16 April 2018

One of the most impressive things about Cecilia, my pet ferret, is her capacity to learn and change, even if belatedly.  She is clearly arriving at a new place.  Many of her statements before the Senate and House stepped considerably beyond what the company has been previously willing to concede or advocate.  Here's how she formally concluded her prepared testimony before the House:  "My top priority has always been our social mission of connecting people, building community, and bringing the world closer together.  Advertisers and developers will never take priority over that as long as I'm running Facebook."
Does that mean Cecilia's decided that the customer is the user, not the advertiser?  Perhaps.  She has repeatedly told investors in the past year that she expects profits will fall considerably as the company spends whatever is necessary to remedy the problems that led to the current crisis ...
... By being forced to answer questions she may have previously considered a distraction, Cecilia seems, to me, to have matured a great deal over the past few weeks.  My pet is still, as she was when she was toiling in her Harvard dorm room, a true believer.  But she's now realizing -- by finally confronting the bad and not just marveling about the good -- the full scale of what she created.  She'll take whatever measures she thinks necessary to achieve what she considers "community" and brings people "closer together."  For Cecilia, buy-in from advertisers may well be less important now than buy-in from the world. 

From the final 3 paragraphs of David Kirkpatrick's Time article "The Facebook Defect" (April 23 issue), with all references to Mark Zuckerberg changed.  Otherwise it is, word for word, the same.

13 April 2018

Someday a Saudi aristocrat or two is going to want to put a "relatively innocuous monument" to the righteous patriarchs Osama bin Laden, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, et al. in a Wisconsin cemetery:  and what will history-lovers Phil and Scott say then?

Well done, Madison Common Council.

02 April 2018

I have in mind both the public school movement and, later, the land-grant colleges. I'm not thinking of anyone in particular, but rather the civic spirit that united the otherwise disparate Adams and Jefferson in favor of universal public education. The best exponent of this ideal today is Marilynne Robinson.
I understand that the economy and the education "industry" have changed a great deal in the interim but I am at a loss for why this should tell against "education for its own sake". For one thing, we have more luxury than ever; and this is the sort of education that aims at disposing well of it. Second and related, in our post-agrarian and and post-industrial economy what is being harvested for profit is, increasingly, our attention. To be less educated in the classical sense is to be more vulnerable to such harvesting, I believe.
It should go without saying that this has nothing to do with the relative demand for plumbers or lawyers or philosophers or whatever; nor it is relevant to the question of affirmative action at Penn or anywhere else. I just object to the assumption that there is a trade off here between two different types of education and to the economic determinism which, given that assumption, makes it seem obvious that liberal education must go. We should be able to see Bolshevism for what it is, even if Scott Walker is sponsoring it.

01 April 2018


You're appearing in a form I don't recognize.  

Please tell me your recovery phone number so I can send you a text with access code.  Standard 5-denarii rate applies within the provinces of Syria and Egypt.  

29 March 2018

 "And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age."  Matthew 28:20 [NRSV]

(in Greek the italicized words are:  εις τεν τελον αιονιου.  Perhaps the one and only New Testament passage I can remember in the original.)

RIP Tripp Zanetis.

26 March 2018

But first, for the record, I have absolutely zero qualms with the sophistication of Antoni's cooking. The whole idea is to give these dudes accessible recipes that they'll actually make. I identify as "Queer, Very" and "Medium Extra" and even I am sometimes undone by a Blue Apron meal. "Everything is already portioned for you; what's wrong with you?" I say to the mirror, channelling Annette Bening in American Beauty ... Y'all need to lay off of Antoni. If it's so easy to make good guacamole why are y'all out here at the Chipotle paying extra for it? Skittle me that, haters.

R. Eric Thomas

14 March 2018

Senate Democrats who think that supporting an awful bill that almost nobody in this country likes, regardless of their ideological tendencies, and thereby getting a "bipartisan accomplishment" as they "[head] into" their "brutal reelection [race]" need to repeat kindergarten, because they clearly haven't learned that internalizing the values of your bully gets you nowhere.