Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Don’t throw out your old dictionary …

… Merriam-Webster Adds Gender-Neutral Pronouns to Dictionary | Time. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



This would seem to have some bearing in this:  How identity politics drove the world mad.



As Mencken said, “There is no idea so stupid that you can't find a professor who will believe it.” Or, as George Orwell put it, “Some ideas are so stupid that only intellectuals believe them.”

Discovery …

… After 350 Years, Scholars Have Found Another Hidden Message in Milton's 'Paradise Lost'. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Take a look at these …

… Rivers & Waterfall Collection Archives - Clyde Butcher | Black & White Fine Art Photography. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Sad and beautiful …

… December, 1919 by Claude McKay | Poetry Foundation. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Claude McKay was born on September 15, 1889

Why don’t we all adopt the royal we …

… The problem with calling Sam Smith ‘they’ | Spectator USA.  (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I had never heard of Sam Smith before he made this announcement. With any luck, I’ll never hear of him again.

Good choices …

… Five Great Books of Spiritual Poetry | Book Marks. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The way we were …

 Old Wenham Burying Ground | Salem Witch Trials Cemetery. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

And the winners are …

… Winning Poems for August 2019: IBPC.



The Judge's Page.



(Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Emotional reprise …

 On Going (Back) | Brevity: A Journal of Concise Literary Nonfiction.

FYI …

… ‘We’re the magazine for the queen and the scaffolder’ - spiked. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The rest of the country is pretty equally startled. Overnight, denizens of the Spectator have seized power. Early on in Margaret Thatcher’s reign, she is said to have startled guests at a Downing Street reception by leaping on a sofa to declare: ‘I am the rebel head of an establishment government.’ One wonders if the staff at the Spectator aren’t now taking it in turns to bounce up and down on former editor Boris Johnson’s old couch (certainly the springs are broken) because, if anyone’s in charge today, it is the ex-employees of this magazine (which coined the very term The Establishment).

Something to think on …

The job of the poet is to use language effectively, his own language, the only language which is to him authentic.
— William Carlos Williams, born on this date in 1883

Monday, September 16, 2019

Anniversary …

… Nigeness: Sixty Years On.

Listen in …

The Biblio File hosted by Nigel Beale: John Ivison on his new biography and whether or not Canadians can trust Justin Trudeau.

Your tax dollars at work …

… Corruption of Public Health | Government’s Effort To Suppress Vaping.

Wittingly or not, public-health activists have labored away on behalf of Big Pharma and Big Tobacco.

Something worth worrying about …

… S/F Reviews and Marginalia: Survival will be your priority if this happens.

Master plus master equals masterpiece …

… The American Scholar: Innocence and Loss - <a href='https://theamericanscholar.org/author/sudip-bose/'>Sudip Bose</a>. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

 It is indeed heartbreakingly beautiful.

Blogging note …

Last night I had the worst sore throat I have ever had. It kept me awake half the night. Chloraseptic and liniment got me through it. But I am still not up to par. Hence the desultory posting today,

Every which way but loose …

… Academia’s Holy Warriors - The Chronicle of Higher Education. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I guess the takeaway from this is that our current political discourse is going in all sorts of directions at once. The problem may be categorism — thinking in terms of labels. I know persons who have been liberal Democrats all their lives who feel uncomfortable with the views of those calling themselves progressives. The practical problem, it seems to me, has to do, in government, with the unelected  bureaucracy and, in education, with bloated administrations.

Sounds about right …

… New Radar System Alerts Politicians When People Are Enjoying Something So They Can Ban It | The Babylon Bee.

RIP …

 Susan Kamil, longtime publisher and editor, dead at 69. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

Science should leave off making pronouncements: the river of knowledge has too often turned back on itself.
— Sir James Jeans, who died on this date in 1946

Tracking the decline …

… The Oscar goes to Felicity Huffman | Spectator USA.

