What I Read Today

2021: Farewell to a Stupid Year, David Corn, December 30, 2021, Reason.com

this essay by David Corn summarizes the precarious state of affairs in this country pretty much the way i believe it to be…

Ignorance can kill. And ignorance and anger are a lethal combination. Particularly in politics. The pro-Trump anti-vaxxers have placed themselves in danger; the 1/6 deniers and Stop the Stealers have put the nation’s political system in jeopardy. The year 2021 delivered a tough message: the suspicion, hatred, and paranoia flamed by Trump and his crew remain potent forces that can propel millions to make bad decisions. It’s a clear warning for 2022 and the stupidity that lies ahead.

In 2022, Pay Attention to Right-wing Authoritarianism, Veronique de Rugy, December 30, 2021, Reason.com

… talks about the rise in Authoritarianism around the globe and urges us to pay attention and resist…

So, as I wish you a happy New Year, I also ask you to join me in opposing illiberalism in all its forms. It means opposing the draconian regulation and unsustainable government welfare advanced by the left. It also means opposing rising right-wing illiberalism that is hostile to LGBTQ and immigrant cultures, itches to ban books, and generally wants to use government power to achieve its cramped vision of an American society.

How Biden’s Agenda Is Causing Inflation, Nick Gillespie, December 30, 2021, Reason.com

… talks about the relationship between the money supply and inflation…

We’ve seen absolutely massive increases in government spending over the past two years, which have been paid for by printing money and historic boosts in the money supply. When you print money it means that there are more dollars chasing basically the same amounts of goods and services, which causes prices to rise.

Unselfing into Oneness with the All: Transcendentalist Queen Margaret Fuller on Transcendence, December 26, 2021, Maria Popova, The Marginalian

… ode to Margaret Fuller, an uncommonly intelligent and determined woman who acquired an education and professional position at a time when neither were commonly available to women…

From the platform of her precocious girlhood, Margaret undertakes an inquiry into the building blocks of character. “Nothing more widely distinguishes man from man than energy of will,” she writes in a six-page essay, positing that a conquering will is composed of imagination, perseverance, and “enthusiastic confidence in the future.” But these elements are not weighted equally — she prizes above all perseverance, which fuels the “unwearied climbing and scrambling” toward achievement. “The truly strong of will,” she writes, having lived just over a decade, “returns invigorated by the contest, calmed, not saddened by failure and wiser from its nature.”

Against Illusionism, Jorg Colberg, Conscientious Photography Magazine, December 27, 2021

… about a group of photographers in Poland who created _Archive of Public Prostests_… shoestring budget, public good, what photography should be… JG is increasingly questioning the world of art photography and photobooks, as am i… too tied to the rarefied capitalist art market it has become an elitist proposition that struggles to offer meaning to the world at large…

First Thoughts

… Republican Glen Yungkin won the Virginia governor race… Yungkin is widely viewed as a Trumpian Republican and many will view it as a warning sign that the far right is poised for gains in the Midterms and could win back the presidency in 2024… it is, of course, too early to know what it really means… a Republican win is consistent with history in Virginia where a gubernatorial candidate of the opposing party to the President of the United States is the common choice of voters… why this should be is not clear to me, but it is the history of the situation… it will be interesting to see what the turnout numbers are… that will be more indicative of whether there is energy on the Democratic side or not…

… the thought that is bugging me more has to do with the mess that the infrastructure negotiations have been in Washington… a theory that has currency with Authoritarian regimes around the world is that Authoritarianism is able to respond more quickly and effectively and consistently (when they want to) to changing events around the world and the fast pace of technological development… the Biden/Harris administration is trying to challenge that perception but the difficulty Democrats are having passing a broadly popular with the public infrastructure bill seems troubling in this regard… at least one commentator, Democrat Mark Warner from Virginia, suggested that failure to have passed an infrastructure bill of any kind hurt the chances of Terry McAuliffe in the race… given historical trends in Virginia mentioned above, maybe it would have made a difference, maybe not… but the broader theme of whether Democracies are too cumbersome for the present world environment is a legitimate question and the jury is out on that…

this mornings post from Heather Cox Richardson suggests that last night’s election results across the nation were a mixed bag with no clear indication of future national winning strategies for either party… in fact, it seems that voters voted in line with the degree to which their state is conservative or liberal than anything else…

… i had a productive day yesterday… worked right up to 6 PM… i made my first “In This Year” post in which i photograph an inscribed date i find on my walks (usually on a building, but sometimes scrawled in random patches of concrete) and then look up what happened in that year… i find it is an interesting exercise in grounding oneself during times that seem tumultuous… a somewhat reassuring find is that tumultuous years are common in history and that things often work themselves out without bringing down the present order… though not always… one will also find a record of eras that come to an end… what is always the case is that life goes on, sometimes in a better way for the general population, sometimes in a worse way… Steven Pinker author of Better Angels of our Nature1, argues that the overall trend is for the better and that Enlightenment Humanism is the foundation of that better trend… i loved the book, especially it’s grounding in Enlightenment Humanism philosophy… it is completely in line with my own philosophical stance in the world… however, those principles are under severe attack and one can imagine everything “going to hell in a hand basket” as that enlightenment order crumbles… hello new dark ages?… or is something else afoot?…

… it seems odd that Joe Biden, in some ways a relic of the past, is the standard bearer for Enlightenment and Humanist principles… a true believer in the “Better Angels of our Nature”… a last gasp?… the optics at present don’t seem good…

… i am feeling like Ken Wilber’s Sex, Ecology, Spirituality would be an important book to read right now… an important concept that i want to review is that every next level of being subsumes and incorporates into itself the preceding levels of being and is dependent on those levels of being that came before it, yet none of the levels of being that came before it are dependent on it… that is… split out of this next level of being, preceding levels function perfectly well on their own… the thought that i have in reviewing current technological trends is that a way is being prepared for the appearance of a next higher level of being… a level of being composed of all that is now and a more comprehensive intelligence brought on by advances in data processing…


  1. This Wikipedia article has an extensive critique of Better Angels that is worth reading as is the book itself. [return]