I live in a suburb of Minneapolis, the city where the whole madness began. At the beginning, I had a lot of sympathy for the protesters. I still feel for them. I expect the black people who actually live in the burned-out neighborhoods weren’t looking for that style of urban renewal. But the neo-Khmer Rouge took over, exploiting our toxic media to divide us in a way unseen since Hans Heg was riding off to war.
Tuesday, June 30, 2020
… Ozymandias Laughs | The American Spectator. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
… and why I’ve never had the flu: Immunity to COVID-19 is probably higher than tests have shown | Karolinska Institutet Nyheter. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
… Johnny Mandel Dead: Composer Who Wrote ‘MASH’ Theme Song Was 94 – Variety. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
… Oration in Memory of Abraham Lincoln - Teaching American History.
Friends and fellow-citizens, the story of our presence here is soon and easily told. We are here in the District of Columbia, here in the city of Washington, the most luminous point of American territory; a city recently transformed and made beautiful in its body and in its spirit; we are here in the place where the ablest and best men of the country are sent to devise the policy, enact the laws, and shape the destiny of the Republic; we are here, with the stately pillars and majestic dome of the Capitol of the nation looking down upon us; we are here, with the broad earth freshly adorned with the foliage and flowers of spring for our church, and all races, colors, and conditions of men for our congregation — in a word, we are here to express, as best we may, by appropriate forms and ceremonies, our grateful sense of the vast, high, and preeminent services rendered to ourselves, to our race, to our country, and to the whole world by Abraham Lincoln.
… Momentum Building in States to Require Campus 'Intellectual Diversity' | RealClearInvestigations.
After leaving Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., in 2017 amid a clash with woke activists, progressive academic Bret Weinstein has often felt like a lonely voice on the left warning about the dangers of campus intolerance and unrest spilling out into the real world.
… Sowell on Writing - Econlib. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Today is Thomas Sowell’s 90th birthday. I am sure many celebrations of Sowell will be published. Not in Europe, I am afraid: in spite of his renown in America, Sowell is virtually unknown in Europe. I suspect this is at least partially due to his choice to concentrate on writing and to eschew conferences and public gatherings. He never got on the conference circuit, so to say.
It is a pity. Sowell is admirable for a number of reasons. His courage. His productivity. His work.Read the whole thing.
Religion used to be the opium of the people. To those suffering humiliation, pain, illness, and serfdom, religion promised the reward of an after life. But now, we are witnessing a transformation, a true opium of the people is the belief in nothingness after death, the huge solace, the huge comfort of thinking that for our betrayals, our greed, our cowardice, our murders, we are not going to be judged.
— Czeslaw Milosz, born on this date in 1911
Monday, June 29, 2020
“A 107-page roar of outrage” - The Lancet's Editor-in-Chief on The Covid-19 Catastrophe
The global response to the Covid-19 pandemic is the greatest science policy failure in a generation. We knew this was coming. Warnings about the threat of a new pandemic have been made repeatedly since the 1980s and it was clear in January that a dangerous new virus was causing a devastating human tragedy in China. And yet the world ignored the warnings. Why?
In this short and hard-hitting book, Richard Horton, editor of the medical journal The Lancet, scrutinizes the actions that governments around the world took – and failed to take – as the virus spread from its origins in Wuhan to the global pandemic that it is today. He shows that many Western governments and their scientific advisors made assumptions about the virus and its lethality that turned out to be mistaken. Valuable time was lost while the virus spread unchecked, leaving health systems unprepared for the avalanche of infections that followed. Drawing on his own scientific and medical expertise, Horton outlines the measures that need to be put in place, at both national and international levels, to prevent this kind of catastrophe from happening again.
We’re supposed to be living in an era where human beings have become the dominant influence on the environment, but Covid-19 has revealed the fragility of our societies and the speed with which our systems can come crashing down. We need to learn the lessons of this pandemic and we need to learn them fast because the next pandemic may arrive sooner than we think.
… 4 More “Lost” Dorothy Parker Poems Uncovered | Dorothy Parker Society. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
… CDC Antibody Studies Confirm Huge Gap Between COVID-19 Infections and Known Cases – Reason.com.
These results confirm something we already knew: The COVID-19 infection fatality rate—deaths as a share of all infections—is much lower than the crude case fatality rate—deaths as a share of known cases. That is bound to be true when testing is limited and a virus typically produces mild or no symptoms. At the same time, the CDC's antibody studies imply that efforts to control the epidemic through testing, isolation, quarantine, and contact tracing will not be very effective, since they reach only a small percentage of virus carriers.
… Glad Midsommar! Covid comparison in six charts: Sweden and UK - InProportion2. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
… (5) Ivor Cummins on Twitter: "Nobel Prize for Science winner Professor Levitt of Stanford - one of the few who called this thing correctly back in February - with a population fatality rate of 0.04 to 0.05%, largely regardless of lockdown Now calls it again - on how science has let us all down dreadfully: https://t.co/LrUA7t4rhv" / Twitter. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
… I’m Drunk, But I’ll Get Over That Soon. You’re a Fool and You’ll Never Get Over That – Quote Investigator. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Ah, you miserable creatures! You who think that you are so great! You who judge humanity to be so small! You who wish to reform everything! Why don't you reform yourselves? That task would be sufficient enough.
— Fréderíc Bastiat, born on this date in 1801
… The Big Bang | by Freeman Dyson | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
The queerest and maddest part of the evening came at the end. People were then trying ineffectively to dance in the constricted space available. I was suddenly seized upon by an absurd and very drunken little woman, who ordered me to dance with her. As she is a pathetic-looking creature with a disfiguring scar on her face, I could not decently reject her. So I danced around with her for about twenty minutes, she evidently not minding how badly I danced. At the end of this she was getting so wild and jumping about so that it made me very uncomfortable, and I finally succeeded in returning her to her husband. The husband, who is a solemn and frightened-looking little man, was standing around by himself miserably while all this went on. He did not seem to talk to anybody all the evening. It makes me feel sick just to think of the horror of the lives these two people may be living. Evidently the reason the wife seized upon me for a partner is that I am the only one of the young men at the party whom she had met before. The name of the husband (I wonder if you guessed it) is Kurt Gödel.
The horror of this scene was real, but Adele Gödel was rarely drunk, and she was a good wife for Kurt when she was sober.
Sunday, June 28, 2020
… Jesus Won't Let Us Use Him for Our Politics | Thinking Christian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
First, Jesus was not a “person of color” in any sense that matters. He wasn’t a minority race member. He was a member of the local dominant race and religion, whose leaders had him executed. His killing had nothing to do with race, everything to do with authority conflicts (from an earthly perspective) and God’s purposes (from the wider point of view).
Second, police shootings are not “state-sanctioned violence.” Many are justified actions, the police defending themselves or innocent civilians from imminent danger of being killed. In the small number of exceptional cases the state sanctions nothing; the officers are charged and tried for murder.
We should never let our politics control or even influence our view of Jesus. But we can certainly let our view of Jesus influence our politics. We cannot try to get him on our side, for our purposes; but we can certainly try to set ourselves on his side, for his purposes, as long as we remember he’s completely in charge.When last I checked all humans were members of the species homo sapiens. I was taught that all are made in the image and likeness of God. I have behaved accordingly.
… Morning’s Canvas: I shall fall / Like a bright exhalation in the evening, / And no man see me more.
The upper-division students in my “Shakespeare: Later Plays” elective at Boston College, which wrapped up with our reading of Henry VIII, articulated this realization especially well. Their most common sentiment was that they have nothing to look forward to — a view expressed not as an anxious complaint but as a clear-eyed observation. Their college education won’t lead to a job (or even a ceremony to mark the end of a life-stage), their semester of assignments won’t culminate in a feeling of mastery (or even a grade), and many meaningful relationships they have made will be cut off without resolution.
I don’t see why being well-instructed in literature — as I happen to have been — would get in the way of employment. It never did for me. And I don’t see what unionization of teachers would have to do with that. If you want to teach literature in college, then you need an advanced degree. The number of such jobs will always be limited. Literature is grounded in life. Knowledge of literature helps in understanding life. Life tends to involves the necessity of employment.
… Charles Webb, who inspired a Hollywood classic with 'The Graduate,' dies at 81 - Los Angeles Times.
… The sacking of Long-Bailey shows that, at last, Labour is serious about antisemitism | Jonathan Freedland | Opinion | The Guardian.
By his action, Starmer has shown he grasps that politics is painted in primary colours. Most voters will barely be aware of this episode, let alone follow the nuances. If anything cuts through, it will be that the new Labour leader promised zero tolerance of antisemitism and he meant it. (Though it seems Starmer offered her a way out, had she agreed to apologise, which she refused to take.)
Prayer is the force as real as terrestrial gravity. As a physician, I have seen men, after all other therapy had failed, lifted out of disease and melancholy by the serene effort of prayer. Only in prayer do we achieve that complete and harmonious assembly of body, mind and spirit which gives the frail human reed its unshakable strength.