The colleges will now point to Huffman in her orange jumpsuit as proof that the admissions’ process is fair and clean. But Huffman’s conviction demonstrates the opposite. The applications system is rotten to the core, and Huffman is the fall girl.

Well, maybe …

 William Blake review – a rousing call to arms | Art and design | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



I read a lot of Blake when I was young. I can't say I was ever sure I got what he was driving at, but I always found him — and still find him — thrilling. I cannot, however, see him at the center of any organized sociopolitical movement, and to attach him in any way to today's goofy politics seems to me to trivialize him.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

RIP …

… The Cars frontman Ric Ocasek found dead in Manhattan townhouse.

In case you wondered …

… The best classical music works of the 21st century | Music | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I’ll have to look into these, but I am somewhat surprised that Esa-Pekka Salonen’s violin concerto received no mention. I think it’s excellent.

Time to take a stand …

… Bari Weiss Explains How To Fight The Rise Of Anti-Semitism.

… Weiss’s book is an important read. It isn’t exhaustive, but it’s an excellent overview. There are insightful gems worth consideration for those new to the topic, as well as those who are well versed in it.

For your listening pleasure …

Frank Martin was born on this date in 1890.

September Poetry at North of Oxford …

 … Two Poems by Lowell Jaeger.

… Two Poems by Lynette G. Esposito.

… Why Whimper by Suchoon Mo.

 09.07.16 by Adrian Manning.

FYI …

… Fall 2019′s biggest books include new titles from Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Stephen King, and Ann Patchett.

Remembering Mencken …

 “Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.” Happy birthday, H.L. Mencken | The Sheila Variations.

Gratitude …

… Thirteen Years in New York – Reluctant Habits.

Time for a smile …

… Comic without Context: Mark Trail and the Internet | Bill Peschel.

Rejections …

… A Legendary Publishing House's Most Infamous Rejection Letters | Literary Hub.

Noble observation — and maybe despair …

… Boston Area Small Press and Poetry Scene: Eating Raw Meat by g emil reutter, reviewed by Gregory J. Wolos.

Tragic mystic …

… Homesick for Eternity | The Russell Kirk Center. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Johnson had a fascination of and gift for crafting the arresting image, but what separates him from his Imagist progeny is how the objects Johnson depicts always seem to flash for an instant before dissolving into an ethereal mist. If Imagists followed the notion that the world is all that is the case, Johnson’s prose was struck through with the ephemerality of life itself. In Johnson’s poetry, as a fellow mystic said sixty years later, life is a dream already over.

Something to think on …

The height of cleverness is to be able to conceal it.
— François de La Rochefoucauld, born on this date in 1613

Saturday, September 14, 2019

A Devastating Riposte to the 'New Atheists' | Spengler

… A Devastating Riposte to the 'New Atheists' | Spengler.

The pagan religions of the past were founded on the fatalistic submission of the weak to the powerful. Biblical religion invites the humblest as well as the most exalted to act as free people, by taking moral responsibility for their actions. It demanded equality before the law for rich and poor, for home-born and stranger, with the premise that every human being was a free agent with the right to live without fear of predation from the strong or oppression from the rich, and that every human being was equally responsible for his or her actions

A Devastating Riposte to the 'New Atheists' | Spengler

… A Devastating Riposte to the 'New Atheists' | Spengler.

The pagan religions of the past were founded on the fatalistic submission of the weak to the powerful. Biblical religion invites the humblest as well as the most exalted to act as free people, by taking moral responsibility for their actions. It demanded equality before the law for rich and poor, for home-born and stranger, with the premise that every human being was a free agent with the right to live without fear of predation from the strong or oppression from the rich, and that every human being was equally responsible for his or her actions

Good to remember …

… THINK ABOUT THIS: Why Our Brains And Our Minds Aren’t One And The Same Thing – HillFaith.



This has bearing on this: A Famous Argument Against Free Will Has Been Debunked.

Of course, there is activity in my brain when I think. But there is no reason to identify what I am thinking with said activity.

Well, one must not presume …

… More Reviews and Marginalia: Going to Heaven.

