Week of January 21, 2019

A few things of note from around the Internet this week:

Routine

The detail toward the end of Nico Muhly’s music diary are pretty exceptional.

The primary task, I feel, is to create a piece of art that is better than the same amount of silence; I would prefer to sit silently thinking for ten minutes than to listen to certain pieces of music, and therefore feel that it is my duty as a composer to occupy the time of the listener.

Inequality

If you’re left-leaning, you’ll be nodding your head; if you’re right-leaning, you’re head will be exploding. Everyone can agree that this is a pretty good summary of Axios, though:

...to render the gist of things in a rhetorical register a bit less evasive than Axios’s trademark semaphoric house style: Be Smart—liberal democracy is in retreat, millions more people live in authoritarian states, and right-wing ethnonationalism threatens to sweep across vast swaths of the world, but, in the short term, your portfolio should continue to beat expectations.

Debt

A good summary of modern monetary theory and a warning from Ben Hunt at Epsilon Theory.

I can see this narrative storm system forming off the coast of Africa. I can see it heading west across the Atlantic. I know the warm waters of the election cycle Gulf are going to feed it until it becomes a monster. I know it’s going to make landfall.

I can’t stop it and you can’t stop it. But forewarned is forearmed.

We can prepare for the storm.

Ballet

Aggrieved

This is long but I think Casey Newton has the best analysis of the Covington Catholic debacle.

Yes, everything is Gamergate. In 2014, Kyle Wagner wrote a spot-on essay about how the lessons of Gamergate — the campaign of targeted harassment against mostly female journalists, cloaked in the language of press criticism — predicted much of our current moment. He writes:

"There is a reason why, in all the Gamergate rhetoric, you hear the echoes of every other social war staged in the last 30 years: overly politically correct, social-justice warriors, the media elite, gamers are not a monolith. There is also a reason why so much of the rhetoric amounts to a vigorous argument that Being a gamer doesn’t mean you’re sexist, racist, and stupid—a claim no one is making. Co-opting the language and posture of grievance is how members of a privileged class express their belief that the way they live shouldn’t have to change, that their opponents are hypocrites and perhaps even the real oppressors. This is how you get St. Louisans sincerely explaining that Ferguson protestors are the real racists, and how you end up with an organized group of precisely the same video game enthusiasts to whom an entire industry is catering honestly believing that they’re an oppressed minority. From this kind of ideological fortification, you can stage absolutely whatever campaigns you deem necessary."

You see this kind of response in the conservative reaction to the Covington videos, which essentially says: these kids were just exercising their First Amendment rights, and the real issue here is that the intolerant left and mainstream media have come to demonize them and chill their free-speech rights. They also complained that the Native American elder, Nathan Phillips, had walked toward the teens initially — and not been sought out by them, as some had first reported. This is the basic mechanic by which the Covington teens can get a sympathetic audience on the Today show, and a possible invitation to the White House. If you’re a news consumer, it’s helpful to understand this playbook as you watch it play out during every major conflict. And if you’re a news producer, it’s helpful to understanding so that you don’t yourself get played.