Sunday, July 31, 2011

Links for Thinking, Notes for Noting

* Alfred Corn in Rimbaud's Last Revelation discusses the difficulty of translating Rimbaud.

* Brad Jones has an interesting look at moral rhetoric in Presidential State of the Union addresses.

* Rob MacDougall's "Old is the New New" has been put in Cliopatria's history blogging Hall of Fame; a very good choice.

* Remarkable: A man tries to frame an ex-girlfriend in an intricate revenge plot and almost succeeds; a last-minute informer tipped the police and DA to their mistake. It looks to me like the prosecutors weren't pushing heavily enough on the police because the ex-boyfriend was a police informer (and thus the case would have problematized evidence for other cases) and the police, unpushed, were satisfied with making what seemed to be the easiest case. Some of the details seem obscure, though. Pretty nasty business.

* An interesting survey suggesting that conflict over religious diversity in Britain is not primarily motivated by the religious themselves. One can never build anything on a single survey, but it does fit with what often seems to be the case: broadly 'cultural Christians' or 'cultural Muslims' often seem less tolerant than actively practicing Christians and Muslims, and nonreligious often seem less tolerant than religious over new or encroaching religious movements. The people who are going to be most tolerant in any given situation are (1) the people who are least likely to feel their identity threatened by the mere existence of the other parties and (2) the people who can think most in reciprocal terms, i.e., see where the other parties are coming from. These will not necessarily be true of the actively religious and false of the culturally religious in every situation, but they certainly will in some.

* On the real rules of Monopoly. Of course, it probably has to do with three things rather than the one sugested, half-joke though it may be: (1) parents are just not particularly interested in the challenge of teaching children how to make reasonable bids in an auction; (2) people often play Monopoly because of (not despite) the fact it takes hours, and it is notable both that family board games are always fairly time-intensive and that lengthening the game is precisely one of the usual results of the very popular Free Parking cash pile innovation; and (3) bidding doesn't improve the game that much, because distributing properties by bid, by reducing the extent to which possession is a matter of luck, reduces the emphasis on the complex (and not always strictly in accordance with the rules) property-trading in the middle stages of the game, which many people prefer and arguably makes for a more interesting game by forcing people to work with each other in particular negotiations rather than always pitting them against each other (i.e., it increases the chances that everybody has a firm hold on something somebody else wants). (It also doesn't necessarily penalize people who play in friendly and generous ways, which is good for the whole family-game thing.) The article misses out on the fact that for many people collecting the matched sets is itself the primary interest of the game: people like being the first to collect a set, and when the sets are all collected, the game from then on is (as far as play usually goes) simply one of who can outlast who given the distribution of the board, which is for most people the least interesting part of the game. Indeed, in actual play it is often left unfinished -- it's the part of the game most people don't mind not finishing. People usually play Monopoly like a card game: the main goal most people have in actual play is to position themselves with good hands (a nice set of properties), not to bankrupt anyone else. Some people like the latter, but this is so far from being what everyone likes about Monopoly that people commonly hate it.

* H. Allen Orr on David Brooks's latest book:

Some of Brooks's scientific findings are also crushingly banal. On their first date, Rob checks out Julia's curves and Brooks dutifully reports that studies show that men's eyes are drawn to the curve of women's breasts. Anyone who needs science to tell them that men like women's breasts may need to get out more often.

* Taylor Marshall has a good post on reatus poenae and original sin.

* Peter Anstey discusses a Hume find.

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