May 2020

Regular readers, if there are any, will recall that I discussed Robin Hanson’s proposal of using variolation in response to the coronavirus in anticipation of a debate with Greg Cochran (who was more hawkish on containment) that wound up being less of a debate than expected early in April. As time has gone on Hanson has come to regard containment as having less time remaining during which the public will be willing to accept its costs (Henry Farrell responded to that here and here, and Hanson responded to that in turn). Tomas Pueyo will likely be a less familiar name, but I expect anyone who followed online discussion of the pandemic will have heard of his “Hammer and the Dance“. Hanson has an opening statement here, and the actual livestreamed “debate” can be viewed here, but again it was in many ways more of a discussion (Pueyo thinks the focus should now be on HOW we re-open).

Years ago I blogged some commentary on war from Randall Collins’ “Violence: A Micro-sociological Theory”. Since Agnostic recently wrote a post on music being inextricably linked to dance (Kevin Simler postulated an evolutionary origin of that, which I blogged here), it seemed like a good time to quote from a section near the end of chapter 7 (“Violence as Fun and Entertainment”) which followed a discussion of slam-dancing. (more…)

Not precisely, since Jones blames Jews working under FDR for “ethnically cleansing” Jews from cities by moving southern blacks up north, while Bernstein is focused on things advocated by FDR himself and views blacks as victims of FDR’s high-wage policies for destroying their jobs. I had linked to similar info on FDR’s stance toward Jews from Tablet when discussing The Plot Against America, whose premise I found implausible because it had Lindbergh winning the Solid South despite FDR winning his most overwhelming victories there. I haven’t read the book or watched David Simon’s recent adaptation both because of my skepticism of its premise (shared by historians Slate asked to comment on it) as well as because I thought I ought to start with the works that Roth built his reputation on (which Jones would still consider “acts of cultural terrorism“) rather than something known mostly because it was written by the already famous Roth.

As for Jones, he has a much longer review of Roth’s “Plot”, going about as far as possible to blame Jews for anti-semitism without actually endorsing the persecution of Jews. He’s a self-appointed champion of the Catholic “ethnics” in northern cities, so he doesn’t say as much about the south (though I did learn from him that the Klan burned a cross on the lawn of Father Coughlin’s church). It also reminds me that one of these days I should read Albert Lindemann’s “Esau’s Tears”. I briefly subscribed to The American Conservative specifically to read his review of Yuri Slezkine’s “The Jewish Century”, although I can’t remember the details of said review now. I don’t know if I’m interested enough in Soviet history specifically to read Slezkine’s follow-up, “The House of Government”, which Spotted Toad reviews here.

Speaking of books and Jews, Andrew Gelman has a short post reacting to Leah Garret’s “Young Lions: How Jewish Authors Reinvented the American War Novel”. Roth is not referenced, though his frequent point of comparison, Saul Bellow, is. The one short story I’ve read by Roth, “Defender of the Faith“, was inspired by his brief post-war military service.

Reading Tyler Cowen’s interview with Tooze (Marginal Revolution post here) I was surprised to see him cite both Broadberry and the better known Angus Maddison on the relative underdevelopment of 1930s Germany. The discussion between Tooze and Cowen does make it somewhat ambiguous whether Germany is supposed to have been undeveloped merely relative to the U.S and even Great Britain but also to continental European countries like France. Because if that was not the case, then it’s less surprising both that Germany quickly defeated France and that they decided to launch such a war in the first place. After all, Germany had fought France in the previous World War under a different government and presumably different ideology (the goal of “lebensraum” in the east, discussed in said interview, seems to have had less importance then).

Regular readers (if I have any) might recall that I have previously blogged about about Broadberry’s critique of Acemoglu & Johnson’s “Why Nations Fail”, from some basic slides that I copied to a more formal paper. I personally found it quite compelling even in the former case, but haven’t previously come across many people citing him, while Acemoglu remains a huge deal (whose work I recommended to Mencius Moldbug over a decade ago).

On a completely unrelated note, Dischord Records just put all their catalog free on Bandcamp. Tooze’s “Wages of Destruction” would be a good album/song title, if not necessarily a band name.