— Alexis Carrel, born on this date in 1873
Saturday, June 27, 2020
… The Riddle of Why Literary Riddles Are Overlooked - Athenaeum Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Considering both ambition and quantity, the all-time master of riddles is probably Lewis Carroll (1832-1898). His Phantasmagoria and Other Poems (1869) included a number of riddles, including two that were double acrostics, a feat rarely attempted since Aldhelm’s Praefatio to his Aenigmata. Despite Alice’s disdain for riddles (“I think you might do something better with time than wasting it in asking silly riddles.”), Alice in Wonderland is loaded with riddles and the language of riddles. As with the Exeter Book, scholars have focused on what is unsolved: The Mad Hatter’s riddle “Why is a raven like a writing desk?” Despite a statement by Carroll near the end of his life that indicated that the lack of answer to this riddle was part of his joke, commentators futilely continue to present “solutions” to the raven riddle.
… The Hard Life. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
The experience of writing Beckett’s life, before and after publication, left Deirdre Bair battle-scarred and weary, but she recalls some bright moments. After seven years of work, just before her book went to press, she was told that she had to obtain Beckett’s permission for every individual quotation from his letters and unpublished manuscripts. Distressed, she wrote to him to explain the situation, and asked him to place his initials beside every quotation that she planned to use, a total of twenty-three single-spaced pages. A week later she had his reply. He had initialled every single quotation except the poem he wrote as a twelve-year-old schoolboy at the Portora Royal School, wryly explaining that “it shows better your diligence as a researcher than my development as a writer”. Bair was deeply moved that after all the obstacles and hostile responses that she had encountered along the way, Beckett himself was as good as his word. “I have met many honorable persons throughout my long professional life,” she writes, “but there was never one whose integrity equaled Samuel Beckett’s. His word was indeed his bond.”
… “I know why the caged bird sings, ah me…” — poet Paul Laurence Dunbar | The Sheila Variations.
Paul Laurence Dunbar was born on this date in 1872.
… Stunning Photographs Reimagine Disney Princesses as Black Girls. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)
… Painting Restoration Fail Turns the Virgin Mary Into "Misshapen Lump". (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)
… UPMC doctor sees too much focus on rising COVID-19 cases, too little on declining severity and hospitalizations - pennlive.com.
See also: Hospital patients four times less likely to die now than they were in April, Oxford study finds.
Yealy also said UPMC has tested more than 15,000 patients who were receiving non-COVID-19 care, with only about one in 400 testing positive. He said the rate, which has held steady for weeks, suggests that aren’t many people carrying COVID-19 who don’t know it.Someone at The Inquirer should read this. Pittsburgh, after all, is in Pennsylvania.
See also: Hospital patients four times less likely to die now than they were in April, Oxford study finds.
But, no. Forget the silver lining. Only the cloud is real.
… Butchering by Rhina P. Espaillat : American Life in Poetry. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)
… Ideas: Slate Star Codex and The New York Times. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
The NYT inconsistent?
A fairly detailed news article about the controversy. Like several others, it points out that the journalist's claim about NYT policy is inconsistent with past stories they have published, including a recent one on a podcast host who was identified only by his online pseudonym.
The NYT inconsistent?
… Richard Rodriguez on the Catholic Imagination: “We Are No Longer a Mystery to Ourselves” - Benedict XVI Institute. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
I think the most daring part of my speech was when I spoke about our fallen clergy—how we have turned our back on the sinner. With secular eyes we read stories about priests under arrest for sexual crimes. As Catholics, we used to have a more complicated relationship to sin. Even the decadent Renaissance Pope was a true pope, despite his sins, because of the grace of God. Priests and bishops who molest children are criminals and should be punished as criminals. But here is the astonishing thing: the sexual monsters were also our priests and bishops! The monster baptized many of us; the monster consecrated the host; the monster presided at the wedding of generations of Catholics; the monster buried our parents! What I am struck by is how we now won’t recognize our tie to these broken men.
Friday, June 26, 2020
I can't claim to enjoy the novels of William Faulkner. And having now finished Light in August, the feeling remains: Faulkner's novels are a lift; they're tough and challenging, and require sustained intellectual engagement.
Of course novels which demand these things are not to always be criticized, but Faulkner seems to me to be in a different league. Light is a dark, complex novel: one with a compelling plot, and with fully formed characters. The challenge is Faulkner's rhetoric: it overwhelms, it overflows, and it contradicts. Light is full of passages in which something is X, but also not X, someone is Y, but also not Y. It's as if Faulkner knew his characters so well that he could not accurately describe them: he was simply too close.
And more: Faulkner's narrative seems at times to deliberately confuse. Characters have the same or similar names, and their interior monologues are so often intertwined that it becomes a challenge to understood where those monologues end and where the dialogue itself begins. (To wit: primary characters include Bunch, Brown, Burch, Bobbie, and Burden.)
No doubt, Light is propelled by a frightening plot: one which which succeeds, remarkably, in coming full circle, in tying together its tangents. But the road toward resolution is a challenging one. Faulkner's characters act, but that action is obfuscated by cascades of thought and revelation. Had Robert Penn Warren, for instance, written Light in August, well, that would have been an entirely different, and more rewarding, experience. But he didn't, and the result is something tall and astonishing which is not all together coherent.
… AN Wilson on Brideshead Revisited - The Oldie. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
The remarriage of divorced Catholics, however, was at that date unthinkable. Today, the Pope himself has suggested that there are circumstances in which it might be permissible, and emphasised that there are many grounds for questioning the notion of the “validity” of a marriage.Which is why many of us have grown weary of him.
… The Funniest Books of All Time | The Reading Lists. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)
No Decline and Fall? Nothing by Peter De Vries or S. J. Perelman?
…Incredible Photo of a Whale Wins Photographer $120,000. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)
Deservedly so. But there are other great shots as well.
Deservedly so. But there are other great shots as well.
… Remembering Robert Johnson | Chapter 16. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)
… what constitutes the bulk of this short book: an extended interview, a free-wheeling journey through old times with an earnest historian and a sharp-witted witness. Mrs. Anderson, as she insists Lauterbach call her, remains a child of the city that gave the world the blues and ultimately rock and roll. Although her life after Johnson’s death led her to the East Coast, college, and a long career as a teacher and school administrator, she brings her brother and the Memphis of her youth to life with verve and humor, in a dialect that could have originated nowhere else:
… On Flannery O’Connor & Race — THE BITTER SOUTHERNER. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
I read Elie’s piece with my mouth falling open, more incredulous as I read. Not because I was shocked to discover that O’Connor made blatantly racist remarks throughout her life. That has been known by anyone who has cared to look ever since the 1970s. What surprised me was his minimization or omission of so many of the people who have written on O’Connor and race. He claims that the reluctance to face these facts keeps us from “approaching her with the seriousness a great writer deserves,” implying that no serious engagement has yet happened. Maybe it shouldn’t surprise me that much of the work he misreads or flat-out ignores has largely been done by women and Black Americans.
… Richard Wright, Masaoka Shiki, and the Haiku of Confinement | by Christopher Benfey | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
We have all experienced the ways in which the Covid-19 pandemic has shortened our attention spans, drained our energy, and made us fearful of the future. For Richard Wright and Masaoka Shiki, lying on their sickroom beds, writing haiku was an art of short spurts of insight followed by exhaustion. “I believe his haiku were self-developed antidotes against illness,” Julia Wright wrote of her father, “and that breaking down words into syllables matched the shortness of his breath.” On the morning before Shiki died, his sister held up a drawing board so that he could write his final poems. She said nothing as he paused after each line, choking on phlegm. When he had finished, according to Keene, “he let the brush drop, apparently exhausted by the effort.”Shallow fellow that I am, Covid-19 has had no effect on my attention span or my energy. As for the future, I’ll wait and see.
One cannot ignore half of life for the purposes of science, and then claim that the results of science give a full and adequate picture of the meaning of life. All discussions of 'life' which begin with a description of man's place on a speck of matter in space, in an endless evolutionary scale, are bound to be half-measures, because they leave out most of the experiences which are important to use as human beings.
— Colin Wilson, born on this date in 1931
… ‘The Habit of Art’ Review: An Imagined Reunion - WSJ. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
See also: Alan Bennett's THE HABIT OF ART is Streaming Now.
Theater people being what they are, the collision of play and play-within-the-play leads to richly farcical occurrences, but “The Habit of Art” is at bottom a serious exploration of the artist’s life, one that is conjured out of an ingenious act of the theatrical imagination: Mr. Bennett supposes that Britten (David Yelland) approached Auden (Matthew Kelly) in 1972 to seek counsel about his last opera, a stage version of Thomas Mann’s “Death in Venice.”
See also: Alan Bennett's THE HABIT OF ART is Streaming Now.
Thursday, June 25, 2020
… Conscience by Patricia Churchland book review - The TLS. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
To argue that we are “wired to care” tells us nothing about how our sense of good and evil, of right and wrong, is expressed in our daily lives not only as individual agents, but also as members of complex societies, or as citizens of nations. Churchland’s neuro-ethics seems steadfastly to ignore the entirety of human history and prehistory in which the moral codes with which we do and do not comply have been forged. It does not strike her as improbable that all the various views, historical and contemporary, espoused by disparate prophets, clerics, ideologues, teachers, legislators, role models, parents and moral philosophers are determined solely by asocial, ahistorical, tenseless nano-squirts of dopamine and oxytocin. Our moral intuitions are expressed through incurring, and delivering, or not delivering, on complex webs of obligations, on contracts and covenants. Bioscience has even less to say about the cauldron of arguments, precedents, agonizing decisions and indecisions, where moral expectations are forged, respected and knowingly breached. For those not blinded by neurophilosophy, the “moral intuition” of her subtitle is something that is developed, and argued over, in the extracranial spaces of the communal human world.
