Wednesday, June 30, 2010
This is a lovely piece.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Monday, June 28, 2010
Sunday, June 27, 2010
... the mistake is to collapse the diversity which springs from that desire into one undifferentiated whole. And there's at least two reasons for that. One is that human experiences are inevitably particular. My experiences are conditioned by my context. Yours by yours. The differences should not be minimised – consumed, say, by some high expression of benevolence. Rather, they should be maximised – sorted and sifted. This is because our growth as individuals lies in discerning our experiences, and that means keeping them sharp, not dissolving them in some soggy universal.
The charges of misogyny ... are about to start looking a whole lot more flimsy. In the autumn, Faber will publish Larkin's correspondence to Monica Jones, a selection of the surviving 7,500 pages of letters and cards he wrote to her between 1946, when they first met, and 1985, the year of his death. (Monica lived in Leicester, where she taught English at the university; she only began sharing Larkin's home shortly before he died.) These letters, discovered after her death, are highly personal and, being so great in number, they chronicle Larkin's feelings more intimately than anything we have read before. Like the Selected Letters, they catch his wit, and his abiding sadness. But they also reveal Larkin's deep love and admiration for a woman who was clever, eccentric, loud, unusual, flamboyant, opinionated and strong. In my experience, misogynists tend not to go a bundle for women with minds of their own.
Well, I once watched someone empty a mere .22 automatic with silencer attached into a woodpile in a living room (I will say no more). Trust me: Silent it ain't.
... 'Contested Will' proves Shakespeare wrote it all.
... Dying and recalling a wartime girlhood.
... A murky critique of Darwin.
... and Katie reviews Justin Cronin: In 'The Passage,' a military killing machine pursues humankind.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Friday, June 25, 2010
As Robert Boyle, one of the founding fathers of modern science, recognized, experimental error is part of the slow advance toward any scientific truth; you can't have trial without error.
Tell that to those scientists who insist that "the science is settled."
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Bol reportedly gave most of his fortune, estimated at $6 million, to aid Sudanese refugees. As one twitter feed aptly put it: "Most NBA cats go broke on cars, jewelry & groupies. Manute Bol went broke building hospitals."
Until he is forgotten, Mailer should be remembered not only in a fool’s cap and bells but also in a scoundrel’s midnight black. For in an age crawling with intellectual folly, he was one of the reigning dunces, even his best works were shot through with adolescent fatuities, while the worst of his words and deeds were stupid and vicious without bottom. One is torn between wishing that his memory would disappear immediately and wanting his remains to hang at the crossroads as a lasting reminder to others.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Yeah, which reminds me of Mencken's definition of puritanism: "the haunting fear that someone, somewhere is having a good time." As McArdle notes, " 'subsisting' in they key word in that quote. People want more than subsistence--they want variety, and pleasure, and novelty."If there are people out there so backwards to still be subsisting on food found in nature, Big Food will find them, by land or by sea, and set them straight.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Dave also sends:
John Updike’s Archive: A Great Writer at Work.
Literary Ore of Updike, Do-It-Yourself Man of Letters.
The Roommates: Updike and Christopher Lasch
And this: Writing is Rewriting.
Truly the universe is full of ghosts, not sheeted churchyard spectres, but the inextinguishable elements of individual life, which having once been, can never die, though they blend and change, and change again for ever.- H. Rider Haggard, born on this date in 1856
Monday, June 21, 2010
Today blogging will be light because Debbie just took off to visit her sister down the shore, as we say in these parts, and I am feeling indolent. So I plan to mostly lie about, listen to music, maybe watch a flick. There's also a little something I want to write that is, for me, rather off the beaten track
Sunday, June 20, 2010
... I don't buy the notion that contemporary science is throwing up all kinds of new insights into what it is to be human. Some say, it's that we now realise that our capacity for reason also depends upon our emotions. Have they never read Plato or Aristotle, for whom that was taken as read? Others say, we now know that we're not very good at choosing what makes us happy. Now know? Isn't that the assumption of pretty much any and every pre-Enlightenment thinker of note, to saying nothing of many since, like Freud?
Confession of an Eagles addict.
School-reform lessons from Phila.
Looking at the senators for full look at the Senate.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Time and time again, an experimental gadget gets introduced — it doesn’t matter if it’s a supercollider or a gene chip or an fMRI machine — and we’re told it will allow us to glimpse the underlying logic of everything. But the tool always disappoints, doesn’t it? We soon realize that those pretty pictures are incomplete and that we can’t reduce our complex subject to a few colorful spots. So here’s a pitch: Scientists should learn to expect this cycle — to anticipate that the universe is always more networked and complicated than reductionist approaches can reveal.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Our ancestors became our ancestors by being able to spot danger and the opportunity to mate. So it was inevitable that as competition for attention exploded with the revolutionary information technologies of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, message senders raised the emotional volume.
I think the relation between these two sentences is logically tenuous at best.
And let's not unnecessarily complicate matters, Jack. Those "revolutionary information technologies" simply made the range and number of choices vastly larger. Check out those bloody Jacobean dramas sometime. That was a pretty low-tech period. People were still writing with quills. Sophocles, Middleton, and "Monk" Lewis all knew what we all know: sex and violence sell. So what?
The fact is, given the wider range of choices, many are finding better sources of accurate information than what newspapers provide. For example.
"The challenge is to induce people to want what they need." I'll make up my own mind as to what I need.
I'm not in favor of letting kids see porn, either, but Dr. Cooper's assertion flies in the face of experience. Can anyone ever remember confusing what they saw in a movie with reality?
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
I would be willing to bet that if all 1.7 million owners turned off the circuit breakers as instructed by the recall, since a very large number of those people (some elderly) would have to go up and down stairs in order to do that (in some cases multiple times, since many do not have properly labeled circuit breakers), there would be a much greater chance of someone being injured from falling on the stairs than there would be from a dishwasher fire that could result if no one shut off the circuit breaker.
Monday, June 14, 2010
The panel recording is broken into four parts. Continuations can be found at the following links:
Part Two: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gjJpJ42rdc
Part Three: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0P3CiTL7khA
Part Four: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zlo4mtgmlws
Sunday, June 13, 2010
There are four parts to the interview; in the interest of blog real estate, I have not embedded each, but you'll find the continuations here:
Part Two: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_ZiWGSnDhg
Part Three: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dn3T795AVkQ
Part Four: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGYZrpm81F4
The more serious conclusion took place between 8 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., when Natalie Merchant turned in a very fine concert of songs from her new album Leave Your Sleep. Laura has video of the conservation Mike and Dana Gioia had with Natalie yesterday afternoon, and also video of an encounter -- there is no beter word -- with Russell Goings about Russ's epic griotsong, The Children of Children Keep Coming.
It will all be posted in good time.
... At center of 20th century's storms.
... Journey to, and from, the past.
... A memoir of real estate ambitions.
... Turgid tale of a roly-poly Romeo.
... A look at society through the lens of the music biz.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Update: Wendy told me later on that she had actually known about for a month but was not permitted to say anything until it was formally announced.
Friday, June 11, 2010
Near his bed at dawn ghosts
Gathered to point and stare,
Never to speak, vanishing
Upon the flare of sunlight.
He did not seek to understand
Their pantomime, though wondered
At their silence, their reliance
On glance and gesture. They signaled
No menace, only wistfulness,
As though unclear who was
Present, who absent.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Part One: Dana Gioia introduces Rhina Espaillat
Part Two: Rhina Espaillat considers the "Yenta"
Part Three: Rhina Espaillat reads selected poems
For the complete and higher quality audio recording of readings, check out http://www.wcupa.edu/poetry in a few weeks, when an audio podcast will be posted. Last year's readings are currently available.
... we've got one of America's greatest landscape artists, Frederic Church, watching the meteor from Catskill, and we've got one of America's greatest poets, Walt Whitman, watching the meteor from New York City.
She will be performing songs from Leave Your Sleep on Saturday at the West Chester Poetry Conference (for registered attendees only), and returns to Philadelphia on July 20 for a full-band concert at the Merriam Theater.
PANEL 14: Conversation with Natalie Merchant
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
Tuesday, June 08, 2010
Ed's got a lot of good stuff posted. You should take a look around.
Monday, June 07, 2010
The purpose of literature is to Delight. To create or endorse the Scholastic is a craven desire. It may yield a low-level self-satisfaction, but how can this compare with our joy at great, generous writing? With our joy of discovery of worth in the simple and straightforward? Is this Jingoism? The use of the term's a wish to side with the powerful, the Curator, the Editor. The schoolmaster's bad enough in the schoolroom; I prefer to keep him out of my bookshelf.
This was tested in a communication studies class where students were generally encouraged to use their laptops during lectures, in order to explore lecture topics in greater detail on the Internet and in library databases. Half of the students were allowed to keep their laptops open, while the other half (randomly assigned) had to close their laptops. Students in the closed laptop condition recalled significantly more material in a surprise quiz after class than did students in the open laptop condition. Although these results may be obvious, many universities appear to be unaware of the learning decrement produced by multitasking when they wire classrooms with the intention of improving learning.
Sunday, June 06, 2010
Post-bubble, perhaps students -- and employers, not to mention parents and lenders -- will focus instead on education that fosters economic value. And that is likely to press colleges to focus more on providing useful majors. (That doesn't necessarily rule out traditional liberal-arts majors, so long as they are rigorous and require a real general education, rather than trendy and easy subjects, but the key word here is "rigorous.")
