Links: Novels of work, the spy novel in the age of surveillance, and more about surveillance, and more in general

* On Chinese work novels.

* “Hit by Covid-19, Colleges Do the Unthinkable and Cut Tenure: Schools facing steep drops in revenue scale back the age-old role of faculty in governance.” Note: “This year, the pandemic accelerated financial problems as well as tensions between administrators and faculty. Fall enrollment for freshman and international students fell 16% and 43%, respectively, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center and a survey of 700 schools conducted by 10 higher education associations.”

* “‘Shattered’: Inside the secret battle to save America’s undercover spies in the digital age.” Everyone else is having the same problems. Scarily, totalitarianism enabled by technology may be much more possible than totalitarianism used to be.

* “The Zürich Interviews – Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry: Unrepentant Baguette Merchant: Boring us with tales of the superiority of the French. Why having a Mommy GF makes Macron powerful. Islamism in France. Jerry Lewis as the funniest man in history.” The sort of thing one wishes to see more of in the larger media; thankfully, we now have Substack and podcasts. “Interesting” does not mean “correct.”

* “The Great Walter Williams, Radical Troublemaker,” amusing throughout; the real radicals are thinkers, and they’re not necessarily picking a political side: “Williams: I am not a part of a movement. I have never been part of a movement, I just do my own thing.” And: “Walter was never politically correct. He once demanded that our Dean do something about the lack of representation of Asian-Americans on the GMU basketball team. He enjoyed his iconoclasm but his provocations were designed to get people to stop and think not to offend.”

* “Leaders Who Act Like Outsiders Invite Trouble.” Institutions are defining what the modern world is going to look like, and many of them are going to need to learn how to say “no” and how to ignore Twitter anger. See also me, recently: “Dissent, insiders, and outsiders: Institutions in the age of Twitter.”

* “White Evangelicals Made a Deal With the Devil. Now What?” I’ve wondered about this too. I also wonder, though, if the number of white evangelicals is actually declining, or if the author is cherrypicking numbers that support the story.

* Billionaires Build, by Paul Graham.

* “What Are the Humanities? Why Are They Worth Saving?” A rant, yes, overstated, yes, and yet compelling, too? And an essay that speaks to the growing utility of Substack.

* Helen Dale, who wrote Kingdom of the Wicked (Book I is a favorite), on “Jordan Peterson and the only balanced review of 12 Rules for Life.” Amy Alkon’s book Unf***ology: A Field Guide to Living with Guts and Confidence appears too. Echoes of “Harry Potter and the Childish Adult:” “Derivative narrative clichés work with children because they are comfortingly recognizable and immediately available to the child’s own power of fantasizing.”

* “The Super-Scary Theory of the 21st Century:” essentially, that social media leads many political units to tear themselves apart, but authoritarian regimes are better at holding themselves together. It seems unlikely but not impossible. A big 21st Century question is, to my mind, what happens if, or rather when, China experiences its first big economic downtown since it began to liberalize in the 80s. Can they repress their way out?

* Gas stoves are bad for air quality, and much worse than we realized, it seems.

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