Friday, October 11, 2013

Friday grab-bag

● Brad DeLong wrote the best sentence I read on the Internet this week:

“Last April, by a strange chance, the internet led me to a passage from the lost Biographies of third-century B.C.E. philosopher Hermippos of Smyrna.”

That must have been a strange chance indeed! I also really like his catalog (in the same post) of the principal topics of “our collective public conversation":

  1. The personal doings of the beautiful, the powerful, and the rich—and how to become more like them.
  2. The weather.
  3. Local threats and dangers, especially to children.
  4. Amusements—usually gossip about the past or about our imaginary friends, frenemies, etc. (it is amazing how many people I know who have strong opinions about Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen--many more than have any opinions at all about her creator George R.R. Martin).
  5. How to best procure necessities and conveniences.
  6. Large scale dangers (and, rarely, opportunities): plagues, wars, the fall and rise of dynasties. 
  7. “The economy”: unemployment, spending, inflation, construction, stock market values, and bond market interest rates.

As DeLong points out, the first six have been principal topics of human discourse since time immemorial; the seventh, on the other hand, is comparatively new.

According to ThinkProgress, “[I]n an increasing number of markets around the country, solar is at or very close to grid parity.” Which is good, because we really, really need to get ourselves off carbon energy ASAP.

● Not all of these are funny, but a decent proportion are. One I liked: “Is it solipsistic in here, or is it just me?”

Video clip of the week: I mentioned Keith Moon earlier this week, so I thought I would put up my favorite clip of the Who, the “See Me, Feel Me” sequence from Woodstock. Hardly a non-obvious choice, but to me it’s just a transcendent performance, one of the greatest moments in rock. (YouTube "top commenter" on this clip, someone named Kevin Zachary, apparently agrees with me.)

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