Prufrock: ‘Land!’ and Freedom, Frank Lloyd Wright at 150, and a New Punctuation Mark

Reviews and News:

Remember that story last year about the Malaysian government funding The Wolf of Wall Street? Turns out they may have funded Dumb and Dumber To and Daddy’s Home, as well: “A $9.2 million Basquiat painting, a $260 million yacht, a $27 million necklace, and profits from three major motion pictures comprise just a fraction of what federal authorities have vowed to seize in the sprawling corruption case, which the DOJ launched in July 2016 with a civil forfeiture complaint.”

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Another typographer introduces a new punctuation mark, which will probably work out as well as the interrobang. Remember that one? Me neither: “On May 27, at the international design conference TYPO Berlin two new typefaces will be launched that are designed as part of the TilburgsAns project. Both typefaces – TilburgsAnsText and TilburgsAnsIcons – contain a new punctuation mark. This mark is based on the Tilburg dialect word ‘jè’ (which sounds more or less as ‘yeah’) that is used as a confirmation but often expresses some doubt or mild irony. The jè-mark bridges the gap between the exclamation point and the question mark.”

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Revisiting John Crowe Ransom’s Land! “Writing in the early 1930s, at the onset of the worst economic crisis in American history, Ransom proposed not only a return to the land but also a retreat from the market as the surest means of ending unemployment. Ransom seems to have assumed that capitalism, at least in its corporate form, could not and should not be saved. Only an independent existence on the land could shield Americans from poverty and want, liberating them once and for all from the vicissitudes an economy that, from time to time, rendered them superfluous.”

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Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: “Baiting Frank Lloyd Wright has long been a blood sport; his arrogance makes people want to knock him off his pedestal. On the other hand, his acolytes and ardent fans idolize him uncritically. Neither extreme provides much insight into the architect, though, about whom many questions remain.”

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How Buckley defined American conservatism.

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Andrew Ferguson on Bob Dylan’s plagiarism: “When Dylan takes other people’s stuff for his own work, he doesn’t just pass it along so that others in the “folk tradition” can then take it and claim it for their own, as part of the long glorious evolution of culture. No, he copyrights it. He makes people who want to use it pay for it. And he’s got a nice big house in Malibu to prove it.”

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A survey of American pun competitions: “So what type of people love puns enough to declaim them under the hot lights of Brooklyn’s Punderdome or the blazing sun of Austin’s O. Henry Pun-Off? Berkowitz discovers that they are comedians and coders, actors and slam poets, mathematicians and ‘unattached English majors’.”

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Valuable misprints: “Proofreaders may be worth their weight in gold to authors, but their oversights have proved lucrative for some lucky readers of JK Rowling. On Thursday, an uncorrected proof of her debut novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, with the writer’s name was misspelled as ‘JA Rowling’, became the latest muddled copy to fetch four figures at auction. It sold for just under ¢10,000, which means it is not the most valuable mistake in the boy wizard’s canon. That honour goes to a rare first edition with the word ‘philosopher’ misspelled on the back cover, which was snapped up in 2016 by a London-based businessman for ¢43,750.”

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Essay of the Day:

In Hakai Magazine, Ferris Jabr writes about the surprising effects of moonlight on sea life:

“Scientists have known for centuries that the moon alters Earth’s ecosystems through gravity. As it spins around our planet, warping space-time, the moon contributes to a complex contortion of the oceans, producing twin bulges we call the tides. In turn, the daily marriage and separation of land and sea transforms the topography of numerous species’ homes and the access they have to food, shelter, and each other.

“The moon also stabilizes Earth’s climate. Earth does not have perfect posture; it is tilted along its polar axis, circling the sun at an angle of about 23 degrees. The moon acts as an anchor, preventing the Earth from varying its axial tilt by more than a degree or two. Without the moon, our planet would likely wobble about like a dreidel, tilting a full 10 degrees every 10,000 years, and possibly oscillating the global climate between ice ages and hellish heat the likes of which no species has ever endured.

“What is becoming increasingly clear, however, is that the moon also influences life in a more surprising and subtle way: with its light. Most organisms possess an array of genetically encoded biological clocks that coordinate internal physiology and anticipate rhythmic changes in the environment. These clocks are wound by various environmental cues known as zeitgebers (time givers), such as light and temperature. Sunlight is the best-studied zeitgeber, but it turns out that for many aquatic creatures, moonlight is just as crucial. In the past few years, scientists have rekindled a long-neglected curiosity about the moon’s power to manipulate life, reviving studies on biology’s secret moon clocks.”

Read the rest.

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Photo: Vineyard kangaroos

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Poem: Ilyse Kusnetz, “How To Build a Stradivarius”

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This post originally appeared on Weekly Standard

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