“How Tech Despair Can Set You Free.” In a rich essay on Jacques Ellul, Samuel Matlack faces the dangers of our technological society squarely and considers the possibilities for hope: “‘You cannot talk about hope,’ [Ellul] writes. ‘The question is how to live it.’ The reason you cannot talk about hope — or, rather, cannot describe the action it takes — is this: Hope is not a program for reform, a solution to implement, or a prescription to follow. To borrow from the farmer and writer Wendell Berry, hope means ‘work for the present.’”
“A Poem (and a Painting) About the Suffering That Hides in Plain Sight.” In a marvelously formatted essay, Elisa Gabbert meditates on W.H. Auden’s timely and profound poem “Musée des Beaux Arts.”
“If You Were Wrong, You Need to Apologize.” Liel Leibovitz writes that it’s okay to change your mind: “Everywhere you look these days, you see people making the turn, the gradual, baffling, painful, redeeming process of realizing that so much of what they thought about the world—about COVID and wokeness and Russia and the Democrats and the Republicans and everything and anything else—might’ve been misguided and must now change. It’s a great awakening, a mass movement consisting of individuals doing that thing that most strongly defines what it means to be human—namely the ability to examine reality, reconfigure our convictions, grow, and change. It’s a very promising sign that a real realignment is at hand, and that on the ashes of our scorched political earth something new and beautiful is being built.” (Recommended by Matt Stewart.)
“Building on the Heights.” Brian Miller warns that the work-from-home boom isn’t always a good thing for rural landscapes: “this new economy that allows many to do their job remotely has opened the last protective floodgate. What took decades in those North Georgia counties is taking less than 24 months in East Tennessee. This economy at rising tide doesn’t lift communities; it washes over them, destroying countryside and culture in its wake. And when it ebbs, what remains is a fractured landscape instead of topsoil. A debris field of trash and eroded gullies where once flourished fields, crops, and a rural people.”
“Could Russian Sanctions Hobble U.S. Clean Energy Push?” Oil is getting all the focus these days, but as Jael Holzman reports, the US gets a lot of resources from Russia that go into batteries and other green technologies.
“The Russia We have Lost.” Why were so many data wonks and policy analysts so badly wrong about Russia’s future? Ben Judah looks to Russian artists and history in an effort to answer this question and make sense of recent events.
“Ukraine, Nuclear Orthodoxy, and Social Media.” L.M. Sacasas interviews Jon Askonas—who unlike many commentators these days has actually studied Russia for many years—about the unfolding war, the religious role of Russian nuclear weapons, and social media.
“Life in Red America and Blue America is Quite Different. What about Covid Caseloads?” David Leonhardt reports for the New York Times on the contrasting behavior of red and blue counties—Republicans are eating at restaurants while people in Democratic counties are still avoiding them, for instance—and yet this behavior seems to have had little effect on how rapidly Omicron spread. (Recommended by Matt Stewart.)
“New Buildings are Huge Carbon Hogs. Here’s How to Design Them to Last for Centuries.” Nate Berg writes about what it would entail to design lindy buildings, buildings that can last for generations and be repurposed for different purposes in future years.
“Cormac McCarthy Set to Publish his 1st Novels in over 15 Years.” Brendan Morrow reports on some blockbuster literary news: two new McCarthy novels are on their way.
“Reopen the American Frontier.” Jason Morgan argues that when the frontier “closed,” America tried to extend it via imperial ambitions. We should close that one down. But in another sense, the frontier remains a live and salutary possibility: “It is not too late to reopen the American frontier in every heart by going into the American land and living on it like true sons and daughters of the continent. This time, though, instead of an inexorable westward “wave,” let there be an ingathering of the exiles, from all corners of the globe where the imperial diaspora has reached. The American continent needs saving, and we, who have become so civilized by our imperium that we are able to incinerate the planet many times over at the touch of a button and the turning of a key, need rewilding—bad.”
“‘I Had Nothing to My Name’: Amazon Delivery Companies Are Being Crushed by Debt.” In a chilling in-depth report, Lauren Kaori Gurley details how Amazon treats the private companies it contracts with to deliver packages.
“Happiness in a Fallen World.” Matt Civico opens his review of Aggressively Happy with an apparent contrast: “On the surface, Wendell Berry and Joy Marie Clarkson don’t seem to have much in common. One is an aging poet-farmer who writes on a typewriter in a shed, the other tweets a lot about tea and art. One is generally considered a grump while the other is often gleeful. But the two are kindred spirits, however unlikely.”
“So Baseball Won’t Die, After All.” Eric Barrow and Sam Fels try to make sense of the deal that has baseball back on track for a full season: “progress in these sorts of things is never rapid or violent, but slow.”