September 23, 2018

The Last Stand of St. John’s College

“Let your collegiate peers elsewhere design their own majors and frolic with Kerouac. For you it’s Kant. You have no major, only “the program,” an exploration of the Western canon that was implemented in 1937 and has barely changed.

It’s intense. Learning astronomy and math, you don’t merely encounter Copernicus’s conclusions. You pore over his actual words. You’re not simply introduced to the theory of relativity. You read “Relativity,” the book that Albert Einstein wrote.

Diversions are limited. There’s no swimming team. No pool. The dorms are functional; same goes for the dining. You’re not here for banh mi. You’re here for Baudelaire.

I’m talking about St. John’s College, which was founded in 1696 in Annapolis, Md., is the third-oldest college in America and, between its campus there and the one here, has about 775 undergraduates. And I’m drawing attention to it because it’s an increasingly exotic and important holdout against so many developments in higher education — the stress on vocational training, the treatment of students as fickle consumers, the elevation of individualism over a shared heritage — that have gone too far. It’s a necessary tug back in the other direction.”

Read more

JJ Best Of The Web

China's massive and rapid investments in Africa have been criticized by some as a form of economic colonialism. Others are just wondering why the West is missing out on the opportunity.

"For two years, Americans have tried to absorb the details of the 2016 attack — hacked emails, social media fraud, suspected spies — and President Trump’s claims that it’s all a hoax. The Times explores what we know and what it means."

Twenty-five years after Oslo, Israeli-Palestinian peace remains elusive. A mix of Leftist idealism and PLO rejectionism are to blame for taking the "process" out of the Peace Process.

"In recounting the life of alleged Mossad agent Ashraf Marwan, Ariel Vromen's disappointing film leaves the most interesting parts of the story off screen."

The tax cuts signed into law by President Donald Trump will add to the national debt. But they did succeed in one area: making rich people even richer.

"As Seen On TV" gadgets like the "sock slider" or a banana peeler are often mocked for being useless wastes of plastic. But for some individuals with disabilities, these gadgets make all the difference.

If SJWs often resemble religious fundamentalists, bell hooks is their highest prophet. Her work on gender and intersectionality have redefined American campuses, and her ideas are being put into action with religious fervor.

"It strikes me that we’re now suffering collectively from a “tyranny of the virtual,” since we find ourselves unable to look away from the screens that mediate not just print but, increasingly, reality itself."

Parents see it all the time. Young girls, confident and full of joy, become timid and shy around their tween and early teen years. A new book explores the sociological explanations for the loss in confidence.

How did a Chinese citrus fruit become the central symbol of one of Judaism's most important holidays? According to a new book by Rabbi David Moster, the Etrog wasn't always so important. For ancient Jews, any old fruit would do.

If IQ tests are any indication, Americans are getting stupider. Some think environmental factors could be to blame. Others say that it's our culture which is to blame for making us stupider.

According to a new book from Jack Wertheimer, American Judaism is embracing universalism in an effort to stay relevant. But this focus on universalism may threaten to undermine the vitality of the Jewish faith.