Rereading Ayn Rand on the New Left

It used to be called The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution, but the later title was Return on the Primitive.  It was published in 1971, but sometimes drawn from slightly earlier essays.  I wondered if a revisit might shed light on the current day, and here is what I learned: 1. “The New Left is […]

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The arrival of cheap food in England

The period from the 1870s to the start of the First World War saw a steep rise in working-class living standards in Britain, much of it underpinned by a vast array of cheap imported foods. Thanks to new refrigerated steamships and a growing railway network, such items as butter, eggs and meat could be transported […]

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Why Americans Are Having an Emotional Reaction to Masks

That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, easier read through than excerpted, but here is one bit: When no one can see our countenances, we may behave differently. One study found that children wearing Halloween masks were more likely to break the rules and take more candy. The anonymity conferred by masks may be making […]

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Lead headline and sub-header for The New York Times

“Overlooked No More: Valerie Solanas, Radical Feminist Who Shot Andy Warhol She made daring arguments in “SCUM Manifesto,” her case for a world without men. But her legacy as a writer and thinker was overshadowed by one violent act.” The piece itself notes she argued for the wholesale extermination of men, that other people treated […]

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What should I ask Nathan Nunn?

I will be doing a Conversation with him, he is an economist at Harvard, you could call much of his work economic history and economic development.  Wikipedia notes: A recurrent theme in Nunn’s research is the long-term impact of historical processes on economic development, often mediated through institutions, culture, knowledge and technology. Key findings of […]

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*Forms of Contention: Influence and the African American Sonnet Tradition*

That is the new, excellent, and timely book by Hollis Robbins, the title is descriptive, here is one excerpt: “If We Must Die” calls for resistance to violence in an environment of violence. The power of [Claude] McKay’s sonnet—Shakespearean and yet with modern diction—is the tension between the measured lines and rhyme, the poetic phrases […]

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The Spanish Inquisition and the learning curve

Empirical evidence on contemporary torture is sparse. The archives of the Spanish Inquisition provide a detailed historical source of quantitative and qualitative information about interrogational torture. The inquisition tortured brutally and systematically, willing to torment all who it deemed as withholding evidence. This torture yielded information that was often reliable: witnesses in the torture chamber […]

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What should I ask Melissa Dell?

She is a professor of economics at Harvard, and winner of the most recent John Bates Clark medal.  I would describe her as a both a rising star and an already-risen star.  From Wikipedia: Melissa Dell’s research interests include development economics, economic history and political economy. Her work has mainly focused on explaining economic development […]

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