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August 2019

"Exercises in Unreality: The Decline in Teaching Western Civilization"

By Anthony Esolen, professor of English at Providence College. The article features a nice dissection of his students' shallow interest in diversity. And it includes this paragraph, a ringing paragraph of a man who is simply astonished at what he is witnessing:

I now regularly meet students who have never heard the names of most English authors who lived before 1900. That includes Milton, Chaucer, Pope, Wordsworth, Byron, Keats, Tennyson, and Yeats. Poetry has been largely abandoned. Their knowledge of English grammar is spotty at best and often nonexistent. That is because grammar, as its own subject worthy of systematic study, has been abandoned. Those of my students who know some grammar took Latin in high school or were taught at home. The writing of most students is irreparable in the way that aphasia is. You cannot point to a sentence and say, simply, “Your verb here does not agree with your subject.” That is not only because they do not understand the terms of the comment. It is also because many of their sentences will have no clear subject or verb to begin with. The students make grammatical errors for which there are no names. Their experience of the written language has been formed by junk fiction in school, text messages, blog posts, blather on the airwaves, and the bureaucratic sludge that they are taught for “formal” writing, and that George Orwell identified and skewered seventy years ago. The best of them are bad writers of English; the others write no language known to man.


Mass shootings in the U.S.

You figure it out:

Five Washington Post reporters: "More and deadlier: Mass shooting trends in America".

But we also have  Christopher J. Ferguson, Professor of Psychology, Stetson: "Mass shootings aren’t growing more common – and evidence contradicts common stereotypes about the killers". Professor Ferguson cites Grant Duwe, research director for the Minnesota Department of Corrections: "Mass Shootings Are Getting Deadlier, Not More Frequent".

And as usual in such controversies, the mysterious question of salience should at least be raised: "Mass shooting in perspective".

Each of the past few years, about 35,000 Americans died in traffic accidents. . . . Of the approximately 35,000 victims about half died in accidents involving alcohol. 

Related: two constructive suggesions about what to do about mass shootings, neither involving gun control: 

"To Stop Mass Shootings, Read The Califano Report"

"Israeli Lessons for Mass Shootings".