Archive for the ‘The Hours’ Category

Lightning Rods
October 2011

Monday, October 31st, 2011

¶ We don’t share Daniel Engber’s skepticism (“The Effect Effect”) about the utility of buying and reading Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow, but we see his point. (Slate; via Arts Journal; 10/27)

More effects crop up in Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein’s Nudge (2008), in Jonah Lehrer’s How We Decide (2009), in Malcolm Gladwell’s books, in pieces about Malcolm Gladwell’s books, in Slate, in Slate, and in Slate. The same catchphrases even recur from one best-seller to the next, emerging in different contexts, slightly altered or not at all, like a thinking man’s LOLcats. If these ideas are good and useful—as many of Kahneman’s seem to be—then everybody wins. But how would you know for sure?

¶ A long but very engaging essay by Kate Bolick, “All the Single Ladies,” begins with the difficulty of finding a marriageable mate at age 39 and winds up at the Begijnhof in Amsterdam, where at least one resident spends the odd night at her boyfriend’s flat. Bolick covers a great deal of ground, but most of it is still awash in confusion about freedom and satisfaction. The only clear thing: if you don’t marry into a family, you must assemble one. (Atlantic; 10/13) ¶ We can’t help feeling that Alex Balk would be a much happier guy if he would just go and watch Almost Famous or Fool’s Gold; maybe then he could keep track of what Jeff Madrick has to say. (The Awl; 10/19)

¶ Paula Marantz Cohen is not impressed by the Jacqueline Kennedy who emerges from the interviews that she recorded with Arthur Schlesinger Jr in early 1964. “ I heard only the flat, smug tones of a woman of privilege who was something of a mean girl. Her relentless focus on herself and how people treated her and her family make her seem, for all her style and taste, rather vulgar.”  (Smart Set; 10/6) ¶ Jenny Diski has a look at Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project. Ordinarily, we take a very dim view of extravagantly negative book reviews, but — first of all, not everything that’s printed between covers is a genuine book; and, second, it’s a  “Diary” entry, not a review. Most of all, though, we hopelessly indulge Jenny Diski, self-described “miserabilist.” (Does Diski know Anna Russell’s great spoof, “Miserable“? I hope so!)

Previously happiness has been understood to be a matter of happenstance – most of the words for ‘happy’ in European languages originally meant ‘lucky’. Now it’s a project. Probably has been since it was incorporated into the Declaration of Independence and the bit about securing the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness through the means of an elected government was overlooked in favour of an individualist reading. More recently, goodness in the world started to be measured by value for money and achieved targets. It starts with a five-year plan and gradually, via the defeat of universal education and social welfare, it becomes the happiness project. You fill in grids, put crosses in boxes, look for four truths and follow 12 commandments and you will get that indefinable something that you don’t have but which you know you are entitled to. Rubin, I learn, was raised in Kansas City. She’s not in Kansas any more, she lives in New York, but I think that, unlike Dorothy, she got stuck in Oz.

¶ A propos Ross Perlin’s Intern Nation, Jen Paton, who has enjoyed four internships herself, writes about the problematics of working for free. Oor worse, paying to work, as at the outfit known as the Universe of Dreams. (3 Quarks Daily; 10/6) ¶ Scott Timberg may be overstating the case with his headline, “The Creative Class Is A Lie,” but “the dreary combination of economic slump and Internet reset” has certainly crippled the market for creative-class products. (Slate; via MetaFilter; 10/11) ¶ At The Baseline Scenario, James Kwak tips us to Corey Robin’s The Reactionary Mind,  which, among other things,  emphasises the role of victimhood (often vicarious, as witness Edmund Burke’s for Marie Antoinette) in the conservative make-up. (The Baseline Scenario; 10/6) ¶ Why “market reports” are worse than useless. (Felix Salmon; 10/11) ¶ Robert Shiller writes about “winter work,” and the “balanced-budget multiplier.”  We wonder when Occupy Wall Street is going to adopt the Yale professor as their patron saint. (New York Times; (10/20)

¶ Alex Tabarrock points to The Ethics of Voting, Jason Brennan’s ten year-old treatise on the imperatives of responsible voting. What brings this up now is not clear, but it’s new to us, so we’re glad to have the link. At his blog, The Art of Theory, Brennan presses some interesting “disanalogies” between elections and markets. (10/19) ¶ At the Jerusalem Post, David Nisman sums up the adroit statesmanship of Turkey’s Prime Minister ErdoÄŸan. (via Real Clear World; 10/11)

What can be said with a high degree of certainty is that Turkey has staked its claim as the gate-keeper to the Middle East, abandoning indefinitely any aspiration to be a part of Europe. Instead of acting as a subservient nation begging to join the European Union, Erdogan has used his new foreign policy to send a message to the world: Turkey is a strong, Muslim, Middle Eastern nation, which now has the final word on any and all action taking place within its realm.

¶ The awful truth about Helen DeWitt’s amazing Lightning Rods — it has been lying around, unpublished, for over a decade. (Bookforum; via paperpools) Another, even more lively interview at BoingBoing; toward the end, DeWitt outlines the books in her hopper. (10/11) To Jenny Davidson, at The Awl, DeWitt observes that “selling was always bound up with some kind of theory of human nature….  (I thought you were just buying a place to live.)” (10/19) At The Millions, Garth Risk Hallberg’s super review of Lightning Rods distinguishes typical satire from the superior strain that DeWitt works. Sentence we wish we’d written: “Joe’s target demographic – office worker – gives DeWitt a chance to luxuriate in the eloquent dumbness of the corporate idiom.” Although we’d have said loquacious instead of eloquent. (10/26) ¶ And, finally (at least for this entry), the n+1 treatment, which is almost deranged but none the less entertaining for that. “Coming back to America always feels like defeat, I hate to say it. I don’t like living here—it feels like being trapped. If I could somehow make money out of being a writer it would be great, because I could just live in Europe and not come back.” (10/31)

¶ Alexander Nazaryan explains why the narcissism of big-boy American fiction puts our novelists out of the running for the Nobel Prize. He hails Joseph O’Neill and Dave Eggers by the way; he omits Jennifer Egan. (Salon; via 3 Quarks Daily) ¶ Why Nobel Prize-winner Orhan Pamuk is not a well-liked writer in Turkey, and especially not in Istanbul. (Fıkır Mahsulleri Ofisi; via The Morning News; 10/11)

The publicity put books like The Black Book into homes where no other writer than Barbara Cartland and Agatha Christie had entered before. Many who bought Pamuk’s books had never read anything ‘serious’ – I am talking about writers like Tolstoy, Kafka, Camus, whatever; let alone the unfamiliar (and sometimes more intellectually demanding) postmodern stuff. Just as they would not have liked Tolstoy had they tried to read him, they did not like Pamuk either.

¶ Matthew Galloway finds the lightning-bolt homosexual relationship in Chad Harbach’s ambitious new novel, The Art of Fielding, to be, well, unconvincing. (The Millions) ¶ Fredric James’s review of Henrik Pontoppidan’s Lucky Per, newly translated by Naomi Lebowitz, makes this novel, written by a Danish Nobel Prize winner who died in 1943, sound both interesting and deep (and important, too), but the £44 tariff is a bit steep. The Danish original can be had for a song. (LRB; via 3 Quarks Daily; 10/13)

¶ At The Rumpus, an excellent interview with critic Laura Miller. Lamentable observation: (10/31)

Will this reader understand a reference to Edmund Spenser? Some won’t. It’s particularly important to keep this in mind with American readers because they tend to get angry when they don’t understand references, which is unfortunate, but once you’ve put someone’s back up by indicating that you know something they don’t, they tend to be unreceptive to whatever else you’ve got to say. And to be fair to those readers, some critics really are just interested in showing off.

¶ Jim Emerson is crazy about all the red in Drive. Then he snacks on it.  (Scanners) And while we’re on the subject, somebody at The Awl unearthed a breathless but impossibly long description (that we dare you to stop reading) of what happens in Nicolas Winding Refn’s latest movie. (Crushing Death Blow) At HTMLGiant, A D Jameson, who is so tired of guy films that he would limit the next century to “gay Puerto Rican women” directors, makes a big exception for Drive, listen ten reasons why it’s great.  ¶ Anne Helen Petersen explains why Brad Pitt is a big movie star; then she explains why he’s also an interesting one. “Someone who goes through life with that ease exists.  Or at least that’s the promise that “playing oneself” makes.  It’s a beautiful illusion to watch — and it’s the reason the film [Moneyball], no matter its merits, will make money, and why Pitt receives the paychecks he does.” (Celebrity Gossip, Academic Style; via The Browser) ¶ Helen Mirren talks about building hospitals. (The Talks; via The Morning News; 10/13) ¶ At The House Next Door, Jason Bellamy and Ed Howard take on the challenge of making Stanley Kubrick’s eye-candylicious Barry Lyndon seem compelling, and they succeed. They even demonstrate Ryan O’Neal’s rightness for the role. (10/26)

¶ Mitsuko Uchida explains the meaning of the three languages in her life: she thinks (and loves) in English. Also: success as a musician will come if “your love of music is stronger than your love of yourself.” (FT; via Arts Journal; 10/19)  (Thanks, Susan!)

Have a Look: ¶ The artist’s rendering of a General Motors research facility in 1950s Michigan so closely resembles bird’s-eye views of the great baroque palaces of the Age of Absolutism that I feel doubly convinced that the courtly life of the ancien régime did not wither in the Nineteenth Century, but rather moved into the boardroom. (Brainiac; 10/6) ¶ What Occupy Wall Street protesters want, and how to get them. (GOOD) ¶ Andrew Zuckerman’s Wisdom interviews — four books of insight by (it seems to me) handsome and fortunate people — is the first of seven interview anthologies curated by the tireless Maria Popova, at Brain Pickings. Oh, and we forgot to say old — handsome, fortunate old people. Gives us a feeling of hope! (10/11) ¶ Dave Maier struggles valiantly with “The Paradox of (Some) Conceptual Art,” but we’re afraid that he’s bested by his own cleverski. “Conceptual art” is no more art than a woman in a wedding dress waiting tables is a bride. “A rose by any other name…” (3 Quarks Daily; 10/31)

¶ Scanwiches. Yum! (Good) ¶ Anyone interested in fashion will have to accept that the Seventies weren’t so bad after all, not at any rate in Pascaline Chavanne’s astute reconstruction in last year’s Potiche, soon to appear on DVD. (Clothes on Film) ¶ Pedestrian crossing signals from around the world. (Spiegel; via MetaFilter; 10/13) ¶ Art/Not Art: A Test, at MondoBloggo. (10/20) ¶ Eli, no! @ Brain Pickings. ¶ John Snyder, a sound young newlywed (and Hotchkiss alum, apparently), took his wife, Nelle, on a honeymoon to Europe. They sailed home on the RMS Titanic. Ten days after the sinking, Snyder wrote to his father from Minneapolis. (Letters of Note) ¶ Feminist Ryan Gosling (via The Morning News; 10/24)

Noted: ¶ Joshua Brown supports Occupy Wall Street; read why. (The Reformed Broker; 10/19)  Ditto Justin E H Smith. (10/20) ¶ We are all Manchurian Candidates, suggests Jonah Lehrer (Frontal Cortex; 10/20) ¶ Who’s making reggianono parmigiano? Men in turbans. (MySinChew; via The Morning News; 10/27)

¶ Ted Wilson’s (red) suit. (The Rumpus; 10/26) ¶ “[N]eurasthenic seismographs.” (Slate; 10/27)

¶ Matt Taibbi on Rick Perry, the “human price tag” (Rolling Stone; via The Browser) ¶ Samhita Mukhopadhyay on MWLSE. (GOOD; 10/31)

Wrapping Up
July 2011/Fourth Week

Friday, July 29th, 2011

¶ Prableen Kaur’s direct and unpolished first-hand account of surviving the massacre on Utøya Island. (Eurozine; via 3 Quarks Daily)

¶ Choire Sicha’s advice for close encounters with large, deadish-looking cucarachas on the floor of your apartment. (Our latest lease renewal listed the floors on which bedbugs have been reported — ours, mercifully, not one of them.) (The Awl) ¶ The ever-modest Mike Johnston proposes a a critical method for appraising your own photographs, if you’re serious about them. (The Online Photographer) ¶ On Maria Popova’s say-so, we just ordered a copy of Langston’s Hughes’s The First Book of Jazz. Okay, so we didn’t go for the other famous-authors-for-kids books by Huxley or Sandburg or Stein. We just happen to have a very musical little relative…. (Brain Pickings) ¶ The art is, well, arm, but the book is as sweet as can be: a comics handbook for the children of men who have left their marriages for other men. Dad’s new boyfriend “liest mir was vor, schmiert mir leckere Marmeladenbrote, und tröstet mich, wenn ich Alpträume habe.” (; via MetaFilter)

Have a Look: ¶ That it’s the world’s largest wooden structure is the last thing that’s great about Seville’s beautiful Metropol Parasol. (Gedankentank; Thanks, JRParis!)

Noted: ¶ Naked Vandals destroy mailboxes, probably pee on perennial borders. Whistle Dixie! (The Awl)

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

¶ The passing of time weighs heavily, if stylishly, on today’s Styles section. You can recapture your youth (if, as in Alex Williams’s case, it’s not too far behind you) by growing a beard and passing for Seth Rogin — best of all, young guys will let you hang with them! Or you can sigh meditatively and retire from the hectic business of creating hot nightspots, like Serge Becker. Some days, the Styles section is a breeze-blown shallows. Others, a stretch of mud flats. All is vanity, indeed, especially when vanity is all.

July 2011/Third Week

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

¶ Jonah Lehrer looks into the Google-makes-you-stupid claim, and finds that it wasn’t being claimed at all. Which we could have told him… At the end, Jonah cites Nicholas Carr’s “contrarian” take. Carr writes, “When we form, or “consolidate,” a personal memory, we also form associations between that memory and other memories that are unique to ourselves and also indispensable to the development of deep, conceptual knowledge.” The associations that we build facts and memories are indeed unique to the human mind and will not be uploadable anytime soon. We believe that Carr’s associations are indeed the jewels of the mind, but they are memories themselves. In other words, if you associate a fact that you’ve off-loaded with one in your mind, the association is itself in your mind. It’s not really an association anymore, but a new fact. So we don’t see any “contrarian.” (The Frontal Cortex)

¶ Felix Salmon appraises the “smart and charming” Larry Summers and finds that his skepticism recedes somewhat. It’s frustrating, though, to see that both Felix and Summers are complacent about the nature of any jobs program: it’s got to be public-sector stimulus. We believe that breaking up large corporations into much smaller units (think franchises) would generate not only a robust jobs market but a greener environment. ¶ All right, it wasn’t the death by a thousand cuts. Maybe just five or six, writes Annie Lowrey at Slate. It’s pretty clear from her analysis that Borders did almost nothing (effectively) to harness the Internet. (Slate)

¶ The reissue of Patricia Highsmith’s The Cry of the Owl gets an irresistible review from Richard Rayner (LA Times; via 3 Quarks Daily) ¶ Pointers for translators by Humphrey Davies and Jonathan Wright. Mr Davies counsels against consulting native speakers who aren’t readers and translating anything before the contract is signed. (Arabic Literature (In English); via Conversational Reading) 

¶ Scientists enlisted volunteers from the Royal Armories in London to hop on a treadmill kitted out in Fifteenth-Century armor. Guess what? It’s exhausting! But it’s probably unlikely that the wearers of these ceremonial outfits exerted themselves very much while so attired; it was the horses carrying them that bore the burden. That’s just our guess, though. (Discoblog)

Have a Look: ¶ Fabulously fabulous advice from humiliation expert Wayne Koestenbaum @ The Awl. ¶ Julie Kim’s bus-stop coffee table. (via GOOD) ¶ Jim Meskimen “interprets” Clarence’s Dream, from Richard III, in a host of (adroitly chosen) impressions, ranging from Richard Burton to Jack Nicholson and closing with the best match of all. (via MetaFilter)

Noted: ¶ Alex Steinweiss, graphics pioneer, 1917-2011. (The Atlantic; via Arts Journal)

Prizes, Not Penalties
Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

¶ Apple may design cool products, but nobody ever lost money betting on its corporate ham-handedness; it’s obviously asking too much of Steve Jobs to Grow Up. We’ll know that the New Millenium has arrived when companies like Apple hand out prizes to clever stuntsters like Kyle McDonald, whose clever little guerilla app has landed him what we hope is not too hot or deep a bowl of soup. According to columnist Jim Dwyer, Mr McDonald insinuated a little Webcam program onto the computers on display at two Apple Stores, tweaked the results, and surreptitiously re-loaded. Shoppers interacting with the computers on display viewed an ongoing stream of faces that, suddenly and startlingly, included their own. “People instinctively quit the app less than 10 seconds after recognizing their own face,” he subsequently wrote, thus establishing the important point that we are not the narcissists that we’re said to be, at least when we’re at the computer. Funding is what Kyle McDonald deserves, not felony charges!

July 2011/Second Week

Sunday, July 17th, 2011

¶ Juan Cole’s list of ten things that emerging Arab democracies ought to do in order to avoid the failures that endanger that of the United States merits a ringing endorsement. (We would add only a caution about definining the legal status of corporations very carefully, with a view to ensuring that no business organization has more power than a human being.) It’s a reminder that our country has sunk back into the unsociable individualism of the Gilded Age. ¶ In case you think we’re exaggerating about Gilded Agery, have a look at Chris Hedges’s highly critical review of Andrew Rossi’s documentary, Page One: Inside the New York Times. As Yves Smith notes in her commenting blog entry, the ugly behind-the-scenes reality that Hedges outlines is common, with variations, to American elite organizations. (TruthDig; via Naked Capitalism)

¶ Never enthusiastic about Barack Obama, we have nevetheless resisted, until it was no longer possible, giving up on him entirely. We’ll let Yves Smith, as progressive a voice as we know, make the (ghastly) case for Obama as the worst president since Herbert Hoover. We can only hope that his failure will put an end to the elite faith in testable meritocrats who may or may not possess crucial political vision. (Naked Capitalism) ¶ The awful truth about H&M, which Sarah Laskow confesses she already knew, but how is one to stay cool in the summer heat? (GOOD)

¶ At 3 Quarks Daily, Jeff Strabone writes about Cy Twombly’s classicism, about which there is nothing neoclassical. “Were Twombly’s chalk-scribble paintings the next step beyond cryptography or its opposite?” ¶ John Warner writes about his great-uncle, Alan Seager, author of the widely copied and altered story, “The Window.” Will a New York Review Books edition of Amos Derby be long in coming? (The Morning News)

¶ Joe Moran watches the cricket at Old Trafford. Many of the other spectators don’t.

I never cease to marvel at the extent to which groups of men, despite having paid forty pounds each for a ticket and over the odds for countless pints of inferior lager with a fake German name, will spend the entire day doing almost anything – playing bongos, making towers out of empty plastic beer glasses, screaming at Robbie Savage in the executive boxes to try to get him to wave – rather than watch the unfolding spectacle in front of them.

Also in the entry, some neat quotes from Duncan Hamilton’s book, A Last English Summer. ¶ Infrastructurist‘s Melissa Lafsky is getting married, but she knows so much about the cyclotron of wedding planning that you wonder if it’s for the first time. “5. THE REAL STRESS OF WEDDING PLANNING IS THINKING EVERYTHING MEANS SOMETHING.” Major wisdom! (The Awl)

¶ Our admiration of Sam Sifton’s prose, whether or not he’s writing about restaurant, is second to no one’s — which is perhaps what reduced us to giggling with delight at Darryl Campbell’s parody, “Sam Sifton Reviews His Late Night Snack,” at The Bygone Bureau. Lashings of delight!

Have a Look: ¶ Ekaterina Smirnova. (Art Cat) ¶ Maria Popova has a little list. A list of lists! (She would be missed!) ¶ Andwhile we’re on the Popova, Strange Maps with a vengeance! (Brain Pickings)

Noted: ¶ Violinist/Violist/Composer Josef Suk, great-grandson of Antonin Dvorak, 1929-2011. (Telegraph) ¶ “Under the Sea: Life on a lost shipping container.” (BoingBoing; via Marginal Revolution) ¶ “Cities Soak Up More Carbon Than We Thought” (GOOD) ¶ The Turing Test, played between human beings (liberals versus conservatives; believers versus atheists). We’re not sure that the Turing template is helpful, because both players are, after all, human. and this sounds a lot like the Clarence Darrow test. (Cosmic Variance) ¶ There’s only one thing that we know about boat racing and that is J Class. (A Continuous Lean) ¶ Learning Chinese in Sweden. (GOOD)

Whom To Love
June 2011/Fifth Week

Saturday, July 2nd, 2011

¶ Even if we don’t post another link this week, we’re so startled by the wisdom of Michael Drury — whoever he is — that we have to share it with our friends. At The Smart Set, Jessa Crispin reviews a couple of books about “the other woman,” and in passing refers to a book called Advice to a Young Wife from an Old Mistress. In a nutshell:

The only people worth loving are those who are determined to find life good whether you love them or not.

This is one of those observations about life that are so coldly, startlingly true when you first encounter them that you can’t imagine not having known them — or you just can, and it’s terrifying. Thereafter, you make them your own, and the excitement dies down completely — until, as in this case I expect must happen, you hear about someone who’s attracted to a deadly, somebody who wants to die. The only people who are worth loving are the ones who can live without you — but are happy that they don’t have to.

¶ Given the current “political ecosystem of influence and money,” Matt Stoller writes, it’s unrealistic to expect talented Washington operators to put principles first. Why should they throw away their careers? “ If you want to fix that dynamic, then make sure that people like Doug Thornell have places to go where they don’t have to work to help Google cut its own tax rate.’ Or amend the Constitution to provide for campagin finance restrictions that no Supreme Court can overturn. (Naked Capitalism) ¶ The always bright Ed Yong nails it: (Not Exactly Rocket Science)

Do bloggers “count” as journalists? Are blogs journalism? And I’ve come to realise that this debate is exactly like the film Titanic: it is tedious, it goes on forever, everyone’s a caricature and they’re stuck on a massive sinking ship.

¶ Nancy McDermott’s review of Brian Caplan’s Selfish Reasons for Having More Children makes a lot more sense than the book it discusses. Here’s a passage that pinpoints the American social crisis about as neatly as can be done: (Spiked; via 3 Quarks Daily)

In a culture as deeply ambivalent about adulthood as America, it is not surprising that socialising young people has become problematic. The rich web of traditions and conventions that governed the interchange between one generation and the next is broken – and parents are left to pick up the slack. Even something as simple as teaching children how to behave in public becomes difficult today because adults can’t agree upon common standards of behavior, let alone enforce them collectively. Children run wild, and naturally the parents are to blame.

It’s often observed that home ownership prevents workers from moving to where the jobs are. It also prevents parents from finding congenial neighborhoods. ¶ John Hyduk of Cleveland is a 59 year-old soda truck loader who can write about his working life and his resistance to regret well enough to listen to. (Esquire; via MetaFilter)

¶ Riverside fish-and-dance halls, guinguettes — immortalized by Renoir — never went quite extinct, and now are coming back, although it’s taking a while for the kids to master the old-timey dance staps. (LA Times; via The Morning News)

Dr Denkenstein
June 2011/Fourth Week

Saturday, June 25th, 2011

¶ Great pianist and occasional blogger Jeremy Denk inveighs against an odious comparison of classical-music performances to long-ago baseball-game re-enactments. He comes up with a much  better one. (Think Denk)

¶ At Academe Online, Eric Alterman outlines the differences in “truth” as understood by academics, journalists, and think-tank pundits. Journalists, of course, are harried opportunists who are satisfied with the truth of someone’s having said something, no matter how false that remark might be. The real struggle is between tendentious think-tank analysts, who are more or less baldly paid to advocate certain positions, and disinterested academics who will follow a thought wherever it leads. Unfortunately academics have become even more uninteresting than disinterested. (via Brainiac) ¶ Simon Mainwaring’s excellent and concise Four Reasons We Must Re-Engineer Free Market Capitalism, at GOOD. What we’d like to see is a painstaking historical account of how self-interest, that Enlightenment engine, became stupid and destructive. ¶ Jordan Michael Smith argues that David Mamet’s rightward swerve has nothing to do with liberal disenchantment — like all the other neoconservatives, Mamet never was a liberal, but a leftist. (The Awl)

¶ At the Guardian, a garland of summer-reading reveries by eminent novelists. A S Byatt discovered, the summer before she was married, that she was a writer, not an academic, and Proust was her teacher. Colm Tóibín, at 17, was turned on by Hemingway, which must explain his subsequent attraction to Henry James, no? (via 3 Quarks Daily) ¶ In a preview of coming attractions, Robert Gordon reviews A N Wilson’s Dante in Love, a companion to the Divine Comedy that’s due to appear here in October but that you can order right now from Amazuke. Which we’ve just done. (Literary Review; via 3 Quarks Daily) ¶ GThe Saxon exodus from Romania that followed the end of that country’s communist regime (and the recrudescence of nationalism) left behind a newly-discovered trove of baroque sacred music, now being edited by Kurt Philippi and performed by a trans-European ensemble throughout the region, which, by the way, is Transylvania. (Guardian; via Arts Journal)

¶ We remember it well… but, just the same, it’s nice of Jordan Barber to remind us of the “fun” of moving out of an old apartment and into a new apartment with new roommates. Mercifully, he doesn’t dwell on details. (The Bygone Bureau) ¶ If we don’t remember being taught by slovenly graduate students, that’s because they hadn’t been invented yet. (Pocket protectors were weird but not slovenly.) Robert Watts, considerably younger, was so demoralized by sloppy TAs in college that he grew up to look just like them — until, one fine day, he invested in the Medallion Fund. The Medallion Fund look, that is. (The Smart Set) ¶ In a decision that will make producers and restaurateurs think about repatriating to Formosa, a court in Taipei fined and jailed a blogger for “defaming” a noodle parlor. The plaintiff said that “he hoped the case would teach her a lesson.” You might want to bear this in mind if you’re planning to blog about Taiwan… (Taipei Times; via MetaFilter)

¶ At Wired, Thomas Goetz writes up the latest in feedback loops, which can be surprisingly effective in altering behavior — provided they’re neither annoying nor too easy of ignore. Inventor David Rose speaks of “enchantment.” (via Arts Journal)

New: ¶ “Enthusiasm For Heat” @ Fake Science (via The Morning News) ¶ Wisconsin Grilled Cheese Academy. (via MetaFilter)

Noted: ¶ Irrepressible general: Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor, 1915-2011. (Telegraph) ¶ Knowing Urdu, Anjum Atlaf decides to learn Hindi and Farsi. All Indo-European languages, by the way. (The South Asian Idea; via 3 Quarks Daily)

June 2011/Second Week

Friday, June 10th, 2011

¶ We would not mention the Anthony Weiner matter at all if it were not for a scourging denunciation of everyone who has drawn attention to and from it by Glenn Greenwald. (Salon; via 3 Quarks Daily)

On some level, I find the behavior of the obviously loathsome Andrew Breitbart preferable; at least he’s honest about his motive:  he hates Democrats and liberals and wants sadistically to destroy them however he can.  It’s the empty, barren, purse-lipped busybodies who cannot stay out of other adults’ private and sexual lives — while pretending to be elevated  — that are the truly odious villains here.

This story is about the lamentable fact that there is a story, and for that Mr Weiner is not responsible. To say that he “should have known” that scandal might ensue when he yielded to erotic (but disembodied) temptation is inhumanly hypocritical. ¶ An amazingly moving and calmly vivisecting nonfictional-auto-Bildungsroman by Irish writer Brian Dillon. An early fascination with Roland Barthes misled him into a standard academic career, but it was Barthes who eventually rescued him. A long, beautiful read. (via paperpools)

But I did start to notice something about Barthes that I hadn’t before, or that perhaps had not occurred to me since I was seventeen: he was not really a scholar or a theorist, he was a writer.

¶ Whether it turns a penny or not, we can only applaud the establishment in London of the New College of the Humanities, intended, according to its founder-director, A C Grayling, to “bridge the C P Snow gap” between the “two cultures” of letters and science. For this to work, the pedagogy of mathematics will have to be reconceived for those without a natural aptitude — which ought to be the purpose of education anyway, but rarely is. (Brainiac) ¶ Rob Horning’s much-linked essay at n + 1, “The Accidental Bricoleurs,” does not impress us as a reasoned appraisal of “fast fashion” and social-network self-rebranding. “Neoliberalism” hulks in the corner like a criminal mastermind’s thuggish henchman, but the real malefactors are those who tell ordinary people that they have the right to be no more critical and attentive than they’re inclined to be. ¶ We’re all familiar by now with Anders Ericsson’s 10,000 hours rule, which not only claims that ten thousand hours of practice will make a virtuoso or an expert out of anyone but also that inborn talent is not a factor. The last part is deeply counterintuitive. Can it be tested? Christopher Chabris, co-author of The Invisible Gorilla: How Our Intuitions Deceive Us, outlines the difficulties of implementing a viable test for Scientific American. (via Arts Journal) ¶ The amazingly polymathic career of Erez Lieberman Aiden, co-developer of Culturomics and also the man who figured out that DNA folds in fractal globules first conjectured by an Italian mathematician in the 1890s. Ed Yong is so enthusiastic that we’re afraid he might have had to invent Aiden if he hadn’t actually existed. (Not Exactly Rocket Science)

¶ Felix Salman palpates a bubble, and decides that it’s probably not in canine umbrella stands, reminiscent as these might be of the days of Dennis Kozlowski.

¶ At The New York Review of Ideas, Elizabeth Vulaj interviews Jane Austen Education author William Deresiewicz, who points out an aspect of Austen’s writing that we much admire even though we never noticed it (that’s why): no metaphors. ¶ We absolutely do not condone the stealing of books, even from apathetic WaldenBooks outlets where the “ books were needed to take up the rest of the retail space, because there weren’t enough magazines.” (Nice try!) But we enjoyed reading how John Brandon became a reader, and we rejoiced that when he finally did get busted it wasn’t for book theft. (The Awl) ¶ At The Rumpus, Kyle Minor and Justin Taylor discuss A Heaven of Others and its author, Joshua Cohen, who also wrote Witz. We’re not convinced that we’d find these books anything but a trial to read (although we’re intrigued by the idea that the book reads as though it was written in a hurry, and was in fact read in a hurry by Kyle), but the conversation is interesting. ¶ At Jewcy, Adam Wilson interviews Paris Review editor Lorin Stein about being -Ish. (via The Morning News)

When I was a kid I wanted to have a bar mitzvah just so we [Stein and his stepfather] could have that in common. That’s how I discovered pretty much the one thing my four parents agreed about—the essential badness of this idea.

