Blog Archive for June 2024

Tuesday, June 4, 2024


The Moral Economy of the Shire

this is quite surprising. tolkien modelled the shire upon his personal ideal, his eden. and usually, fantasy mostly ignores one key point: subsidience farming usually doesn't yield much surplus, but the depicted hobbits were able to live lives of simple pleasures, mostly farming and then eating what they farmed.

usually this would be hand-waved away with some explanation; hobbits could be so magically gifted at farming they'd create a food surplus from farming so big as to allow for some relatively large allotment of luxury and leisure time.

tolkien isn't the type to hand-wave anything away, though; here's a - sobering - explanation:

Understanding this sheds a great deal of light on Tolkien’s explanation of the Shire’s governance. The lack of much organized administration is not, as some suggest, a form of democratic anarchism, but instead the result of elite control.

read: The Moral Economy of the Shire

update: don't forget the comments, they're great!

Thursday, June 6, 2024

The Intellectual Obesity Crisis

A few years back I thought this was a good thing. The constant barrage of information through link aggregators (hn, reddit) and various blogs led to my aquiring some, mostly slightly more than superficial, knowledge about many random topics, which does have its upsides. On the other hand, it somewhat diminishes the time and energy available to do or learn something actually productive. That said, the random information I consumed isn't really the kind of "junk information" of the linked article, it's just info that's only partly - often not yet - relevant to me.

But it has comparable effects:

The vast majority of the online content you consume today won't improve your understanding of the world. In fact, it may just do the opposite; recent research suggests that people browsing social media tend to experience “normative dissociation” in which they become less aware and less able to process information, to such an extent that they often can’t recall what they just read.

(emphasis mine)

This is something i experience often.

As an example, this article titled: "No ones buys books"

read here:

It's not junk - to the contrary, it's an interesting piece. It just got very little relevance to me, personally. I don't work in publishing, i'm not an author. It's satisfying to learn some interesting tidbits, but on the other hand i really had trouble concentrating enough to read the whole piece.

maybe related: Why Can’t I Motivate Myself To Work? Spoiler: It's Dopamine Sickness