Eelgrass and a Confucian Contradiction

Confucius once said that everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it. I was vaguely persuaded by this precept until I was recently attacked, upon leaving my house, by an intimidating flock of crows. I find crows uniquely repulsive — it’s some combination of their unpredictable fluttering, irritating shrillness, and also probably their near-daily attempts … Continue reading Eelgrass and a Confucian Contradiction

An Assortment of Silences

There’s a short story by Heinrich Böll that I like, titled “Murke’s Collected Silences.” Set in postwar Germany, it follows a radio editor named Dr. Murke, whose job is to sift through hours of audio tracks and trim them before broadcast. It’s a subtly satirical read: the radio station’s director has a religious awakening at … Continue reading An Assortment of Silences

On “Good Arguments” (and Bad Ones)

1. "Arguments require us to disclose ourselves in a way that physical brawls or simple forbearance do not. In conflict with the world, we discover the boundaries of who we are and what we believe." Good Arguments is a book written recently by Bo Seo, a writer at the Australian Financial Review who debated for … Continue reading On “Good Arguments” (and Bad Ones)

Everyday Infinities

Infinity is a terrifying concept. Blaise Pascal once said: “When I consider the short duration of my life, swallowed up in an eternity before and after, the little space I fill engulfed in the infinite immensity of spaces whereof I know nothing, and which know nothing of me, I am terrified. The eternal silence of … Continue reading Everyday Infinities

On “Olympus Has Fallen”

This week, I watched the 2013 film Olympus Has Fallen, described somewhat aptly by one critic as “a lumpy version of Die Hard but with Gerard Butler instead of Bruce Willis.” In my opinion, it was a bit disappointing, even rating it on the exclusive criteria of a stock action movie. For one, the plot … Continue reading On “Olympus Has Fallen”

On “Capital and Ideology”

In her book Plutocrats, Chrysia Freeland writes: “In 2005, Bill Gates was worth $46.5 billion and Warren Buffet $44 billion. That year, the combined wealth of the 120 million people who made up the bottom 40 percent of the U.S. population was around $95 billion—barely more than the sum of the fortunes of these two men.” That is astounding, and by logical extension of this fact, if we were to hypothetically expropriate these two men of their wealth and redistribute it, we could double the material conditions of four in ten American citizens.

British Columbia’s Perilous School Reopening Plan

Last week, British Columbia announced its plan for reopening schools in September. At best, it is optimistic, and at worst, it could be dangerously incompetent. The plan involves a full reopening of schools in “learning cohorts” of up to 60 individuals in elementary schools and up to 120 in high schools, including both students and … Continue reading British Columbia’s Perilous School Reopening Plan

Snowglobe Utopia

Among my menagerie of desk toys, I have no fewer than seven snowglobes neatly lined up in arrow formation, fond mementos of Northern Ireland, Panama, Disneyland, and beyond. They began as innocently decorative sources of amusement, but after days of sitting idly in my room, staring into these neatly packaged spherical universes, they occupy a … Continue reading Snowglobe Utopia