We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Thursday, June 29. 2017
I first learned about Feynman from his Feynman Lectures on Physics. This was, and maybe still is, scripture for undergrads curious about Physics. What undergrad is not?
Nobel prize and all that, but what Feynman could do best was to communicate, and he could communicate in humorous, self-deprecating, and humble ways. I believe that he truly believed that he wasn't too smart, just curious and persistent.
Here's Feynman's speech titled What Is Science? delivered to the National Science Teachers Association, 1966, in New York City. He talks a lot about how his father inspired his curiosity. Read it. One quote:
For more fun with Feynman, his bestselling book Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! (Adventures of a Curious Character)
Friday, June 9. 2017
It is difficult to pick out just one quote:
Please read his essay,
Thursday, March 16. 2017
Sunday, January 22. 2017
Tuesday, October 11. 2016
A provocative essay by Michael Lind, subtitled Forget the three R’s. We need the four I’s. A beginning quote:
Friday, September 23. 2016
From David Bromwich's What are we allowed to say?in the London Review of Books:
Friday, July 22. 2016
Voters want self-government back. Magnet begins:
Thursday, January 14. 2016
Myron Magnet summarizes the history of the decay of the US Constitution. Even the founders thought that might be inevitable, given their wisdom about human nature, but they did their best to provide roadblocks. Securing the blessings of liberty (from government, of course) and securing defense from exterior powers...
There is always the excuse of a reason: Security, or To Do Good.
Monday, August 31. 2015
Humans love stories. "Mom, read me/tell me a story." Fiction is/was written for entertainment. Before movies, there was mostly music, theater and fiction. There are well-told stories and poorly-told. There are revelatory stories, life-contaminating stories, and everything in between. There are stories which vary in their demands on the reader.
Wednesday, April 8. 2015
A major essay from a Maggie's hero, Roger Scruton, with a survey of the evolution of the modern university. He begins:
Wednesday, March 4. 2015
Partly because of our temperamental skepticism, and partly from knowing the history of science (consisting of one discarded theory after another), we are interested in thinking about the idea (or is it a religion) of Scientism.
This is a challenging essay, The Folly of Scientism, but worth two or three readings. It begins:
One more quote:
Sunday, October 19. 2014
Sunday, September 7. 2014
Thursday, May 29. 2014
From a brief, important, and depressing essay by David Warren of the above title:
As they say, read the whole thing.
Monday, May 19. 2014
It's a wonder, this internet. Here's a classic, for y'all or for your kids' edumacation: Henry Hazlitt's 1946 Economics in One Lesson.
Thursday, May 1. 2014
From the article:
Wednesday, April 9. 2014
From Eye candy - The pleasure we take in beauty must have been shaped by evolution - but what adaptive advantage did it give us?
I'll give the essay an A- for Effort, but trying to discuss such topics as Truth and Beauty in reductionistic terms is certain to be disappointing in the end. I would argue that the human soul has no adaptive value at all. It's a gift and a curse.
What is the best-adapted and largest class of animals on earth in terms of population, biomass, range, and overall success? Class Insecta. Bugs. Or maybe it's bacteria, but I think I recall that it's bugs. Might have that wrong. It's definitely not the higher apes despite our love of music and our pleasant clothing.
Many bugs make music too.
Monday, March 31. 2014
Saturday, March 1. 2014
It addresses the mystery in science, medicine, economics, predictions, and history. One quote:
Wednesday, January 15. 2014
It's about subjectivity, mainly - being human, and a defense of Nagel in part. The essay is so rich and deadly-serious that it cannot really be taken in in one reading, and it is difficult to select a representative quote so I'll post a random one:
Well, because we derive our metaphors from the world around us. Freud's first metapsychology was modeled on the steam engine. The essay deserves study. Take a Ritalin and dig into it.
Friday, November 29. 2013
Readers are probably slowly recovering from yesterday's feast day in America, but this is very good if you have 5 minutes, by Williamson: The Problem of Selfishness - Political self-interest is no less selfish than economic self-interest.
Presidents, Popes, everything except pumpkin pie. One quote:
Thursday, June 27. 2013
The fact is that the meaning of Higher Ed has changed in the past 100 years in the US. In 1900, around 2% of Americans had BA degrees. That was a meaningful socio-cultural marker, but as the numbers now exceed 35%, and as even the most elite schools do not seem to know what their mission is, it no longer means very much more than a piece of paper required to manage a McDonald's store.
For a couple of decades, as BAs became commonplace, graduate degrees seemed to become more meaningful and popular as markers. Now, however, we are overrun with unemployed and marginally-employed MAs, PhDs, JDs, D. Divs, and MBAs with huge loans and no way to pay them off. And, assuming that MOOCs begin to take off thanks to the internet, there will be far less need for Profs.
Voegli has written a very important essay on the topic: The Higher Education Hustle
Like most of us Maggie's Farmers, I get my education now via a pre-MOOC. If you like to learn, that's what you do. It used to be called The Teaching Company, but now it's called Great Courses. Once you're hooked, you will never waste time on TV or movies again.
Books are good, too. Some students give it up after a paper credential, but some use it as a launching pad for a lifetime of curiosity and intellectual pursuits. In my view, the latter are the only ones deserving of a liberal arts education.
Friday, May 17. 2013
Via Powerline, Prof. Kagan's Yale retirement speech. A fine gentleman.
Wednesday, May 8. 2013
If you have the ambition to energetically create the life you want, clarify your goals, clarify your principles, learn all you can from your errors, be a helpful but tough manager of yourself and of others. It worked for him.
Monday, April 29. 2013
Do not miss this speech - it is fascinating video: The State of White America. It's 60+ info-packed minutes. Murray is like a statistically-armed de Toqueville for our time. I needed to hear it twice. The guy is delightful to listen to.
It's not really about politics, but he does mention American principles, American Exceptionalism, and what is required for a self-governing citizenry. "Self-governing," of course, has a dual meaning.
A lot of it is about class and "social capital" in America.
One quote from him: "The upper middle class seems to be keeping all the good stuff to itself: religion, marriage, morality, civic and social engagement, industriousness, and long work hours..."
Another: "The federal government can be accused of confusing itself with the rooster who believes that his crowing is what makes the sun rise..."
Another: "Marriage civilizes men." (Yes, the gals do try, don't they? And we guys fight back, pathetically, by not shaving on Saturday morning.)
Another useful phrase: "The people who makes things more difficult for their fellow citizens..."
All very interesting and relevant. I don't care much about class, college degrees, or elitism, but I do care about integrity, responsibility, curiosity, industriousness, and a number of other character traits. And of course I do care about traditional American culture and the work ethic. Like Murray, I do not buy into the European "relaxation" ethic and the aspiration for a stress-free life: humans are not cattle, and cannot have dignity or pride without being productive or constructive in whatever ways they can find. Anybody can make themselves useful if they want to.
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