On Thursday, reason.com published a genuinely outrageous report about two parents who had been arrested, strip-searched, jailed overnight, and charged with felony child neglect simply because their 11-year-old son had been left alone to play basketball for 90 minutes in his own backyard.
‘I envy the mind hiding in her words,” Mary McCarthy opined of Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979), a poet admired for her air of secrecy during the heyday of confessionalism, when poets regularly hauled their Freudian couches into the amphitheater. Bishop’s poems, in contrast, invoke textured scenes and piquant characters—a marketplace in Marrakesh, Robinson Crusoe glumly restored to England, a child in a dentist’s waiting room—charging them with psychological tension, intrigue, and widening gyres of feeling.
Off hours, The Scrapbook has been dealing, like many everyday Americans, with the sort of problem that admits of no governmental solution: namely, a leaky basement. But just because government has nothing to offer by way of solutions (at least not yet!) doesn’t mean that it’s ignoring what we’re up to.
You may recall Brendan Eich. The cofounder and CEO of Mozilla was dismissed from his company in 2014 when it was discovered that, six years earlier, he had donated $1,000 to California’s Proposition 8 campaign. That ballot initiative, limiting marriage to one man and one woman, passed with a larger percentage of the vote in California than Barack Obama received nationally in 2012. No one who knew Eich accused him of treating his gay coworkers badly—by all accounts he was kind and generous to his colleagues.
I’ve long held a fascination with what I term death works—bursts of art born of some thanatos-based concern, be it an artist fronted with his own mortality or, in the case of Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, the demise of a friend.
Roughly four years ago I reported on the acquisition of a calico kitten named Hermione. I began by writing that she was asleep in my inbox. Now four years later, too large for my inbox, she sleeps in the chair next to mine in the room in our apartment I call my office. I ended my earlier scribble about her by saying that whatever disorder she might bring into my life I judged to be worth it. I now have to report that she has brought no disorder whatsoever, and instead her becalming company has brought only contentment, pleasure, and delight.
Watching the NBA playoffs one cannot but be upset at the rampant inequality that the league tolerates. LeBron James constitutes less than 10 percent of the number of players on the Cleveland Cavaliers, but scores about 40 percent of the team’s points. Think what this does to the self-esteem of the other players. Think how it distorts the distribution of the team’s total payroll. Something must be done to end this inequality, to bring equality to basketball.
Xiaoping Ren means well. The doctor from Harbin Medical University in China has extensive experience in the realms of hand and face transplants. And he hopes his current research will lead to transplants that, according to the Wall Street Journal, "might one day be able to help human patients who have intact brains but broken bodies, such as people with spinal-cord injuries, cancer and muscle-wasting diseases." He's had some success with mice and may soon be moving up to monkeys. What Dr. Ren is working on, of course, is head transplants.
Randy Richardson, a friend of my parents and a man I knew and admired, died on Memorial Day. Randy was an important if unheralded figure (unheralded because he preferred to shun the limelight) in the conservative intellectual movement for several decades. Here are excerpts from tributes by his daughter, Heather R. Higgins, and his friend and former colleague, Leslie Lenkowsky, that capture some key aspects of Randy's character and contributions.
On Friday we learned that the U.S. economy surprised on the upside by adding 280,000 new jobs in May, and that 32,000 more jobs had been created in March and April than originally reported. The fact that economic growth is still sluggish, while more and more workers are finding jobs, suggests that productivity -- output per man-hour -- is slowing.