Saturday, August 14, 2010

Best of January 2007

I was fully involved in my Cultural Tribes series. I don't generally link to something from any extended series in my "best ofs," but I do here. It was a literary month.

Permission To Not Understand Shakespeare. I would like to thank linguist John McWhorter for his permission to not understand Shakespeare, and will pass it on to you. McWhorter has far better credentials than mine, and he doesn't get it either.

Pedantic Language Lesson

The Science & Technology Tribe in humor Who does make fun of themselves? It is usually a marker of emotional balance.

Though I would write it differently now, I still like to reprint The Big Bad Three. When editorialists and online commenters want to illustrate for you how bad Christianity is, and how much it has contributed to the misery of man, there are three examples that are trotted out: the Salem Witch Trials, the Inquisition, and the Crusades. Keep in mind...

How Shall The Country Be Run? A longer piece, not so much fun, focusing on great changes in framing resulting from subtle changes in how a question is asked.

After the 2006 elections, I asked for a do-over on the basis of deceptive campaigning by Democrats. Rather pertinent for 2010.

Understanding Conspiracies by looking for blue hats.

Four book discussions: one of playwright Sir James Barrie's The Old Lady Shows Her Medals, using his wonderful dialogue of charwomen discussing WWI as a jumping-off point to contemplate current discussions. I keep hoping for a Barrie revival of something other than Peter Pan. (Which I also liked. I played Nana the dog.)

two I liked - Greg Easterbrook's The Progress Paradox, How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse.
For the first 80 pages, Easterbrook hammers home how much better life keeps getting. Each cynic wants to deny it, searching for exceptions in education or international relations, but the list is impressive, and its supporting evidence powerful.
and John McWhorter's The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Languages.

and one I thought ludicrous - Holyoke: The Belle Skinner Legacy by Jack Dunn. A sample of that book...
Knowing that George Bush and his administrators had never, and would never in the future, consider adhering to any of these [Just War] conditions, Maggie nearly burst into tears too. She suspected that Bush and company did not have the ability to understand complex matter.
Can you imagine Sir James Barrie writing such tripe? (Never mind Shakespeare)

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