A terrific exhibition …

Nigeness: Vallotton.

Seeing a lot just by observing …

… Andrew Sullivan: NY Times Abandons Liberalism for Activism.

I don’t believe most African-Americans believe this, outside the elites. They’re much less doctrinaire than elite white leftists on a whole range of subjects. I don’t buy it either — alongside, I suspect, most immigrants, including most immigrants of color. Who would ever want to immigrate to such a vile and oppressive place? But it is extremely telling that this is not merely aired in the paper of record (as it should be), but that it is aggressively presented as objective reality. That’s propaganda, directed, as we now know, from the very top — and now being marched through the entire educational system to achieve a specific end. To present a truth as the truth is, in fact, a deception. And it is hard to trust a paper engaged in trying to deceive its readers in order for its radical reporters and weak editors to transform the world.

imagination …

… The Trouble With Literary Prime Ministers - WSJ. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… if Mr. Johnson, like Churchill and Disraeli, seems like an adventurer, it is mainly because all three saw their lives in politics as one big adventure. The sheer improbability of their careers energized them.

Something to think on …

The liberally educated person is one who is able to resist the easy and preferred answers, not because he is obstinate but because he knows others worthy of consideration.
— Allan Bloom, born on this date in 1930

Friday, September 13, 2019

My sentiments exactly …

… Instapundit — SUCK IT UP, BUTTERCUP: Students protest Sean Spicer campus talk: ‘makes me really scared.’ Cal…



Good Lord. If hearing Spicer talk makes you scared, (a) don’t attend his talk and (b) never leave home again.

Curious Abe …

… BOOK REVIEW: 'Lincoln's Spies' - Washington Times.

Lincoln’s Spies” is the story of Allan Pinkerton, Lafayette Baker, George Sharpe and Elizabeth Van Lew — important Union agents who operated mainly in the Civil War’s Eastern Theater, which included Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia. The U.S. government, of course, ran intelligence operations elsewhere — against Confederates in the Deep South and the western campaigns, for example, and to root out pro-Confederate subversives in the northeastern and northwestern states. To cover all the spying that went on in the Civil War would consume several volumes,” Mr. Waller writes in his note to readers

His side …

… With ‘Talking to Strangers,’ Malcolm Gladwell Goes Dark - The New York Times.

Make of this what you will. I have been skeptical of Gladwell for years. But he seems like a nice enough guy.

Tracking the decline …

… More Reviews and Marginalia: Angry librarians clash with greedy publishers.

So much seems to be going wrong these days. Perhaps the people taking over these days just aren’t up to the job.

Facts vs. propaganda …

… Here's Data Showing The Amazon Fires Aren't As Bad As You've Heard.

In other words, not as it has been “reported.”  

In case you wondered …

… Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: What I Learned Writing for 'Veronica Mars'. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Finally, there was Rob, our Glorious Leader. I've had the pressure of playing for NBA championships in front of millions of people, but that paled when watching the pressure he faced every day of the five months I was there. While we planned out the plot and character arcs of the eight episodes of Veronica Mars, he and Diane were also overseeing the final season of iZombie. He was making decisions about budget, casting, editing, music and a thousand other things. While we ate lunch, he was editing scenes from iZombie or on the phone trying to get J.K. Simmons. Yet he came in each day with good cheer, a clear vision and a great sense of humor. All while on a juice diet!

Blogging note …

I have much do today. So blogging will resume later on.

Not so enlightening after all …

… Adjusting to the world | Brandywine Books.



… the Enlightenment didn’t last long.
In practice, it was inadequate to actual human life. Enlightenment thought was like trying to feed people with vitamin pills only. Technically all the necessary nutrients might be there, but people need more than that. They need flavor and texture and scent. They need the whole human experience. The Enlightenment didn’t feed the soul.

Freedom and the vision it allows …

… William Blake’s therapy for the soul – Mark Vernon.

Ask people now what liberty means and they might say freedom to determine your own laws or make your own choices. But Blake’s freedom is not at root the liberty to do this or that. It’s founded first on something more substantial: the glorious capacity to see “a World in a Grain of Sand”; “Heaven in a Wild Flower”. It’s a liberty based upon perception. “A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees,” he remarked.

Time to listen up …

… When the Pianos Went to War - Atlas Obscura. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)



By the end of the war, Steinway had produced about 5,000 Victory Verticals, roughly half of which went to military service. (The others were sold to schools and churches.) Piper notes that the specially designed instruments were an incredible moment for the makers of musical instruments, and their resilience through the war years. But more remarkable were the moments of comfort, joy, and camaraderie those pianos created in difficult times.

Two legends …

… Replay: Bill “Bojangles” Robinson meets Fats Waller | About Last Night.

The heat under the words …

… Nigeness: A House of Many Mansions.

The Professor's House is a richly rewarding book…

A hanged man and a wolf …

… BOOK REVIEW: 'Land of Wolves' - Washington Times.

This morning …

Cool, breezy, and gray.
What we must forward to.
Among other things.

A seasoned observer …

… MY FILLMORE | The New Fillmore. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Now, exercise offers more of an opportunity to pause. I have favorite houses. Many mansions have had their facades lifted. After being swathed in netting or shrink-wrapped in white plastic for months, even years, exteriors are revealed to the street in pristine turn-of-the-century clarity. I have long admired the novels of American wealth — Wharton, James, Fitzgerald — and the interior secrets they revealed. Walking along Vallejo or up Steiner, however pleasant, is not like reading novels. There is no discernible narrative.
Richard is three years younger than I am.

Something to think on …

The more we elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate.
— J. B. Priestley, born on this date in 1894

Cautionary tale …

… ISIS Terroris Differs With Millennial Couple He Killed: Humans Aren't 'Kind'.

When I look at you now, I see another human being. When you look at me, what do you see?” she asked.
“I see a Christian person,” he said. “A person who isn’t a Muslim.””Do you think you have anything in common with the people that you killed?” Callimachi pressed.”No. There was nothing in common,” Abusamadov said. “They are humans and so are we. We didn’t have anything else in common.”

Thursday, September 12, 2019

This morning …

The birds seem to like
Joining him in the garden.
Coffee and seed cake.

War and crime …

… Reading and Responding: How Agatha Christie, Raymond Chandler, Dorothy Hughes, and other crime icons addressed (or didn't) the war in crime fiction.

Ah, yes …

… The Writer's Almanac for Friday, September 6, 2019 | Garrison Keillor. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Good luck …

… 30 Nobel Peace Prize winners confirmed for Mérida summit. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

RIP …

… Why Photographer Robert Frank Mattered | Smart News | Smithsonian. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Faith, hope, and love …

… Mitzvah by Paul Mariani | Articles | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hmm …

… Britain’s political system is broken. America’s isn’t | Spectator USA. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The whole purpose of democracy is to manage situations in which everyone believes they’re right and everyone disagrees. The dangerous game Remainer politicians are playing could indeed result in a win. But what good is triumph, if in the end your system of governance looks a farce, its ‘democratic’ decisions revealed as rigged by the lowlife electorate’s haughty betters?
Trump won in 2016 because he ran a better campaign than his opponent did. Hillary's larger vote totals came from a few concentrated urban areas. Also, she and Trump were not the only candidates. She won a plurality of the vote, not a majority.  Let's see what the people decide next time.

Good question …

… Is the “final judgment” really final? | The Christian Century. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



It has long seemed to me that the notion of an eternal hell suggests that hell is coexistent with God, who is eternal in the sense that He has no beginning and no end. Jesus refers to the everlasting fire. But everlasting is a temporal term — last until the end of time (the eternal being that which transcends time (i.e., God). I think Hart's conclusion has much to recommend it: "the end of history in a final judgment and then, beyond that, the end of judgment in a final reconciliation." C. S. Lewis said that the door to hell is locked from the inside. I do not think hell will last longer than the world.

