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“There have been hard conversations and tears along the way. Early on, trying to make sense of her family’s relationship with the people they enslaved, Marshall shared her family’s narrative about Hester: that she was so close with the Marshall family that she opted to stay with them after the Civil War. But the Mosleys reframed the story for Marshall: As a penniless Black woman, where else could she have gone?”

A powerful, painful article. The wounds caused by the immense sin of slavery and attempts to cast people as subhuman take generations to heal – and we are still within living memory of outright segregation (not the much subtler kind that occurs still today). But, there is always hope.

“Such a result, even if only in monkeys, might lead regulators to decide that human embryo models deserve to be treated like embryos, with all the attendant restrictions. Some researchers feel that we urgently need a new definition of an embryo to offer clarity and keep pace with the scientific advances. If there is good reason to suppose an embryo model has the potential to generate viable offspring, we will need to either accept the regulatory implications or find ways to nullify that potential.”

More than ever, we are grappling with the slippery concept of a soul, and are losing our way steadily without any clear definition of a person. However, to do so, will require brutal recalculation of what we’ve allowed to occur for decades, e.g., turning the other way when it’s clear our profitable trading partners are casually committing genocide, modern slavery in the Middle East, abortion.

“I can’t think of many scenes that are flourishing right now, which may account for the shortage of geniuses. Scenes are the soil in which geniuses sprout and flourish. Of course, some geniuses really are solitary; Isaac Newton did not go down to the alehouse to quaff beers and talk celestial mechanics. But more often, genius is a social phenomenon. Brian Eno coined the term “scenius” to describe an ecology of artists, entrepreneurs and thinkers from which brilliant individuals are spawned.

I’m interested in what makes a particular place and moment susceptible to scenius. It might be a random efflorescence; an accident of time, people, and place. It might have deep-rooted economic causes. Athens became more intellectually advanced than Sparta or anywhere else partly because trade made it richer and busier; Florentine artists benefited from the surplus of the banking industry. It might be a rebellion of the artists against the culture’s gatekeepers: Parisian Impressionism emerged when young painters, dissatisfied with the strictures of the Academy, hooked up with a network of gallery-owners, dealers, and critics outside of the official system.”

Turns out that any innovation in fields is often best based on or informed by a firm foundation in classical principles, much like any physical structure.

“Who is really affected by “Affirmative Action”? From how it’s discussed, you would think “Affirmative Action” affects a wide swathe of the black and Hispanic public. But you’d be wrong. 

By Princeton sociologist Thomas Espenshade’s estimate, in any given year, only 1 percent of black and Hispanic 18-year olds get into a college as a result of racial preferences. The other 99 percent either don’t go to college at all or don’t go to colleges selective enough to “need” racial preferences. Schools with acceptance rates over 50% generally don’t use affirmative action.”

Never honestly had much of an axe to grind with affirmative action beyond its potential inefficiency. MLK’s plan for a “GI Bill” for the poor cited in this article (h/t to my pal Teddy Kim for this one, btw) made far more sense. However, now it is on its way out, a good reflection on its pros and cons.

“Before plants arrived, some researchers think, crusts of microbes could have helped prepare the land by transforming bare rock into fertilized soil. A biocrust well adapted to extreme conditions could take hold of a suitable substrate that held nutrients and was regularly moistened with fog. By gradually weathering the rocks and stabilizing the sediment as soil, it could alter the environment in a way that promoted the development of higher organisms.”

The more we learn about the intricacies of nature, it is clear that life is astoundingly resilient, it is everywhere and supremely capable of adaptation… but that doesn’t mean there aren’t losses along the way.


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“Deneen argues that this version of conservatism will eventually come to replace liberalism as America’s governing philosophy through a process that he calls “regime change.” But as is often the case with Deneen, he is frustratingly coy about what “regime change” actually entails or how it will unfold. In his latest book, he argues that regime change will require “the peaceful but vigorous overthrow of a corrupt and corrupting liberal ruling class,” making way for a new, postliberal order in which “existing political forms remain the same” but are informed by “a fundamentally different ethos.” This new regime will be “superficially the same” as the current political order, but it will be led by a new class of conservative elites who share the values of non-elites and govern in their interests.”

One of the many frustrations of the American political system is the way it is literally designed for gridlock, for slow, grinding change, if any change at all. But there is a wisdom in that. Part of the frustration I have with much of the postliberalism discourse is the tacit wink toward “our side” wielding the exact same level of power that we decry only when our opponents wield it. I’m all for decreasing federal power, as it definitely has ballooned to scary levels – but the solution isn’t to blow everything up or embrace near-total control of government by one political party, as in Hungary. The solution is to strike the balance. The often-seeming lunatic fringes are currently being exploited by cynical players such as Trump on the right or Democratic players for the left. Most of us are in the middle, bewildered.

“You can always try to create an oasis of freedom in the middle of civilization. You might succeed. But I would bet on it being short-lived. In 1970, Nigerian musician Fela Kuti declared that his commune in Lagos, named Kalakuta, was an independent nation. The commune housed not only Fela, his friends and family, and his recording studio, but a free clinic. A thousand armed soldiers of the military junta of Nigeria stormed it and burned it to the ground some years later. Fela’s mother was thrown from a window and killed.”

