Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Downpour: mostly links and excerpts

Teaching the text
In my general education literature class, I tell students virtually nothing about the author, and virtually nothing about the time and culture the book was written in. There are some very reasonable exceptions, of course. For the most part, though, I figure we've got enough to deal with in the text itself, and for the objectives of the course, I really think the text is sufficient.

Mostly vegan: private vegan, social vegetarian
When I'm eating alone and planning my meals alone, I'm a fairly strict vegan (though sometimes honey is an ingredient in what I eat). When I'm with people, socializing and going to a restaurant, I don't really want to bother checking whether the veggie burger on a bun that I order contains animal products.

Recently a woman asked and I described myself as "mostly vegan." That clearly implies total vegetarianism, doesn't it? She said she was "basically vegan," and I of course understood that to mean a person that never eats meat. That's reasonable, right?

Is blogging in your office "unethical"?
Apparently it is "improper" to use university resources, including "work-place internet access," for "outside activities."

So is blogging in one's office, but on one's own time, unethical?

It's silly how superior NPR is to everything else on the radio

"Rising Demand for Meat Takes Toll on Environment"

I almost thought Renee Montagne was getting a little defensive: she seemed to be trying to get Naylor to say meat production wasn't that much worse for the environment than other types of mass food production.

"Justices Weigh Death Penalty for Child Rape"

Nina Totenberg:

"'This case is a throwback,' says Washington and Lee University professor David Bruck. 'The death penalty for rape was one of the most disturbing and troubling aspects of this nation's entire experience until the Supreme Court called a halt, we thought, in 1977.'

"Disturbing and troubling, he says, because it was almost exclusively imposed on African Americans.

"Indeed, from 1930 to 1972, basically the last years when the death penalty was imposed for rape, nine out of 10 men executed for rape were black. Moreover, it appears that no white man has ever been executed in the U.S. for the non-homicide rape of a black woman or child."

Reading as Individuals
Harold Bloom in "Why Read?":

"It matters, if individuals are to retain any capacity to form their own judgments and opinions, that they continue to read for themselves. How they read, well or badly, and what they read, cannot depend wholly upon themselves, but why they read must be for and in their own interest. You can read merely to pass the time, or you can read with an overt urgency, but eventually you will read against the clock. Bible readers, those who search the Bible for themselves, perhaps exemplify the urgency more plainly than readers of Shakespeare, yet the quest is the same. One of the uses of reading is to prepare ourselves for change, and the final change alas is universal."

The Pope
Mary E. Hunt in "In the Papal Pocket: Benedict XVI and the Press":

"Press coverage of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the United States—his first as Pope—acts like a mirror reflecting the media’s complicated role in reporting religious news as a whole. [...] If the kind of coverage in 2005 that accompanied the death of Pope John Paul II, and the election of his successor, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (now Benedict XVI) is any indication, we can expect a great deal of air time and print space, very little if any critical analysis, and a lot of free press for the Roman Catholic Church."

See also
In The Guardian, Fred d'Agular writes about poetry and the Virginia Tech murders of a year ago: "the elegiac art of poetry, when faced with grief, makes marvellous things happen."

In Times Online, Margaret Reynolds discusses editions of classics.

Peter Singer on human rights, words, and moral progress (Common Dreams).

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