Roger Federer as Religious Experience, David Foster Wallace

First published in the NY Times Sports section on August 20 2006 Almost anyone who loves tennis and follows the men’s tour on television has, over the last few years, had what might be termed Federer Moments. These are times, as you watch the young Swiss play, when the jaw drops and eyes protrude and sounds are made that bring spouses in from other rooms … Continue reading Roger Federer as Religious Experience, David Foster Wallace

The Fine Art of Baloney Detection, Carl Sagan, 1995

 Sagan reflects on the many types of deception to which we’re susceptible — from psychics to religious zealotry to paid product endorsements by scientists, which he held in especially low regard, noting that they “betray contempt for the intelligence of their customers” and “introduce an insidious corruption of popular attitudes about scientific objectivity.” (Cue in PBS’s Joe Hanson on how to read science news.) But rather … Continue reading The Fine Art of Baloney Detection, Carl Sagan, 1995

Murphy’s Law

Murphy’s law is an adage or epigram that is typically stated as: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. The perceived perversity of the universe has long been a subject of comment, and precursors to the modern version of Murphy’s law are not hard to find. Recent significant research in this area has been conducted by members of the American Dialect Society. It is found that anything that can go … Continue reading Murphy’s Law

Fair Play – Alan Bennett on Private Education

Sermon before the University, King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, 1 June. Published manuscript in the LRB. Preaching is a hazard when writing plays. One isn’t supposed to preach and gets told off if one does. Poets are allowed to, but not playwrights, who if they have naked opinions, do better to clothe them in the decent ambiguities of their characters or conceal them in the sometimes … Continue reading Fair Play – Alan Bennett on Private Education

‘The Wire’ on education

You look in a ten-year-old’s eyes and you see promise, you see possibility, you see beautiful kids, and every kid deserves a chance, every kid deserves to be told they’re smart and can do anything, and a lot of kids are getting the opposite message. –Jim True-Frost, “Prez,” The Wire The HBO series “The Wire,” created by David Simon and Ed Burns, is widely regarded as one of … Continue reading ‘The Wire’ on education