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Showing posts from May 27, 2018

almond milk smoothies and ecological disaster

We talk all too much, in the States, about drugs, and all too little about water. Water is a disregarded topic. There is no water section in the NYT – even the suggestion seems absurd. But water is everything. I learned this lesson, if not from my own thirsts and growing pains, then from reading Cadillac Desert, Marc Reisner’s great book, which gave me an intellectual jolt that I can still, crawling inside the old brainspace, feel. So I’m always on the lookout, which is why I was so pleased to read this horrifying account of our short term fiddling with long term disaster by Mark Arax, A Kingdom of Dust. For optimal reading, you must have two experiences in mind. One is driving on the highway in California that skirts, at least, the farming district of Kern County, and feeling the eeriness of industrial farming on that scale. The other is Joan Didion’s paen to the California water system, Holy Water. That was written as the final touches were being put in place on the greatest f

Happiness and the economics of growth

There’s a post at the blog Stumbling andMumbling with the title, Does Economics matter?  (Hat tip to Economists View ) Chris Dillow, the writer, is an economist with many media outlets. The post basically puzzles over politics at the present moment, and how it seems less driven by economics (which Dillow seems to imply is a matter for economists) than by animal spirits turned mean.  “And here’s the thing. There is some justification for this denial of economics. The link between income growth and subjective (pdf) well-being is weak and even many of the worst off feel they are living comfortably . Granted, this might be a sign of adaptive expectations. But it also tells us that things other than economic growth are important: community, autonomy, physical and mental health and so on. From this perspective, perhaps it’s understandable that politicians should want to offer a sense of security – as in various ways austerity, Brexit and immigration controls do – rather than

the firefly party

The Firefly party « Reality stares at us with a look of intolerable victory: its verdict is that all we have ever loved shall be taken from us forever. » Pasolini’s most famous essay is entitled: “the power vacuum in Italy”, although it is more often referred to as “The disappearance of the fireflies.” Pasolini, with his hybrid of Catholicism and Communism, his deep sense of peasant culture and his sexual alienation from same, was one of the great post-war observers. To observe is to synthesize. He noticed the hardest thing to notice – because the hardest thing to notice is the change that happens all around us, and not at geological speed either, but in human time. For instance, he noticed the death of a culture that went back around 4,000 years. Rural idiocy was replaced, rapidly and completely, by techno-idiocy. And its effects were to move mountains, literally. We no longer have to have faith the size of a mustard seed – mustard seeds are definitely obsolete. We just have to