Thursday 7 April, 2022

Urban Cormorants

Seen on the Liffey in Dublin one September day in 2019

Quote of the Day

”When I’m good, I’m very good. When I’m bad, I’m better.”

  • Mae West

Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

Steve Cooney | O’Farrell’s Slip Jig


From Wikipedia:

The slip jig is one of the four most common Irish stepdances, the others being the reel, the jig and the hornpipe. It is danced in soft shoes. At one time only men danced it, then for several decades only women, and today slip jigs can be danced by any dancer, though at a competitive level they are almost exclusively danced by women. This dance is graceful and controlled, with heels very high, often called “the ballet of Irish dance”.

Long Read of the Day

Erasmus in the 21st century

Erasmus lived for five years in Cambridge (in Queens’ College) and is often described a “the man who brought the Renaissance to the fens”. As I pass Queens’ I’ve often wondered what he was like.

So this nice essay by Jeroen Bouterse turned out to be a welcome delight. And made me want to find a biography of a remarkable man.

I decided to read Erasmus on war because he was, though I know him only superficially, not completely new to me; I went to a school named after him that consciously sought to channel his individualism and cosmopolitanism, and over the years I have read some of his works, admiring his open-minded, kind and forgiving attitude to people for whom existing social institutions didn’t work so well. Based on this, however, I did not expect to be challenged; I did not expect surprising insights in war from a Christian theologian and classicist who lived before the nation-state, before NATO, before modern artillery and nuclear weapons. I was not looking for analyses, or for arguments pro or contra no-fly zones, but for a simple, friendly voice that cried out for peace.

It’s also appropriate that the great EU student programme is named after him.

Meme stocks and Bitcoin will not redistribute wealth

Useful reality check from Noah Smith…

Financio-populism may not excite quite the passion it did last year, but it’s still definitely an undercurrent in modern society. Most recently, it seems to be manifesting in the form of NFT mania.

And I deeply understand the financio-populist impulse. Wealth inequality is at record levels. That wouldn’t be so bad if fortunes rose and fell, and everyone got to spend a little time at the top. But you hardly hear about anyone going from richest to rags these days. There’s always the nagging sensation that the system is rigged — that to get rich you have to have gone to the right East Coast prep school or met the right angel investors at the right parties. In that kind of world, anything that mixes up the set of who’s rich and who’s not can feel like justice.

There’s just one problem — financio-populism is not really going to do this. Yes, we all know that one guy who worked at Starbucks before he got rich on Bitcoin or GameStop, and now drives a Lamborghini. Financial markets are random enough where there will always be that guy. But overall, trading meme stocks and crypto is likely to leave the average person poorer than before. Their dreams will end up lining the pockets of the rich, knowledgeable, and well-connected…

Sadly, he’s right.

My commonplace booklet

More on the provenance of ‘meatspace’…

From Kevin Nolan:

You mentioned this morning that you considered the term ‘meat-space’ to have been coined by John Perry Barlow, or perhaps in the slightly more obscure realms of ‘cyberpunk sci-fi’. I think that this second speculation is correct, and that in fact the term is a demi-invention leading back at least as far as the 1960s, where William Burroughs and other, cynical realists who straddled the zone between High Literature and Anarcho-punk science fiction frequently used the expression ‘meat’ to refer to human flesh (and biology) in a somewhat offhand and dispassionate manner. John Lennon used it a trope also, in his later, vegetarian phases: ‘(Meat is Murder’ etc.)

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