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Showing posts from 2021

Early education seems to improve social and emotional skills later in life, study finds

David Leonhardt writes for the The New York Times in "The Morning Newsletter," 10 May 2021, that "the results from the Boston pre-K study" are " being released this morning by three economists, from the University of Chicago, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California, Berkeley." It's the result of a long-term observation of some students who, at age 4 in the late 1990s, were randomly chosen to attend a pre-kindergarten program in Boston. The study found that, while those who attended pre-K "did not do noticeably better on standardized tests in elementary school, middle school or high school...More important than the scores are concrete measures of a student’s well-being. And by those measures, the students who won the lottery fared substantially better than those who lost it." Leonhardt writes that thoe who won the lottery and thus were able to attend pre-K were less likely to be suspended in high sch

On the attacks against trans girls in sports

The "mostly White male state legislators," Kevin B. Blackstone says in an April 18, 2021 column for the Washington Post , are "writing and passing retrograde bills against trans youth athletes" and "found the gall to couch these discriminatory laws in words such as 'fairness,' just as they have done with restrictive voting rules they envelop with words such as 'integrity.'" Yet: "There is nothing fair or honorable about these efforts. They are nothing more than malicious." The Alabama bill, deceptively titled the Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act, would criminalize filling a prescription for puberty-blocking medication or hormones for kids under 19 . And when the Associated Press queried lawmakers in many of these states who are drafting and passing these anti-trans youth sports bills, those legislators struggled to name an instance where trans youth athletes created a problem . Thus: The anti-trans youth athle

It would be OK if someone gave me these books for my birthday

Or, if you do not know me but you know someone else who is having a birthday, they'd probably like these books, too. The links go to Bookshop. Some people asked me for my current priority list, so, here they are. Nonfiction Matthew Salesses,  Craft in the Real World: Rethinking Fiction Writing and Workshopping Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey Into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred Robert D. Richardson,  First we read, then we write Laraine Herring,  The Writing Warrior: Discovering the Courage to Free Your True Voice Samantha Irby,  Wow, No Thank You Lulu Miller, Why Fish Don’t Exist Jonathan Ree, Witcraft: The Invention of Philosophy in English Sarah Parcak, Archaeology from Space Samantha Allen, Real Queer America: LGBT Stories From Red States Fiction Callum Angus,  A Natural History of Transition Ilana Masad, All My Mother's Lovers Rebecca Roanhorse, Black Sun   |   NPR Chelsea Bieker, Godshot Bogi Takács, The Trans Space Octopus Congregat

Andrew Marvell: In Eunuchum Poetam (a 17th-century poem)

A scan of The Complete Works in Verse and Prose of Andrew Marvell: Verse. Andrew Marvell lived 1621-1678. Marvell is saying that the eunuch will become famous through his poems, which will substitute for the children he will never have. The eunuch isn't "barren" insofar as he uses his "verse" to impregnate "fame," and his poems will be repeated ("Echo nurse..."), becoming "a tuneful race." IN EUNUCHUM POETAM: Nec sterilem te crede, licet mulieribus exul / Falcem virgineae nequeas immittere messi, / Et nostro peccare modo. Tibi fama perenne / Praegnabit, rapiesque novem de monte sorores, / Et pariet modulos Echo repetita nepotes. Translation. UPON A EUNUCH-POET. Deem not that thou art barren, though, forlorn, / Thou plunge no sickle in the virgin corn, / And, mateless, hast no part in our sweet curse. / Fame shall be ever pregnant by thy verse; / The vocal Sisters nine thou shalt embrace, / And Echo nurse thy words, a tune

On our ability to know how we think and change how we think

We can't change how others think. "The only book that can actually teach you how to change how others think is a lobotomy manual," wrote Bennett and Bennett. So why would we be able to control how we ourselves think? "You are the one who decides," wrote Anthony Robbins, "how to feel and act based upon the ways you choose to perceive your life. Nothing has any meaning except the meaning we give it. Most of us have turned this process of interpretation on automatic, but we can take that power back and immediately change our experience of the world. * * * You can run your brain as skillfully as Spielberg or Scorsese runs his set." I think that this is not true. Probably we cannot run our brains as a director runs a stage performance. And yet, we can surely influence how we think. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi made a more qualified statement. Because we can only absorb a finite amount of information, "the information we allow into consciousness bec

Quotes: Learning from people who are different

Without stealing or unfairly/inexpertly appropriating ideas from each other, we can learn from each other. Two reflections on this: “The Jew can teach the Indian a lot about how to survive as a people and as a culture while being uprooted from one’s homeland, and against the odds of genocide and forceful proselytizing campaigns perpetrated by dominant religions and cultures. The Indian can teach the Jew a lot about what the Jew has lost at the expense of centuries of survival consciousness and uprootedness from connection to the land, information that is far more fresh in the ways of the Indians than it is in the ways of contemporary Jews.” Gershon Winkler. Magic of the Ordinary: Recovering the Shamanic in Judaism. Berkeley, Calif.: North Atlantic Books, 2003. p. xx. "Sufi mystics were renowned for their poetic testimonies to a paradigm of self-annihilation (fana) followed by a return to the glorious ‘subsistence’ (baqa) of everyday life. And similar notions, I believe, ar

What are friends for? Some quotes on friendship.

Let's brainstorm a few purposes for which friends are for! To provide something you want (e.g. cocaine, secretarial skills, chocolate) "In The Americanization of Narcissism, Elizabeth Lunbeck explains that Freud wrote his book on Leonardo during the climax and dissolution of one of the most important relationships in his life, an intensely intimate friendship with Wilhelm Fliess, an ear, nose, and throat doctor who was, for some time, Freud’s coke dealer. Beyond that, the exact nature of their intimacy is a matter of debate. The two exchanged hundreds of letters; Freud’s friends thought Fliess a fraud and a charlatan. * * * Freud traveled with another close friend, the psychoanalyst Sándor Ferenczi, to Sicily, a trip that both seemed to have highly anticipated. Despite having sent dozens of passionate letters to Ferenczi in anticipation of the trip, however, once they arrived in Italy, Freud reversed course, treating Ferenczi as his secretary, suddenly more intereste

Quotes on friendship, especially political friendship

Danielle Allen describes the similarities between friendship and democracy. "Friendship is not an emotion, but a practice," she says, "a set of hard-won, complicated habits that are used to bridge trouble, difficulty, and differences of personality, experience, and aspiration." Friends have "a shared life...with common events, climates, built-environments, fixations of the imagination, and social structures." And so, too, democracy. Each of us has "an individual perspective on a set of phenomena relevant to all. Some live behind one veil, and others behind another, but the air that we all breathe carries the same gases and pollens through those veils. More important, our shared elements (events, climates, environments, imaginative fixations, economic conditions, and social structures), when considered at the political rather than the private level, are made out of the combination of all our interactions with each other." Think about the histo

Insights emerging from a strange actor in the US Capitol riot: How some people believe rights and responsibility work

One of the stranger and yet most revealing comments about ethics I have personally seen has appeared in the context of the riot at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. Richard Barnett, 60, from Gravette, Arkansas, is one of the people who stormed the U.S. Capitol. He entered the office suite of Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and sat at a desk full of papers, a computer, and a telephone. In one photo attributed to photojournalist Jim Lo Scalzo , Barnett gleefully holds up an envelope with Nancy Pelosi's name in the return corner and a typed address for Republican Rep. Billy Long. Barnett removed the envelope from Pelosi's office, replacing it with a coin. [This photo is by Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock and was published by the New York Post . ] As described by the New York Post : New York Times reporter Matthew Rosenberg interviewed Barnett and posted video of the interview to Twitter. In that interview, Barnett maintained: “I didn’t s

The eunuch ambassador in 'The King at the Edge of the World' by Arthur Phillips

The eunuch here is a supporting character (though one who instigates the main character's life conflict) and does not even have a name. The eunuch — originally “born a Christian in Portugal," captured at the age of 11, and converted to Islam — is the ambassador sent by Ottoman Sultan Murad the Great in 1591 to spend several months negotiating with the Queen of England. “He carried for the island’s sultana [a.k.a the Queen of England], among many other gifts, a pair of lions, a scimitar, a unicorn’s horn, and ten English pirates captured by Turkish sailors," so he was "welcomed to London by a torchlight parade through the gawping crowds near St. Lawrence Jewry church, winding to the large house where they would live for five months before returning to Constantinople.” The envoys spent months in negotiations with the English “in matters of sea-lanes and free overland passages, the exchange of captured pirates/sailors, various immunities and protections for Englishmen