Christopher Buckley and Dipsomania: Apparently Hard To Let It Go

The writers of great literature often supply us mere mortals with memorable lines, especially if they serve as the openers for their works. Thus, for instance, Tolstoy‘s Taxonomy of the Family, which kicks off Anna Karenina: All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. This serves as raw material for endless variationsContinue reading “Christopher Buckley and Dipsomania: Apparently Hard To Let It Go”

Walter Kaiser on Online Instability vs. Printed Stability

In reviewing the fifteen-volume cataloging of the massive Robert Lehman Collection (‘An Astonishing Record of a Vast Collection‘, New York Review of Books, 7 March 2013), Walter Kaiser writes: Like the collection itself, its impressive catalog may well be the last of its kind–and there aren’t, as I’ve said, very many of its kind to beginContinue reading “Walter Kaiser on Online Instability vs. Printed Stability”

On School Libraries – I

The first school library I can remember using was during my sixth grade. I had transferred schools after the fifth grade, and perhaps because of the trauma of losing my favorite school teacher, some memories of those first five school years seem to have been obliterated. Including the ones about libraries. My new school’s libraryContinue reading “On School Libraries – I”

On Being a ‘Professional Philosopher’

A recent post in The Philosopher’s Magazine blog set me thinking about some of the strictures on being a professional or academic philosopher, which today amount to pretty much the same thing. (I realize this might leave out bioethicists, some of whom do not have the typical duties or work profiles of philosophers that are facultyContinue reading “On Being a ‘Professional Philosopher’”

Dostoyevsky’s Gambler on the French and the Russians

Dostoyevsky‘s The Gambler, contains, like some of his other works, sweeping portraits of character types; in this quasi-autobiographical work, among others, those of a particular nationality. First, then, the gambler, Alexey Ivanovitch, on the French: De Grieux was like all Frenchmen; that is, gay and polite when necessary and profitable to be so, and insufferably tediousContinue reading “Dostoyevsky’s Gambler on the French and the Russians”

Procreating in a World With an Uncertain Future

A few days ago, Aaron Bady asked on Twitter: Do people think about climate change when they think about whether or not to have kids? I m genuinely curious. As might have been expected, this sparked an interesting set of responses. I thought of tweeting a reply, but then decided that I’d rather think aboutContinue reading “Procreating in a World With an Uncertain Future”

‘Racial Weakening’ and the Decline of Ancient Rome

Muslim migration to Europe in recent times, and the resultant presence of large Muslim immigrant communities in several European countries, has often prompted much alarmist commentary ranging from accusations of Fifth Column style betrayal to suggestions that Muslims are incapable of assimilating in any shape, manner or form into ‘European culture.’ The decline of EuropeContinue reading “‘Racial Weakening’ and the Decline of Ancient Rome”

Don’t Tell Me What You Think of Me

Over at the Anxiety blog at The New York Times Tim Kreider gives voice to a common fear, that of finding out what other people really, really think of us: I’ve often thought that the single most devastating cyberattack a diabolical and anarchic mind could design would not be on the military or financial sectorContinue reading “Don’t Tell Me What You Think of Me”

Brawling at Twenty Thousand Feet: The Everest Punchup

The high-altitude slopes of the world’s highest mountain–Mt. Everest–might seem like a strange place to indulge in fisticuffs but that’s precisely what happened on April 27: It takes a lot to rattle Swiss climber Ueli Steck….on April 27, while attempting to climb Mount Everest, it wasn’t the mountain that nearly killed him but a mob ofContinue reading “Brawling at Twenty Thousand Feet: The Everest Punchup”

Kapuściński on Crowds and Revolutions

In his semi-novelistic, semi-journalistic account of the Iranian revolution and the final days of the Shah of Iran, Shah of Shahs, Ryszard Kapuściński, in the closing chapter ‘The Dead Flame’, writes: Everything that makes up the outward, visible part of a revolution vanishes quickly. A person, an individual being, has a thousand ways of conveying hisContinue reading “Kapuściński on Crowds and Revolutions”