Something to think on …

A candidate is a person who gets money from the rich and votes from the poor to protect them from each other.
— Stanislaw Lem, born on this date in 1921

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Ecology …

… John Bolton Waves Goodbye, Returns To Sea To Be Walrus Again | The Babylon Bee.

Those damned airplanes …

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We sinners …

… But What of Us? by Joseph Mirra | Articles | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hmm …

… Does Free Will Exist? Neuroscience Can't Disprove It Yet. - The Atlantic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



As Dr. Johnson observed, “All theory is against freedom of the will; all experience for it.”

Hmm …

… Imagining What D.H. Lawrence Would Make of Brexit: A Birthday Adventure | Town Topics. (Hat tip, Virginia Kerr.)

I find it impossible to imagine Lawrence having an iota of sympathy for the European Union. I think he would have had wonderful things to say about a government that put the matter to a vote and then could not implement the will of the people. I am certain he would not have been in sympathy with the views fashionable among the elites.

Standing up for the good guys …

… Washington Times - Politics, Breaking News, US and World News.

The agents are federal law enforcement officers who enforce the laws created by Congress.
So Congressional hacks who claim to not like what they’re should undertake to change the statutes they object. That’s what Congress is supposed to be about.

Lest we forget …

… Solemn musics | About Last Night.

Faith and interpretation …

… Reading and Responding: Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood.

Tonight …

Poetry In Common and

The Green Line Café Poetry Series On Locust

are honored to celebrate
the posthumous publication

of More Here Than Light:
The Selected Poems of A.V. Christie

This invitation is extended to all.


“A.V. Christie took great care with her poems and so
she took great care of us.” LG




A.V. Christie (1963-2016) was the author of Nine Skies (University of Illinois Press), which won the National Poetry Series; The Housing, winner of the McGovern Prize (Ashland Poetry Press); and the chapbooks The Wonders (Seven Kitchens Press) and And I Began to Entertain Doubts (Folded Word Press).  Her poems have appeared in Crazyhorse, Poetry, Commonweal, AGNI, Ploughshares, The Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner and many other reviews. She was a recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Pennsylvania and Maryland State Arts Councils and was a visiting writer at Villanova and LaSalle universities, Bryn Mawr College, Goucher College, the University of Maryland and Penn State Abington, as well as a Poet-in-the Schools.




The Poetry of A.V. Christie will be read by

Taije Silverman * Alix Christie *

Nathalie Anderson * Alyson Shore Adler


Hosted by Leonard Gontarek


Wednesday, September 11, 2019,
5:30-7:30 PM


THE GREEN LINE CAFE IS LOCATED
AT 45TH & LOCUST STREETS
PHILADELPHIA, PA  USA
(Please note the address, there are
  other Green Line Café locations.)
        greenlinecafe.com


     This Event Is Free

     More Here Than Light
     will be available for sale


Corn Maze by A.V. Christie

I heard the next voice over:
Think small it said. Think small.
Through the halls, the walls of corn,
I heard how the voice was held together
by its heritage of fear
and an inescapable sound of wings.
I had tried also always to flee—
the desire that rises and falters unceremoniously
Now I was in the middle with a tall flag
and a poor diagram shedding no light,
crosshatched hay strewn on the path.
It felt as though we all were the remnant
of some great trauma. Wandering.
One voice later, at the two hour mark,
I heard a father: Shut up or I’ll rip your tongue out.
This was maybe too near the center part of our map.
(Where we’d come to again.)
And I’d been one who’d tried always to position
herself at the edge of a field.
I thought we would simply go in and come out.
But here was density, tunnels leading back
to a childhood, its basic cosmology of annihilation.
Oh, this rustling and reliable sequence
of panic—I wondered who could I really be
without it?









Surely something can be done about this …

… Who Gets Emily Dickinson? - Los Angeles Review of Books. (Hat tip, Tim Davis.)

