Assumed Audience: people interested in reading yet more things I write.
So I hopped onto the bandwagon that everyone else is in 2019—with the excuse that I’ve been thinking about it since late 2017!—and started an email newsletter: Across the Sundering Seas
One reason I’m interested in the email newsletter as a medium is because I think it can help with the assumed audience problem. A blog is written into the void, and has a certain kind of atemporality and acontextuality to it. Some readers follow along devotedly in their RSS readers; but equally someone may stumble on something I wrote half a decade ago. That is the beauty and wonder of blogs, and also their great challenge.
An email is a letter to an audience. Like a letter, you can respond, just by hitting the Reply button in your email client! But both of those benefits without the horrible-ness that is public comment threads, and with a much more direct kind of conversation. I can know you’re reading because you want to be, and I can write accordingly.
So here’s to seeing how this goes. I am excited to see how both this and my supporters-only podcast develop over the course of the year. You can read the first issue, subscribe, or just ignore this if newsletters aren’t your thing!
Up the ante, you say? Sure, we’ll tackle the small, easy problem of systemic force and individual agency this season on Winning Slowly.
5.01: A Ph.D.-Level Math Problem—Structures and systems, agency and individuals: three axes (and a sub-axis) for thinking about the world we live in.
We introduce our system for thinking about the “structure/agency” or “systems and individuals” problem: how do the systems and structures of our lives shape us? How do we shape them? How free are we, and where are the places where more freedom is good, and the places where it might actually be bad? How do we confront the structural issues we face, or strengthen and preserve the good systems we do have in place?
One of the reasons we do history… is because it acts as a brake… on our otherwise unbridled enthusiasm for our own ideas.
—N.T. Wright, Paul and the Faithfulness of God, Parts I & II, p. 54
In my dream of dreams, Trump actually runs third party, which emboldens Bernie Sanders (should he not get the nom–whoa, Sanders vs. Trump would be the greatest political race OF ALL TIME) to also run third-party, since all of them have viable “cores,” and we get a four-party race that spawns four actual parties and American politics is freed from its bipartisan lock and a bald eagle screams across the sky while Stephen Colbert tears his shirt and flexes his muscles and fireworks explode in the shape of America over his head.
When the police beat an 87-year-old grandmother who called 911 to get medical help for her grandson who had been shot—just because they don’t believe her—and suffer no consequences for it, the “law” as such has become wicked. This doesn’t excuse riots, but it sure as heck explains them. Baltimore is broken, but primarily in a massive system of abuse. Yes, pray for peace. But remember that civic peace comes in large part through civic justice; rule of law follows the law ruling justly.
Connor Friedersdorf has a lot more; you need to read it, even though—or rather, precisely because—it is such a mess.