Monday, August 1, 2016

Understanding Hard Things

For Shame

Official seal
As regular readers of this blog are aware, I am alarmed by the various threats to free speech which seem to be on the rise in this country. Nowhere are such threats more out of place than in our universities, which ought to be bastions of free expression of ideas.

The most recent instance of a university shaming itself by doing the opposite of what it should be doing involves DePaul University in Chicago.
The university's official seal, seen at right, gives
as its motto the Latin phrase Viam sapientiae monstrabo tibi. In English, that translates as
"I will show you the way of wisdom." The university's administration is certainly not acting in accordance with that motto at the moment.

Last week the university announced that it has decided to bar conservative speaker and author Ben Shapiro from its campus. Shapiro had been invited to the campus by the school's chapter of Young Americans for Freedom. The school's pretext for denying permission for Shapiro to appear is "security concerns." In other words, DePaul is saying that its own students might riot if a conservative speaker were to show up on campus with some ideas those students aren't used to hearing.

As I have said on many other occasions, if you've gone to college for the purpose of being sheltered from ideas you find uncomfortable, you're doing college wrong. And it isn't helpful to the cause of freedom when pusillanimous college bureaucrats embrace that way of thinking. They owe their students more than that.

"Funny how it is always conservative speakers colleges find threatening."

Not "ha ha" funny, but yeah...

Feast Day

Today is the feast day of  St. Alphonsus Maria de' Liguori, one of the most important theologians and writers in the history of the church.

In 1732 St. Alphonsus founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, a religious order dedicated to ministering to the poor people of Naples. Members of this order, now known as Redemptorists, continue this ministry around the world today.

St. Alphonsus was also a prolific writer, and his The Way of the Cross remains popular among Catholics today.

He was beatified in 1816 by Pope Pius VII, and canonized in 1839 by Pope Gregory XVI. He is the patron saint of confessors, and those who suffer from arthritis.

"Well, that explains why you like him so much."

Arthritis is nothing to joke about, wise !@#$% hurts...

Happy Birthday!

Herman Melville (1870), by Joseph Eaton
On August 1, 1819 Herman Melville was born in New York City. To say that he lived a tumultuous life would be a severe understatement.

After experiencing some success when he turned to writing at age 26, Melville's popularity with the reading public of his era soon waned. His masterwork, the novel Moby-Dick, was a commercial failure at the time, as was his subsequent output of novels, stories, and poetry.

It wasn't until the centenary of his birth in 1919 that critics began to rediscover Melville, but now he is justly regarded as one of the greatest American authors of the 19th century.

As for Moby-Dick, it is difficult to overstate the reputation of Melville's crowning achievement. It is undoubtedly the most written-about work among literary scholars in all of American literature.

There is a great deal of poetry in Melville's prose, and Moby-Dick contains many memorable passages, including one of my personal favorites:

Don't Believe Everything You Read, Kid

From the wry comic strip Zits, by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman, which you should read every day, as I do.

Until Next Time...

On August 1, 1953 Robert Cray was born in Columbus, Georgia. By the time he took up the guitar as a teenager, he lived in Lakewood, Washington. After years of playing on the west coast circuit, he developed a reputation as an excellent live performer, and signed his first record deal in 1982.

Although it is a challenge for blues artists to achieve wider recognition, Cray's guitar-playing eventually won widespread acclaim, leading to opportunities to play with some of the greats in blues and blues-rock music. Robert has won five Grammy Awards, and Fender builds a signature Stratocaster model that bears his name. He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2011.

Robert's commercial breakthrough came in 1986, with the release of his album Strong Persuader. At a time when dance music and synthesizer-heavy pop-rock dominated the airwaves and MTV, Robert's unique blend of blues and jazz idioms was a breath of fresh air.

Strong Persuader peaked at No. 22 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart, the best showing by a blues artist in many years, and also did well on the Jazz and R&B charts.

The album produced Robert's first Billboard Hot 100 charting single, "Smoking Gun," which peaked at No. 13. The album received two platinum certifications from RIAA.

Today's send-off is the official video for "Smoking Gun," from Robert's VEVO channel. Enjoy...

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