Alan Jacobs


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Angus is very content after playing in the garden hose.

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Peer review in academic publishing can be frustrating, especially when frivolous scholars take the task of reviewing a manuscript as an opportunity to nurse grudges, grind axes, or police boundaries. But … I got a peer review of my Paradise Lost manuscript that was strongly critical of my treatment of one major point, and you know what? The reviewer was absolutely correct. Today I am revising in light of that criticism and the book will in the end be much better for it.

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A post on why I’m not going to ditch Apple although part of me really wants to.

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This photograph faithfully represents the moment when I haven’t had my coffee yet but Angus is already running laps around the house.

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I wrote something about the students-can’t-read-any-more discourse.

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Looks like I convinced at least one person to try micro.blog: Brad East – AKA @bradeast.org. He has good reasons for joining.

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What an amazing post by Adam Roberts, on Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” as illuminated by a dozen other things, from Homer to C. S. Lewis to a Superman comic.

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Staffage.

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Yousuf Karsh’s portraits deserve their great fame, and one of my favorites is this one, of Helen Taussig, who basically invented pediatric cardiology. Taussig was a remarkable person. After becoming fully deaf in adulthood, she developed ingenious ways to communicate with her patients; and at the end of her long life she was studying congenital heart defects in birds.

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Phil Foden shouldn’t have gotten the Player of the Year trophy because he’s neither the best nor the most important player on his own team. Luis Miguel Echegaray is right: the Premier League player of the year is Rodri. I despise Man City, but Rodri is titanic. ⚽️

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Every year I re-read at least one of John Ruskin’s books, and I’ve just gone through The Stones of Venice again. No other writer lights up my brain quite the way Ruskin does. See posts tagged ruskin on my blog. I often wish I could go back in time and tell my 22-year-old self, “Let Ruskin be your guide.” I would’ve had a very different and more useful career.

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Musa al-Gharbi: “Universities in general, and elite schools in particular, exist largely to launder wealth into perceptions of ‘merit.’ They help the children of wealthy and well-connected families reproduce their social position and feel like they ‘earned’ it.” That may not be the whole story, but … he’s not wrong.

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Ian Paul: “When I became an Anglican (from a background of a different church tradition), I was at first quite puzzled by the choice of Scripture passages that Anglican (that is, Church of England) services kept coming back to.” An excellent account of certain pervasive and distinctive features of Prayer Book worship.

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The great Shannon Mattern on cardboard boxes.

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I wrote about a forthcoming essay of mine — and (more important) about a forthcoming novel that reveals some massive implications of my essay that, before reading it, I had not considered.

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Mark Hurst:

I have to give Apple credit here: the video is boldly telling us the truth. Other companies hide their true agenda, or even – if they have real competition – occasionally try to make things better for customers. But Apple’s globe-spanning monopoly gives it that walk-away scale of money and power that allows it to say – and then do – whatever it wants. For a totalizing company like Apple and the other Big Tech beasts, anything that stands in the way of the company’s dominance must be destroyed. You like playing the guitar for friends on the beach? No. Use a screen instead. You enjoy reading print books, which don’t spy on you as you read them? Not acceptable. Use a screen. Do you value being creative, or social, or just living a moment of your life off the screen? Get over it. Everything else will be destroyed. Only screens will remain.

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Auden’s The Shield of Achilles gets a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly.

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I always like to remind people that the real, legal, birth-certificate name of Blossom Dearie was … Blossom Dearie.

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Austin Kleon’s great newsletter edition on the objects we love and live with reminds me that we still use our metronome, some sixty-plus years after Teri’s mom bought it.

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Japanese commercial art

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The most Arsenal thing ever would be for Spurs to beat Man City today and then Arsenal lose to Everton on Sunday. ⚽️

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This by Rob Chapman is one of a zillion videos encouraging me to ask whether I’m a beginner, intermediate, or advanced guitar player. “Beginner” is a bad word here, because no one who has been playing for a long time (in my case, 20 years) can properly bre called a beginner. The better word is basic. Also, I think “advanced” should be distinguished from “professional.” So I think we need five categories:

I think I’m a basic/intermediate player, and will probably not get much better. It’s hard to progress when you start an instrument in your forties, and I have the added handicap of some permanently damaged fingers on my left hand (thanks to a habit, common among basketball players, of breaking them and then not having them properly set). But it would be silly to call myself a “beginner.”

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I wrote about Perfect Days.