Monday, February 28, 2022
I know the instrument of war. War is not politics by other means. It is demonic. I spent two decades as a war correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa, and the Balkans, where I covered the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo. I carry within me the ghosts of dozens of those swallowed up in the violence, including my close friend, Reuters correspondent Kurt Schork, who was killed in an ambush in Sierra Leone with another friend, Miguel Gil Moreno.
In true friendship, in which I am expert, I give myself to my friend more than I draw him to me. I not only like doing him good better than having him do me good, but also would rather have him do good to himself than to me; he does me most good when he does himself good.— Michel de Montaigne, born on this date in 1533
… gossip is not a clearly apprehensible phenomenon like, say, politics or publishing, but rather inchoate and largely deemed trivial, and therefore under-documented. To get a whole book out of it, one needs a flexible definition. For Epstein, as for Edward Eggleston (but attributed by Epstein to Oscar Wilde), “journalism is organized gossip,” and Epstein duly treats it as food for his book.
Sunday, February 27, 2022
Nhất Hạnh’s influence extended far beyond his high-profile connections, however. It grew out of his deep embodiment of the peace he consistently taught, and anyone fortunate enough to be in the great teacher’s presence felt without a doubt the truth that governed his life: He lived exactly as he preached.
… the classical educator realizes that the student will grow up to be not only a worker, but a spouse, a parent, a citizen, a partaker of art and culture, a congregant. For these roles too a student must be prepared. The fact is that if you ask any adult which arenas of life provide them with the most satisfaction and meaning, some may place work near the top, but most will cite things like family, faith, and community. It is in these spheres of duty that human beings most typically find their happiness, and classical education is, above all things, about helping our students become happy. And so the classical course of study is meant to prepare students to be great fathers and mothers, great citizens and neighbors, great lovers of beauty and truth.
Saturday, February 26, 2022
I feel pretty sure that most aren’t.
… North can be rightly understood only by understanding the times in which he lived. By the mid-1970’s, now in his thirties, North saw clearly that America was far down the fast track of radical transformation and on its way to ruin. The tranquil 1950’s had given way to the turbulent 1960’s and been transformed into the full-blown chaos of the 1970’s. Vietnam raged. Decades of Keynesianism and Socialism were crippling the economy. Nixon resigned in disgrace in 1974. While the U.S. Supreme Court had banned Bible reading and prayer from public schools in the early 1960’s, in 1973 it doubled down, overturned state laws across the country, and legalized the killing of babies in the womb. Organizations like the National and the World Council of Churches were promoting “situational ethics” and an apostate “Christianity” throughout America’s mainline churches. Having been taught not to bother polishing brass on a sinking ship, Bible-believing Christians and conservatives were watching the world they took for granted be dismantled before their eyes as they waited for the Rapture. Society’s bedrock foundations were crumbling and the whole social structure with it. The rot was going to the roots and it was bearing very bad fruit.
I believe that little old lady was wiser than me, and was just plain right about the true nature of real Christianity.
Friday, February 25, 2022
There is a whole sub-history of writers trying to defy the Washington read, including Richard Ben Cramer, whose classic account of the 1988 presidential election, “What It Takes,” has no index. “For years,” Cramer said in an interview after its publication, “I watched all these Washington jerks, all these Capitol Hill, executive-branch, agency wise guys and reporters go into, say, Trover bookstore, take a political book off the shelf, look up their names, glance at the page and put the book back. Washington reads by index, and I wanted those people to read the damn thing.”
… while Hayden focused much of his attention on the sufferings and triumphs of black Americans, that wasn’t enough for some of his contemporaries, who, in April 1966, began denouncing him for refusing to write black nationalist propaganda.
According to the data, which is submitted to the CDC by health departments across the country, the COVID-19 case rate in fully vaccinated people rose by more than 1,000 percent between Dec. 11, 2021, and Jan. 8, 2022.
Thursday, February 24, 2022
Albert Einstein, who was German and Jewish, and who lived through that dark period of mass slaughter, was right when he observed: “The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”
The quantum gravity gradiometer, which was developed under a contract for the Ministry of Defense and in the UKRI-funded Gravity Pioneer project, was used to find a tunnel buried outdoors in real-world conditions one meter below the ground surface. It wins an international race to take the technology outside.
