If you come across articles I should include in this weekly round-up, email me at bloom.jordan[at]gmail[dot]com or tweet me here.
The City of Detroit is pettifogging one of the best independent bookstores out there, John K. King Used & Rare Books
Heartland picks up on the secession noise in the Southern Tier over Andrew Cuomo’s fracking ban
New Hampshire and Utah are considering bills to allow people to pay taxes in bitcoin
A Maui judge has ruled the Hawaiian Kingdom still exists
Sam Kriss on the “Green Surge“:
According to the Green Party itself, the Green Surge is actually a sudden exponential spike in their membership, which has since the beginning of the year given them more paying party members than either Ukip or the Liberal Democrats – but then these people shouldn’t be trusted. The Greens aren’t a political party, they’re a cult. American politics are often described as a circus: they’ve got the flashing lights and booming announcers, the roving lights that settle on some terrified elephant shuffling along a high fiscal tightrope. Every American politician is inescapably clownish, with their heavy caking of make-up, their pathetic and seedy desire to entertain that only terrifies the children, and the sure knowledge that they’ll all eventually all die strung out on prescription painkillers in a lonely ranch somewhere. British politics is less refined, less glossy. It harkens back to a more earthy form of entertainment: parliamentary procedure is a gang of witless peasants pushing each other into the village midden. But even among all these gormless shit-splattered idiots, the Green Party might be the worst.
On the flip side, Gordon White of Rune Soup (who’s immensely fun to read, though he takes some getting used to; start with the Whisky Rant) writes in a post called “The Agrarian is Political“:
The agrarian is hugely political. Any individual attempt to decentralise what they are busy centralising leads to pain.
- The EPA is banning wood-burning stoves. Plug into the grid, peon.
- An Oregon man was jailed for collecting rainwater on his own property.
- Florida is challenging off-the-grid living wherever it can.
- There are multiple laws moving through various senates to ban or restrict growing food in residential areas.
The net effect of all these moves is that we will pay more and more for worse and worse food and we will let it happen because we no longer have the word for acorn. But at least the $150 vegetarian monsanchos will be delivered to your door in twenty minutes?
This does not improve or self-solve in the medium term. Get rich enough to afford proper food or get decentralising. It may not seem like it but this is actually good news. You cannot stop Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama starting his ninth Arab war but you can certainly sow a few seeds in some raised planters. It falls to you to attempt to reverse the widening trend between reality and the virtual. On an individual basis, magical folk need to close that gap. Otherwise we’ll be stuck paying The Surge on everything in Creation.
Flee to the forest or flee to the virtual world. The choice is yours but you can’t stay here.
Brooklyn hipsters are contra dancing
Over at The Mitrailleuse, Mark Lutter explores the Georgist influence on proprietary cities
The Economist, however, is ambivalent about special economic zones. For more listen to Russ Roberts and Paul Romer here.
Will Wilkinson on Strauss and writing about Strauss
Adam Kotsko lectures on Old Scratch
Wartime in the West
An interesting new study called “Lies, damned lies, and viral content.” (More)
Is religious freedom imperiled? Indiana’s RFRA controversy has made it to Virginia, being discussed in the statehouse and used as a prop by Clinton satrap Terry McAuliffe (the picture of him in that story is perfect).
Little places and the recovery of civilization (John Randolph might disagree with the first bit):
The safety of our freedom, he says, lies in such a “political religion.” The laws of this republic, intended from the beginning to preserve the plurality of its communities, ought to be to us almost as scripture.
My point in ending in this rather grand way is, just as I said, that the condition of possibility of small communities where one may find human happiness—among which I count this school—is the larger polity. But the American republic is only the condition of their possibility, and not at all the guarantee of their existence; in fact, I find it conceivable that we ourselves may be overwhelmed by adversity within it. But that would be its great shame and its great loss, because this education, this liberal education, in turn nourishes the soil in which all its practices are rooted.
Slavoj Zizek in Spiegel:
[Žižek]: Why do we Europeans feel that our unfortunate situation is a full-fledged crisis? I think what we are feeling is not a question of yes or no to capitalism, but that of the future of our Western democracy. Something dark is forming on the horizon and the first wind storms have already reached us.
SPIEGEL: You’re saying the economic crisis could lead to a political crisis?
Žižek: China, Singapore, India or — closer to us — recently Turkey don’t augur well for the future. It’s my belief that modern capitalism is developing in a direction in which it functions better without a fully developed democracy. The rise of the so-called capitalism with Asian values in the past 10 years at the very least raises doubts and questions: What if authoritarian capitalism on the Chinese model is an indication that liberal democracy as we understand it is no longer a condition for, and driving force of, economic development and instead stands in its way?
Big box urbanism:
Here are a few views of that old regional shopping mall site: the back of the 22 screen movie theater, the back of the outlet mall, the back of the baseball stadium, and the back of the hotel. Notice the roads that were built to accommodate all the anticipated growth.
But they built it and they didn’t come.
Again, this isn’t unique to the Antelope Valley. These same patterns of development play out all over the country. Some of you may dismiss this particular part of the world and assume your town is much better at managing its affairs. You may have more employers pumping money into your local economy. Or perhaps you live in a more sensible state with a pro business legislature, unlike the folks who run California. The truth is that California just did everything earlier and faster and on a grander scale than other places. Your turn is coming.
A blessed Good Friday to all.