“Big Business Games the Supply Chain” Rose Adams describes how companies like Amazon and Walmart are better positioned to profit from supply chain snarls while small businesses struggle acutely. Yet these small businesses play a critical role in the economic and cultural life of their communities, and they also make for a more resilient and adaptable economy.
“The University Crisis.” Andrew Delbanco worries about the ways that COVID has exacerbated the inequalities and shortcomings of American universities: “If higher education once helped to reduce inequities in American life, it now too often sustains and fortifies them. Like our health care system, it delivers concierge services to the affluent while consigning low- and modest-income Americans to overcrowded or underfunded facilities.”
“Insider-Outsiders.” Joseph M. Keegin critiques the phenomenon of the “insider-outsider, the man who stands atop the very hierarchies he claims to oppose and defy.”
“When Protests aren’t Progressive.” Damon Linker argues that “what’s most illuminating in the left’s hostile reaction to the trucker protests” is not simply that progressives are “displaying ideological double standards.” More to the point, “they’re lashing out against the fact that some of their most fundamental social and political assumptions are no longer valid — or at least much less valid than they once were. Those toward the bottom of the sociopolitical hierarchy railing against systemic injustices don’t necessarily favor progressive aims and may actually prefer policies and goals normally associated with the right.”
“The Christian Humanism of A.M. Juster.” James Matthew Wilson praises the poetry of A.M. Juster: “I have given a great deal of thought to beauty’s role in the scheme of things, but what is most striking about beauty is that it is less important to have the proper idea of it, at least at first, than it is simply to respond to it.”
“The ‘Misinformation Problem’ Seems like Misinformation.” Matthew Yglesias makes a necessary distinction: “people see the internet increasing polarization — more people are fighting about politics and saying things they think are really dumb — and confusing that with people being misinformed.” It turns out, he concludes, that “discerning the truth is hard, and it requires debate and dissent. Functional expert communities and well-run journalism institutions are open to new information, to changing their minds, and to correcting the record. But that process doesn’t work if the fact-check squad slaps a ‘misinformation’ label on you for saying the CDC is wrong about masks.” When we have access to too much information, we have to rely on some heuristic to sort it and make sense of it: institutions, personal loyalties, ideologies, narratives, etc. Polarized political ideologies are an increasingly popular option, unfortunately.
“The Data are Clear: The Boys are Not all Right.” Andrew Yang and Josh Hawley may disagree about a lot, but they both are interested in fostering healthy masculinity. Here’s Yang: “Here’s the simple truth I’ve heard from many men: We need to be needed. We imagine ourselves as builders, soldiers, workers, brothers — part of something bigger than ourselves. We deal with idleness terribly.”
“Cities aren’t Facing Up to Their ‘Long Covid’ Crisis: Downtown is in Deep Trouble.” Megan McArdle warns that the downtown cores of major cities, where offices remain largely vacant, need serious help to keep from falling into a cycle of decline.
“Resignations and Reunions: Industrialism’s Broken Promises.” Rory Groves writes about the Great Resignation: “It is not that people don’t want to work, it is that they want their work to mean something, and they want to perform it with people who mean something to them.”
“Rooted and Responsible.” Sabrina Little draws on Wendell Berry to ponder how running can help connect us to our place: “Running also transforms our relationship with the physical world around us, by firmly rooting us in a place.”
“Selling the Metaverse.” James Pogue eviscerates the ways in which the Metaverse is being marketed: “here’s an immensely influential billionaire, with a huge personal stake in the development of the Metaverse, leveraging the language of privilege to suggest that the opinions of people who protest that we’re being lead towards dystopia are definitionally invalid.” (Recommended by Matt Stewart.)
“Highly Lethal Bird Flu Found in Ky. and Va. Flocks, Raising Fear of Wider Outbreak in Poultry Farms.” Andrew Jeong reports on a case study in the vulnerabilities inherent in CAFOs.
“Witchcraft isn’t Subversive.” Witchcraft and the occult seem trendy these days, but as Esme Partridge argues, they are part of the dominant ethos of our technological age: “Western occultism came hand-in-hand with the founding principle of the modern age: Man’s domination over nature.”
“Protecting the U.S. Postal Service from Amazon’s Anticompetitive Assault.” Hal Singer and Ted Tatos have a lengthy report on how Amazon pushes the USPS to raise postage rates on other users and builds out its own urban delivery system to ship the easier packages itself while relying on the USPS to deliver to rural customers. They conclude with some policy suggestions for rectifying this situation.
“Crossing the Blood Meridian: Cormac McCarthy and American History.” Bennett Parten argues that in Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy anticipated the work of later historians, “scholars [who] no longer treat indigenous peoples as either villains or victims, instead seeing them as people who had agency — as people, in other words, who didn’t just ‘vanish’ or suffer but who waged war, wielded power, and fought rival tribes over territory, treaties, and trade routes.” (Recommended by Jeff Polet.)
“What Was the TED Talk?” In this withering essay, Oscar Schwartz exposes TED’s futurism hucksters. It’s quite the racket, and Schwartz eviscerates its flawed assumptions.
What an outstanding line-up this morning. I was surprised to see that Andrew Yang, the advocate, as I recall, of a G.B.I. worried about idle men. Gee, if I could just put my finger on the possible conflict.
But the first piece, “Big business…” has truly left me embarrassed this morning. As I go out to feed my livestock I’m muttering “buy it local or do without.”
But wait, is that the rumble of the UPS truck on my driveway?
Ok, I’ll start next week.
“Lewis Honors College Speaker Series: Bill Kauffman
“Topic: Look Homeward, America!–You Too, Lexington.
“Join Bill Kauffman as he presents his case for localism and the importance of making a place for yourself and building community. In doing so, Kauffman hopes to also share a few laughs with guests as they take an upside-down look at baseball, celebrity worship, failure, politics and much more.”
Listen to event recording here:
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