Anti-Homeless Laws with Teeth


China has added a new, less subtle trick to the annals of anti-homeless architecture.  Park benches in Yantai Park in Shangdong province now work according to coin operated timers.  Stop feeding the meter, and little iron spikes pop out to prick the unwary sitter.  According to the article: Park bosses got the idea from an art installation in Germany where sculptor Fabian Brunsing created a similar bench as a protest against the commercialisation of modern life. "He thought he was … [Read more...]

Selling Beauty Short


Nathan Biberdorf would like us all to stop affirming each other by asserting that everyone is beautiful.  It's doing more harm than good. There are plenty of people that are not physically appealing to look at, the primary and most widely used meaning of the word “beautiful”. So why do we use the word as a catch-all for any sort of positive attribute? Nobody says, “Everybody is a good listener.” Nobody says, “Everyone is athletic to somebody.” Nobody says, “You are an … [Read more...]

Discern the Right Thing [Pope Francis Bookclub]


In 2014, I’m reading and blogging through Pope Francis/Cardinal Bergoglio’s Open Mind, Faithful Heart: Reflections on Following Jesus.  Every Monday, I’ll be writing about the next meditation in the book, so you’re welcome to peruse them all and/or read along. In this week's chapter, Pope Francis uses the falling away of the church at Ephesus as an admonitory example for our own, personal attempts to follow Christ.  The Ephesian church didn't fall into heresy or disappear … [Read more...]

Call for Guest Posts Next Week!

curio cabinet

I'm soon to be Ireland bound, and I can't guarantee I'll be posting from vacation.  Perhaps I could post a picture of some kind of beautiful vista (we're visiting the Cliffs of Moher -- the stand-ins for both Voldemort's Horcrux caves and, more importantly, The Cliffs of Insanity from The Princess Bride) along with a good quote from whatever Irish writers I'm reading, but I'd enjoy the chance to turn over the blog to some of my frequent commenters. Please pitch guest posts you'd be … [Read more...]

Suspicious Hermits, Gruesome Creativity, and Just Enough E Coli

euclid game

--- 1 --- There's a bit of luck in my starting this week's quick takes late, because it meant I had time to spot this article from Marginal Revolution about a Swiss town trying to hire a hermit.  Naturally, I was reminded of this exchange from Tom Stoppard's Arcadia: LADY CROOM: You surely do not supply an hermitage without a hermit? NOAKES: Indeed, madam -- LADY CROOM: Come, come, Mr Noakes. If I am promised a fountain I expect it to come with water. What hermits do you … [Read more...]

Trigger Warnings and Coal Mine Canaries


In discussion of trigger warnings  (particularly when requested by college students), I've seen a fair amount of think pieces suggest that this is more evidence that young'uns have gone soft.  It's not quite "When I was your age, I walked uphill both ways, five miles, through a sea of graphically dismembered bodies marked with racial slurs, and it made me stronger!" but there's a certain family resemblance.  There just seems to be a suspicion that attaches itself to people complaining that … [Read more...]

False Friends and Tone Policing

ear trumpet

When I went on a two-week exchange trip to China, it was clear the cultural briefing was informed by whatever mistakes or misunderstandings had occurred on previous trips, recorded and relayed to us so that we wouldn't think, for example, that our host siblings were hitting on us if they took our hands while we were walking. But the most memorable warning had to do with Mandarin filler words.  While English speakers cover gaps with "uh" "um" "ah" and so forth, the equivalent filler words in … [Read more...]