How Twitter works

Or maybe that should be: How Twitter rots the brain.

Instapundit is a daily destination for me, and yesterday, there’s a posting about a piece at Quillette by Cathy Young about Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

So I read that, and am impressed. Solzhenitsyn was a hero of mine when I was at school and university, and like Young, I was puzzled by his subsequent opposition to Western liberalism and fondness for Russian nationalism, along with all the nasty baggage that is liable to bring with it, like anti-Semitism.

At the bottom of the Cathy Young article is the suggestion that I should consider following Cathy Young at Twitter. I do so. I scroll down, and soon find myself smiling at otter jokes, all the otter jokes being based on the fact that “otter” is only one letter away from “other”. Significant otters. In otter news. (Yes, Happy New Year again.)

And: Why did the otters cross the road? To get to the otter side.

This didn’t take long at all.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

I’ve kept it going at Samizdata – so far – just

So now, it’s five Samizdata postings by me in the last five days. And the last two (this one and, posted moments ago, this one) were done the following morning. Hurrah for backdating.

And hurrah for me backdating this one also.

The way I see it, the day ends when I go to bed.

I note that the Radio Times, one of my favourite publications, follows the same rule.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

But will I be able to keep it up?

Well how about that!?!? You wait months for a Brian Micklethwait posting on Samizdata, and then two come along. This one, and this one, in the space of two days!!

The theme of the most recent posting, today’s, is that when it comes to architecture, I like both the modern style and the fake-antique style, and especially when they sit right next to each other.

Like this, for instance:

That was taken in the vicinity of Victoria Station.

The reason I bang on more about architectural modernity here is that I know more about it, and it keeps changing so very interestingly, and for all sorts of other reasons I am too tired to remember just now. But I like antiquity also, even if it is being faked.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Exit 60 coathangers

Today I continued with chucking stuff out, including these sixty or so coathangers, which have been accumulating in my clothes cupboard, for no reason other than they seemed like they might one day come in handy. For a sculpture perhaps? But I’m not a sculptor.

I say chucking out. These coathangers are still in my living room. But, they are in a black plastic bin bag and ready to go. So, nearly.

That’s it for here today. But I did manage a posting at Samizdata, after what I suspect may have been my longest gap there since I started in 2002. This posting started out as something for here, but then I thought: no, there. I really want to do more for Samizdata. I know I keep saying that, but I do. Thank goodness for Natalie Solent, who seems to be responsible for well over half the Samizdata output these days. Here’s hoping I can alter that ratio a bit.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Emmanuel Todd links

This is a short posting, just to make a note of some links that I have acquired, to things about Emmanuel Todd. Microsoft is in the habit of shutting down my computer without warning, and I don’t want to have to go hunting for them again.

Here is a review of a new book about America called America 3.0 (which I already have on order from Amazon), by James Bennett and Michael Lotus. This book includes some of Todd’s ideas about family structure by way of explaining why the America of the near future will be particularly well suited to the free-wheeling individualism of the next few years of economic history.

In this review, T Greer says:

I was delighted to find that much of this analysis rests of the work of the French anthropologist Emmanuel Todd. I came across Mr. Todd’s work a few months ago, and concluded immediately that he is the most under-rated “big idea” thinker in the field of world history.

Spot on.

Greer also makes use of this map, which first appeared in this New York Times article:

Slowly, very slowly, Emmanuel Todd is starting to be noticed in the English speaking world.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Emmanuel Todd quoted and Instalanched

A few months back I discovered that there were other Emmanuel Todd fans out there besides me, notably Lexington Green of Chicago Boyz, and James C. Bennett. Emails were exchanged, and I met up with Bennett in London. Very helpful.

Here is a big moment in what I hope may prove to be the long overdue rise and rise of Emmanuel Todd in the English speaking world. Todd is quoted here by Lexington Green, and then linked to from here. Yes indeed, Instapundit. Okay, this is because what Todd is quoted saying happens to chime in with what Instapundit wants to be saying, but … whatever. That’s how Instalaunches work.

The Todd quote:

A double movement will assure the advancement of human history. The developing world is heading toward democracy — pushed by the movement toward full literacy that tends to create culturally more homogeneous societies. As for the industrialized world, it is being encroached on to varying degrees by a tendency toward oligarchy — a phenomenon that has emerged with the development of educational stratification that has divided societies into layers of “higher,” “lower,” and various kinds of “middle” classes.

However, we must not exaggerate the antidemocratic effects of this unegalitarian educational stratification. Developed countries, even if they become more oligarchical, remain literate countries and will have to deal with the contradictions and conflicts that could arise between a democratically leaning literate mass and university-driven stratification that favors oligarchical elites.

Says LG:

Todd’s book, despite its flaws, is full of good insights. This passage was prescient. The Tea Party (“a democratically leaning literate mass”) and it’s opponents, the “Ruling Class” described by Angelo Codevilla, (“oligarchical elites”) are well-delineated by Todd, several years before other people were focused on this phenomenon.

This may cause a little flurry of Toddery in my part of the www. Not all of it will be favourable, to put it mildly, because the book quoted is fiercely anti-American, and totally wrong-headed about economics. Todd is one of those people who insists on dividing economic activity into “real” and “unreal” categories, solid and speculative, honest and delusional. Todd’s problem is that he imagines that the making of things that hurt your foot when you drop them is inherently less risky than, say, operating as a financial advisor or a hedge fund manager. But both are risky. It is possible to make too many things. Similar illusions were entertained in the past about how agriculture was real, while mere thing-making was unreal.

Todd believes that the US economy is being “hollowed out”, with delusional activity crowding out “real” activity.

The problem is that Todd is not completely wrong. Economic dodginess was indeed stalking the USA in 2002. But the explanation for the processes that actually did occur and are occurring, which are easily confused with what Todd said back in 2002 was happening, and which will hence make him all the more certain that his wrongness is right, is not that manufacturing is real and financial services unreal, but that for Austrian economics reasons (Todd appears to have no idea whatever about Austrian economics), all dodgy and speculative activities, most emphatically including dodgy manufacturing ventures, have been encouraged by bad financial policies. Todd also seems to imagine that only the USA has been guilty of such follies. If only.

Such are some of the flaws in this book that LG refers to.

But none of that impinges on Todd’s fundamental achievements as a social scientist, which I have long thought ought to resonate in my part of the www. This should help.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog