Tag Archives: Andrew Sullivan

Links: Free college for all, crap jobs, math, etc.

1. What college would cost taxpayers if it were free for students. I’m starting to think lately that maybe no one should expect to profit from teaching people or healing people.

2. School of Rock actors, plus 10 years.

3. One explanation for middle-class decline: Even crap jobs paid better 50 years ago.

4. “Would math exist without us?,” continued.

5. How some people follow the Bible literally, but selectively.

6. “Surprising benefits” of smog: A parody and/or a display of rhetorical exercise?

7. SNL’s “I wish it was Christmas today” (aka “Christmas time is here”).

8. “A Comprehensive History of the ‘Cups’ Phenomenon.”

9. Sesame Street clips of the ’70s.

10. Scraps by Emily Dickinson.

11. “The Poem as ‘Thing‘”

12. From Brain Pickings: A list of the best psychology and philosophy books of ’13.

13. Andrew Sullivan says Fox News is anti-Christian.

Links: Krampus, Cassavetes, Limbaugh

1. Photos from a Krampus-ing.

2. The more we take I.Q. tests, the better we get at taking I.Q. tests.

3. A summary of education stories from this year.

4. A discussion of John Cassavetes’s movie “Too Late Blues”

5. An argument against using “The Help” as a textbook.

6. Andrew Sullivan: Rush Limbaugh knows nothing about Christianity.

7. Our minds love lists.

8. Poor people and decision-making.

9. Would you rather be born smart or rich?

10. Collies’ sneak-walk: I get tense waiting for them to break! My part-collie dog does the same sneak-walk when he sees a rabbit.

Links: 30 July 2013

1. Ta-Nehisi Coates visits France and notes differences between French and American culture (for one, there are fewer overweight people AND fewer bodybuilders), and points out that the particular ways we do things in each country may be inseparable from larger cultural contexts.

2. James Fallows points out that NSA surveillance will cost the United States its Internet influence and commerce in coming years.

3. A list of 10 influential soft wares.

4. Andrew Sullivan points out that Biblical literalism is “itself an inherent contradiction, since the Bible repeatedly contradicts itself if taken literally,” and he criticizes those who “are terrified of using their minds because their faith is so often mindless.”

5. Comic “Frazz” on science and wonder.

6. Massive open online courses — MOOCs — “could be disastrous for students and most professors.”

7. Governing by sabotage: here, and here.

Links: 30 May 2013

Today’s links roundup contains some slightly older things I marked but didn’t post over the last few (several?) weeks:

1. Churnalism: Comparing online text to promotional (press release) text.

2. I’m thinking of the Reinhart-Rogoff “Excel coding error” of a few weeks ago as a case-study of how a particular idea can get very popular without even really being accurate.

3. Andrew Sullivan and Kai Rysdall on Donald Rumsfeld.

4. Student debt:

America is distinctive among advanced industrialized countries in the burden it places on students and their parents for financing higher education. America is also exceptional among comparable countries for the high cost of a college degree, including at public universities. Average tuition, and room and board, at four-year colleges is just short of $22,000 a year, up from under $9,000 (adjusted for inflation) in 1980-81.

Compare this more-than-doubling in tuition with the stagnation in median family income, which is now about $50,000, compared to $46,000 in 1980 (adjusted for inflation).

Also, something I didn’t know until I started trying to pay back college loans:

Consider another dubious distinction: student debt is almost impossible to discharge in bankruptcy proceedings.

5. A cartoon reference: Toonopedia.

6. Leno’s singers: On truth in comedy.

7. Before diaries were private, they weren’t.

8. Pictures of snowflakes as they fall.

9. Color movies of London in the 1920s.

10. History of English language: it’s already bilingual (sorta).

Links: 30 April 2013: Technology, pets, food stamps, etc.

Playing catch-up here with links to sundry articles:

1. Writing and reading as more interactive than before. (via The Dish)

2. Food stamp participation by county.

3. U.S. students make up the largest proportion of top-scoring students. It turns out that we don’t need education reform so much as we need poverty reform.

4. We have relationships with our dogs, which relationships we can tell stories about; but we only look at our cats, of whom we make images. Thus, there are more books about dogs but online video and photos of cats. From my experience living with both, I’d say that’s about right.

5. The first World Wide Web page, recreated. Already, I feel like a oldster, telling my students of the days when I was first online, 1992, when I used the Gopher program to find addresses of people at other universities, and when I had email but only had two or three other people with whom to communicate online. I liked this story above for both the Gopher mention and for the screen image from NeXT computers, which I also used in fall 1992 and which now seems like the Edsel of computers.

6. The New York Times Book Review may be on its last legs. , and with it, “Book reviews, I am afraid, are a downer, an outdated form. Literary editors – hell, literary people in general – are mightily outdated, too.” And as much as I enjoyed reading the Book Review as a younger person who wished to participate in the community represented by the Book Review, I’m not sure any more that the end of “literary people” is necessarily a bad thing. “Literary culture” now seems an idea founded as much on myth and opinion and posturing as much as anything else.

