L. Rhodes

Digest

hidden ideals, permissable assaults

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The blockbuster urban planning game SimCity repackaged and popularized the theories of a darling of the conservative/libertarian establishment, according to this piece in Logic. Part of the argument is that popular ignorance over the background that informed Will Wright's design has rendered us less capable of assessing SimCity's value qua simulation than if we had imbibed the theories of urbanism directly from the source.


Mandatory service in the Israeli military, along with a heavy emphasis on the espionage applications of online social and psychological manipulation, have created a boom in private "perception shaping" firms that leverage techniques akin to fake news and catfishing in order to tilt elections. This New Yorker article (co-written by Ronan Farrow, whose #MeToo foil Harvey Weinstein gets a mention) looks at what happens when one firm tries to break into the American market by making a small-market hospital board election its proof-of-concept.


Many orders of magnitude louder than a shuttle launch, the seismic air guns energy companies use to seek undersea oil and gas reserves are also disrupting communication and killing marine life, from zooplankton all the way up to whales. "[M]ore than five million of these huge explosions would occur all along the United States’ eastern coastline" if permits are approved for five companies seeking permission to map reserves under new plans to roll back regulations on mining in the Atlantic, according to the New York Times.


I hadn't heard of Oxford University Press' Spiritual Lives series prior to reading this LARB review of the volume on John Stuart Mill, but consider my interest piqued. The aim of the series, according to the reviewer, is "to explore the religious lives of figures not known for their religiosity, unearthing the secret spiritualities of those we tend to value for their so-called “secular” accomplishments," which is, in itself, an intriguing premise. And Mill is an provocative choice, given his stature as the originator of liberal principles that have long been cited as the basis for a moral scheme untethered by theological underpinnings.