Links from the last week (April 2, 2018)

1. Review: The Martian Chronicles

I finished The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury.  Fun book, you should read, parts that will provoke you to some good thinking too.  Have one of the more serious excerpts from this book of fiction:

We lost our faith and went around wondering what life was for. If art was no more than a frustrated outflinging of desire, if religion was no more than self-delusion, what good was life? Faith had always given us answers to all things. But it all went down the drain with Freud and Darwin. We were and still are a lost people.

2. Neat new national transit database

I like numbers.  Found this via an article that mentioned the Detroit People Mover is losing $9.89 per ride.  Things are rosier here in Lansing – bus rides have a real cost of $3.49 per trip, fares cover $0.61.

3. The Secular Benedict Option

Interesting article where Nick Phillips comments upon the twin concerns of disconnected, “expressive individualism” and, I think he would say the greater threat, of technology.  Obviously you don’t have to be a Christian to wonder if something dark lies at the end of those roads.

So we can be forgiven for looking into the future and feeling less than sanguine. People who caricature this pessimism as neo-Luddism are nuts. We are currently engaged in a massive species-wide experiment in the re-ordering of our social cognition. We lived in one way for 99.99 percent of human history, and now, for the first time, we live in a different way. Every new development is unprecedented, and the pace of change is quickening. Our ability to predict the future based on the success of past technology is literally nonexistent.

4. Tolkien’s Often Missed Reference to Good Friday in The Lord of the Rings

…Tom Shippey writes, “No one any longer celebrates the twenty-fifth of March, and Tolkien’s point is accordingly missed, as I think he intended. He inserted it only as a kind of signature, a personal mark of piety. However, as he knew perfectly well, in old English tradition, 25th March is the date of the Crucifixion, of the first Good Friday. As Good Friday is celebrated on a different day each year, Easter being a mobile date defined by the phases of the moon, the connection has been lost, except for one thing. In Gondor the New Year will always begin on 25th March . . . One might note that in the Calendar of dates which Tolkien so carefully wrote out in Appendix B, December 25th is the day on which the Fellowship sets out from Rivendell. The main action of The Lord of the Rings takes place, then, in the mythic space between Christmas, Christ’s birth, and the crucifixion, Christ’s death”

5. The No-Trust Society

Last night I was at an event, and met a college professor. At some point in our conversation, he mentioned an incident in which he used a common word that upset a (white, female) student, who accused him formally of racism. It was a preposterous charge, and nothing came of it ultimately, but it had a chilling effect on the professor. He said that he now is not eager to get involved with mentoring, for example. If you limit your exposure to the students, you limit the opportunities they have to accuse you of racism, sexism, homophobia, or any of the other sins against the Holy Zeitgeist.

I do wish progressive friends, so eager to encourage this kind of hypersensitivity and inclination to find, in the words of R.R. Reno, some kind of social pathology in every slight, realized the kind of world they are creating.  They may mean well, but this is the real effect they are having on human interactions.

6. Here’s who actually attended the March for Our Lives. (No, it wasn’t mostly young people.)

Who attends left-leaning protest marches in the United States?  Mostly women, mostly people with a college degree, and mostly people middle-aged and older.

7. Men practicing baseball in church basement

Golly, we are using our Fellowship Hall all wrong.  (Via @MichiganHist!)

This week brought to you by ancient copies of the Encylopedia Brittanica.

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