¶ Also -Ish: Arundhati Roy, daughter of a Bengal tea-planter and a  the daughter of a wealthy Christian family from Kerala. We’re aware that Roy is a prize-winning novelist and committed opponent of the glitzification of India, but there’s more than a whiff, in Stephen Moss’s interview, of Hemingway’s Lady Brett. (Guardian; via 3 Quarks Daily) ¶ The Internet Archive, cognizant of the material nature of digital storage, seeks to store one copy of every book that it scans in refitted shipping containeers. (via MetaFilter) ¶ James Kwak unpacks that right-wing shibboleth, “regulatory uncertainty,” booming from the wingnut echo-chambers but without real-world substance. (The Baseline Scenario) ¶ At Marginal Revolution, Alex Tabarrrok points to the sub-therapeutic use of antibiotics on farm animals as a dangerous facilitator of bacterial gene transfers occuring faster than we can combat them. Denmark has found it to be unnecessary as well.

New: ¶ At Ironic Sans, David Friedman proposes .ugh domains, for people who are sick & tired &c, and ingeniously forbids the owner of from owning CelebrityN.ugh. (via The Morning News)

Have a Look: ¶ Christoph Niemann at the Venice Biennale. Not shown: missing luggage. (NYT) ¶ Manhattan in Motion @ Mnémoglyphes.

Noted: ¶ “Couple Forecloses on Bank of America — And Wins” @ GOOD. ¶ Yves Smith: “Is Facebook Foreclosure Coming to the US?” (Naked Capitalism) ¶ Jeff Martin sees Tree of Life at an Oklahoma preview, with the filmmaker’s 99 year-old mother, Irene, in attendance. (The Millions)

The Enlightenment Fallacy
June 2011/First Week

Saturday, June 4th, 2011

¶ Despite its odd and rather misleading title — the actual subject of George Soros’s epistle in the current issue of The New York Review of Books is the arguable failure of the United States as a truly open society — “My Philanthropy” is a compelling piece. One passage in particularly ought to be memorized by every reader:

[Karl] Popper’s hidden assumption that freedom of speech and thought will produce a better understanding of reality is valid only for the study of natural phenomena. Extending it to human affairs is part of what I have called the “Enlightenment fallacy.”

Except that there is an even more pressing bit of wisdom in the final paragraph:

 The fact that your opponent is wrong does not make you right.

¶ David Eagleman’s Incognito is going to garner a lot of attention, not because it’s another pretty book full of interesting stuff about the way our brains work but because it argues that many moral problems are neurochemical in origin, and that the idea of equal justice before the law may be unhumane. (Brainiac) ¶ We think that Laura Miller takes William Deresiewicz a tad too literally — perhaps more literally than his book actually is — when she insists (rightly) that reading good literature does not, by itself, make for better people. There must be some sort of readiness or predisposition. We don’t think that Deresiewicz was touting Austen as some sort of patent remedy that ails us, but it’s true that the passion of A Jane Austen Education might lead a reader, even a smart one like Miller, into unintended conclusions. (Salon; via 3 Quarks Daily)

¶ The sensible and successful Grace Bonney critiques the Times story about online shelter magazines, and while she’s at it she presents the state of play between print and online journalism. Bonney is one of the few writers and editors whom we regard as a Digital Grownup. Jason Kottke is another; but Bonney produces more content of the same high quality. (Design Sponge)

¶ This week’s Ingenuous Audiobook Review goes to David Fishkind, who has a summer job as a farmhand, shoveling you-know-what. To lighten the monotony, he listens to Richard Poe’s reading of Blood Meridian, that beach book by Cormac McCarthy. “Actually, I should point out that I didn’t follow most of the novel.” Lucky David! We;re particularly charmed by his doing almost everything to guarantee a failing grade but holding our interest all the same. What we remember best about Blood Meridian is how well Edward Jones retold it as an episode in The Known World. (HTMLGiant) ¶ Dan Hill is moving to Finland, and writes engagingly about making the change after four years in Australia. (City of Sound)

Have a Look: ¶ Disturbing Household Touches, @ Oddee. ¶ Scout’s Excellent Memorial Day Adventure: visiting the wreck of a Navy jet that crashed in the Jersey woods in 1962 (the pilots lived; amazingly, the Navy didn’t clean up the mess). (Scouting New York) ¶ Mondobloggo is among the guests at a mayoral event at City Hall Park, with sculptures by Sol Lewitt.

Noted: ¶ 29 things about H L Mencken — a list that will probably not be forgotten. (Letters of Note) ¶ Elderly Japanese engineers return to work — volunteering at Fukushima. They’re likely to die of other causes before radiation-induced cancers can kill them. (BBC News; via The Morning News) ¶ David Hawkes writes that we enjoy stories about revenge because it is an equalizer. (TLS) ¶ The Global War on Drugs Has Failed, @ Marginal Revolution.

Daily Office: Matins
Monday, 25 April 2011

Monday, April 25th, 2011

Ross Douthat’s attempt to find a few good things to say about Hell provides us, we see at once, with an ideal exit line. With this entry, we bring to a close the conceit of dressing newfangled World-Wide Web aggregation in the plumage of the canonical hours.

In this sense, a doctrine of universal salvation turns out to be as deterministic as the more strident forms of scientific materialism. Instead of making us prisoners of our glands and genes, it makes us prisoners of God himself. We can check out any time we want, but we can never really leave.

The doctrine of hell, by contrast, assumes that our choices are real, and, indeed, that we are the choices that we make. The miser can become his greed, the murderer can lose himself inside his violence, and their freedom to turn and be forgiven is inseparable from their freedom not to do so.

As Anthony Esolen writes, in the introduction to his translation of Dante’s “Inferno,” the idea of hell is crucial to Western humanism. It’s a way of asserting that “things have meaning” — that earthly life is more than just a series of unimportant events, and that “the use of one man’s free will, at one moment, can mean life or death … salvation or damnation.”

Stuff (it).

Perhaps because we’re looking forward to August at the beach, we’ve been wishing that the everyday chore of glancing over hundreds of feeds (reading 25 of which is a big job) were more like beachcombing. Henceforth, we’re only going to bend to pick up the items that catch our fancy — some because they’re really unlike anything else; others because they add to our collection. We are no longer going to stalk the strand in search of edification in predetermined topics.

Daily Office: Vespers
Idiocracy “In an interview last year for this obituary”
Friday, 22 April 2011

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Presumably, the Times writer really did tell Madelyn Pugh Davis, the long-time I Love Lucy writer who died the other day at 90, why they were calling.

In an interview last year for this obituary, Ms. Davis recalled some of the many wacky situations she helped devise for Ms. Ball: standing on stilts, coping with a house overrun by baby chicks, wearing a beard and — a classic — overwhelmed by a warp-speed conveyor belt in a chocolate factory.

