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Monthly Archives: November 2023

But is it a crisis?

Students chilling each other’s speech. AI image generated by Dall-E 3. Today at the Atlantic, Greg Lukianoff has a piece with the headline “The latest victims of the free-speech crisis.” If there are free-speech issues on campus, and no doubt there are, is that really a crisis? Or is someone trying to distract us from […]

Two recently published books

Tolkien’s letters Just last week the new edition of Tolkien’s letters was released. There was a previous edition of Tolkien’s letters (1981, a book that I have had for years), but the new edition adds about 150 new letters, bringing the total number of letters to 500. In many ways, I find the letters of […]

A minor repair on a deserving book

The injured book A few days ago, I mentioned here that I am very enthusiastic about a five-part BBC series from 2012, Parade’s End. (The series can be streamed on HBO Max.) The series is visually beautiful, perfectly cast, and brilliantly written, with some of the best dialogue I’ve ever encountered. I don’t yet know […]

We have a serious media problem

This past Sunday (Nov. 5, 2023) the New York Times started hyping an utterly screwball poll saying that Trump was leading Biden by an average of four points in six swing states. Right-wing subscribers to the Times swooped into the comments section to gloat. Times pundits doubled down on their usual snide and superior lecturing […]

All the Light We Cannot See

This Netflix series is just barely over the threshold of watchability. The characters are sweet, but cloying, often to the point of being irritating. The dialogue was some of the worst I’ve encountered in a long time. Most of the scenes are about 30 percent too long. It’s one of those stories that tries to […]

Parade’s End

Benedict Cumberbatch and Adelaide Clemens By accident, in the trashy wilderness of HBO Max, I discovered “Parade’s End,” a lavish five-part series from BBC Two that was broadcast in 2012. Benedict Cumberbatch plays Christopher Tietjens, a character in four novels by Ford Madox Ford published between 1924 and 1928. I’ve watched only the first episode […]

Send in the ghosts

The Helix Nebula, a highly ordered part of the galaxy 650 light years from earth. Source: Wikimedia Commons, Spitzer Space Telescope. People, I think, sort roughly into two categories: Those who want to live in a universe in which some magic and an occasional ghost are possible; and those who insist that magic and ghosts […]