Several Dickinson scholars have expressed to me their frustration with Harvard’s policies. It is a topic frequently whispered about in Dickinson studies, but some avoid speaking publicly for fear of reprisal. Critics who spend their entire careers citing Dickinson cannot risk losing permission to do so. One tenured Dickinson scholar who wished to remain anonymous wrote to me, “Frankly, this topic makes me very nervous!” The same person underscored Harvard’s power to intimidate: “Please, please, I’ll tell you anything I can, but I can’t afford to be on the outs with Harvard!” The chilling effects of Harvard’s policies not only make it harder to cite and edit Dickinson, then, but also to discuss the issue publicly.

Lest we forget …

… How A Priest With No Money Honored Flight 93's Heroes Where They Fell.

I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder. ‘Thunder on the Mountain’ is the message of Flight 93. … As the plane crashed in the fields of Shanksville, it exploded and could be heard all across the hills, and shook the houses, and people heard it for miles around. That’s how powerful is the message of Flight 93. Once we understand it, it will explode upon our hearts. Never surrender. Never surrender. On Sept. 11, 2001, the old world passed away forever and can never be restored the way it was. The old heavens and the old earth passed away and behold, God said, ‘I create all things anew, and this time I give you 40 new stars — 40 stars to guide you in the darkness of terror.’

This morning …

Cool September breeze.
Sun, high clouds, and the roses.
Oh, and five sparrows.

Signs and times …

… The Burnt Orange Carpet Liturgical Test - The Catholic Thing. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Now and again, I go hear a Latin Mass.  Not too long ago, I heard one in the basement chapel of St. John Cantius in Chicago.  There, a great sea of young people, clutching their breviaries, women in veils, knelt about me on the hard tile, contemplating the back of the priest as he offered the holy sacrifice of the Mass in almost perfect silence. Those around seemed at home here, by which I mean only that this – what a generation older than me would refer to with intolerant and vitriolic disdain as an antique, museum, and oppressive Church – has somehow become the one and only true Church of their worship.
I grew up with the Latin Mass, and I don't think of the Church in those days as oppressive, though I am sure many of my generation do. But my generation produced as many horses' asses as any other. I also have nothing in particular against the Mass being said in the vernacular, though I wish they had just started using the English translation of the old Latin Mass. As I have noted before, "It is truly meet and just, right and availing unto salvation" is so much more elevating than "It is right and just." I attended the Latin Mass for several years when it was easy for me to get to. It is no longer, and I have grown very fond of attending Mass at my neighborhood parish. The pastor is very good at connecting the faith to the life we actually live. That said, I am increasingly inclined to think that Vatican II was an unmitigated disaster. 

Something to think on …

There is a sixth sense, the natural religious sense, the sense of wonder.
— D. H. Lawrence, born on this date in 1885

Go figure …

… Snopes reboots bizarre vendetta against Christian satire website Babylon Bee. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Makes one wonder how Snopes would have reacted to Swift’s “A Modest Proposal.” Maybe they should fact-check this one:  In Embarrassing Gaffe, Biden's Head Falls Off During Town Hall. I can see some people taking that seriously.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

George Orwell


For whatever reason, 1984 was not part of my high school curriculum. But now, all these years later, I've read it, and I have to say: it's pretty much as I imagined.

Don't get me wrong, I have a lot of admiration for Orwell, and his essays, especially, are that rare mixture of prescience and insight. 1984, of course, reveals something similar: namely, a balance between perception and anticipation. 

I suppose, though, given the ubiquity of the novel, that I found parts of 1984 somewhat predictable: there's the state in opposition to the individual, who is ultimately betrayed by elements of the state; then there's criticism of Communism and Stalinism, and a hope, expressed through Winston Smith, for a humane form of socialism. All of this is fair enough: the critique is certainly well founded. But there wasn't much here that truly moved me. 

