* “The Curse of the Buried Treasure: Two metal-detector enthusiasts discovered a Viking hoard. It was worth a fortune—but it became a nightmare.” Extremely entertaining, and I didn’t realize how much treasure is apparently sitting around, near England’s surface. At what point do we exhaust our desire for treasure?
* “The Media Learned Nothing From 2016.” Seems sadly accurate, and Fallows, the author, wrote Breaking The News: How the Media Undermine American Democracy in the ’90s, and I wrote about it in 2009, as you can see at the link, and here we are in 2020, and it still seems germane, if not worse now than it was then. News editors still seem unable to adapt to an environment in which at least one political side has given up on reality and retreated into its own fantasy.
* “‘No One Is Listening to Us:’ More people than ever are hospitalized with COVID-19. Health-care workers can’t go on like this,” and that I wonder if the experiences of front-line healthcare workers helped tip the election to Biden: for many people, COVID seems to be out of sight, out of mind, at least until it gets them or someone in their family, but for front-line healthcare workers, it’s been a grim, daily reality.
* “Is This the End of College as We Know It? For millions of Americans, getting a four-year degree no longer makes sense. Here’s what could replace it.” Granted, like all of these stories, there’s an improbable anecdote about someone who almost certainly spent a lot of time in super expensive private schools: “Rachael Wittern earned straight As in high school, a partial scholarship to college and then a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. She is now 33 years old, lives in Tampa, earns $94,000 a year as a psychologist and says her education wasn’t worth the cost. She carries $300,000 in student debt.” $300,000? Where’d she go to undergrad? I agree that schools need more skin in the game, but that’s an absurd amount of money. This is promising: “The number of apprenticeships nearly doubled to more than 700,000 between 2012 and 2019, according to the Labor Department, and they are expanding beyond trades into white-collar industries like banking and insurance. California has plans in place to increase apprenticeships in the state to 500,000 from 75,000 by 2029.” Teaching college students has dramatically boosted my interest in and approval of apprenticeships, and it’s hard to read a book like Paying for the Party without thinking there are serious problems in today’s four-year college system.
* Peter Turchin, the historian who sees the future. For another argument, see “Turchin is wrong: There will be no coming collapse of America.”
* “Charles Koch Says His Partisanship Was a Mistake.” Better late than never and all that, but it is really, really late.
* The United States’s structure is causing or deepening many of the political problems we’ve been seeing over the last 20 years. It’s hard to discuss the content of current political debates without looking at their structure.
* College professors’s views on college; fairly accurate. I like 12, and wish 14 were more true (it’s likely school and student-age dependent: the more draconian the school’s admissions standards, and the further along the student is, the more true it likely is). 25 is extremely accurate and yet I don’t think I’ve heard anyone, ever, talk about teaching reading—and that’s in my own experience teaching freshman comp classes. Close reading seems erratically taught today, and basic comprehension seems too often to be lacking.
* “The Underground Movement Trying to Topple the North Korean Regime: Adrian Hong says he leads a group of “freedom fighters” conducting a revolution. Has the U.S. already betrayed them?”
* Rising Above a Flood-Tide of Writers: similarities between the 18th Century and today. It’s also possible that a century, or centuries, from now, writing will be little studied relative to visual media.