Reading Material – July 3, 2021

Short List

By 2040, the San Joaquin Valley is projected to lose at least 535,000 acres of agricultural production. That’s more than a tenth of the area farmed.

And if the drought perseveres and no new water can be found, nearly double that amount of land is projected to go idle, with potentially dire consequences for the nation’s food supply. California’s $50 billion agricultural sector supplies two-thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts and more than a third of America’s vegetables

Klein:  Of late, I’ve been obsessing over a single question: What if political systems, in the United States and internationally, fail to curb climate change?… That is not to say there is no reason for optimism or hope… And so we convened this panel of climate experts with different backgrounds — technological, literary, political, academic — to try to reconcile the reality of our political progress with the scale of the emergency.

Today, utilities earn income based not on how well they serve residents, but on how expensive it is to run their companies. As expenses for maintaining the grid go up, utilities regularly ask the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) for approval to increase customer rates to help cover costs. Regulators usually approve these requests…  Since 2018, Eversource has received an additional $95 million in revenue from cost increases to Massachusetts residents – without any requirement that the utility give them any additional benefits in return.

My favorite class to teach has been Classics of International Relations. It is a great book course, and its underlying premise has been that one needs to read the entire text of a classic to properly appreciate it… I have taught this course for close to a quarter-century, and it has evolved in those years. My first syllabus started with Thucydides, ended with Thomas Schelling, and only had dead white men in between. That did not seem particularly extraordinary in the late ’90s. In the ensuing decades, however, students began to ask about the possibility of non-Western classics. Also, maybe some things written by women?

The students had a valid point, and so I adapted… This diversification of my syllabus neither waters down standards nor stultifies class discussions. My students have found plenty to debate about Ibn Khaldûn and Tickner as well as Thucydides, Kant, Lenin and Carl Schmitt. One of the goals of the course is to make my students intellectually (but not personally) uncomfortable. These selections do an excellent job of that.

Covenant nationalism comes from the self-consciousness of the Northeastern Calvinists: “Emerging from New England, it ultimately sought to constitute all of America as an offshoot of the Puritan experience…”… What I find so interesting about the Hannah-Jones essay, and why I think it was so upsetting to many, was its implicit participation and reversal of this Covenant tradition of American nationalism…. I think the issue for so many people is that [Nikole Hannah-Jones’ essay] cleaves so closely the sources of American political imagination but just inverts them.

Also Worth Reading

If, on my 13th birthday, all the country’s laws had been suddenly, perfectly and equally enforced, my community would still have had a massive hangover of history. The structures and attitudes shaped during decades and centuries of oppression would still have existed. Legal equality in theory does not mean a society is justly constituted.

For me, part of being a conservative means taking history seriously. We do not, as Tom Paine foolishly claimed, “have it in our power to begin the world over again.” We live in an imperfect world we did not create and have duties that flow from our story.

There is an important moral distinction between “guilt” and “responsibility.” It is not useful, and perhaps not fair, to say that most White people are guilty of creating social systems shaped by white supremacy. But they do have a responsibility as citizens, and as moral creatures, to seek a society where equal opportunity is a reality for all.

Like me, [Vivian Ortiz is] used to getting strange looks from better-equipped, faster riders. “I’m a 58-year-old overweight woman who’s Puerto Rican,” she said. “So I’m riding a bike and they’re like, who the hell are you?”

Ms. Ortiz got into biking around 2012 at 50, a few years after moving to Boston and realizing public transportation wasn’t flexible enough. She hasn’t owned a car since and today works full-time to improve pedestrian and bike access for kids…

Whether you bought an impulse pandemic bike and haven’t used it, or you have an old cruiser hidden in your garage, now is a great time to get back in the saddle. Can’t ride? Feel overwhelmed by the biking world? Don’t worry, there’s a place there for you — right next to me and my kid’s sippy cup.

The city in summer floated in a daze that moved otherwise sensible people to repeat endlessly the brainless greeting “Hot enough for ya? Ha-ha!”

New research develops a framework to understand the choices an electronic waste recycler has to make and the role that digital fraud prevention could have in preventing dishonest recycling practices.

Ending with a Song