Links, 2/9/10

  • On “Hamlet” – from the article: Hamlet has more soliloquies than any other Shakespearean character with seven. The soliloquies are important, because throughout the play, with the exception of his first appearance, Hamlet is putting on his antic disposition. As a result, Hamlet’s true thoughts and feelings come through in his soliloquies. As such, to what extent is Hamlet’s concern with Fortune and Honor in contest with his charge to commit tyrannicide?
  • Megan McArdle, “Assigning Blame for the Budget Deficit” – from the article: Whatever George W. Bush did or did not do, he’s no longer in office, and doesn’t have the power to do a damn thing about the budget.  Obama is the one who is president with the really humongous deficits.  Deficits of the size Bush ran are basically sustainable indefinitely; deficits of the size that Obama is apparently planning to run, aren’t.
  • Charlotte Allen, “The New Dating Game” (h/t aldaily) – from the article: Mystery advises his readers not to bother with any female who rates lower than a 6 (“OK-looking,” in his parlance) on the 1 to 10 scale, while assuring them that if they follow his advice, they can readily score a “supermodel hot” 10. The fundamental strategy is to “demonstrate higher value” (DHV, another Mystery acronym), to appear so fascinating that the woman will want to prove her worthiness to you, not the other way around. You don’t buy her a drink; you offer to let her buy you one. You don’t give her your phone number; you get her to give you hers, in what Mystery calls a “number closing.” If she asks you what you do for a living, you don’t mention the drone desk job that you actually hold down; you tell her you “repair disposable razors” (the choice of a Mystery disciple). You “peacock” (yet another Mystery coinage), which means donning outlandish, attention-grabbing attire. Mystery’s signature peacocking wardrobe includes a black fur bucket hat and matching black nail polish and eyeliner. On The Pickup Artist, he sported a seemingly inexhaustible supply of exotic headgear and man-baubles.
  • Caitlin Flanagan, “Cultivating Failure” (h/t aldaily) – With the Edible Schoolyard, and the thousands of similar programs, the idea of a school as a venue in which to advance a social agenda has reached rock bottom. This kind of misuse of instructional time began in the Progressive Era, and it has been employed to cheat kids out of thousands of crucial learning hours over the years, so that they might be indoctrinated in whatever the fashionable idea of the moment or the school district might be. One year it’s hygiene and another it’s anti-Communism; in one city it’s safe-sex “outer-course,” and in another it’s abstinence-only education. (Sixth-graders at King spend an hour and a half each week in the garden or the kitchen—and that doesn’t include the time they spend in the classroom, in efforts effective or not, to apply the experiences of planting and cooking to learning the skills and subjects that the state of California mandates must be mastered.) But with these gardens—and their implication that one of the few important things we as a culture have to teach the next generation is what and how to eat—we’re mocking one of our most ennobling American ideals. Our children don’t get an education because they’re lucky, or because we’ve generously decided to give them one as a special gift. Our children get an education—or should get an education—because they have a right to one. At the very least, shouldn’t we ensure that the person who makes her mark on the curricula we teach be someone other than an extremely talented cook with a highly political agenda?
  • On Afghan Road, Scenes of Beauty and Death (nytimes; h/t Josh) – from the article: One day last week, 13 accidents unfolded on the road in a mere two hours, all of them catastrophic, nearly all of them fatal. The daylong drizzle made the day slightly more calamitous than most. At one scene, a bloodied family grieved for their kin trapped in a flattened car. At another, a minibus lay crushed beneath the hulk of a jackknifed truck. At still another, the bottom of a ravine was filled with a car’s twisted remains.

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