“Lucy would do anything we suggested,” Ms. Davis said.


“The only time she ever said she didn’t want to do something was when she saw an elephant on the set and ran up to her office,” Ms. Davis recalled.

The script called for her to retrieve $500 from under the elephant’s foot.

“Then the phone rang and it was Vivian Vance,” Ms. Davis said. “Vivian said, ‘It’s O.K., I told Lucy that if she didn’t want to do that funny thing, I’ll do it.’ And Lucy said, ‘O.K., I’ll do it.’ So she talked into the elephant’s trunk and got it to lift its foot.”

But then, Davis went to high school (and was in the fiction club) with Kurt Vonnegut. There you go.

Daily Office: Matins
The Information
Friday, 22 April 2011

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

If we thought that convicted fraudster Lee Farkas could get past the colophon, we’d wonder if he had been reading James Gleick’s new book.

Mr. Farkas did not prove to be a very good witness on his behalf. He insisted no crime had been committed, but his understanding of the law seemed to be a little unusual.

Patrick F. Stokes, a deputy chief of the Justice Department’s criminal fraud section, asked Mr. Farkas if he thought Taylor Bean’s agreement with Colonial Bank allowed the mortgage firm “to sell fraudulent, counterfeit, fictitious loans” to the bank.

“Yeah, I believe it does,” he replied.

“It’s very common in our business to, to sell — because it’s all data, there’s really nothing but data — to sell loans that don’t exist,” he explained. “It happens all the time.”

PS: Floyd Norris filed this report. That makes the second time this week that our eye has been caught by a Times news story masquerading as a column. Trend?

PPS: What we really do wonder is whether this story belongs in our “Idiocracy” collection.

Daily Office
Grand Hours
April 2011: Third Week

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

{Blague We Must}


¶ It looks crazy now, and let’s hope it stays that way: Joseph Harris, an Emergency Financial Manager in Benton Harbor, Michigan, empowered by recent state legislation, has prohibited elected officials from doing their jobs. He, in effect, is now the local government. (AlterNet; via MetaFilter)


¶ Writing about the latest in opera — from Tod Machover’s “robot chorus” to the Met’s goggle-less 3D — Mark Swed interposes a wise note of caution.

This is the spectacle of opera trying hard to be more movie-like, to retain the pleasure of the company of flesh-and-blood singers and of the live, unamplified (or possibly lightly enhanced) human voice all complemented by the immersive experience of cinema. The problem with the approach is that opera is an art form with artificial surfaces and a deep interior. Singing is not speaking but rather a projection of an inner voice. Too much exterior realism hinders the all-important suspension of disbelief.

How easily some people forget the lesson of Capriccio: “Prima la musica, dopo le parole.” (LA Times; via Arts Journal) ¶ Maybe what perennial rediscovery candidate Preston Sturges (our favorite dramaturge) needs for permanent exaltation is some zippy approval from David Foster Wallace. Faute de ça: Martha Polk’s cheeky “PRESTON STURGES CAN YOU SAVE ME NOW?What keeps this piece vital is its refusal to decide whether The Palm Beach Story is better than The Lady Eve, or vice versa. (The Hairpin)


¶ P


¶ Elizabeth Abbott ventures to make a liberal defense of polygamy, but concludes that she cannot. Whereas free-speech protections of homophobic utterances and the recognition of same-sex marriages expand the coverage of “an existing system of rights,” polygamy threatens that system. We agree, but we wish that the argument were more strongly made. (The Walrus; via The Morning News)


¶ Every party has a pooper, but, really, can’t Christopher Hitchens do any better? His royal wedding dyspepsia does, it’s true, reach surprisingly to criticism of Her Majesty Herself, but the crimes are ancient (quashing Margaret’s first love; abandoning Charles to his father’s pedagogical mercies). Even the would-have-been Countess of Finchley would have found Hitchens’s contumely to be uninflammably Wet. (Slate; via MetaFilter) ¶ Intentionally or not, Kevin Nguyen shows how the map has succumbed to the GPS navigator. (The Bygone Bureau)


¶ Tyler Cowen perpends: “Why do Brazilians emigrate so infrequently?” Is everyone having too much fun there? Is internal migration a viable alternative? How about the Portuguese angle (it is so not the language of Latin America)? (Marginal Revolution)


¶ Sir Thomas Browne is near the top of the list of writers whom we’d like to spend more time with, or think we would, but never quite get round to; perhaps the newly published New Directions edition of Urn Burial, sized for portability, is the answer. At The Millions, Greg Gerke writes a lovely appreciation of Browne’s baroque prose that makes us wish we had the summer off.


¶ At The Infrastructurist, Eric Jaffe reports on the growing popularity of “smart-growth” residential areas, with smaller lots and rich alternatives to automobile transport — but he notes that people like these neighborhoods for everybody else.

Have a Look

¶ HL


¶ Habit Judo. (via MetaFilter) ¶ Putting Malcolm Gladwell to the test, at no proximate cost to Malcolm Gladwell. (; via The Morning News)

Daily Office: Vespers
Idiocracy Rising: Example 386T
Thursday, 21 April 2011

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

We really have no comment to make on Gail Collins’s column about anti-abortion math in today’s Times; we’re just filing it away in our Idiocracy dossier. And with our meditations at Matins in mind, we wonder what “transparency” would bring to this problem.

Welcome to the fact-free zone. This week, U.S. Senator John Cornyn gave an interview to Evan Smith of The Texas Tribune in which he claimed that the battle in Congress to defund Planned Parenthood “was really part of a larger fight about spending money we don’t have on things that aren’t essential.”

There are a lot of fiscal conservatives in the anti-abortion movement, and it’s apparently hard for them to admit that destroying Planned Parenthood is a money-loser.

There’s also a resistance to government support for contraceptive services. “There are some people in the pro-life movement who think birth control pills of all kind are abortifacients,” said Senator Bob Deuell, a Republican. “But I don’t see any medical evidence.”

Deuell is one of those rare abortion opponents who is dedicated to the cause of helping women avoid unwanted pregnancy in the first place. He says his allies in the anti-abortion movement haven’t objected to his approach, but he admitted that they haven’t been handing him any medals either.

We’re currently stuck with a politics of reproduction in which emotion is so strong that actual information becomes irrelevant. Senator Cornyn, in his interview, was reminded of the great dust-up his colleague Jon Kyl of Arizona created when he claimed that 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood did involved abortions. When challenged, Kyl’s staff said the figure “was not intended to be a factual statement.”

