2.14.2010 New York Times Digest

Science and Liberty

1. “Freedom’s Laboratory”

“Science, he notes, is antiauthoritarian, self-correcting, meritocratic and collaborative. As John Dewey, one of his heroes, put it, ‘freedom of inquiry, toleration of diverse views, freedom of communication, the distribution of what is found out to every individual as the ultimate intellectual consumer’ are all as ‘involved in the democratic as in the scientific method.'”

2. “Polanski’s Visions of Victimhood”

“While Mr. Polanski’s films are generally not self-revealing in any literal sense, he invites psychobiographical criticism because he has been, for almost his entire career, that relatively rare entity: a celebrity director.”

3. “Hype, Money and Cornstarch: What It Takes to Win at Westminster”

“Among breeders, owners and handlers, it’s understood: you can’t just turn up with the paradigm of the breed, if such an animal exists, and expect a best-in-show ribbon. To seriously vie for victory, a dog needs what is known as a campaign: an exhausting, time-consuming and very expensive gantlet of dog show wins, buttressed by ads in publications like Dog News and The Canine Chronicle.”

4. “Soda: A Sin We Sip Instead of Smoke?”

“The model, clearly, is tobacco.”

5. “Why Orwell Endures”

“He is impossible to categorize. He was a great something — but a great what? Scarcely a great novelist: the prewar novels are good but not very good, and even Animal Farm and 1984 aren’t great in the sense of Madame Bovary. To call him a great journalist, as many have done, means overlooking plenty of mundane (and inaccurate) political commentary. It’s when he turns to such unlikely matters as boys’ comics and vulgar postcards, as well as to his central subject of politics and language, that he enters the realm of deathless literature.”

6. “How Christian Were the Founders?”

“One recurring theme during the process of revising the social-studies guidelines was the desire of the board to stress the concept of American exceptionalism, and the Christian bloc has repeatedly emphasized that Christianity should be portrayed as the driving force behind what makes America great.”

One response to “2.14.2010 New York Times Digest

  1. Every Sunday I look forward to these roundups, Matt. Thanks so much and please keep it up!

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