Monday, May 31, 2021
And what will these students do with their major? It’s unlikely they will be able to teach Greek or Latin. Even if they choose belatedly to study it, they will be far behind. It seems unlikely that, lacking strong proficiency in the languages, these students will be able to continue their study of Classics in graduate schools worth their salt.
Sunday, May 30, 2021
“All evidence available today was available twelve months ago, and most evidence available today was available fifteen months ago,” Rutgers University chemical biology professor Richard Ebright told the Daily Caller.
“All that has changed is that the small group that seized control of the narrative in February 2020 and deceived the public and policy-makers for fifteen months now has lost control of the narrative.”
Classics eliminated the requirement for students to take Greek or Latin.
Seems an odd way to teach classics.
It is true that she could be formulaic, especially in her early books. Miss Marple’s eyes endlessly twinkled and Hercule Poiret kept twirling that famous mustache. What keeps her books readable, though, is that she never cheats (the clues are always there if you know what to look for). That’s the obvious reason. However, I also believe that, despite her formula and repetition, she understood human nature, something that became increasingly obvious as her writing matured.
The Shoah Memorial in Paris has acquired a series of recently discovered photographs which show in detail the first mass arrest of Jews in Paris, organized during World War II by the French police at the initiative of the German authorities.
… Israel never used ground forces in Gaza, much less tanks. So the cartoon’s entire premise — a tank rolling over an innocent civilian — is false. It must have been deliberately false since the absence of a ground invasion was well known. Again, the cartoonists and Globe editors didn’t want an inconvenient fact to undermine their viewpoint. So they ignored it.
Saturday, May 29, 2021
I’m sorry but this matters. It’s not the only thing that matters right now, I know. But if we remove the corner-stone of liberal democracy — the concept of a free, interchangeable citizen using reason to deliberate the common good with her fellow citizens, regardless of any identity — then it is only a matter of time before it falls. This does not mean ignoring or overlooking the real struggles that African-Americans in particular have endured and continue to endure. It is to insist that we can do better — within a self-correcting, open liberal system — without surrendering to tribalism, race obsessiveness, or utopian attempts to force racial justice which violate the core guardrails against tyranny we rely upon for the survival of liberal democracy.
The few published diaries by members of Congress tend to be barely disguised campaign documents, self-aggrandizing fairy tales advertising the author’s purity of heart. By contrast, Conable, whose instructions limited access to his journal until most of those mentioned therein had adjourned to Valhalla, is often hard on himself and frank about the shortcomings of his colleagues.
Friday, May 28, 2021
Born in south-east Ireland in 1685, Berkeley studied at Kilkenny College and then Trinity College Dublin. He entered a world of ideas recently transformed by the likes of Descartes, Locke and Malebranche, and was publishing from his early twenties, when he developed the theory that would come to define him in the public imagination: immaterialism, the view that matter does not actually exist and all objects are in the mind.
… The Hume paradox: how great philosophy leads to dismal politics.
Overall, for Hume, philosophical reasoning was not a matter of going wherever logic takes us, no matter how absurd, but acceding to what experience demands. Reason divorced from experience defeats itself, leaving us convinced that nothing can be known. To be a person of true reason is to understand that reasoning is not just a matter of constructing arguments but attending to all the reasons we have to believe things or not, and some of those reasons are furnished by experience, not logic.
J. B. Priestley, in Literature and Western Man, said that Berkeley was thought to have posited that there was only mind and no matter, while Hume was thought to contend that there was only matter and no mind. He cited a contemporary wit who summed up their differences thus: No matter, never mind.
Thursday, May 27, 2021
Wednesday, May 26, 2021
Paul McHugh of Johns Hopkins is the man who rescued modern psychiatry from a coven of flaming nut cases with medical degrees who actually believed in such lunatic notions as “recovered memory,” “sexual reassignment,” “multiple personality disorder,” “physician-assisted suicide,” “Vietnam-specific post-traumatic stress syndrome,” and destroyed innumerable lives as long as they held sway.
… you can make an idolatry of doubt. You can become so comfortable with God’s absence and distance that eventually your own unknowingness gives you a big fat apophatic hug. One could argue that when doubt becomes the path of least resistance it becomes the very thing that a faithful person must most resist. And resistance is often a matter of language.
