Wednesday, January 9, 2019
A few of my favorite things.......................
1. Bertrand Russell's essay, An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish. He begins like this:
Man is a rational animal-so at least I have been told. Throughout a long life, I have looked diligently for evidence in favor of this statement, but so far I have not had the good fortune to come across it, though I have searched in many countries spread over three continents. On the contrary, I have seen the world plunging continually further into madness. I have seen great nations, formerly leaders of civilization, led astray by preachers of bombastic nonsense. I have seen cruelty, persecution, and superstition increasing by leaps and bounds, until we have almost reached the point where praise of rationality is held to mark a man as an old fogey regrettably surviving from a bygone age. All this is depressing, but gloom is a useless emotion. In order to escape from it, I have been driven to study the past with more attention than I had formerly given to it, and have found, as Erasmus found, that folly is perennial and yet the human race has survived. The follies of our own times are easier to bear when they are seen against the background of past follies. In what follows I shall mix the sillinesses of our day with those of former centuries. Perhaps the result may help in seeing our own times in perspective, and as not much worse than other ages that our ancestors lived through without ultimate disaster.
2. Christopher Hitchens' essay, On Becoming American. Contains some interesting imagined responses to a Pat Buchanan question, but the money line may be:
What does it take for an immigrant to change from "you" to "we"?
3. Charles Krauthammer's 1993 commencement address, "Beware the Study of Turtles."
My friends, don't get lost in the study of turtles. Endless, vertiginous self-examination leads not only to a sterile moral life, but to a stilted, constricted intellectual life. Yes, examine. But do it with dispatch and modesty and then get on with it: Act and do and go and seek. Save the psychic impact report, the memoirs, and the motives for later. There will be time enough.
4. Homelessness in Seattle: a growth industry?
If we want to break through the failed status quo on homelessness in places like Seattle—and in Portland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, too—we must first map the ideological battlefield, identify the flaws in our current policies, and rethink our assumptions.