I Didn’t Read Tyler Cowen’s The Complacent Class Because Things Are Going Pretty OK for Me

From what I skimmed, looks very interesting.

Got an advance copy. Between my non-manual-labor job, Netflix’s excellent recommendations (The OA is so good), and virtue-signaling to my in-group on Twitter, I guess I just wasn’t feeling it.

Besides, if I did read The Complacent Class, I’d have to write a review. The review would introduce readers to a bunch of new and challenging ideas about how Americans are losing the desire to embrace rapid change, and then I would explore some of the unexpected ways our complacency hurts us as a country, possibly challenging the author, or adding to his thesis with my own insights. Oh, people say they want new and challenging ideas, but they don’t. They’re happy with their current ideas, and why should I make anyone unhappy? No one ever considers whether the boat wants to be rocked.

Or is that Cowen’s game? To point out that our lack of urgency and general NIMBY-ism have led to less migration, more segregation, more inequality, dulled creativity, increased conformity, and faded activism, all of which portends a coming unavoidable chaos? What’s he after? Is Cowen trying to jolt us out of our zombie states so we can live in the sci-fi future of no diseases and flying cars and robot monkey butlers we all dreamed about when we were kids? I don’t know, man. Maybe. Anything’s possible, right? I literally didn’t read the book.



Dave Barry’s “How to Argue Effectively” Has Aged Well

You can read it here.

My favorite bit:

Use Snappy and Irrelevant Comebacks

You need an arsenal of all-purpose irrelevant phrases to fire back at your opponents when they make valid points. The best are:

You’re begging the question.

You’re being defensive.

Don’t compare apples to oranges.

What are your parameters?

This last one is especially valuable. Nobody other than engineers and policy wonks has the vaguest idea what “parameters” means. Here’s how to use your comeback: You say: “As Abraham Lincoln said in 1873…” Your opponent says: “Lincoln died in 1865.” You say: “You’re begging the question.” You say: “Liberians, like most Asians.. ,” Your opponent says: “Liberia is in Africa.” You say: “You’re being defensive.”

Chuck Norris Versus Communism

Meryl Streep’s comments about Donald Trump at the Golden Globes have everyone talking about Hollywood’s politics again. For an excellent example of how Hollywood actually does affect politics, and how it changes the world, I recommend the documentary Chuck Norris Versus Communism (Netflix).

Western films were forbidden in Romania when it was under communist rule, creating a black market for our action films (American bad-ass Chuck Norris was particularly beloved), as well as comedies and romantic movies. How these movies got to the masses behind the Iron Curtain makes for quite the movie itself. When Romania eventually overthrew its leaders, credit was given to Western cinema for showing the people a window into a better world (one with well-stocked grocery shelves, nice cars, nice clothes, and heroic individuals.)

Streep has every right to talk politics, but that’s not a particularly effective way to change minds. (Which, to be fair, it didn’t appear she was trying to. It more looked like she was trying to rally the base.) The more subversive, long-lasting and high-impact way to create the world you want to live in is to make the type of art that changes people. Of course, that’s harder than virtue-signalling in a room filled with your like-minded peers, but as Chuck Norris Versus Communism showed, if your art is good, or even just entertaining, it can inspire people, maybe in ways you never imagined. As Los Angeles enters its La Resistance phase, that’s something worth keeping in mind.

I give Chuck Norris Versus Communism 4 out of 5 flying leg kicks.



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