… The freedom of driving. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
This book is a defence of felt life against the intrusions of the technocrats – a running theme in Crawford’s work, from The Case for Working with Your Hands (2010) to The World Beyond Your Head: How to Flourish in an Age of Distraction (2015). But, as I said, it is strange. For a start, almost all the intellectual content is included in the first 50 pages. Most of the rest is the real thing – hot-rodding a VW Beetle, getting lost on a trip in a 1972 Jeepster Commando, folk engineering, demolition derbies, desert racing, how to handle road rage and so on. He admits the tone is uneven, but it is intrinsic to his world view; after all, life is uneven.
Wednesday, June 24, 2020
… The statues of Samuel Johnson can stay. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Nor was his belief in the wickedness of slavery a mere abstract commitment of the kind so familiar to scribblers then as now. Johnson's valet Francis Barber was a freed black Jamaican who eventually became his heir, an astonishing bequest that was widely reported in the English press at the time. With the help of his friend Tobias Smollett, Johnson secured Barber's release from naval service (for which he thought he should have been disqualified on grounds of health) and paid for him to receive an education. Johnson's relationship with Barber was one of genuine friendship and the latter was an invaluable source for James Boswell and other early biographers of the great man, including those like Sir John Hawkins who were disgusted by their subject's "ostentatious bounty [and] favour to negroes."
… Night is the morning’s Canvas: Guilt: the enduring theme in history (and Nathaniel Hawthorne).
I feel no guilt about the past. I played no part in it.
… Anarchy in the City of Brotherly Love | City Journal. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Dim Kenney has to be the dumbest person ever to hold the office of mayor in this city. As for Krasner, the job description for District Attorney Seems to elude him.
…‘Superego,’ by Frank J. fleming | Brandywine Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
… How Flannery O’Connor Fought Racism | Jessica Hooten Wilson | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Elie notes that in private correspondence, O’Connor used inexcusable racial slurs, and confessed to friends that she struggled between the Christian in her, who believed that all are God’s children, and the Southern white lady in her, who was trained to see black people as inferior. Elie declares O’Connor a racist because of these letters, and suggests that O’Connor scholars are unwilling to see or speak of them. Never mind that scholars have wrestled for years with the letters Elie quotes.
… Black Madonna Defaced in The Netherlands - Victory Girls Blog.
The Black Madonna also honors Gen. Stanislaw Maczek, commander of the 10th Motorized Calvary which rolled into Breda in 1944. However, because he had witnessed the devastation that WWII had left behind in Europe, he chose not to use full tank firepower in Breda. So instead, he and his troops fought house-to-house, which resulted in great loss of Polish lives. However, very few residents of Breda perished, and thus the people honored Maczek by making him an honorary citizen.a
Tuesday, June 23, 2020
… Viral justice and the demented war on Karens | Spectator USA.
… When is a Karen Not a Karen? The Cruelty and Lies of Karlos Dillard.
… When is a Karen Not a Karen? The Cruelty and Lies of Karlos Dillard.
Well, if Mr. Dillard was looking for attention, he sure got it.
… What future for literature? Thinking fondly of “The Book People” in Farenheit 451 | The Book Haven.
What is the answer? Adam Zagajewski told me years ago, when I asked him about a world that now longer turns to great literature, and specifically poetry, as it attempts to come to grips with the world and the self. What future for literature? “We’ll be living in small ghettos, far from where celebrities dwell, and yet in every generation there will be a new delivery of minds that will love long and slow thoughts and books and poetry and music, so that these rather pleasant ghettos will never perish — and one day may even stir more excitement than we’re used to now.”
… NYT Is Threatening My Safety By Revealing My Real Name, So I Am Deleting The Blog | Slate Star Codex. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
… “Superfluous people in the service of brute power….” — Ryszard Kapuściński | The Sheila Variations. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
… File:Henry Ossawa Tanner - The Annunciation.jpg - Wikimedia Commons.
I meant to post this on Sunday, the anniversary of Tanner’s birth. He attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and studied with Thomas Eakins, who painted Tanner’s portrait. His painting of the Annunciation, which is at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, I have loved since first saw it, which was a long time ago. It is not just a painting of a religious subject. It is a religious painting.
Monday, June 22, 2020
… Viruses steal human DNA to forge new human-virus genes - UPI.com.
The so-called UFO proteins could explain why these viruses are so adept at infecting human hosts, but they could also be useful targets for future vaccines and anti-viral drugs.
… Roberto Calasso: “Society itself has become the major superstition of our times.” | The Book Haven.
Not so much transcendence, but the perception of the powers in us and around us. People talk a lot about religion, but they might as well be talking about huge political parties. The most delicate point to grasp is that society itself has become the major superstition of our times. This is the pivot of the last section of L’ardore. What I mean is that the belief in society as the ultimate crucible of progress creates a vast amount of bigotry even in the so-called secular world. So in actual fact it’s difficult to find an intellectually rigorous atheist. Though I have met many secular bigots.
… LORD JONATHAN SUMPTION: These people have no idea what they're doing | Daily Mail Online.
I have had no political allegiance for many years. I have observed the coming and going of governments of one party or another with equal indifference. But it is hard to be indifferent to what is happening now. You have to go back to the early 1930s to find a British Cabinet as devoid of talent as this one.What he says about Britain seems true here as well.
Without imagination of the one kind or of the other, mortal existence is indeed a dreary and prosaic business... Illumined by the imagination, our life, whatever its defeats — is a never-ending unforeseen strangeness and adventure and mystery.
— Walter de la Mare, who died on this date in 1956
… What If I Trust Science and Don't Trust Dr. Fauci?
This week on a Department of Health and Human Services podcast, Dr. Fauci made the following comment:
“One of the problems we face in the United States is that unfortunately, there is a combination of an anti-science bias that people are — for reasons that sometimes are … inconceivable and not understandable, they just don’t believe science, and they don’t believe authority,”
My head almost exploded. He made this comment in the same week he admitted the nation’s Health Experts™ lied to Americans about the effectiveness of masks. They decided to tell us masks didn’t work rather than tells us they were effective in preventing the spread, but please refrain from buying them until we have an adequate supply for healthcare workers.
… ‘Apocalypse Never’ Review: False Gods for Lost Souls - WSJ. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
He understands activists because he has been one himself since high school, when he raised money for the Rainforest Action Network. Early in his adult career, he campaigned to protect redwood trees, promote renewable energy, stop global warming, and improve the lives of farmers and factory workers in the Third World. But the more he traveled, the more he questioned what Westerners’ activism was accomplishing for people or for nature.
Sunday, June 21, 2020
… Verse Lines When the Streets Are on Fire - Breaking Ground. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Let me discuss just three poems that help us understand the role poetry plays as a finite good that manifests, and draws us toward, the infinite: one by Czeslaw Milosz, one by Christina Rossetti, and, finally, a sonnet by Sir Philip Sidney.
… The American Soviet Mentality - Tablet Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
All of us who came out of the Soviet system bear scars of the practice of unanimous condemnation, whether we ourselves had been targets or participants in it or not. It is partly why Soviet immigrants are often so averse to any expressions of collectivism: We have seen its ugliest expressions in our own lives and our friends’ and families’ lives. It is impossible to read the chastising remarks of Soviet writers, for whom Pasternak had been a friend and a mentor, without a sense of deep shame. Shame over the perfidy and lack of decency on display. Shame at the misrepresentations and perversions of truth. Shame at the virtue signaling and the closing of rank. Shame over the momentary and, we now know, fleeting triumph of mediocrity over talent.It is also impossible to read them without the nagging question: How would I have behaved in their shoes? Would I, too, have succumbed to the pressure? Would I, too, have betrayed, condemned, cast a stone? I used to feel grateful that we had left the USSR before Soviet life had put me to that test. How strange and devastating to realize that these moral tests are now before us again in America.
… Muhammad Ali's son says he would've hated Black Lives Matters. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
… PETER HITCHENS: I've seen hamsters more intimidating than this mob who shouted at me - but what is frightening is their intolerance of all other opinions - Mail Online - Peter Hitchens blog.
(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Who doesn’t think black lives matter? Who doesn’t value the NHS? But that is not what these displays mean. They are about particular ways of holding those views, ways which lead relentlessly to intolerance of dissent, to the enforcement – by threats to the livelihoods of dissenters – of a single set of acceptable opinions.
Saturday, June 20, 2020
…Vera Lynn: Rest in Peace | National Review.
On Thursday, Vera Lynn, Britain’s “forces’ sweetheart,” died at the age of 103. For Brits, she was the last great living symbol of “the war,” as so often it is still referred to, a conflict that needs no other identifier, a reflection of the grip it still has on the British psyche — for good, or some say, ill.
