Lots of fun items to catch you up on this week.
Item 1: Season two of “The Arthur Brooks Show” podcast starts on Valentine’s Day. Appropriately, this new season is all about love: why we all need it and how to get more of it. The first episode is about romantic love and the need to be an entrepreneur with your heart. It features a special guest, my wife, Ester, who talks about how we fell in love and got married, essentially without even speaking the same language. (Our communication has improved marginally in the intervening 28 years.) Later episodes look at loneliness and love of friends, love of work, love of country, love of the Divine, and even how to love your enemies.
Make sure to subscribe here, so you don’t miss it.
If you still don’t listen to podcasts because you assumed they were just another ridiculous millennial fad — such as vaping, tattoos, and socialism — I must encourage you to start listening to them. If you have a smartphone, you have access to hundreds of thousands of shows on every topic for free, from in-depth programs about vaping and socialism to “The Arthur Brooks Show.” Sign up today, or ask any young socialist nearby to show you how.
Item 2: On the subject of love, my new book Love Your Enemies: How Decent People Can Save America from the Culture of Contempt is available for preorder now. The publication date is March 12, and it’s shaping up to be a fun and exciting book tour. We have two buses for the roadies and an 18-wheeler full of gear, and hundreds of fans are following the tour just so they can hear my speech over and over every night.
So go tune up the VW bus, and check out the “Where I’ll Be” section below for some of the first couple of weeks of book tour dates.
Item 3: Speaking of enemies, I have to register a complaint with my faithful readers. In the last newsletter, I included a selection of insulting comments posted after my new Washington Post column. I have to say, many of you laughed a bit too lustily at that, and no one said, “Don’t listen to them, Arthur!”
Frankly, I’m a little hurt (but will be fine with time). And if that’s what the market wants, that’s what you’ll get. Here’s a little video I made to promote the new book, which features me reading hateful Twitter posts about me and my work.
I have to say that it took some ingenuity for that one person to say I should “eat a plate of hot trash.” With luck, I’ll meet him (or maybe her) on the book tour.
WHERE I’VE BEEN
I’ve had lots of fun travel since the last newsletter. I started with a terrific visit to Hanover, New Hampshire, to speak with the brilliant faculty and dedicated students at Dartmouth College. Until this trip I had been under the misimpression that it doesn’t snow when it is zero degrees outside. (By the way, that’s Fahrenheit, for all you readers who hate America.)
Campus visit or scene from “The Shining”? You decide.
After that it was off to London, where I had a packed day of events with my dear friends at the Legatum Institute, a London think tank that I love, because like AEI, it is dedicated to the values of human dignity and potential.
One of my five events that day was a talk at the UK Parliament for members and guests.
They weren’t laughing at me, they were laughing with me.
Then it was off to Barcelona, my favorite city in the world, where I lived when Ester and I were first married. I did several talks about my new book there. The thing that’s so satisfying about Barcelona is that when they hear an American give a speech in Catalan, they act like I just rode across the stage on a unicycle while juggling seven flaming torches. I don’t let it go to my head, though, remembering that every 4-year-old kid there speaks the language better than I do.
After that I went over to Madrid, where I had a couple of enjoyable talks, including one at the Casa de Americas, a beautiful 19th-century mansion that is believed to be haunted by a former resident who came to a bad end.
Before the speech I did a little TV interview in which it looks like I sang a happy song while playing an imaginary accordion.
WHERE I’LL BE
Sunday, March 10 | New York, New York | 92Y Talks: Arthur Brooks in conversation with Simon Sinek: “Love Your Enemies” | Tickets available here.
Tuesday, March 12 | Indianapolis, Indiana | 2019 Chamber Day Dinner | Tickets available here.
Monday, March 18 | Naples, Florida | NaplesNEXT Ideas Festival | Passes available here.
Thursday, March 28 | Dallas, Texas | Dallas World Affairs Council: International Educator of the Year Award Luncheon | Tickets available here.
WHAT I’M THINKING ABOUT
Mostly the same. Academic research, much like our politics today, often focuses on narrow ways in which we are different rather than on the many ways in which we are similar. But as a new paper has shown, people who participate in research studies share, on average, roughly 90 percent of the same characteristics, whether levels of education, income, or even moral values. Our emphasis on narrow divisions, whether in research or politics, obscures the much more important story of our common human life.
Better sleep. Important findings continue to emerge as researchers look at the effects of excessive screen time on our health and happiness. The latest comes from a study in Science Daily, which finds that individuals who use their phones in a dark room — say, lying in bed — within an hour of going to sleep are at far greater risk of not getting enough sleep than their peers who don’t.
Just enough time. Is there such a thing as too much leisure time? According to a recent paper, there most certainly is. Researchers found that having large amounts of discretionary time is associated with lower levels of life satisfaction. However, they also found that having too little free time had the same effect. If you can, anchor each day with set responsibilities, but don’t fill up the whole calendar.
WHAT I’M READING
The American dream is alive and well. America faces a number of pressing policy challenges, ranging from the opioid crisis to entitlement reform. But despite these challenges, most Americans remain optimistic about their future and their communities. In this piece, Samuel Abrams shares the key findings of a landmark survey of local communities from AEI and the National Opinion Research Center, including that 82 percent of Americans believe they have achieved the American dream or that they are well on their way to doing so.
The unpredictable rise of China. Conventional wisdom maintains that China will inevitably overtake the United States as the world’s largest economy, and even as the world’s strongest superpower. However, a number of complicating factors might prevent this rise. In this excellent essay for The Atlantic, Dan Blumenthal details the internal instability that may hold back the PRC in the coming years.
Learning to argue. Disagreement is good, because it is a form of idea competition, which brings excellence. We need to disagree better, not less. In this article, Ian Lindquist shares the story of one school that is teaching its students to do just that, bringing them together in seminars to debate historical material and — more importantly — to learn that they can disagree vigorously while simultaneously building and maintaining strong friendships.
WHAT I’M LISTENING TO
How about a little bit of renaissance Spanish music? Here’s the great Catalan early music specialist Jordi Savall performing “Las Folías,” a set of variations based on the common early music chord progression along the lines of i-V-i-♭VII-♭III-♭VII-i-V / i-V-i-♭VII-♭III-♭VII-i-V-i. If you don’t follow that notation, don’t sweat it, just enjoy the beautiful music.
Sometimes I wish I lived when this music was actually popular. But then I remember that I would probably have rickets and no teeth and would be enjoying the Inquisition.
Until next time,
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