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No. 325: Humanity Without Humans

⁂ Nashville's Alt-Daily ⁂ Humanities · East Bank · German Energy · Wind Turbines and Birds · Country Music · Much More!

📰Here's what we're talking about today:
  • Intro Davis talks about the value of the humanities in education and what it can teach us about alcohol and tobacco.
  • Nashville Megan takes a look at yesterday's East Bank Stadium Committee meeting.
  • Elsewhere We look at some energy-related news and information, first concerning ourselves with the latest developments in Germany and then looking at a study about birds and wind turbines.
  • And More We consider James Joyce and laugh with Shane Gillis.

  • 🎙 New Podcast Right to Work, Sandbox Laws, Etc. (w/ Ron Shultis of the Beacon Center) (Listen)

Good morning, everyone.

During our ongoing, rabid debate about education, the humanities have been kicked to the curb. Republicans think them useless, and Democrats think anything printed more than twenty years ago is irredeemably racist. That's a crude rendering of the divide, but I think you get what I mean. To be clear, both parties are wrong.

By the humanities, I mean art, philosophy, history, literature, and religion; subjects concerned with people and the study of things that express the human spirit. If that sounds kind of new age-y, so be it; it doesn't change the fact that a careful reading of Hamlet, or some other "old book" of that nature, reveals something distinct and unique about human nature in a way that mastery of a scientific field or technology cannot.

An understanding of human nature in these fields is directed towards probing and manipulating human behavior in order to achieve some desired outcome with no concern—and in many cases, no clue—of the negative side effects of treating people in this way. Orson Welles playing the corrupt Harry Lime in Carol Reed’s The Third Man expresses this viewpoint well when notes, “Nobody thinks in terms of human beings. Governments don't. Why should we?”

It’s hard to look at modern discourse and not conclude that what's missing is a proper grounding in the humanities. I was thinking about this in relation to both the city’s latest effort to ban indoor smoking and the celebratory talk about the declining rate of alcohol and tobacco use in younger generations.  Both are celebrated as good things, even while rates of depression skyrocket, and consumption of pharmaceuticals and pot arise to take their place. Celebrating "reduced consumption" is a distinctly scientific way to assess this. It goes something like, "Alcohol and tobacco kill, so fewer people consuming them is good." This assessment completely ignores second-order effects and—most importantly—the social dimensions of these substances.

G.K. Chesterton put it well when he said, “Don't ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up.” Can anyone celebrating the demise of alcohol and tobacco explain why these two substances emerged as such vital sources of both inspiration and fraternal bonding? Doubtful. There's probably an argument to be made for easing up on the binge drinking and quitting that pack-a-day habit, but instead, we're seeing a Puritanical fever focused on their eradication.

Back to the humanities: you cannot justify the cultural position of alcohol and tobacco, for example, through the lens of science. It requires an understanding of people on a more human level to properly understand and defend the role of alcohol and tobacco in promoting social cohesion. Think about the Ancient Greeks’ reverence for wine, the American Indians’ use of tobacco in religious ceremonies, and the importance of wine in the Eucharist.

Engendering an appreciation and reverence for these substances, which have been understood as sacred to all prior people at all prior times, would be much more productive than advocating for their eradication as if you're some wellness-obsessed Silicon Valley PM who skips meals and drinks Soylent to max out your lines of code per minute or something.

Hillsdale's charter schools see instruction in the humanities as their top priority—which may explain why Tennessee Republicans’ defense of them has been so slow and feckless: they can't put a number on the humanity's value.

Onward.

You can follow us on Twitter (@realpamphleteer) or Instagram (@realpamphleteer) for additional content.

Also, be sure to check out our podcast. Available wherever you get your podcasts.

Thanks for reading.

Nashville

◉ MORE ON THE EAST BANK

Last night the Metro Council's East Bank Stadium Committee met to discuss the stadium and East Bank Development deal.

Council member Bob Mendes chairs the committee and the committee members include council members Kyonzte Toombs, Sean Parker, Brett Withers, Kevin Rhoten, Thom Druffel, and Antoinette Lee. It's worth noting that council members Emily Benedict and Delishia Porterfield were at the committee meeting and were given the floor to speak, though they are not on the committee.

