30th Selected Links

3 min read

Here are some links to things I've been reading or watching that you might also enjoy:

1. Three poems by celebrated Uyghur poet Tahir Hamut Izgil, a son of dairy farmers who now milks meaning from words. The poems were translated by Joshua Freeman and published in literary journalAsymptote. 'Road' is my favourite not only of those three but maybe of all Tahir's poems.

2. 'Of Flying Cars and the Declining Rate of Profit', a 2012The Bafflerarticle by David Graeber.Excerpt below.

"As someone who was eight years old at the time of the Apollo moon landing, I remember calculating that I would be thirty-nine in the magic year 2000 and wondering what the world would be like. Did I expect I would be living in such a world of wonders? Of course. Everyone did. Do I feel cheated now? It seemed unlikely that I’d live to see all the things I was reading about in science fiction, but it never occurred to me that I wouldn’t see any of them.

At the turn of the millennium, I was expecting an outpouring of reflections on why we had gotten the future of technology so wrong. Instead, just about all the authoritative voices—both Left and Right—began their reflections from the assumption that we do live in an unprecedented new technological utopia of one sort or another.

The common way of dealing with the uneasy sense that this might not be so is to brush it aside, to insist all the progress that could have happened has happened and to treat anything more as silly. “Oh, you mean all that Jetsons stuff?” I’m asked—as if to say, but that was just for children! Surely, as grown-ups, we understand The Jetsons offered as accurate a view of the future as The Flintstones offered of the Stone Age.

Even in the seventies and eighties, in fact, sober sources such as National Geographic and the Smithsonian were informing children of imminent space stations and expeditions to Mars. Creators of science fiction movies used to come up with concrete dates, often no more than a generation in the future, in which to place their futuristic fantasies. In 1968, Stanley Kubrick felt that a moviegoing audience would find it perfectly natural to assume that only thirty-three years later, in 2001, we would have commercial moon flights, city-like space stations, and computers with human personalities maintaining astronauts in suspended animation while traveling to Jupiter."

A hark-back to the dawn of the Jet Age: a 1962 ad for the TWA StarStream Boeing 707, by Robert McCall. In background, you can see the newly-opened flight centre at JFK Airport, designed by Eero Saarinen. Extrapolating their recent progress, it's unlikely the passengers of 1962 would have predicted we'd be flying around in something like the 737 MAX in 2021.

3. 'The 11th Reason to Delete your Social Media Account: the Algorithm will Find You', a recent blog article by the great Simon DeDeo.

4. 'Why are some recoveries short and others long?', a new working paper by friend of the pod and former guest Ed Leamer. He notes that although he "is on record [as] saying 'Housing is the Business Cycle', it is manufacturing employment not construction employment that dominates the predictors of both length and depth in 2001 and 2008/09." Later, he goes on: "The role of declining manufacturing jobs in making our recessions deeper and longer lasting has not to my knowledge had the attention of housing, though housing too has been neglected and in 2005 I chose the wake-up title 'Housing IS the business cycle.' The long-term decline in manufacturing jobs from over 30% of jobs in 1950 to about 8% today has eliminated many of the best jobs for high school graduates, and devastated many communities around the United States."

5. Gerald, from Jeremy Clarkson's new show Clarkson's Farm.

Have a great weekend,