The Curse of Faction

The Republican Party … was literally shattered into fragments, and we had no fewer than five Republican Presidential candidates in the field. In the place of two great parties arrayed against each other in a fair and open contest … the country was overrun with personal factions. These, having few higher motives for the selection of their candidates or stronger incentives to action than individual preferences or antipathies, moved the bitter waters of political agitation to their lowest depths.

President Martin Van Buren, writing about the election of 1824.

His book is a free Kindle book. Read the whole thing.

Inquiry into the Origin and the Course of Political Parties in the United States (1867)

Hat/tip to Facebook – Robert Reich. My Facebook share.

Moth Putin

I listen to every episode of Throughline (on NPR) that comes out. I haven’t missed an episode so far. All of them have been worth the time to listen, but this week’s episode provided an insight on a modern figure that we Americans and other free peoples of the world should take the time to learn more about.

Throughline – The Moth – December 26, 2019

…because if we don’t counter his plans for us, what happened to Moscow and Chechnya and Ukraine could well happen in your town/state/country soon.


January 26, 2020.

All Things Considered – Journalist Joshua Yaffa On New Book, ‘Between Two Fires’ – January 26, 2020

The Russian language has an especially rich word for a person skilled in the act of compromise and adaptation, who intuitively understands what is expected of him and adjusts his beliefs and conduct accordingly: prisposoblenets

———

I became convinced that the most edifying, and important, character for journalistic study in Russia is not Putin, but those people whose habits, inclinations, and internal moral calculations elevated Putin to his Kremlin throne and who now perform the small, daily work that, in aggregate, keeps him there.

Joshua Yaffa
Between Two Fires by Joshua Yaffa

Saratova at one point quotes a Russian movie about gangsters led by their circumstances into a life of crime: “It’s not us who are broken, it’s our life.” Ultimately, Between Two Fires is a good book about Russia, but a great book about ethics, choice, and coercion — and to read it is to be reminded that one of democracy’s most important freedoms is the freedom to be good.

WAMU

Mailed to Freedom

“I felt my eyes swelling as though they would burst from their sockets, and the veins on my temples were dreadfully distended with pressure of blood upon my head,” Brown wrote. “I felt a cold sweat coming over me that seemed to be warning that death was about to terminate my earthly miseries.”

Washington Post – Henry ‘Box’ Brown

…he then turned his escape into an act that he made a fortune with.

Solve for X

The problem for the Medieval Spanish scholars who were tasked with translating this material is that the letter sheen and the word shayun can’t be rendered into Spanish because Spanish doesn’t have that SH, that “sh” sound. So by convention, they created a rule in which they borrowed the CK sound, “ck” sound, from the classical Greek in the form of the letter Kai.

Later when this material was translated into a common European language, which is to say Latin, they simply replaced the Greek Kai with the Latin X. And once that happened, once this material was in Latin, it formed the basis for mathematics textbooks for almost 600 years.

But now we have the answer to our question. Why is it that X is the unknown? X is the unknown because you can’t say “sh” in Spanish. (Laughter) And I thought that was worth sharing.

Terry Moore
TED2012 -Terry Moore – Why is ‘x’ the unknown?

First heard on NPR’s TED Radio Hour of the same title. Feature image is from that episode. Here is the segment.

Editor’s note, 2020. Another tribute to my now-defunct Tumblr account. This quote entry wouldn’t exist had NPR’s link rendered an image to go with the link itself. Having spent hours trying to do something today, I’ve now done something. Yay me.