So did Cornyn agree that Kyl screwed up?

“I’m not so sure,” Cornyn said.

Daily Office: Matins
Transparency? Feh.
Thursday, 21 April 2011

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

We don’t think much of “transparency” as a tool of good government. It’s an essentially passive technology that leaves no one to blame when it fails. Transparency has done nothing to keep the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Fox News and even, it seems, the Koch Brothers from pressing their toxic misrepresentations on anxious audiences. Max Bazerman and Ann Tenbrunsel, authors of Blind Spots, argue that transparency, like fines, denatures the ethical content of troublesome decisions.

A solution often advocated for this lack of objectivity is to increase transparency through disclosure of conflicts of interest. But a 2005 study by Daylian M. Cain, George Loewenstein and Don A. Moore found that disclosure can exacerbate such conflicts by causing people to feel absolved of their duty to be objective. Moreover, such disclosure causes its “victims” to be even more trusting, to their detriment.

Our legal system often focuses on whether unethical behavior represents “willful misconduct” or “gross negligence.” Typically people are only held accountable if their unethical decisions appear to have been intentional — and of course, if they consciously make such decisions, they should be. But unintentional influences on unethical behavior can have equally damaging outcomes.

Our confidence in our own integrity is frequently overrated. Good people unknowingly contribute to unethical actions, so reforms need to address the often hidden influences on our behavior. Auditors should only audit; they should not be allowed to sell other services or profit from pleasing their customers. Similarly, if we want credit-rating agencies to be objective, they need to keep an appropriate distance from the issuers of the securities they assess. True reform needs to go beyond fines and disclosures; if we are to truly eliminate conflicts of interest we must understand the psychology behind them.

Daily Office: Vespers
Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Peer Bork, a research scientist at Heidelberg, has discovered that human being living in the developed world fall into three entereotypes, or classes of gut-harboring microbes.

“Some things are pretty obvious already,” Dr. Bork said. Doctors might be able to tailor diets or drug prescriptions to suit people’s enterotypes, for example.

Or, he speculated, doctors might be able to use enterotypes to find alternatives to antibiotics, which are becoming increasingly ineffective. Instead of trying to wipe out disease-causing bacteria that have disrupted the ecological balance of the gut, they could try to provide reinforcements for the good bacteria. “You’d try to restore the type you had before,” he said. Dr. Bork notes that more testing is necessary. Researchers will need to search for enterotypes in people from African, Chinese and other ethnic origins. He also notes that so far, all the subjects come from industrial nations, and thus eat similar foods. “This is a shortcoming,” he said. “We don’t have remote villages.”

Daily Office: Matins
Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

The United States’ arguably unintentional campaign to preserve the Cuban Revolution until the very last historico topples into his grave just breezed past another milestone, with the appointment of the first non-Castro leader, 80 year-old José Ramón Machado.

Mr. Castro acknowledged that his generation had lagged in preparing young leaders, saying Cuba lacked “a reserve of substitutes with the sufficient maturity and experience to take over the principal duties of the country.”

Some analysts disputed that, saying Mr. Castro’s moves merely solidified his power against any stirrings from those who are young and perhaps too progressive.


Aside from being a fellow combatant during the revolution, Mr. Machado may have been an attractive choice to Mr. Castro for his role overseeing the inner workings of the party, in charge of an office approving promotions and developing ties with party leaders across the island, said Arturo Lopez-Levy, a lecturer at the University of Denver and former political analyst in the Cuban Interior Ministry.

“Machado will be a key factor in choosing not only the successor, but also the structure of separation of powers destined to replace, within the party and between party and government, the current model of ‘Castro in command,’ ” Mr. Lopez-Levy said.

“Down the road, the old leaders just gained some time,” he said. “Will they use it wisely? The congress gave some hope to the party members and the population about a serious economic reform. Now the old generation still in power would have to respond to these expectations.”

Daily Office: Vespers
You Never Know
Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

Let the naysayers cavil, but British monarchy’s aura of grandeur remains blinding enough for many happy observers of next week’s royal nuptials to behave as if some sort of coronation were in the offing. Why else speculate on the hopes that the bride’s stepmother, the Duchess of Cornwall, may harbor for parking her own derrière on the throne?

How much Camilla cares is a matter of debate. Some of her friends believe her concern is mostly for Charles, who has always said that he sees it as his destiny to become king, and has worked restlessly to that end, with a schedule of public duties that far outstrip any other royal family member, including his mother. Others say Camilla herself is not as come-what-may about the issue as she has sometimes suggested to friends, and would like one day to be back in the abbey, seated beside Charles, as crowns are placed on their heads.

Twice in recent months, the couple has hinted that they remain hopeful of turning the tide of public favor their way on the issue of Camilla’s becoming queen. In an interview in November with Brian Williams of NBC, Charles answered hopefully when asked whether Camilla would ever be the queen. “You know, I mean, we’ll see,” he replied, as if ambushed by the question. “That could be.”

In February, it was Camilla’s turn. “Are you going to be queen one day?” a little girl asked her on a visit to a children’s center in the Wiltshire town of Chippenham. “You never know,” Camilla replied, smiling.

Daily Office: Matins
Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

In today’s column, David Brooks offers an irresponsible assessment of Donald Trump, hailing him as a “straight-talking, obnoxious blowhard” who, his admirers believe, might actually get things done. Wishful thinking! Mr Brooks himself concedes that Mr Trump is an overgrown boy “thrilled to have acquired a gleaming new bike, and doubly thrilled to be showing it off.” That’s not our frankly elitist view of accomplishment. It’s no surprise that we don’t like Donald Trump, but Mr Brooks’s column makes it necessary to insist that we do not tolerate him, either.

Now, I don’t mean to say that Donald Trump is going to be president or get close. There is, for example, his hyper-hyperbolism and opportunism standing in the way.


But I do insist that Trump is no joke. He emerges from deep currents in our culture, and he is tapping into powerful sections of the national fantasy life. I would never vote for him, but I would never want to live in a country without people like him.

We disagree. We would be happy to banish Donald Trump to some other country that might actually benefit from his Gospel of Success. As for “deep currents” and “powerful sections of the national fantasy life,” we recommend the movies or, if absolutely necessary, team sports. There is obviously no place in political life for fantasy.