Notes from the book, A Short History of Almost Everything We know surprisingly little about what lies beneath our feet. We have been building Fords longer than we have known that the continents drift. Before he died Einstein mocked the very idea. The consensus of the scientific community was that the continents did not [more …]
From the book, World Order by Henry Kissinger The Thirty Years War [Cardinal] Richelieu saw the turmoil in Central Europe not as a call to arms to defend the Church but as a means to check imperial Hapsburg preeminence. Though France’s King had been styled as the Rex Catholicissimus, or the “Most Catholic King,” since [more …]
She had said – what exactly? Something about her ghost heart. Strange words he thought. What does it mean to have a ghost heart? A ghostly ghost heart. She sounded like a folk song.
“Oh, my heart, my poor murdered heart,
Why won’t you die, my haunted ghost heart?”
He began to wonder at her with his grey unblinking eyes. And his wondering was an inexhaustible conversation that ran to the very horizon of himself, winding deep and long to the disappeared edge of his being.
The two girls never seemed to put their phones down all through lunch. When their food arrived, they both took a photo of their plates before they started eating. One girl even showed the other one the photo she took of the food which was still sitting untouched on the table. Fascinating creatures, he thought. [more …]
The Deluge by Adam Tooze This book, written by an economist, offers an interesting analysis of of the period from 1916 to the Great Depression. Tooze picks an interesting moment to begin the book – 1916, The Battle of Verdun, the moment the money ran out for the Allies and America became the world’s banker (NY [more …]
Wikipedia: “The Dreyfus affair was a political scandal that divided France from its beginning in 1894 until it was finally resolved in 1906. The affair is often seen as a modern and universal symbol of injustice, and remains one of the most striking examples of a complex miscarriage of justice, where a major role was [more …]
Excerpts from the book, “So We Read On” by Maureen Corrigan. A Magnificent Yearning The Great Gatsby is one of the first modern novels to look squarely at the void, yet it stops short of taking a flying leap. Blame the lingering influences of Fitzgerald’s lapsed Catholicism and romantic bent of his sensibilities. Fitzgerald’s favorite [more …]
Human beings are most mobilized when we have enemies. Just look at novels. Look at the news. No one’s interested in happy, good-feeling cooperative things. What really drives interest and passion is competition and conflict. So the question is, can we actually lessen conflict without having enemies?
Well, I went to the University of Virginia and the University of Michigan and I posed this to, you know, foreign policy people. I said, “So what would you suggest?” It’s fascinating. They all come with data-driven, evidence-based arguments for what’s wrong and what we should do. I sort of said, “Look, guys, that’s not going to work. First of all, outside of the Academy, people are not interested in evidence and data or even truth. People are interested in persuading, in victory, and confirming what they believe in or love. Second, you haven’t addressed any of the emotional aspects of this which really drive people — revenge, revenge and fear. You haven’t even touched on those.
The phrase “objective moral truth” has always puzzled me. Does this mean the same things as “universal moral truth”? The two terms seem quite different to me. Objective truth seems to mean something which is true even in the absence of the “I” of the conscious person (i.e. a “subject”). To speak of objective morality [more …]
It’s not true that all wars are fought in the name of religion, as some atheists assert. Of 1,723 armed conflicts documented in the three-volume “Encyclopedia of Wars,” only 123, or less than 7 percent, involved a religious cause. Hitler’s genocide, Stalin’s bloody purges and Pol Pot’s mass murders certainly make the case that state-sanctioned killings do not need the invocation of a higher power to succeed.
“Why is Egypt so much poorer than the United States?” The authors argue that the dominant view held by economists is too narrow, namely they claim it is too narrow a view that “the rulers of Egypt simply don’t know what is needed to make their country prosperous, and have followed incorrect policies and strategies in the past. If these rulers would only get the right advice from the right advisers, the thinking goes, prosperity would follow.”
The whole poem has been moving toward this duel between the two champions, but there has never been any doubt the outcome. The husband and father, the beloved protector of his people, the man who stands for the civilized values of the rich city, its social and religious institutions, will go down to defeat at the hands of this man who has no family, who in a private quarrel has caused the death of many of his own fellow soldiers, who now in a private quarrel thinks only of revenge, though that revenge, as he well knows, is the immediate prelude to his own death.
Monetarily, what came out of Bretton Woods was a dollars for gold system. The dollars for gold system was very beneficial for the US because it placed the dollar in a unique, privileged position in relation to gold and the world economy. But deficit spending during the Vietnam War undermined the dollar and there was a run on US gold reserves which forced Nixon to bring the dollars for gold system to a sudden, dramatic end in August of 1971. Bretton Woods was officially over. It had lasted just shy of 30 years.
“He had discovered mankind’s tragedy: that it can draw the blueprint of goodness but it cannot live up to them.” – The Proud Tower “How small of all that human hearts endure That part which laws or kings can cause or cure!” – Samuel Johnson “No laws, however stringent, can make the idle industrious, the [more …]
In the late nineteenth century a wave of bombings and assassinations swept the civilized world. By the time of The Great War several heads of state had been taken by assassins devoted to the idea of bringing about a world without government, by violently removing it.
“It is no great thing to associate with the good and gentle, for such association is naturally pleasing. Everyone enjoys a peaceful life and prefers persons of congenial habits. But to be able to live at peace with harsh and perverse men, or with the undisciplined and those who irritate us, is a great grace, [more …]
As I go over chapter IV more thoroughly, so many avenues of philosophical inquiry open up and I know these would be distractions but I still have to make note of them as I work my way through my “mental furniture.” To mention just one, at the very end of his section on Profession as [more …]
“To the child who is learning how to swim we explain that because of natural laws there is no reason to be afraid, and if he will only make a few simple movements he will be able to swim. But the child is perhaps still afraid. He shrinks back, and does not seem to believe [more …]
Another example of physics as geometry.
“Meditation is above all a quest. The mind seeks to understand the why and how of the Christian life, in order to adhere and respond to what the Lord is asking.”
The king hath brought me into his chambers;
[…] He brought me to the banqueting house,
and his banner over me was love.
They said, “We see plainly the Lord has been with you.
[…] So he made them a feast, and they ate and drank.”
Some therefore think religion is unreasonable, but is this true? Religious knowledge cannot be imparted like other information, simply by scanning the sacred page. And so it is said that religious experience transcends reason, not in the sense of being unreasonable, but that such experience is not a product of reason. Just as reason does [more …]
These are my notes from reading Churchill’s “History of English Speaking Peoples” and other histories of “Brettaniai” as the Greek merchant and explorer Pytheas named the island when he landed in 325 BC. I will be coming back to this page to fill in the gaps and flush out my learning, but for now I am tracing bloodlines…
http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/magazine/ray-monk-wittgenstein/ Philosophy, he writes, “is not a theory but an activity.” It strives, not after scientific truth, but after conceptual clarity. How does one demonstrate an understanding of a piece of music? Well, perhaps by playing it expressively, or by using the right sort of metaphors to describe it. And how does one [more …]
What is it in us that seeks the truth? Why do we seek the truth? How do we find the truth? What is the truth? … According to the Catholic Church, the search for truth – the desire for truth, beauty, justice – is the very presence of God and this desire is what connects man to God and the things of this world to heaven.
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
– Mary Oliver