Caitlyn Jenner’s Big Début – The New Yorker

And while Twitter is no place for grammatical purists, it’s hard to resist parsing what must have been a carefully crafted début. With the addition of a comma—“Welcome to the world, Caitlyn”—Jenner’s tweet includes a salutation to herself—a hopeful prefiguring of the warmth with which her announcement so gratifyingly has been embraced. Without the comma, though, the sentence is an imperative to the reader—more forceful, less eager to please. Caitlyn is here; she is to be welcomed; get used to it. Those two meanings demarcate the space in which Jenner now lives, also captured by Leibovitz’s remarkable portrait: between the vulnerable desire to be accepted as she is and the steely repudiation of those who would deny the justice of that longing.

Rebecca Mead, in Caitlyn Jenner’s Big Début – The New Yorker.

Language Teaching And The Liberal Arts In 2010 | The New Republic

Out of the 6000 languages in the world, why is it so vital for smart people to learn the one spoken in one small European country of ever-waning influence and its former colonies? Isn’t the sense of French as a keystone of an education a legacy of when few met foreigners who spoke non-European languages, French was educated Europe’s lingua franca, and the elite who went to college often had plans to do the Grand Tour?

That is, is knowing French really so obviously central to engaging what we know in 2010 as the world, or is it that French is a kind of class marker? You know: two cars, a subscription to the Times, and mais oui, Caitlin knows some French?

Paul Krugman on the word “focus”

But I have no idea what, if anything, people mean when they say that. The whole focus on “focus” is, as I see it, an act of intellectual cowardice — a way to criticize President Obama’s record without explaining what you would have done differently.

After all, are people who say that Mr. Obama should have focused on the economy saying that he should have pursued a bigger stimulus package? Are they saying that he should have taken a tougher line with the banks? If not, what are they saying? That he should have walked around with furrowed brow muttering, “I’m focused, I’m focused”?

Mr. Obama’s problem wasn’t lack of focus; it was lack of audacity.

Real conversation

Real conversation has an unpredictability, danger, and resonance; it can take a turn anywhere and constantly borders on the unexpected and on the unknown. Real conversation is not a construct of the solitary ego; it creates community. So much of our modern talk is like a spider weaving a web of language maniacally outside itself. Our parallel monologues with their staccato stutter only reinforce our isolation. — John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom