“Who shall write the history of the American revolution? Who can write it? Who will ever be ever to write it?”  – John Adams

“Nobody. The life and soul of history must forever remain unknown.”  – Thomas Jefferson

The Population Paradox

Here’s a piece by Nathanael Johnson about population overshoot: How can we stop the world from having too many babies? Feed more people

He writes of Joel Cohen, author of How many people can the Earth support?: “And so he’s come back around to a three-pronged approach that mirrors his pie metaphor: more food for mothers and children, birth control, and education.”

The late Christopher Hitchens said essentially the same: “There is a cure for poverty. It is a rudimentary one, it does work, though. It works everywhere, and for the same reason. It’s colloquially called ‘the empowerment of women.'”



Unstated Assumptions about Technology

“We may be on our way to becoming servants to the evolution of our own technologies. The power shifts very quickly from the spark of human intention to the absorption of human will by a technology that seems to have intentions of its own.

But we’ll likely find there was no robotic villain behind the curtain. Our own capitalist drive pushes these technologies to evolve. We push the technology down an evolutionary path that results in the most addictive possible outcome. Yet even as we do this, it doesn’t feel as though we have any control. It feels, instead, like a destined outcome—a fate.”

From How the Web Became our “External Brain”, from The End of Absence

1. We “may be on our way”? We’re already there. Could you, or your neighbors, or even your whole town, shut down the internet if you wanted to? Could you simply stop using the internet while leaving it in tact and still keep your standard of living?

2. “Our own capitalist drive”? Speak for yourself. My drive is to do as little capitalism as possible.

3. “We push technology…”? Who’s “we”?

4. It doesn’t feel as though “we” have any control because “we”—i.e. people not in command of mega-corporations—truly don’t.


“Why would anyone hate someone for having less money? The issue of poverty is haunted by the idea of laziness. Conservatives believe that the poor deserve to be poor because they’re less willing to work and therefore morally inferior. They won’t say this in public but they hint at it. Then liberals argue that the poor actually work harder than the rich. I don’t like this move because it accepts and reinforces what I think is a framing error. A healthy culture would not even have the concept of ‘lazy’. Humans prefer meaningful and autonomous activity to doing nothing, so a society in which work is meaningful and autonomous does not need to tell itself that work is morally virtuous. ‘Laziness’ exists only in the context of a system that depends on work that nobody will do unless they’re forced to do it through economic and social pressure.”  – Ran Prieur

Stray Links

Things I didn’t have time to read this week:

1. On Ferguson: In defense of the Ferguson riots

Smith identifies what so many self-styled anti-racists and leftists fail to understand — that racism is not an issue of moral character. He recognizes that the broader economic order facilitates and benefits from racial subjugation, and so he’s looking for ways to intervene and disrupt that process. Not only is this a more substantive analysis than what is often offered on the Left, but acting on this analysis is the only way to eradicate entrenched racial hierarchy.

Hopefully the critique continues to widen, and the police are put under further scrutiny. I write “hopefully” because the opposite is bound to happen first. People generally just want friendlier police officers; they don’t want to take steps that would fundamentally limit the power of law enforcement agencies, such as de-privatizing prisons or ending the drug war. While the Bastille was an obvious target, both logistically and ideologically, for the start of the French Revolution, one of the main grievances against the Ancien Régime wasn’t that it policed too much, but rather that it didn’t police enough.

2. On Mason jars: Authenticity repurposed

Mr. Scherzinger also says the idea of publishing your own content online has parallels to the canning of food products. “It’s a natural extension of the idea of participation and creation,” he says. “I can’t create my own iPhone, but I can certainly create my own food.”

This piece is a little fluffy, but it’s just good to see the Mason jar making a comeback. A jar will probably save your life some day.

3. On gun rights jumping the shark: Open Carry in the Fifth Ward

“We’re trying to touch as many people as possible with our message that an armed society is a polite society,” said Grisham.

Apparently Open Carry Texas, a 2nd-Amendment advocacy group that employs the strategy of walking through neighborhoods brandishing assault rifles, was warned (by the Black Panthers, no less—who called members of Open Carry “insurgents”) not to be so brazen as to attempt such antics in a majority-black neighborhood in Houston. Although the above quote is clearly code, I’ll respond to the ostensible meaning of the statement and declare that I will not—and can not—support any movement whose end goal is politeness.