John Cassidy in the New Yorker

Being more realistic about the role that college degrees play would help families and politicians make better choices. It could also help us appreciate the actual merits of a traditional broad-based education, often called a liberal-arts education, rather than trying to reduce everything to an economic cost-benefit analysis. “To be clear, the idea is not that there will be a big financial payoff to a liberal arts degree,” Cappelli writes. “It is that there is no guarantee of a payoff from very practical, work-based degrees either, yet that is all those degrees promise. For liberal arts, the claim is different and seems more accurate, that it will enrich your life and provide lessons that extend beyond any individual job. There are centuries of experience providing support for that notion.” Click.


Think THIS will work on my wife?

"The books are there not just because I esteem them and need to look things up, but also because they represent an external hard drive for my mind. That is, running my eye down the rows will refresh my memory, reframe my thoughts, alert me to counterexamples and lacunae in my lines of argument." Click.


How would David Simon fix the system?

"The government would finance elections. Nobody could give any fucking money to any candidate, ever." Click.


The best part of Bernie Sanders' book

He wrote Outsider in the House with his friend Huck Gutman back in 1997. I read it early on in my Sanders work. Levi is his son. This is my favorite paragraph:

One of the fun aspects of being a congressman is the different kinds of people that I meet. After we left Glover, Levi and I took a beautiful drive across the width of the state to Swanton, which is located in northwest Vermont, just south of the Canadian border. I often think how lucky I am not only to live in Vermont, but to campaign there. Driving along beautiful Vermont country roads in August, as the sun goes down, just ain't hard work. It's exactly the kind of thing I would do if I never ran for office. In the back of the car I always have a bathing suit, and it's not uncommon for us to stop midday on the campaign trail and jump into a nearby lake or river.


My 'listi-profile' of Donald Trump

I don't know that I would do it for everybody, or even could, really, but I think it worked here, this profile of Donald Trump in the words of Donald Trump in 199 things the current Republican front-runner has said.


Bernie Sanders and the Democrats

New today with Manu Raju:

“You don’t change the system from within the Democratic Party.”

“My own feeling is that the Democratic Party is ideologically bankrupt.”

“We have to ask ourselves, ‘Why should we work within the Democratic Party if we don’t agree with anything the Democratic Party says?’”

Bernie Sanders, everybody—the same Bernie Sanders who is running to become the Democratic Party’s candidate for president of the United States.

The most surprising thing about the independent Vermont senator’s surprisingly successful campaign so far is not that he’s doing it as a self-described democratic socialist. It’s that he’s seeking the nomination of a party he caucuses with in the Senate but is not a part of, isn’t a registered member of and has never been a registered member of—a party he’s spent his 40-year career beating at the polls and battering in the press. Keep reading.

Previously about Sanders: 1. With Michael Crowley, the foreign minister of Burlington. 2. 14 things Bernie Sanders has said about socialism. 3. Bernie Sanders Has a Secret.


Lessons, now, from the age of sail

Did you read Maya Jasanoff's piece in Sunday Review in today's New York Times? I sure did — because of Bounty, if nothing else.

Liked this:

But Conrad wasn’t being emptily nostalgic. He recognized that technological progress, for all its much-heralded benefits, comes with social and ethical costs. To operate a sailing ship was to master a “craft.” You had to observe and interpret nature, adapt and react to fast-changing conditions, obey without question, decide without doubt, toil without pause. The craft connotes more than a clutch of skills; it is a code for how to live. It turns a sailing ship into a “fellowship,” a community forged by shared values.

“The taking of a modern steamship about the world,” by contrast, “has not the same quality of intimacy with nature,” Conrad insisted. “It has no great moments of self-confidence, or moments not less great of doubt and heart-searching.” It lacks “the artistic quality of a single-handed struggle with something much greater than yourself.”

This, too:

The ocean also shows the failures of progress. It is where thousands of refugees drown trying to reach prosperity. It is where slavery and piracy flourish in the face of modern law. It is where industrial chemicals and plastics pollute and destroy ecosystems.

And it is where, with rising sea levels, the planet pays us back even beyond Conrad’s imagination for our embracing fossil fuels over the enduring benefits of sail.

In due course we arrive, if it can be said that we ever fully arrive, Richard Bode wrote. The truth is that there are destinations beyond destinations, and so the confirmed sailor goes on tacking forever.


Terrible advice for a young writer?

Alice McDermott to Joe Heim in todays Washington Post Magazine:

"I guess I cringe when the discussion leads to, rather than books and sentences and characters and the stuff that writers are supposed to be concerned with, how to have an online presence and how many followers you have on Twitter. That stuff always makes me uncomfortable."

Agreed. At this point, though, for better and for worse, aren't both important?