Edit: links should now be fixed such that wanting to read about immigration doesn’t forward you to a story about spies, etc. Thanks to the Yorkshire Ranter for the tip!
All right, now for the more fun stuff. These are the best articles I read on the internet that weren’t about the ‘rona, the election, or BLM.
Cocaine smuggling gran says ‘I was duped but now I could die in Portuguese jail’ it is potentially worth braving the ad-infested site of the Daily Mirror online for this piece of tabloid news from Dan Warburton
The Trump administration’s no-blanks policy is the latest Kafkaesque plan designed to curb immigration [partially paywalled] Catherine Rampell in the Washington Post reports on attempts by USCIS to make a bureaucratic nightmare more bureaucratic and more nightmarish
Brazilian evangelical politician accused of masterminding husband’s ‘barbaric’ murder is a report on the Flordelis case by Tom Phillips in the Guardian.
The Eco-yogi slumlords of 1214 Dean Street, Brooklyn [partially paywalled] Bridget Read in the Cut profiles some extremely shady landlords that are both very sincere about their new-age hippy environmental beliefs, and simultaneously very sincere about their slumlording
Я позвонил своему убийце. Он признался [English subtitles] Not an article, but the video of Navalny talking to a guy who’s part of the FSB team that was assigned with his assassination has to be seen to be believed.
“Rumours spread on social media…” Matt Stoller explains the legal theory behind treating facebook like a defective product
History and Retrospective
I helped fact check the 1619 project. The times ignored me. Away from the clickbaity headline, this is a good summary from historian Leslie Harris in POLITICO, calling for viewing the 1619 project not in isolation but in combination with the rah-rah patriotism of what American history is often presented as
Napoleon’s Englich Lessons Napoleon Bonaparte tries to learn English, and suddenly becomes much more relatable
This. Isn’t. Sparta. Part I: Spartan School Bret Devereaux writes a series of articles on Sparta, all of which are very interesting, starting with this explanation on the horrifying way in which schooling worked in Sparta
Why is the NYPD so powerful? Ross Barkan brings historical perspective to the question
The amazing story of the Russian defector who changed his mind Jason Fagone in the Washingtonian recounts a real life LeCarré-style story
Double Blind and in a continuation of the theme of double agents, Matthew Teague in the Atlantic has a story from the era of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
The Joe Rogan controversy revealed something important about the American left Dylan Matthews at Vox brings deontology vs. consequentialism into American political debate
What’s wrong with social science and how to fix it Alvaro de Menard reviews social science articles post replication crisis
The Neutral Model of Inquiry perhaps relatedly, though in 2010, Cosma Shalizi proposes the neutral model of inquiry
American Spirit Ryan Avent posits that the “greed is good” ethos is what’s breaking capitalism
In the eternal inferno, fiends torment Ronald Coase with the fate of his ideas The Yorkshire Ranter discusses contractualism
Manifesto of the Committee to Abolish Outer Space Sam Kriss is the political writer who is the best prose stylist by a mile, which always makes me sad because I disagree with him politically, and he is also something like the most depressed person that can actually function enough to use a word processing program and so reading him always makes me some combination of sad and angry. Here he is in the New Inquiry writing against space.
The Asshole Filter on a site that is rather unpleasant to read because of its lemon-yellow-on-navy-blue-and-royal-purple colour scheme, siderea explains the concept of the asshole filter, which has been a useful concept in teaching
Welcome to the “Turbulent Twenties” Although I was extremely impressed by Peter Turchin when I went to a talk, every time I read something by him for a popular audience, I somehow end up both confused and sceptical. Nevertheless, this, by Jack Goldstone and Peter Turchin in Noema is definitely interesting.
Being-in-the-room Privilege Olufemi O. Taiwo in the Philosopher explains both why standpoint epistemology is popular and the issues with it very succinctly and evenhandedly/
Profiles, Reviews and Humour
Reading J.M. Coetzee’s “Disgrace” during the Harvey Weinstein trial [partially paywalled] Jia Tolentino in the New Yorker writes about the experience of doing just that
Ha ha! Ha ha! Jia Tolentino then went and compiled some of her essays into a book, and Lauren Oyler read that book, and hated it and Jia Tolentino with a fiery passion and wrote about it in the London Review of Books
Pitchfork gives music 6.8 and the Onion is pretty funny
Neighbors remember serial killer as serial killer The Onion used to be pretty funny, too. I mean, it still is, but it used to be, as well.
In Defence of P.G. Wodehouse George Orwell reviews Wodehouse’s oeuvre, and “defends” him by explaining how the latter is not a nazi collaborator, just a particular brand of totally clueless twit
Where do eels come from? [partially paywalled] Brooke Jarvis reviews Patrik Svensson’s “The Book of Eels” in the New Yorker
The Year of Bad Posts Rebecca Jennings in Vox reviews social media as a whole in 2020, in an article that actually ended up being pretty funny and charitably optimistic
FAQ: The “Snake Fight” portion of your thesis defense I may have even posted this before, but Luke Burns for McSweeney’s answers some questions you might have when you are getting ready to defend your dissertation