“Make Communities Great Again.” James Bruce argues the federal government should adopt policies that would strengthen local communities.
“The Tyranny of Convenience.” Tim Wu writes about how our quest for convenience has led to a shift in the kinds of technologies we develop. Instead of looking for technologies that save labor and make daily tasks more convenient, we now get excited about technologies that make constructing a self more convenient: “If the first convenience revolution promised to make life and work easier for you, the second promised to make it easier to be you. The new technologies were catalysts of selfhood. They conferred efficiency on self-expression.” Wu isn’t sure this is a good idea. (Recommended by Tom Bilbro.)
“Digitized Childhood.” Joseph Bottum on the paradoxical gap between administrators who think digital technology will improve education and the academics who keep finding that all evidence points to the contrary:
One of the oddest divides in American public life has emerged over the past decade. On the one hand, we have a nearly complete conviction among the nation’s legislators and educational bureaucrats that we must spread the digital revolution hither and yon, till the children of every social class have equal access to the online world. The canons of fairness demand it. And on the other hand, we have just as complete a conviction among the nation’s writers and public thinkers that the young need to escape computers and phones—for the problem of the age is not connecting our children but disconnecting them.
Furthermore, the evidence suggests that “There genuinely exists a digital divide between rich and poor, but the divide proves increasingly to be that the rich spend less time online than the poor.”
“When Truth and Reason Are No Longer Enough.” Alison Gopnik reviews Steven Pinker’s latest book and highlights his failure to consider the very real values of place and community. While he lauds the way Enlightenment methods have increased education and wealth and have reduced disease and violence, Gopnik finds a significant omission: “Pinker’s book doesn’t include one notably pessimistic set of graphs: those that chart the signs that local relationships are threatened—even the most-basic relationships, between partners and between parents and children.” (Recommended by Joseph Henderson.)
“Russell Kirk at 100.” Bradley J. Birzer honors the occasion of Kirk’s 100th birthday by reflecting on his life and work.
“The Teacher: No need to bring this teacher an apple.” High school teacher Neil Lash oversees an impressive seed bank and school garden. (Recommended by Jeff Tabone.)
“Decline in Hunters Threatens How U.S. Pays for Conservation.” As Thoreau remarked, “perhaps the hunter is the greatest friend of the animals hunted, not excepting the Humane Society.”