Time, Secrets, and Water

Photo by George W. Ackerman

What is Time For?” In this excerpt from The Liberating Arts: Why We Need Liberal Arts Education, Zena Hitz queries the way in which we spend our time. As she points out, the problem of not making enough time for the most important endeavors is a perennial human problem: “Augustine’s language can be lofty and remote. But here is one of his great human moments. He wants to know how to live. He is not worried about discovering a truth that might spoil his career or require him to leave his concubine. Really! He doesn’t have time, that’s all—he’s too busy, between his students and his patrons, oh, and Ambrose is too busy too. Everyone’s too busy. He doesn’t have time to read. Besides, he doesn’t have time to get the books. Too bad for Augustine—he can’t figure out the best way to live. He’s too busy.”

The Good Life After Graduation.” Sarah Reardon, recent college graduate and former managing editor at FPR, reflects on how college might prepare students to tend their homes and communities: “What would it look like for a college—which will of necessity create, to some extent, its own world—to encourage men and women to, in their different ways, make life-giving homes amid their communities? As Wendell Berry writes, ‘A proper education enables young people to put their lives in order, which means knowing what things are more important than other things; it means putting first things first.'”

How Asset Managers Took Over Your Life.” Dan Hitchens talks with Brett Christophers about his recent work on rentier capitalism and the roots of Britain’s economic malaise. According to Christophers, “‘significant parts of the economics profession don’t seem that interested in what’s happening in the economy in terms of its actual substance. A lot of it is about measuring trends in inflation and employment and growth, without looking at the material substance of all the things that add up to those headline trends and metrics.’ Land, which had been a central political and social question “‘since forever,’ had disappeared from the conversation.’” (Recommended by Adam Smith.)

How Conservative is Net Zero?” Robert Saunders warns British Tories not to forget the conservative tradition of conservation and “oikophilia.” After all, it was Margaret Thatcher who proclaimed, “‘We have treated the air and the oceans like a dustbin’, endangering ‘the biological balance … on which human life depends’. This was a distinctly Conservative environmentalism — even taking care to warn business that ‘there will be no profit… for anyone if pollution continues to destroy our planet.’” (Recommended by Martin Schell.)

Back to Nebraska With Bruce.” Bill Kauffman reflects on the arc of Springsteen’s career: “Springsteen, then in his early 30s, was leaving behind his world of personal connections and intimate observations for ‘The Mansion on the Hill,’ as he titled one song. His view would never again be as sharp. But then money changes everything, doesn’t it?”

Corporate Tyranny.” If you want to read one more review of Ahmari’s Tyranny, Inc after the two we ran at FPR this week, try this one by Jon Askonas: “His central contention is that American politics since the mid-twentieth century has concentrated so much economic power in the hands of large corporations and financiers that it cannot be construed as anything but coercive and inimical to America’s cherished traditions of liberty. In line with classical political theory, traditional American republicanism, and legal realism, Ahmari argues that whether an action or system is coercive cannot be evaluated merely on formal elements (was there a contract signed?) but on the substance of the transaction.”

Alexander Salter and Jeffrey Polet revisit George Carey’s 1984 edited collection Freedom and Virtue: The Conservative/Libertarian Debate and consider the prospects for virtue in America. As Salter concludes, “But what kinds of communities help us live according to the ordo amoris? Political liberty gives us the freedom to do as we ought, and communal virtue habituates us to the good.”

What the Best Places in America Have in Common.” In this excerpt from their new book, The Injustice of Place, Kathryn J. Edin, H. Luke Shaefer, and Timothy J. Nelson describe the characteristics of places where people struggle and contrast them to places where more people thrive: “The lesson is that people seem to thrive—not always in high salaries but in health and life chances—when inequality is low; when landownership is widespread; when social connection is high; and when corruption and violence are rare.”

Remembering the Old Ones.” Brian Miller recalls his childhood visits to an ancestral farm: “On one visit we collected pears from the backyard tree, and each May for several years we would drive up there to pick blackberries. We’d bring a Rattlesnake watermelon, a thirty-pounder that we’d eat on the porch steps after lunch, spitting the seeds into the dirt.”

An America of Secrets.” Jon Askonas continues his ongoing essay series on the erosion of public trust, arguing “that one reason the American psyche is no longer in the grip of a single consensus narrative is that no single story can contain the massive number of facts that are generated and shared by automatic digital systems today. In this deluge, secrets have a special place. Trust in institutions can be drowned when corruption, incompetence, and malfeasance that were once hidden out of view inevitably become known. The most direct cause of the massive growth in American conspiracy thinking is the massive growth of bureaucratic secrecy since the start of the Cold War, together with the increasing impossibility of keeping secrets in a digital age.”

How Bronze Age Pervert Charmed the Far Right.” Graeme Wood describes the Nietzschen narrative promulgated by BAP and warns that it has a growing number of adherents: “in certain spaces—academia, elite journalism—liberalism’s victory had been so overwhelming that for generations it grew soft, flabby, and unaccustomed to the hard work of defending itself from a vigorous challenger. As such challengers left universities and newspapers, those institutions became self-congratulatory monocultures, inhospitable even to conservatives far less nutty than BAP. By now, a ranting nudist poses a real danger—of poisoning politics, splitting apart societies, and persuading otherwise talented people to spurn the modern world’s greatest achievements, which are peace, tolerance, and prosperity.”

Here’s Where Water is Running Out in the World—And Why.” Veronica Penney and John Muyskens describe the worsening water shortages around the world and the varying drains on available fresh water.

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