I may try and write about Rep. Bart Stupak’s amendment to the House health bill, which blocked insurance companies enrolled in the exchanges from offering abortion coverage, as it raises a few interesting questions. However, I don’t have the time right now, so I’ll leave you with a revealing comment from Ezra Klein, in his post The Stupak amendment: As much about class as about choice:
And it did not block the federal government from subsidizing abortion. All it did was block it from subsidizing abortion for poorer women.
How can you not admire someone like that?
Actually, it’s not so difficult, I’ve discovered. All the someone in question has to do is begin thinking differently from me about a few important matters, and in no time I find that his qualities have subtly metamorphosed. His abundance of colorful anecdotes now looks like incessant and ingenious self-promotion. His marvelous copiousness and fluency strike me as mere mellifluous facility and mechanical prolixity. A prose style I thought deliciously suave and sinuous I now find preening and overelaborate. His fearless cheekiness has become truculent bravado; his namedropping has gone from endearing foible to excruciating tic; his extraordinary dialectical agility seems like resourceful and unscrupulous sophistry; his entertaining literary asides like garrulousness and vulgar display; his bracing contrariness, tiresome perversity. Strange, this alteration of perspective; and even stranger, it sometimes occurs to me that if he changed his opinions again and agreed with me, all his qualities would once more reverse polarity and appear in their original splendor. A very instructive experience, epistemologically speaking. (George Scialabba on Christopher Hitchens).
Striking for the role of personality in the literary or political essay. If you’re weighing whether to read the rest, I’m not sure a 2005 article on Christopher Hitchens is the best way to enlighten yourself today, or that all of Scialabba’s diagnosis is apt.
So there’s a characteristic pseudo-self-sufficiency to concessive theory – a characteristic pseudo-completeness. (A feeling that when you’ve said all there is to say about how to be an effective leader, or an effective person, in a rather instrumental way, there isn’t anything left to be said.) There’s also a characteristic bait-and-switch quality to it, in that it is normative, so it is easier to miss that it may not be normative in all the ways that we need it to be. (John Holbo)
Posted in Philosophy, QOTD
At 200 feet, the first pilot, Chris Gullikson, was perfectly visible in his trike’s open cockpit. He was wearing his whooping-crane costume, a white hooded helmet and white gown that looked like a cross between a beekeeping suit and a Ku Klux Klan get-up. (New York Times)
The full article is delightfully kooky. Its serious side concerns the difficulty, and arguably the futility, of many of our efforts to conserve or reintroduce endangered species into the wild. Also:
The crane’s size, elusiveness and abrasive voice also seem to have made it a particularly satisfying trophy for hunters. (Washington Post headline, 1904: “Two Nebraska Duck Hunters Kill the Last of the Pompous Bird.”)
I’ll cop to being genuinely interested in the potential of Facebook to keep me in touch with friends, introduce me to strangers, and provide low-grade constant novelty, but I still killed my account recently. The main reason was that Facebook was showing me my peripheral acquaintances — high school classmates, spouses of friends — at their least appealing, and I realized that charity demanded I stop learning just how needy and insecure they could seem when they put their minds to it. As my network of quote-unquote friends grew, that much-touted “network effect” compounded the problem — Facebook is like a breeder reactor of solipsistic fatuity. (Matt Frost)
Temperament matters. Do you combine unabashed interest in the exploits and opinions of everyone you know with an easy indifference to their excesses? If, on the other hand, you linger over inanities, then Web 2.0 is not for you.
“Since a metropolis is the source of style, whether in fashion, or furniture, or the major arts, the concept of style tends to become too important, and at a certain point the balance of ends and means is upset. Just as provincial art fails from its lack of style, metropolitan art fails from its excess, and there appears the familiar symptoms of over-refinement and academicism.”
That’s from Sir Kenneth Clark, a British Art Historian, and is quoted in a John Derbyshire essay, one which I’m not so sure that I like.