Saturday links

February 25, 2023

Welcome to the weekend!  Well, you've probably been living it already, but I slept waaaay in today, which was good for me; not sure why I did, but I almost slept twelve hours. Amazing.  Otherwise I would have had this up before you all woke up. Anyway, here's some stuff now:


Huh, I intuited this but had not known there was "data"—people who are mean or negative seem smarter to us. A basic story about being online.


A sobering study on global opinion a year into the Ukraine war. Basically, the West is consolidated; the rest is ambivalent.

“Western decision-makers should take into account that the consolidation of the West is taking place in an increasingly divided post-Western world; and that emerging powers such as India and Turkiye will act on their own terms and resist being caught in a battle between America and China.“

Seems that the legacy of white Euro-American imperialism is still operative, even in this new Imperialist setting. Understandable, I guess. And a challenge to address.


Nice piece on John Guillory, who is an english professor (not, as many english profs say, a sociologist--ask any actual sociologist, they'd laugh) who has written about the institutional history of literary study over the centuries. There's been a bunch of great books on the institutional history of higher education (and, um, "the higher thinking" as I might pretentiously say, in fact I guess I just did say) over the past couple decades. This looks to join that list.


Great piece on one scene—the “play “La Marseillaise!” scene—in Casablanca.


Oh I want to go here: a bookstore town. 


This is fascinating: “unlike three decades ago, the Democrat Party is now a coalition of White Liberals and non-white voters the majority of whom think of themselves as moderate or conservative.” 


Nice: Universities help the regions they are in.  This shouldn’t be hard to see. Universities are major economic boosts. It’s a strange situation we’re in, where some large fragment of the population imagines the university as the enemy. They’re not. We’re not. Lots of evidence suggests universities are really good for you. Transformative, yes—and transformation is only very rarely easy. But good. This report shows how universities do help, and how they can help more. If only our overseers will let us, instead of trying to destroy us.


In the US, totalitarianism is often mocked for its complete evasion of reality. The line by Elena Gorokhova, in her book "A Mountain of Crumbs," is sometimes used to summarize the condition: “The rules are simple: they lie to us, we know they're lying, they know we know they're lying, but they keep lying to us, and we keep pretending to believe them.”  We in the US like to think this is not a condition that applies to us. But it clearly is a good description of what we know but don't say as regards to racism in the US. White people are particularly good at these evasions and willed ignorance. This situation in Jackson, MS is a great example of this dynamic in the US.


Happy weekend, one and all!