The best things I’ve read recently (12/04/17)

Travel seems to be our theme for this week: theories moving across cultures, people moving across class boundaries, and capital cities…well…just moving.

How French “Intellectuals” Ruined the West: Postmodernism and Its Impact, Explained by Helen Pluckrose (Areo)

‘When I try, unsuccessfully, to squeeze a tennis ball into a wine bottle, I need not try several wine bottles and several tennis balls before, using Mill’s canons of induction, I arrive inductively at the hypothesis that tennis balls do not fit into wine bottles’… We are now in a position to turn the tables on [postmodernist claims of cultural relativity] and ask, ‘If I judge that tennis balls do not fit into wine bottles, can you show precisely how it is that my gender, historical and spatial location, class, ethnicity, etc., undermine the objectivity of this judgement?”

If you’re working class, these public spaces won’t welcome you by Kathleen Kerridge (the Guardian)

“The humble school trip has become a source of anxiety and dread for parents across the country. Money is tight, and it’s needed to pay rent and energy bills, and to put food on the table. To have an exuberant child burst through the door with a letter from school – one for a trip to Disneyland Paris, no less – and have to explain that they can’t go is heartbreaking. For children who receive free school meals, the dreaded “paper bag” lunches declare their status to classmates, and the lack of money to spend in gift shops or markets instantly makes a child stand out from the crowd. It’s a sad reality more and more families are having to face. My children don’t even have passports. There’s no point, after all, in paying for a passport that will never be used.”

Why Building New Capital Cities Might Not Be Such a Bad Idea, After All by Mimi Kirk (Citylab)

“It’s unrealistic to expect a new, planned city to become functional right away. It takes at least a century for such a city to become successful. Washington, D.C., for instance, wasn’t a flourishing metropolis for many years. Pierre L’Enfant’s master plan was completed only at the turn of the 20th century—about 100 years after D.C. was founded. It was the same for St. Petersburg, the city I live in. It only became successful after about 100 years, in the early 19th century. The Russian historian Nikolay Karamzin called St. Petersburg a “brilliant mistake” in that it was a miserable city to live and work in for generations—but it persevered, and was critical to the formation of Russian identity.”

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