… The healing power of birdsong | Jason Wilson | Standpoint. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
To sit and listen to any birdsong is to meditate on the wildness of birds. If you mix the songs of birds you might hear in London—robins, blackbirds, thrush, crows, ravens and green parakeets—is it so different to that astonishing wall of sound I once heard when listening to the dawn chorus on an estancia in Argentina? Hudson teaches us that bird song is a medicine that restores freedom and wildness to our minds. Even the “croaking carrion crow” and the screech of the green parakeet, so seemingly unmelodious, bring this “medicine” to our ears.
… Robert Mezey: Four Uncollected Poems - Los Angeles Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
…Priest Canceled for Preaching Solidarity Over Racial Division | The American Spectator. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
“To conquer racism requires a conversion to holiness, and a willingness to spread grace and charity to hardened hearts,” wrote Moloney.Logically, to affirm that all lives matter is necessarily to affirm that all lives matter. For a Christian it is simply an extension of the belief that we are all created in the image and likeness of God. If you object to the proposition that all lives matter, you would seem to have a problem regarding substance.
I am dismayed, but hardly surprise at the timorousness of the Boston archdiocese. The American hierarchy has lately become a major obstacle to the faith. Nothing surprising there. The hierarchy wasn't so hot during the Renaissance either.
Anyway, let's return to those benighted days of yesterday when this song was a No. 1 hit here and in Britain:
… Ursula de Jesus and the fortress of patience – The Lamp Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
… her visions do not allow her to accept the racism and dehumanization which were the basis of her oppression. One of the first visions she describes showed her a black woman who had been enslaved in the convent, María Bran. Ursula sees her in purgatory, dressed in a priest’s alb and crowned in flowers, “her face a resplendent black.” The woman says that “[s]he was very thankful to God, who with His divine providence had taken her from her land and brought her down such difficult and rugged roads in order to become a Christian and be saved.” But the Christianity taught to slaves has left Ursula with an urgent, heartbreaking question: “I asked whether black women went to heaven[.]” María Bran says yes, God’s mercy will save black women who give Him thanks. Later Ursula writes, “Although He raised us as different nations, the will of blacks and whites is the same. In memory, understanding, and will, they are all one. Had He not created them all in His image and likeness and redeemed them with His blood?”
… On the College and Silence: A letter from Hillsdale College. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
The College is told that it garners no honor now for its abolitionist past — or that it fails to live up to that past — but instead it must issue statements today. Statements about what? It must issue statements about the brutal and deadly evil of hating other people and/or treating them differently because of the color of their skin. That is, it must issue statements about the very things that moved the abolitionists whom the College has ever invoked.
Friday, June 19, 2020
… Yesterday Came Suddenly | The American Spectator.
History is a horror show for liberals, who only look to the past in search of grievances they can exploit in their remorseless quest for political power. The liberal has a quasi-religious faith in Progress, which means that yesterday — another McCartney song title — was self-evidently worse than today. The past was a bad time, according to liberals, who see nothing there but oppression. Your nostalgia for the pleasant memories of childhood is almost certainly racist, and probably also sexist and homophobic. Now that I think about it, didn’t McCartney’s lyrics in “Get Back” mock someone who “thought she was a woman, but she was another man”? Isn’t this the textbook definition of transphobic hate speech?
… Bob Dylan, a Genius Among Us - WSJ. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
He loves the mythic, fabulous figures of U.S. history. On the first page of his autobiography he writes of meeting Jack Dempsey. “Don’t be afraid of hitting somebody too hard,” the old boxer, taking him for a bantamweight, advised him. On “Rough and Rowdy Ways,” Mr. Dylan sings of William Tecumseh Sherman and George Patton, “who cleared the way for Presley to sing / who cleared the path for Martin Luther King.” It’s as if it’s all a continuum in which America’s outsize and spectacular beings clear the way and pave the path for the renegades and revolutionaries who will follow.
… A Farrakhan Supporter Led the LA Black Lives Matter Rally That Became a Pogrom | Frontpagemag.
Paint can be cleaned off, glass can be swept away, and family savings and dreams can be put away, but there is a bigger price to be paid for failing to stand up to the rise of someone like Melina Abdullah. Bigoted mobs don’t go away when you fail to stand up to them. They gain power and legitimacy. And the price of standing up to them grows while the toll they take with each attack becomes unbearable.
