For generations people have been told: Think for yourself; come up with your own independent worldview. Unless your name is Nietzsche, that’s probably a bad idea. Very few people have the genius or time to come up with a comprehensive and rigorous worldview.
If you go out there armed only with your own observations and sentiments, you will surely find yourself on very weak ground. You’ll lack the arguments, convictions and the coherent view of reality that you’ll need when challenged by a self-confident opposition. This is more or less what happened to Jefferson Bethke.
The paradox of reform movements is that, if you want to defy authority, you probably shouldn’t think entirely for yourself. You should attach yourself to a counter-tradition and school of thought that has been developed over the centuries and that seems true.
The old leftists had dialectical materialism and the Marxist view of history. Libertarians have Hayek and von Mises. Various spiritual movements have drawn from Transcendentalism, Stoicism, Gnosticism, Thomism, Augustine, Tolstoy, or the Catholic social teaching that inspired Dorothy Day.
These belief systems helped people envision alternate realities. They helped people explain why the things society values are not the things that should be valued. They gave movements a set of organizing principles. Joining a tradition doesn’t mean suppressing your individuality. Applying an ancient tradition to a new situation is a creative, stimulating and empowering act. Without a tradition, everything is impermanence and flux.
Most professors would like their students to be more rebellious and argumentative. But rebellion without a rigorous alternative vision is just a feeble spasm.
From The Economist:
But the City can compete successfully with other financial centres only if Britain has the right policies on regulation, tax and immigration. On regulation, there is an understandable fear that an outsized financial-services industry means an outsized risk for taxpayers. The proposals from Britain’s Vickers Commission go a long way to deal with this, dividing a tightly regulated domestic banking system (the bit that puts taxpayers at risk) from a more freewheeling international market for global capital. By contrast, the thrust of many of the proposals coming out of Brussels looks harmful. Some, such as the financial-transactions tax, can be blocked by a British veto. The rest are subject to majority vote, and Mr Cameron’s stand-off with his European partners last month—supposedly to protect the City, but really to avoid having to sell a more integrated Europe to Tory Eurosceptics—has now given London’s rivals the excuse to hamstring the City.
The British government’s own policies on tax and immigration are also doing a lot of damage. The 50% tax rate, introduced by the previous Labour government in 2010, brings in little money and has made London the most taxed out of ten financial centres for high net-worth individuals. The present generation of financial bosses, who live in and like London, may tolerate it for a while, but younger ones are feeling the pull of Switzerland, Hong Kong or Dubai. As for immigration policy, the best way to win Asian business is to lure the young Asian financiers to London. Tight limits on talented immigrants damage the City’s prospects—and indeed the prospects of every bit of British business.
I doubt anyone will report these as missing.
If you are a United Nations diplomat missing 30 pounds of cocaine, it is now in the hands of theNew York Police Department.
The shipment turned up last week in the mailroom of the world body, where phony diplomatic pouches into which the drug had been stuffed attracted the staff’s attention, the head of security, Gregory Starr, said Thursday.
Authentic pouches have the words “United Nations” and “Diplomatic Mail” printed on the outside, as well as the body’s logo. But these cheap cotton bags had only the logo. There was no wording, no address, no manifest, no airway bill. They had been delivered from Mexico by the courier company DHL, according to diplomats who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the seizure.
When the bags were opened, the contents appeared to be 14 notebooks wrapped in cellophane, Mr. Starr said, but on further inspection they were found to be hollowed out and each one filled with a kilogram, about 2.2 pounds, of cocaine.
The contents were handed over to the Police Department and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration for further investigation. The contents did not originate from United Nations offices in Mexico, Mr. Starr said, and DHL handles official mail, he said. Nor did he think it was intended for anyone at the world body.
More likely, he said, is that someone had the idea to use the counterfeit diplomatic pouches to escape inspection at the Mexican border, and the plan went awry when they were actually delivered to the United Nations.
Robert Samuelson writes:
There are three things to remember about Keystone and U.S. energy policy.
First, we’re going to use lots of oil for a long time. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that American oil consumption will increase 4 percent between 2009 and 2035. The increase occurs despite highly optimistic assumptions about vehicle fuel efficiency and bio-fuels. But a larger population (390 million in 2035 versus 308 million in 2009) and more driving per vehicle offset savings.
The more oil we produce domestically and import from neighbors, the more we’re insulated from dramatic interruptions of global supplies. After the United States, Canada is the most dependable source of oil — or was until Obama’s decision.
Second, barring major technological breakthroughs, emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, will rise for similar reasons. The EIA projects that America’s CO2 emissions will increase by 16 percent from 2009 to 2035. (The EIA is updating its projections, but the main trends aren’t likely to change dramatically.) Stopping Canadian tar-sands development, were that possible, wouldn’t affect these emissions.
Finally, even if — as Keystone critics argue — some Canadian oil were refined in the United States and then exported, this would be a good thing. The exports would probably go mostly to Latin America. They would keep well-paid industrial jobs (yes, refining) in the United States and reduce our trade deficit in oil, which exceeded $300 billion in 2011.
Have you ever noticed that the ground meat you just brought home from the supermarket is red on the outside but dark purple or brown on the inside? Is this an indication of meat past its prime? Fortunately, no.
The color in meat comes from a muscle protein called myoglobin. When the meat is freshly cut, this protein is deep purple. As the meat sits in its packaging (or in the butcher’s display case), the myoglobin will convert to bright red oxymyoglobin on the meat’s exterior, where it is exposed to more oxygen. Inside the meat, where less oxygen can penetrate, it will slowly convert to brown metmyoglobin. Color changes of this nature are purely cosmetic—they have no bearing on the meat’s flavor or wholesomeness.
Surely, somewhere within the 2,000-odd pages, there must be simple, accessible techniques to make real food taste better — or at least easier to cook.
So I issued Mr. Myhrvold a challenge. Which of his modernist dishes could I whip up for a dinner party without having to buy any new equipment or bizarre ingredients (like low-acyl gellan and sodium tripolyphosphate, which are sprinkled throughout the book’s recipes like so much salt and pepper). Mr. Myhrvold would teach me the dishes, then I would recreate them for my guinea pigs — I mean, party guests.
They also make gin-infused celery, pan-seared, oven-baked steaks, and pressure-cooked squash.
With a Web-wide protest on Wednesday that includes a 24-hour shutdown of the English-language Wikipedia, the legislative battle over two Internet piracy bills has reached an extraordinary moment — a political coming of age for a relatively young and disorganized industry that has largely steered clear of lobbying and other political games in Washington.
The bills, the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House and the Protect IP Act in the Senate, are backed by major media companies and are mostly intended to curtail the illegal downloading and streaming of TV shows and movies online. But the tech industry fears that, among other things, they will give media companies too much power to shut down sites that they say are abusing copyrights.
The legislation has jolted technology leaders, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs, who are not accustomed to having their free-wheeling online world come under attack.
One response is Wednesday’s protest, which will direct anyone visiting Google and many other Web sites to pages detailing the tech industry’s opposition to the bills. Wikipedia, run by a nonprofit organization, is going further than most sites by actually taking material offline — no doubt causing panic among countless students who have a paper due.