Growing, Fermenting, Canning, and Why?” The Maurin Academy is hosting a slate of discussions on home food production to get you ready for the growing season: “It’s time to plan a garden, whether it’s on your patio, in your yard, or someone else’s yard! Ryan Dostal will be running two sessions on garden planning in February, and then in March we have Ryan and Deacon Chris May on deck to teach the preservation techniques of fermentation and canning. Many of the Maurin crew will do a final session in which we discuss the economic, social and political ramifications of these types of activities. Come for one or for all five. Registrants will receive recordings of any sessions they miss.”

Farming for the Future.” On March 9th, Plough is hosting Joel Salatin and James and Helen Rebanks for an afternoon of workshops and good food. It looks to be a great event: “They’ll tell how they have learned lessons from the past and from science as they work to build a flourishing ecosystem of animals, plants, fungi, and soil, rejuvenating their land and their communities. The event will be followed by a complimentary barbecue with meat and vegetables raised at Fox Hill Bruderhof.”

The Deep Wisdom of Rootedness.” Fergus Butler-Gallie tries to make sense of why much public ethical reasoning is so shallow: “their main problem is that they speak of ethics entirely divorced from context. From past, place or, indeed, any sense of personhood that goes beyond the concept of ‘I should be able to do what I want, when I want.’ They speak of a society that has lost touch with deep wisdom, that is so determined not to commune with the places and people that have shaped it, that they frame the minor inconveniences of the lives they have built for themselves as ethical quandaries.”

Alexis de Tocqueville, Meet My Mom.” Jeff Polet remembers his remarkable mother and reflects on how she illustrates one of the core paradoxes of democracies: “My mom personified American status anxiety, but unencumbered by our egalitarian impulse. That made it pure, even if she never recognized it within herself. When I shared with her my observation that I thought her a monarchist, she did not treat that as an accusation.”

Music on Main Street: Building Community through Music.” Megan Brand reflects on the benefits of playing and enjoying good music: “Amid political polarization and concerns about declining social capital, local classical music associations are a bright spot for building humane and civil communities. Every aspect of music-making—including the instruments themselves—connects us with the past and with each other. The discipline required to learn music, the earthen character of instruments, the intergenerational interaction that occurs in practice and performance, the communal nature of playing with others, and the reliance on composers and luthiers who preceded us suggest classical music has a place in forming community.”

Today’s Poem: The Windhover.” Joseph Bottum and Sally Thomas have launched an email newsletter that shares a poem each day. In one entry this week, Sally Thomas contrasts the poetic prose of J.A. Baker with Gerard Manley Hopkins’s prosody and contrasts their account of a hawk on the hunt.

The Apple Vision Pro Is Spectacular and Sad.” Ian Bogost has some concerns with the new “spectacles” from Apple—or are they in fact a “blindfold”? “Maybe if I act like a computer, I will look more normal,” I suggested. When I roboticized my diction, she seemed to think that it helped. I was joking, but then, in a way, I also wasn’t. I did feel like I’d been turned into a robot person of some kind. Is that what the creators of these goggles hoped for, or was it just what I expected? If the Apple Vision Pro wants to reconcile life outside the computer and life within it, the challenge might be insurmountable.”

Free yourself from Amazon and Spotify.” Will Bardenwerper offers a non-algorithmic recommendation—get out and look for good art away from the mass platforms: “Why should anyone care about my serendipitous discoveries of an old book and new band? The reason is that both revelations were the result of escaping the ‘recommendations’ from sites like Amazon and Spotify, algorithmically programmed nudges (or shoves) steering us to bestselling authors and singers.”

Can Humanity Survive AI?” In a lengthy and detailed essay, Garrison Lovely takes stock of the AI discourse. While doomers and boomers trade claims about the future, AI is advancing and causing more mundane harms already: “The more expansive idea that AI poses an existential risk has many critics, and the roiling AI discourse is hard to parse: equally credentialed people make opposite claims about whether AI x-risk is real, and venture capitalists are signing open letters with progressive AI ethicists. And while the x-risk idea seems to be gaining ground the fastest, a major publication runs an essay seemingly every week arguing that x-risk distracts from existing harms. Meanwhile, orders of magnitude more money and people are quietly dedicated to making AI systems more powerful than to making them safer or less biased.”

Sacred Art and Artificial Intelligence.” Artist Daniel Mitsui probes the tensions underneath AI hype: “I think that using the term ‘AI art’ concedes too much — I am not convinced that what we are dealing with can properly be called intelligence, or art, at all.”

Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture