Sunday, July 31, 2022
Saturday, July 30, 2022
Carson used dubious statistics and anecdotes to warn of a cancer epidemic that never came to pass. She rightly noted threats to some birds, like eagles and other raptors, but she wildly imagined a mass "biocide." She warned that one of the most common American birds, the robin, was "on the verge of extinction" - an especially odd claim given the large numbers of robins recorded in Audubon bird counts before her book.
“There’s … growing hostility to religion or at least the traditional religious beliefs that are contrary to the new moral code that is ascendant in some sectors,” the justice said.
Historically our view of Earth was defined by two disciplines – geology and biology. Darwin had triumphantly unveiled the nature of the biological processes of life but his picture was incomplete. What Lovelock realised was that these disciplines could not so easily be separated. They were joined together in a four billion year old dance, life constantly changing the planet to suit its own device.
Friday, July 29, 2022
I don't know Who, or what, put the question, I don't know when it was put. I don't even remember answering. But at some moment I did answer Yes to Someone, or Something,and from that hour I was certain that existence is meaningful and that, therefore, my life, in self-surrender, had a goal.
Thursday, July 28, 2022
Wednesday, July 27, 2022
Salesses’s foremost concern is the way that the behavioral and artistic norms of writing workshops suppress or distort the voices of writers of color, but his deeper purpose is to suggest that the question “What makes a story ‘good writing’?” can’t be answered until you know who the story is for.
Maybe they’re thinking about it too much. I’ve been earning my living from my pen for nearly 60 years. I have never attended a writer’s workshop. It was on-the-job training right from the start.
Fifty years ago, on Valentine’s Day of 1972, magazine published “The Birth of ‘The New Journalism’; Eyewitness Report by Tom Wolfe,”a proclamation that, it is clear from this vantage point, provided a standard and direction and a way of unifying nonfiction writers—essayists, journalists, memoirists—into one cohesive, albeit loosely determined, category that we now call creative nonfiction
Tuesday, July 26, 2022
In the early 20th century, a German school of philosophy called the Frankfurt School developed a social philosophy called Critical Theory. In a nutshell, Critical Theory critiques culture and challenges the underlying power structures of society. It is a movement to “liberate human beings from the circumstances that enslave them,” reinterpreting western culture as a story of the oppressor vs. oppressed. In Critical Theory, the only things that exist are hierarchies of power, and those hierarchies must be torn down. The goal of this movement, whether stated or not, is nothing less than the complete dismantling and rebuilding of western culture from the ground
I have met some of these people. They do not impress.
"We’re deluding ourselves and the students into the idea that they’re something they’re not,” the teacher said. Students are learning that "you can do nothing and still get something." That will not serve them well in college -- or life.
He has a unique perspective in writing The College Scam: How America's Universities Are Bankrupting and Brainwashing Away the Future of America's Youth. Kirk was encouraged to start Turning Point USA out of high school and never attended college. He jokes about taking a "gap decade."
Monday, July 25, 2022
Throughout Vile Bodies, the echoes of Jazz and Jasper are everywhere apparent. Agatha Runcible’s plaintive cry in Vile Bodies of “Faster, faster!” is exactly the same as Lord Ottercove’s in Jazz and Jasper. Lord Monomark’s omnipotence — “Get me the Home Secretary!” — is identical to Lord Ottercove’s overweening power in control- ling government and ousting prime ministers.
Sunday, July 24, 2022
The Nobel jurors in Norway should be honoring the pandemic’s true heroes, starting with an obvious candidate across their border: Anders Tegnell, the state epidemiologist of Sweden. While the WHO and the rest of the world panicked, he kept calm. While leaders elsewhere crippled their societies, he kept Sweden free and open. While public-health officials ignored their own pre-Covid plans for a pandemic—and the reams of reports warning that lockdowns, school closures, and masks would accomplish little or nothing—Tegnell actually stuck to the plan and heeded the scientific evidence.
In one eye-opening finding, 74 percent of undergrads endorse the view that a professor who says “something that students find offensive” should be reported to the university. By a majority almost as lopsided, 65 percent believe that a fellow student who says something they consider offensive should be turned in. That informers’ mindset is especially pronounced among students who identify themselves as politically liberal, fully 85 percent of whom would report a professor who offends them. But even among self-identified conservatives, a solid majority, 56 percent, are of the same mindset.
The problem with this, obviously, is that since they think they think they know everything already, why are they in school?
Saturday, July 23, 2022
We chose ‘Erasures’ by Maryann Corbett to be our Friday Poem this week because it’s such a beautiful story — whether it’s true or not — and beautifully told, with a lovely little kicker at the end. Corbett uses delightfully precise and evocative detail — the beast-mark, the ribbon markers, the Palmer-method script — and leaves us mourning not only the little poetry books and their long-forgotten authors but all endeavours which cost so many “blood-sweated hours” and are rewarded with indifference in the long run. It’s a joy of a poem and we like it a lot.
