I'm glad the Establishment didn't succeed in destroying JRE during COVID. It’s pretty much the only way I stay informed to the extent I want to be informed.
I agree with Nassim Taleb’s observation that there’s no reason to read the daily news, and it’s not good for you. If there’s anything truly worth knowing, it will reach your ears somehow.
Those stray pieces of information are enough for me, though I admire those independents who write articles and essays chockful of links to information that paint a layered picture of a world event. I read them sometimes.
But for the most part, I glance through Internet headlines on my way to things I really want to read, read one or two blogs regularly, read The Kiplinger Letter (invaluable in its pithiness and politically-informed non-partisanship) . . . and listen to the Joe Rogan Experience.
I find it’s more than enough, especially since it leaves me room for stuff I’d rather read, like history. A broad base of historical knowledge is worth more than a quotidian reading of the New York Times for ten years. You can see what’s happening in Kazakhstan and intuitively realize, “It’s just a continuation of the Great Game, which has long been filled with secret ops. There’s more here than meets the eye.”
You can read about Russian troops on the Ukraine border, remember Stalin’s eight-figure slaughter of its Kulaks and think, “Russia, haven’t you done enough to that poor country?” but then wonder why Ukraine is separate at all since it claims common ancestral lineage with Russia (the Kievan Rus).
And then you realize that you have no freakin’ idea what to think and no matter how much you study and learn, you’ll never be able to aggregate enough facts to form a coherent opinion on . . . pretty much anything.
At that point, a sense of epistemological skepticism sets in. You realize you really only know one thing: you don’t know anything. That’s just the way it is and it can’t be changed. And with that comes calm. “Epistemological serenity” I call it.
But then the agitation sets in (no serenity lasts long, except for the saints and truly wise).
“If I, despite my advanced degrees and lifetime of study and contemplation don’t know anything, how the frick does anyone else know anything? I mean, really know anything? You can be a specialist in an area, of course, but our entire existence is so intertwined with everything else, your expertise in one area doesn’t render you fit to make decisions about anything.”
And then you see the public policy bungles . . . over and over and over again. You realize that the rulers have no answers either and, therefore, every decision merely results in a power grab of some sort, normally in the form of shifting massive amounts of money to comrades at the yacht club.
No decision can be “informed,” after all, given our remarkable level of ignorance. The best our rulers can do is flail away at possible solutions, but since they really have zero clue whether a solution will work, we’d be better off if they desisted from doing anything.
And then I settle into a sort of anarchism, but without the bomb-throwing. It’s more like an anarchism of arm-waving: arms in the air, moving back and forth, me shouting, “Stop, just stop it! You have no idea what’s best. Please, just stop.”
And after I tire of doing that for a long time, I retire to my study and read with neither purpose nor aim. Maybe the collected letters of Evelyn Waugh. Maybe some famous person's notebooks. It doesn't matter.