New links

February 21, 2021

I know you missed them.


This is interesting:

“By the 1920s most biologists, social scientists, and allied philosophers had concluded that the moral freedom of the individual figured centrally in a naturalistic, evolutionary understanding of life on earth. But theorists of this variety struggled in vain against skeptics who insisted that applying the scientific method to the human world entailed squeezing out or imagining away its moral content.”

One question: Where is eugenics in this account?


Fun anecdotes about hanging out with John le Carre, the spy novelist.  Maybe a bit too fanboyish.


How FarmVille, a game design to draw people into Facebook, presaged the last decade of social media.


Cool piece about the “Game of Life” by mathematician John Horton Conway, who died this year.  To be honest, though I've heard about it for a while, I have no real idea of the significance of this.  Feels a bit like Bitcoin to me--niche group, definitely superior, sometimes try to explain to outsiders why it's important but they don't try that hard.  It seems interesting to people who seek out replicating patterns; but I’ve not done a lot of investigating into it.


Of all the faux-intellectual DC stories, this is the faux-intellectual DCest of them all.


From February 2020 (so pre-Pandemic) but making a serious point about The Good Place: Yes, this is why the end felt to me more like a disappointment than a betrayal: the confusion of happiness and hope:  “The Good Place bravely tackled some of the toughest questions of existence, but its vision of enlightenment could be easily mistaken for hopelessness.”


Fascinating study of what we can learn about the US from the November 2020 election:  “This outcome reflects a basic fact about American public opinion: a majority of Americans has not approved of either the Republican or Democratic Party since 2009.”


And this, from November, is disturbing, as a window into the current right wing mindset: 

“Almost all right-wing support in the United States comes from a view that Christians are under attack by secular liberals. This point is so important and so little understood. Logic doesn’t matter. Fact-checking doesn’t matter. What matters is if I can use this information to show that liberals are evil. Many of them are not interested in reporting the world as it is, but rather to shape the world like they want it to be.”


A reckoning with where we are after 2020.  A new era of politics has begun, though we don’t quite yet know its real shape. I continue to think that it will be immigration and race, but I would say that wouldn't I?  A humanities professor, driving around my little university town, in my Subaru...


Be well, everyone.  Stay safe!