What I did find compelling, however, were Orwell's meditations on language and what he expected might happen to it over time, as politics became more binary, more extreme. I hesitate to raise topics which are overly political on the blog, but it's my sense that we saw a reduction of language under the second Bush president, and that we're seeing an acceleration of it today under Trump. In fact, it's scary: the simplicity, the juvenile nature of the language used by Trump to articulate political objectives -- and to identify political enemies -- is no far from what Orwell imagined with Newspeak. 

Again, my goal here is not to comment on contemporary politics but instead to highlight Orwell's sensitivity to language, and to his concern -- which is one I share -- about its deliberate reduction, its calculated simplification. Orwell was clearly alarmed by this potential -- and for good reason.

In the end, I am pleased to have finally read 1984, and there are parts of it which I'll take with me. But dystopian literature has never been my interest, really, and in these strange and disconcerting times, I am perhaps less inclined than ever to engage works which serve as a mirror to the current condition. For the moment, at least, I'm it's all about Down and Out.

Gee, Governor, ever heard the phrase ‘Do no harm’ ?

… Jill Stanek: I Witnessed the Infanticide Ralph Northam Defended.

Can you believe …

… Here's Data Showing The Amazon Fires Aren't As Bad As You've Heard.

The world in a moment …

… First Known When Lost: All There Is.

Faith and fiction …

… The Breath of God | Randy Boyagoda | First Things. (Hat tip, Tim Davis.)

What I’m trying to do with my work, particularly with my latest novel, Original Prin, is write fiction where there is purchase, where you are reading about someone who’s pursuing a life that could, in fact, be yours, because it is a life lived in the chaotic, messy world of assorted extremities that pile up into life in the twenty-first century. This world is globalized in a jagged variety of ways and marked—especially for a religious believer—by a sense of First World urban life as constitutionally inimical to religion, which makes it hard to be a believer in such places. Harder still is weighing that sense of felt difficulty against the knowledge that there are people elsewhere in the world, right now, being slaughtered for believing in the same God.

Listen in …

… Episode 336 – Dawn Raffel – The Virtual Memories Show.

“I think Couney understood that no one else was going to save these children if he didn’t.”

Goof question …

 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Who Decides Who’s Allowed to Say the N-Word? | Hollywood Reporter. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The writer who was offended should have expressed their discomfort directly to Mosley so they could have a mature discussion. The offended writer should have asked themselves a few questions about whether or not taking offense was a legitimate response to a black man telling a story that happened to him and quoting the dialogue used. Clearly, the story has much more visceral impact — which was Mosley’s point — when you hear the actual word being spoken so cavalierly by a police officer. And why was there no offense taken to the use of the derogatory “paddy”? Finally, one has to question the ability of that writer to produce complex and layered characters and themes if they lack the sophistication to understand all that.

Revival …

… Legendary Boston bookstore reopens in Lee barn - News - seacoastonline.com - Portsmouth, NH. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

It’s a reincarnation of the Back Bay shop, with the same wistfulness and feeling of being homesick, yet not knowing what for. But in New Hampshire, the barn is rent-free and has its own parking. There’s also little-to-no traffic on the quiet country road.

Ignorance, religious bigotry, and the pursuit of power …

… Reading and Responding: Beyond the nunnery on a personal errand.

Living with loss …

… Verse Daily: This House by Rhina P. Espaillat. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

uestions, questions …

… White Designs – TheTLS. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A new approach …

… Malcolm Gladwell's 'Talking to Strangers' Doesn't Say Much - The Atlantic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Gladwell has often built his arguments from other peoples’ sketchy statistical manipulations and the far-fetched results he’s managed to cull from social science journals. The data, taken uncritically, served to buttress anecdotes that were intended to dramatize some general truth about the human animal. What’s new in Talking to Strangers is that Gladwell doesn’t use these bits of pseudo-science to point to any larger lessons. It seems he’s no longer trying to explain much of anything. By book’s end, the best he can do is counsel a sense of realism about what we can and cannot know—a kind of epistemological modesty.  

Something to think on …

Religion is the everlasting dialogue between humanity and God. Art is its soliloquy.
— Franz Werfel, born on this date in 1890