I am cleaning out my book bag… finally getting to some articles I’ve put off for far to long… and I run across this gem:
In Rome, for the first time in my life, I felt surrounded by speaking water. What trees are to Paris, fountains are to Rome. They are the vertical or angled jets, wreathing, bubbling, full of life, which give measurement to the city. In other places fountains are special events, but in Rome they are simply part of the vernacular of civic life; you notice them, you see them as exceptions to the surfaces of stone or brick, but it seems that they are there to be breathed, not just seen. In the center of the great city one is always aware, if only subliminally, of the presence of water.
The fountain is, in its very essence, an artificial thing, both liquid-formless-and shaped; but the jets of Bernini’s Piazza Navona, glittering in the sun, mediate with an almost incredible beauty and generosity between Nature and culture. Thanks to its fountains–but not only to them–the Roman cityscape constantly gives you more than you expect or feel entitled to as a visitor or, presumably, a citizen. What did I do to deserve this? And the answer seems ridiculously simple: I am human, and I came here.
This is the sort of literary criticism that makes me want to blog… kudos to you Mr. Ferguson:
Mr. Friedman can turn a phrase into cliché faster than any Madison Avenue jingle writer. He announces that “America declared war on math and physics.” Three paragraphs later, we learn that we’re “waging war on math and physics.” Three sentences later: “We went to war against math and physics.” And onto the next page: “We need a systemic response to both our math and physics challenges, not a war on both.” Three sentences later: We must “reverse the damage we have done by making war on both math and physics,” because, we learn two sentences later, soon the war on terror “won’t seem nearly as important as the wars we waged against physics and math.” He must think we’re idiots.
and then there’s also this:
If the authors’ frustration is unoriginal and ill-defined, their optimism is terrifying. America will rebound—we will become the us that we used to be again, you might say and Mr. Friedman does—when we regain our ability to do “big things” through “collective action.” Collective action is a phrase that means “the federal government.” Among the big things that we will do are rework American industry, through regulation and taxation, to drastically cut carbon emissions. Another one of our big things is a big increase in the gasoline tax. We will also impose on us a new big carbon tax. We will use revenues to create a “clean energy” industry with millions of “green jobs” like the ones that were eliminated earlier this month at Solyndra. Readers will wonder, like the early environmentalist Tonto, “What do you mean ‘we,’ kemo sabe?”
via Book Review: That Used to Be Us – WSJ.com.
Whatever else you do today… don’t forget to read James Taranto’s piece on the latest New York Times editorial decisions:
“In my house growing up, The Times substituted for religion,” Jill Abramson told the New York Times yesterday upon being designated the paper’s new executive editor. “If The Times said it, it was the absolute truth.”
This quote prompted blogress Ann Althouse, who is a much nicer person than we are, to contemplation:
Let’s analyze the analogy. A newspaper is like religion, believed in, and taken, unquestioningly, as true. Then what happens when you are in charge of it?
1. You have a deep moral obligation to insure that it is absolutely true, to respect the faith that others put in it and to preserve and grow the community of believers because of your dedication to truth, or…
2. You are embedded in the faith, carrying on the commitment to the idea that it is the truth and impressing that faith that it is the truth on readers, so that they keep looking to you as the mouthpiece of truth and don’t go wandering off looking for some other viewpoints.
It could be #1 or #2 or both or neither.
So, which is it?
via All the News That’s Fit to Scrub – WSJ.com.
It doesn’t get much better than this folks: Lord of the Rings as remembered by the orcs:
[T]here’s two sides to every story, or to quote a less banal maxim, history is written by the winners.[I don't know why I find this really funny but I do] That’s the philosophy behind “The Last Ringbearer,” a novel set during and after the end of the War of the Ring (the climactic battle at the end of “The Lord of the Rings”) and told from the point of view of the losers…
[T]he wizard Gandalf is a war-monger intent on crushing the scientific and technological initiative of Mordor and its southern allies…
Barad-dur, also known as the Dark Tower and Sauron’s citadel, is, by contrast, described as “that amazing city of alchemists and poets, mechanics and astronomers, philosophers and physicians, the heart of the only civilization in Middle-earth to bet on rational knowledge and bravely pitch its barely adolescent technology against ancient magic.”…
Sauron passes a “universal literacy law,” while the shield maiden Eowyn has been raised illiterate, “like most of Rohan’s elite” — good guys Tolkien based on his beloved Anglo-Saxons.
This should be a great read…
via Middle-earth according to Mordor – Laura Miller – Salon.com.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy isn’t in the diplomatic mood. I must say, I liked Sarcozy when he spoke to Congress a few years back and this is all good stuff he’s saying now:
PARIS (AFP) – French President Nicolas Sarkozy declared Thursday that multiculturalism had failed, joining a growing number of world leaders or ex-leaders who have condemned it.
“My answer is clearly yes, it is a failure,” he said in a television interview…
“If you come to France, you accept to melt into a single community, which is the national community, and if you do not want to accept that, you cannot be welcome in France,”
“We have been too concerned about the identity of the person who was arriving and not enough about the identity of the country that was receiving him”
I think that last quote really sums up what Europe is realizing: pluralism can be a good thing… but not if it undermines ones own culture or creates distinct, incompatible social norms.
via Multiculturalism has failed, says French president – Yahoo! News.
Great quote from the WSJ:
“Whenever you find something described as authentic, you know that you are already in the realm of fake authenticity,” says Andrew Potter in his recent book “The Authenticity Hoax.” It’s not unlike the “right stuff” Tom Wolfe described: No fighter pilot who had that elusive quality would ever think to say so. “Authenticity is like authority or charisma,” Mr. Potter writes. “If you have to tell people you have it, then you probably don’t.”
via ‘Fake Authenticity’ for Sale | Postmodern Times by Eric Felten – WSJ.com.
John Steele Gordon has a great article re-inforcing why I never read the New York Times.
[T]his may be a tipping point in Krugman’s disgraceful career as a columnist. For one thing, he is intellectually lazy and seems to operate on the principle that a Krugman assertion is, ipso facto, an established fact. He rarely buttresses his assertions with evidence. His one bit of evidence that ”eliminationist rhetoric” in American political life is overwhelmingly on the right was to quote Rep. Michelle Bachmann as saying that people who oppose the Obama agenda should be “armed and dangerous.”
Far worse, however, he is intellectually dishonest. Even the Times’s first public editor, Daniel Okrent, said that Krugman has a “disturbing habit of shaping, slicing and selectively citing numbers in a fashion that pleases his acolytes but leaves him open to substantive assaults.” He is no less cavalier with quotes. As John Hinderacker at Power Line shows, complete with a recording of the entire interview, Michelle Bachmann was merely using a metaphor. She was holding a town hall meeting with constituents regarding the cap-and-trade bill and said, “I’m going to have materials for people when they leave. I want people armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax, because we need to fight back.” She was arming them with information, not bullets, so they could successfully oppose a terrible bill, not shoot politicians…
I hope that Krugman’s column on Monday, when he shamelessly used a tragedy to smear his political opponents, will be his have-you-no-decency-sir moment. He deserves one. He is the Joe McCarthy of our times.