Cleaning the Attic
Time to clean out the “To do” link “attic” I keep handy. So, before they vanish into the ether, here are some that may be interesting to others.
Part I: Politics and Economy
Obama, Shaman by Michael Knox Beran:
Obama-mania is bound in the end to disappoint. Not only does it teach us to despise our political system’s wise recognition of human imperfection and the pursuit of private happiness; it encourages us to seek for perfection where we will not find it, in politics, in the hero worship of a charismatic shaman, in the speciousness of a secular millennium.
It seems to me that a) a tight 90s-style labor market and b) direct government provision of benefits (e.g. health care, OSHA) accomplishes what we want traditional unions to accomplish, but on a broader basis and without encouraging a sclerotic, adversarial bureaucracy that gets in the way of the productive organization of work.
A Newsweek report on the economic feasibility of oil shale.
Megan McCardle on Sweden, cultural homogeneity and the welfare state.
“A behavioral economist explores the interaction of moral sentiments and self-interest.” Surprise! The guy who wrote about the “Invisible Hand” and The Theory of Moral Sentiments was on to something.
Part II: History
A piece on America’s “special grace” :
If America has been given a special grace, it is because its founders as well as every generation of its people have taken as the basis of America’s legitimacy the Judeo-Christian belief that God loves every individual, and most of all the humblest. Rights under law, from the American vantage point, are sacred, not utilitarian, convenient or consensual. America does not of course honor the sanctity of individual rights at all times and in all circumstances, but the belief that rights are sacred rather than customary or constructed never has been abandoned.
“The Paranoid Style Is American Politics” reminds that conspiracy theories have abounded in American politics since, and including, the American Revolution. Mentions one of my favorites, Bernard Bailyn.
How “luck” is an important, if often overlooked, factor in American History (or any History, for that matter). It’s not all about conspiracy or inevitability.
A long and interesting piece on Herodotus and why he wrote his history (from the New Yorker–if you’re not banning it or anything…).
Book review of Sean Wilentz’s Age of Reagan.
A review of a book about the “Black Death.”
Part III: Culture
A “conservative” review of Iron Man (I haven’t seen it):
The fantasy wish-fulfillment that makes Iron Man so winning is not being a guy who can fly around and shoot fire from his robot suit. It’s being the guy with all the money in the world, the guy who can afford to make that suit.
In “Cleavers to Lohans: The Downhill Slide of the American TV Family“, Katherine Berry traces the devolution of “quality family TV” to the reduced importance of parental figures. (Isn’t the Lohan show reality tv?).
“Violence and the Video Game Paradox,” a fairly recent ProJo op-ed by Dr. Gregory K. Fritz:
…the boom in violent video games correlates with the sharpest decline in youth violence in many decades….The answer to this apparent paradox is that correlation does not prove causation.
But, says Dr. Fritz, parents should still pay attention!
Finally, Where’d Generation X go?