Summary of “The Weekend at Yale That Changed American Politics”

Convened principally by Steven Calabresi, who was at Yale Law, and Lee Liberman and David McIntosh, who were at University of Chicago Law, some 200 people arrived in New Haven, Connecticut, on the last weekend of April for a three-day symposium.
In the 36 years since, it has become one of the most influential legal organizations in history-not only shaping law students’ thinking but changing American society itself by deliberately, diligently shifting the country’s judiciary to the right.
Among the speakers at the first Federalist Society meeting were Robert Bork, then a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit; Antonin Scalia, then a law professor at the University of Chicago; and Ted Olson, then a DOJ assistant attorney general.
The Ludwig von Mises Society? The Alexander Bickel Society? The Anti-Federalist Society? The Anti-Federalists, after all, were the ones who sought a more decentralized government at the time of the founding of the country.
They landed on the Federalist Society, because it invoked the Federalist Papers and the long-running American debate about the appropriate balance of power between the national and state governments.
He ticked off a to-do list: “How to get the right people into the study of law. How to get into the right law school. How to succeed as a conservative in law school. Law student participation in politics and government. How to get better people on law faculties. How to get a good clerking job. How to become a judge. How to make sure the right people get to be judges.”
Five months after the heady weekend at Yale, it was official: The Federalist Society, technically the Federalist Society for Law & Public Policy Studies, was a national, nonprofit corporation.
In the following five years, the society established an office in Washington and watched chapters open at 15 law schools, then 30, then 75, then more.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Cure for Sidewalk Rage Is Gratitude”

The accelerating pace of society resets our internal timers, which then go off more often in response to slow things, putting us in a constant state of rage and impulsiveness.
Strong emotions affect our sense of time most of all, explains Claudia Hammond in her 2012 book Time Warped: Unlocking the Mysteries of Time Perception.
“Just as Einstein’s theory of relativity tells us that there is no such thing as absolute time, neither is there an absolute mechanism for measuring time in the brain,” she writes.
Can we stave off the slowness rage and revive patience? We need to find a way to reset our internal timers and unwarp time.
An arachnophobe overestimates the time spent in a room with a spider; a fearful novice skydiver, the time spent hurtling to Earth.
Our brains are tricked into thinking more time has passed.
On top of that, our brains-in particular, the insular cortex, linked to motor skills and perception-may measure the passing of time in part by integrating many different signals from our bodies, like our heartbeats, the tickle of a breeze on our skin, and the burning heat of rage.
We need to find a way to reset our internal timers and unwarp time.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Has Greece finally escaped the grip of catastrophe?”

The EU had stood by its partner – whose links with ancient Greece played an indisputable role in Athens’s admission in 1981 as a member of what was the European Economic Community – and economic Armageddon had been averted.
In global financial history no country has received as much money as Greece.
From 120% of GDP at the start of the crisis, the ratio of debt-to-economic output now hovers around 180%, by far the highest in the EU. “The country was bankrupt in 2010, but the creditors pretended it was a cashflow problem, when really Greece needed a restructuring of its debt early on,” says Professor Loukas Tsoukalis, who presides over the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy, Eliamep.
The rout in 1922 led to the loss of territory formerly ceded to Greece and a major exchange of ethnic Greek and Turkish populations.
Worsening demographics have not helped: after Bulgaria, Greece has the lowest fertility rate in the EU, with the population dwindling by almost 3% as a result of emigration and fewer births during the crisis.
A deal, unveiled last month, giving Athens the ability to extend payments on its accumulated €320bn debt pile by a decade, has provided much-needed breathing space to modernise the economy but is widely seen as inadequate if Greece is to avoid further crisis down the line.
“The crisis is something that happened to Greece – it didn’t happen to me. I set up Manifest in 2003 after working as a salesman in another company but it’s only in recent years that our turnover has soared. When others were on their knees, getting scared and pulling out, we moved in and filled the gap.”
“For a third of my life, Greece has been in crisis. I should have got used to it but my parents died early and I’ve had no economic support. Before it began, I had my own car and rented a flat and was waitressing six nights a week.”

The orginal article.