"All of us have social instincts which prompt us. When we see somebody in trouble, we help. And the great question is, when the state steps in, do they still go on doing this? And actually, they don't – and you find when you look to eastern Europe" – Scruton taught in the underground university in the former Czechoslovakia in the 80s – "when the state took over everything, you find this great vacuum of charitable feeling, which is a huge loss of social capital."
This the major point of Prince Kropotkin's Mutual Aid.
[Bloom's] most important point is that humans are “born essentialists”. We see everything as possessing “an underlying reality or true nature that one cannot observe directly, and it this hidden nature that really matters”. This is obviously true of people. If I disguise myself, you will not think I have become another person. And in Capgras Syndrome — in which sufferers become convinced that their closest friends and loved ones have been replaced by imposters — it is clear that the mere sight of a person is not enough. Some awareness of an inner essence is also needed.
... Historian looks at the concept of "white" people.
... Discovering an early U.S., a la Tocqueville.
... Big-league legends touch base with game's past.
... A former Phil's views on playing baseball for a living.
... Another collection of essays from prolific New Yorker writer.
Saturday, June 05, 2010
Try reading a book while doing a crossword puzzle, and that, says author Nicholas Carr, is what you're doing every time you use the Internet.
What a ridiculous analogy, if only because no one would try to do a crossword puzzle while reading a book, since it would involve, not interrupting what you are doing, but doing something else. I do not interrupt my reading to go online -- except if something I read prompts a question that I would answered before proceeding. But then I might put down a book for a couple of minutes in order to look up a word I wasn't sure about. One of the reasons my blogging has been spotty lately -- and also why I'm behind in my email -- is because I have been reading a lot, and doing some writing as well. Carr's is another Gladwell-style book -- i.e., one in which a gimmick is presented as an idea by surrounding it with all kinds of supporting factoids. That sort of thing is a bigger waste of your mental powers than surfing the net.
... the Middle Ages were steeped in reason, logic, and natural philosophy. These subjects comprised virtually the entire curriculum of the universities. The first medical autopsies were done in medieval Europe. And no medieval philosopher was ever prosecuted for a conclusion in natural philosophy. In his twelfth-century Dragmaticon, William of Conches wrote, “[They say] ‘We do not know how this is, but we know that God can do it.’ You poor fools! God can make a cow out of a tree, but has He ever done so? Therefore show some reason why a thing is so, or cease to hold that it is so.” Not even the “Age of Reason” could have said it better.
What the 16th-century foes of print didn't imagine—couldn't imagine—was what followed: We built new norms around newly abundant and contemporary literature. Novels, newspapers, scientific journals, the separation of fiction and non-fiction, all of these innovations were created during the collapse of the scribal system, and all had the effect of increasing, rather than decreasing, the intellectual range and output of society.
Friday, June 04, 2010
The book beat has been gutted primarily by cultural forces, not economic ones, and the most implacable of those forces lies within rather than outside the newsroom. It is not iPads or the Internet but the anti-intellectual ethos of newspapers themselves.
My former colleague, Desmond Ryan, and I had lunch yesterday. Afterward, Des drove us to The Inquirer. Something was playing on the car radio. At first I thought it was Schubert, but then realized it was Schumann. Des immediately added that it was the second symphony. You won't find many journalists who could have come close, probably none holding an executive position.
The world we see that seems so insane is the result of a belief system that is not working. To perceive the world differently, we must be willing to change our belief system, let the past slip away, expand our sense of now, and dissolve the fear in our minds.- William James (1842-1910)
Thursday, June 03, 2010
I named this post "Reprise" because of this post of mine from last year: It isn't just us ... , from which I extract this:
... in many matters the mere appearance of impropriety can prove devastating. If there's really nothing there, it ought to very easy to clear up. As it is, the information is getting around, in whole and in part, leaving it open to all sorts of interpretation. If you act like you have something to hide, people are going to think you have something to hide. What I'm trying to get across is something a large segment of the scientific community doesn't seem to grasp - that it has a major public relations problem on its hands.Looks to me as if I was right.
“It’s a very encouraging fact that we can expect to be happier in our early 80s than we were in our 20s ... And it’s not being driven predominantly by things that happen in life. It’s something very deep and quite human that seems to be driving this.”
Can't say it's kicked in with me yet.
The government should favor neither incumbents nor newcomers, but rather create a level playing field by helping every American get open, high-speed access to the Internet. That is the gateway to the real future of news and media.
I believe that future is entrepreneurial, not institutional. The industry's institutions have had 15 years since the start of the commercial Web and we've seen how far they can come. What we need now are innovators -- like my entrepreneurial journalism students -- to invent new forms, structures, efficiencies and business models for news.
Wednesday, June 02, 2010
The society appears to have conceded that it needs to correct previous statements. It said: “Any public perception that science is somehow fully settled is wholly incorrect — there is always room for new observations, theories, measurements.” This contradicts a comment by the society’s previous president, Lord May, who was once quoted as saying: “The debate on climate change is over.”