Bargaining with my left-wing indulgence
Yesterday I read Rutger Bregman’s excellent opinion piece in The Correspondent, and today is Tuesday. Tuesday, in my household, is the recycling day. Why Tuesday? Because the island we live on only has 2 paper trash containers. They are emptied on Tuesdays midday-ish, so on Tuesday evenings I pack all the paper trash in the house (along with all the glass and plastic) into the trunk, and I put them into the container before it gets full (it’ll be full by Wednesday night at the latest).
A false sense of security
Marc Andreessen writes about how ill-equipped the United States is to handle the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and concludes that it’s due to the fact that the America lost its ability to “build” things, be it medical equipment, infrastructure, or financial mechanisms that’d allow the federal government to support its citizens better. There’s a particular paragraph that stood out to me and made me think about a particular lack-of-readiness aspect of COVID-19 epidemic, not only in the US, but all over the world and in particular in Western Europe:
I am slowly beginning to grasp the concept of “walkability." It’s not about whether there are wide sidewalks (although there better be). Spending my second week in California I realize the absolute key part is whether you need to cross multi-lane streets/roads every 50 meters. Nothing kills the joy of walking around than having to stop all the time. (hint: in Amsterdam you can usually just walk through the street without paying attention to lights, because there’s either no traffic, or the traffic will let you do that) It also helps if I’m not the only pedestrian within a 5 mile radius.
Steven Levy for The Wired:
Stallman affair touches on something else: a simmering resentment about the treatment of women by the scruffy brainiacs who built our digital world, as well as the Brahmins of academia and business who benefited from the hackers’ effort. With the Epstein revelations that resentment has boiled over.
It’s incorrect to think that the controversy around Stallman’s CSAIL emails is about “political correctness” or that his opinions have been “mischaracterized”, as he himself puts it.
Decades of silencing critics that were pointing out creepy behavior towards women have to finally come to an end. It has nothing to do with his achievements or contributions to free software, nor does it diminish them. Great works do not grant immunity.
It’s about being held accountable.
“Between the world and me”
Here is what I would like for you to know: In America, it is traditional to destroy the black body—it is heritage. My recent disillusioning trip notwithstanding, I am still very much in love with the US, but Ta-Nehisi Coates puts things into perspective. Much like sexism is often difficult to notice for males until a woman points it out, white people tend not to realize just how huge a problem racism in America still is.
Stephen LeDrew wrote an interesting post about the influence the so-called “New Atheism” movement had on society, pointing out some intriguing similarities between our militant atheists and, surprisingly, the far right wing conservatism. The one observation which I don’t find completely accurate, and I think it’s because I live in Europe, is that the “New Atheism” isn’t regarded highly in well-educated circles any more. I found a surprising number of people working in philosophy, logic, computer science and especially in natural sciences to still cherish Dawkins et al.
What Happens When You Live Abroad
The anxiousness that was once concentrated on how you’re going to make new friends, adjust, and master the nuances of the language has become the repeated question “What am I missing?” via What Happens When You Live Abroad. Good post, good observations. As an ex-pat since around 2008 I’d like to add a few of my own. Firstly, something weird happens to my “national identity” sense. I feel Polish of course, and that means I’m interested in what happens in Poland, I read Polish newspapers online, and I’m very much interested in Polish culture1, but I no longer use Polish on a daily basis2, I no longer feel that the political situation of my home country affects me in any way, and I really don’t see a situation in which I’d decide to move back to Poland.
David Graeber’s Debt is one of the best books I have read in my life. It is a thorough historical and anthropological investigation into the nature of money and, nomen omen, debt. Across about 400 pages Graeber analyzes all aspects of these: moral, economical and philosophical. He lays out a fresh and somewhat bold view that challenges classical economic theories, namely that debt has been the true essence of human economies for at least 5000 years now, and provides lots of compelling evidence to support this claim.
In Defense Of The PhD
Recently there’s been a lively discussion on why do people pursue PhD studies, is it good (for them and for the society), is it optimal (for the society and for the universities), and so on. The whole topic is by no means new, but since The Economist’s recent publication, other people expressed their opinions. I’m 25, I’m a full-time PhD student, and I’d like to put in my oar now.