Daily Office:
Monday, 18 October 2010


¶ Justin E H Smith argues passionately for the centrality of foreign-language study in the humanities curriculum. In our view, language makes the difference between true education and hot air.


¶ HTMLGiant‘s Kyle Minor is in town, where he spent a chunk of time at the IFC, watching Olivier Assayas’s Carlos. At 5 hours 19 minutes runtime, the Roadshow Edition of this film calls for serious intestinal fortitude, which is why we’re grateful for Kyle’s report, which also serves to remind us how much political orientations have changed since we were his age.


¶ Maybe the practice of economics will be truly scientific some day, but two pieces in the Times over the weekend show where the difficulty of attaining true predictability lies: in economists’ very imperfect understanding of human nature — namely their own, as reflected in philosophical bias. First, in a piece on income inequality, Robert Frank reminds us how far economists have wandered from Adam Smith‘s fundamental concern for moral sentiments. Then, the tile of David Segal’s “The X-Factor of Economics: People” tells you where he’s going.


¶ Chris Mooney picked up Sam Harris’s new book, and found that it repeated an objection to Mr Mooney’s “accommodationism” to which the blogger had responded before at The Intersection. We take Mr  Mooney’s part in this important discussion, which pits intellectual principles against respect for different views.


¶ At 1904, our friend George Snyder wonders, improbably we should have thought, if he is turning into his old man. He probably thought that it was improbable as well. If you live long enough, though, life does begin to look like the Princesse de Guermantes reception — minus the footmen and the goodies and mirrors and the feathers.


¶ Michael Pettis, an associate of the Carnegie Asia Program in Beijing, advances a modest proposal: instead of buying Treasuries, China ought to fund the rehabiliation of United States infrastructure. (via Humble Student of the Markets)


¶ Alexander Chee proffers the syllabus for his graphic fiction course at Amherst — and explains why he did not offer the two-semester expansion that he’d have had no trouble filling.


¶ At The Awl, Mike Barthel’s engagine reflections on “Bully Crisis 2010,” wherein he asks, “What do we do with the assholes?”

Have A Look

Planet Berlin. (Strange Maps)

¶ Lisa Breslow’s Urban Silences; Tom Wizon’s Homespun Peregrinations. (ArtCat)

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