Wednesday, September 23, 2020
Remember the advice that you should wear the mask with its white side out if you want to avoid getting the virus and the blue (or green) side out if you want to avoid transmitting an illness?
Here's hoping this simplifies matters.
[Executive summary: show your colors.]
On the afternoon of 23 May 1945, more than two weeks after the German surrender, a group of about twenty suspects - German civilians and soldiers - who had been rounded up two days previously, were brought into the British forces' 31st Civilian Interrogation Camp near Lüneburg.
- From Heinrich Himmler by Peter Longerich
It is not enough to know the rules. It is also important to know the exceptions and where the rules originated.
And then, along with those areas, it can help to know the proclivities of those who enforce the rules and which modifications, however unintended, they may insert in that enforcement. Such changes made be the equivalent of amendments.
What is a good demonstration of knowledge? Being able to provide a brief, accurate, and understandable explanation to someone who has no background in the subject and who is eager to be elsewhere.
Tuesday, September 22, 2020
"Mme Yourcenar wrote a good deal of fiction, but her imperishable work is Memoirs of Hadrian, first published in French in 1951. The novel is in the form of a lengthy letter by the aged and ill Emperor Hadrian, who ruled from CE 117 to 138, to the 17-year-old but already thoughtful Marcus Aurelius."
- Joseph Epstein
The New York Times reports on the protests in residential neighborhoods.
An excerpt:A small free literature selection was set up on the grass and overseen by three people in ski masks. It was a popular offering, and people crowded around, craning to see the pamphlets.
Titles included “Why Break Windows”; “I Want To Kill Cops Until I’m Dead”; “Piece Now, Peace Later: An Anarchist Introduction to Firearms”; “In Defense of Smashing Cameras”; and “Three-Way Fight: Revolutionary Anti-Fascism and Armed Self Defense.”
Unlike the old Establishment, the Political Class depends directly or indirectly on the state for its special privileges, career structure and increasingly for its financial support. This visceral connection distinguishes it from all previous British governing elites, which were connected much more closely to civil society and were frequently hostile or indifferent to central government. Until recent times members of British ruling elites owed their status to the position they occupied outside Westminster. Today, in an important reversal, it is the position they occupy in Westminster that grants them their status in civil society.
- The Bible
- Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankel
- A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
- Animal Farm by George Orwell
- Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
- John Adams by David McCullough
- Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
- War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
- The Gulag Archipelago by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
- The First Circle by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
- The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
- Bleak House by Charles Dickens
- The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
- Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers by Tom Wolfe
- Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
- Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
- The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope
- The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay
Law professor (and Instapundit) Glenn Reynolds revives one of his old proposals: having a Supreme Court with 59 members.
That would be a grand illustration of solving one problem and creating some new ones that could well surpass the old problem in terms of severity.
Monday, September 21, 2020
A Layman's Blog points to a humorous potlikker debate between an editor and The Kingfish.
As even the most remote hermit knows, we're going to have an election in November.
It won't be a coup. It won't be a revolution. It will be an election and after that we'll have a president. [All of us will have a president, not just the side that won.]
But what is just as important is that we need to have a country. It does no good for either side if an election is so acrimonious that it severely divides our people and makes governance next to impossible.
I know individuals who will be voting for different candidates. These are fine and intelligent people who wish the best for this country and for future generations. They are not dunces or scoundrels.
To avoid needless acrimony, it might help to reach into the attic and dust off some tried and true guidelines. They are far from original but nonetheless they are valuable. Let us:
- Give one another the benefit of the doubt;
- Lower the heat in our arguments;
- Avoid burning bridges with friends, relatives, and associates; and
- Refrain from cheap shots.
As a wise old executive once said, "Whenever you're angry, don't do anything that feels good."
When passions are fevered, basic courtesy can be a tonic.
Eventually, all of us will feel much better as a result.
[Photo by Max Sulik at Unsplash]
Sunday, September 20, 2020
Saturday, September 19, 2020
I noticed that very intelligent and informed persons were at no advantage over cabdrivers in their predictions, but there was a crucial difference. Cabdrivers did not believe that they understood as much as learned people - really, they were not the experts and they knew it. Nobody knew anything, but elite thinkers thought that they knew more than the rest because they were elite thinkers, and if you're a member of the elite, you automatically know more than the nonelite.
- Nassim Nicholas Taleb in The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
David Post, a former RBG law clerk, remembers Ruth Bader Ginsburg. An excerpt:
Most of what I know about writing I learned from her. The rules are actually pretty simple: Every word matters. Don't make the simple complicated, make the complicated as simple as it can be (but not simpler!). You're not finished when you can't think of anything more to add to your document; you're finished when you can't think of anything more that you can remove from it. She enforced these principles with a combination of a ferocious—almost a terrifying—editorial pen, and enough judicious praise sprinkled about to let you know that she was appreciating your efforts, if not always your end-product. And one more rule: While you're at it, make it sing. At least a little; legal prose is not epic poetry or the stuff of operatic librettos, but a well-crafted paragraph can help carry the reader along, and is always a thing of real beauty.
With regard to filling the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court, we see both political parties adopting positions they previously opposed.
That is what parties do. If their power positions were reversed, each would be embracing the exact strategy it now opposes. Senators Schumer and McConnell would exchange scripts.
Althouse weighs in here.
[Photo by Yu Kato at Unsplash]
Friday, September 18, 2020
Peterson describes Skidmore as a politically monolithic campus where the campus Republican club attracted only a handful of members and has since shut down. It’s the kind of place where students are shocked to meet anyone who holds right-of-center views. So if, in these times of protest, they want to go around looking for The Oppressor, the ideological opponent who represents everything that is wrong with the world, he can be a little hard to find. But then, as Peterson puts it, “There he is, screwing in lightbulbs.”
Read the rest of Robert Tracinski's column in The Bulwark.
To be done over any twelve-month period:
- Pick a country, any country, but preferably one with a sizable literature. Over the next twelve months, read about its history, geography, economy, government structure, etc. Also watch its films, view its art, and listen to its music. Try out the cuisine. Studying the country's language is optional.
- Pick a year from the past seven decades. Study the events that took place. Read that year's novels and non-fiction. Check out its fashions, art, architecture, and music. Watch the films. Compare the quality of the political and cultural figures with their peers of today.
- Any other similar projects?
Thursday, September 17, 2020
Landscape-tones: brown to bronze, steep skyline, low cloud, pearl ground with shadowed oyster and violet reflections. The lion-dust of desert: prophets' tombs turned to zinc and copper at sunset on the ancient lake. Its huge sand-faults like watermarks from the air; green and citron giving to gunmetal, to a single plum-dark sail, moist, palpitant: sticky-winged nymph. Taposiris is dead among its rumbling columns and seamarks, vanished the Harpoon Men . . . Mareotis under a sky of hot lilac.
- From Balthazar by Lawrence Durrell