His readings are attentive to both the ethical-religious elements of the stories and their organizational and practical mechanics. Only a former engineer and cradle Catholic could invent what he calls the “Ruthless Efficiency Principle” and explain it by means of the liturgy. “We might think of a story as a kind of ceremony, like the Catholic Mass,” he writes. Because “we understand the heart of the Mass to be communion,” all “those other parts (the processionals, the songs, the recitations, and so on) will be felt as beautiful and necessary to the extent that they serve the heart of the ceremony.”
The typescript in question, containing a series of limericks written by seven of the English-speaking Fathers present at the Second Vatican Council, had been sent by the Archbishop for her amusement and now, thanks to the editor’s lockdown labours, can find a wider readership.
Hosts control URLs. When they delete a URL’s content, intentionally or not, readers find an unreachable website. This often irreversible decay of Web content is commonly known as linkrot. It is similar to the related problem of content drift, or the typically unannounced changes––retractions, additions, replacement––to the content at a particular URL.
Tuesday, May 25, 2021
Ideally, Unreported Truths will become a genuine journalistic alternative to elite media outlets like The New York Times, which have become overtly ideological in the last several years – at the cost of the accuracy of their reporting.
From early 536 to 537, they stayed dark. Across much of eastern Europe and throughout Asia, spring turned into summer and fall gave way to winter without a day of sunshine. Like a blackout curtain over the sun, millions of people across the world's most populated countries squinted through dim conditions, breathing in chokingly thick air and losing nearly every crop they were relying on to harvest.
This short collection of 23 poems could easily be read in a single sitting, but I do not recommend this. For a start, the searing rawness of the emotion requires occasional respite; and secondly because Hannah’s poetry is worth reading slowly and meditatively, rather than being rushed through. I came across some words and ideas in reading the poems that I had not needed to learn before, but which are presumably common currency for Hannah: for example, a ‘resus bay’ is, apparently an area for resuscitation.
The Trojan Women by Anne Carson with Rosanna Bruno; The Gododdin by Gillian Clarke; Hotel Raphael by Rachel Boast; American Mules by Martina Evans; pandemonium by Andrew McMillan
Monday, May 24, 2021
I’m sure in hell not.
There is much to love in the book, from Hampton’s tour de force reading of and its poetics of evasion—which manages, among other things, to combine Kerouac and Petrarch—to his bravura readings of “Jokerman” and “Every Grain of Sand.” Rich and indispensable endnotes tease out a fascinating array of implications from even the minutest observation.
rles Seife has written a biography of Hawking that is a mixture of scientific vulgarization and gossip. I have to confess that much of the science was quite beyond me, as I suspect that it will be for many, probably most, people. The author is not to blame for this; I think that no one would be able to explain the science to me any better than he, and the author certainly cannot be accused of willful obscurity. But it does mean that many quite closely printed pages will simply pass over the head of the average reader (if I am included in that category).
Sunday, May 23, 2021
The main message of the book is that both the anti-vaccine fundamentalists and the pro-vaccine fundamentalists are wrong. To say that all vaccines are bad is idiotic. To say that all vaccines are good is equally idiotic. One needs to look at each vaccine individually, and weigh one’s personal risk of infection, and of serious disease if one should be infected, against the particular risks of harm specific to the vaccine.
Saturday, May 22, 2021
Friday, May 21, 2021
… The Double Life of Nat King Cole. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Cole’s piano style would have made an impression under any circumstances, but it was the setting that he now created for himself—a drummerless trio consisting of piano, electric guitar, and bass—that showed it off most advantageously. Full-time combos of any sort were uncommon in the swing era, and the King Cole Trio would have stood out for that reason alone. In addition, the absence of a drummer gave the trio a transparent sound that made it easier for Cole and Oscar Moore, an unsung pioneer of jazz guitar, to toss musical ideas back and forth, supported only by the swinging bass lines of Wesley Prince and, later, Johnny Miller. The nimble, darting interplay heard on records such as This Side Up (1940) and What Is This Thing Called Love? (1944) has lost none of its freshness eight decades later.
I'm so old I can remember loving the King Cole Trio when I was a very little kid in the '40s.
In May we enter the green world again. The meadow grass sways in green waves. The tunnels of trees continue their annual interlacing, each tree extending its boughs a bit each year, as overhead the green grows deeper. And, as I report here every May, the ants have once again commenced their kingdom building, burrowing away in the darkness, erecting pyramids of sand in the green world above.