Summary of “The George Soros philosophy”

To which Barr responded in the most depressing way possible, repeating false claims earlier proferred by rightwing media personalities: “Sorry to have tweeted incorrect info about you! Please forgive me! By the way, George Soros is a nazi who turned in his fellow Jews 2 be murdered in German concentration camps & stole their wealth – were you aware of that? But, we all make mistakes, right Chelsea?”.
Unlike Gates and Zuckerberg, Soros has long pointed to academic philosophy as his source of inspiration.
As he witnessed the Soviet empire’s downfall between 1989 and 1991, Soros needed to answer a crucial strategic question: now that the closed societies of eastern Europe were opening, what was his foundation to do? On the eve of the Soviet Union’s dissolution, Soros published an updated version of Opening the Soviet System, titled Underwriting Democracy, which revealed his new strategy: he would dedicate himself to building permanent institutions that would sustain the ideas that motivated anticommunist revolutions, while modelling the practices of open society for the liberated peoples of eastern Europe.
How could Soros ensure that newly opened societies would remain free? Soros had come of age in the era of the Marshall Plan, and experienced American largesse firsthand in postwar London.
Still, Soros hoped that, somehow, American policymakers would accept that, for their own best interests, they needed to lead a coalition of democracies dedicated to “Promoting the development of open societies [and] strengthening international law and the institutions needed for a global open society”.
The George W Bush administration’s militarist response to the attacks of September 11 compelled Soros to shift his attention from economics to politics.
In his 2006 book The Age of Fallibility, Soros attributed Bush’s re-election to the fact that the US was “a ‘feel-good’ society unwilling to face unpleasant reality”.
In his successful re-election campaign earlier this year, Orbán spent much of his time on the campaign trail demonising Soros, playing on antisemitic tropes and claiming that Soros was secretly plotting to send millions of immigrants to Hungary.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Reciprocity, not tolerance, is the basis of healthy societies”

The question of how tolerance – religious tolerance in particular – could be a tool of domination strikes many people as counterintuitive or perverse.
As an idea and an ethic, obscures the interaction between individuals and groups on both a daily basis and over the longue durée; the mutually reinforcing exchange of culture and ideas between groups in a society is missing in the idea of tolerance.
For teachers, journalists and politicians to begin to speak in terms of reciprocity instead of tolerance will not do away with intolerance or prejudice.
Speaking in terms of reciprocity instead of tolerance would both better reflect what peaceful societies look like, and also tune people’s minds to the societal benefits of cultural exchange.
These arrangements successfully created a stable society with co-dependent and reciprocal relationships between groups, even while the goal of tolerance for all parties remained the greatest possible isolation, or perhaps insulation, from one another.
For the first English theorists of tolerance such as John Locke, tolerance was necessary first and foremost to protect Christianity and Christians’ souls.
Jefferson’s view of the political community failed to include women, African Americans or native people, but he grasped the danger of premising citizenship on the tolerance of one religious group by another.
In contrast to tolerance, reciprocity recognises that strong and dynamic societies are based on social and cultural exchange.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How income inequality is changing how we think, live, and die”

I reached out to Payne because his argument seems to lead to a counterintuitive conclusion: American society would be more be more stable if we had more poverty and less inequality.
Keith Payne Sure, it means that if you take two people who make the same income, but one lives in a very high-inequality place and one lives in a low-inequality place, the person in the high-inequality location is more likely to deal with these chronic diseases, more likely to deal with these drug and alcohol problems, more likely to actually die sooner than the same person living in a low-inequality environment.
The high-inequality countries also have more crime, more incarceration, more school dropouts – things that we normally associate with poverty, but in wealthy developed countries, they’re actually more closely linked to inequality than to poverty rates.
Sean Illing Is it fair to say that economic inequality produces more political tribalism?
Sean Illing Do you think we would be healthier and happier if we had more poverty and less inequality?
Even if by some miracle we doubled everyone’s income tomorrow, that would only increase the inequality because when you double the income of millionaires, they get a lot richer than when you double the income of somebody making $20,000.
Usually, there isn’t a trade-off between more wealth and less inequality, because if you look across countries, the countries with lower levels of inequality actually have greater levels of social mobility.
It’s easier to climb up that economic ladder if you’re in a place where inequality is on a human scale, as opposed to the astronomical levels of inequality that we see in America.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Why inequality bothers people more than poverty”

