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Thursday, November 1, 2018

Stuff I read today, 11/1/18



"When reporters asked President Trump last week if he bore any responsibility for the pipe bombs sent to many of his critics and adversaries, he declared his innocence: “Not at all, no. There is no blame. There is no anything.”

-Thomas B. Edsall, "The Trump Legions," The New York Times

The Pulitzer Prize-nominated columnist considered studies analyzing the bases for the president's sometimes inexplicable bases of support. Bottom line: they are outraged by growing income inequality- which has left them out- and the feeling they are losing their culture war upper hand to force others out of their communities and worldviews.

"In the Kavanaugh hearing, I thought, this girl is lying. Then I talked with my sisters, who helped me see that I was looking at it through the lens of a Republican, not the lens of a Christian. She deserved just as much grace as Kavanaugh did."

-Elizabeth Dias, "‘God Is Going to Have to Forgive Me’: Young Evangelicals Speak Out," The New York Times

Making their way down the spiritual cafeteria line, evangelicals in their 20s and 30s cherish pretty much the same bigotries their parents do. They just don't think a little arugula or kale on the side makes them Communists.

"President Trump defended his proclivity to spread misleading statements and falsehoods, saying in a television interview Wednesday that he tells the truth when he can.

“Well, I try. I do try . . . and I always want to tell the truth,” Trump said in an interview with ABC News. “When I can, I tell the truth. And sometimes it turns out to be where something happens that’s different or there’s a change, but I always like to be truthful.”

-John Wagner, ‘When I can, I tell the truth’: Trump pushes back against his peddling of falsehoods,", The Washington Post

The president's daily lie meter is ticking at 8.3.

"Elizabeth’s 1584 patent charged Raleigh “to discover, search, find out, and view such remote, heathen and barbarous lands, countries, and territories, not actually possessed of any Christian prince, not inhabited by Christian people… to have, hold, occupy & enjoy..."

Ed Simon, "Reading Walter Raleigh’s Poetry of Blood," Berfrois

A truly exceptional writer, Simon considers the buccaneer backer of North Carolina settlement through many lenses, including Good Queen Bess sending him out with a rough draft of the Star Trek charter. Among Simon's most interesting points is that while the Spanish and Portuguese explored and wrote about the real New World, Raleigh saw it as a state of mind, where, once arrived, people could make their own realities.

"We spoke – of course – about Classics. I wanted her to sell me our subject: “Classics is a particularly privileged discipline,” she responds, “because of the way the subject has been defined as not simply Latin and Greek literature but a wide swath of cultural and intellectual studies – it’s going to continue to think hard.”

"Beard concedes – rightly – that there’s something Victorian about the oft-repeated claim that studying the classics teaches you how to think – what does knowing ‘how to think’ mean? “It’s about learning to not just think,” she clarifies, “it’s about learning to make a plausible, convincing, analytical argument. It introduces you to how people research, find out, analyze, structure and argue.”

"Of course, this is the great virtue of studying a humanities degree, where you are taught not just how to work the answer out but how to persuade your interlocutor that your stance is correct.

"I ask Beard about that perennial concern of humanities graduates – the jobs market. She laughs: “It would be a sad day for the planet if employers did not value skills of argument, research and analysis, and I don’t see any signs of that being seriously challenged. We’re not in a position where there are these poor old classicists who are not getting jobs, whereas people who’ve done astrophysics are slipping effortlessly into employment.”

"So, if it’s the training in careful analysis and thoughtful debate which marks out the humanities, then what similarly distinguishes Beard is her almost total willingness to thoughtfully engage with people who disagree with her. Famously, she once took a Twitter troll out for lunch, and after an online fracas concerning the fall of the Roman Empire, she met with arch-Brexiteer Arron Banks, which was recorded by the Guardian. In a world where it seems impossible for people with differing political views to hold a conversation that doesn’t turn into a flame war, the description of their mostly genial conversation made cheering reading."

-Barney Pite, "Mary Beard interview – “The ancient world is a safe space for arguing”, Cherwell

There is no one in America like Cambridge prof Mary Beard. In this interview with my old grad school days journalism hangout, she explores why a liberal arts view is absolutely necessary and yet incredibly frustrating in the age of alternate facts.

"Hundreds of books have been donated to the northwest Iowa library where a man checked out — and then burned — several LGBTQ children’s books weeks ago.

"The Orange City Public Library said Wednesday it has received more than 200 books since religious activist Paul Dorr engaged in a book burning Oct. 19.

"Together, several GoFundMe pages and Facebook fundraisers have raised thousands of dollars for the library — much more than the roughly $50 needed to replace the burned books.

"In protest of the city’s second annual OC Pride, Dorr threw four library books into a burning trash can while streaming live on Facebook."

-Shelby Fleig, "After man burns LGBTQ children's books, donations to Orange City library skyrocket," Des Moines (IA) Register

As Mark Noll opened his 1993 book, "The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind,"  "The scandal of the evangelical mind is there is not much of an evangelical mind." 

"On October 17, 2018, President Trump announced that the United States will withdraw from the Universal Postal Union (UPU), an intergovernmental organization that sets the rules and rates for international mail delivery."

-Eliot Kim, "Withdrawal from the Universal Postal Union: A Guide for the Perplexed," Lawfare

Apparently, writing letters to people overseas is contra#MAGA.

"Nigel Richards, 51 and from New Zealand, beat Californian Jesse Day in the final at the Westfield center in west London on Sunday.

"Groutier - which means more cross, sulky or sullen - scored 68 points.

"Mr Richards, who also won the French-language title this year, said: "It was a closely fought championship and Jesse was a very impressive opponent."


"Mr Richards' other high-scoring words in the final included zonular, which means like a zone and earned 100 points, and phenolic, a synthetic resin, which earned 84 points.

-BBC News, "Sulky word wins Scrabble championship"

Zut Alors! A Kiwi who can't speak French won A French Scrabble title.

"If it matters enough to be careful, it matters enough to build a system around it."

Seth Godin's last word for today.

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