Illiberalism, Cancel Culture, Free Speech, and The Internet

“Bad faith is the condition of the modern internet, and shitposting is its lingua franca. On—yes—both sides. Look: A professional Twitter troll is president. Trolling won. Perhaps it’s time to acknowledge that despite their centrality, online platforms aren’t suited to the earnest exchange of big ideas.”

—Lili Loofbourow, “Illiberalism Isn’t to Blame for the Death of Good-Faith Debate.” Slate. July 12, 2020.

Happiness of Others

Make one person happy. Ideally, the one before you, in this moment. Listen. Understand their story, if you can. But, never more than one, and don’t have it be the focus of all your energy. You cannot make other people happy. We can choose to be happy, ourselves. In others, we can only help create the conditions. In then end, they must choose, and it some conditions it’s an impossible choice. The crucified are never happy. The only option is for their suffering to end.

The Meaning of Sport

“That, I think, is what sport is all about. If you follow a sport it becomes a thread which runs through your life and provides memories and narrative and meaning and context. Sport becomes a kind of companion, part of the richness and texture of lived experience. At the same time, you could argue that sport is the only thing on television that is real. The things you are watching happen are actually happening right now, as you watch. So much modern reality is mediated, packaged, predigested. This is obviously true for all forms of drama, but it is more subtly true of news and current affairs, where the effects can be more pernicious, because we’re seeing an image of the world which makes claim to be the real world. Sport isn’t like that. It is clearly artificial: it happens within a determined frame and a clear set of rules and in that sense is as mediated as human experience can be. But within that frame, when you’re watching live sport, you are watching reality as it really happens.”

—John Lanchester, “Getting Into Esports.” London Review of Books. August 13, 2020.

The Blood Sacrifice Redemption

Imagination is political. Without new vocabulary, new thinking cannot be born. A change of concepts both clarify and obscure. Data erases all our nuances and contradictions. We retain the facts which are easiest to think about and then classify and organize them into representations me pretend are the whole world.

When imagined worlds defiantly insist on being birthed into Reality, the dream reshapes the whole world. Secret police exist to prevent the dreaming and brings the might of the state down on the individual, who with a new thougt buys a lottery ticket that redeems society with blood sacrifice. New worlds are fed the blood of their originators and early adopters, their validity testified to by the numbers of the dead.

Joe Biden Profile

“Richard Ben Cramer wrote a great book about the 1988 presidential campaign, entitled “What It Takes: The Way to the White House.” It may be the best book about an American presidential campaign ever written. Mr. Cramer followed six candidates who ran that year — George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, Gary Hart, Joe Biden, Dick Gephardt and Mike Dukakis. The Bush and Dole portraits are hands-down the best profiles of those two men that you will ever read. The book’s added value this time around is Cramer’s profile of Biden. You feel like you know him after you read it.”

—John Ellis, “Sunday Supplement!” News Items. August 9, 2020.

Sweet Enough

“It’s not how much you have. It’s the difference between what you have and what you spend. If you have more than you spend, you’re rich. If you spend more than you have, you’re not. If you live cheaply, it’s easy to be free.”

—Derek Sivers, “How I got rich on the other hand.” October 30, 2019.

Money: enough. Additional windfalls don’t seem to bring me any lasting joy, but I also don’t have so much money that it makes me nervous. It’s enough to feel safe and empowered, and that’s all I need. Meanwhile, giving away money has brought me lasting happiness, without creating a feeling of shortage or regret.”

—Mr. Money Mustache, “The Sweet Spot.” August 4, 2020.

Hiroshima by John Hersey

“A hundred thousand people were killed by the atomic bomb, and these six were among the survivors. They still wonder why they lived when so many others died. Each of them counts many small items of chance or volition—a step taken in time, a decision to go indoors, catching one streetcar instead of the next—that spared him. And now each knows that in the act of survival he lived a dozen lives and saw more death than he ever thought he would see. At the time, none of them knew anything.”

—John Hersey, “Hiroshima.” The New Yorker. August 24, 1946.

August 6th is always a good time to reread John Hersey’s seminal essay, Hiroshima. Or, his book of the same name. Particularly when the United Nations leading official on nuclear disarmament has this to say in a recent interview on our current situation:

Nakamitsu: The Doomsday Clock is a very effective way of informing the public about how dangerous things have become. I share the concern. The risk of use of nuclear weapons, whether intentional or by accident, is higher than it has been since the darkest days of the Cold War. But the greatest danger is through miscalculation.”

—Izumi Nakamitsu in an interview with Dietmar Pieper, “The Nuclear Risk Is ‘Higher Than it has been since the Darkest Days of the Cold War’,” Der Spiegel. August 6, 2020.