Entries in weeknotes (22)


Quentin's Weeknotes 9/1/18-9/7/18

This week:

  • My son started kindergarten. Yikes!
  • I read the amazing Adam Serwer's pessimistic take on what is at stake in the Supreme Court. Serwer has an amazingly broad grasp of US history and politics, and he focuses his attention on the late 19th century Supreme court which he refers to as the Redemption Court. This court did so much damage by allowing or whole-heartedly endorsing the most violent and repressive aspects of Jim Crow segregation. Serwer points out that courts have never been ideologically neutral, but have often been pushed by the mood of the country, though perhaps that is no longer the case:
The Redemption Court was arguably constrained by the broad public consensus among white people of all political stripes that black people were inferior and undeserving of full citizenship, a consensus that hobbled enforcement of the Civil Rights Act of 1875 even before it was struck down. The new Roberts Court will pursue its ideological agenda even in the face of majoritarian opposition.
His view of the future is that we are entering a dark time in which an entrenched court will use "the anvil of Judicial Review" to strike down any progressive legislation enacted by the young activists and motivated politicans that seem to be emerging in the base of the democratic party.  I don't dispute the darkness, but I am less convinced of the court's ideological shielding from popular opinion, both because of recent examples that seem to point to holes in the shield and also the long view, taken by Howard Zinn in one of his later published essays that the Supreme Court has almost never been a force for progressive change and we shouldn't fetishize it is some kind of ultimate arbiter. Change comes not from accurate or ideologically neutral interpretation of established law, but from mobilization and power-building.

Quentin's Weeknotes 8/25/18-8/31/18

This Week

Every Confederate flag in the North is a confession. Each one gives away the entire charade. How can it possibly be about heritage or the other tired euphemisms its Southern defenders trot out?...Every Confederate flag flown outside the slave states is as close as we will get to an admission that the flag represents whiteness, not Southernness.

  • I listened to the newest episode of the amazing podcast The Memory Palace. Walter Knott speaking at the dedication of "Independence Hall", 1966. This week's episode was focused on the origins of Knott's Berry Farm, an amusement park in Orange County that was founded by a farmer named Walter Knott. I knew of Knott's Berry Farm from a throwaway line in the musical Smile, of which I was a cast member in High School. I had no idea that Knott was an arch-conservative, and focused both the park and his political activism around conservative causes. He built a replica of Philadelphia's Independence Hall, supposedly to push people away from socialism, anti-war agitation, and civil rights. 


    Quentin's Weeknotes 8/18/18-8/24/18

    This week:


    Quentin's Weeknotes 8/11/18- 8/17/18

    This week:

    • I finished reading Mike Davis's newest collection "Old Gods, New Enigma's: Marx's lost theory". Davis is a wonderfully readable radical historian of labor, urbanism, and ecology (or in the case of "City of Quartz" his astonishing history of Los Angeles, all three) and he brings to bear his vast knowledge on his first published commentary on Marx. It's worth the price of admission alone for his incredibly funny introduction in which he lays out all the times he's tried to read Marx and failed. There are four essays, all of which are insightful in different ways, but what's stuck with me the most is his quote from the last essay on global warming and urbanism:

    the cornerstone of the low-carbon city, far more than any particular green design or technology, is the priority given to public affluence over private wealth.

    P.S. Mike Davis wrote one of the most interesting and readable accounts of the 2016 election that I ran across as I was trying to make sense of the chaos and irrationalism around me.


    Quentin's Weeknotes 8/04/18- 8/10/18

    This week