City Journal: Erika Sanzi explores an indoctrination problem in our elementary schools.
Friday, April 30, 2021
Thursday, April 29, 2021
- Althouse: Publisher is taking the new Philip Roth biography "out of print."
- David Harsanyi: John Kerry and the media double-standard.
- Trailer: "The Tiny Life of Butcher Duke."
- France 24: Discovering the most beautiful villages of France.
- Trailer: "Secrets of the Whales."
Wednesday, April 28, 2021
New Statesman: Margaret Drabble on "The misrepresenting of Monica Jones." An excerpt:
Who would have thought that the life of Monica Jones, an unpublished and under-promoted lecturer in the English department at University College, Leicester, would prove to be such a page-turner? We all knew that she was Philip Larkin’s long-term lover, and we thought we knew that she was reactionary, racist, homophobic, awkward, hysterical and dowdy. How wrong we were, how wrong.
Tuesday, April 27, 2021
In our strange times, you can easily find individuals who declare that fascists believe in limited government, the strict interpretation of the law, and in freedom of speech and that racists believe in color-blind policies and equal opportunity.
The schools have a lot of explaining to do.
Monday, April 26, 2021
- Glenn Loury with "The Problem with Critical Race Theory."
- Andrew C. McCarthy: What the media didn't tell you about the Chauvin case.
- Richard Bosshardt: Why I am leaving the American College of Surgeons.
In a decade working in high schools, I’ve seen a consistent push to reduce writing, reading, and note-taking, expand late work windows, lighten workloads, dilute the weight of assessments, and, most fundamentally, to eliminate failures. The same can be seen at the university level. According to an article in the 2020 Journal of Basic and Applied Social Psychology, the amount of time college students have spent on academic work has gone from 40 hours per week in 1960, to 27 in 2003, to just 15 hours in 2008. During that time, the average grade has risen in both public and private universities, while national SAT scores continue to decline. Today’s graduates are not smarter or more prepared for their future, but at least they think they are.
Read all of Shane Trotter's essay at Quillette.
Sunday, April 25, 2021
Saturday, April 24, 2021
Friday, April 23, 2021
Late on the morning of February 21, 1972, I listened at my desk in the American Embassy Saigon to Armed Forces Radio Vietnam's relay of an announcer describing the arrival of President Nixon in Beijing. I had been a Foreign Service "China Watcher" through the horrendous years of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, when Chairman Mao sent thousands of young Red Guards out to burn books and put an end to China's traditional culture. After my diplomatic reporting on the Cultural Revolution I had been assigned to wartime Vietnam under a general instruction to look for indications that China might intervene, as it had when Mao ordered human-wave attacks which seized nearly all the Korean Peninsula from American forces in early 1951. For more than two decades, American strategists considered themselves engaged in a colossal struggle against revolutionary communism, an ideology bent on destroying and replacing the established international state system of world order. Now here were Richard Nixon and his chief adviser, Henry Kissinger, presenting themselves to the "Great Helmsman" of the People's Republic of China.
- From Grand Strategies: Literature, Statecraft, and World Order by Charles Hill
Thursday, April 22, 2021
- "Are they out of their minds?"
- "What vicious little people!"
Wednesday, April 21, 2021
The New Criterion (1995): Roger Kimball reviews Christopher Lasch's "The Revolt of the Elites."
Sparse posting for a while. I seriously messed up my left arm while lifting a device which was supposed to be loose but instead, for an unknown reason, was stuck. Serious pain, followed by a concern that I might faint.
As a result, I am learning how to function with only one arm for a while.
Charming, but at least it is temporary.
Tuesday, April 20, 2021
Political Calculations: "How Effective are the Operation Warp Speed Vaccines?"
Glenn Greenwald on the reporting of police officer Brian Sicknick's death.
Monday, April 19, 2021
Glenn C. Loury spoke on the topic at Arizona State University. An excerpt:
Is this a venal, immoral, and rapacious bandit-society of plundering white supremacists, founded in genocide and slavery and propelled by capitalist greed, or a good country that affords boundless opportunity to all fortunate enough to enjoy the privileges and bear the responsibilities of citizenship? Of course, there is some warrant in the historical record for both sentiments, but the weight of the evidence overwhelmingly favors the latter. The founding of the United States of America was a world-historic event by means of which Enlightenment ideals about the rights of individual persons and the legitimacy of state power were instantiated for the first time in real institutions.
In late 2010, Nish Acharya arrived in Washington, DC, ready to work. President Barack Obama had appointed Acharya to be his director of innovation and entrepreneurship, and a senior adviser to the secretary of commerce. Acharya was asked to coordinate with twenty-six different federal agencies and over five hundred universities to dispense $100 million in funding, meaning that he was about to become the prototypical DC power player: smartphone always in hand, messages flying back and forth at all hours. But then the network broke.
- From A World Without Email: Reimagining Work in an Age of Communication Overload by Cal Newport
Sunday, April 18, 2021
Saturday, April 17, 2021
Friday, April 16, 2021
When I lived in Chicago's 24th Ward, it was the most beautifully, generously corrupt political jurisdiction in America. In every election the dead and departed voted alongside the winos hauled in for the day and the fearful, sometimes hungry, still-striving citizens of the Great Depression. In our precinct, on West Congress Street, some of those who came to vote in the basement of Marty O'Brien's house had been among the poorest of the poor. Our neighbors, who with such diligence marked their ballots for the Democratic ticket, remembered the food riots, for some of them had fought for the scraps that tumbled out of the garbage trucks and into the starving crowds who gathered like beasts in the city dump.
- From New American Blues: A Journey Through Poverty to Democracy by Earl Shorris (1997)
It cannot be stated strongly enough that Brearley’s obsession with race must stop. It should be abundantly clear to any thinking parent that Brearley has completely lost its way. The administration and the Board of Trustees have displayed a cowardly and appalling lack of leadership by appeasing an anti-intellectual, illiberal mob, and then allowing the school to be captured by that same mob. What follows are my own personal views on Brearley's antiracism initiatives, but these are just a handful of the criticisms that I know other parents have expressed.
Read all of the letter at Common Sense with Bari Weiss.
- Zadie Smith on advice to writers.
- Bruce Bawer: "How Not to Sell Shampoo."
- Victor Navasky: "Remembering Ramsey Clark."
- Arizona Memory Project: The strange saga of Winnie Ruth Judd.
- Daily Beast: The "Russian bounties" story hoax.
- Evan Kindley: "How Americans Lost Their Fervor for Freedom."
- John Steele Gordon: "A History Lesson on Court-Packing."
Thursday, April 15, 2021
Patrick Rhone (of Rhoneisms) wears a Timex.
Rick Georges (of FutureLawyer) wears the Samsung Galaxy SmartWatch.
I wear a Seiko (shown above).
That's all riveting, of course, but have you noticed the number of young people who, because of smart phones, aren't wearing watches at all?
Relying solely on a phone strikes me as the modern-day equivalent of using a pocket watch, but I may be wrong.
Ruling out the realm of ridiculously expensive watches, does wearing (or not wearing) a watch make a statement? If so, what does it say?
Wednesday, April 14, 2021
James B. Meigs in Commentary magazine: "Biden's Infrastructure Plan Is Not About Infrastructure."
Others noticed that a surprisingly small share of the money called for in Biden’s infrastructure plan is dedicated to, well, infrastructure. Airports, bridges, and waste-treatment plants, for example, get relative pennies compared with the $400 billion allocated to providing health-care aides to the elderly and disabled. Another $300 billion goes to helping promote U.S. manufacturing. Subsidizing manufacturers and providing federally funded aides to the elderly might or might not be defensible as policies. But they aren’t anybody’s definition of infrastructure. Even those portions of the plan that sound like they describe traditional infrastructure aren’t quite what they seem. For example, the largest single portion of the $621 billion targeting transportation is devoted to subsidizing electric cars, not rebuilding highways, improving rail lines, or updating airports.
In 1944, all political forces in France at the Liberation, divided on so many things, were united by the conviction that the defeat had revealed the profound mediocrity of France's elites.
- From The Fall of France: The Nazi Invasion of 1940 by Julian Jackson
Tuesday, April 13, 2021
From 2020: A StartupTalky review of Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey.
Two serious questions:
- Setting aside the issue of great wealth, would you be proud if you'd helped to start Twitter?
- Do you think Twitter has been a net plus or a net minus for the world?
New York Post: The Brooklyn Center City Manager was fired because he said an employee deserved due process?
Amazing. I hope he gets a good lawyer.
And can it get worse? Yes. Note this excerpt:
During a virtual workshop after the meeting, Council Member Kris Lawrence-Anderson said she voted to fire Boganey out of fear of potential reprisals from protestors if she did not, according to the newspaper.
“He was doing a great job. I respect him dearly,” Lawrence-Anderson said. “I didn’t want repercussions at a personal level.”
A celebration of free speech, civil discourse and democratic engagement at Arizona’s public universities, the Regents’ Cup engages students in rigorous debate anchored by respect and civil discourse. The Regents’ Cup provides an opportunity for students to compete through debate and public speaking for scholarships and course credit in an engaging competition showcasing the commitment of the universities to upholding the intrinsic rights of all students to liberty and freedom of speech. The application process for 2021 is now closed. The next Regents' Cup will be held April 24, 2021.
Bravo for the values behind this competition.
Read the rest of Andrew C. McCarthy's National Review column here.
At Common Sense with Bari Weiss, Paul Rossi discusses his experience with the repressive anti-racism training at his school.
Shades of China's Cultural Revolution. An excerpt:
A few days later, the head of school ordered all high school advisors to read a public reprimand of my conduct out loud to every student in the school. It was a surreal experience, walking the halls alone and hearing, simultaneously, the words emitting from each classroom: “Events from last week compel us to underscore some aspects of our mission and share some thoughts about our community,” the statement began. “At independent schools, with their history of predominantly white populations, racism colludes with other forms of bias (sexism, classism, ableism and so much more) to undermine our stated ideals, and we must work hard to undo this history.”
- New York Post: The Tiger Mom versus Yale Law School.
- Nicholas Bate has his first novel out and is probably writing another.
- Tax Prof Blog: The multistate bar exam is not an accurate measure of attorney competence.
- Washington Examiner: Rumbles of neo-racism at a hospital.
- Jonathan Turley on another Twitter censorship move.
- Rod Dreher: Is "A Rhythm of Prayer" a racist prayer book?
- Mitigating Chaos has information on FEMA payments for COVID funeral services.
Some books are written for the pleasure or zest of it. Other books are written as a painful duty, because there is something that needs to be said - and because other people have better sense than to say it. It has not been a pleasure to write this book but a necessity. Nothing is more certain than its distortions. Yet the growing polarization of the races, the stagnation and retrogression of the truly disadvantaged, and the embittered atmosphere surrounding the evolution of "civil rights," in the courts especially, leave no real alternative to an open and frank reconsideration of what has been done, and is being done, in the name of those two words.
- From Civil Rights: Rhetoric or Reality? by Thomas Sowell (1984)
Monday, April 12, 2021
In the days ahead, there will be much discussion of the officer's claim that she meant to use a Taser instead of her pistol and whether it was reasonable for the officers to believe that Mr. Wright was reaching for a weapon.
[Basic rules to follow when stopped by the police: always keep your hands in sight, follow their instructions, do not resist, avoid sudden movements. Ask their permission before doing anything that may deviate from those guidelines. Do nothing that may make them believe that they are in danger.]
At this point, we are dealing with first reports about what happened. Let's see what the investigation reveals.
Writing in Quillette, Lama Abu Odeh explores the actions of the "progressoriat" at Georgetown.
I recently noticed similar strategies at a cultural organization. If it hasn't already arrived, get ready to see this at organizations close to you. It's pretty much a one-sided battle since the potential opponents to the new craziness have no idea as to what is taking place until they've been removed from the field.
Will there be a push-back? Absolutely.
The Dutch management scholar Fons Trompenaars wrote several years ago about cultures that are universalist and those that are particularist.
The universalists believe that laws and rules should be applied equally.
The particularists believe it is appropriate to make exceptions for relatives and friends.
I would add that nowadays we see special exceptions made for those with the same political beliefs.
This gives the particularists a distinct advantage in political debates. Although they can denounce any hypocrisy by the universalists, their own hypocrisy is quickly ignored.
Because they don't pretend to be consistent. They believe - seriously believe - that they are morally superior to the other side. Exceptions are permissible if made in their favor.
After all, if you think the other side is composed of Nazis and racists and crooks, then you may not be too scrupulous when it comes to how you take them down. Read Twitter for a while and you'll see plenty of examples of this way of thinking.
All of us need to get back to universalist thinking. Particularist thinking will destroy civilization.
Sunday, April 11, 2021
Saturday, April 10, 2021
City Journal: Jonathan Clarke reviews Hemingway, the new documentary series by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. An excerpt:
Myths, received ideas, and ancient controversies tend to obscure the work of a great writer, making it almost superfluous to the legend. This is especially true of Ernest Hemingway, whose myth has proved particularly seductive to those who make movies and commercial television. Hemingway’s work is understood almost entirely in biographical terms, as an extension of his personal virtues or, less charitably, as a product of his pathologies. Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s mission, in their three-part, six-hour Hemingway, airing nationally on PBS affiliates, is to provide a more naturalistic portrait of Hemingway the man and thereby return us to the indelible work itself. They have succeeded marvelously.