Quiet Sunday, links

November 07, 2021

I had a pretty busy "outdoors" day yesterday--by which I mean out of my house--and so I'm staying close to home today.  I will miss church, which I returned to for the first time last week, but I think I need the quiet.

For all of you, there's the below:


Very neat, Patrick Leigh Fermor’s house in Greece will soon be visitable! And I had no idea that Before Midnight was partially filmed there—very cool.

There are a lot, a lot, of lessons you can learn about geopolitics from this piece, even if it does under-play the way that the underlying actions of the EU that provoke the US sanctions are typically really cynical and politically short-sighted, like Nordstream.


Good thoughts from Dan Drezner here:

“Mearsheimer’s implicit assumption is that China’s power will continue, but that is far from certain. China is, in the words of Denny Roy, a “low productivity superpower.” Most of China’s recent economic growth has been fueled by debt and very little of it by productivity gains. Future growth looks more daunting, given the distortions under Xi Jinping’s failed reform efforts. As Hal Brands and Michael Beckley recently noted in Foreign Policy, “any country that has aged, accumulated debt, or lost productivity at anything close to China’s current pace has lost at least one decade to near-zero economic growth.””


Pretty solid—critiques and all—review of a book about four philosophers (GEM Anscombe, Philippa Foot, Iris Murdoch, Mary Midgley) who are all, individually, really quite important to me.  I recommend the review, am likely to recommend the book, but am much more emphatic: read these four thinkers, start with any one of them and go on to the others. 


Good piece on taking seriously the complexities of thinking, against both triumphalists and demonology:

“My point is that some Enlightenment figures, even as they made arguments that we might today want to celebrate, also reacted to racism, sometimes building upon it, sometimes rejecting it. The figures singled out by earlier scholars as “enlightened” hardly originated racism. The real garbage was usually generated by figures that earlier scholars in the twentieth century did not choose to celebrate, or honor, or reproduce. They are not generally included in our accounts of what we admire as our “civilization.” Such seventeenth-century figures as Herbert and others, who legitimated both the slave trade and slavery for all non-Christians and specifically for Africans and Indians, are a perfect example. If we want to understand the origins of racism, then, we need to look beyond the streetlight, beyond the old canons.

We must understand that crucial texts of liberalism and the Enlightenment that to this day anchor our educational and political systems emerged within a context that included the distasteful and the unusual. We must look to the freaks and the monsters, those whose ideas still do not bear reprinting except as excerpts and in context. We need to discover the QAnon of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Such reconstructions should always be in a political context, for the creation of racist ideas was always a political act — propounded, as Godwyn noted in 1680, by those whose interests were at stake, whose “wild opinions” were promulgated “by the inducement and instigation of our Planters chief deity, Profit.” Godwyn acknowledged that “they’ll infer their Negro’s Brutality” to “justifie their reduction of them under Bondage; disable them from all Right and Claims.”

Racists were emphatically not “stamped from the beginning.” Racist ideas were contested, and debated, often sharply, by many Enlightenment thinkers who created comprehensive arguments that challenged all hierarchies, including racism and slavery. The evils of racism and slavery provoked in their own time a tradition of antiracism. Even within the limitations of their time and their discourse, these disputations helped to create the foundation for many of the principles of human rights and democracy.


Really interesting:

"over time, state-level mortality has become increasingly correlated with state-level income; in 1992, income explained only 3 percent of mortality inequality, but by 2016, state-level income explained 58 percent. These mortality patterns are consistent with the view that high-income states in 1992 were better able to enact public health strategies and adopt behaviors that, over the next quarter-century, resulted in pronounced relative declines in mortality. The substantial longevity gains in high-income states led to greater cross-state inequality in mortality."


Kind of a journey to the center of the earth

“Earth's interior is layered like an onion. The solid iron-nickel inner core -- today 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) in radius, or about three-quarters the size of the moon -- is surrounded by a fluid outer core of molten iron and nickel about 2,400 kilometers (1,500 miles) thick. The outer core is surrounded by a mantle of hot rock 2,900 kilometers (1,800 miles) thick and overlain by a thin, cool, rocky crust at the surface.”


A quite rich piece on Coleridge’s philosophy of mind, it goes a bit more into the weeds than you might feel is appropriate on-line but stay with it, it rewards reading (as does STC).

Be safe and be well, everyone.  Have a restful day.