When a government that is adverse to the West engages in such conduct, it is not just easy but obligatory to malign it as despotic. Thus can one find, on a virtually daily basis, articles in the Western press citing the government's use of those tactics in Russia, China, Iran, Venezuela and whatever other countries the West has an interest in disparaging (articles about identical tactics from regimes supported by the West — from Riyadh to Cairo — are much rarer). That the use of these repressive tactics render these countries and their populations subject to autocratic regimes is considered undebatable.
But when these weapons are wielded by Western governments, the precise opposite framework is imposed: describing them as despotic is no longer obligatory but virtually prohibited. That tyranny exists only in Western adversaries but never in the West itself is treated as a permanent axiom of international affairs, as if Western democracies are divinely shielded from the temptations of genuine repression. Indeed, to suggest that a Western democracy has descended to the same level of authoritarian repression as the West's official enemies is to assert a proposition deemed intrinsically absurd or even vaguely treasonous
Wednesday, February 23, 2022
A Ditty Composed During Insomnia at the Brink of Possible War
Now I lay me down to sleep.
Nations have promises to keep,
And Ukraine restless in their beds
With Russian guns up to their heads.n
Oh we would win, so it would seem,
The news-man says with eyes agleam,
Yet Ukraine's restless in their beds
With Russian guns up to their heads.
The blessed nuns are praying much
For peace and love and such and such,
Yet Ukraine's restless in their beds
With godless guns up to their heads.
We'll yet again prepare for war,
To keep the Russians from our door
Oh bless the Ukraine in our stead
With all those guns up to their heads.
By Jennifer Knox
The implications for evolutionary biology are profound. If mutations aren’t equally distributed across the genome, and aren’t random with respect to the needs of the organism, then two basic tenets of the standard neo-Darwinian model are false. This also could spell trouble for neo-Darwinism because it suggests that mutation rates are lowest in areas where mutations would presumably be needed to foster evolution — i.e., they are lowest in the genes.
If mutation rates are low in the gene-coding DNA, then it will take even longer for new complex traits to arise by mutating functional genes. This exacerbates what Darwin-skeptics call the “waiting time” problem, where it takes too long for necessary mutations to arise — far longer than the amount of time allowed by the fossil record.
Recent research on the matter includes a study funded by Johnson & Johnson and the U.S. government that found previous infection alone provided 90 percent protection against moderate to severe COVID-19—the vaccine only provided 56 percent protection—and a paper backed by the CDC that found natural immunity was more protective than vaccination against the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19.
It’s just a thought: but could my father’s multi-competence – he fixed cars, too, rewired houses, replumbed bathrooms, tiled roofs, repaired washing machines – explain why my hands are good for nothing? Because – except for typing, and for that I use only my left forefinger – they weren’t ever needed.
Pound’s popularity in Russia reached a peak in December 2016 when the opera Pound’s Cantos (an opera-mystery, with an implied subtitle “M’amour, m’amour”) for a 24-voice choir, orchestra, solo soprano and solo violin, was staged in the progressive Perm State Opera and Ballet Theatre named after P. I. Tchaikovsky. The opera was written by the young Moscow composer Alexei Siumak (1976-), who was also one of the authors of the libretto.
Tuesday, February 22, 2022
Buckley was one of the most perfect gentlemen I ever knew,
… the year of 1922 was indelibly marked by the publication of two great, still-standing, monuments to modernism: James Joyce’s novel Ulysses and T. S. Eliot’s poem The Waste Land. These two, bookending the year, are the great granddaddies of the show, but other titles, as we shall see, were just as important.
Monday, February 21, 2022
A re-examination of the data without these errors will show that while the COVID-19 vaccines have been effective at reducing hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19, their effectiveness has been grossly overstated in America.
Our days are numbered. One of the primary goals in our lives should be to prepare for our last day. The legacy we leave is not just in our possessions, but in the quality of our lives. What preparations should we be making now? The greatest waste in all of our earth, which cannot be recycled or reclaimed, is our waste of the time that God has given us each day.
Sunday, February 20, 2022
Philip Oltermann’s engrossing recounts a history so outlandish and unlikely that you feel it must be true.
Saturday, February 19, 2022
The site became decidedly anti-Trump several years ago, and it isn’t even known for sure whether Matt Drudge remains the owner, be it in whole or part. He himself once craved personal attention, with his own ill-fated weekly Fox show (wearing the cliched reporter’s fedora, though mercifully not including a “press” card tucked into its band. (For the record, back in the days when nearly all male residents of American cities wore fedoras or similar dress headwear, they had the sense and civility to keep their hats off while indoors). He even wrote a book, “Drudge Manifesto,” which one fond Drudge admirer dismissed as “Lots of little phrases, most of them not complete sentences, all strung together in an incomprehensible stream-of-consciousness style.”