The point about Dylan’s voice is that it is his voice and that his lyrics are written for that voice. Think of this from “Tangled up in Blue”: “I helped her out of a jam I guess/But I used a little too much force”, or this from “Where Are You Tonight?”: “There’s a lion in the road, there’s a demon escaped/There’s a million dreams gone, there’s a landscape being raped.” That most perfect singer Ella Fitzgerald could sing those lines and even then it wouldn’t be as good as Bob, with his withering irony, his amused regrets, his strange visions, his endless stock of stories and, as the critic Christopher Ricks has pointed out, his superb use of rhyme. Dylan writes songs that can only really be covered by himself.
Thursday, May 20, 2021
Yet with so much talent, even Levant’s failures, look like successes. Levant would always gripe about his limitations as a pianist, but in the mid-1940s he was the highest paid concert hall artist in the United States, receiving almost $5,000 per recital, more than even Horowitz or Rubinstein charged. By the same token, he mocked his writing talent, but his books were bestsellers—and still have devoted reader today. (They were, in fact, my first introduction to Levant.) Or consider his talent as songwriter, which he pursued with halfhearted ambitions as an occasional sideline, yet Levant produced the beloved jazz standard “Blame it On My Youth,” performed by everyone from Nat King Cole to Keith Jarrett.
He was one of my favorites on the Jack Paar show when I was in high school (the best late-night TV show ever). Here he is with Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra. This is a great performance. Ormandy was a great Tchaikovsky conductor and Byron Janis told me once that he was the greatest orchestral he ever played under. He said it was because Ormandy actually enjoyed accompanying. That’s on display here. This is Levant’s interpretation and Ormandy accompanies that.
How did he pull it off? To begin with, Mr. Lloyd fulfilled the Prime Directive of Stage and Screen Longevity: Don’t die. Unlike Welles, who lived a profligate life in every sense of the word and predeceased his old friend and colleague by 36 years, he was a temperate man blessed with a long and happy marriage (his wife died in 2011 at the age of 98) who played tennis twice a week well into his hundredth year
… Thelonious Monk deserves the last note. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
In the summer of 1923, five-year-old Thelonious boarded a train with 50 or so boys of all colors and creeds who would spend two weeks hereabouts. Upon arrival the energetic Monk made an immediate impression: he was chosen mascot of the fire department, the plummest of honors. The precocious lad was given a uniform, permitted to ring the bell, and at the end of his two-week sojourn he vowed to return someday to become a real fireman.
Wednesday, May 19, 2021
An Irish Independent article last year inquired,”Should the Irish Tolerate a Memorial to a Nazi Sympathiser.” No such question seems to have been asked of the most prestigious leftist educational institution in the UK which still venerates a monster who supported Mussolini, Hitler, Lenin, and Stalin not because he didn’t believe they were killers, but because he did.
Tuesday, May 18, 2021
After the end of WWII totalitarians Gramscied their way to seize control of our institutions, intent on stealth conquest. As a result, the Four Freedoms are now being destroyed by our own government at all levels, abetted by fellow travelers embedded in the media, academia, corporations, and the arts. These entities now view our freedoms merely as obstacles to their unaccountable power; they are working in lockstep to wipe out our legacy of liberty.
A poem can console even when it has nothing consoling to say—much as a person can, simply by being there. A few years ago, a Cambridge University research project surveyed hundreds of poetry-lovers on the effects of memorization. The researchers discovered that people who had learned a poem by heart frequently referred to it as though it were alive. One interviewee told the researchers: “A poem is like a person—if I met you next week I wouldn’t expect you to be the same.” Another said the poems he knew had become “like personal friends deeply rooted in my head.”
When I saw my friend Harold Boatrite lying in his coffin I recited to him — yes, that’s how it felt — Gerard Manley Hopkins’s “Felix Randal.” The lines “This seeing the sick endears them to us, us too it endears. / My tongue had taught thee comfort, touch had quenched thy tears, / Thy tears that touched my heart …” seemed somehow appropriate.
The truth is that had Miss O’Connor been a civil rights activist she would not have been the consummate literary artist that she was, the two roles being radically and fundamentally incompatible. The dominant elements in the activist personality are idealism and sentimentalism, or ‘tenderness’ — a quality O’Connor thought led straight to the gas chambers. Flannery O’Connor was neither an idealist nor a sentimentalist but an orthodox Catholic who never allowed even the modern Church to sentimentalize the basic inalterable and irreducible conditions of human life for her. As she wrote to one of her most frequent correspondents and closest friends, ‘We are all The Poor.’
Monday, May 17, 2021
Composer Harold Boatrite died on April 26. He was 89.
