After the incident in Charlottesville, Virginia a couple of weeks ago, it was inevitable that people would write thinkpieces about it. This weekend’s edition of What I’ve Been Reading has collected some of those thinkpieces, as well as some articles about other, less depressing topics.

  • Angela Nagle, whose recent work Kill All Normies documents the online culture wars of the past few years, has penned an interesting piece for The Baffler about the dwindling relevance of the so-called alt-right. The general public’s reaction to the Neo-Nazi presence in Charlottesville wasn’t positive, and so now the alt-right is trying to distance itself from overt white nationalism. Whether this rebranding exercise will work out remains to be seen, but I hope it doesn’t.
  • Jesse Singal of New York Magazine makes a pragmatic case for not punching Nazis. “Punch Nazis” has become somewhat of a rallying cry for some corners of the online left, and so it’s worth asking what “punching Nazis” would really entail. The public reaction to Charlottesville provides strong support for Singal’s assertions: the counter-protestors were almost entirely peaceful, while the white supremacists were the violent ones, and so almost no one is willing to publicly side with them.
  • Sometimes I link to pieces that aren’t particularly well argued but are thought-provoking nonetheless. Nathan J. Robinson of Current Affairs advises the left to think carefully about the consequences of violence and free speech restrictions; there is a difference between what is moral and what is strategically optimal. While I think Robinson’s assertion is correct, I don’t think he adduces much evidence in support of it; he mostly deals in hypotheticals.
  • Switching gears, Kashmir Hill of Gizmodo writes about Facebook’s creepy “people you may know” algorithm and the company’s secrecy surrounding it. Facebook frequently recommends that I befriend people I’ve never spoken to; I’m not sure it’s all that bright.
  • Are you interested in Sega’s Yakuza series? If so, Dustin Bailey of Anime News Network has written a handy summary of the games so far. Yakuza Kiwami, a remake of the first game in the series, was recently released in the west, and I’m eager to play it when I have the time (i.e. next year. There were too many good games released this year!)
  • Finally, Cleanprincegaming on YouTube has an interesting video on why the Nintendo Switch was an unexpected success. Bottom line: a portable home console was a completely untapped market.

That’s all for now. See you next time, hopefully with fewer Nazis. Fuck Nazis.