7. Birth of a new conjunction: “slash.”

8. What you eat help forms what you like to eat.

9. A “Lord of the Flies” real-life adventure that wasn’t so “Lord of the Flies”-ish at all. :

One day, in 1977, six boys set out from Tonga on a fishing trip. They left safe harbor, and fate befell them. Badly. Caught in a huge storm, the boys were shipwrecked on a deserted island. What do they do, this little tribe? They made a pact never to quarrel, because they could see that arguing could lead to mutually assured destruction. They promised each other that wherever they went on the island, they would go in twos, in case they got lost or had an accident. They agreed to have a rotation of being on guard, night and day, to watch out for anything that might harm them or anything that might help. And they kept their promises—for a day that became a week, a month, a year. After fifteen months, two boys, on watch as they had agreed, saw a speck of a boat on the horizon. The boys were found and rescued, all of them, grace intact and promises held.

10. A post about literary pets contains this quotation from William S. Burroughs about his cats:

Thinking is not enough. Nothing is. There is no final enough of wisdom, experience — any fucking thing. Only thing can resolve conflict is love, like I felt for Fletch and Ruski, Spooner, and Calico. Pure love.

Love? What is It?
Most natural painkiller what there is.

11. Pictures from the frontlines of TV news on-location reports, showing some of what the edited image excludes. This reminds me of some of the press conferences I went to as an agriculture reporter, where my first-person accounts could have easily been more interesting to read than the items being conferred.

12. Media reporting tends to misunderstand and misstate science results.

13. Andrew Sullivan considers how a lot of online media exposure may influence/alter our thinking.

Links: 23 Feb: Doubt, etc.

1. Phillip Lopate makes a point about the value of doubt to essays:

Ever since Michel de Montaigne, the founder of the modern essay, gave as a motto his befuddled “What do I know?” and put forth a vision of humanity as mentally wavering and inconstant, the essay has become a meadow inviting contradiction, paradox, irresolution and self-doubt. The essay’s job is to track consciousness; if you are fully aware of your mind you will find your thoughts doubling back, registering little peeps of ambivalence or disbelief.

According to Theodor Adorno, the iron law of the essay is heresy. What is heresy if not the expression of contrarian doubt about communal pieties or orthodox positions? This is sometimes called “critical thinking,” an ostensible goal of education in a democracy. But since such thinking often rocks the boat, we may find it less than supported in school settings. Typically, the exercise of doubt is something an individual has to cultivate on his or her own, in private, before summoning the courage to air it, say, in an essay.

… [writing teachers should] encourage a more polyphonic, playful approach. That may be why a classic essay technique is to stage an inner debate by thinking against oneself. Doubt is my boon companion, the faithful St. Bernard ever at my side. Whether writing essays or just going about daily life, I am constantly second-guessing myself. My mind is filled with “yes, buts,” “so whats?” and other skeptical rejoinders. I am forever monitoring myself for traces of folly, insensitivity, arrogance, false humility, cruelty, stupidity, immaturity and, guess what, I keep finding examples. Age has not made me wiser, except maybe in retrospect.

2. Scrapbooking through history.

3. On David Sedaris as a Platonic ideal of fabricated nonfiction and how Sloane Crosley and Davy Rothbart fall short of the ideal and how Sheila Heti strikes off on her own and a short quotation from John Jeremiah Sullivan: I liked this definition:

the essay is one of the purest ways for a writer’s mind to record its own motions, which are the basis of prose style.

I agree that there’s something off about making a career by exaggerating oneself as a comic character as Sedaris has done (though I enjoy his writings as entertainments, they’ve not been something I aspired to emulate) and as Crosley has done (though she does more explicitly what Sedaris does obliquely — say terrible things about people who could easily identify themselves in her writing).

3. Unreadable published prose.

4. One person’s story of realizing she wasn’t a novelist.

5. Andrew Sullivan describes

the forces that free market capitalism unleashes are precisely the forces that undermine traditional forms of community and family that once served as a traditional safety net, free from government control.

6. From the AVClub, Oscar nominees in TV cameos.

7. An argument for an actual political debate, and not just dueling speeches.

8. The value of skepticism as a way of approaching reality (and avoiding pure abstraction).

9. Two pieces on the value of memorizing poems: Auden, Holt.

Link: Religion as fossilized philosophy?

Part of a series of posts of a transcription of a conversation between Andrew Sullivan and Christopher Hitchens contains a distinction between philosophy and religion:

H: Then you end up where Simon Blackburn — a professor of philosophy at Cambridge, author of a very good recent study of Plato. He puts it: religion is fossilized philosophy, it’s philosophy with the questioning left out. It’s something that becomes instated and no longer subjected to any further philosophical inquiry. Well, why would that be, from any point of view, a desirable thing?

A: No, because philosophy doesn’t help you live.

H: It’s the only thing that helps one live.

Hitchens’s highlighting of three main questions in philosophy:

philosophy’s three main reflections or questions are 1) why are we here , 2) what would be justice? and 3) what, if we can answer those two questions, would be a just city or just republic? One can be a philosopher and maintain that those are imponderables…