Links, 11/23/10

Current project: Republic Book V and Plato’s Timaeus (which seems to be an alternative Republic Book V). Have a ton of notes that are mostly me trying to get very basic things straight. Worried this is not going to turn into a paper, so I’m back to blogging a bit. I want to feel a bit productive, not just frustrated.

The themes I’m working on concern “political idealism” (to use Benardete’s phrase), myth, and cosmology. “Myth” is the part I can talk about best – all that Greek drama blogged about is paying off. The cosmology stuff I feel uncomfortable with. Timaeus makes an argument that was debated in the ancient world after the dialogue. He divides “what always is and has no becoming” from “that which is always becoming and never is” (27d). That sounds like the being/becoming problem I talk about, but note the latter: “always becoming?” It was unclear to the ancients what exactly Timaeus was dividing. I can’t say that I have much more insight, 2400 years later.

  • Cathy Horyn, “Homeland Identity” – I know nothing about fashion; this seemed really interesting, and the blogpost does the paper one better with a slideshow. From the article: But maybe a more unexpected pleasure is to see how profoundly Balenciaga’s homeland influenced him and to measure that level of feeling against the loss of cultural identity that seems to be a result of things like communication and mass migrations of people to cities. Even if designers today were inclined to explore their own heritage — and if they had Balenciaga’s hyper-dedication to his craft — would there be enough of a story to tell?
  • Megan McArdle, “It’s All Going According to Plan” – from the article: One of the people at the meetings we had today asked us what had surprised us most about China so far.  I gave a lame answer that I cannot now recall, but I later realized that the thing which had actually surprised me most is the extent to which everything here is subsidized and directed by the government–and the fact that no one seems to wonder if that’s a problem.
  • Jay Cost, “Is the Electorate Moving to the Right?” – from the article: My opinion is that the Democratic Party’s coalition has become too urban for it to sustain itself as a majority coalition in Congress over the long run. Prior to the Depression, the Democrats won when they united the rural South and West with just enough ethnic voters from the big cities. The Democratic super majority that began under Franklin Roosevelt was built upon the South and West, plus massive hauls from the cities. But nowadays the Democrats win the cities, but are much weaker everywhere else. This is important because in our system of government, the distribution of the vote matters. Democrats won the big cities by 65-33 in the 2010 midterm, meaning that their voters were clustered into safely Democratic districts.

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