Scholars’ unconvincing case about the value of the humanities (essay)

A literary work is a powerful tool for simulating what it’s like to inhabit someone else’s life. Not just tolerating difference, or grudgingly giving “the other side” equal time; but generating real empathy for the diversity of humanity. There is no Frigate like a Book To take us Lands away Nor any Coursers like a Page Of prancing Poetry – This Traverse may the poorest take Without oppress of Toll…

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Harvard revokes admission of several students for posting “offensive” memes

The First Amendment of the constitution protects the incoming students’ right to say whatever they like, even if Harvard doesn’t like it. And, as a private institution that is not regulated by the First Amendment, Harvard has the right to kick out incoming students unwise enough to exercise their rights in this manner. (The government can’t throw you in jail simply for choosing to speak; but you’ll still have to…

How the Midwest went from the idealized to the derided

While Pittsburgh has become more metropolitan in the last generation, the culture here one county to the east still bears witness to its rust belt past. This may sound dull as ditch water to those who believe that the “flyover” states are inhabited largely by clodhoppers, fundamentalist zealots and loudmouthed Babbitts. In fact, Lauck’s aim is to examine “how the Midwest as a region faded from our collective imagination” and…

Computer scientist Leslie Lamport to [Brandeis] grads: If you can’t write, it won’t compute

I like introducing my English majors to coding. Here’s a computer scientist who’s returning the favor, advocating the importance of writing skills. “If you succeed in attaining a position that allows you to do something great, if you do something that really is great, and if you realize that it’s great, there’s still one more hurdle: You have to convince others that it’s great,” he told the graduates. “This will…