Sunday, 4/24/16

  1. Leading beyond
  2. Alliance for Liberal Learning
  3. Do better, Millennials, please
  4. Early Voting
  5. Coffee, the miracle drug
  6. One far fierce hour and sweet
  7. Naked Emperors


I found him at a house in Hanover, which turned out to be not his residence but the college-in-hiding, otherwise known as the Martin Institute. It seemed some conservative alumni, recognizing that the barbarians were within the gates of their alma mater, had bought a house in town, brought in Professor Sanft and a few other genuine scholars, and were offering Dartmouth students the courses the college would no longer teach, like the great books of Western civilization.

“What do you think an education is?” he continued.

“Going to college, taking some courses and getting a degree, I guess,” I responded, suspecting this was not the right answer.

“No, that’s just credentialing. It may help you get a job, but it won’t help you, yourself, much beyond that. Do you know what the word ‘education’ means?”

I allowed as I hadn’t thought about that much.

“It’s from the Latin ex, for ‘out’ or ‘beyond,’ plus ducare, to lead. An education leads you out beyond where you were, in terms of your understanding of life, the universe, and everything.

(“Thomas Hobbes,” Victoria: A Novel of 4th Generation War) This isn’t great literature (I’ve put my finger on a few reasons why, I think, and I’m not all that good at it), but I’m enjoying it so far.

Professor Sanft recommends another Dartmouth man’s book, Jeffrey Hart’s Smiling Through The Cultural Catastrophe: Toward the Revival of Higher Education

Hart was long a popular conservative columnist. Come to think of it, he seemed to disappear from “conservative” sources as conservatism became a popular American (hence anti-intellectual) movement, beginning in the Reagan years. That coincided with conservatism morphing from “where the [intellectual] action is” to the ossified populist parody it has become today. Hart never was good at the sort of bloody flag waving that passes for conservatism today.


In town for a lecture a few months ago, David Steiner, professor of education at Johns Hopkins University, claimed that defenders of the humanities are in a “panic.” When he complained about the state of the humanities to his father, the renowned critic George Steiner, George said, “Oh, David, grow up. The humanities have had 23 good centuries. Why are you so greedy all of a sudden? Just because you happened to come along at the end of it all? That’s called bad luck.”

Have we reached “the end of it all?” Can the scattered few join forces?

(David Clemens, announcing the Alliance for Liberal Learning, in a column at National Review)


Legal blogger Popehat thoroughly reamed out a sniveling complainant and a pusillanimous administration at University of Wisconsin – Superior. Wanting to assure the world that Popehat was right about the university’s low standards, a student wrote and upbraided Popehat for “using [names] without … consent and … attack[ing] them on a personal level” while claiming that “the procedure occurred as an attempt of trying to resolve a misconduct between student, which shouldn’t involve the defense of the First Amendment nor Free Speech.”

Popehat decided to address the student pseudonymously, including this:

Mr. Doe, let me be more forthright. I do not believe you have equipped yourself to be an adult citizen in a free society. It is not too late to do so.

I am not suggesting that becoming a responsible adult citizen in a free society requires you to become a conservative or eschew “liberal” or “progressive” values. To the contrary. But becoming a responsible adult citizen — and an effective advocate for liberal or progressive values — requires a quite different approach.

We’re in the middle of a modest conservative backlash and a resurgence of bigotry, both actual and arrested-adolescent-poseur. I believe a large part of this backlash results from the low quality of advocacy for progressive ideas. Much of that advocacy has become characterized by petulant whining and empty dogmatism. The message conveyed by too many of your generation is not that people should adopt progressive ideas because they are right or just, but that they should adopt them because that is what they are supposed to adopt because that is what right-thinking people adopt. That is irritating and ineffectual. Faced with an idea, I don’t expect your generation to confront it. I don’t expect you to explain how it’s wrong, and win hearts and minds that your ideas are better. Rather, I expect you to assert that you should be protected from being exposed to the idea in the first place. That’s disappointing and doesn’t bode well for the success of progressive ideas (many of which I admire) in society. In short: if this is how you’re going to fight for what you think is right, you’re going to lose. Do better.

(Italics added)

As my son and I had just been talking about studies showing that many millennials can’t reason their way out of a wet paper bag (they’re more successful if the bag responds to emotivism), this was timely and, frankly, so gentle of Popehat that I suspect he has read the same studies.


I don’t get “early voting.” Are people afraid they’ll learn something that changes their minds if they don’t hurry up and drive a stake in the ground?


Fantastic news about coffee!

Vasanti Malik, nutrition research scientist at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, says that drinking five cups of that tasty brew has “shown associations with reduced risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and mortality.”

(Amy Knapp) I want to get me some of that “reduced risk for … mortality,” having previously thought it was 100%. That was even used as the major premise of a classic syllogism teaching tool.

(H/T Mrs. Tipsy)


Today, the Orthodox Church remembers Christ’s Entry Into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday, if you prefer).

When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born;

With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
Of all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.

(G.K. Chesteron via Edith M. Humphrey)


Naked Emperors

* * * * *

“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.

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