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Archive for the ‘Personal Development’ Category

used-booksConservative book buyers seem to have the attention span of gnat on Ritalin. A radio talk show host’s face on a book’s dustjacket attracts them like bees to pollen. They immediately jump online or rush to a Big Box Bookstore to pick up the latest conservative polemic (and then complain about liberal control of bookstores because they can’t find what they want). Once they’ve had their fill of one title, off they go to gobble up another.

Conservative Publishers, like Regnery, will produce thousands of copies of the latest conservative shot in the punditry wars. More left-leaning Publishing houses (which means almost everyone other than Regnery and Encounter) may be slower in getting titles to market, but one way or another thousands of copies are on bookstore shelves. Eventually, numerous unsold or used copies of these political potboilers end up lingering in remainder and half-price stacks, unread and forgotten. Write a book extolling the virtues of feminized men or do-it-yourself spirituality and, while you may no longer collect royalties on it, you will certainly keep used-book sellers in business. Conservative books … eh, not so much. Are conservaive bookbuyers afraid of used bookstores? (more…)

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Frankenstein by Bernie Wrightson

Frankenstein by Bernie Wrightson

NRO’s indominatable Kathryn Jean Lopez is dropping little nuggets from Bill Bennet’s list of books every High School student should have read before he or she graduates. The list should not surprise anyone familiar with great literature. I do wonder, however, if there are teachers out there with the spine it would take to get their male students to sit down with Jane Austen’s Pride an d Prejudice.

John J. Miller could make me develop a man-crush, however, with his brief list of Science Fiction books every boy should read. Orwell’s 1984 makes Dr. Bennet’s list, but that is the only work of speculative fiction that is on the list.

Miller notes several SF books he would like to see boys read, includeing Frankenstein, Brave New World, A Canticle for Leibowitz, Fahrenheit 451, and Enders Game. He also gives a nod to The Lord of the Rings. I would love to see a list of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror books that folks think every High School student should read. Think of it as giving these kids Dessert after the necessary eating of Lima Beans and Brussell Sprouts.

I do not think that Dessert can come without the Main Course. I have to confess to skipping far to many of the Main Dishes that Dr. Bennet lists. I know that my love for the written word came not from reading Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man, but from reading H. G. Wells’ The Invisible Man. Might one be more likely to entice young men with Dickens and Hawthorne if these lads know that these Gentlemen of Letters wrote ghost stories?

Something to think about.

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The greatest minds of a generation gathered to discuss what should be done. A great evil threatens them all; war looms on the horizon, citizens are threatened, some are killed simply because, unknowingly, they were in evil’s path. The thing that those who would do evil most desire sits amidst these great leaders, enticing them, beguiling them, leading them to bicker and argue. While leaders and great minds of the time argue and debate, the least among them stands up and declares, he will do that which no one else seems capable or willing.

Put yourself in the place of the smallest and least among these great people. Would you have that kind of courage? Could you stand before so many who know so much more of the world and its ways than you do and say that you will do what they will not? Would you have the strength of character to carry a burden from which most either withdraw in fear or lust for greedily? Would you be willing to take on this burden and at the same time, acknowledge before all that you do not know how you will accomplish this great task?

These are the questions I ask myself when I watched this scene from The Fellowship of the Ring:

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declarationindepI found this story through a Twitter contact. I think it is an instructive anecdote on human behavior. The Declaration of Independence is brilliant because it embodies the opportunity, the “pursuit of happiness”, that America offers. This founding document did not guarantee happiness for all, only the opportunity that anyone could pursue happiness.

An economics professor at [State University] said he had never failed a single student before but had, once, failed an entire class. The class had insisted that socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer. The professor then said ok, we will have an experiment in this class on socialism.

All grades would be averaged and everyone would receive the same grade so no one would fail and no one would receive an A.

After the first test the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy. But, as the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too, so they studied little.

The second test average was a D. No one was happy.

When the third test rolled around, the average was an F.

The scores never increased as bickering, blame, and name calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for anyone else.

To their great surprise, all failed. The professor told them that socialism would ultimately fail because the harder it is to succeed the greater the reward, but when a government takes all the reward away, no one will try and no one will succeed…

HT: Orrin Woodward

Updated in response to a comment left by a visitor who was upset that this could not be sourced to a real live professor. Hopefully folks still find the story useful as a starting point for a discussion.

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Dr. Peter Kreeft proposes seven preconditions for a hero — hierarchy, teleology/purpose/design, natural law, absolutes, free will, honor, and suffering — in order to start a discussion of the question: do heroes exist today?” This is a talk given at an Act One Symposium “Storytelling for the 21st Century“.

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Opening Wilhelm Ropke’s  A Humane Economy:edmund-burke

Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites; in proportion as their love of justice is above their rapacity; proportion as their soundness and sobriety of understanding is above their vanity and presumption; in proportion as they are more disposed to listen to the counsels of the wise and good, in preference to the flattery of knaves. Society cannot exist unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere, and the less of it there is within, the more there be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemprerate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.

— Edmund Burke, A Letter from Mr. Burke to a Member of the National Assembly in Answer to Some Objections to His Book on French Affair, 1791

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I like to know a quote’s context and Santayana’s “those who cannot remember the past” quote, which has been making

George Santayana

George Santayana

some rounds lately, is even more prescient when taken in full context.

“Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. In the first stage of life the mind is frivolous and easily distracted, it misses progress by failing in consecutiveness and persistence. This is the condition of children and barbarians, in which instinct has learned nothing from experience.”

George Santayana, The Life of Reason, Volume 1, 1905

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