Lobsters, Resilience, and Scouting

Photo by George W. Ackerman

DIY.” Bud Smith details the joys of fixing anything that’s broken with the help of the Internet: “YouTube has all the right answers and all the wrong answers. All you have to do is scroll down and look for the worst one. The one with the worst sound and video quality has the best answer most of the time because that person didn’t have any need to get the aesthetics right. Why bother? They’ve got the truth and they know it. We’re lucky they choose to share it with us.”

Nova Scotia’s Billion-Dollar Lobster Wars.” Abe Streep wades through a complex set of disputes that are roiling Canada’s lobster fishery. Acadian independent fishermen, First Nations tribes, and large corporations all vie for their slice of a limited—but very lucrative—pie: “Even as corporate buyouts devastated other fisheries in Nova Scotia, the [Acadian] lobstermen remained proudly independent. . . . When I talked to Gilles Thériault, a fisheries consultant, he said that Acadians and the Mi’kmaq had the same basic economic goal—creating prosperity within once impoverished communities—and the same enemy: corporate influence.”

Is America Ready for ‘Degrowth Communism?’” Christopher Beam’s profile of Kohei Saito is a case study in how, as Illich argues, the corruption of the best can be the worst. In this case, the virtue of thrift becomes the ideology of “degrowth communism”: “It’s understandable that Saito provokes so much ire: He rejects the mainstream political consensus that the best way to fight climate change is through innovation, which requires growth. But no matter how many times opponents swat it down, the idea of degrowth refuses to die. Perhaps it survives these detailed, technical refutations because its very implausibility is central to its appeal.”

Building Resilience in a High-Risk World.” Alexandra Davis imagines ways we can practice increasing our tolerance for healthy risk: “We are obsessed with crafting childhoods for our kids that are free from any discomfort, pain, and sadness. And as Twenge and others aptly point out, this has not produced happier kids. Risk—of heartbreak, injury, illness, disappointment, and failure—is essential to forming our children into emotionally strong, resilient people. We’re depriving our children of that necessary, albeit painful, refinement process.”

Taking the Road Less Traveled.” A.M. Juster commends Dan Rattelle’s new book of verse: “For all of Ratelle’s affection for Frost, these poems avoid sentimentality about the past and look with a clear eye at the present and the future. America’s literary establishment is working hard to root out poets like Dan Rattelle. Frustrate them and read his book.”

Fanfare for the Common Man.” Elizabeth Stice wants to know who is celebrating quotidian heroism: “Riddle me this: what are some of the best recent books and movies that celebrate the everyday person? Because there is a certain heroism in a long, daily commute to pay for braces and insurance for 2.5 kids who play soccer very averagely. There is courage in the person who is a first-generation college student, whether or not they become a CEO or an astronaut. There is noteworthy dedication and resolve in the long marriage, even when it does not produce ‘generational wealth.’ There is an admirable creativity and appreciation of the arts in the person who plays guitar every evening and whose friends appreciate their gifts, even if their YouTube never accrues more than 200 followers.”

Biden Wants to Bring Big Dreams Back to Rural America.” President Biden has sent billions that could benefit rural America, but Tony Pipa cautions that this may not translate to lots of votes: “Rural places remain skeptical that federal policymakers have their best interests at heart. Proving otherwise will take intention and time. Above all, implementation matters. These investment opportunities will be meaningless unless they reach rural America. For that to happen, federal and local officials, and many people in-between, will need to focus on intentional targeting and sensitivity to the challenges that rural places face.”

AI Is a Hall of Mirrors.” Meghan Houser diagnoses the strange world we’re building, a world that promises to give us just what we want and then leaves us realizing maybe that wasn’t what we wanted after all: “Whoever you are, the algorithms’ for you promise at some point rings hollow. The simple math of automation is that the more the machines are there to talk to us, the less someone else will. Get told how important your call is to us, in endless perfect repetition. Prove you’re a person to Captcha, and (if you’re like me) sometimes fail. Post a comment on TikTok or YouTube knowing that it will be swallowed by its only likely reader, the optimizing feed.”

There’s a Reason Most People Aren’t Following the Trump Trial.” Matthew Walther commends Americans for mostly ignoring the Trump trial that has been getting a lot of coverage in recent weeks: “so many Americans have taken so little interest in this criminal proceeding. People recognize, at least implicitly, that the trial is in effect an attempt to settle an issue that courts are poorly suited to decide: namely, whether Mr. Trump should again be elected president of the United States. That, as they say, is a question for another day, specifically Nov. 5.”

What Scouting Has Lost.” Philip Bunn explains what made the Boy Scouts such a formative organization and mourns the loss of their distinctive mission: “In a world so frequently devoid of the kind of associational life that older thinkers like Alexis de Tocqueville praised and more recent thinkers like Robert Nisbet and Robert Putnam eulogize as passing away in American civic life, Scouting has long stood as a striking exception—a pathway for young boys to become young men, attached and loyal to their local community.”

Anne Elliot Is Twenty-Seven.” B.D. McClay identifies a core paradox in Jane Austen’s books: “In all of Austen’s novels, she commits herself—fully—to two incompatible truths. The first is that people never change. The second, that they can and do.” This paradox makes re-reading books such a rich experience, and McClay describes what it’s like to age with a book and weigh one’s different responses at different stage of life to see how one changes–and how one stays the same.



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