Weekly Digest – March 19, 2023

Mac Bryan, Maryland Campaign Medal of Honor Series: James Allen, 16th New York Infantry:

Born in Ireland, Pvt. James Allen mustered into service with Company F of the 16th New York Regiment on April 24, 1861 at Potsdam, in upstate New York at the tender age of 17. During Allen’s enlistment his regiment participated in all the battles of the Army of the Potomac from First Bull Run to Chancellorsville, until his term of service expired in 1863.

Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker, Iraq Veterans, 20 Years Later: ‘I Don’t Know How to Explain the War to Myself’.  “Nearly 20 years after their deployment to Iraq, veterans grapple with their younger selves and try to make sense of the war.”

Driftglass with the appropriate response to David Brooks, Nostradumbass Returns to Form: The Ongoing Adventures of David Brooks:

So since the Sulzberger family continues to pay Mr. David Brooks an obscene amount of money to extrude the same steaming logs of Beltway insider claptrap over and over again, decades after decade, I see no reason why we shouldn’t amuse ourselves by repurposing some of it to create an equally plausible and much more satisfying fairy tale about how the Republican primary Cocaine Bear Lane is wide open and how one of several, promising American Cocaine Bears could jump into that lane and perhaps ride it all the way to the Republican nomination!

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Readings – March 12, 2023

Paul Kingsnorth, Who Will Stand Against Progress?   [Ed.:  1.  A few years Kingsnorth’s writing turned in a direction that didn’t appeal to me and I stopped reading him.  I was tipped to this by another feed and decided to have a look.  Perhaps I’ll start reading him again.  2.  Lasch’s critique of Progress, which read nearly 30 years ago, remains relevant.]

The work of what we have come to call Progress is the work of homogenising the world. I capitalise the word because Progress is an ideology — even a metaphysics — and if we want to understand it we need to grasp its foundational assumptions. We are trained from birth to see the living world and its people as a matrix of interchangeable parts, all of them potentially for sale. Our bodies, our nations, our forests, our heritage: Progress will not stop until everything is measured, commercialised, commodified, altered at the genetic level, put up for sale, forced into “equitable” relationships with everything else, or otherwise flattened and sold.

The religion of Progress is leading us into the flames, as [Edward Goldsmith, founder of The Ecologist magazine] saw so many decades back. Those of us who feel this way need to have the confidence to say to: to denounce the religion of the age, to dissect it, to make claims against it. Those of us who seek to resist the emerging Total System, or simply to give it the slip, need an alternative worldview: something to stand for, and stand upon. Not an ideology, mind, and certainly not a blueprint for utopia. That’s what got us into this mess in the first place. No, what we need is something more old-fashioned: a stance. Even a politics. But what should it look like?

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Readings – March 5, 2023

My favorite essay of the past few years – I share the author’s sentiment as well as his sense of humor – David Bentley Hart, Three Cheers for Socialism:

Persons of a reflective bent all too often underestimate the enormous strength that truly abysmal ignorance can bring. Knowledge is power, of course, but – measured by a purely Darwinian calculus – too much knowledge can be a dangerous weakness. At the level of the social phenotype (so to speak), the qualities often most conducive to survival are prejudice, simplemindedness, blind loyalty, and a militant want of curiosity. These are the virtues that fortify us against doubt or fatal hesitation in moments of crisis. Subtlety and imagination, by contrast, often enfeeble the will; ambiguities dull the instincts. So while it is true that American political thought in the main encompasses a ludicrously minuscule range of live options and consists principally in slogans rather than ideas, this is not necessarily a defect. In a nation’s struggle to endure and thrive, unthinking obduracy can be a precious advantage.

Even so, I think we occasionally take it all a little too far…

Two other good ones –

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Readings – February 26, 2023

Andrew Brinker, ‘A housing market for almost no one’: Rising prices and interest rates have made home buying feel impossible:

Even to afford a house in the lowest-priced third of the Greater Boston market required about $138,000 a year in household income in 2022… A year prior, that figure was $96,000… Without a sustainable housing market… the region is at risk of losing the residents who make the place tick: Teachers, social workers, even people in lucrative industries like biotech, whose salaries in most other cities would be more than enough to buy a place.

Janelle Nanos, ‘People are leaving’: Massachusetts has lost 110,000 residents since COVID began. Is life better out there?:

After years of steady growth, and a peak of 7 million residents at the start of this decade, Massachusetts has seen its population shrink for the last three years, down about 50,000 people in all… Unquestionably, stratospheric housing costs are a major factor in why people leave Massachusetts, especially now. Before the pandemic, a family making $100,000 a year could afford to buy 37 percent of homes available in the state. Today that figure is just 12 percent. In metro Boston, it’s just 6 percent, compared with 34 percent nationally.

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Recent Reading – January 17, 2023

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Mint the Coin

The House is controlled by a bunch of sociopaths who want to burn everything to the ground.  We’re going to run up against the debt ceiling again in 2023.  As it approaches, they’re going to use the threat of default to try to extort all kinds BS.  The best suggestion for neutralizing the threat I’ve heard so far:  Mint the Coin.  The headline nails it, “The debt ceiling is an absurd problem. Only an absurd solution can save us.”