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by Ed West
Friday, 19
March 2021
Spotted
14:39

Why are journalists so Left-wing?

I’ve learned so much from Twitter, about subjects I was quite ignorant about before; the world of Byzantium for example, or the beautiful history of early skyscrapers.

Most of all, though, I’ve learned how much worse American journalists are than our own commentariat — something I wasn’t really aware of before social media. I just assumed that the country’s newspapers were quite dull; you had to get to paragraph 32 of a New York Times article to actually understand what the story was about. Which is why I thought that its journalists didn’t share the sub-clinical levels of narcissism and sociopathy found in the UK variant. Oh, was I wrong. ...  Continue reading

by Ed West
Tuesday, 16
March 2021
Idea
07:00

How the Tories can reclaim the cities

The more numerous and the more abundant the civilization (population) in a city, the more luxurious is the life of its inhabitants in comparison with that (of the inhabitants) of a lesser city.
- Ibn Khaldûn, The Muqaddimah

So said the 14th century historian, Ibn Khaldûn, in The Muqaddimah and he was of course right.

Cities have always been associated with luxury and decadence, but in the 21st century the ideological gap between urban areas and their surroundings has grown considerably. In the US the biggest political cleavage is not that of class, race or even age but geography, where the gap between liberals and conservatives is heavily dictated by density. Joe Biden became president despite only winning 16% of US counties, for instance, because he was overwhelmingly victorious in almost all the most heavily-populated counties. ...  Continue reading

by Ed West
Thursday, 11
March 2021
Spotted
16:15

More pubs, less extremism

I remember once watching a documentary about Paul Heaton and the heavy drinking culture he came from, and his realisation that it wasn’t alcohol that he craved so much as pubs.

I have come to really appreciate that this last year; I even dreamed a couple of times about pubs.

At the same time I’ve come to realise that home drinking is quite depressing; Zoom drinks, after the novelty wore off, were dismal affairs. It has all the destructive downsides of alcohol without its strong power to act as a social lubricant.

Matthew Syed wrote about this a while back, specifically on how remote working would never succeed because so much innovation was the product of serendipitous meetings between individuals in proximity; I’d go further and say that serendipitous meetings with alcohol probably play a big part in innovation, and there is some correlation between alcohol-using (and in particular beer-drinking) cultures and high levels of trust. ...  Continue reading

by Ed West
Monday, 8
March 2021
Idea
09:39

The EU are the populists now

To be a supporter of the European Union means almost by definition being opposed to populism. Whatever the differences between member-states and supporters, the EU is against the populists, whether the Trumpians and Brexiteers in the West, or Fidesz and PiS in the East.

Populism includes a number of characteristics but one of its major planks is an appeal to ordinary people, bypassing the political class, the technocrats, economists and so-called experts. Populism upholds the sovereignty and virtue of “the people” and is largely a response to the belief that members of the governing class put the interests of the economy and the global political system ahead of voters. Populism is a response to globalisation, in particular multiculturalism and growing diversity, but also the economic consequences of offshoring (US counties that lost jobs to China post-2001 went heavily for Trump). ...  Continue reading

by Ed West
Wednesday, 3
March 2021
Idea
16:30

Is Netflix behind the Covid baby bust?

When we first went into a lockdown just under a year ago I remember lots of people saying that this would lead to a baby boom in nine months because people would be locked up inside together and “nudge nudge”. And I remember thinking — really? I don’t know about anyone else, but spending my day reading about a fatal respiratory disease, with one daily outing to queue outside the supermarket like some bedraggled Soviet babushka, doesn’t strike me as a classic aphrodisiac.

And, as with a thousand Covid takes, it has indeed perished, with the pandemic leading to a huge baby bust in the United States. ...  Continue reading

by Ed West
Monday, 22
February 2021
Idea
15:08

White narcissism, not white supremacy, is plaguing America

It’s a curiosity of human psychology that as air travel has become much safer we’ve become more scared of it.

The same is true with racism, at least in the western context. In the US, while openly racist attitudes have hugely decreased, and as any opinion even adjacent to racism has become taboo, so there has been far more focus on the menace of white supremacy.

A genuinely white supremacist society would probably not tolerate and encourage various minorities to become wealthier than the average; they would certainly not have quotas and subsidises for the sake of affirmative action, nor would the most prestigious publications in a white supremacist society have a succession of dreary comment pieces denouncing “white people”; nor would there be a conveyor belt of academics exposed for pretending to be black, Hispanic or Asian. ...  Continue reading

by Ed West
Wednesday, 17
February 2021
Spotted
11:15

Is this the solution to Britain’s housing crisis?

I have to admit to being especially excited by a policy paper released today, but then if I’m honest it’s been a quiet few months and my social life isn’t what it once was.

But if you think about its implications, you might be excited too.

Imagine that we could solve the housing crisis, make home ownership affordable for young people again, create lots of jobs, increase GDP by a couple of percentage points, make our cities more beautiful, liveable and greener — and do all this without building on a single square foot of green belt land? Such a thing is made possible by the Policy Exchange paper, “Strong Suburbs”, by Ben Southwood and Samuel Hughes. ...  Continue reading

by Ed West
Tuesday, 16
February 2021
Reaction
07:00

America’s radical young rich are out of control

There are few laughs to be had these days, and all the things that are funny are impermissible to laugh about anyway.

However, this should bring light to the saddest of hearts: an article about the expensive holidays organised by The New York Times for its insufferably privileged young readers:

The trips brought in some money, but were expensive to run and complicated to manage — particularly in the summer of 2019, after The Times began hosting teenagers. In Seoul, two were detained by the police at an arcade after they were accused of stealing, a Times spokeswoman said.

And then there was the trip to Peru that summer. The parents of adventurous young meritocrats paid $5,490 (plus airfare) for two weeks studying “Public Health and Development in the Andes.” On that trip, the reporter, Donald G. McNeil Jr., got into a series of heated arguments with students, none of them Black, on the charged question of race. Their complaints would ultimately end his career as a high-profile public health reporter for The Times.

- Ben Smith, New York Times

There is a danger of sounding like someone’s Dad when they first saw The Beatles, but there is something genuinely disturbing about the behaviour of America’s young radical rich. As a group they seem to be lacking any of the informal or formal restraints past elites have been saddled with, combining privilege and self-righteousness. ...  Continue reading

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