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Weekly Web Roundup: 8/29

For the weekend crowd, this is a sampling of what we’ve been reading this week.

Why read at all if you are not going to accept the work on its own terms? Criticism becomes nothing more than an imposition of the self upon the poet and his art. The poet does not teach us; we teach the poet, in the same way that a schoolyard bully proposes to teach the skinny kid who can’t defend himself. We ply our “theory” upon a poet who cannot answer back. We dress it with pseudo-scientific language to impress the sophomores while remaining impervious to his thought and his humanity. This is called “critical thinking,” quite uncritical about itself and predictable in its results, as if a living being were pressed through a grinder.

The marquee proposal in the plan is the creation of new rankings for schools based on the data in the college scorecard. “Before the 2015 school year, the Department of Education will develop a new ratings system to help students compare the value offered by colleges and encourage colleges to improve,” the fact sheet explains. “These ratings will compare colleges with similar missions and identify colleges that do the most to help students from disadvantaged backgrounds as well as colleges that are improving their performance.”

There is no use brooding about it. I’m sure my father realized it at a similar moment. And I certainly didn’t notice or empathize. At first, he was a giant who held my hand and filled my sky. Then a middle-aged man who paid my bills. Now, decades after his passing, a much-loved shadow. But I can remember the last time I hugged him in the front hallway of his home, where I always had a room. It is a memory of warmth. I can only hope to leave my son the same.

Parenthood offers many lessons in patience and sacrifice. But ultimately, it is a lesson in humility. The very best thing about your life is a short stage in someone else’s story. And it is enough.

“We really didn’t think the effects would be this huge,” explained McMaster University researcher Faria Sana, who co-authored the study with fellow doctoral student Tina Weston. “It can change your grade from a B+ to a B-.”

I am struggling to find a way to NOT perpetuate the ugliness found here. I am certainly NOT going to teach this story, though I may find myself in trouble with the system as a result. Some things are worth refusing to do even if there is a cost.

This is what is going on in our schools. This is what you need to see with open eyes. They are doing more than trying to increase rigor; they are indoctrinating our children into one way of thinking—their way! Schools should teach how to think, but never what to think. This is why we must fight what some are trying to sell us as “hope and change” to America.

I’m reading Dante’s Inferno right now, and a basic theme that’s emerging is how dangerous are the passions when unbridled from reason. Dante did not believe that we are nothing but mind; we also have bodies. As he makes his pilgrimage through Hell, Dante sees what happens to people who do not moderate their passions with their reason. Francesca, the adulterous lover, finds herself in Hell because, having read love poetry (including Dante’s!) and captivating accounts of romantic love, she got carried away, and came to believe that her passion was the same thing as love — and that it was overwhelming. This won her and her lover a place in Hell, blown about for eternity by their passion. Over and over, you see how souls put themselves in Hell by yielding to their passions, and not subjecting them to reason. They lost the “straight path” through life by sinful indulgence of their passions, and created for themselves (and others) a kind of Hell in life, which earned them Hell after death.

She had developed the habits of the artist, that way of seeing and observing and representing the world around her, from years of working as a cartoonist. She discovered for herself the nuances of practicing her craft in a medium that involved communicating with images and experimenting with the physical expressions of the body in carefully choreographed arrangements. Her natural proclivity for capturing the humorous character of real people and concrete situations, two rudimentary elements she later asserted form the genesis of any story, found expression in her prolific drawings and cartoons long before she began her career as a fiction writer.

We should speak such that some might hear us gladly, but also with the knowledge that the ruler of this world wants to silence us. The hearer might repent … or hate, persecute, or even kill you. That’s his choice.

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