The institution said that 24 donations and 12 legacies had been “cancelled, amended or withdrawn” in response to the September 2020 renaming of a prominent campus building dedicated to its former student, one of the leading figures of the Scottish enlightenment.
Cuppy, in a book with a comment on all 365 days of the year, would often begin with a question someone (usually with the name “Frantic” or “Admirer”) had addressed to him. On October 14, it was a gentleman, or gentle lady, by the name of “Worried.” What “Worried” wanted to know was the following: “Dear Sir: Is it true that fish are good for the brain or is it only a rumor?”
Oct. 14 happens to be my birthday.
By 1950-1951, his compelling tales of the supernatural, their themes imbued with conservative values, had begun to appear in the London Mystery Magazine. Lewis read The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction; did he see in a 1953 issue Kirk’s “What Shadows We Pursue”?
I did not know until now that he wrote fiction.
Friday, July 22, 2022
… A Sentimental Education. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Shoulders and elbows were also necessary to secure my 1922 second edition of Trivia by Logan Pearsall Smith, published in 1917 by Doubleday, Page & Company, as well as my 1921 first edition of More Trivia, published by Harcourt, Brace, and Company. I hadn’t heard of Logan Pearsall Smith (the best name ever for an essayist, though he mainly composed vignettes in “moral prose,” some no more than half a page long) until Gore Vidal wrote a piece about him for the New York Review of Books in 1984. Smith may not be to everyone’s taste, but to me he was the adult in the room: sensible, sensitive, and seeming in my mind to look like Leslie Howard. Well, he didn’t, as it turns out (Google Images set me straight), but he looks every inch a man of letters, without my knowing, of course, what that looks like.Paging through the essays today, I see that reading him at too young an age is an affectation, while reading him at too old an age calls into question the slightness of many of the pieces, and there may be no happy medium. Here is the entire last entry of More Trivia; it’s called “The Argument”: “This long speculation of life, this thinking and syllogizing that always goes on inside me, this running over and over of hypothesis and surmise and supposition—one day this Infinite Argument will have ended, the debate will forever be over, I shall have come to an indisputable conclusion, and my brain will be at rest.”
Scientific knowledge is determined by scientific method. Prof. Richard Feynman, a Nobel Laureate in Physics, provided an incisive definition of scientific method:
“[W]e compare the result of [a theory’s] computation to nature, … compare it directly with observations, to see if it works. If it disagrees with experiment it is wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science.” The Character of Physical Law (1965), p. 150.
Thursday, July 21, 2022
Wednesday, July 20, 2022
… The Lyric Updike. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Updike collected his poems in 1993, separating them into two categories, with his light verse occupying the second section, given less important status. In his preface to the collection he wrote, “If a set of lines brought back to me something I actually saw or felt, it was not light verse” (Collected Poems xxiii).
Tuesday, July 19, 2022
Despite his revulsion at the new liturgy and his own doubts, Rodriguez continues to believe. He echoes the words of Saint Peter: “Lord, where else would we go?” “If I should lose my faith in God, I would have no place to go to where I could feel myself a man. . . . Though [the church] leaves me unsatisfied, I fear giving it up, falling through space.” “Even in today’s Catholic Church,” he adds, “it is possible for me to feel myself in the eye of God, while I kneel in the presence of others.” Secular institutions cannot provide what “the temple and the mosque and church” can, he says. Then he warns, presciently, that secular institutions “deny their limits” and “pretend there is no difference between public and private life. The worst are totalitarian governments.” He winds up this third essay with the heartfelt lament: “If God is dead I will cry into the void.”
Monday, July 18, 2022
In its Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum, the Second Vatican Council taught that “holy mother Church, relying on the belief of the Apostles, holds that the books of both the Old and New Testaments in their entirety, with all their parts, are sacred and canonical because written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author and have been handed on as such to the Church herself.”
And it came to pass, whilst he was at table with them, he took bread, and blessed, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him: and he vanished out of their sight.
He appeared to us that day to disappear
The moment that He broke the bread,
A moment still encompassing our lives,
Drawing to itself, like a magnet at once
Minute and infinitely strong, our present,
Past and future, so that the choking dust
Along the road, the splinters on the benches
At the inn, the glare and scorching of the sun
That afternoon have shaped and shaded
Every moment ever since. He disappeared
Into the moment, into the bread, into us,
Nourishing time with its absence.
Sunday, July 17, 2022
A photo of Saint Therese (complete with a real rose pressed within) is just a few feet from me. It came from a Carmelite convent and I saved it from being thrown away at The Inquirer. I have been reading The Story of a Soul. It is a literary masterpiece, not just a spiritual one.
