Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday miscellaneous (1/25)

Last week we linked to the Notre Dame football player with the fake girlfriend. Before that, there was the fake football team.

Jeffrey Polet examines some evidence that President Obama may be a socialist. What he finds is that Obama is more likely a late-stage capitalist (of the sort Marx warned against).

Back in 2009, one businessman put on an inaugural ball for DC’s homeless. It changed their lives.

And Anthony Esolen continues his critique of our educational methods:

Every encounter with what is good – the chivalry of General Lee, the willing poverty of Mother Teresa, the shy greathearted youth of Alyosha Karamazov – can expand the soul, if we will allow it; which means that it helps to set us free from the compulsions of false goods, which Christians have long grouped under the headings of the seven deadly sins.  Every encounter with beauty – the glint of a simple word in a poem by Herbert, the meditative subtleties of the late Shakespeare, the sweet charm of a ballad by Burns – can expand the soul, if we will allow it; which means that it helps to set us free from the heavy accretions of the drab, the dull, the mean, the spiritually sluggish, the smog of contemporary workaweek life.  Every encounter, not with facticity, but with human truth – Jane Austen deftly revealing how little we know our own motives, Dickens revealing the meaning of “economy” in the cheerful and charitable housekeeping of Esther Summerson, his finest heroine, or the foolish Lear, who is mad and childish and yet “every inch a king” – can expand the soul, if we will allow it; which means that it helps to set us free from the common delusions of our time, the lies we believe and the lies we tell. 
But the Common Core Standards in English Language Et Cetera know nothing of all this.  For the archons, reading is a “skill,” and that is that.  What you read is of no import; only how complex the text is, judged according to various quantitative algorithms and a few subjective check lists that do not touch upon goodness, beauty, or truth.
This week’s cold snap (plus a really bad fire) left some amazing ice sculptures in Chicago.

In an age of disenchantment with political leaders, here’s an encouraging story. In 2011 a reluctant mayor took over San Francisco--and then balanced the budget. If nothing else, it shows the importance of having working relationships with political opponents.

And finally, cats may rule the internet, but this one isn’t quite sure what to do with snow.

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