It took 13 years, but Jersey City finally has a poured-concrete SK8park – A story of local grass roots politics

by Bill Benzon That, I assume, is the floor slab of a demolished industrial building. It’s located near one of the remaining fragments of the Morris Canal in Jersey City. Back in the day the Morris Canal delivered anthracite coal from Eastern Pennsylvania to New Jersey and New York City – the Hudson River is…

An Electric Conversation with Hollis Robbins on the Black Sonnet Tradition, Progress, and AI, with Guest Appearances by Marcus Christian and GPT-3

by Bill Benzon I was hanging out on Twitter the other day, discussing my previous 3QD piece (about Progress Studies) with Hollis Robbins, Dean of Arts and Humanities at Cal State at Sonoma. We were breezing along at 240 characters per message unit when, Wham! right out of the blue the inspiration hit me: How…

From Progress Studies to Progress: Through decadence and beyond

by Bill Benzon How do we get there from here? Evolution, revolution, or revolution through evolution? I don’t know, but as the smart kids are saying these days, I have my priors. As does everyone else. A movement begins Back in July 2019 Patrick Collison and Tyler Cowen called for a science of progress in…

Can the pandemic serve America as the cradle for a rebirth of civil society?

by Bill Benzon This pandemic changes everything, we can’t go back to the way we were. That’s what everyone is saying. Well, not everyone, but I don’t know how many times I’ve read some version of that over the past month. I would like to reflect on that theme, albeit in perhaps and oblique and…

Up-River! The adventure of reality from Haggard to Conrad to Coppola to Bourdain

by Bill Benzon How, then, do we get from H. Rider Haggard to Anthony Bourdain? Let’s start with the easy and straightforward. Both are white men, as are Joseph Conrad and Francis Ford Coppola for that matter. Haggard was British; he was born in the 19th century and died in the 20th (1856-1925). Bourdain was…

Seder-Masochism: Nina Paley began at the end and ended at the beginning

by Bill Benzon Seder-Masochism, the whole film Nina Paley recently finished her second feature film, Seder-Masochism. Her first, of course, is the award-winning Sita Sings the Blues, a retelling of the Ramayana from a feminist point of view which Paley released in full in 2008. However, she had started posting segments to the internet several…

Thomas Naylor’s Paths Peace in a world of small states

by Bill Benzon A small-state world would not only solve the problems of social brutality and war; it would solve the problems of oppression and tyranny. It would solve all problems arising from power.  – Leopold Kohr, Breakdown of Nations This insight was the late Thomas Naylor’s lodestone; it informed and animated everything he did. Primarily an economist – who taught at…