Links to Consider, 3/15
The Zvi vs. smart phones; Jonathan Haidt on kids today; Ashley Rindsberg on Fauci the lab-leak denier; Gordon Wood on the U.S. Constitution in historical context;
Don’t do anything on your phone that you could do better on your computer.
Also, get yourself a desktop computer with a large monitor. Walk over, use that.
When you are at home, don’t even have your phone next to you if you’re not expecting or in a call or actively texting. When you’re not at home, unless you have a specific thing to be doing, don’t take it out. Never scroll. Be present. In case of boredom, see the approved uses list.
More advice at the end of the article. He is thinking as a parent how to behave better so that children don’t suffer as much harm from smart phones.
We arrived at a cultural norm that smoking cigarettes is not what high-status people do. Some of the things we do with smart phones are the equivalent of smoking. We need to realize what they are and stop doing them.
We are now 11 years into the largest epidemic of adolescent mental illness ever recorded. I know so many families that have been thrown into fear and turmoil by a child’s suicide attempt. You probably do too, given that the recent CDC report tells us that one in ten adolescents now say they have made an attempt to kill themselves. It is hitting all political and demographic groups. The evidence is abundant that social media is a major cause of the epidemic, and perhaps the major cause. It's time we started treating social media and other apps designed for “engagement” (i.e., addiction) like alcohol, tobacco, and gambling, or, because they can harm society as well as their users
But his post talks about progressive politics as a problem, and yet he does not advocate any restrictions on exposing young people to progressive politics. I don’t, either. But it will be a great day when phone use, social media use, and progressive politics are all low-status, like smoking cigarettes.
Fauci seemed so alarmed by the optics that in January 2020, he sent an email to his deputy, Hugh Auchincloss, with the single-word, all-caps subject line “IMPORTANT”—something he does not do in the hundreds of pages of other emails released to the public via FOIA requests. The email Fauci sent contained a link to a scientific study that was then spreading across the internet, which had originally been published in 2015 at the Wuhan Institute of Virology by the WIV’s Shi Zhengli and pioneering American GoF researcher Ralph Baric. In the body of the email, Fauci wrote to Auchincloss, “It is essential that we speak this AM. Keep your cell phone on …You will have tasks today that must be done.”
Fauci proceeded to go to great lengths to get a paper into a scientific journal denying the likelihood that COVID-19 came from a lab. I know that he comes across as genial and benign in public, and he probably is a nice guy as long as you don’t stand in the way of his ambition. But you don’t get to the top of a government bureaucracy without being adept at sucking up to any superior and running a shiv through any rival. Part of playing the game ruthlessly is to appear to be too nice to play it. See also Bernanke, Ben S.
Once upon a time, the United States was awash in banks. Gordon Wood explains why.
Article one Section 10 of the Constitution, which lists a number of prohibitions on what the states can do. Namely, they cannot print paper money. Well, if that had been enforced rigidly, it would’ve stifled the antebellum economy. States get around that by chartering banks, which in turn issued the paper money.
And, of course, there were probably hundreds of banks. And by the eve of the Civil War there were 10,000, probably 10,000 different paper currencies. It was just chaos.
Should all government institutions be democratic?
The House of Representatives is the only body which is democratic, because the thinking of democracy is a technical term of political science. 10 years later, by the time you get to the Federal Constitution, democracy is already emerging in the way we think of it as the whole system, as a set of values that goes way beyond the organization of government. And we’re left with this awkward terminology when we talk about the House of Representatives. What do we mean by that? Is that the only body that’s representative? Are the Senate’s not representative?
So, we have to think about how these parties emerged. And by the time you get to the federal government, the Federalists are arguing that all parts of the government are representative of the people. And so, that the House of Representatives has no monopoly of representation. These are fantastic changes in a relatively short time, that get us into more or less the way we think about it today. And they’re already talking in terms that we would about democracy being the values of the whole system. And the people are everywhere in the system. So, in 10 years time, there’s a radical transformation of language and of meaning, that gets us into a world that we are very familiar with, it’s our world, in a 10 years time.
Israel today is in the pre-democratic stage, with a Supreme Court that is entirely insulated from popular democracy—judges are not chosen by elected representatives, as they are in the United States. The proposed reforms that are causing a furor would take away the court’s autonomy. Those opposed to the reforms fear that without a powerful court the legislature could run amok.
According to Wood, running amok was exactly what Madison and the Federalists thought that state legislatures were doing. To control this, they created a Federal government, which acquired legitimacy from its democratic character. And has proceeded to run amok.
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