… Can You Really Separate Edgar Allan Poe's Work from His Life? | CrimeReads. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
As Symons attempts to demonstrate, Poe’s work emerged from a life that created a “split man, a divided personality.” Poe could be “a wonderfully quick, intelligent and perceptive man, with a butterfly mind that never rested for long on a subject.” But he had a maddening ability to sabotage his own successes, to promise more than he could deliver—this was especially apparent in his varying relationships with and failed proposals to several women after he was widowed—and to attack, in print, those who could help him. Poe was a man afflicted by hubris, one who “intended to write down to the level of his readers, yet rarely managed it.”
… Work and Prayer: The Brief Friendship of Thomas Merton and Wendell Berry | Front Porch Republic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
In his hermitage, Merton felt he was encountering real life and was therefore capable of giving himself to God more fully. This privileging of the concrete world of disembodied ideas, for both Merton and Berry, is rooted in the incarnation. Because the word has been made flesh “there are no unsacred places.” Berry illustrates this point well in “A Native Hill” from 1969: “A path is little more than a habit that comes with knowledge of a place.” A path is the incarnation of a people’s idea of the place, while the road is almost pure abstraction whose “tendency is to translate place into space in order to traverse it with the least effort.”
Thursday, June 18, 2020
… Vera Lynn, Singer Of Timeless Classics In WWII-Era Britain, Dies At 103 : NPR.
Eternal grant unto her, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon her.
… Duluth Language Police Chop the Word 'Chief' from Local Vocabulary in 1 Savage Move.
Actually, “chief” is rooted in French which is rooted in Latin, but whatever, chief.
… Homeschooling scholar-mom takes on Harvard prof who wants to crack down on homeschooling | The College Fix.
“But the heart of this challenge is a fundamental question,” McDonald said. “‘Should the government intervene in family life and monitor the myriad choices each family makes when there is no evidence of wrongdoing?’ In other words, is the role of government to suggest that families are guilty until proven innocent and must be kept under close watch in order to protect children?”Bartholet’s response is not convincing.
… What a Socially Distant World Would Really Look Like - Atlas Obscura. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)
… Top Shots: The Most Compelling Photojournalism Of The Week. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)
Looks a lot like the 1930s. There’s even some goose-stepping.
… Haunt | by April Bernard | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)
… In Photos: What Was Life Really Like In The U.S.S.R.? (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)
… 4 Exceptional Queer Poets for Your Pride Reading | Book Riot. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)
Frank O’Hara is a favorite of mine, and here is my review of Mary Oliver’s Owls and Other Fantasies.
Frank O’Hara is a favorite of mine, and here is my review of Mary Oliver’s Owls and Other Fantasies.
… Perry Mason and the Case of the Wildly Successful, Perpetually Restless Author | CrimeReads. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
... one of the things the tyrant most cunningly engineers is the gross over-simplification of language, because propaganda requires that the minds of the collective respond primitively to slogans of incitement.
— Geoffrey Hill, born on this date in 1932
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
… The Lockdown Contrarians Were Right | C2C Journal.
According to Public Health Agency of Canada data, there had been 7,773 Covid-19 deaths in Canada as of June 7. Federal Chief Medical Officer Theresa Tam has confirmed that 81 percent of them were linked to long-term care facilities. Of the remaining 1,482 deaths, most were people over the age of 70. Only 229 of the total deaths were aged under 60 and almost all of those had pre-existing health conditions. Clearly, for a healthy working-age person, the risk of dying from Covid-19 is significantly lower than dying by accident or from other diseases.
… The Writer's Almanac for Friday, June 5, 2020 | Garrison Keillor. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)
… The woke have no vision of the future - UnHerd. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Woke activists, in contrast, have no vision of the future. In Leninist terms they are infantile leftists, acting out a revolutionary performance with no strategy or plan for what they would do in power. Yet their difference from Lenin goes deeper. Rather than aiming for a better future, woke militants seek a cathartic present. Cleansing themselves and others of sin is their goal. Amidst vast inequalities of power and wealth, the woke generation bask in the eternal sunshine of their spotless virtue. … Universities have become seminaries of woke religion, while newspapers are turning into sermonising agitprop sheets.I continue to think that majority is going to push back hard against the woke, and rather soon.
… Defund Universities to Save Universities – The American Sun. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
The original reason for college was sound: train men in the ways of the scholar and the pursuit of Truth, all Truth being from God. That purpose still exists, and the need is just as strong as ever. Which is to say, it is not that strong. This calling is only for the very, very few. We need, in a country of our size, perhaps four institutions devoted to training and housing scholars.
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
… COVID-19 death rate cut by cheap steroid, according to unpublished data | Ars Technica. (Hat tip, Jeff Mauvais.)
… many experts also urged caution, noting that the clinical trial data has not yet been published or reviewed by outside scientists. The Oxford researchers merely announced the news and a small amount of supporting data in a press release.