ETHCC Paris, The Idler Festival, dinners at the Liberal Club, work on the book, actual work, and learning to fly; it’s been a busy month in which I deadlifted 100kg for the first time, only read a couple of books, submitted the first few chapters of Products, Protocols, and Platforms, and have found myself exhausted. I am more energised when I am productive, and more productive when I am energised, so ascertaining how to bootstrap myself into either productivity or energy is I think a high-leverage activity with which I’ll be experimenting for the rest of the year.
Perhaps the most important thing I read this month was Eichmann in Jerusalem. I didn’t quite realise how much of a journalist Arendt was, and look forward to reading more of her political theory in the future. It’s rare, nowadays, to go from in-the-trenches journalism to academic theorising. (Counterexamples: Gramsci, sort of? Maybe Robert Caro? Anne Applebaum, perhaps?)
Also supplemented Arendt with Richard Evans’s Third Reich in Power, the second volume in the series. I read the first volume maybe a decade ago and enjoyed it. The second was more of a slog.
Just finished Hard Drive, a book about Bill Gates and the early days of Microsoft. Gates was a lot more competitive and ruthless than I thought – and I thought he was pretty competitive and ruthless!
Also read All Out War by Tim Shipman. Fantastic political journalism, no agenda, just the steady beat and the sporadic bursts of a battle unfolding.
Political science is horribly underpowered. I am in a cynical mood right now, so don’t expect these findings to change much.
A logarithmic map of the entire universe.
A good post from Tanner on the decline of history majors and the relationship between the sciences and the humanities. Also a very well-written letter on decolonising the curriculum and the contradictions inherent in it.
There’s something very distinctive about the ‘long-form interviews with macho men for a predominantly working-to-lower-middle-class white male audience that leans right’ format, and I can’t quite put my finger on what it is. It’s far from anti-intellectualism: the hosts and their guests are smart and eager to grapple with complicated ideas. It’s not quite one-sidedness, because they can surprised you. It’s almost an aesthetic property, a flavour of self-assuredness, the eschewing of the effete. Whatever it is, this interview with Erik Prince was swimming in it.
Wonderful lecture on the F-22 Raptor and the engineering decisions behind it.
Justin E. H. Smith reviews his two years on Substack.
Brie Wolfson wrote on the work culture early-days Stripe. A reminder that hard work is a feature, not a bug – and the symptom of a thriving culture, not the cause of it.
Ordinary citizens have essentially no influence over government in the United States. What the elites want, they generally get. It’s amazing that US society is generally so stable.
There are some good old episodes on the PricedOut podcast, covering planning reform, the commercial incentives of house building, etc.