I’ll be out of town the second half of next week for a book launch event in NYC. Since I’ll be on the road, I probably won’t have a chance to post a Water Dipper next weekend, but I’ll plan to be back the following week.

I’ve Always Loved Tech. Now, I’m a Luddite. You Should be One, Too..” Tech columnist Brian Merchant explains why he’s proud to see himself as a Luddite: “The original Luddites did not hate technology. Most were skilled machine operators. In the early days of the Industrial Revolution, what they objected to were the specific ways that tech was being used to undermine their status, upend their communities and destroy their livelihoods. So they took sledgehammers to the mechanized looms used to exploit them. It is that spirit that I’ve come to appreciate in the age of tech monopolies and generative artificial intelligence. The kind of visionaries we need now are those who see precisely how certain technologies are causing harm and who resist them when necessary.”

Flapper Economics.” Philip Jeffery argues that it was during the 1920s that Americans became consumers: “A hundred years later, still a nation of consumers, we look back on that culture fondly and forget what was lost. The price Americans paid for their new freedom as consumers was their political and economic agency.” (Recommended by Aaron Weinacht.)

Why Are We Lonely?” Joey Hiles explains what reading Alexis de Tocqueville taught him: “Until I read Tocqueville, I didn’t understand why some people are so attached to the institutions of local government, religious worship, voluntary associations, and family life. Through reading him, I learned that these institutions are what attach us to each other. I already knew that I have moved too much, that I am lonely, that I have a restless and ambitious soul, that the only communities I’ve ever felt a part of had expiration dates (graduations), and that everyone I know is separated from people they care about by a constant churn of geographic relocation. I knew this to be true, but didn’t know why it was true until I read Democracy in America.”

Missed America.” Johann N. Neem reviews Myth America: Historians Take On the Biggest Legends and Lies About Our Past, edited by Kevin M. Kruse and Julian E. Zelizer, and warns that by only exposing the historical myths propagated by one political party, it fuels the public’s distrust of academic historians: “When it becomes an axiom that truth comes from the left and lies from the right, something is amiss. When all the bad things America did are true, but none of the good things, something is definitely amiss.” (Recommended by Adam Smith.)

Stop Looking at Yourself: On the Dangers of Mirrors and Selfies.” Amit Majmudar draws on Mohammed, Borges, Cormac McCarthy, and others to reflect on the dangers posed by proliferating self-images: “The image possesses the form but not the soul of the subject. That deceptiveness places it, like the ‘false idols’ that prompted centuries of iconoclasm, on the side of the Deceiver. That is why the making of images, including images of oneself, is a psychological and spiritual danger.”

In Defense of Voracious Reading.” Philip Bunn counters those who advocate only deep, slow reading with advice akin to Alan Jacobs’s “read at whim”: “If I act as an academic buzzkill, ready to jump down the throats of the heavy readers for failing to slow down and appreciate great texts, or for reading light and pleasurable material instead of dense, heady works, I risk squashing the love of engaging with texts. This is what might inspire those readers to find pleasure in the books I delight in myself. If I discourage my students from letting a Shakespeare play or a Platonic dialogue simply wash over them before descending the rabbit hole of exegesis, I risk hiding the magic that makes these texts Great and perennial.”

The Long March of the Anti-Woke—and Its Uncertain Destination.” If Patrick Deneen wants to replace the managers, Blake Smith wants to persuade them (while I’ve come to see the real value in competent and capable managers, I’d still like to see their power wane and become more decentralized). Smith’s essay offers a thoughtful consideration of “the limits—and perils—of the current trajectory of [anti-wokeness], focusing on its most successful and cogent deliverer, Chris Rufo. Rufo’s program for opposing wokeness has been strikingly successful, but it risks deepening the larger social problems out of which wokeness arose.” (Recommended by Adam Smith.)

Outflanked by Liberals, Oregon Conservatives Aim to become Part of Idaho.” Scott Wilson talks with people exploring the possibility of shifting the Oregon-Idaho border: “The [Snake] river separates states that, perhaps more than in any other part of the nation, embrace the two parties’ most extreme positions on gun control, abortion rights, environmental regulation, drug legalization and other issues at the center of the American political debate. The result in eastern Oregon, from the volcanic Cascade Range to this border town, is a sense of profound political alienation.”

Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture


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