WHAT TO EXPECT

CM Mendes presented a rough timeline of what to expect going forward. Here are a few key dates:

  • September 14: There will be an update from the Mayor’s office.
  • September 28: The council will conduct an economic stadium impact analysis that they will release to the public.
  • October 5: Discussions about stadium design and a presentation of the community benefit plan put together by the Mayor’s office.
  • October 12: Discussion about the development of the 130 acres that surround the stadium. 50% of sales tax from this area will be funneled back into the stadium build.
  • A venue study is projected to be finished by early November.

COMMUNITY BENEFITS

CM Allen and CM Parker initiated a discussion on the floor regarding the Mayor’s proposed benefits package. The discussion centered around the question of what qualifies as a “community benefit.” Allen suggested that the council should consider their constituents' requests prior to the release of the package. Parker expressed his hope that the deal will include benefits such as housing and wage floors.

At a press conference last week, the Mayor’s office encouraged the public to submit comments to the Mayor's development team and declared their intent to use those comments to help shape the package. You can still submit comments by emailing the East Bank Commission at [email protected]

PUBLIC MEETINGS

The committee agreed to execute about five public comment meetings throughout the county. Druffel suggested that an online comment option should also be available to the public. Council members agreed with this and will also be providing educational materials on the East Bank development and stadium build.

Find out more about the East Bank development deal and the stadium from Metro at their website.

By Megan Podsiedlik

HEADLINES

POLITICS

DEVELOPMENT

  • 1920’s-Era Home Converted To Market In Germantown Nashville (Now Next)
  • East Nashville warehouses sell for $57.54M (Post)
  • Midtown bar building sells for $3.4M (Post)
  • Dallas developer still seeks site next to Downtown Y (Post)
National

❏ ON THE GERMAN ENERGY CRISIS

An article from the German newspaper Münchner Merkur details some of the issues in Germany in their transition to electric heat pumps.

Translated courtesy of @eugyppius:

Despite all the euphoria … [h]eat pumps need electricity, and at the same time more and more e-vehicles are being connected to the grid. “In the Fall, all our lights are going to go out,” says [heating company chief Bernd] Krüger. And yet the absurdly long backorders could potentially forestall a blackout. At least that’s what [another heating company executive named] Achim Richter … is hoping for.
As prices for oil and gas have risen enormously, consumers are looking for alternatives. Those who can afford it, have heat pumps installed. Those who can’t are going to the hardware store and buying electric heaters, Krüger says … And all of that requires electricity, but the grid isn’t designed for it … “We're not going to be able to do that. The power grid is going to collapse. The blackout will come for sure.”
It’s a bleak picture that the CEO of the Starnberg-based company describes … In Gauting, there is a street where three charging terminals for e-vehicles have just been installed … “So a heat pump is already too much for the grid there. You couldn’t operate it at all.”

Things will get worse before they get better across the pond.

➫ AND THE WIND TURBINE STUDY SAYS...

A common criticism lobbed at wind turbines — aside from their unsightliness — is that they disrupt the lives of birds and bats killing in the hundreds of thousands each year.

A small study out of Norway posits that painting just one blade black reduces bird fatalities by over 70%. Experimenters sought to determine if reducing the visual smearing effect would make the blades more visible to birds. If you've ever watched an airplane propeller, you'll understand what a "visual smear" looks like.

To test the theory, they selected four pairs of adjacent turbines, painting one blade on one of the turbine blades black and recording the number of bird fatalities using specially trained dogs.

Source: A simple paint job can save birds from wind turbines
Anthropocene, 2 September 2020, Read Online

䷖ CHART OF THE DAY: GREAT DIVIDE

⚔ MISSIVES ⚔

  • 🇷🇺 Mikhail Gorbachev, the leader of the Soviet Union whose attempts to shake up his country’s political and economic system led to the collapse of the Communist superpower and the end of the Cold War, has died.
  • ⛽️ Russia shut down its main artery for natural gas to Europe for maintenance on Wednesday, in what Western governments see as the latest salvo in the Kremlin’s economic war on the continent.
  • 📲 California lawmakers have passed the first statute in the nation requiring apps and sites to install guardrails for users under 18. The new rules would compel many online services to curb the risks that certain popular features may pose to child users.
  • 🇨🇳 President Biden remains undecided about easing tariffs on Chinese imports, as he weighs the possible impact on inflation against the impact on American workers, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said.
  • 🇹🇼 Taiwan said on Wednesday it would exercise its right to self defence and counter-attack if Chinese armed forces entered its territory, as Beijing increased military activities near the democratically governed island.
  • 👻 Snap is laying off 20% of its workforce, which equates to over 1,000 employees. The layoffs will begin on Wednesday, the report said, and will affect certain departments including hardware and developer products.
Entertainment

THINGS TO DO

View our full calendar here.

🍺 The Pamphleteer hosts Bar Hours on the third Thursday of every month (the next meeting is September 15th) at Lucky's 3 Star Bar from 6-8 PM. The first ten guests get drinks on the company tab.

🎪 Check out our favorite driving distance festivals this summer.

👨🏻‍🌾 The Pamphleteer farmer's market guide.

⚔️ Knights in Armor at the Frist starting July 1st: European arms and armor from the renowned collection of the Museo Stibbert in Florence, Italy.

🎭 Shakespeare in the park is every Thursday through Sunday from August 18th till September 11th

🎼 Listen to The Pamphleteer's Picks, our playlist of bands playing in Nashville each week.

TONIGHT

🎻 Bluegrass Night @ The American Legion Post 82, 7p, Free, Info

🐃 Glassing, Waxed, & Soot @ DRKMTTR, 8p, $10, Info

🍸 Electric relaxation @ Bar Sovereign, 9p, Free, Info

ON THE RADAR

🎹 Stereolab @ Marathon Music Works, (9/6), $35, Info

🎸 My Morning Jacket @ Ascend Amphitheater, (9/23), $22.88, Info

⚔️ HELMET @ Marathon Music Works, (9/24), $35, Info
+ 90's alternative metal band from NY, a Pamphleteer favorite

🏜 ZZ Top & Beck @ First Bank Amphitheater, (9/27), $49+, Info

👾 Flamingosis @ Basement East (9/29), $20, Info

🎻 Gustav Holst's The Planets @ Schermerhorn (9/29-10/2), Info
+  Early 1900's orchestral suite, each movement is named after a planet

🕺 Remi Wolf @ Brooklyn Bowl (10/6), $30, Info
+ Young talented funk/pop/hip-hop singer, one of the few

🎻 Mozart & [email protected] Schermerhorn, (10/28-29), $25+, Info

🎸 Smashing Pumpkins @ Bridgestone Arena, (10/10), $133+, Info
+ 90's alt-rock from Chicago

🎸 The Doobie Brothers @ Bridgestone Arena, (10/12), $43+, Info

🎺 Too Many Zooz @ Basement East, (10/31), $20, Info

🌶 The Gypsy Kings @ The Ryman (11/1), $39.50, Info
+ The roving band of flamenco guitarists

Entertainment

RECENT ESSAYS

Culling the Herd
How five Tennessee ranchers are preparing for this winter
Larry Arnn Was Right About Teachers
The Hillsdale College president should be rewarded for his candor, especially after our experience reaching out to Metro Nashville Public Schools
Eating Without Groceries
Simple Gardening and Farmer’s Markets, Affordably
The Free Reign of Porn in the West
Succubus Unchained

RECENT PODCASTS

  • 🆕 Right to Work, Sandbox Laws, Etc. (w/ Ron Shultis of the Beacon Center) (Listen)
  • Wild Markets, Church of the Fed, and Government Subsidies (w/ Tom Landstreet) (Listen)
  • Blood Money in U.S. Schools (w/ A.J. DePriest) (Listen)
  • The Problem with American Agriculture (w/ William Wheelwright) (Listen)
Around the Web

❦ James Joyce’s divine comedy For the Irish, atheism will always be religious

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Today's newsletter is brought to you by Megan Podsiedlik (Nashville), Edward Landstreet (Local Noise), and Davis Hunt (everything else).