I Didn't Say That #1
About a year ago, I experimented with a new section of Think List called I Didn’t Say That. The basic idea behind IDST was to share a short daily list of notable stories I came across while reading the internet each week.
It didn’t last long. Four days, to be exact. I threw in the towel after allowing several unsubscribes and one negative response to penetrate my thin skin and launch a full-on psychological assault.
A year later, my skin is feeling a bit thicker (and I’m feeling as thickheaded as ever). So I’m bringing back a scaled-down version of IDST. Unlike the previous version, I’m not going to share my thoughts on the stories. (You get enough of my thoughts here already.) Instead, I’m only going to present links to articles along with brief excerpts.
I’m also going to focus less on what’s “in the news” and more on (a) interesting ideas, (b) strong arguments (including ones I might not fully agree with), and (c) cool/beautiful shit. But there will inevitably be some overlap.
Here’s what IDST emails/posts will look like (in fact, I guess just consider this the first one):
I want to know what’s going on in the world. I’m a human; I’m interested in what other humans are up to; I value them, care about their triumphs and mourn their deaths.
There’s far too much going on for me to keep track of all of it
I think that some parts of what’s going are likely far more important than others
I don’t think that regular news providers are picking the important bits to report on
I would really like there to be a scope sensitive news provider which was making a good faith attempt to report on the things which most matter in the world (see digression one for more thoughts on this). But as far as I know, this doesn’t exist (see digression two for some cool things which do exist).
In the absence of such a provider, I’ve spent a small amount of time trying to find out some basic context on what happens in the world on the average day. I think of this as a bit like a cheat sheet: some information to have in the back of my mind when reading whatever regular news stories are coming at me, to ground me in something that feels a bit closer to what’s actually going on.
Rose Hadshar, Effective Altruism Forum
“I want to genetically modify humans. I want to create a coronavirus vaccine in my kitchen. Because I can. Because it’s beautiful and cool. But like, you can’t say that shit.”
Should complete bodily autonomy be a human right? For instance, should those suffering and dying of diseases that are untreatable have the right to inject themselves with any drug they want in search of a cure?
Fiction is often described as a mirror through which we see the world. What happens when a shard of glass must tell the entire story?
What happens to a narrative when it collapses into a few hundred words, or even a few sentences? Think of Vladimir Nabokov’s famous moment from Lolita, when Humbert Humbert recalls how his mother died: picnic, lightning. Those 15 letters contain a world, a painful memory that almost refuses to be fleshed out. Yet as readers, we can’t resist. Our minds are kick-started and set loose to imagine the unseen, the unwritten. Perhaps a reader and writer are never in closer contact than at these sites of intense collaboration.
Oliver Munday (with stories by Daniel Smith, Venita Blackburn, Thomas Gebremedhin, Rav Grewal-Kök’s, and Lucy Ives), The Atlantic
Last weekend, British novelist Salman Rushdie was almost killed for a novel he wrote. It’s a brutal reminder of why the Left’s long tradition of embracing free speech is so vital.
Any movement that wants to challenge existing power structures in a fundamental way needs to care about free speech as a matter of self-preservation. But there’s also a deeper reason to care about free speech. The telos of socialist politics — the defining point of our political project — is the empowerment of ordinary people. Without a deep commitment to freedom of expression, that commitment is incoherent.
Ben Burgis, Jacobin
Lex Fridman Podcast
If you don’t want to receive IDST emails, do this:
Go to thinklist.substack.com
Click on the little hamburger menu at the top to access your account settings
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Uncheck the I Didn’t Say That box
Here’s a visual: