Links: Airbnb and culture, where do we draw the line?, money in politics, and more!

* “How Airbnb is silently changing Himalayan villages.” A deep and beautiful meditation on markets, incentives, and more. I’m subscribing to the site.

* “Every Child Can Become a Lover of Books.” The series starts with a note on how “In the next five years, most of America’s most experienced teachers will retire. The Baby Boomers are leaving behind a nation of more novice educators. In 1988, a teacher most commonly had 15 years of experience. Less than three decades later, that number had fallen to just three years leading a classroom.” But the word “zoning” never appears; in many cities and first-tier suburbs, outrageous land-use laws drive up the cost of housing and make it impractical for teachers to live a normal financial existence. There are undoubtedly many reasons teachers leave, but the financial climate is one, and it’s one we can’t easily buy our way out of—but we sure can reform land-use laws.

* “A Million People Are Jailed at China’s Gulags. I Managed to Escape. Here’s What Really Goes on Inside. Rape, torture and human experiments. Sayragul Sauytbay offers firsthand testimony from a Xinjiang ‘reeducation’ camp.” And this gets little media coverage.

* “The Nazi Party: IBM & ‘Death’s Calculator.’” Given recent news, how many companies do you suppose are asking themselves, “What’s my limit?”

* “Apple’s new Catalina operating system won’t run old versions of Word.” We have been thinking about migrating off Macs at some point; Windows seems to be better than it used to be, and Windows laptops were almost universally terrible ten years ago. Today, the Dell XPS line and Microsoft’s Surfaces both look really nice. Many of the “Just works” aspects of OS X (or, today, MacOS) seem to have declined or disappeared.

* A long piece on Facebook and its dilemmas, that conveniently forgets the role of the media in the 2016 election (remember those thousands of “Clinton email” stories?).

* “I Almost Flipped a Deep Red District. Here’s What I Learned.” We still live in a center-right country, but almost the entire media infrastructure in concentrated in New York and LA—two of the left-most metros in the entire country.

* Inside the collapse of Dyson’s electric car dream. Making cars is really hard.

* “Even the Chinese find it difficult to manufacture in the United States.” I’d add a “Maybe” tag to this one.

* Is there not really much “money in politics,” contrary to what’s often, and thoughtlessly, asserted?

* “Why don’t rich people stop working?” And do what instead? The quality of the thinking here isn’t very high but the question is interesting. Besides, what’s the best way to change the world today? It’s probably not journalism and the media, and that idea helps explain why we have the media we do.

* “Harold Bloom warned America that the literary culture that sustained him was in the process of being sacrificed on the altar of social justice.” And that project has pretty much been completed.

* Why the novel matters. The crux:

It disregards what we would like to say, and be, and appear to be. Tolstoy complained that with Anna Karenina, he sat down to write a condemnatory tale about a woman incapable of self-restraint but that she herself would not permit it. She demanded the more difficult, socially unacceptable and errantly human truth about herself be heard instead. Luckily Tolstoy’s talent proved equal to the challenge and knew he had to follow where she led.

This is why the novel matters, why it always has and why, in dark times, it matters more than in cheerier ones. By its nature the novel cannot be a rush of lights and pictures and noise.

If a tree falls in a forest, does it make a sound? If so few people read novels, do they “matter” in a larger, global,

* Boeing is now a finance-guy culture, not an engineering culture, and that’s the root cause for the 737 MAX failures.

* Weak arguments for why we need English majors. “Need” is doing a lot of work here, and I’m not sure how good that data on mid-careerist is.

* We Need to Dream Bigger Than Bike Lanes.

* “‘Watership Down’ and the Crisis of Liberalism.”

* “Meghan Daum’s merciless take on modern feminism, woke-ness and cancel culture.” Looks a little boring to me, and better cited than read, but some of you may like it.

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