Saturday, July 16, 2022
The poems written in the remainder of his career may best be understood as a running verse commentary on human freedom and obligation, not very different in voice from the books of the Protestant theologians that drew him back to the faith.
Friday, July 15, 2022
I remember how scornful I felt when I first Marx’s description of the worker’s attitude toward work in a capitalist society. The worker, he said, feels physically and morally debated by his work. He is like an exile in his place of work and feels at home only when away from is job. Marx never did a day’s work in his life, and never took the trouble to find out how a worker reply feels when on the job. He naturally assumed that works were a lesser breed of intellectuals.
I saw the two interviews Eric Severeid did of Hoffer. They had an immense influence on how I think. I should re-read him.
The film’s consistent focus on the faces in the crowd reveals something that would surprise none of us but is startling to see nonetheless: namely that, during the second term of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s presidency, ours was a country that still valued manners, courtesy, and a certain decorous kind of joy.
Thursday, July 14, 2022
A new exhibition at Bangor University sheds light on many such aspects of his life, such as the R. S. the staunch pacifist, who railed against the slaughter of the Second World. Then there is the young and sporty R. S. who played tennis, cricket and rugby and, in the case of the last of these, believed that ‘wingers had cold feet.’
I have not been vaxxed. I am in the top 1 percent of the population to die of a heart attack and there are coronary issues connected to the vaccines. I also have nit have Covid. I have certainly been tested enough. My wife has been in and out of the hospital and rehabs and I have been tested every time I went to visit — often several times a week. Obviously, I always tested negative. Hardly surprising to me, since I never seem to get anything (touch wood).
Mark Twain’s novel is one of racial redemption, not bigotry.
I spend several years trying to get inside the brain and heart of my subjects, listening to the interior monologues in their letters, and when I have to bridge the chasms between the factual evidence, I try to make an intuitive leap through the eyes and motivation of the person I'm writing about.
Wednesday, July 13, 2022
The underlying argument of Batuman’s didactic, semi-memoirish production is that because the narrator is forced to read canonical works by men who told stories about women they invented, this book’s mere existence should place its author up with the greats.
I wonder if the narrator has read Anna Karenina or Madame Bovary, the characters of which — both women and men — I recall as being wondrously vivid.
Readingfelt like reading a politician’s memoir, where the name of the game is to list achievements that readers will agree are worthy and admirable and to deny any evidence of wrongdoing and wrong-think.
I can’t help pointing out that the author of this review, in his lead sentence, makes plain he accepts the new rules about the pronoun they.
I don’t. Oh, and it’s A Fan’s Notes.
By the way, my crankiness notwithstanding, the review seems pretty much spot-on.
Tuesday, July 12, 2022
Why do the Virgin—and Luke—do something so preposterous when they could just speak plainly? Because they both know that ordinary language will not suffice. Prose cannot express the extent of Mary’s wonder, joy, and gratitude. Plain statement will not evoke the unique miracle of God’s becoming man. The Incarnation requires an ode, not an email.
Cholbi, while allowing that grief is “perhaps the greatest stressor in life,” finds it neither a form of madness nor worthy of being medicalized, grief being neither a disease nor a disorder. He finds it instead part of “the human predicament,” a part that eludes even philosophical understanding. “We can grieve smarter,” he writes. “But ultimately, we cannot outsmart grief. Nor should we want to.” We do not ultimately recover from grief; if lucky, we merely at best are able to adjust to it.
Monday, July 11, 2022
In my coma, I found myself rescued by a slowly spinning white light with a perfect musical melody. The white light was surrounded by golden and silvery hair-like things. Then, a gorgeous and very real entrance valley slowly opened. At that time, my consciousness was only the size of a speck of light, on the wings of a butterfly. There were several million butterflies flying around me.
Sunday, July 10, 2022
Saturday, July 09, 2022
Friday, July 08, 2022
Resisting the easy way of following received dogmatic and conventional thought, Rodriguez has encountered kneejerk hostility for his provocative positions on issues such as affirmative action and bilingual education. But the extraordinary clarity of his iconoclastic writing—the surprising twists in his thinking, the view of public policy as it limits individual lives, and the story he tells of an American education—have made this book endure for four decades and counting
Covering the gamut of Lamb’s life and literary career, Wilsonaims to demonstrate that Lamb ‘speaks to our age’, highlighting his enthusiasm for ‘the grit and speed and diversity of the urban’ and his ‘fluid, collaborative vision of identity’. Lamb’s absence from the syllabus has rendered him obscure to many readers, and while this book is based on rigorous scholarship, it does not assume extensive prior knowledge. Instead, it serves as a good introduction for non-specialists and will hopefully encourage more to seek out Lamb’s works.