Friday, February 18, 2022
The medieval and Renaissance popes covered in Chamberlin’s book were bad in different ways, but the Theophylact, Borgia, and Medici popes were especially deplorable. Even setting aside the more outrageous accusations (like that of rampant incest among the Borgia family, which Chamberlin does not consider credible), it’s a tale of breathtaking scandal.
It is useful for Catholics to remember that the Pope is the Vicar of Christ, who remains the head of the Church.
What we need … it seems to me, is clarity and transparency about what exactly is “age-appropriate.” This is completely routine for all subjects, because toddlers and teens obviously need different approaches. And we should tailor teaching according to age. I’ve been an openly gay man my whole adult life, but I don’t think that kids in primary grades need to know anything more about homosexuality, let alone gay sex, than what they may pick up in the media or find out from their parents. For that matter, I don’t see why the tiny phenomenon of trans identity — much less than one percent of the population — needs to be centered in sex ed for eight-year-olds. But I do think public schools should teach the facts about sex, including homosexual orientation and transgender identity, as neutrally as they can.
It is normally the critic’s task to situate a poet’s work within the span of the poet’s career and that career within the tradition in which the poet works. But it is of primary importance to establish that the poet is worth such study and situation in the first place, and this Juster plainly establishes with this volume.
Anyone who believes that it’s possible to cleanse “science” of error through brute force censorship has no understanding of how science works or how accurate, unbiased evidence is accumulated in the first place. The idea of arbitrators who select what is correct and dismiss what is incorrect is the most alien possible concept to science. Without the ability to make errors or make (and improve on) inaccurate hypotheses, there no science. The irony is that scientists understand (or at least should understand) and embrace (or at least should embrace) the fact that we all float in a sea of nonsense; it is the opportunist influencers and pundits, lacking in any understanding of the scientific method, who believe in the possibility of pure, unconflicted “truth.”
Thursday, February 17, 2022
… with further restrictions upon the traditional Mass rumored for Ash Wednesday, I repeat my central contention that Benedict must speak about his intentions, and that he must do so unequivocally, without regard for the consequences of doing so. Such a clarification from him might not be enough to prevent the enemies of the old Mass from carrying out their plans. And it would certainly not have any obvious juridical force, even if it would expose the central premise of the other side as a preposterous fiction. But it would also be a moment of sublime clarity, and the last desperate fulfillment of that continuing paternal responsibility to which he has alluded.
Anyone familiar with church history knows that the church has often been run by knaves and scoundrels. As Hilaire Belloc put it, “ The Catholic Church is an institution I am bound to hold divine - but for unbelievers a proof of its divinity might be found in the fact that no merely human institution conducted with such knavish imbecility would have lasted a fortnight.”
Wednesday, February 16, 2022
“It seems like we are basically … encouraging budding clinicians now to endorse a particular ideological worldview and build therapy around that particular worldview,” he said. “That’s actually going to make it really difficult to foster connections … with a lot of potential patients who don’t adhere to those worldviews.”
The lawsuit alleges a handful of administrators gave credence to false and unsupported claims of racial bias, “then used those allegations to justify an investigation, suspension and non-renewal of his contract as a Visiting Professor of Mathematics, despite his dedication and excellent performance.”
Hope he wins.
The challenge … is that the American library—out of need, no doubt—has pushed books into the basement. I speak both concretely and metaphorically. In many branches, books are a second thought. The reason has to do with the technological move by the culture at large from printed to digital books. Most new books are available as e-books. And classics are made free online.
… his fiction was where he streamed into other consciousnesses and cut loose, fell apart, ambled like a shepherd, or strode like a wife on her way to or from an assignation. His imagination and professional knowledge allowed him to depict passions he did not act upon. “So many hereditary negatives were turned into positives,” Michael C. Finke writes in his new biography …
Tuesday, February 15, 2022
If you hadn’t already known what a lumber room was, you might reasonably picture a room filled with our modern idea of lumber—wooden boards lying flat. But there are older senses of that have nothing to do with wood. Some dictionaries ascribe a connection of to , referring to a type of money lending that originated in Lombardy, Italy in the Middle Ages, in which lenders, barred from charging interest by the Church, essentially operated like pawnbrokers. Their shops became storehouses for the items held as collateral, some of which never found its way back home. Lumber just wears its heaviness in every sense.
