In memoriam: Harold Bloom

An academic legend has left us.  Prof. Harold Bloom died earlier this month.  The New York Times offers a lengthy obituary. Professor Bloom was frequently called the most notorious literary critic in America. From a vaunted perch at Yale, he flew in the face of almost every trend in the literary criticism of his day. Chiefly he argued for the literary superiority of the Western giants like Shakespeare, Chaucer and Kafka — all of them white and male, his own critics pointed out — over writers favored by what he called “the School of Resentment,” by which he meant multiculturalists, feminists,

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Money is the problem, not the solution

I noted with some cynicism an article in Rolling Stone titled “Why Can’t California Solve Its Housing Crisis?”  Here’s a brief excerpt. Google recently pledged $1 billion to help ease the Bay Area’s housing crunch — but that sum is only eye-popping until you hear experts explain it would cost $14 billion to execute the company’s vision of building 20,000 homes. Google’s is a well-intentioned gesture, but one that illustrates how the problem facing the Bay Area, and California at large, is much worse than even its brightest minds can comprehend. . . . Four years ago, Liccardo set a

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Tab clearing

Several items have crossed my monitor in recent days and weeks that I haven’t had time to develop into full-length blog articles, but I think are nevertheless worth sharing. 1.  With the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks still fresh in our minds, here are two articles that you might want to bookmark for future reference.  They contain material that’s timeless, and will be useful long into the future, particularly when speaking with people who weren’t even alive when the attacks took place. Images of 9/11: A Visual Remembrance The 9/11 Attacks: Understanding Al-Qaeda and the Domestic Fall-Out from America’s Secret

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The past was another country, indeed

One of the most famous quotations from L. P. Hartley’s novel “The Go-Between” is this: The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there. I’ve been forcibly reminded of that while reading “A Builder of the West:  The life of General William Jackson Palmer” by John S. Fisher, published in 1939. General Palmer (brief biography here) was a Civil War officer, later awarded the Medal of Honor for his battlefield courage.  He was the founder and first President of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad, which has already featured in one of my Ames Archives novels, “Rocky Mountain Retribution“. 

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Social services and prisons: is there a cause-and-effect relationship?

I was struck by two articles, written on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean, that I came across within the past few days.  I think that in isolation, each is self-explanatory;  but when read together, the synergy between them is clear. The first article is from the New York Post, and is titled “Social services used to build character — now they blame society“. “Those who have much to do with plans of human improvement,” [Charles Loring Brace] wrote, “see how superficial and comparatively useless all assistance or organization is which does not touch . . . the inner forces which form

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Restoring marriage

The problems inherent in marriage are discussed in an article at National Review.  The excerpt below highlights many of the issues they discuss, and I’ve highlighted one paragraph in bold, underlined text for further discussion. Who or what is to blame for this unraveling of marriage and the complete breakdown of trust in Rob’s world, and in the world of so many white, working-class people like him? Economic instability is most immediately evident … Less visible but more dramatic is the role of social alienation. At least two generations have now come of age in the aftermath of the divorce revolution, and

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The Z Man sums up the 2020 elections

in his usual inimitable style. The 2020 campaign promises to be Trump running around the country telling his fans about all the winning, while Warren runs around wagging her bony finger at them, telling them about how she has been wronged. It will be the cad versus the nag, largely a fight among white people about how best to go into that dark night. On the one side will be Trump nostalgic for a lost America. On the other will be Warren, haunted by an America that never was. Two characters from a soon to be forgotten past. Neither side will

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“Social and emotional learning” – but by whose standards?

Over at Mad Genius Club this morning, I consider proposals to “establish social and emotional learning as a priority in education”.  I find them rather frightening, to put it mildly.  Here’s an excerpt from that article. My problem is this.  It looks very much as if CASEL is trying to “homogenize” our youth, teaching them the One True Way to deal with life issues, and inculcating a standard set of responses that ignore individuality and “program” them to deal with life, the universe and everything according to whatever approach is politically correct at the moment.  (Read more about it at their

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Understanding the stress on law enforcement officers

We recently learned of the ninth suicide among the ranks of the New York Police Department this year.  That’s a tragic loss, and an unacceptably high number;  but it reflects the stress and tension of the job that police officers do every day.  As City Journal points out: In 2013, researchers published a study in the International Journal of Stress Management, examining the relationship between “critical incidents” and the mental health of police officers. It found that such episodes are associated both with alcohol use and PTSD symptoms. “Critical incidents” include a range of experiences that police officers—among other first responders—might

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Marriage and the “loaf of bread test”

I was pleased to read an Australian article offering a fresh perspective on what makes a good, sound relationship.  It may seem trite, but it echoes what I used to say to couples in marriage counseling (as a pastor) for many years. The Loaf of Bread Test was unwittingly invented by the husband of a friend. He made sandwiches for my friend and himself. There wasn’t much bread left so he made his sandwich with the crusts and gave her the good slices. It was such a tiny gesture — mundane even. It’s not Insta-worthy, you wouldn’t put it on Facebook and

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