Zeitgeist

Free thoughts

Vesuvius remains

Reading Time: 4 minutes It’s another day, just another one out of what really is an uncountable succession of days, seems like years, well it is years, but I’m talking days and then I have to do the quick math of figuring for the sake of easy arithmetic that a year is 350 days and it’s like, what? nearly three years, more like two […]

Is Donald Trump Now the Most Trusted Man In America?

Reading Time: 5 minutes Before I get into it, I know the meaning of trust has eroded over the past several decades. The particular admixture of credence, confidence, and faith we invest in certain individuals who earn it – at least among the public – has seen a decline, noted in the first world from the United States to New Zealand. Then there’s the […]

Shorts & Briefs | 10 May 2019 | Deconstructing Facebook

The Culprits in 2004 at Harvard. photo credit: Rick Friedman, © New York Times Company.

Reading Time: 3 minutes I want to recommend for your current events reading today this rather long read, a New York Times opinion piece as part of their Privacy Project, intended for the Sunday Review by the co-founder of Facebook, Chris Hughes (so insinuated into the fledgling company, when it hadn’t quite started to fly, that his name appears on the patent for NewsFeed—but […]

Tom Nichols on The Death of Expertise

Reading Time: 1 minute This essay, printed in “Foreign Affairs,” in their current issue, and extracted from Nichols’s new book, just published is a sobering, yet witty account of a phenomenon long in the making. He adopted an essay that originally appeared in “The Federalist” in 2014 to write the book. So, in a sense the essay is a distillation of a reconstitution of […]

China in Ten Words

Reading Time: 2 minutes Just getting into the book, China in Ten Words, by Yu Hua. Loads of marvelous stuff. Insights not only into China and the culture, but a much broader insight into universal behavior. Some highlights off the top: [the word is “Leader”]: “Historically, emperors have always cut the kind of figure and spoken the kind of language expected of an emperor, […]

About Sam Wang, the PEC, and Nate Silver and 538

Reading Time: 3 minutes Anyone with a serious interest in electoral politics ignores the Princeton Election Consortium and one of its founders, Sam Wang (disclosure: he is the son-in-law of close friends of close friends; the only way I would ever have heard of him, without stumbling on him) and speculates about November at his or her peril. It was because of Sam and […]

Bernie the Cuckoo Woodpecker

William Morris embroidery'Acanthus and Vine' embroidery, designed by William Morris, 1879. Victoria and Albert Museum.

Reading Time: 10 minutes Bernie Sanders, if metaphors must be sought, is an amalagam of two colorful, yet successful, species of birds—neither very good as game for humans, but ingenious at perpetuating their kind. The one, the woodpecker, through dogged unstinting persistence in seeking sustenance bug by bug (or, if you like, vote by vote). And the other, the cuckoo, by the audacious strategy […]

Shorts & Briefs | 29 May 2016

Reading Time: 1 minute 100 years, 70 years, 50… Verdun, Hiroshima, Vietnam… it’s a busy time, and a busy week, for reconciling ourselves to one another on the planet, or doing so ceremoniously. We seem to choose nice round numbers—even decades are best. I reckon in 2066, we’ll be joining hands with Syrians and Iraqis, who include Al Qaeda and Daesh descendants who have […]

Shorts & Briefs | 27 May 2016.2

Reading Time: 1 minute Had I stuck to my original plans for college and med school, I would have nearly been the Doogie Houser of my generation. But it appears this man is of his—turns out he’s 33… I was surprised to see he has an MD (my defective expectations—hence possibly a sign that I am losing my ability to discriminate important social cues), […]

Shorts & Briefs | 23 May 2016

Reading Time: 1 minute From The New Yorker, May 23, 2016; Talk of the Town, “Lily Tomlin” She asked if her interlocutor had two dollars, for the Zoltar fortune-telling machine outside Gem Spa. “Zoltar’s been around a long time,” she said. She fed in the bills, and the machine spat out a yellow ticket. “Is that it?” Tomlin said, rapping on the glass. “What […]

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