MAGA World Is Splintering: Following the riot at the Capitol, Trump supporters are having an existential crisis on Twitter.

Bryson Gray, a 29-year-old rapper and Donald Trump superfan from North Carolina, wants to make one thing clear: It was a group of the president’s most loyal supporters that rioted in the U.S. Capitol building on Wednesday, and nobody else. When I spoke with Gray yesterday, he said he had been “too late” to get inside the Capitol itself with the rest of the mob, which broke windows and chanted…

Responding to Literature at the College Level

A new handout, based on the opening lecture I give in every literature class. I’m trying to uncouple this chunk of content, which never changes, from the “intro to the course” lecture, which is topic-specific. Your high school teachers probably praised you for summarizing what you read and perhaps relating it to your own life in an engaging way. But your college professors will probably ask you to do a…

Motivation Amid Crisis (Autotrophic Bat)

As part of an independent study project, a graduating Seton Hill student wrote a blog about self-publishing her original collection of fairy-tale adaptations. She’s a double-major in creative writing and graphic design, and she freely adapted each story and illustrated each one in a different style. (She’ll be self-publishing her anthology soon, and I’ll certainly post about it.) Here is a reflection she wrote on staying motivated during the pandemic:…

Far-Right Twitter Trolls Won’t Admit They Were Wrong About Killing of a “Patriot” in Denver

  It was a reporter’s bodyguard, not an anti-fascist activist, who shot and killed a right-wing demonstrator who had assaulted him. The viral spread of those false claims apparently alarmed the Denver Police Department, which had taken Dolloff into custody along with the journalist he was guarding and quickly determined that they were not left-wing protesters. Less than four hours after the shooting, the department tried to stem the tide…

Donald Trump Is a Broken Man (Assessment by Speechwriter for Reagan and both Bushes)

Powerful assessment of Donald Trump, written by Peter Wehner, a speechwriter who served Reagan and both Bushes. For context, here’s what Wehner writes about the conservative movement during the Reagan years: The conservative movement in the 1980s, although hardly flawless, was intellectually serious and politically optimistic. And Reagan himself was a man of personal decency, grace, and class. While often the target of nasty attacks, he maintained a remarkably charitable…

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Theatre Crowd Mustn’t Be Bitter

The en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try seems up­set that pubs are to be opened be­fore any theatres or mu­sic venues. But you can un­der­stand why the pubs have pri­or­ity – it’s a mat­ter of safety. Theatres are wild places where you can’t con­trol the public. So of­ten, dur­ing a show by a comic, the au­di­ence spreads viruses by for­get­ting they have a ticket for seat 19b and mov­ing across to seat 23f and…

NYPD’s Lt. Cattani offers heartfelt apology for “wrong decision” that threw his reputation “in the garbage” May 31

Cops are trained to make snap decisions under highly stressful situations. Often their training saves lives. Sometimes they deeply regret decisions they make. After thinking back on his recent behavior while working during a protest at Foley Square May 31, NYPD officer Robert Cattani offered a heartfelt apology: “I know I made the wrong decision,” he told his colleagues in an e-mail first reported by the NY Post Thursday. “I…

Now Is the Perfect Time to Memorize a Poem

Powerful writing, by Matthew Schneier. Most of the essay is on the power of poetry as an oral art form. (See also Poetry is for the Ear and Poetry Writing Hacks: Top 10 Tips.) But I blogged it because of the paragraphs about the author’s father. Right now, a machine is breathing for my father, buying time in a ward I can neither visit nor see. The doctors talk a…

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The High Ground (ST:TNG Rewatch, Season Three, Episode 12) Sensitive, Artistic Terrorist Is Also a Terrorist

(Rewatching ST:TNG after a 20-year break) Crusher finds herself sympathizing with the charming terrorist who kidnapped her. After last week’s “The Hunted” and the week before’s “The Defector,” it seems the writers are very interested in humanizing perceived enemies. An unusually exposition-heavy captain’s log establishes the Enterprise is visiting a non-aligned world shaken by terrorists. We want to like the romantic separatist leader who mourns the death of his own…

Prepare for the Ultimate Gaslighting

Thoughtful essay from Julio Vincent Gambuto. Get ready, my friends. What is about to be unleashed on American society will be the greatest campaign ever created to get you to feel normal again. It will come from brands, it will come from government, it will even come from each other, and it will come from the left and from the right. We will do anything, spend anything, believe anything, just…

Disagreement Hierarchy: Arguments, ranked from name-calling to the careful refutation of an opponent’s central point

My weekend coronavirus lockdown project was writing up a new handout devoted to Graham’s “Disagreement Hierarchy” for academic arguments. Does the word “argument” make you think of angry people yelling? This document presents Graham’s “disagreement hierarchy,” which catalogs multiple stages between juvenile name-calling and carefully refuting an error in your opponent’s central point. Siblings might “argue” over who gets the comfy chair. Persuasion in that case might involve out-shouting or…

“You work for the @CollegeBoard?” the bright-eyed teen behind the fast food counter asks. I tell her I sometimes mark #APEnglish tests. “I’m taking three AP classes now!” she says. “After I go to college, I want to be the #POTUS!”

“Unsweetened tea. And can you use this cup?” “You work for the College Board?” the bright-eyed teen behind the fast food counter asks, spying my branded mug. I tell her I sometimes mark #APEnglish tests. “I’m taking three AP classes now!” she says. “After I go to college, I want to be the president!” I give her quick pointers on the essays. Don’t start churning out filler right away. A…

James Comey: Trump won’t be removed. But we’ll be fine.

Here’s an editorial by someone who feels a heck of a lot more optimistic than I do right now. The free press fostered and protected by the genius of the First Amendment has let Americans know the truth, if they wish to. They can see the facts and the process, and they will be shaped by that, both now and for the long term. In November, Americans, fully informed, will…

On the Hatred of Literature

Going back to Plato—perhaps the first hater of literature on record—philosophers and religious authorities have attacked art for the same reasons our professors taught us to deconstruct and distrust it: because it is unpredictable, unreasonable and often inconsistent with their preferred politics or morality. It was also a lesson that was destined, in the years that followed, to seep off campus. Even as New Historicism fell out of fashion in…

My semester with the snowflakes

Insightful essay from a US Military vet who went to college at age 52. Let me address this “snowflake” thing. According to the “Urban Dictionary” a “snowflake” is a “term for someone that thinks they are unique and special, but really are not. It gained popularity after the movie “Fight Club” from the quote “You are not special. You’re not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic…