Alexander Palacio: "Whatever happened to boys' adventure novels?"
Bringing back the historical novels of Thomas Costain would also help.
New York magazine: Andrew Sullivan on the danger of information addiction.
"I tried reading books, but that skill now began to elude me."
[Photo by Todd Trapani at Unsplash]
The British Museum: Discovering a 4,500-year-old olive oil factory in Jordan.
The only subject area outside of parliamentary government where I have heard of the use of shadow committees is crisis management. You don't want your crisis management team to burn out before the crisis is resolved. It can make sense to have a fresh bench of talent that has been in the information loop while remaining ever ready to supply energy and perspectives.
The other area where a shadow committee can be helpful is where the subject is so important that the potential infusion of new ideas may make the difference between success and failure.
Remember: The insiders have the power to act but they lack the time and perspective of the outsiders. The outsiders have the time for ideas but they lack the power to act.
After a failure, the list of opportunities or dangers missed by the insiders can be quickly assembled by the outsiders. The insiders may shout, "Why didn't you tell us?" and yet - unless there is a formal shadow committee system - we know the answer: The insiders were too busy doing what they were doing to listen to any suggestions from the outside. The outsiders knew their ideas would not be welcome.
Got a major project? Consider a shadow committee.
I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to. When you come from Des Moines you either accept the fact without question and settle down with a local girl named Bobbi and get a job at the Firestone factory and live there forever and ever, or you spend your adolescence moaning at length about what a dump it is and how you can't wait to get out, and then you settle down with a local girl named Bobbi and get a job at the Firestone factory and live there forever and ever.
- From The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America by Bill Bryson
The problem isn’t that conservatives are shouted down by louder or smarter voices. It’s that the digital elite decides which issues are even fit to be discussed. Hunter Biden’s laptop, the possible Wuhan lab leak, worries about “gender affirming” medical interventions for kids—Twitter diligently suppressed these topics, sometimes through subtle “shadow bans,” sometimes with an almost Soviet brazenness. (Remember when the New York Post’s whole account got locked over the laptop story? During a presidential election?) This kind of power makes Twitter a force multiplier in the war of ideas.
Read the rest of James B. Meigs in Commentary magazine.
"Well," he drawled, "they haven't read enough literature."
He paused, and so did I. Usually, he would expound at length, but this diagnosis he let sit by itself. It was unexpected. What does literature have to do with students in the streets?
- From The Dumbest Generation Grows Up by Mark Bauerlein
[Photo by Jaredd Craig at Unsplash]
"Mid-twentieth-century academia idealized a college graduate as one who recalls Socrates and Galileo and Beethoven's Ninth. The twenty-first-century college identifies her as one with habits of critique. We have evolved from knowledge to dispositions, materials to skills. This is coherence without content, an attempt to resolve the contrary demands of diversity and direction with a new spin on e pluribus unum: out of many unrelated college courses, one analytical mind."
- Mark Bauerlein, The Dumbest Generation Grows Up
UnHerd: Ian Birrell on Sam Bankman-Fried's stint as billionaire geek savior.
What are the odds that the average college student has read novels by at least three of the following authors?
For their first four centuries the energies of the Romans were absorbed in asserting control over Italy south of the river Po. Within this area they established a complex network of unequal alliances which increasingly developed, not into the genuine confederacy that had once seemed possible, but into an empire controlled by themselves.
- From The World of Rome by Michael Grant
"One indication of moral progress in the United States would be the replacement of Thanksgiving Day and its self-indulgent family feasting with a National Day of Atonement accompanied by a self-reflective collective fasting."
University of Texas at Austin professor Robert Jensen
"Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy."
- H.L. Mencken
My assignment for tomorrow - aside from being charming - involves pies.
Pumpkin. Pecan. French Silk.
Apple will be saved for the weekend.
Given the amount of effort in preparing for the meal, I got off easily.
My chore involves one trip to Village Inn (click and scroll down).
For which I am thankful.
What is Critical Race Theory? The critical race theory (CRT) movement is a collection of activists and scholars interested in studying and transforming the relationship among race, racism, and power. The movement considers many of the same issues that conventional civil rights and ethnic studies discourses take up, but places them in a broader perspective that includes economics, history, context, group- and self-interest, and even feelings and the unconscious. Unlike traditional civil rights, which embraces incrementalism and step-by-step progress, critical race theory questions the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and neutral principles of constitutional law.
- From Critical Race Theory: An Introduction by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic
"Mr. President, I have a cause of grievance."
"The morning I went to Colonel Sherman and he threatened to shoot me."
Lincoln tipped his head, puzzled. Unwilling to get in the middle of a spat between officers, he threw off a joke, with some truth to it. "If I were you," he said, "and he threatened to shoot, I would trust him."
Read the rest at A Layman's Blog.
Commentary: Eli Lake on "Can the FBI Be Saved from Itself and Can the Rest of Us Be Saved from the FBI?"
Washington Examiner: Rob Long on medical exams, uncertainty, and Google.
I want a clear goal and a direct strategy for achieving it. Tell me what we gain.
I also want approaches for key groups and a description of the opposition's counter-arguments.
No opposition? Use your imagination. They are out there.
Give me the cast of characters with an indication of how they think, what they've done, what each wants, and how well they get along.
Tell me what they fear the most and what they are likely to do to avoid it.
Be thinking of the risks and resources and which side has time as an ally.
I also want to know which party cares the least. They're probably the most dangerous.
Give the costs - don't forget the costs - and be wary of any plan that does not seem to have a downside.
There is always a downside.
I want more than three options because there are always more than three options and I don't want to see a recommendation sandwiched between two extremes.
Throughout all of this we should be asking two questions: "And then what?" and "What are we relying on?"
Do all of the above and then we can talk some more about what we don't know.
Feudalism is making a comeback, long after it was believed to have been deposited into the historical dustbin. Of course it will look different this time around: we won't see knights in shining armor, or vassals doing homage to their lords, or a powerful Catholic Church enforcing the reigning orthodoxy. What we are seeing is a new form of aristocracy developing in the United States and beyond, as wealth in our postindustrial economy tends to be ever more concentrated in fewer hands. Societies are becoming more stratified, with decreasing chances of upward mobility for most of the population. A class of thought leaders and opinion makers, which I call the "clerisy," provide intellectual support for the emerging hierarchy. As avenues for upward mobility are diminishing, the model of liberal capitalism is losing appeal around the globe, and new doctrines are arising in its place, including ones that lend support to a kind of neo-feudalism.
- From The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class by Joel Kotkin
One of the most valuable classes I ever took was a survey course way back in the Sixties.
The class title was Humanities and it covered philosophy, art, literature, history, and architecture. (I am not sure if it covered music. If not, that was an oversight.)
Many of my peers dreaded it. I loved it.
The era we think of as the sixties began with relative suddenness around the time of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. Americans are right to say that nothing was ever the same after Kennedy was shot. You can hear the change in popular music over a matter of months. A year-and-a-half before Kennedy was killed, "Stranger on the Shore," a drowsy instrumental by the British clarinetist Acker Bilk, had hit number one. A year-and-a-half after the assassination, the musicians who would form Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, Big Brother and the Holding Company, and various other druggie blues and folk-rock bands were playing their first gigs together in San Francisco.
- Christopher Caldwell, The Age of Entitlement: America Since the Sixties
Yesterday, I went in for a medical appointment in Scottsdale at 1:00 p.m.
By 1:09 p.m. they had checked me in, taken my blood pressure, and completed a skull scan.
I was sitting there both impressed and stunned when the physician assistant returned at 1:12.
BTW: All is well. I am on antibiotics and expected to be fine.
a.k.a. The Man Who Never Sleeps.
And he has a spy novel in the mill!
Our discontent begins by finding false villains whom we can accuse of deceiving us. Next we find false heroes whom we expect to liberate us. The hardest, most discomfiting discovery is that each of us must emancipate himself. Though we may suffer from mass illusions, there is no formula for mass disenchantment. By the law of pseudo-events, all efforts at mass disenchantment themselves only embroider our illusions.
- Daniel J. Boorstin
Today, the full scale of the threat Sandworm and its ilk present looms over the future. If cyberwar escalation continues unchecked, the victims of state-sponsored hacking could be on a trajectory for even more virulent and destructive worms. The digital attacks first demonstrated in Ukraine hint at a dystopia on the horizon, one where hackers induce blackouts that last days, weeks, or even longer - intentionally inflicted deprivations of electricity that could mirror the American tragedy of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, causing vast economic harm and even loss of life. Or one where hackers destroy physical equipment at industrial sites to cause lethal mayhem. Or, as in the case of NotPetya, where they simply wipe hundreds of thousands of computers at a strategic moment to render brain-dead the digital systems of an enemy's economy or critical infrastructure.
- From Sandworm: A New Era of Cyberwar and the Hunt for the Kremlin's Most Dangerous Hackers by Andy Greenberg (2019)
No this guy has eyes that spend way too much time seeing you. Most people, their eyes see you a little and then they skate. Eyes go someplace else then back then someplace else then back it is polite. Try not doing it sometime you will find it is hard and people start to edge away from you. But this guy: his eyes do not travel they just rest and sometimes he is looking at you and sometimes his eyes have not moved but he's seeing something else. Like the guy has a multiplex in his head and you are only one of the screens and not the best one.
- From Seven Demons by Aidan Truhen
The breakfast books get the blood pumping and the mind churning. They are for notes in the margin and follow-up reminders.
The late night books are lighter and although they can be mildly exciting, that must be tempered so sleep is not delayed.
The two categories should never be switched.
Newspeak occurs when the primary purpose of language - which is to describe reality - is replaced by the rival purpose of asserting power over it. The fundamental speech-act is only superficially represented by the assertoric grammar. Newspeak sentences sound like assertions, but their underlying logic is that of the spell. They conjure the triumph of words over things, the futility of rational argument, and also the danger of resistance. As a result Newspeak developed its own special syntax, which - while closely related to the syntax deployed in ordinary descriptions - carefully avoids any encounter with reality or any exposure to the logic of rational argument. Françoise Thom has argued this in her brilliant study La langue de bois. The purpose of communist Newspeak, in Thom's ironical words, has been 'to protect ideology from malicious attacks of real things'.
- Roger Scruton, Fools, Frauds and Firebrands
Matt Taibbi talks with Tim Robbins on the "lost art of finding common ground."
"Listen, Matt, if you told me 20 years ago that there would be no video stores where you could talk to a clerk and see what that person might be recommending, or no record stores where you could go see what's new in music, or no bookstores in most towns, I would've told you you were crazy. But we're here. This is part of a larger movement away from the gathering place."
- Tim Robbins
Just received a book on diversity programs.
It was published this year.
There is nothing in it on anti-racism programs, Critical Race Theory, or the relevant ideological divisions.
Whatever the authors may think of such topics, not addressing them at all sets off an alarm bell.
A friend once told me that he liked museums featuring people who looked like him.
That remark stunned me. The approach seemed like a recipe for boredom.
Since elementary school I've purposely sought out books and films about people who differ from me.
It's been a good strategy. I still like to visit Long John Silver and Sydney Carton.
From Axios in December 2021: Interesting political polarization figures among college students.
City Journal: Heather Mac Donald on the Harvard president's defense of racial preferences.
I am reading The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. Strange and great.
It joins the unusual novels list: