Friday, January 30, 2015

Quote of the Day

These days, if you have something to say and it won't fit in a single tweet (or a tweetstorm), you have so many more compelling options than blogging. You can post on Facebook if it's just for friends, or Tumblr if it's image-based, or on Medium if you want a think piece shared more widely, or LinkedIn, or any one of a hundred other sites and services that are thirsty for content.

About the last thing you'd do is willingly maintain your own site, especially not in an age where your readers are as likely to be on phones or tablets as desktop browsers. Who still does that kind of one-man operation?

Chris Taylor

Readers, should any still wander by, will not have failed to notice that this blog has been silent a good long while.  Save for quotes and salutations, the last time I put up any actual content was (quickly checks)... July. Six months ago.

I'm not saying that I, like my polar opposite in the blogging world (as far as, say, "having readers" or "actually putting up content" goes) am quitting, or have already quit.  I am saying that these days when I have something brief to say, I tend to post it on Facebook, where I know at least some people will read it; and when I have something to link to, I tend to link to it on Twitter, where there is a better chance that someone might see it.  And that when I sit down to write long pieces these days (not as often as I'd like, but for reasons of time & energy rather than anything else) I tend to imagine them going places other than here.

Where does this leave me?  I don't know.  Maybe I (like so many quitting bloggers — including Andrew Sullivan! — in the past) will recant quickly.  Maybe this is the last post this blog will receive.  Who knows.  All I'm saying is: when I write these days, it tends to be elsewhere; and when I imagine writing more, as I hope and plan to do, it tends to be imagined towards elsewhere.

I'm not quitting; but I'm not not quitting either.  I am staying silent for now, without any specific promises, one way or the other, about the future.

The most I can promise is that, if this blog resumes regular posting, I will announce that fact on those other mediums.  And that I have every intention of writing attempts in times to come, wherever those end up.

Til later, then, whether or not "later" is also "elsewhere".

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Now We Are Six

Happy Birthday to my beloved son, Joseph Saperstein Frug, who is six today.


When I was One,
I had just begun.

When I was Two,
I was nearly new.

When I was Three,
I was hardly Me.

When I was Four,
I was not much more.

When I was Five,
I was just alive.

But now I am Six, I'm as clever as clever,
So I think I'll be six now for ever and ever.

A. A. Milne

Disclaimer: the picture above is actually from Thanksgiving, back when Joseph was still "just alive" and not yet "as clever as clever".

Sunday, November 23, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 32, America in 2014: Inequality (Con't)

Little piece of cornbread sitting on the shelf:
If you want any more, you can sing it yourself.

—Traditional children's song
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 32, America in 2014: Inequality (Con't)

Let me give you a word of the philosophy of reform. The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims, have been born of earnest struggle.... If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.

— Frederick Douglass, 1857
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Friday, November 21, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 32, America in 2014: Inequality (Con't)

In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not rule -- at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes. When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the U.S. political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it.... [O]ur analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts. Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But we believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened.

— Martin Gillens & Benjamin I. Page, "Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens" (forthcoming, Fall, 2014)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 32, America in 2014: Inequality (Con't)

Since coming back to the United States after three years away in China, I have been asking experts around the country whether America is finally going to hell.... [T]he question wasn’t simply a joke.... I spoke with historians and politicians, soldiers and ministers, civil engineers and broadcast executives and high-tech researchers. Overall, the news they gave was heartening—and alarming, too. Most of the things that worry Americans aren’t really that serious, especially those that involve “falling behind” anyone else. But there is a deeper problem almost too alarming to worry about, since it is so hard to see a solution.... We could correct all these problems—and that is the heart of the problem. America still has the means to address nearly any of its structural weaknesses.... We know that such an investment could happen here—but we also know that it won’t. That is the American tragedy of the early 21st century: a vital and self-renewing culture that attracts the world’s talent, and a governing system that increasingly looks like a joke.... America the society is in fine shape! America the polity most certainly is not.... Our government is old and broken and dysfunctional, and may even be beyond repair.

James Fallows (2010)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 32, America in 2014: Inequality (Con't)

The real fear today is that the world we now live in was intended by those who profit from it.

John Clute
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 32, America in 2014: Inequality (Con't)

...And the truth cannot be hid;
Somebody chose their pain,
What needn't have happened did.

—W. H. Auden
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Monday, November 17, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 32, America in 2014: Inequality (Con't)

Inequality kills. Between 1990 and 2008, life expectancy for White American men without a college degree fell by three years, and White low-educated women had their lives shortened by more than five years. Only AIDS in southern Africa and the restoration of capitalism in Russia have had a more lethal impact than the US social polarization in the boom years of Clinton and Bush.

— Göran Therborn, The Killing Fields of Inequality
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 32, America in 2014: Inequality (Con't)

The inescapable reality is this: wealth is so concentrated that a large segment of society is virtually unaware of its existence, so that some people imagine that it belongs to surreal or mysterious entities.

—Thomas Piketty, Capital in the Twenty-First Century
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.