Most remarkably, his research revealed that the Ju/’hoansi managed this on the basis of little more than 15 hours’ work per week.
More than any other food, meat was capable of making the Ju/’hoansi forget their customary good manners, so it required extra diligence in distribution.
Ironically, how envy functioned in societies such as the Ju/’hoansi suggests that, even if Smith’s hidden hand does not apply particularly well to late capitalism, his belief that the sum of individual self-interests can ensure the fairest distribution of the ‘necessaries of life’ was right, albeit in small-scale band societies.
Highlighting the explicit role of envy in Ju/’hoansi life risks giving the impression of a society of reluctant egalitarians constantly sniping at one another – an impression that any Ju/’hoansi will tell you is a far cry from the cheerful banter and mutual affection that characterises day-to-day life.
While, to be sure, the Ju/’hoansi do not reward people for being egalitarian, they are conscious of the positive emotional and social dividends that sharing, cooperation and harmony bring.
Unsurprisingly, envy still accounts for most conflict among the Ju/’hoansi in contemporary Nyae-Nyae where inequality is greater than ever before, because some have jobs or access to resources such as pensions that are denied to others.
With many Ju/’hoansi now dependent on the cash economy with its attendant employment hierarchies and management systems, many Ju/’hoansi are reluctant to take management roles or assume responsibilities that require making and imposing their decisions or authority on others.
If envy played a constructive role in small-scale band societies such as the Ju/’hoansi, it is harder to establish whether it has a similarly beneficial purpose in more complex, hierarchical societies.

The orginal article.

Summary of “No one’s coming. It’s up to us.”

The ability to systemically affect entire societies in such short timespans isn’t something that I believe we’re intuitively geared up to deal with without very, very deliberately engaging Kahneman’s System 2.And yet everything isn’t better.
If technology is the solution to human problems, we need to do the human work to figure out and agree what our problems are and the kind of society we want.
Then we can figure out what technology we want and need to bring about the society we want.
Not because we’re technologists, but because we’re people, we’re responsible to society for the tools we make.
Clearly decide what kind of society we want; and thenDesign and deliver the technologies that forever get us closer to achieving that desired society.
For all of us: What would it look like, and how might our societies be different, if technology were better aligned to society’s interests?At the most general level, we are all members of a society, embedded in existing governing structures.
In the way that post-enlightenment governing institutions were set up to protect against asymmetric distribution of power, technology leaders must recognize that their platforms are now an undeniable, powerful influence on society.
If you’re a technologist, consider this question: what are the pros and cons of unionizing? As the product of a linked network, consider the question: what is gained and who gains from preventing humans from linking up in this way?Just as we create design patterns that are best practices, there are also those that represent undesired patterns from our society’s point of view known as dark patterns.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How Money Became the Measure of Everything”

The turn away from these statistics, and toward financial ones, means that rather than considering how economic developments could meet Americans’ needs, the default stance-in policy, business, and everyday life-is to assess whether individuals are meeting the exigencies of the economy.
In 1791, then-Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton wrote to various Americans across the country, asking them to calculate the moneymaking capacities of their farms, workshops, and families so that he could use that data to create economic indicators for his famous Report on Manufactures.
Around the middle of the century, money-based economic indicators began to gain prominence, eventually supplanting moral statistics as the leading benchmarks of American prosperity.
In the earlier parts of the 19th century, Americans in the North and South wielded moral statistics in order to prove that their society was the more advanced and successful one.
Hammond, in his speech, had chosen to measure American prosperity in the same way that he valued, monitored, and disciplined those forced to work on his own cotton plantation.
Many working-class Americans were not as enthusiastic about the rise of economic indicators.
Massachusetts labor activists fighting for the eight-hour workday spoke for many American workers when they said, in 1870, that “The true prosperity and abiding good of the commonwealth can only be learned, by placing money [on] one scale, and man [on another].”
By the early 21st century, American society’s top priority became its bottom line, net worth became synonymous with self-worth, and a billionaire businessman who repeatedly pointed to his own wealth as proof of his fitness for office was elected president.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How Western civilisation could collapse”

Such collapses have occurred many times in human history, and no civilisation, no matter how seemingly great, is immune to the vulnerabilities that may lead a society to its end.
Eventually, the working population crashes because the portion of wealth allocated to them is not enough, followed by collapse of the elites due to the absence of labour.
If the carrying capacity is overshot by too much, collapse becomes inevitable.
“If we make rational choices to reduce factors such as inequality, explosive population growth, the rate at which we deplete natural resources and the rate of pollution – all perfectly doable things – then we can avoid collapse and stabilise onto a sustainable trajectory,” Motesharrei said.
While some scholars cite the beginning of collapse as the year 410, when the invading Visigoths sacked the capital, that dramatic event was made possible by a downward spiral spanning more than a century.
According to Joseph Tainter, a professor of environment and society at Utah State University and author of The Collapse of Complex Societies, one of the most important lessons from Rome’s fall is that complexity has a cost.
Modern Western societies have largely been able to postpone similar precipitators of collapse through fossil fuels and industrial technologies – think hydraulic fracturing coming along in 2008, just in time to offset soaring oil prices.
“Western nations are not going to collapse, but the smooth operation and friendly nature of Western society will disappear, because inequity is going to explode,” Randers argues.

The orginal article.