Current Affairs

"Thorstein Veblen’s Theory of the Leisure Class—A Status Update"

Astutely observed:

In the past, people displayed their membership of the upper class with their material accoutrements. But today, luxury goods are more affordable than before. And people are less likely to receive validation for the material items they display. This is a problem for the affluent, who still want to broadcast their high social position. But they have come up with a clever solution. The affluent have decoupled social status from goods, and re-attached it to beliefs. . . .

The chief purpose of luxury beliefs is to indicate evidence of the believer’s social class and education. Only academics educated at elite institutions could have conjured up a coherent and reasonable-sounding argument for why parents should not be allowed to raise their kids, and should hold baby lotteries instead. When an affluent person advocates for drug legalization, or anti-vaccination policies, or open borders, or loose sexual norms, or uses the term “white privilege,” they are engaging in a status display. They are trying to tell you, “I am a member of the upper class.” 

"It's The Pot, Stupid. We Figured Out Vaping Weeks Ago."

From last month. Another popular panic apparently debunked.

Speaking of pot, this is s thought-provoking short piece: "Big dope: how marijuana benefited from one of the slickest PR campaigns in history".

A key question is whether people with problems tend to smoke pot or whether smoking pot tends to cause problems. And while it's at least plausible causality runs in both directions, the widespread approval of modern pot should be researched a bit more than it has.