What I'm reading (declinism)

'"Collapsologie", constructing an idea of how things fall apart'. Harrison Stetler, New York Review of Books.

But if one delves into the texts of these writers, and listens to their castigation of the modern world, it’s hard not to get the impression that a lingering form of anticipation—not to say, outright excitement—lies beneath their prophecies of collapse...

'How "Big Law" Makes Big Money'. Adam Tooze, New York Review Of Books.

On the one hand, the law codes the original violence of enclosure, such that something that was everyone’s becomes one person’s legally protected private property in perpetuity. On the other hand, the law is the conjurer of a delusion. By creating securities out of debt, the law preys on our desire to believe that something is ours that is not real at all, that value can be created ex nihilo.

'College-Educated Voters Are Ruining American Politics'. Eitan Hersh, The Atlantic.

...political hobbyists have harmed American democracy and would do better by redirecting their political energy toward serving the material and emotional needs of their neighbors. People who have a personal stake in the outcome of politics often have a better understanding of how power can and should be exercised—not just at the polls, once every four years, but person to person, day in and day out.

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John Bolton

John Bolton holding a shotgun

I HAVE LONG BEEN fascinated not by American politics—the most tedious of hobbies—but by one of its characters in particular: John Bolton. If you were an adult during the time of the leadup to the 2003 Iraq War you’ll remember him for his part in war-cheerleading, if you’re younger you’ll know him as the most foreign-policy aggressive of the current President’s constantly rotating staff, but if, like me, you’re a connoisseur of the worst people in the world, you’ll know Bolton simply as the most hawkish person ever to haunt Washington DC.

A logical process works in John Bolton’s head, and it’s extremely simple:

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State Bakery

ONCE, THE NSW GOVERNMENT tried to run a State Bakery. As readers may know, the Party card of the NSW Labor Party, to which every member signs a pledge, are partially as follows:

...I will actively support the Constitution, Platform and Principles of the Australian Labor Party including the democratic socialisation of industry, production, distribution and exchange, to the extent necessary to eliminate exploitation and other antisocial features in these fields...

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What I'm reading (corporations)

Aaron Timms, 'Jet Age Capitalism Redux': The Baffler

In their new skins, these buildings usually see history relegated to the corner—an earnest commemorative plaque here, a terse historical recap there—if not forgotten altogether. The TWA Hotel makes the building’s history—or rather, a saccharine slice of it—a core part of the new venture’s branding. The structure is as much corporate museum as hotel. Exhibits assembled by the New-York Historical Society lovingly recount the nostalgia-drenched story of TWA—both the airline and its terminal—as a triumph of Jet Age imagination and daring. In the process, the true history of TWA, the U.S. airline industry, and the deregulatory pains that followed the 1970s is erased, even as the hotel’s exhibits strain to maintain the cheery lie of capitalism’s “good years” after World War II...

Doni Gewurtzman, 'Let Us Now Praise Corporate "Persons"': Public Books

A nuanced form of corporate humanism flows through Winkler’s and Greenfield’s timely accounts of the Constitution’s long and rocky relationship with corporate America, spotlighting the actual people that own, manage, work for, and represent corporations. Best of all, they both explore the counterintuitive idea that treating corporations as independent “persons” might, in fact, actually advance progressive ideals and make it easier to regulate corporate America.

Matthew Willis, 'The worst British aircraft company? Blackburn – a history of infamy': Hush-Kit

Blackburn seems alone in the largely awful reputation of its products. No UK aircraft manufacturer has escaped its share of unfortunate aircraft – much of the latter designs of Supermarine were clumsy, dangerous and had a loss rate that made them virtually disposable. Avro, meanwhile proved itself incapable of designing an airliner bigger than a regional feeder machine that didn’t kill frighteningly high numbers of passengers. In most cases this didn’t define the company. With Blackburn, it seems, all the mud stuck.

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Whole Hog Barbecue

READ THIS YOU MUPPETS, on cooking and intangible cultural heritage: the rocket scientist who's also a whole hog pit master.

Whole hog barbecue is different from other styles of barbecue. The hog is cooked in one piece, versus cooking it in parts. It’s considered the oldest form of barbecue in the United States, with roots in the cooking styles of the indigenous peoples of North America. However, the process gained traction in the American South, where enslaved people would cook whole hogs on plantations for celebrations and political gatherings...

“When I cooked in the ground in 2017 … it was the first time that anyone in my community had done that in 40 years,” he says. “If I don’t recreate that, then it would be lost. I wasn’t going through a WPA narrative to recreate it.” [WPA stands for the Works Progress Administration, a government program that documented local life from 1939-1943.] Instead, he says, “I asked my dad to recreate it. If it hadn’t been done, then I wouldn’t know first-hand."

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