Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Indiana wants me...

or not.  And the difference between the Federal (and I believe Pennsylvania's) RFRA law and Indiana's is summarized on a blog by an Indiana lawyer, Matt Anderson:
Is it inaccurate to say that this legislation is just like the federal statute? Yes.Aside from being procedurally engineered to get to a courtroom ASAP, the law as written will not be analyzed by an Indiana Court through the same rubrick [sic] that the federal legislation goes through. Indiana arguably puts greater emphasis on religious freedom and clearly offers no civil or human rights protections based on sexual orientation.This is the exact opposite of the federal level, where protections based on sexual orientation have at least come up enough to demonstrate it as a “compelling” government interest.Therefore, the difference, if not in how they are written, is that the federal government has shown such protections to be a government interest whereas Indiana has not (i.e. how they are applied).
Matt goes on to note the law overrides local laws in some jurisdictions in Indiana which had given protections against discrimination to LGBT people -- the same protections that a straight black person say, would get if a business refused to serve her.  For that reason the law of unintended consequences might come into play:
Now, the State may end up conferring civil rights to the LGBT community of the entire state when only four cities and two counties had such protections before. 
I personally hate it when I go in a business and they discriminate against me because I'm trans.  Especially when my spouse and children may see my humiliation.  No one deserves that, no matter what the other thinks.  A business open to the public should be just that -- and LGBT people are as deserving of protection from discrimination because of who they are as any other other protected class (discrimination based on race, sex, etc.)  

My God, the Christ, said that long ago:
34 Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40 And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family,[a] you did it to me.’ 41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Matthew 25:34-46 (NSRV)

Let's get this straight …

… The New Intolerance - WSJ.

The Indiana law is a version of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) that passed 97-3 in the Senate and that Bill Clinton signed in 1993. Both the federal and Indiana laws require courts to administer a balancing test when reviewing cases that implicate the free exercise of religion.
The federal RFRA followed the Supreme Court’s Employment Division v. Smith ruling in 1990 that abandoned its 30-year precedent of reviewing religious liberty cases under strict scrutiny. Congress responded with RFRA, which merely reasserted longstanding First Amendment protections.
In 1997 the Supreme Court limited RFRA’s scope to federal actions. So 19 states including such cultural backwaters as Connecticut, Rhode Island and Illinois followed with copy-cat legislation, and Indiana is the 20th. Courts in 11 states have extended equally vigorous protections.
In other words, why were there no complaints until now? I say this as someone who does not merely tolerate gay people. There are several gay people whom I happen to love dearly. I am taking my 14-year-old godson to meet one of them tomorrow. Why? Because I think my gay friend will be a good influence on my godson. So there.

Down to the wire...

FYI …

 Iota: Short Prose Conference | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

...and watching porn

Although internet pornography is frequently criticized for depicting gender inequality, surprisingly little research has examined the actual gendered content of online porn.
Moreover, what little research does exist in this area has focused largely on still images and erotic stories, which means that we know even less about the gendered content of the most widely consumed form of online porn: videos.

Choosing ugly friends...

The Mathematics of Love

Out and about again …

… to the dentist and elsewhere. No blogging until I get back.

Something to think on …

There comes a time in each life like a point of fulcrum. At that time you must accept yourself. It is not anymore what you will become. It is what you are and always will be.
— John Fowles, born on this date in 1926

And the winner is …

… Stephen Sondheim to Receive the Carl Sandburg Literary Award - Theater News - Mar 30, 2015 - TheaterMania.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Considering a classic …

 Paul Davis On Crime: Catch-22: No 80 On The Guardian's 100 Best Novels List.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Hmm …

… Cynthia Ozick NY Times Piece on Young Writers Misses the Economics | The New Republic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



I had an editing job the day after I left college. It paid well, too. Then, I bopped around for quite a few years writing, editing, and doing anything else necessary to pay the bills. (Those other jobs taught me much of value I couldn't have learned elsewhere.) I suspect a lot of young writers today are doing much the same thing.

Posthumous life …

… New Elmore Leonard stories to be published in June - LA Times. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Home is where the heart is …

 Missouri Loves Company - Front Porch Republic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

With fair success...

Finding Mother...

Burying the King

THE day began dull and damp. The streets of Leicester were washed with rain, and gusts of wind whipped vestments and caused hats to be firmly clasped to the head. But the weather proved to match the dynamic of a service that was first solemn, and then joyful and uplifting.
 Richard III's burial, 500 years late.

Frank!!! Are you okay???

For years, Andrew Sullivan blogged at a prolific rate.

His prodigious output was supplemented by dispatches from readers, public debates with fellow bloggers and ruminations on everything from the Geneva Conventions to "South Park." Blogging was a medium -- and a lifestyle -- that he helped pioneer. It also nearly proved to be his undoing.

"The truth is, I had to stop primarily because it was killing me," Sullivan said Sunday night at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan. "I used to joke that if blogging does kill someone, I would be the first to find out."

He described the grueling pace that he maintained along with a small editorial staff.

"This is 40 posts a day -- every 20 minutes, seven days a week," Sullivan said.

Deadline tomorrow …

… 2015 Able Muse Book Award | Able Muse Press.

In case you wondered …

… Detectives Beyond Borders: What do comics do better than, er, non-comics?

Much noise, little thought …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `Willingness to Hear'.



I have noticed that what people pass off as their opinions are things they've read or heard about and have accepted uncritically.

Today's music …

Anger management …

… Don’t be Mad | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

One would hope ….

… The Pope Is a Christian! by Garry Wills | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The modern Pharisees try to refuse the Eucharist to politicians who do not meet their doctrinal tests.
The Church happens to have some non-negotiable doctrines. A politician who trims his faith in the interest of political expediency is, like Wills himself, mauvaise foi.

They are not used to having a pope who is a Christian.
Garry knowing all about who's a Christian and who isn't.

Hoping for change …

… Child brides take gov’t to court over marriage laws.

Work station …

Paul Davis On Crime: The Desk Where Dickens Sat To Write Great Expectations, Our Mutual Friend And The Mystery of Edwin Drood Has Been Bought By The Charles Dickens Museum In London.

Something to think on …

If one is master of one thing and understands one thing well, one has at the same time, insight into and understanding of many things.
— Vincent Van Gogh, born on this date in 1853

Here he comes...

Being in the world...

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Haiku …


Spring’s air and sunlight,
Reversing those of autumn,
Though the day’s not warm.

Alexander McCall Smith rewrites Jane Austen

...She provides a fascinating picture of the ways of that slice of society and the confines within which its members, particularly women, are obliged to live. She is also extremely funny, able to paint the foibles of characters with a dry wit that has dated very little. Her books are intimate and compelling. She has a voice that somehow seems to chime even with a modern sensibility. She is, in essence, timeless.
So, if you are an author and a publisher sidles up to you and asks you to rewrite a Jane Austen novel, setting it in modern times, what do you say? It took me no more than 45 seconds to say yes to an invitation to rewrite “Emma.” And I then had more fun doing it than I have had for as many years as I can remember.

The 50 most translated books...

At the top...
 

and the other 49.

Maverick scientist …

… Rupert Sheldrake Interview | The Best Schools. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

When I was 17, in the gap between leaving school and going to study at Cambridge, I worked as a temporary lab technician in a pharmaceutical laboratory, because I wanted to get some research experience.
What I didn’t know when I took the job was that it was a vivisection facility.Working there made me ask some deep questions about animals, animal suffering, scientific objectivity, and mechanistic attitudes to nature, which were put into practice on a daily basis in this laboratory, which was a kind of death camp for animals.
Scientism is just about the only religion left that has animal sacrifice as its focus of worship.

… the materialist belief-system is self-refuting. If a materialist were consistent, he or she would have to believe that his or her own beliefs were caused by brain activity alone. Materialists’ brains make them believe in materialism.
I made much the same point in my review of Julian Barnes's Nothing To Be Frightened Of.

Listen in …

 Episode 112 – Clive James: Remainder | Virtual Memories. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Women training boys …

… Book Review: 'The Winter Boy,' A Cultural Fantasy by Sally Wiener Grotta - seattlepi.com.

The significance of tiny incidents …

… Celebration of Life’s Experiences by P C K Prem.

Today's music …

Inquirer reviews …

 Duane Swierczysnki's 'Canary': Down Philly's mean Mafia streets an honors student must go.

… Robert Alter refreshes the Bible.

… 'Single, Carefree, Mellow': Stories that remind us we're not so unique.

 Hell and Good Company': Vivid portrait of Spanish Civil War.

The gospel of Philip …

… Article— Philip Glass Half Full — Commentary Magazine.

Revealingly, it was not a composer but an avant-garde playwright, Samuel Beckett, who served as his main source of inspiration. Like so many of his contemporaries, Glass was “feeling the exhaustion of the romantic principle” that had hitherto driven the story-based dramas of Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams. For him, traditional classical music was also a storytelling art, one that uses tonal harmony to articulate and propel large-scale “narratives” that unfold over time. But Glass aspired to write music that would be similar in effect to Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, in which scene follows scene in a way that bears no resemblance to the tightly wrought plot of a conventional play. Such a music, as he explains, would have “the coherence of rationality without the logic,” instead offering its listeners “an emotional high that came from being detached from the world of the rational and the dramatic.”
I heard a piano concerto of Glass's in concert once (I don't know if he's written more than one). It was  a moderately pleasant interval of noodling.

Unearthly hour...

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The AP loses it …

… Has the Associated Press hierarchy officially changed its style for references to 'God'? — GetReligion.



More PC From AP's Stylebook: 'Climate Change' Now Equals 'Global Warming'.

The luminous world …

… First Known When Lost: Little Things.

The modern clang …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `The Last Sounds He Heard'.



Rorem's diaries are masterful. I am especially fond of the New York Diaries. But we should never forget his music.

Today's music …

Taking it easy …

It's Saturday, and it's my wife's birthday. The week past was hectic, since we were having work done on our house. So I am taking it easy today. Sparse blogging.

That's why they have third orders …

Married Monasticism - Ethika Politika. (Hat tip, Joe May.)

According to Canon Law, a third order is an association "whose members share in the spirit of some religious institute while in secular life, lead an apostolic life, and strive for Christian perfection under the higher direction of the same institute are called third orders or some other appropriate name."

Plenty to meet the eye …

… for those who have eyes to see: The Low Standards of Norman Rockwell's Critics - Front Porch Republic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Welcome to...

...The Shut-In Economy
When Mallon gets back to her apartment at night for about a precious hour of free time before heading to bed (her boyfriend, who works in private equity, doesn’t make it home until 1 a.m.) Alfred has handled the rest. Gluten-free groceries from Whole Foods in the cupboards, her laundry hung, her packages picked up, others delivered, her bed made, her kitchen table tidied — and a note asking what she needs for next time.

Tuna country...

Glowing in a dreary chair …

… Looking for Flannery O’Connor on Her 90th Birthday — “The Dreary Chair She Sat in Glowed.” | Town Topics. (Hat tip, Virginia Kerr.)

Art and world …

 Zealotry of Guerin: Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose (Sargent), Sonnet #235.

Something to think on …

Prayer is an act of love; words are not needed. Even if sickness distracts from thoughts, all that is needed is the will to love.
St. Teresa of Avila, born on this date in 1515

Who would've thought?

Friday, March 27, 2015

A boy's season …

 followbooks – Find Good Books to ReadThe Winter Boy by Sally Wiener Grotta - followbooks - Find Good Books to Read.
The tale of The Winter Boy will not only take you on a journey following the characters, but a journey within yourself. It deals with love, loss, war, personal growth, forgiveness and strength in ways you’ve likely never seen within the pages of one book.

A fan's notes …

 New Biography Renews the Fight Over Saul Bellow — Vulture. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

RIP …

 Tomas Transtromer: Poet and Nobel Literature Prize winner dies - People - News - The Independent. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Misery for all …

… The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. (Hat tip, Sally Wiener Grotta.)

What think you?

… Beyond Eastrod: the journey continues: "A Good Man is Hard to Find" by Flannery O'Connor - a world-weary reader's response.



I certainly think those words — "Sometimes a man says things he don't mean." — are central to the story's import.

In case you wondered …

… What Lucky Looks Like | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Being alive …

 Mario Vargas Llosa on youth, words, age, and running out of time… | The Book Haven.

More on that Indian Supreme Court Ruling …

… from Vikram: Section 66A: How abuse and misuse flourish.



The idea that the internet is a safe place for launching attacks on public figures continues to operate. The famed anonymity of the web can lull users into writing stuff that they would not dare to offline. But the problems of internet abuse go beyond getting kicks out of dissing a famous person. A culture of online humiliation can have devastating effects on anyone, and even regular people can feel forced to take extreme steps.

Today's music …

Keeping the faith …

… Paul Davis On Crime: 'Justified' Creator Aims To Stay True To The Late Writer Elmore Leonard.

Old editor …

… after trekking across town to The Inquirer (photo by Dan Rubin):

And the nominees are …

… Book Trade Announcements - Quality Crime Fiction From Across Scandinavia Is Shortlisted For The 2015 Petrona Award. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Passive aggression …

… On Writing Well About Passives – Lingua Franca - Blogs - The Chronicle of Higher Education. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

But it is the province of religion, of philosophy, of pure poetry only, to go beyond life, beyond time, into eternity.
— Alfred de Vigney, born on this date in 1797

Making sense of senselessness...

In case you wondered...

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Good for them …

… Indian court junks clause on 'offensive' Net messages | Fox News.

Patrick Modiano


My review of Patrick Modiano's Dora Bruder has been published in the most recent print edition of Rain Taxi. Here's a link. As I mentioned on the blog earlier this winter, Modiano is a master, and Dora Bruder may well be his masterpiece.  

Islam and homosexuality

Out and about …

I have mucho appointments today, so blogging will resume sometime later.

Today's music …

Appreciation …

 Bruce Charlton's Notions: Flann O'Brien - a perspective. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hear, hear …

 Things I Can Say About MFA Writing Programs Because I’ve Never Been Accepted Into One | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

… degrees don’t matter—writing does. Sure, my degrees hang on the wall in my office and I glance at them from time to time, the physical manifestation of the hard work I put in a good reminder to keep putting in hard work. But the validation isn’t in the degree; it’s in the experience. The entire experience. The complete journey I took—the journeys we all take—to becoming the writers we are, the writers we want to be.

He deserves better …

… Forgetting Allen Tate | C. C. Pecknold | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The man of letters in the modern world “must discriminate and defend the difference between mass communication, for the control of men, and the knowledge of man which literature offers us for human participation.” Yet such discrimination requires a standard which in a secularized, egalitarian culture is constantly being refused. This he said stems from an “internal crisis” in the West, a crisis in “a society that multiples means without end.” Tate argues that secularized societies proliferate communication, but every act of communication, indeed every action, is orchestrated along the lines of a “plotless drama of withdrawal.”

Ray Bradbury!

The Art of Fiction; an interview from The Paris Review:
...Q:  Does literature, then, have any social obligation?
Bradbury:  Not a direct one. It has to be through reflection, through indirection. Nikos Kazantzakis says, “Live forever.” That’s his social obligation. The Saviors of God celebrates life in the world. Any great work does that for you. All of Dickens says live life at the top of your energy. Edgar Rice Burroughs never would have looked upon himself as a social mover and shaker with social obligations. But as it turns out—and I love to say it because it upsets everyone terribly—Burroughs is probably the most influential writer in the entire history of the world.
Q: Why do you think that?

Bradbury: By giving romance and adventure to a whole generation of boys, Burroughs caused them to go out and decide to become special. That’s what we have to do for everyone, give the gift of life with our books. Say to a girl or boy at age ten, Hey, life is fun! Grow tall! I’ve talked to more biochemists and more astronomers and technologists in various fields, who, when they were ten years old, fell in love with John Carter and Tarzan and decided to become something romantic. Burroughs put us on the moon. All the technologists read Burroughs. I was once at Caltech with a whole bunch of scientists and they all admitted it. Two leading astronomers—one from Cornell, the other from Caltech—came out and said, Yeah, that’s why we became astronomers. We wanted to see Mars more closely.
I find this in most fields. The need for romance is constant, and again, it’s pooh-poohed by intellectuals. As a result they’re going to stunt their kids. You can’t kill a dream. Social obligation has to come from living with some sense of style, high adventure, and romance. It’s like my friend Mr. Electrico...

Something to think on …

Hell is yourself and the only redemption is when a person puts himself aside to feel deeply for another person.
— Tennessee Williams, born on this date in 1911

John Berger


I've written before on this blog about John Berger. But it's been a while since I last expressed my admiration. So let me do that again now, having just finished his masterful set of essays, The Sense of Sight.

I should start by saying that Berger's About Looking is one of the most impressive collections of essays I've read - and that's largely because, even when I don't agree with Berger, he pushes me to think, to consider. His essays are always novel in their method, memorable in their style. 

And while The Sense of Sight is not, perhaps, as bold or clairvoyant as About Looking, it is, in the end, a tremendous accumulation of pensees, of meditations on life, art, and memory.

As I say, one of the elements of Berger's world that I admire most is his style: he writes with such confidence, such a penetrating gaze. And yet, his conclusions are rarely overwrought. Sometimes, it's true, he reaches for too much (particularly when discussing politics), but that's, I think, out of a sense of love, of wanting to do justice to it all, to everything. He has a prose style all his own. 

For me, Berger's essay on Modigliani was the most memorable here: he associates lines in Modigliani's work with emotion, with sensuality. And by elongating those lines, Modigliani, he argues, stretched finite emotion as far as he could, as far as it would reasonably go. The result is a sense of the "infinite," an endlessness treading along the contours of the body. That endlessness, of course, is love.

Let me close, then, with an enthusiastic endorsement of The Sense of Sight: here's a book - part poetry, part history, part criticism and politics - that defies definition, but which, in its diversity of thought and subject matter, identifies what it is to interact with art in all of its forms, quirks, and manifestations. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

I can certainly relate to this …

 Journal: OWSA, a small excerpt — l. lee lowe.

The view from death's ante-room …

 Sentenced to Life review – Clive James’s poems from death’s door | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Science can be funny too!

From The New Yorker

Weekly feature …

… Issa's Untidy Hut: Yesha Shah & Sneha Mojumdar: Wednesday Haiku, #205.

Mark thy calendar …

Poetry Month At The Penn Bookstore



On Friday, April 17, 6 PM, The University of Pennsylvania Bookstore

will present poets, Charlotte Boulay, Gregory Djanikian,

Leonard Gontarek & Leslie Shinn  - reading and signing their new books


Penn Bookstore is located at 3601 Walnut Street – 215.898.7595

This event is free



Leslie Shinn’s Inside Spiders won the 2013 Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize in Poetry from Persea Books, New York City.  Leslie has an MFA from Warren Wilson, and has published in journals such as Phoebe, Folio, The Cortland Review, and Beloit Poetry Journal.  A native Iowan who lives in Philadelphia’s Northern Liberties, she has worked for many years in Penn’s Department of Chemistry, specifically with the Vagelos Scholars Program in the Molecular Life Sciences.



Leonard Gontarek is the author of five books of poems, most recently:
He Looked Beyond My Faults and Saw My Needs. His poems have appeared
in The Best American Poetry, American Poetry Review, Fence, Field, Verse,
among others. He has received two Poetry Fellowships from the
Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. He coordinates Peace/Works and Philly
Poetry Day and hosts The Green Line Reading & Interview Series.
He teaches poetry workshops at Musehouse and in the Philadelphia
Arts in Education Partnership.



Gregory Djanikian has published six collections of poetry with Carnegie Mellon University Press, the latest of which is Dear Gravity (2014).  His poems have appeared in many journals including American Poetry Review, The American Scholar, Boulevard, The Georgia Review, Iowa Review, Pleiades, Poetry, Poetry Northwest, The Southern Review, Shenandoah, and TriQuarterly, and he has been featured on NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.  He directs the undergraduate creative writing program at the University of Pennsylvania.



Charlotte Boulay’s poetry has appeared in Slate, Boston Review, and The New Yorker, among other journals. Her first book, Foxes on the Trampoline, was published by Ecco Press in 2014. She works as a writer at The Franklin Institute science museum.

Sigh ...

“If you harm one of these little ones, better for you that a millstone be draped around your neck and you be dropped into the depths of the sea”  
Matthew 18:6
Blake Brockington, a young trans activist celebrated nationwide as the first out trans homecoming king in a North Carolina high school, is being mourned after committing suicide Monday night, reports North Carolina LGBT newspaper QNotes.
He had been rejected by his family after coming out as transgender, leading to his placement in a loving foster home.
...
Receiving public attention for his homecoming win was a defining moment for Brockington and also a difficult one, he told local newspaper The Charlotte Observer, as reported by QNotes. "That was single-handedly the hardest part of my trans journey. Really hateful things were said on the Internet. It was hard. I saw how narrow-minded the world really is."

Birthday party photos …

… our friend Rus Bowden — National Geographic Your Shot.



I think this explains it all pretty well:

I switched PCs this week. I switched where I work on photos, and so downloaded some new image-altering software. This shot, and the previously uploaded 14 shots were worked, or played-with, on the new software. Leon was on the other side of the room at Mary's grandson's 14th birthday party. He is the granddad on the mother's side. I cropped him out of a shot, and made it into an "old" photo, as I prepared 59 photos to share with family in an album. 14 of my uploaded shots are of the party album.

A look back …

… Spoken Word: American poets of the 1960s | MSNBC. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

The Beat Generation, later referred to as the Beatniks, rose to prominence in the 1950s and surged through the 1960s—calling to question materialist culture, social constructs surrounding sexuality, drugs and religion, reinventing style and explicitly portraying the human condition—before incorporating into larger counterculture movements.
Actually, the term beatnik was coined on April 2, 1958 by columnist Herb Caen in the San Francisco Chronicle. It is a portmanteau word fusing Beat with sputnik. Allen Ginsberg had this say about it: "If beatniks and not illuminated Beat poets overrun this country, they will have been created not by Kerouac but by industries of mass communication which continue to brainwash man." As for Kerouac, he once told a reporter, "I'm not a beatnik, I'm a Catholic." Or, as he told a gathering at Brandis University: "… I am Beat, that is, I believe in beatitude and that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son to it ... Who knows, but that the universe is not one vast sea of compassion actually, the veritable holy honey, beneath all this show of personality and cruelty?"

Not long before I retired, I wrote a piece about Kerouac: Jack Kerouac's sound of America.

Today's music …

Since the point of this feature is that the music highlighted deserves to be in the repertoire, it follows that the pieces deserve to be heard more than once. This is a repeat of a piece I linked to early. I have listened to it quite a lot since then. I listened to it twice yesterday. And the more I listen to it, the more impressed I am by its tight structure and inventiveness. It is music well worth getting to know intimately.

Dylan Thomas...

...as the "last true bohemian"

Mark thy calendar …

 Fifteenth annual poetry reading celebrates the Public Poetry Project | Penn State University.

Something to think on …

Faith is what someone knows to be true, whether they believe it or not.
— Flannery O'Connor, born on this date in 1925

Listen in …

 Episode 111 – Prue Shaw and Dante: Time, Memory, Friendship, Poetry, Art | Virtual Memories.

A new biography...

...of Sartre

From the review:

"Albert Camus, Sartre’s great rival for the title of the 20th century’s most famous thinker, was a strong swimmer and a stronger soccer player. A little adolescent boxing aside, Sartre did little but sit at zinc tables necking coffee and Corydrane (the amphetamine-based painkiller he was addicted to)..."

The Curse of the MFA

...I have to say, my thoughts exactly.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Literary accommodations …

 10 Great Bookish Hotels.

And the nominees are …

 � The 2015 Man Booker International Prize Finalists.

Like reading one's own obituary …

… The slow death of the great American newsroom | Art and design | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Suggestions invited …

Beyond Eastrod: the journey continues: Rx needed: The savage breast in search of healing and mending . . . 


Hmm …

… Bryan Appleyard — Hell Is Not Other People. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The simple, obvious point is that hours of daily screen-watching reduces the time available for real-world contacts. This is bad for business, as companies are now realising. A Harvard study in 2012 found that companies that cut down on workforce costs actually become less profitable, a finding that detonates decades of management theory.
I wonder. I spent nearly 30 years largely in front of a computer. There were, of course, people all around me. It didn't seem all that different from the years I spent in front of a typewriter. On the other hand, I don't spend any time on a smart phone — I don't have one. I don't take any selfies. I have noticed that my teenage godysons seem inordinately plugged into YouTube and the like, and are credulous in a way my buddies and I when I was a teen never were. On the rare occasions I watch TV, I have been prompted to wonder if people today are affected by seeing all these actors pretending to be ordinary people. Real police really aren't like TV police. Real journalists are like those you see on screen. In short, it's all a mystery to me.

No one worried about this when I grew up ...

but it's probably a good thing they do now.  Even if it represents government at its finest.  Legalize it, tax it and regulate it:
Recreational marijuana has been legalized in four states, but that doesn't mean it's a tested consumer product. Some of those potent buds are covered in fungus while others contain traces of butane, according to an analysis of marijuana in Colorado.
Last May, after people began getting sick from edible marijuana products, the state of Colorado began requiring all products to be tested. Washington has mandated testing too, with a detailed checklist of items to analyze, including potency, contaminants, moisture and microbiology.

Amen, amen …

… Why Should a Jew Care Whether Christianity Lives or Dies? | David Gelernter | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

…  the story of the intermediary sent by God to man who was tortured to death by pagans but would not and could not remain dead, who could be killed but never die, is the story of the Jewish people. For Jews, Jesus is klal Yisrael, all Israel in the form of one man—Jesus is the Christian name for “the Jewish people.” And the Passion is Christianity’s recitation and sacralizing of Jewish history. (The Jews, of course, are repeatedly called the Lord’s first-born son in the Hebrew Bible.)

And the winners are …

 Independent Publisher: THE Voice of the Independent Publishing Industry.

It IS all about the little things...

No matter why...
When you’re a complete and utter failure of a human being like me, you learn that it’s the little things in life that actually matter. 
The sound of rain, the warmth of sunlight on my face, the crisp feel of the morning paper in my hands—these are all things I’ve come to truly cherish because I’ve achieved absolutely nothing of real significance that could bring me any joy. 
It’s a total cliché, I know. But when you reach a certain age, and success in any form continues to elude you, you start to realize that some of those clichés are true. Most of the time, we move too fast to even notice the special little moments that surround us at all times, from the simple pleasures of gazing up at a starry sky to the scent of freshly cut grass, but when you literally have no job or loved one to return to, you begin to realize just how wonderful these things are. 
So, now I make sure to stop and smell those roses whenever I can and enjoy them for what they are: a momentary distraction from the suffocating reality that literally all of my dreams have gone unrealized.
From the Onion


Fighting words …

… The New York Times Should Seriously Consider Not Writing About Science Anymore | RealClearScience.

As a whole, too many of the NYT's science articles take a pro-fearmongering, anti-technology viewpoint that is buttressed with dubious research. Even though interested readers can easily find plenty of thoughtful science journalism elsewhere, the NYT's shoddy reporting still matters. The journalistic malpractice that regularly stains the pages of that once great paper besmirches the reputation of all journalists.

Figuring the world …

… We Experience The World We Infer, Not The World As It Is : 13.7: Cosmos And Culture : NPR. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Today's music …

Writers dissing writers …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Dying Was A Good Career Move, And Other Author-On-Author Insults.

Something to think on …

The only ultimate disaster that can befall us, I have come to realise, is to feel ourselves to be at home here on earth.
— Malcolm Muggeridge, born on this date in 1903

Justice delayed...

Pope Francis Dines With Gay, Transgender Inmates

Monday, March 23, 2015

Dangerous imagination …

 Does Creativity have its Dark Side? | Psychology Today.

OR NOT...

Pope Francis was mobbed by a group of overexcited nuns, let out from their convents during his visit to Naples.
The nuns had to be reined in by the Archibishop of Naples after swarming the pontiff, to his evident bemusement, and showering him with gifts and greetings.
Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe could be heard through the microphone urging restraint and making lighthearted commentary in a Neapolitan accent.
“Sisters . . . Later. . . . well would you look at that. And these are the cloistered ones. Just imagine the non-cloistered ones,” he said, provoking laughter among the crowd gathered in the cathedral.
“They are going to eat him! Sisters . . sisters!”

BE AFRAID, BE VERY VERY AFRAID ...

Or at least, that's what a growing number of tech visionaries are predicting. In an interview with the The Australian Financial Review, Apple co-founder and programming whiz Steve Wozniak added his own grave predictions about artificial intelligence's detrimental impact on the future of humanity to warnings from the likes of Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking.
Original Interview here: 
 "Computers are going to take over from humans, no question," Mr Wozniak said. He said he had long dismissed the ideas of writers like Raymond Kurzweil, who have warned that rapid increases in technology will mean machine intelligence will outstrip human understanding or capability within the next 30 years. However Mr Wozniak said he had come to recognise that the predictions were coming true, and that computing that perfectly mimicked or attained human consciousness would become a dangerous reality.

FYI …

Sociologist Steve Fuller: Scientists Aren’t More Rational Than the Rest of Us | Cross-Check, Scientific American Blog Network. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The wonderland of self …

… The Story of Alice review – the worrying, winding road to Wonderland | Books | The Guardian.

“Who in the world am I?” is Alice’s refrain. It’s a question she answers when she meets the caterpillar on his mushroom. “I can’t explain myself,” she says, “because I’m not myself, you see.” The psychological grip in which Carroll holds his reader is all to do with a search for identity in which, teasing, he supplies more questions than answers. Possibly that reflects Dodgson’s unresolved dialogue with his own childhood. These dream-books are hypnotically nostalgic. Virginia Woolf identified this when she observed that “these are not books for children. They are the only books in which we become children”.

Listen in …

 Seeking an Easter Experience - Philosophy and Life.

The value of effort …

… Defending the “Eros of difficulty” | The Book Haven.

The excerpt above is from Steve’s essay, “In Defense of Difficulty,” appearing in the The American Conservative, a notable departure for this staunchly left-wing writer who contributes regularly to Truthdig – I applaud his attempt to fight our current  ideological segregation; it’s high time people learn to actually talk to one another again, especially on issues that should concern us all. Although he has described a telling incident from his L.A. Times days, the subject of his article is not self-promotion (I can do that for him) but rather the disappearance of serious criticism in our culture: “the ideal of serious enjoyment of what isn’t instantly understood is rare in American life. It is under constant siege. It is the object of scorn from both the left and the right. The pleasures of critical thinking ought not to be seen as belonging to the province of an elite. They are the birthright of every citizen. For such pleasures are at the very heart of literacy, without which democracy itself is dulled. More than ever, we need a defense of the Eros of difficulty.” (Cough, cough, Geoffrey Hill, cough, cough.)
Cynthia mentions and links to Geoffrey Hill in this piece. I once introduced Hill at the 92d Street Y, and I remember him telling the audience not to concern themselves with the allusions in his poems, but just to read the poems.

Today's music …

You have been warned …

 V.S. NAIPAUL says ISIS is now the Fourth Reich | Daily Mail Online.



Isis is dedicated to a contemporary holocaust. It has pledged itself to the murder of Shias, Jews, Christians, Copts, Yazidis and anyone it can, however fancifully, accuse of being a spy. It has wiped out the civilian populations of whole regions and towns. Isis could very credibly abandon the label of Caliphate and call itself the Fourth Reich.
Given the homicidal tendencies of ISIS, this is a very brave thing to write.


The incisive Mrs. Parker …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Dorothy Parker Slices And Dices: A Look Back At The Book Reviews of Writer Dorothy Parker.

Fractal poetry …

 on Barely Composed, poems by Alice Fulton (W.W. Norton) | On the Seawall: A Literary Website by Ron Slate (GD). (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A really good idea …

… Music Education Needs to Be a Click Away - WSJ. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

To know nothing about Beethoven? That is cultural bankruptcy. That is collapse. It goes far beyond incompetence, deep into betrayal and farce.
Not to mention the personal impoverishment.

Something to think on …

'Emergencies' have always been the pretext on which the safeguards of individual liberty have been eroded.
— Friedrich von Hayek, born on this date in 1899

Seeking help...

...The Night I Spoke Up About My #BlackSuicide

Old master...

...Mario Vargas Llosa: 'the novels we read now are purely entertainment'
“But I don’t think literature has no effect,” he goes on. “I think its most important one for me is to develop a critical attitude in readers, in very general terms. I think if you’re impregnated with good literature, with good culture, you’re much more difficult to manipulate, and you’re much more aware of the dangers that powers represent. So in that sense, I still believe in committed literature, but not, let’s say, in a dogmatic or sectarian way.”

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Holy dying …

… Kara Tippetts, 1976-2015 | The American Conservative. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



See this earlier post.

Wonderful …

… On Birds’ Nests | The Dabbler.

Antidote to busybodies …

… First Known When Lost: Repose.

Stephen's comments remind of a point Albert Jay Nock makes, that only way to improve the world is to present the world with a single improved unit, namely, oneself.

Reading and rereading …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `Softly Through My Mind'.

Safe spaces...

Infuriating derangement …

 Laudator Temporis Acti: The Prison of the Zeitgeist. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A taste for soaps …

… One Man’s Meat | The Weekly Standard. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

And the Old Ideas may be best in some areas anyway...

New ideas, rooted in scientific understanding, did help bring societies through the turbulence of industrialization. But the reformers who made the biggest differences — the ones who worked in the slums and with the displaced, attacked cruelties and pushed for social reforms, rebuilt community after it melted into air — often blended innovations with very old moral and religious commitments.

Killing "Scientific" Ideas -- for the Good

THE physicist Max Planck had a bleak view of scientific progress. "A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents..." he wrote, "but rather because its opponents eventually die."


This is the assumption behind This Idea Must Die, the latest collection of replies to the annual question posed by impresario John Brockman on his stimulating and by now venerable online forum, Edge. The question is: which bits of science do we want to bury? Which ideas hold us back, trip us up or send us off in a futile direction?

"Shut up," he explained.

 Contra:
[T]he history of science suggests—and my own 32 years of experience reporting confirms—that even the most accomplished scientists at the most prestigious institutions often make claims that turn out to be erroneous or exaggerated.
As a patent lawyer, over 25 years now (!) I have often had scientific experts as witnesses, pro and con, on many issues.  (My own background, aside from my doctorate in law, includes three undergraduate degrees, two in the sciences, with graduate courses in science (molecular biology) as well.  I have developed a skeptical view of scientific knowledge as a result...and to say something like man made climate change, to take but one example, is any kind if science is silly -- no testable hypothesis exists, which is the first step in the quest for scientific proof.

To say the science is settled in any area reminds me of a book, The Experts Speak : The Definitive Compendium of Authoritative Misinformation, Cerf, et. al.  which collects many quotes by the experts, including scientists, such as:
Worthless. (Sir George Bidell Airy, K.C.B., M.A., LL.D., D.C.L., F.R.S., F.R.A.S., Astronomer Royal of Great Britain, estimating for the Chancellor of the Exchequer the potential value of the "analytical engine" invented by Charles Babbage, September 15, 1842. This resulted in the British government discontinuing its funding for Babbage. Today, however, Babbage is hailed as the inventor of the computer.)
 
It is quite impossible that the noble organs of human speech could be replaced by ignoble, senseless metal. Jean Bouillaud, member of the French Academy of Sciences, referring to Thomas Edison's phonograph.

Lord Kelvin's "Heavier than air ships won't fly" 
  

 

  


Today's music …

Inquirer reviews …

Kelly Link's 'Get in Trouble': Wonderful, magical, all too real.

… Patrick Di Justo's book: A hilarious, unsurprising look at the food industry.

… 'Hitchcock' by Michael Wood is a beautifully turned survey.

'A Country Called Childhood' calls for kids to be let out into nature.

Recycling and more …

… Homeless in New York | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

The dialogue of faith and doubt …

… Beyond Eastrod: the journey of a Christian malgre lui: I still am sore in doubt concerning Spring . . .

Holy dying …

WORLD | A bird in winter | Mindy Belz | April 4, 2015. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

Americans are the only people in the world known to me whose status anxiety prompts them to advertise their college and university affiliations in the rear window of their automobiles.
— Paul Fussell, born on this date in 1924

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Oh, my …

Mad March days …

… Pharrell brings "Happy" message on climate change to U.N. - CBS News.



Who gives a rat's ass what he thinks about it, and why bother the kids with it? This is what is known as indoctrination.

Paging Steven Pinker …

 Breaking a decades-long trend, the world gets more violent.

Take heart, classical music lovers …

 Listening to Music May Be Good for Heart Health - Pacific Standard. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


“This is the first study, to the best of our knowledge, to demonstrate the music, both classical and rock, decreases aortic stiffness and wave reflections,” the researchers write. “Effect on aortic stiffness lasts for as long as music is listened to, while music has a more sustained effect (for at least 30 minutes more) for wave reflections.” 
When it came to pulse waves, classical music fans responded more to the classical playlist and rock fans to the rock compilation. While that makes sense, the results also contained a surprise: The velocity of these waves was reduced more for classical aficionados, whether they were listening to classical or rock.

Today's music …

Missing in action...

RIP...the last 60 minute man...





Chuck Bednarik 1926-2015

(This is a Books, Inq. sports post)

Greenpeace's cofounder is a Denier!


I am skeptical humans are the main cause of climate change and that it will be catastrophic in the near future. There is no scientific proof of this hypothesis, yet we are told “the debate is over” and “the science is settled.”
My skepticism begins with the believers’ certainty they can predict the global climate with a computer model...

Editor’s Note: Patrick Moore, Ph.D., has been a leader in international environmentalism for more than 40 years. He cofounded Greenpeace and currently serves as chair of Allow Golden Rice. Moore received the 2014 Speaks Truth to Power Award at the Ninth International Conference on Climate Change, July 8, in Las Vegas.

True economy …

 Review of Ariel Gore’s The End of Eve | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

What I love about Ariel Gore’s The End of Eve is that it always sets a bull’s-eye on Leon Battista Alberti’s concinnitas, the idea of beauty he describes as a “reasoned harmony of all the parts within a body, so that nothing may be added or taken away, or altered, but for the worse.” Gore has such well-honed storytelling skills that she pares away the unnecessary until all that remains is a spare, exposed and beautiful story. Nothing need be added, nor taken away or altered.

A different kind of brother …

 Book Review: ‘Shame’ by Shelby Steele - WSJ. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

His authority for writing derives in part from his intellectual cogency, in part from his birth. His white mother married his black father in 1944, a time when a more radical act than miscegenation is not easily imagined. A mixed marriage in those days meant that a couple lived in black neighborhoods. Shelby Steele, born in 1946, grew up in Harvey, Ill., a predominantly working-class town just south of Chicago. … Mr. Steele’s father was a truck driver who, owing to racism, was kept out of the Teamsters union, and hence out of making a good living, until late in his working life. Mr. Steele recounts a heartbreaking story of his own high-school days in the early 1960s when he learned that the school swimming team, of which he was a key member, was invited to the coach’s mother’s summer house and that he was excluded because the woman disliked blacks. …

WWJD? Item 1) or Item 2)?

1) Pope Francis will have lunch on Saturday with some 90 inmates at a prison near Naples, including some that reportedly come from a ward housing gay, transgender and HIV-infected inmates.
or 
2) San Francisco Saint Mary’s Cathedral Drenches Homeless With Water To Keep Them Away

How it all fit together …

… Rome Reborn: Take a Virtual Tour Through Ancient Rome, 320 C.E. | Open Culture.

Constraining a monster …

… Zealotry of Guerin: Kappa (Hokusai), Sonnet #234.