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Disaggregating the News in 500 Words or Less

New Orleans  Supposedly one of the more popular things on Google, Yahoo, Huffington Post, and a score of other sites is their ability to “aggregate” the news.  I wonder  if what we really need is some clear, crawlspaces allowing us to escape out from under the avalanche of information burying us alive.   Here’s a short, idiosyncratic sampling from the Sunday New York Times.

On Using Tech as a Tool in Disasters

Mr. Costanza-Chock emphasized the importance of realistic ideas that can be deployed quickly. “It’s easy to dream up fantastic solutions, but what works on the ground and will be useful in the moment are the ones that are the most successful,” he said. “Whether it is beautiful or not does not matter.” In his experience, tools that are tied to a real need — grounded in an organization with people working on the scene, and limited to a specific geographic area — are those that have worked the best. “The challenge is not to build the tools,” he said, “but rather, how do you capture the attention and energy that people have and plug it in?”

David Mamet on What Defines Tragedy

Drama aspires to be a consideration of a moral dilemma, and tragedy must be such. A moral dilemma is one with no good, but with only one better, answer. As such, a moral decision requires courage, as one party or cause having a just claim is to be caused pain. (If the party had no just claim, it would not constitute a dilemma, as between good and evil there is no choice.)

Ross Douthat “The Liberal Gloat” on the Irony of Politically Disparate Visions

What unites all of these stories is the growing failure of America’s local associations — civic, familial, religious — to foster stability, encourage solidarity and make mobility possible.

But if conservatives don’t acknowledge the crisis’s economic component, liberalism often seems indifferent to its deeper social roots. The progressive bias toward the capital-F Future, the old left-wing suspicion of faith and domesticity, the fact that Democrats have benefited politically from these trends — all of this makes it easy for liberals to just celebrate the emerging America, to minimize the costs of disrupted families and hollowed-out communities, and to treat the places where Americans have traditionally found solidarity outside the state (like the churches threatened by the Obama White House’s contraceptive mandate) as irritants or threats.

This is a great flaw in the liberal vision, because whatever role government plays in prosperity, transfer payments are not a sufficient foundation for middle-class success. It’s not a coincidence that the economic era that many liberals pine for — the great, egalitarian post-World War II boom — was an era that social conservatives remember fondly as well: a time of leaping church attendance, rising marriage rates and birthrates, and widespread civic renewal and engagement.

Philip Roth Expressing the Paradoxical Value of Hard Work without Recognizing the Irony  

Why work?  It’s so hard!

“So I read all that great stuff,” he added, “and then I read my own and I knew I wasn’t going to get another good idea, or if I did, I’d have to slave over it.”

Answer?  Because it matters!

He added: “Why should we have any more readers? The numbers don’t mean anything. The books mean something.”