This is worrisome and thought-provoking by Joe Davis: “Although certainly challenging, we can face and contest coercive social norms, including the imperative that we be effusive and extroverted. We can live by other values and ways of being, including being shy and reticent. But once our shortcomings and distresses are interpreted in a biological language, we lose the grounds on which to come to terms with who we are in relation to (and often in resistance to) what society demands we be. You don’t resist a chemical imbalance; you try to put it right.”

Wondering if I could persuade Elon Musk to make David Luiz the first man on Mars ⚽️

John Gray: “As the woke movement spills over into parts of Europe and the UK, it should be clear that this is no passing storm. Here, as in the US, woke militants have few, if any, definite policies. What they want is simply the end of the old order. The paroxysm we are witnessing may be remembered as a defining moment in the decline of the liberal west. Perhaps it is time to consider how to strengthen the enclaves of free thought and expression that still remain, so they have a chance of surviving in the blank and pitiless world that is being born.”

real —> virtual —> real: “Joe Halligan from Assemble remembers being in Copenhagen and seeing someone sitting on the bus with a phone case based on the wall that they designed, “And they have no idea […] of the context of where that image has come from. And that’s super weird.” But it got even weirder because the photo of their wall that had become a stock photo had suddenly become a wall again. A shopping mall in China had turned the stock photograph back into a wall so that people could take selfies in front of it. The wall had made a strange journey from being architecture to an Instagram phenomenon, to a stock photo, back to being architecture again.”

Oh, great: “We shouldn’t think that, once we get to a vaccine—whenever that is—and once we’re able to arrest this virus, that we’ll be able to rest easy. We are in a new era of more frequent, higher-impact, higher-velocity zoonotic threats.”

This 17-minute video does a fantastic job of summarizing, concisely and accurately, the key facts about race in America since the Civil War.

Auden explains how our language, including our political language, can be debased by the technique of the black magician.

Malcolm has just had an exciting game of garden hose to celebrate his birthday. He’s 13 today! He’s mostly deaf now, and has some arthritis, and a peculiar proprioception deficit, but he’s still a beautiful dog and his appetite for play remains nearly boundless.

Newsletter!

Justice Robert Jackson in West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette (1943): “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.”

Esau McCaulley again: “Hope is possible if we recognize that it does not rule out justice. It is what separates justice from vengeance. Howard Thurman wrote in his classic work Jesus and the Disinherited about how rage, once unleashed, tends to spill out beyond its intended target and consume everything. The hatred of our enemy that we take to the streets returns with us to our friendships, marriages and communities. It damages our own souls.”

Esau McCaulley: “My ancestors knew that, in order to secure their freedom, slavery had to bend to the will of God and be destroyed. They knew that the Jim Crow era, despite its oppression, was not more comprehensive in its power than the Resurrection. We introduced Jim and Jane Crow to a Resurrection-empowered hope, and the civil rights movement was born. Similarly, what evidence do we have that today’s racial divisions can be defeated and that our societal sickness is not unto death? Our answer is the same: the empty tomb and the risen Christ.”

David French: “The fear of the Christian ‘best’ is harming this nation. Millions turned to Donald Trump to fight for them, forgetting that a church that is supposed to be a source of salt and light should not empower malice and lies. The result, in Gen. James Mattis’s words, is “the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try.” Christians put in power—and sustained in power—precisely the wrong man for this perilous moment. Others, in spite of Christ’s admonition to deny yourself and take up your cross to follow Him, are not willing to risk tweetings when the apostles braved beatings. Their jobs are too precious to risk. Though they enjoy greater freedom from actual censorship than arguably any people in the history of the planet, self-censorship suffices to drive too many thoughtful Christian voices from the academy, the boardroom, and the office. But shrinking back in the face of challenges to career and reputation communicates fear, not faith, to a broken world.”

Three qualities: “In situations of crisis or grave difficulty, Trump displays three qualities, three spirits, that all redound against the movement that he leads. His spirit of authoritarianism creates a sense of perpetual crisis among his opponents, uniting left-wingers and liberals despite their differences. His spirit of chaos, the sense that nothing is planned or under control, turns moderates and normies against him. And finally his spirit of incompetence means that conservatives get far less out of his administration than they would from a genuine imperial president, a man of iron rather than of pasteboard.”

If only there had been a way to bring ⚽️ back without bringing VAR back. If only the coronavirus had killed VAR.

Plastic rain: “Even the most isolated areas in the United States—national parks and national wilderness areas—accumulate microplastic particles after they are transported there by wind and rain.”

Here’s a post on why I’m back on micro.blog.

Bob Dylan: “Gospel news is exemplary. It can give you courage. You can pace your life accordingly, or try to, anyway. And you can do it with honor and principles. There are theories of truth in gospel but to most people it’s unimportant. Their lives are lived out too fast. Too many bad influences. Sex and politics and murder is the way to go if you want to get people’s attention. It excites us, that’s our problem.”

I spent many happy and formative years at @wheatoncollege and have always known it to be a countercultural institution — but hiring a poet as Provost?? That’s WAY out there.

Me texting to a friend just now: “All my life I have tried to be a bridge-builder, and now I’m standing in the middle of the bridge watching people dynamite each end.”

Dark Energy May Be Incompatible With String Theory: “Vafa and his colleagues were conjecturing that in the string landscape, universes like ours — or what ours is thought to be like — don’t exist. If the conjecture is correct, Wrase and other string theorists immediately realized, the cosmos must either be profoundly different than previously supposed or string theory must be wrong.”