Monday, February 14, 2022
Geoffrey co-founded the Camelot Research Committee with the eminent historian and archeologist, Ralegh Radford, and in 1966 they teamed up with Leslie Alcock, another famed archeologist, to excavate the hillfort at Cadbury Castle. Cadbury Castle had a tradition dating at least to the medieval period, of being King Arthur’s “Camelot”. Of course, Camelot is the Romance version of Arthur’s castle, but for a historical Arthur, Cadbury Castle would be quite appropriate. This was proven when Alcock’s excavations revealed that the hillfort had been extensively re-fortified in Arthur’s time by someone with great resources.
The question arises as to why his books about an amateur detective agency in Botswana, run by a lady of “traditional build,” should have become so popular. To this I think the answer is clear: He depicts a society that is in many respects better, more free, gentler, and in a sense more civilized than our own, namely that of Botswana. No doubt his Botswana is partly mythological, a land in which people are naughty rather than wicked, and where even the bad tend to be polite, but Botswana is indeed the most successful country in Africa, free since independence of the political pathology that has plagued so much of the continent. Botswana has all the virtues of African societies without their vices; its people indulge in those peccadilloes without which life would be very dull indeed, and which furnish the subject matter of that most important of all human activities, gossip, but are mostly free of the vicious hatreds that seem more than ever to gnaw into our own societies like a cancerous ulcer.
Igbo slave traders like my great-grandfather did not suffer any crisis of social acceptance or legality. They did not need any religious or scientific justifications for their actions. They were simply living the life into which they were raised.
This all runs counter to Woke dogma.
Where his true physical relics lay is unclear. This lack of consensus underscores the deep mysteries surrounding Valentine. His tale is so murky that, despite being a recognized saint, in 1969 he was erased from the General Roman Calendar—the liturgical almanac that marks the dates of saint celebrations—due to the paucity of reliable information about his life.
Henri Troyat’s biography of the great novelist reads like a great novel itself. Here is the princeling of fairytale childhood, here the restless youth, the soldier of the Caucasus and the Crimea, the gambler, the drunkard, the womanizer, the artist who despises aesthetes, the bear hunter, the devoted husband and family man, the landowner who denounces private property, the conscience-stricken aristocrat who plays at being a muzhik, the guru of universal love adored by millions who explodes his marriage and family while preaching a Christianity stripped of miracles.
The best thing about Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction, 1950–1985, an uneven but often incisive anthology of essays from PM Press, is that it covers the New Wave moment without limiting itself to the New Wave movement. The most talented New Wave writers are covered here—there are essays on J.G. Ballard, Octavia Butler, Barry Malzberg, and others—but so are TV tie-ins and porny paperbacks, showing how such ideas seeped through society.
The reviewer has written a biography of Anthony Burgess, but apparently doesn’t like Burgess or his work. So this review is almost entirely about the reviewer and his tastes and distastes. I prefer reviews to actually focus upon the book under review.
Sunday, February 13, 2022
It is refreshing, though, to see that the scientific community has started to awaken to the narrative-driven reports in scientific journals. For example, the prestigious British Medical Journal published an editorial on Jan. 19 titled “Covid-19 vaccines and treatments: we must have raw data, now.” It is a timely call and relates to the very core of the issue. In order to know the science, we have to have the facts.
I haven’t read the book in decades, but I don’t remember it being difficult, maybe because I’m rather well trained in philosophy. But this review doesn’t really get across to me what the specific difficulties are. Guess I’ll have to read the book again.
There are many things worse than an ugly joke. Among them is the idea of government ministers like Dorries and Sajid Javid condemning the jokes of comedians or calling for action to be taken against them. Let alone the SNP councillor who has called not only for Carr but also his audience to be prosecuted for hate speech.
Saturday, February 12, 2022
Memory, like dreams and sleep, remains a puzzle so huge that we barely think about it. It is obvious why one of my first recollections, perhaps aged three, is of sitting in a heavy, bulbous black car as it rolled backwards and downhill out of our front garden, gathering speed until it hit a tree and stopped. Oddly, I cannot remember my mother, who was in control of the vehicle, or rather not in control of it, saying anything, though she could have a colorful turn of phrase when required. It is not obvious why I remember sitting in a high-ceilinged room aged about seven, trying to make a plastic model of a Navy destroyer, amid much glue. Or why I remember swinging on a certain gate on a summer evening, at about the same age. There is no principle or pattern in all this.