Sunday, September 25, 2016

Corporate Literature: `We're All Waiting' Our Debt to Dr Johnson

Novelists do not write as birds sing, by the push of nature. It is part of the job that there should be much routine and some daily stuff on the level of carpentry.
— William Golding

Our leading writers are inhumanly cool inside Cold River

I see that Geoff Dyer has a new book out. I’m sure it’s brilliantly written, devilishly witty, and as shallow as a mirror. He sums up, for me, the literature of today. The most critically lauded writers of our day are writers of stylish non-fiction. Or of fiction that looks like non-fiction, that presents itself as the author’s rambling musings. You see, the author is too charmingly laid-back to structure his work around anything. He’s too busy being a flaneur, or in Dyer’s updating of the concept, a slacker Our leading writers are inhumanly cool 

“The majority of law students still meet the ABA’s upper-level writing requirement using a piece of scholarly legal writing. Despite this, most students receive little-to-no formal scholarly research and writing instruction ...Drake, Alyson, You Can’t Write Without Research: The Role of Research Instruction in the Upper-Level Writing Requirement (2016). Available for download at SSRN:

Corporate Welfare: Taxpayers Subsidized Wells Fargo Executive Pay Amid Bank's Fraud

Police said the criminals, who targeted Lloyds and RBS business banking customers, made between £1 million and £2 million a week at its peak and operated like a nine-to-five business Fraudsters made £113m by cold-calling bank customers and stealing their money to fund their luxury lifestyle

There are hundreds of thousands of ways to fail at being a successful media dragon blogger, but very few ways to be successful...

 Our Debt to Dr Johnson | History Today

For this we can be endlessly grateful because his more than 400 essays in the Rambler, Idler and Adventurer – psychological, literary, political, social, ethical, and religious – encourage us to take a good hard look at ourselves, to think who we are, how we are responding to the world around us, how we have arrived where we are and where we are heading.
On creepiness. Clowns, tax collectors, taxidermists, and funeral directors: We think they're odd — but why? Perhaps they pose a threat. Or perhaps they simply transgress the - natural order 

KultureFest: And the Oscars (for federal employees) go to ...
The FBI’s chief bomb expert, a Secret Service cyber-investigator, and the developer of a life-saving medical computer are among the honorees of annual awards for government service known as the

Sammies. A team that helped reduce medical errors in hospitals, a leader in energy efficiency policies and standards, lawyers who secured a record-breaking settlement after a massive oil spill -- these are some of the civil servants who will be honored Tuesday for their outstanding work. The eight Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals, otherwise known as the "Sammies," are the Oscars of government service, and the program run by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service celebrates its 15th anniversary this year The Oscars, But for Federal Employees

Against happiness The Economist. True fact: Zappos has a chief happiness officer.
Other than the military, federal employees aren’t often celebrated.

Political candidates dismiss them as overpaid, paper-pushing bureaucrats. They make headlines mostly when something goes wrong—a major health insurance website failing to function, or senior managers spending too lavishly on the public dime. When Congress needs to slash the budget in a pinch, federal employee salary and benefits are frequently the first things it tries to cut. Candidates

Attorney-General calls for more data sharing


`We're All Waiting'

“People only laugh at what's funny or what they don't understand. Take your choice.”
The writer at age twenty-six is already a shrewd judge of human folly, though his observation is not definitive. People laugh at terrible things no one judges conventionally funny, including pain, humiliation and death. Thus, we laugh at Falstaff, Uncle Toby, Buster Keaton and Beckett (“Nothing is funnier than unhappiness, I grant you that . . .”). The writer, Anton Chekhov, was already a mordantly funny writer on the way to becoming a profound one. But here, in March 1886, he is writing to his older brother Nikolai, a painter and drunk who as a child showed great artistic promise. Go here to view Nikolai’s portrait of Anton, who addresses his letter to “Dear Zabelin.” The editors of Letters of Anton Chekhov (trans. Michael Henry Heim and Simon Karlinsky, 1973) identify Zabelin as “the name of the Zvenigorod town drunk.” In his nuanced letter, Chekhov is alternately harsh, jovial, encouraging and archly funny.  He tells Nikolay “you are no riddle to me” and
“. . . and it is also true that you can be wildly ridiculous. You're nothing but an ordinary mortal, and we mortals are enigmatic only when we're stupid, and we're ridiculous forty-eight weeks of the year. Isn't that so?”
In the Chekhov family soap opera we can already discern the outline of “A Boring Story” (1889). Chekhov lists eight qualities of “well-bred” people, including: “They respect the individual and are therefore always indulgent, gentle, polite and compliant. They do not throw a tantrum over a hammer or a lost eraser.” What Chekhov describes is the opposite of the alcoholic personality, with its touchiness, self-pity, resentment and all-around self-obsession. The drunk, dedicated to getting his way, forever sabotages his strivings and blames it all on others. Anton’s mingled scolding and pleading at the conclusion of his letter will be familiar to anyone who has lived with an alcoholic:
“Trips back and forth to Yakimanka Street [where the Chekhov family lived] won’t help. You’ve got to drop your old way of life and make a clean break. Come home. Smash your vodka bottle, lie down on the couch and pick up a book. You might even give Turgenev a try. You’ve never read him.
“You must swallow your pride. You’re no longer a child. You’ll be thirty soon. It’s high time!
“I'm waiting . . . We’re all waiting . . .”

Nikolai was dead three years later of tuberculosis aggravated by alcoholism, at age thirty-one. The same disease would kill his little brother at age forty-four.

  `We're All Waiting' 


  Ursula K. Le Guin: How I Started Writing


 Safe spaces are not the only threat to free speech | Timothy Garton Ash | Opinion | The Guardian.

Here, anyone who believes that free speech is vital to a university must draw the line. For what these student activists are claiming when they insist that, for example, Germaine Greer may not speak on a particular campus (because of her view that a woman is not “a man without a cock”), is that one group of students has the right to prevent another group of students hearing a speaker whom the second group actually wants to hear. Such no-platforming is, in effect, student-on-student censorship. It is an abuse of language to suggest that anyone can seriously be “unsafe” because someone whose views they find offensive or upsetting is speaking in a room on the other side of campus.

  … The Devil and Whittaker Chambers | Francis P. Sempa | First Things.

Instead of destroying man by seducing him to do evil, the Devil’s strategy was to destroy man by seducing him through good. The best way to accomplish that was to send Hell underground, persuade man that Satan does not exist, and in the name of Science and Progress remove God from the center of creation and the universe. Without God, there was no absolute standard of conduct. What followed was the terror of the French Revolution; industrial oppression of men, women, and children; the horrors of communism; world wars and the use of science for greater destructiveness, culminating in atomic weapons. “I have brought man to the point of intellectual pride,” boasted the Devil, “where self-extermination lies within his power.”