BRIEFLY NOTED: For 2021-06-03 Th

Things that went whizzing by that I want to remember...

First: Best Recent SubStack Post I Have Read:

Nicole BarbaroEdTech Can’t Forget That Humans Evolved to be Social: ‘A fundamental limitation to online and remote learning: students are missing the social experience…. Students generally learn better when instructors are present in online instructional content, and online learning content is more effective at boosting learning outcomes when it supplements human instruction, rather than replaces it. Teachers aren’t the only human factor in learning: peers matter for learning, too! Informal friendship networks, like those that are formed on traditional college campuses through social events, are productive means for academic achievement to spread. And even being randomly assigned to study cohorts with highly persistent peers boots student’s grades. In essence, a social campus is good for student learning. Humans are built to learn, and specifically to learn socially… LINK: <>

And: Marco Rubio Writes to Me, Personally:

The really depressing thing is that this must work: A/B testing must have shown that this is a very effective way to get the people who trust Republican politicians to turn themselves upside down and shake so that all the loose money falls out and into the pockets of the Marco Rubios and the Donald Trumps and the other associated grifters. A statement that they are the authority figures and that you, you non-recent-donor you, have disappointed them. An endorsement from the Sage of Mar-a-Lago. Fighting against the RADICAL DEMOCRATS and the out-of-control left the Mexicans at the border and the “woke” corporations and for veterans and conservative values—with no specific things he has done ever mentioned, because of course Marco Rubio has done nothing. And then the ask: even though you have gravely disappointed him, he has worked very hard for you and, at significant cost to himself, has gotten “the team” to do you a favor: they are giving you one more chance to donate! SO PONY UP!

But why does he have to work hard to persuade “the team” to do you this favor? Didn’t he hire “the team”? Isn’t he the boss of “the team”?

No. “The team”—that you have gravely disappointed—is the boss. And he is the supplicant—on your behalf. You and he are in it together, on the same side, and since Marco Rubio has bound himself to you, you will not only further disappoint “the team” but you will get Marco in trouble if you do not pony up.

Now this makes absolutely no sense rationally or cognitively. This makes sense only if Marco Rubio's mental model of his core donors is that they can be motivated to action by triggering their memories of having been an abused child. The authority figures who are “SO disappointed” but would love you if only you behaved, and who would then not wash their hands of you but protect you against the vicious world. The ally helping you to propitiate the angry male parental authority figure, who has put himself on the line for you and now needs you to propitiate as well.

It must work. The A/B tests must show it. Or they would not be doing it.

But what happened to how many Republican donors as small children for this triggering to be an effective way of transferring their money into the grifters’ pockets?

Fellow Patriot, 

I really am disappointed, Fellow Patriot. I am disappointed to say we missed our goal for May. I heard that Mark shared our internal financial memo with you and you still didn’t step up? I am SO disappointed. Like I told you, we had plans to open a field office, but we are going to have to push that opening back. With a RADICAL DEMOCRAT challenger just about to announce her campaign against me, we really cannot afford any missteps. 

I have been working my absolute hardest to ensure the people of Florida and America are best served by Congress. My efforts have not gone unnoticed, I was fortunate enough to receive an endorsement from President Trump for working on behalf of our veterans, enhancing Border Security, and standing up to “woke” corporations. While it was an honor to receive President Trump’s support, it riled up the Left. The good news here is I won’t EVER bend a knee to the radical Left. I am COMMITTED to fight for your conservative values regardless of whatever the out-of-control Left will try to throw at me. I will never give up on you, Fellow Patriot. However, despite all of these good things, missing this deadline is a MASSIVE misstep. I won’t lie, I am nervous. But I’ve spent the day strategizing with my team, and I have convinced them to extend our deadline for another 24 HOURS

24 hours is not a lot but I think it will be just enough for us to get this done. We cannot make this without you, Fellow Patriot. I even had my team reopen the private link we put together just for you: Patriot. I don’t know how else to convey how important this deadline is Fellow Patriot. Can you please join me and CHIP IN NOW?

I really appreciate it,
Marco Rubio

Plus: Yesterday:

PODCAST: “Hexapodia” Is the Key Insight XVII: What Will the Jobs of the Future Be Like? <>
PROJECT SYNDICATE: Xi’s Historic Mistake <>
BRIEFLY NOTED: For 2021–06–02 We
READING: Rudyard Kipling (1897): Recessional <>


One Video:

A very nice talk. But it lacks explicit consideration of the end-stage. What happens when the era of a safe-asset shortage ends? How can we make it end? And should we now be attempting to do so?:

Olivier Blanchard: Fiscal & Monetary Policy After Covid <>

Very Briefly Noted:

Share Brad DeLong's Grasping Reality


It does disturb me that the numbers are not on my side. But people’s lives are being transformed by information and communications technologies in ways that they do find powerfully attractive. I keep thinking, even though the numbers say otherwise, that ICT is profoundly affecting human and societal well-being, with the question being the sign: are we acquiring more power over nature and within society to accomplish our purposes, or are our brains being hacked in ways that turn us into unhappy dopamine loop-governed zombies? I can argue both sides. But what the numbers say—that it is not a very big deal—seems to me to fit badly with the reality I experience and see others experiencing:

Paul KrugmanRemembrance of Futures Past: ‘The data bear out the general sense that the real-world utility of new technology has fallen far short of the hype. Labor… has risen only about half as fast since 2007 as it did in the generation after World War II. Why measure from 2007? Well, it was the eve of the financial crisis; but it also happens to be the year Apple introduced the original iPhone. So much technoglitz; so little G.D.P. Why?… Erik Brynjolfsson, Seth Benzell and Daniel Rock…. Their favored explanation, however, boils down to: just you wait….. [But] this isn’t the first time information technology has disappointed…. Paul David… a fascinating 1990 paper titled “The Dynamo and the Computer.”… Around 1995 U.S. productivity growth really did take off, beginning a rocket-like ascent. Which lasted for around a decade, then stalled out. Maybe this time is different…. [But] because we’ve been through this kind of disappointment before, it’s hard to avoid feeling a bit cynical…

LINK: <>

Timothy B. Lee’s hope, I guess, is that the newsletter tied to Twitter—the good parts of twitter—can revive the open, reality-based, superior instantiation of the public sphere that we thought we were building 20 years ago. We probably labor in vain. But it is an interesting take on the problem:

Timothy B. LeeHow Facebook Killed Blogging—& Twitter Reinvented It: ‘The blogging community that helped launch my journalism career barely exists…. Social media plays a central role…. Blogging became less social. It became much less common for writers to recommend and critique one another’s work. Twitter picked up much of the resulting slack…. Bloggers were constantly linking, block-quoting, and critiquing…. Linking, block-quoting, or critiquing other peoples’ blog posts was rarely a formula for success on Facebook or other social media platforms…. If you wanted to publish a brief thought about something you read in 2006, you’d write a short blog post. If you wanted to do the same thing in 2016, you’d write a tweet…. Some people have described the rise of email newsletters as a resurgence of old-school blogging…. But the more social and ephemeral aspects of blogging have largely migrated to Twitter, and they’re unlikely to go back. Instead, Twitter has become a key way for writers to build audiences they can then sell newsletters to…

LINK: <>

Noah Smith has a theory that Twitter is about to get worse. Much worse. I would not have thought that possible. But he makes it sound plausible:

Noah SmithStatus Anxiety as a Service: ‘My friend Eugene Wei… divides social media’s function into three dimensions—utility… entertainment… and social capital. He spends much of the post discussing the third…. Social media has democratized celebrity; anyone can be an influencer…. We are now in late-stage performative Twitter, where nearly every tweet is hungry as hell for favorites and retweets, and everyone is a trained pundit or comedian. It’s hot takes and cool proverbs all the way down. This aspect of Twitter certainly exists. But I think it leaves out something important—the status-conferring role of reply-tweets…. Being able to reply to high-status people, whether they want you to or not, is a heady status-conferring experience…. My hypothesis is that by bringing people much closer together in social status, Twitter emphasizes the intractable gaps that remain. And this creates constant status anxiety among some Twitter users…. As Twitter ages and the distribution of status gets even more frozen in, Twitter will have to rely on status anxiety more and more to keep new users engaged. That will exacerbate the toxic dynamics of Twitter, where every statement is willfully misinterpreted, humor is nigh-impossible, and bad-faith attacks are the universal norm.…

LINK: <>

The role played by anti-semitism in this transformation of American populist impulses is, I think, under appreciated. I find myself thinking of the movie The Thin Man, in which it is WASPs with too much money and too little sense who are to be mocked as unworthy of their high seats in the temple of our civilization. And I wonder at the transformation of that impulse into a world view in which those subject to distrust are not rich WASPs with inherited wealth but rather Negroes receiving government benefits, Jews with too much education, and their friends. It is not something that I understand:

Jeet HeerRacism & the Paradox of Anti-Democratic Populism: ‘It was from [Willmoore] Kendall that Buckley learned that conservatism could be successfully marketed as a revolt against the… un-American elite. Both Buckley and Kendall… in targeting academics, journalists, and other “egg-heads”… took the traditional populist distrust of the wealthy East Coast elite and refashioned it as a cultural struggle against liberal intellectuals…. Kendall’s embrace of elitist theories are especially clear in his writings on race. In 1960, he cited with approval a book by Nathaniel Weyl arguing that “the Negro” suffers from a blighted “biological inheritance.” … “When we impose upon them equal responsibility for civilizational achievement we may be doing them not justice but injustice”…

LINK: <>

I concur: I think we need to draw a very sharp line between fascists on the one hand and American conservatives on the other. The dividing line should be between those who think their enemies are people to be fought, and those who think that their enemies are ideas that lead to destructive policies. I think we can maintain that dividing line:

John StoehrCarl Schmitt, Leading Exponent of Nazi Political Thought, Would Feel at Home in Today’s GOP: I think Alan Wolfe used the word “conservative” for a couple of reasons. One, because he didn’t feel like being charitable that day. Two, and more likely, “fascist” was not available to him in 2004. I like to think if he were to rewrite this essay, he’d make room for conservatives like Norm Ornstein, or Liz Cheney for that matter, in order to establish the boundaries of acceptable behavior in a liberal democracy in which some things really are above politics, such as the political legitimacy of a rival faction. “Fascist,” however, continues to get side-eye from mainstream commentators like John Harwood…. To make a fascist… takes is a particular and particularly coherent worldview in which everyone outside one’s group is the enemy. As Harwood said, Mann and Ornstein were right. Their diagnosis of the GOP is undeniable. But Alan Wolfe was more right. What’s more, he gave us a vocabulary. We should use it…

LINK: <>

Leave a comment

(Remember: You can subscribe to this… weblog-like newsletter… here: 

There’s a free email list. There’s a paid-subscription list with (at the moment, only a few) extras too.)