November Links

So much keeps happening. Much of it passes without need for comment, because what is there left to say? Our laws are as broken as everything else. Also: we don’t know how things will end, because nothing is ever really over.

Since this is my last post before I go on my December break (which, let’s face it, could go on a bit longer, knowing me), I’m sharing a lot today. Take what you need, come back again and take a little more.


Sonali Kohlatkar writes about “social spending” vs. “military spending.” Over the last several weeks the major U.S. media players have served up story after story about inflation, labor shortages, the cost of a Thanksgiving dinner and the price of gasoline (and milk!), but have given us virtually no information about the $753 billion going to the Pentagon via Biden’s Build Back Better plan. 

For further reading on U.S. outlays for military and national security, spend a few minutes with Stephen Semler of Speaking Security. This is why we can’t have nice things. Unless you think bombs are nice things.

Some activists say we don’t vote with forks, we vote with votes, that the whole idea of the “personal carbon footprint” was invented by oil companies to distract well-meaning individuals from the singular issue at hand, which is the need to stop burning fossil fuels. But as Lisa Held writes in the (alas, dearly departing) Peeled newsletter: “As someone who covers food policy closely, I can tell you first-hand that Congress is a mess. When meaningful legislation actually gets passed, which is rare, changes take an insanely long time to implement. Oftentimes, they’re reversed or rolled back. Corporate influence is everywhere.” 

Meanwhile, some votes seem particularly fraught: Rebecca Solnit on the media coverage of the Nov. 2 election results in the U.S. “The Washington Post seemed to believe that Virginia was a national referendum on the (Democratic) party… but (losing candidate) Terry McAuliffe is not the Democratic party, and the nation didn’t vote in Virginia’s election.” 

How the bus driver shortage helps explain our current economic weirdness.

Why Tokyo Works “A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It’s where the rich use public transportation.”

I know next to nothing about cryptocurrencies, other than the fact that they require a shite tonne of energy to create and maintain. But this particular perspective on Bitcoin, et. al., made me feel a little less benighted.

This one is a hard one. But it resonates. There Will Be No “Confessions of a Misogynist.”

Apparently it’s “cozy season” on social media, if not in our actual lives. “Collect a bunch of cozy-projecting objects and you’ll just end up working to maintain your stuff, when what you really need is for your stuff to maintain you. From Brooklyn to Silicon Valley, earnest aesthetes line up all their handmade ceramics just so but have no idea how to cook a fucking soup without spending 45 minutes on the internet searching for the perfect recipe. Is “Cozy Season” a Cry for Help? [Kathryn Jezer-Morton, via AHP]

The Trolly Problem is an ethical thought experiment we might do well to revisit.

From Nick Cave’s Red Hand Files #171: “As Susie and I grow older, the anger at the indifference and casual cruelty of this world can still burn bright, but it does not define us, for the oxygen that fuels that anger is love — love for the world and love for the people in it. Love becomes anger’s great animator, as it should, as it must.”

Pick your battles. Pick fewer than that. [via Rob Brezsny]

The CNN milk story seemed to irritate a lot of people this month. But as Lyz Lenz points out, “It is harder to be an American family right now. No one is disputing that. But it’s not because of milk prices. It’s because of a lack of affordable healthcare, housing, and a lack of childcare.” But we’re giving the Pentagon $753 billion, so it’s all good.

Were you beaten as a child? Maybe it was called “spanking.” Maybe “discipline.” Once again, the U.S. is an outlier. And once again, not in a good way.

One way to radicalize the heartland: take away the jobs. This is not an apologia for Trumpism, or racism, or xenophobia, or any of a dozen other social maladies facing our rust-belted, Bible-belted midsection. It’s an indictment of an economic system that seems designed to bring out the worst in human beings.

Music to calm you. From Ted Gioia’s The Honest Broker newsletter.

Kinda into the French 75.

Pod-interest: Shane Parrish talks with Douglas Rushkoff about extremism and social media. Debbie Millman interviews Nick Offerman about acting and woodworking.

I’m watching the Great British Baking Show this weekend. Taking my mind off the coming winter. Snow can wait.

I’ll leave you with this bit of wistfulness, via The The Marginalian:

“Everything that you are seeing has, apart from small changes, been there for thousands of years before you. After a while — not long — you will no longer exist, and the woods and rocks and sky will continue, unchanged, for thousands of years after you. What is it that has called you so suddenly out of nothingness to enjoy for a brief while a spectacle which remains quite indifferent to you?” ~ Erwin Schrodinger, My View of the World

Thanks for reading. Be well. Have some pie. I’ll be back soon enough.

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