A Charm Against the Language of Politics Say over and over the names of things, the clean nouns: weeping birch, bloodstone, tanager, Banshee damask rose. Read field guides, atlases, gravestones. At the store, bless each apple by kind: McIntosh, Winesap, Delicious, Jonathan. Enunciate the vegetables and herbs: okra, calendula. Go deeper into the terms of some small landscape: spiders, for example. Then, after a speech on compromising the environment for technology, recite the tough, silky structure of webs: tropical stick, ladder web, mesh web, filmy dome, funnel, trap door. When you have compared the candidates’ slippery platforms, chant the spiders: comb footed, round headed, garden cross, feather legged, ogre faced, black widow. Remember that most short verbs are ethical: hatch, grow, spin, trap, eat. Dig deep, pronounce clearly, pull the words in over your head. Hole up for the duration.
On the Blog
Politics can divide more often than unite. But, deep involvement in the civic sphere doesn't mean we have to sacrifice empathy and civility.
On the Blog
British fantasy writer Sir Terry Pratchett advocates a right to "early death." Video of his Richard Dimbleby Lecture.
A reflection on the enduring imprint of fictional characters like J.D. Salinger's Holden Caufield.
A moving performance of Frederick Douglass' "The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro" in Howard Zinn's history roadshow.
Calling it "her greatest accomplishment," Eleanor Roosevelt was a primary instigator behind the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which declares the dignity of all people.
After the earthquake first shook Haiti, we reached out to Bellegarde-Smith again asking about the context he brings to the current tragedy and its future consequences. Share his insight here.
I’m not a narcissist. But Clay Shirky thinks I should be.
The media critic recently posted a controversy-mongering blog titled “A Rant About Women,” the premise being that women would do well to act more like men — stand up for themselves more and do what it takes to get ahead, even if it means being a “pompous blowhard”:
[Women] are bad at behaving like self-promoting narcissists, anti-social obsessives, or pompous blowhards, even a little bit, even temporarily, even when it would be in their best interests to do so. Whatever bad things you can say about those behaviors, you can’t say they are underrepresented among people who have changed the world.
Compelling video of elephants mourning the death of a calf, and a magnificent segment on the secret language of elephants.
David Brooks' prescription for, and Binyavanga Wainaina's criticism of, foreign aid leaves a question unanswered.
A passage from Letters to a Young Poet cited by Novogratz.
Patrick Bellegarde-Smith responds to the Haitian crisis in an AP story.
No one has ever accused me of being fashion-forward. Neither will I ever willingly join a conversation on the relative merits of mascara brands. Nonetheless, I was completely entertained by Courtney Wilder’s essay on Sightings about a blog that enjoins women clergy to navigate the occasionally fine line between professional dress and excessive *hot-ness* as church leaders.
Krista discusses recent terrorism and security concerns through Ed Husain's words.