Monday, January 4, 2016

Some Odds & Ends

Happy New Year! I'm back!

Despite some issues with my health that lingered over Christmas vacation, I was still able to watch the new Star Wars movie (which was definitely derivative but not too bad), take in a show at the Kennedy Center (Matilda, which was just as adorable as I suspected it would be), and (most importantly of all) spend time with my brother and sister-in-law. Hopefully, your holiday season was also joyful and stress-free.

It's going to take me a bit to get re-adjusted to "business as usual." In the meantime, I'm going to drop off a few interesting things I encountered over the break:

Thing the First: On the New Radical Subjectivity of Identity

The Crisis of Character:
Identity Politics and the Death of the Individual
by Brendan O'Neill
Politics is no longer the sphere in which interests are expressed and convictions crash, but rather has become an arena for the pitting of personalised identities against one another: a new caste system, in effect. The individual with conviction has given way to the insecure possessor of an identity, whose primary concern is with the protection of his or her identity from ridicule or assault. We enter the public sphere as self-ossified categories rather than as thinking, convinced persons; as ciphers, representing something, rather than characters, containing something.
But the truly notable thing about today is not so much the obsession with identity – it’s the instability of identity. Humans have been hunting for identity for centuries. The instinct to define ourselves, to project ourselves into the world, is strong. And there’s nothing wrong with it. What’s new today is that identity has become an incredibly subjective phenomenon. ‘I identify as…’ Where once an individual’s identity was informed, or shaped, by experience and belief, through an engagement in the public sphere or with a party or association, today identities are self-consciously and often defensively constructed.
This exemplifies the sort of analytical writing I enjoy: the kind that pulls back, takes in our culture as a whole, and tries to unify seemingly disparate threads. Definitely read the whole thing; I think O'Neill's insights are right on point.

Thing the Second: Never Forget the USSR Was Awful

This is why I'm an unrepentant capitalist.

Thing the Third: On Conservative Environmentalism

Dan Dagget
Conservative Environmentalist: Eco-Radical No More

From his "About" description:
I’m an environmentalist, and I’m a conservative. I didn’t start out that way; in fact I started out as an environmental activist, a fairly radical one. I was involved in some of the earliest actions of Earth First, was designated one of the top 100 grass roots activists by the Sierra Club, and helped put together ad hoc groups in Ohio and Arizona directed at specific issues—controlling coal surface mining in Ohio and protecting mountain lions in Arizona. I changed my “environmental politics” because I came to believe that mainstream environmentalists—the great majority of whom are liberals—are more interested in expanding the role of government than in fixing what’s wrong with the environment. Or in sustaining or enhancing what’s right.
I still intend to describe what, to me, would constitute sensible public policy in re: the environment, climate change, and conservation, but while you wait, you should peruse the above-linked blog. This gentleman has some very interesting - and important - things to say about land management in the West.

Lastly, for the Geeks:

The Tangent Online 2015 Recommended Reading List

Dave Truesdale and his co-authors do a great job covering the short fiction market for sci-fi and fantasy. As we come upon another awards season, I highly recommend their long list as a possible nominations resource. And by the way, everything Dave writes in the attached note regarding Sad Puppies 4 is absolutely true. Our recommendation pages are open to everyone, so go and make your voice heard!

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