The type of exurban “fringe” lifestyle described in the article is likely to grow only more popular as culture wars intensify until either outright conflict happens, or a bigger war unites many, such as is semi-happening with the CCP and concerns around big tech’s power. The author makes a good point however that such a life frankly is hard, with any type of living close to the land always requiring more effort than many would like to exert. Where can we find the balance?

“The mining industry has always provided an economic justification for the displacement and exploitation of people all over the world: the colonization of the Americas for gold, silver, iron, and copper; blood diamonds in West and Central Africa; child labor in cobalt mines in the DRC; and thousands of deaths linked to paramilitaries financed by multinational mining companies in Colombia. The move to renewable energy will likely expose the poorest people on the planet to more of the same from these fierce extractive forces.”

The true environmental costs of lithium and other minerals mining truly is not being calculated well at all. This “gold” rush is going to barely offset emissions that much, when the cost of mining, extraction, refining, transport, processing and so on occurs. Furthermore, consumer transportation isn’t even that large a chunk of overall emissions.

“Those who maintain a celibate witness in the Church, especially diocesan priests, cultivate the art of Eucharistic and spousal accompaniment by cultivating the dimension of depth in the Church, creating in their hearts by their oblation a space of love for me and for everyone in the Church. John Paul II says in Vita Consecrata §59 that this “space in the heart” is a Eucharistic space, and so the mark of a “spousal” existence, which, in its single-hearted devotion to Christ, is a devotion to all whom Christ loves. This is the “sacramental ‘mysticism’” to which Benedict XVI refers in Deus Caritas Est (§14).[7]–JXiPyPdT0iWZVU794w1sLIHcv4Ik83XGfoK5xRFvi202cnOifDf4hFarPY6pkihIF6tR3miDIhGmdcLYLmMAICHaKzmHwHkRM2_9rUgYYFbMekcc&utm_content=261316716&utm_source=hs_email

A beautiful essay about something that seems absurd to our sex-obsessed modern age, which somehow is both Puritan and also pornographic. Celibacy is simultaneously, paradoxically, complicated and simple, yet the simple part often seems left out: What better way to wholeheartedly focus on a particular calling while witnessing it as a cherished lifestyle, paying homage to the value of marriage by doing so, than in remaining celibate?

“Might it not be the case that our collective hostility to totalitarianism (whether we define that as “fascism,” per the Left, or as “communism,” per the Right) is itself an attempt to divert attention from the possibility that we ourselves, as a liberal democracy, are and always have been a totalitarian state in the making?”

One of the most unpopular things to do in the right kind of gathering is to slowly (or bluntly, if you’re rude like I often am) establish to people how similar we all are. To my extreme lib friends (and rest assured I’ve fallen into the same signaling trap, having done the whole black screen Instagram post back in June 2020), I like to note how Black Lives Matter and anti-racist movements oftentimes advocate for segregated safe spaces, similar to how Jim Crow legal systems also advocated – of course, the response is that it’s for entirely different reasons… but is it still not ironic that that is the end case? To my extreme conservative friends, on the other hand, it is very fun to note how their embrace of certain politicians really does smack of the “ends justify the means” and especially as of late, it’s fascinating how some have swung all the way from Reaganesque support of embattled Eastern Europeans to decrying any aid sent to Ukraine even though demagogue and dictator Putin is hellbent on essentially imposing a Communist-lite (at best) system on free people struggling to break free of the decadeslong hell of Russian dominance. There is no political line – it is a perfect circle. If you go far enough one way, you end up at the other. Nazis are Communists and Communists are Nazis.

“But as the crisis Cobbett chronicled continues and acquires global proportions, with industrial agribusiness waging an unceasing war against nature, we stand in desperate need of new ways of relating to the earth. Those new ways will no doubt include the dignity, thrift, and productivity of the cottage economy that Cobbett celebrated in Rural Rides and which he himself practiced. In the end, Cobbett gestures toward the possibility that we might inhabit the earth without abusing it or each other; he contemplates how to take what we need for survival and possibly, if improbably, contribute to the flourishing of all the creatures with whom we share the natural world. In the kind of paradox Cobbett delighted in, the key to our future might very well lie in the wisdom of the past.”

This piece is lovely, tracing a mostly forgotten forefather of what would be called conservationism nowadays: William Cobbett. But the piece does more than just trace his contributions – it reminds and is related to the prior article as it notes how commons used to exist and serve a great purpose for the working classes/rural poor. Note, however, that the commons were not the Commune. Communism revolted against capitalism and took everything to an impractical, illogical extreme: no private ownership (unless of course you were wealthy and in the eventual oligarchy that defines every Communist system). Current capitalistic structures in the US go too far in the other direction, allowing unprecedented concentration of land ownership in a few hands. Owning your own piece of land is not a guarantee of good stewardship or even involved civic action, but it is better than nothing, especially if there are incentives to garden, till, etc. on it.

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