Links: The housing shortage, attempts to delay death, bowdlerizing art, and more!

* The housing shortage affects everything. This really should’ve been noted and foregrounded 10 – 20 years ago, but “late” is better than “never.” Even the people who take their cues from what other people are saying or doing seem to be noticing.

* “Sam Altman invested $180 million into a company trying to delay death.” Cool! It’s strange how few of Silicon Valley’s really rich people seem to pursue massively scaled change.

* Bowdlerizing Roald Dahl and the Ethics of Art.

* “A Novelist’s Reflections on Useful Fictions: Hope Mirrlees and her curious masterpiece.” On the novel Lud-in-the-Mist, which sounds surprisingly appealing.

* “U.S. on Track to Add $19T in New Debt over 10 Years.” It’s interesting how little this makes the news (although inflation has been lowering the true cost of debt).

* How many things that we call “mental illness” are culturally contingent. One has to admire the first paragraph: “Around the wide world, all cultures share a few key features. Anthropologists debate the precise extent, but the basics are always there. Language. Tools. Marriage. Family. Ritual. Music. And penis-stealing witches.” This essay addresses similar topics, and it has a literarily great, but also horrifying, end to its first paragraph:

Laudor was frequently contacted to comment on issues of mental health and became a kind of citizen activist, calling for autonomy and respect for those with mental illness. He was a symbol of success for a whole community of vulnerable people. Then he hacked his pregnant girlfriend to death with a kitchen knife.

* “How to go car-free — or car-light — in Middle America.”

* “Apartment Rents Fall as Crush of New Supply Hits Market.” Supply and demand matter, and homelessness is first and foremost a housing shortage problem.

* “Trapped in the Trenches in Ukraine: Along the country’s seven-hundred-mile front line, constant artillery fire and drone surveillance have made it excruciatingly difficult to maneuver.” Though I’ve been known to complain about the legacy media, this is the kind of in-depth, impressive reporting that legacy media outlets routinely produce, which almost none of the complainers, myself included, do.

* “I’m What’s Wrong With the Humanities.” One possibility, underrated in my view, is that many writers have gotten better and learned from the past, such that many more recent books are in fact better, and better plotted, and better paced. Most older books that I read I’m also mentally editing as I go.

* On availability cascades.

* Ongoing attacks against academic freedom.

Links: Is Google doing poorly?, ideology tests, freedom to build, and more!

* Argument that Google is in internal, cultural decline.

* “DEI Is an Ideological Test: New College is not a weak target, and if Christopher Rufo wants to challenge an entrenched bureaucracy, then he will have a fair fight.” A surprising venue for this.

* “The fall and rise of American religion.”

* “I Thought I Was Saving Trans Kids. Now I’m Blowing the Whistle: There are more than 100 pediatric gender clinics across the U.S. I worked at one. What’s happening to children is morally and medically appalling.” From an unusual source.

* Even NPR notices, however belatedly, that prohibiting anything other than single-family housing units is bad.

* Big Tech at the End of History. How much thymos do you have in your life?

* Low Life and High Style: on the writer Jeffrey Bernard, who “was certainly not a man celebrated for his virtue.” The first half of his life may have been fun but the second half seems mostly to have been sad: “A 1987 episode of Arena devoted to Bernard found him in a rented room on Great Portland Street, adorned with just a few framed photos of his minor achievements and encounters with the famous, an overflowing ashtray, a dial telephone, a couple of rubber plants and not much else.”

* “Monuments to the Unthinkable: America still can’t figure out how to memorialize the sins of our history. What can we learn from Germany?”

* “‘They Didn’t Understand Anything, but Just Spoiled People’s Lives:’ How Russian invaders unleashed violence on small-town residents.” The Russian effort manages not only to be cruel and inhumane, but also counterproductive: if you were Ukrainian, or really anyone in any country near Russia, and you saw what the Russians did with the territory they invaded, would you want to be governed by the Russians, or would you want to fight?

* Apple might want to be move its supply chain out of China.

* “Give Up Seventy Percent Of The Way Through The Hyperstitious Slur Cascade.” But moral entrepreneurs need ways to attempt to make themselves virtuous and the outgroup evil, so expect more hyperstitious cascades.

* The Taliban governs Afghanistan. Note: “The Taliban had won their revolution, and had everything they’d ever wanted. But now they confronted the truth that all successful revolutions face: winning a state is a lot more glorious than managing one. To their new world—a world of responsibility, a world that demanded a different sort of synthesis—they seemed to have little in the way of an answer.”

* Induction stoves are good.

* It’s possible to make really good tofu, albeit at what labor cost?

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