Link Roundup, Labor Day 2018

[Updated] From The Weekly Sift: The honest, measured, insightful assessment of John McCain we all needed to hear – John McCain Shot Liberty Valance.

From The Atlantic: A disturbing excerpt from Yuval Noah Hariri’s new book, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century.

From Foreign Affairs: Francis Fukuyama’s epic and controversial critique of so-called “Identity Politics.” Long read, with which I disagree in many respects, but the man knows how to craft an argument.

From The New York Times: Wife of the former NRA president was involved in jet fuel deal with Russian spy, Maria Butina.

From CNN: Florida Gubernatorial candidate, Andrew Gillum, explains that Medicare-for-all will require a corporate tax increase.

From CBS: Crude racist robocalls target Andrew Gillum in Florida.


  1. A couple days late posting this, but Jim Wright’s Labor Day Essay is worth the read. I was reminded of the story Chris told about his grandfather getting injured on the job:

    I’ve never been under any illusions about “the good old days”, probably because I’m an independent living female. My lifestyle choice and the conditions that enable it are a very recent thing.

  2. A few amusing sidebars to the TX Senate saga:

    I hope Beto has a rally on the same day. I would try very hard to be in attendance if it is possible.


    (some NSFW content)

    So Teddy Cruz, who has no issues with grab-’em-by-the-pussy, calls for the fainting couch because Beto said “Fuckin’ show up!” The whole GOP has such a severe irony deficiency.

    Lastly one of my favorite Tweets:

    (That and Popehat tests my resolve to eschew Twitter.)

  3. You’ve been posting too quickly Chris! I find a new article just as I’m about to reply to a previous one 🙂

    (Just wanted to say I can’t believe Democrats still decline to label Rohrbacher a Russian agent, when Republicans have no problem translating an e-mail server incident into chants of Lock Her Up! And then they wonder why I won’t give money to the DCCC…)

    Anyway, I wanted to see if you saw any way for O’Rourke to pull out a victory in the TX senate race. My rational head totally agrees that polls don’t tell the whole story; a solidly partisan state like TX is very hard to flip even if the polls say otherwise. It’s why I enjoy Republicans wasting money on races in NJ, where, despite neck-and-neck polls, even a guy like Menendez can get re-elected as long as he has a D next to his name. But my heart so, so wants to see Ted Cruz have to wipe his slimy grin from his lizard face on election night. I haven’t donated to O’Rourke yet, because I figure there are plenty of other Dem races more realistic, even in the Senate side, that need money more badly than he does. But recent polls showing he’s statistically even with Rafael the Canadian makes me want to join the fray…

    1. While Chris assuredly understands the dynamics better than anyone, it’s probably not hyperbole to say that O’Rourke needs nothing less than a political Royal Flush to pull it out in Texas. If he manages to keep a Cruz win to less than 5 points, he should be pretty damn pleased with himself.

      None of that’s to say it’s impossible, but his biggest hurdle’s the one that’s dogged Texas Democrats for years: voter apathy. Whatever their other virtues, Texans are lazy as shit when it comes to the ballot box, and turning that around just doesn’t happen in a single election cycle. O’Rourke would need something on the scale of a Democratic Tsunami (we’re talking double-digit leads at least) for him to win.

      That said, Dems’ lead in the generic ballot is falling back in line with their double-digit overperformance in special elections and Trump’s approval ratings are perpetually stuck at 40-ish%. Put the pedal to the voting metal and see what happens in November.

      Anything can happen in politics, after all.

    2. Hey WX, it’s your call how your resources are best spent, but even $10 helps the cause. Beto’s campaign has been collecting tons of little donations, and they add up.

      I’ve donated a bit of time to Beto, and that’s about to increase. No $ yet, as I don’t tend to give $ to politics, but I may reverse that as we get into the stretch drive.

  4. Concerning Harari: I read his book Sapiens recently, and I appreciate that the man has an unusual propensity for rationality and dispassion even when a line of implication travels towards results associated with misanthropy or nihilism or despair. I get the same impression from the book as I do from the excerpt posted here.
    The only issue is that sometimes his drive to build a big picture raises a possibility that he has not properly understood some key component. I don’t recall reacting against anything specific, but two-page discussions of some topic could very well be overturned by someone who wrote half a book on the same thing, so sometimes I would think “this is probably true but then again maybe he’s full of shit on this subject”. I wouldn’t harp on this because the book’s main theses are well-supported, but if his second and third books aimed at the general public deal with the future (rather than history) then it becomes very important to not give quick treatment of anything. Predictions of this nature are notoriously hard; see the perennially shared quotes by Bill Gates on processing power and Krugman on the Internet.

  5. Long Term Trajectories of Human Civilization:

    > In this paper, we seek to formalize long-term trajectories of human civilization as a scientific and ethical field of study. We synthesize perspectives from a range of fields, including moral philosophy, demography, economics, sustainability science, risk analysis, futures studies, political science, archaeology, climatology, and astrobiology.
    Using insights from these fields, we establish four broad classes of trajectories and describe important details for each. The four classes of trajectories are:

    > (1) Status quo trajectories, in which human civilization persists in a state broadly similar to its current state into the distant future

    > (2) Catastrophe trajectories, in which one or more events cause significant harm to human civilization

    > (3) Technological transformation trajectories, in which radical technological breakthroughs put human civilization on a fundamentally different course

    > (4) Astronomical trajectories, in which human civilization expands beyond its home planet and into the accessible portions of the cosmos

    > These four classes of trajectories represent the major potential long-term trajectories of human civilization. They depict human civilization staying roughly level (1), shrinking (2), or potentially expanding via technological breakthrough (3) or astronomical expansion (4). Scenarios that do not fit in any one of these four classes appear unlikely.

    1. Isn’t this just an insight from elementary logic? Either humans move outward into space (4) or they don’t. If they don’t, either the status quo holds (1) or it does not. If it does not, then change is either of a calamitous (2) or unpredictable (3) nature.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.