News-Adjacent Reading

Ask yourself what are the relevant topics you have yet to read good pieces on, and then try to find them and read them. Over time, your broader opinions will then evolve in better directions than if you focus on having an immediate emotional reaction to the events right before your eyes. The more tempted you are to judge, the higher the return from trying to read something factual and substantive instead.

Tyler Cowen on finding saner, more productive ways to relate to the news (if you must).

We make ourselves lists in order to know if we think what we think.

Sasha Frere-Jones.

There is no finality in a list, just a promise that we will argue about everything listed, adjust our thoughts, and watch our feelings change over time.

Carolyn Hax: Weddings bring out the worst in an unmarried couple – The Washington Post

Plus, I wonder whether you’ve actually just talked about it in a non-charged setting and, if you have, why one or both of you isn’t accepting the outcome of that talk as your current reality. “Fighting” is really just a nickname for an attempt to renegotiate what you already know is the truth but don’t want to accept.

Oh, snap. Carolyn Hax bringin’ some real talk.

Carolyn Hax: Weddings bring out the worst in an unmarried couple – The Washington Post

Outrage | The Point Magazine

An addiction to outrage seems to afflict writers across the political spectrum. Opponents are castigated for being insufficiently scandalized by the atrocity of the hour, and authors of offending posts are roundly demonized and ridiculed. Silver linings are rarely sought in bad news, common ground with adversaries seldom found.

Delighted to see discussion of Zero Dark Thirty in this essay. I was so bummed out by the conversation around the movie last winter.

Outrage | The Point Magazine

Conspiracy is a nearly irresistible labor-saving device in the face of recalcitrant complexity.

Henry Louis Gates, quoted in The Signal and the Noise. Cf. William Gibson:

Conspiracy theories and the occult comfort us because they present models of the world that more easily make sense than the world itself, and, regardless of how dark or threatening, are inherently less frightening.

You Learn From People Who Mostly Agree With You | Ben Casnocha

Some of my best, most mind-expanding conversations have occurred with good friends who agree with me on almost everything––but not quite everything. Bottom Line: Want to learn and get smarter by talking to people? Seek out those who agree with you on 99.9% of things, and then push, push, push at the niche-y, hyper-specific areas of disagreement. It’s not about groupthink; it’s not about confirmation bias. It’s about learning on the margin.

Cf. William Deresiewicz.

Introspection means talking to yourself, and one of the best ways of talking to yourself is by talking to another person.

You Learn From People Who Mostly Agree With You | Ben Casnocha

It seems to me that the ears that are listening make more difference than the way the music sounds.

Will Oldham aka Bonnie “Prince” Billy. This notion applies outside of music, too. Also? He put on one of my favorite concerts of all time a few years ago here in Atlanta. Brilliant dude. Excited to read this new book. (via Austin Kleon)

Makers vs. takers

Many commentators are framing the matter in terms of raising or lowering the relative status of aid recipients. So it’s the aspiring student, the virtuous retiree, and the brave veteran, rather than the irresponsible bums. That’s a distraction (albeit a legitimate correction), as the real question is whether the political equilibrium is shifting toward takers. That’s takers as roles in particular political struggles, not individuals with “taker” stamped on their foreheads.

Various forms of crony capitalism arguably are on the rise. Is the political influence of the issue-specific takers, relative to the issue-specific makers, a growing problem in American politics? What does the evidence actually suggest?

Filed under: arguments. Cf. Charitable arguing:

Taking a moment to hunt for an interpretation that makes an argument good — before you denounce it as a bad argument — is a nice heuristic that forestalls the tempting leap from “There exists an interpretation that makes this a bad argument, but it may not be what he had in mind,” to “This is a bad argument!”

Makers vs. takers

Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.

Ralph Waldo Emerson. (via). Cf. Victor Hugo:

Let’s not bring flame where light is enough.

And Jay-Z:

It’s hard to beat the entertainment value of people who deliberately misunderstand the world, people dying to be insulted, running around looking for a bullet to get in front of.