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.

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