For the Weekend: The Vicar of Bray

Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (December 28, 2018)

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  1. Reading: Homer, Odysseus, Emily Wilson, David Drake: Hoisted from the Archives: I am distressed to find myself somewhat more sympathetic than I want to be with Plato's recommendation that only "hymns to the gods and praise of famous men" be allowed in the Just City—because allowing more would lead to sensation and melodrama and would excite the baser instincts of men. And I have now opened up the following can of worms: How do we educate people to read—listen—watch—properly, so that they become their better rather than their worse selves?...

  1. Jon Schwarz: The 10 Most Awful Articles in the Weekly Standard’s Short Life VIII: "'The Worst Thing About Gay Marriage', by Sam Schulman, 2009: Here Sam Schulman first expresses amazement at the rapidity with 'which gays have attained the right to hold jobs — even as teachers and members of the clergy', and explains 'all these rights … have made gays not just ‘free’ but our neighbors'. (In the past all LGBT Americans were apparently sequestered away in underground caverns.) Also, the only reason for marriage is 'protecting and controlling the sexuality of the child-bearing sex'. Then Schulman frets that gay marriage will obviously lead to brothers marrying brothers and fathers marrying sons.... The upshot is that after the initial excitement of gay incest marriage, all the gay Americans will realize marriage is pointless and will stop getting married; this will cause marriage of all genres to collapse (?); and human society will evaporate... #journamalism #orangehairedbaboons #moralresponsibility

  2. Jon Schwarz: The 10 Most Awful Articles in the Weekly Standard’s Short Life IX: "'He Was Honest, Eventually' by the Scrapbook, 2018: On its surface this is simply a banal unsigned post on a Weekly Standard blog about Barack Obama and Medicare for All. But it deserves recognition because it was published just as it was revealed that Facebook had chosen the Weekly Standard as one of five U.S. publications to which it would outsource factchecking. Hence the magazine showed real moxie here by managing to make three glaring factual errors in two sentences. First, Medicare would not entail 'the full-on nationalization of the health-care industry'. Rather, it would entail nationalization of much of the healthcare insurance industry. Anyone who doesn’t understand the difference doesn’t understand this issue at all. Second, Medicare is not 'America’s most expensive and worst-run health-care program' #journamalism #orangehairedbaboons #moralresponsibility

  3. Jon Schwarz: The 10 Most Awful Articles in the Weekly Standard’s Short Life X: "'Going Soft on Iran' by Reuel Marc Gerecht, 2004.... And as we know, there’s nothing neoconservatives care about more than democracy. In this article, former CIA case officer Reuel Marc Gerecht writes of his yearning for Iranians to experience it. If you want to read more about how much the Weekly Standard supports democracy in Iran, well, there’s a lot there for you... #journamalism #orangehairedbaboons #moralresponsibility

  4. Harald Dale-Olsen: Wages, Creative Destruction, and Union Networks: "Do unions promote creative destruction?...

  5. Andreas Ferrara: World War II and African American Socioeconomic Progress: "This paper argues that the unprecedented socioeconomic rise of African Americans at mid-century is causally related to the labor shortages induced by WWII...

  6. Equitable Growth: Workers Re-entering : "Workers previously out of the labor force are re-entering at higher rates, continuing the long-term upward trend...

  7. Very much worth reading: Henry Farrell and Bruce Schneier: Common-Knowledge Attacks on Democracy: "Democracies draw upon the disagreements within their population to solve problems.... In a well-functioning democracy, each such group vies for political influence by persuading voters that its way of understanding problems and associated solutions is the best one. This is to the democracy’s benefit. It provides a mechanism through which a polity can harness the diversity of perspectives within it, the better to solve complex problems. This requires contestation over who the rulers should be, and what broad social goals they will seek to implement. Political parties and other collective actors hope that they (or their allies) will be in control for a given period, and each vies against others to win public support to that end.... Autocracies adopt a very different approach to common and contested knowledge...

  8. David Spiegel: 38% of Rich Republicans Would Not Re-Elect Trump: "Just 34 percent of America’s millionaires... say they would vote to re-elect President Trump if the election were held today...

  9. WTF!? Geoffrey Kabaservice? For one thing, the Democratic Party became the more fiscally-conservative party back in 1991 when the Republican Party was hijacked by Newt Gingrich. Do you really not know this? Why put it 45 years later, in 2036? Now I do realize that this is supposed, at some level, to be a joke: our geophysicists are not predicting catastrophic city-threatening sea-level rises by the 1930s; nor does value-added in infrastructure construction come from the "white working class of the heartland". But why tell this particular joke? What is gained, and for whom, by telling it?: Geoffrey Kabaservice: What Will History Books Say About 2018?: "By 2036, the Democratic Party—whose middle- and upper-class constituents were deeply disturbed by the impending threat of national bankruptcy—had become the fiscally conservative party. The Republicans, meanwhile, had become the party more supportive of government spending... on universal social benefits like Social Security and Medicare, as well as the spending programs that were the sole economic lifeline for the 30 percent of the population that still lived in the semi-inhabited small towns and environmentally ravaged rural areas of the American heartland. The peculiar arithmetic of the Electoral College meant that Republicans still commanded supermajorities in the Senate.... But the Grand Bargain of the 2030s rallied the whole country around the slogan, 'Build the Walls!'—the massive seawalls, constructed mostly by the white working class of the heartland, that saved the coastal cities from inundation by rising oceans...

  10. Jonah Goldberg appears to finally—finally!—wake up to the fact that America's conservatives have for sixty-three years identified themselves as the bad guys—as those entitled to not play fair and to break all the rules, in William F. Buckley's words back in 1955, "to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not predominate numerically"—to abandon any idea of "consulting a catalog of the rights of American citizens" or of "bow[ing] to the demands of the numerical majority": Jonah Goldberg: Why the Trump Presidency Will End Poorly: "When I say President Trump is not a man of good character, I... preface it with a trigger warning for... my fellow conservatives. Most... do not wish to be reminded.... Others... have convinced themselves that Trump is a man of good character... rushes to rebut the claim... are redefining good character in Trump’s image, and they end up modeling it...

  11. Tony Yates is unhappy with Mervyn King: Tony Yates: Why Mervyn King’s Defence of Brexit “Isn’t Worthy of a Bank of England Governor”: "Mervyn King, Mark Carney’s predecessor as the governor of the Bank of England, has burnished his Brexit credentials in an opinion piece for Bloomberg. King has made his pro-Brexit views known already. The trigger for reprising them was the publication of the Bank of England’s assessment of different trajectories either through or without Brexit...

  12. Howard Gleckman: The TaxVox Lump of Coal Award For The Worst Tax Idea of 2018: "Trump’s promise to cut middle-class taxes by 10 percent.... The credulous response to Trump’s promised middle-class tax cut. Journalists and policy analysts just can’t help themselves. The president makes an off-the-cuff campaign promise and, like mice on a wheel, they chase after it as if it is a... real thing. They opine on what his phantom tax cut might look like. They prognosticate over the odds of Congress passing the non-existent plan. They even debate who exactly is the middle class.... he 2018 lump of coal (not a real thing) goes to the president who made an absurd, impossible-to-keep promise, and all those self-described experts who took him seriously. Congratulations, or something...

  13. Anna North: Facebook scandals: how they’re hurting Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In brand: "Facebook had hired the Republican-aligned PR firm Definers Public Affairs, which had promulgated the message that anti-Facebook protests were being backed by billionaire George Soros.... Sandberg initially said she didn’t know Facebook had hired Definers, but she admitted in a Facebook post the day before Thanksgiving that... she had 'received a small number of emails where Definers was referenced'...

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