Wednesday, August 31, 2022
I am currently considering these choices:
Great power in America is concentrated in a handful of people. A few thousand individuals out of 310 million Americans decide about war and peace, wages and prices, consumption and investment, employment and production, law and justice, taxes and benefits, education and learning, health and welfare, advertising and communication, life and leisure. In all societies - primitive and advanced, totalitarian and democratic, capitalist and socialist - only a few people exercise great power. This is true whether or not such power is exercised in the name of "the people."
- Who's Running America? The Obama Reign (eighth edition) by Thomas R. Dye, published in 2014
Tuesday, August 30, 2022
To understand how we got into this morass, it is necessary to recall the fact that before the second half of the 20th century, the term "gender" represented a distinction within linguistics. Gender difference referred to the distinction between feminine and masculine nouns and adjectives. It was not associated with human sex difference - until 1955.
- Michael Rectenwald, Beyond Woke
Monday, August 29, 2022
The Tin Man enrolls with Dorothy to go to see the Wizard. He has his own agenda. He's after his own reward, as are the Scarecrow and the Lion.
But even though each member of the troupe has their own goal in mind, they are all enrolled in the same journey, with the same agreed-upon roles and rules and, probably, time frames.
- From The Practice: Shipping Creative Work by Seth Godin
Sunday, August 28, 2022
Saturday, August 27, 2022
Friday, August 26, 2022
"To get an education, you're probably going to have to fight against the institution that you find yourself in - no matter how prestigious it may be. (In fact, the more prestigious the school, the more you'll probably have to push.)"
- Mark Edmundson, professor, University of Virginia
Each of us has a personalized dictionary. Over time, we hope that people who know us in our business and personal lives have a grasp on what we mean when we say certain things or take certain positions.
Here are some tricky examples from my own dictionary:
- "I believe that is the best course of action" means "I STRONGLY BELIEVE that is the BEST course of action."
- "I don't think that is a good idea" may be my little way of saying "Are you out of your mind?"
- On the other hand, "I don't have any preference on where we should go for dinner" means "I don't have any preference on where we should go for dinner."
Thursday, August 25, 2022
The Wall Street Journal on President Biden's college loan forgiveness decision.
That deals with the "should" decision. Let's see what happens in court on whether he can take such action.
The issue of the insane expense of a college education needs to be addressed. Employers can help by not requiring college degrees for a bunch of jobs where that credential is not really necessary.
I wanted to work on a large project but was distracted by a smaller project - call it a raven - that was nearing its deadline.
Every time I worked on the far more important task, I could sense the raven's presence. A caw here. A claw there.
I eventually earned that with ravens, it pays to shift your priorities if only to discover the joy that comes with their departure.
[Photo by Casey Horner at Unsplash]
Wednesday, August 24, 2022
If you don't want to stick around for the fire sale (The Federalist Papers! "Letter From Birmingham Jail"! Everything must go!) and you're not too eager to get knifed on a Friday morning because of somehting you said, you might want to look into relocating to one of the other countries shaped by the principles of the American Revolution. They aren't hard to find. Just go to Google and type in the free world.
Read all of Caitlin Flanagan's essay in The Atlantic.
When I was in the army, I often heard of officers who were "ticket-punching" by accumulating certain assignments which could enhance their chances for promotion. I'm sure that some of them took the assignments seriously but others simply wanted a springboard to another spot.
For those people, ticket-punching was one notch above "going through the motions."
Both concepts came to mind while reading about the frenzied activities of high school students seeking to increase their chances of getting into Ivy League universities.
Reminder: Make a point of periodically taking a few steps back and asking, "What in the hell am I doing?"
Official American racial and ethnic classifications are arbitrary and inconsistent, both in how they are defined and how they are enforced. The categories are socially constructed and historically contingent. They evolved from older racist categories and have barely been updated since the 1970s.
- From Classified: The Untold Story of Racial Classification in America by David E. Bernstein
Tuesday, August 23, 2022
Look beneath the façade of affable confidence and seamless well-adjustment that today's elite students have learned to project, and what you often find are toxic levels of fear, anxiety, and depression, of emptiness and aimlessness and isolation. We all know about the stressed-out, overpressured high school student; why do we assume that things get better once she gets to college?
- From Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite & The Way to a Meaningful Life by William Deresiewicz
The Los Angeles Times in February: Lorraine Ali on the efforts to suppress the "Jihad Rehab" documentary.
I've seen the documentary. It's fascinating. Those who are working to prevent its distribution are doing no one any good and are seriously harming the cause of free expression.
Variety: An interview with film-maker Meg Smaker on the controversy.
Monday, August 22, 2022
What Hugh Hewitt is reading this summer. [The list goes far beyond a mere summer but it's a good one.]
My own summer reading has included:
- Slow Horses by Mick Herron
- Post journalism and the fall of newspapers (sic) by Andrey Mir
- The Breakdown of Higher Education by John M. Ellis
- Nimitz at War by Craig L. Symonds
- World Without Mind by Franklin Foer
- A Time to Build by Yuval Levin
- Reinventing Racism by Jonathan M. Church
- Dead Lions by Mick Herron
- The Rothchilds by Frederick Morton
- Getting Under the Skin of "Diversity" by Larry Purdy
- Beyond Measure by Margaret Heffernan
- The Dumbest Generation Grows Up by Mark Bauerlein
Sunday, August 21, 2022
Saturday, August 20, 2022
To cut the young off from a living past was to deprive them of a profound and stabilizing understanding of life, of themselves. To immerse them with one another, the private space of the teen's bedroom now a bustling social space open for business all night long, was to ramp up peer pressure like crazy. To neglect the masterpieces of art and ideas, epic events and larger-than-life personages, was to level their enjoyments to the mundane.
- Mark Bauerlein, The Dumbest Generation Grows Up
Friday, August 19, 2022
In the first place, the authorities probably already have your computer and mobile phone, including, of course, your WeChat account, under constant surveillance. They’ve probably compiled a detailed dossier as well—everything from what you’ve said and done while overseas, whom you’ve encountered, whom you plan to meet with, right up to and including the details of conversations on certain topics, the things you’ve taken an interest in, even what films you’ve been going to, or what you’ve published. They’ll pretty much have scoped out what you’re thinking today and what you’re planning to do tomorrow.
Wheaties. Bacon. Espresso. Paperwork. Coffee. Blog. Reading. More paperwork. No meetings. Bach. Coffee. Correspondence. Review/purging of files. Preparing upcoming project boxes. Review of next week. [Who scheduled those meetings?]
[Photo by Robert Murray at Unsplash]
Thursday, August 18, 2022
Read "The End of Citizenship" by Michael Lind in Tablet magazine.
Wednesday, August 17, 2022
"How Gender Radicalism Conquered Sacramento Schools" by Christopher F. Rufo.
Tuesday, August 16, 2022
Read the rest of Jonathan Clarke on David McCullough in City Journal.
Periodically in Western history twilight ages make their appearance. Processes of decline and erosion of institutions are more evident than those of genesis and development. Something like a vacuum obtains in the moral order for large numbers of people. Human loyalties, uprooted from accustomed soil, can be seen tumbling across the landscape with no scheme of larger purpose to fix them. Individualism reveals itself less as achievement and enterprise than as egoism and mere performance. Retreat from the major to the minor, from the noble to the trivial, the communal to the personal, and from the objective to the subjective is commonplace. There is a widely expressed sense of degradation of values and of corruption of culture. The sense of estrangement from community is strong.
- Robert Nisbet, Twilight of Authority
The social crisis that has sent us on this expedition through our institutions is first and foremost a crisis of the interpersonal. It shows itself in isolation, alienation, failures of responsibility, and scarcities of belonging and solidarity. In considering its causes, we have surveyed political, professional, academic, and cultural institutions - and in each case, we found that Americans increasingly expect institutions not to form and socialize the people within them but rather to display those people and provide them with arenas for self-expression.
- Yuval Levin, A Time to Build: From Family and Community to Congress and the Campus, How Recommitting to Our Institutions Can Revive the American Dream
[Photo by Max Sulik at Unsplash]
Monday, August 15, 2022
Quote from the James Taranto interview with Vivek Ramaswamy (author of Woke, Inc.: Inside Corporate America's Social Justice Scam) in the August 13-14, 2022 copy of The Wall Street Journal:
Thus, he says Strive might introduce or support a resolution stating: "All current and future investments shall be evaluated exclusively through the lens of financially measurable return on investment." A "no" vote from an ostensibly apolitical investment firm would amount to a disavowal of its fiduciary duty to its clients. But if the resolution passes, Mr. Ramaswamy says, it would "govern over any other prior shareholder resolution" and thereby direct management to pursue profit regardless of political objectives.
Sunday, August 14, 2022
Saturday, August 13, 2022
Friday, August 12, 2022
In the beginning here there was nothing. No Thompson seedless vines, no plums or peaches. The nectarines outside the window did not yet even exist as a species. There was no house. No wells, pumps, or pipelines. No roads, no town, no neighbors. In 1878 there was no gas, propane, or electricity here, no power other than wind, horse, and muscle.
- From Fields Without Dreams: Defending the Agrarian Idea by Victor Davis Hanson
Thursday, August 11, 2022
Wednesday, August 10, 2022
Althouse and her readers discuss books you cannot put down.
Which ones would be on your list?
Some which I'd quickly note are Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry; City Primeval by Elmore Leonard; The Road by Cormac McCarthy; and The Price You Pay by Aiden Truhen.
There is no more reason to expect "drug prevention" programs to prevent drug usage or "public interest" law firms to serve the public interest than to expect that most "profit-making" enterprises will in fact make profits. Whether any of these organizations do or do not live up to their expectations or claims is a question of empirical evidence. Pending the presentation of such evidence, such organizations can be analyzed in terms of what they actually do, not what they hope or claim to achieve.
- Thomas Sowell, Knowledge and Decisions
Tuesday, August 09, 2022
The media system based on ad revenue manufactured consent. The media system based on soliciting the audience's support manufactures anger. The ad-driven media produced happy customers. The reader-driven media produces angry citizens. The former served consumerism. The latter serves polarization.
- Andrey Mir in Postjournalism and the death of newspapers
Monday, August 08, 2022
The Housing Hour in a 2013 post on the history of American subdivisions.
I'd add that many of those older subdivisions at least had different colors and styles for their "little boxes."
Check out the new subdivisions in which all of the homes have the same tan/brown/beige color and the same design. They have taken conformity to a new level.
Where is the beauty?
Could it be the case that the global-scale interconnectedness of things may be coming at too high a price? Could it be the case that the variety and spontaneous diversity of the world as we have known it for all the prior centuries of human history is being gradually leveled and effaced, and insensibly transformed into something standardized, artificial, rootless, pastless, and bland - a world of interchangeable airport terminals and franchise hotels and restaurants, a world of smooth surfaces designed to facilitate perpetual movement rather than rooted flourishing? A world of space rather than place, in which there are no "theres" there?
- Wilfred M. McClay, Why Place Matters: Geography, Identity, and Civic Life in Modern America