I’ll be taking the next couple of weeks off from putting together these Water Dippers. I plan to resume in the new year.

The Case for Left Conservatism.” Ashley Colby looks to Christopher Lasch and Wendell Berry for help imagining a politics that rejects the current, reigning assumptions: “These assumptions — that industrial society must continue indefinitely, or that we must develop solutions at grand scales — has us stuck in a political and technological gridlock, and limits our ability to imagine alternatives. Some of the most salient cultural traditions for this historical moment live outside the current oversized scale of market and state.” (Recommended by Bernie Franceschi.)

In Praise of Repair Culture.” I am assiduously avoiding the new issue of Plough as I want to wait for my hard copy to arrive so I can read the essays in print, but Peter Mommsen’s introduction to the issue is excellent: “perhaps good habits can spread from one part of life to another as well as bad ones; perhaps throwaway culture can be resisted by building a repair culture. That’s the hope that drives the right to repair movement.”

More Than a Union Hall.” Alex Hogan chronicles the role labor unions once played in fostering local community life and identity: “Through charity, neighborhood socialization, and political mobilization, union halls gave workers ownership in their community and jobs that incubated the values of hard work, active citizenship, and an inclusive “common-man” patriotism. These efforts helped generate one of America’s most vibrant examples of associational democracy in action.” (Recommended by Bill Kauffman.)

Should Schools Ban Cellphones?” Timothy Daly summarizes the reasons why more and more schools are banning phones, and the various ways they try to enforce these bans. Daly also points to the deeper issue: “we have a broader problem with student presence. Lots of kids aren’t even showing up to school. When they do, it’s gotten harder to earn their attention because there is more competition for it. Phones are just one element—one that schools may control through a ban. But school-sponsored technology in the classroom is whopper of a challenge, too.”

Kirk 101: The Politics of Prudence.” Alan Cornett recalls helping Kirk with the editorial process for this collection of essays and commends its enduring relevance in warning conservatives against ideology’s temptations: “The danger for the right to fall into ideological thinking has not lessened in the three decades since Dr. Kirk wrote those words—in this social media age the danger has grown exponentially. The thoughtfulness and measure conservative thought demands is hard to fit into a 280 character missive. Kirk makes clear that ‘[t]his book, then, is addressed to conservatives especially. Its chapters are essays (originally lectures) examining conservative principles, people, books, and problems, and contrasting conservative views with ideological dogmas.’”

Free to Serve the Common Good: Wendell Berry and Liberal Arts Education.” In January, I’ll be in Phoenix to give a talk on Wendell Berry and education at Veritas Prep Academy. It would be great to see any Porchers who are in the area.

Journalists Won’t Earn Back Trust by Claiming a Monopoly on Truth.” Bonnie Kristian’s scathing review of Margaret Sullivan’s Newsroom Confidential articulates the real challenges that today’s journalists face: “While issuing a call to defend reality and democracy, she seems remarkably out of touch with the reality of our democracy and, specifically, the tens of millions of people within it who simply do not think as she does. Her goals—accurate, transparent reporting; a media-canny citizenry; well-earned trust in the press; flourishing democracy—are admirable. But her explanations and remedies are strikingly out of touch.”

A Panoramic View of the West.” Bradley J. Birzer praises the scope and boldness of Elliot West’s Continental Reckoning, which “focuses on the years 1846 to 1877, a ‘Greater Reconstruction,’ that also examines the years leading up to 1846, and to 1890. As such, this is a history of a moving and somewhat fluid nineteenth-century American West. To comprehend fully the American Civil War, the author persuasively argues, we must understand not only westward expansion but also the wars against the American Indians.”

The Most Consequential Act of Sabotage in Modern Times.” Mark Bowden’s investigation of the Nord Stream pipeline explosions is about many things: conspiracy theories, international politics, and the vulnerability of big infrastructure. “Whatever the official findings, there is a good chance in the end that no one is ever likely to be brought to account for the attack. This is no small thing. A $20 billion engineering feat, built over decades by thousands of skilled workers—a wonder of the modern world—might well rest forever, inert and flooded, at the bottom of the sea.”

Zero at the Bone.” Whitney Rio-Ross reviews Christian Wiman’s new book of essays and poetry, Zero at the Bone: Fifty Entries Against Despair: “For Wiman, the conversations he constructs—even the combative ones—are a search for truth. It’s community. It’s a form of human love. And while love cannot (should not?) stave off despair entirely, it certainly keeps us from despair’s detached loneliness.”

City Life Is Too Lonely. Urban Planning Can Help.” Linda Poon reviews Andy Field’s Encounterism: The Neglected Joys of Being In Person and describes how some people are trying to design places to give people more opportunities to rub elbows with others: “Casual encounters like this one—or with neighbors, your local barista or even a passerby at a park—may not generate deep connections—but they don’t need to. The mental health benefits of even the briefest of conversations can add up, according to Field.”

Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture


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