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Chuck Bearden
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“Since he had retired from the sea he had been astonished to discover that the educated people were not much better than the others. No one seemed to take any proper pride in his work: from plumbers who were simply thieves to, say, newspaper men (he seemed to think them a specially intellectual class) who never by any chance gave a correct version of the simplest affair. This universal inefficiency of what he called "the shore gang" he ascribed in general to the want of responsibility and to a sense of security.”

– Joseph Conrad (via The Transom of Ben Domenech)

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Remember, things have been worse:

"As fractured as politics are today, it could be worse: consider 1860. A significant chunk of Americans were horrified by the fact that their country was headed in a direction they had not anticipated, and for which they had never offered their approval. I refer, of course, to Northerners opposed to slavery."

“That is what made me believe that revolution was at our door. I saw what would happen to this privileged class, that which always happens when there exists small, exclusive aristocracies. The role of the statesman no longer existed. Corruption increased every day. Intrigue took the place of public virtue, and all deteriorated. Thus, the upper class. And among the lower classes, what was happening? Increasingly detaching themselves both intellectually and emotionally from those whose function it was to lead them, the people at large found themselves naturally inclining towards those who were well-disposed towards them, among whom were dangerous demagogues and ineffectual utopians of the type we ourselves have been occupied with here.” – Alexis de Tocqueville (via The Transom)

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Though I haven't played chess in years, and though I was perhaps a decent player in about 10th grade (declining ever since), I enjoyed this review of a new book about chess:

“a desperately dull opening, for which I would normally give Stephen my slightly more middle-class version of the Alex Ferguson hairdryer treatment, but since he only needed a draw, it was forgivable just this once.”

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“They mocked Reagan, didn’t they?” goes the line, as though being mocked alone were a qualification for high office. This way lies ruin. You can’t build a successful politics on self-conscious intellectualism (or pseudo-­intellectualism) alone, as the Democrats discovered over many painful election cycles. (In Obama, they may have a rare leader who marries the gifts of Reagan and Buckley — though if his administration founders, his hyper-­cerebral side will almost certainly take the blame.) But you can’t build a successful politics on anti-­intellectualism, either, as conservatives learned in 2008 — and may have to learn again and again in years to come.

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“Trump is dismissing actions Putin took threatening neighbors and working against U.S. interests by essentially saying, well, Obama has done a lot of things that were just as bad. This is exactly the type of moral equivalency that conservatives spent decades fighting against — when those on the far left tried to portray the U.S. and Soviet Union as morally the same, or slam U.S. as being the real terrorists in the Middle East. Imagine the reaction on the right if, in 2008, candidate Obama said Hugo Chavez was a great leader, and when confronted with his human rights violations, said, ‘Well you could say the same about what George Bush did in Iraq.’”

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“Russell’s idea [in his celestial teapot argument], I take it, is we don’t really have any evidence against teapotism, but we don’t need any; the absence of evidence is evidence of absence, and is enough to support a-teapotism. We don’t need any positive evidence against it to be justified in a-teapotism; and perhaps the same is true of theism.

“I disagree: Clearly we have a great deal of evidence against teapotism. For example, as far as we know, the only way a teapot could have gotten into orbit around the sun would be if some country with sufficiently developed space-shot capabilities had shot this pot into orbit. No country with such capabilities is sufficiently frivolous to waste its resources by trying to send a teapot into orbit. Furthermore, if some country had done so, it would have been all over the news; we would certainly have heard about it. But we haven’t. And so on. There is plenty of evidence against teapotism. So if, à la Russell, theism is like teapotism, the atheist, to be justified, would (like the a-teapotist) have to have powerful evidence against theism.”

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If you like the blues, this video speaks (sings?) for itself.

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“Eventually some eighteen countries were to fall under Communist rule. In 1999, Time magazine proclaimed Einstein the ‘man of the century’—the person who ‘for better or worse most influenced the last 100 years’—but Einstein did not remotely affect so many lives as Lenin. Bolsheviks were never very good at material inventions, but they excelled at political technology, inventing an entirely new system we call totalitarian. As they say today, it went viral. There is still no vaccine.”
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