Links & Comments & Thoughts for the Day & Endpiece: 3 Dec 21

Thought for the day: All the Christmas carols, all the movies about Santa, and so on, are *fan fiction*.

Another thought for the day: I haven’t seen anyone point out that the reason Covid variants keep appearing, and then spreading so rapidly around the world, is that people these days — compared to a century ago — travel far more widely and quickly across the globe. This is the same reason humans are causing the mass extinctions of Elizabeth Kolbert’s book The Sixth Extinction (review; summary on this page.) What is the solution? People will never stop traveling, any more than all of them will wear masks. These consequences of human activity will settle out, even if over the next centuries rapidly spreading viruses will kill significant portions of the human population. And deplete the wildlife population. And reduce, through climate change, half of the occupied planet unlivable. The warnings have been there for 50 years.


Vox, 24 Nov 2021: Inflation isn’t just a US thing, subtitled, “Supply chains are screwing with prices for a lot of the world.”

Comment: As usual, people posting Fb memes comparing inflation, or gas prices, under T**** vs. Biden are missing the big picture. Which is that we’re already living in a globalist society. Not Biden, not the demonized Dr. Fauci, have the power to make things better or worse across the entire world. They are not comic strip villains. Conservatives seem to have difficulty understanding this.


Pursuant to my link a couple weeks ago about whether conservatives are happier that liberals:

New York Times, 25 Nov 2021, Brad Wilcox, Hal Boyd and Wendy Wang: How Liberals Can Be Happier.

Some scholars believe that the happiness gap between conservatives and liberals is driven by differences in how liberals and conservatives think about politics and inequality. For example, John Jost and Jaime Napier, two psychologists at New York University, have written that “the rationalization of inequality — a core component of conservative ideology — helps to explain why conservatives are, on average, happier than liberals.” In other words, happiness is a function of legitimating the world as it is. Conservatives are happy because they’re fine with the status quo; liberals are unhappy because they’re not.

The writers cite

Arthur Brooks of Harvard, for example, told us: “A lot of our happiness is out of our control, based on genetics and circumstances. But some of it we can control. It requires we invest in four things each day.” Those four things, he said, are “faith, family, friends and work in which we earn our success and serve others.”

I am unmoved. Be faithful? To what? Does it matter? Apparently not. This is a theme of intellectual commentaries about religion; that it’s useful despite being objectively false. How is it different from giving into one’s superstitions? (Well, Hutson and others pretty much recommend just that — as long as you’re aware you’re doing so.) So believing things that aren’t true will make you happier? But drugs and drink will make you happier too. At least for a while.


Headline noted:

The Week, 24 Nov 2021: The bottomless self-pity of American conservatives, subtitled, “Having to get a vaccine is not the same as being murdered by Nazis”

(You can read three articles on The Week’s site for free each month. I have a paid subscription to the magazine — currently my favorite print magazine — but have unresolved issues with logging into its site to actually read the article, and I’ve already read three articles for free this month. Or I would quote from this one.)



Today was fairly ordinary. The central event of my day was attending my cardiac therapy class, walking the treadmill and riding the airbike. On Wednesday a very elderly woman — I think I heard her say she was 91 years old — “graduated,” meaning she’d completed her 36 week course covered by insurance. And so today a new person was on her seat, just in front of me — yet another Asian, a relatively young male, who was the first person I’ve ever seen in these classes to actually *jog* on the treadmill.

Meanwhile, I’ve been contemplating building my website, especially the Reviews pages, for nonfiction and science fiction, with short summaries of the significant books I’ve read. This morning I did that for Le Guin’s THE DISPOSSESSED, which I reread a year and a half ago, but did not post on my blog. So today I did so, and added a summary on the directory page.

My grand plan involves reading and reread all of these science fiction classics, and eventually consolidating all of them into a book. But it took me an hour and a half to post the Le Guin summary as a post, and as a summary, even though I already had detailed notes.. So I have to recognize that it’s not plausible to do the same for every classic novel, or every significant work of nonfiction, in the next couple years, or even the next five years. Ten years? Maybe. I have to adjust plans to what’s reasonably, given how long I might expect to live.

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