Some Monday Links

Perfectionism: a modern malady born in the Middle Ages (CBC)

Why don’t nations buy more territories from each other? (Marginal Revolution)

I’m Put on the Spot—and Forced to Defend the Humanities in a Room Full of Medical Students (The Honest Broker)

The last link is from Ted Gioia, a – I understand – musician and author of note. Since my oldest one started a preliminary class in keys, I have tried some cursory delves in the music department, where I’m totally lacking. The particular blog offers insights from music history, culture and business.

Some Monday Links

Pop Culture Has Become an Oligopoly (Experimental History)

Linked to a relevant piece here some months ago. Still cannot decide if arguments like these are up to some serious insight, or they’re just glorified presentations of common sense (or both, or neither). Enjoyable, worth a look, nonetheless.

Devouring the Heart of Portugal (Damn Interesting)

The leak:

A Return to Fundamentals (City Journal)

What the Leaked Abortion Opinion Gets Wrong About Unenumerated Rights (Reason)

Some Monday Links

The Life of Democracy’s Interpreter (Law & Liberty)

Blah Blah Blah: The Lack of Small Talk Is Breaking Our Brains (The Walrus)

Why Complex Systems Collapse Faster (Tablet)

Revolución on the cookie factory floor (Narratively)

It reads: We Want Sex Equality – source

This story reminded me of a film I want to properly watch again, Made in Dagenham (2010), a bittersweet, feel-good take of the 1968 machinists’ strike against sexual discrimination at workplace, in East London. The Equal Pay Act was enacted in May 1970.

Some Monday Links

Science fiction, cont.

Jobs and Class of Main Characters in Science Fiction (Vector)

Steampunk: How this subgenre of science fiction challenges the beliefs of civilisational progress (Scroll)

Have yet to actually read a steampunk book, Mistborn notwithstanding. Was about to buy “The Difference Machine”, but last minute I opted for the history/ fiction hybrid of “Red Plenty” (one of the books I keep returning to, btw, very rewarding read).

Presidents as Economic Managers (National Affairs)

South Korea: Why so many struggle to sleep (BBC)

Some Monday Links

Cowboy progressives (Aeon)

Gramsci’s Gift (Boston Review)

A Country of Their Own (Foreign Affairs)

America has captured France (UnHerd)

Why 1980s Oxford holds the key to Britain’s ruling class (Financial Times)

A couple of Monday Links

Climate Collaborations in the Arctic Are Frozen Amid War (Undark)

A War of World-Building (City Journal)

Monday’s literal fantasies

Sciences of “Dune”: An Introduction (LA Review of Books)

A symposium on Dune’s medicine, ethnography, eugenics and others.

Why Do We Love the Brutality of “Grimdark” Fantasy? (LitHub)

Have neither read ASoIaF nor watched GoT, but I will leave the root of word “grimdark” here: In the grim darkness of far future there is only war.

On Tolkien and Orwell (Darcy Moore)

More common points than just “being peculiarly English authors with evergreen book sales“.

Ursula K. Le Guin’s biography gets a publisher and a release date (Oregon Live)

Just finished The Dispossessed, the 1974 SF novel by Le Guin. A worthy, humane read, definitely. Apart from the beautiful prose, the setting is compelling. Two planets: Urras, complete with states, money and war, and Anarres, a former mining outpost turned to colony by settlers from Urras. Governments of Urras offered to people adhering to the teachings of a semi-legendary woman (“Laia Asieo Odo”) the colony, so that they could do their thing without disrupting “civil order”. Le Guin explains:

Odonianism is anarchism. Not the bomb-in-the-pocket stuff, which is terrorism, whatever name it tries to dignify itself with; not the social-Darwinist economic “libertarianism” of the far right; but anarchism as prefigured in early Taoist thought, and expounded by Shelley and Kropotkin, Goldman and Goodman. Anarchism’s principal target is the authoritarian State (capitalist or socialist); its principal moral-practical theme is cooperation (solidarity, mutual aid). It is the most idealistic, and to me the most interesting, of all political theories.

Source

The book follows a scientist from the anarchist planet who travels to the old world. The chapters alternate between his interactions there and flashbacks from his homeland. The writer paints the capitalist state, that hosts the traveler, as funky, but sinister (she does not spare a neighboring socialist one, either), while she treats the anarchist world more generously. It even gives it some, let’s say, additional leeway, contrasting its arid, hostile landscape with the lush environment of Urras. The dichotomy is furthered by guarantees of isolation: The two worlds only do some limited communications and trade, no traveling in-between.

The outline of life in Anarres was the most interesting aspect, to me. Trust, mutuality and personal freedom are the basic elements in this anarchist society, which prides itself against those competitive, “archists”, “propertarians” of Urras. They also fear and loathe them (acknowledging that Anarres is practically defenseless at the face of tactical armies), and also need to trade with them ores for necessary goods.

The constructed language of Anarres expresses the core beliefs, for example, it uses “central” instead of “higher”, to denote significance in the absence of hierarchies. The word for “work” is the same as “play” (or was it “joy”?), and the really unpleasant tasks are shared on a rotating basis. This means that specialized and unspecialized individuals alike spend some considerable time laboring for society’s wellbeing. Professions are conducted through syndicates, which form and dissolve voluntarily. Individuals move freely across the planet’s communities. There is a unit that coordinates production, work postings and resources allocation (a Gosplan-lite, if you take away the imposing building and that 5-year fetish). It also has powers like emergency work postings in times of need (the closest thing to quasi-official “compulsion” in a society without the notion of it). Serial slackers deserve food and shelter, like anyone else, but at some point will probably get their asses kicked by their peers and/ or pressed to fuck-off to another location.

Only the original Gosplan deserved a fancy garage like this – source

Each individual is responsible to the others. This simple standard of meeting social expectations, benevolent as it is at first, in the novel is seen as gradually taking the shape of an “orthodoxy” placed, and finally encroaching, upon individual freedom. The writer is also keen to pinpoint the effects of creeping hierarchies, even in organizations open to participation. For example, an anarchist argues that the coordination unit has assumed the bureaucratic attitude (“no to everything”). Other institutions, like research centers, are seen festering with dug-in cliques and “seniors”, that fend-off outsiders and boss around among supposedly equals. I think that anyone who has experienced office life can relate to this.

There is more, about self, relations, gender (not The Left Hand of Darkness – not read, or Tehanu – read, level), constraints and science (the last I cannot judge). A final note, the people of Anarres describe themselves as anarchists, Odonians and, of course, libertarians.

Some Monday Links

Famous Brand Logos Are Reimagined as Medieval Illustrations (My Modern MET)

Loyalty to the Brand flag – source

The allure of cosmopolitan languages to courtiers and pop fans (Psyche)

The First Authoritarian (The Hedgehog Review)

The Korea Analogy (The Duck of Miverva)

Heading Into the Atom Age—Pat Frank’s Perpetually Relevant Novels (Quillette)

Got to appreciate the Atompunk aesthetics. I have also spent considerable time with the Fallout games (only the first two ones).

Some Monday Links

Tale Spin (Real Life)

People, Not Science, Decide When a Pandemic Is Over (Scientific American)

Good Citizens (Orion)

I flee on sight.

Ivy League Justice (Law & Liberty)

Insularity issues have also been raised for the top EU Court: Political appointees and the dominance of French language.

The Political Economy of Classical Music (Jacobin)

Some Monday Links

John Mearsheimer and the dark origins of realism (The New Statesman)

How Did Asian Countries Vote on the UN’s Ukraine Resolution? (The Diplomat)

Sisyphus’s breaktime (SMBC)

Some Friday Links – Ukraine in Moscow

Also, 1-year mark of blogging achieved

We visited Moscow twice, in late 2010 and mid-2011. I remember a clean, buzzing – if a bit intimidating – metropolis, rich in signature sites. I thought to share that where we stayed, Ukraine was all over: Across the street was located the Hotel Ukraina, one of the “Seven Sisters” (skyscrapers of the Stalinist era). Ukrainskyi bulvar, a pedestrian walkway run along our block. It featured a small park with a statue of writer Lesya Ukrainka. Down the green walk was the Kiyevski railway terminal, a badass station (it was in good company, I prefer no 5, Yaroslavsky station) that serviced metro lines and trains to the Ukrainian capital (Kiyv/ Kiev, see relevant link below).

Here be few links on the Ukrainian front, not of the “latest headline” kind. The discourse at least here in Greece is polarized, and geographically we are close enough that the infamous Chernobyl disaster haunted our parents when we were kids.

Understanding the War in Ukraine (A Collection of Unmitigated Pedantry. I picked this blog from Naked Capitalism).

A Drunken Grandfather Goes to War (Economic Principals)

Tocqueville and Ukraine: European Union, Freedom, and Responsibility (Quillette)

Why Is Ukraine’s Capital City Now Called ‘Kyiv,’ Not ‘Kiev’? (Mental Floss)

The Greek word is squarely in Kiev mode.

Thoughts, Hopes And Disappointments in Kyiv: A Street Photographer’s Photos of Ukraine – 2001-2021 (Flashbak)

Some Monday Links

The ‘Adam Smith of the North’: Meet Finland’s Founding Father of Classical Liberalism (FEE)

On Anders Chydenius. The Governor of Bank of Finland in a 2019 speech outlined his work, to stress the “joint Nordic and American societal heritage, which is fundamentally linked to economic liberalism and the market economy”.

The Fall Of The Meritocracy (The American Conservative)

The Communist Manifesto Shows Why Capitalism Won’t Last Forever (Jacobin)

Why Braveheart Is Considered One Of The Most Historically Inaccurate Films Ever (SlashFilm)

Some Monday Links

Why the Nineties rocked (UnHerd)

AV Dicey as Legal Theorist (The Modern Law Review)

Milton Friedman quoted Dicey here, so I was about to look him up, someday.

Texas Town Shuts Down Her Home Day Care After Nearby Golfers Complain the Kids Were Making Too Much Noise (Reason)

A twisted adaptation of the classic example of economic externalities: Golf club instead of serene houses, home day care in the place of noisy industrial unit.

Sumo Wrestlers In Mid-Air, A Day Of the Dead Icon, And Other Winning World Photos (Hyperallergic)

Some Monday Links

Ulysses at 100: why Joyce was so obsessed with the perfect blue cover (The Conversation)

“Context is that which is scarce” (Marginal Revolution)

I had sensed this in training modules, but couldn’t quite put my finger on it. A good instructor, apart from presentation skills, should also provide just the right amount (sic) of context.

America’s Long War on Cancer: What Was It Good For? (Bloomberg)

Some tidbits of context for things Vishnu wrote about here.

The Price of Nails since 1695: A Window into Economic Change (Journal of Economic Perspectives)

Yes, Let’s Call ‘Beijing’ Peking (National Review)

Some Monday Links

How to Tell Africa’s History? (LA Review of Books)

Lost in Translation (Commonweal)

The Attack of Zombie Science (Nautilus)

Yogurt’s Long Journey (Tablet)

Diego Rivera by Francisco de la Mora and José Luis Pescador review – rumbustious hymn to a radical artist (The Guardian)

Rivera has been featured in NOL a few times.