The Inquirer was informed of this the same day, but has yet to publish an obituary. So I thought I would post one here.
John Donne famously wrote that “any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.” But there are degrees of involvement. If you have known someone, as I knew Harold, for half a century, the sense of diminishment takes some dealing with.
Harold was born on April 2, 1932 and grew up in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. He was a friend of my late first wife, Zelda. They went to Germantown High together and both attended St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. If memory serves, Zelda took me to meet him sometime during the Christmas season in 1969.
I had heard his music, but was not terribly familiar with it at the time. What drew us together was our mutual familiarity with the school of philosophy known as scholasticism. I’d visit him at the house on Waverly Street in Center City that he shared with harpsichordist Temple Painter and he would visit us in our house in Germantown. Zelda's daughter Gwen studied piano and theory with him,
Harold was largely self-taught, but he did study with Stanley Hollingsworth. I’m guessing that was when he was living in Detroit and driving a truck, having dropped out of Wayne State University. Sometime later he was awarded a fellowship to the Tanglewood Music Center, where he studied composition with Lukas Foss and attended Aaron Copland’s orchestration seminars.
In 1961, pianist Rudolf Serkin invited him to be composer-in-residence at the Marlboro Music Festival. In 1967, he was given a doctor of music degree by Combs College of Music, and shortly thereafter he was appointed to the faculty of Haverford College, where he would teach theory and composition until 1980. From 1974 to 1977 he serves on the music panel of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and in 1982, to mark his 50th birthday, the Pennsylvania Alliance for American Music presented series of concerts devoted to his music. His music seems also to have been featured often at the Prague Autumn International Music Festival. Conductor Marc Mostovoy, when I emailed him about Harold's passing, wrote back:
I was introduced to Harold’s music by Temple Painter, who was engaged as Concerto Soloists’ harpsichordist when I began the orchestra back in the 1960s. Over the years, Concerto Soloists (now the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia) performed eight of Harold’s orchestral works, premiering at least five, and playing a number of them many times.
I was immediately attracted to Harold’s music: tonal, yet contemporary; intellectual, yet moving. He thought long and hard about every note he committed to paper, constantly striving for the best possible solution. As a consequence, his output is relatively small, but the quality very high.
He served for many years as new music consultant to Concerto Soloists, helping select works the Orchestra would program each season -- advocating for music well-crafted, and that the public could appreciate.
He was an excellent teacher as well. Concerto Soloists performed numerous works of his students to whom he passed on the mantra of quality over quantity. He espoused the importance of learning from great composers of the past, especially J.S. Bach, and writing music that was beautiful. I consider him an extremely important Philadelphia composer and teacher of our time.
But of course the best way to get a feel for music is to hear it. So here are a couple YouTube videos of performances of his pieces. I saw Jeri Lynne Johnson conduct Harold's music a number of times. I don't know how much time she spent with Harold, but her conducting of his music gives the impression that she knew him very well. To paraphrase Whitman: Who hears these notes touches a man. (I must add that Marc Mostovoy has the same uncanny skill, though his Harold is one seen from a different, but equally authentic, angle.) Again, to paraphrase Whitman, Harold was large. He contained multitudes.
Kennedy, a fellow at the University of Oxford, was granted rare access to the unpublished manuscripts and is one of only a handful of people ever to have read them. “In two genres, he’s telling us what it feels like to be forgotten, to be isolated, to be fighting for your own mental survival. And we can’t hear that voice, because most of it’s not published and we don’t have the right context.”
Sunday, May 16, 2021
… our K-12 schools and colleges are increasingly teaching students to become social justice warriors rather than broadening their intellectual horizons. That’s wrong in itself. A college education isn’t meant to be political indoctrination. “A mind is a terrible thing to waste,” and wasted it is when it’s reduced to brainwashing.
As is so often the case … the conventional wisdom was wrong. A new study from Chicago University economist Casey Mulligan validates what the anti-lockdowners knew all along: Lockdowns are a bad idea. After workplaces implemented mitigation measures, they became far safer environments than people’s homes.
Saturday, May 15, 2021
Milman Parry argued that we don’t really need to know who Homer was, since the epics could be the oral compositions of a tribe, “not the work of any one individual.” He flung aside our most precious notions of individual genius, concentrating instead on the patterns and inconsistencies of Homeric epics, the way some vocabulary, particularly epithets like “wine-dark sea” and “gray-eyed Athena,” existed only to suit the demands of the dactylic verse, a vibration of sound and a vehicle for narrative propulsion.