on the constant stimuli of our connected world that I find myself frequently out of control of my attention. I give it to others too willingly — often to those who will abuse the privilege. I’ve also become dependent on the attention of others, even those who bestow it in bad faith. I’ve become a version of the very person Mr. Goldhaber described in 1997, for whom “not being able to share your encounters with anyone would soon become torture.””


The best piece among these “Art and Culture under Trump” pieces, by a lot, is the one by Merve Emre, and I recommend you read hers and not the others, not least for passages like this:

“Speaking truthfully, there is something irritating to me about the desire to make “art and culture under Trump” into a coherent and important category. I left New York with my family in June 2016…and the deep, unassuming provincialism of American literary culture has never seemed starker to me. It goes hand-in-hand with a desire for books to “speak to the moment,” an imperative that weds an inflated sense of literature’s political urgency to a tried-and-true marketing strategy. Literary coverage reproduces this provincialism and this presentism.”



A very bleak look at the future of right-wing Christianity.  I don’t think David French is here reckoning with the depth of the rot—I think a lot of evangelical “theology” already is conspiracy theory, which is why QAnon found such eager listeners—but it’s the best insider account that I know of.


Political challenges facing the “Indivisible” network, and what to do going forward:

"The entire history of U.S. voluntary association-building since the 19th century shows that intermediate associations accountable to locals are absolutely vital to the institutionalization of widespread civic activity. Especially for civic movements that aim to influence politics at local, state, and national levels, it does not work simply to “coordinate” thousands of local efforts from a controlling national office."


Some trouble ahead for China's economic rise, this paper suggests--just one paper:


How specialists, not all of them Iraqi, are trying to save the ruins of Babylon for the future.  It’s been a centuries-long struggle, against locals and other countries, not least of all the US and the UK.


A great story about a long-lived marriage, and all that that entails.


Be well, for better and worse, wherever you are--