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Posted on Sat. Dec. 01, 2012 - 12:01 am EDT

ALARMS AND DIVERSIONS FOR THE THINKING PERSON

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The reading list

“Aristotle identifies three essential bases for friendship: utility, pleasure and virtue. Friendships of virtue, Aristotle believes, are ideal because only they are based on recognition.

“When I was 30, I moved back to Philadelphia. I had only been gone a few years, and though I knew better, I had half expected it to be just as I'd left it. It was not: most of my friends had left the city altogether or moved, married, to the edges of town. Occasionally, I would run into people I had once known, encounters that produced deep and surprising embarrassment in me; unexplained life choices digested in fast, always alienating, appraisal. The more unsettling thing was that my close friendships were changing, too.

“Friendship has never seemed both more important and less relevant than it does now. The concept surfaces primarily when we worry over whether our networked lives impair the quality of our connections, our community. On a nontheoretical level, adult friendship is its own puzzle. The friendships we have as adults are the intentional kind, if only because time is short. During this period, I began to consider the subject. What is essential in friendship? Why do we tolerate difference and distance? What is the appropriate amount to give? And around this same time, I discovered the curious, decades-long friendship between the writers Sherwood Anderson, Theodore Dreiser, and the sculptor Wharton Esherick.”

– From “The Art of Friendship” at theparisreview.org

A quiz

Who was Time magazine's “man of the year” for 1938?

Wisdom of the ages

“Lasting change is a series of compromises. And compromise is all right, as long as your values don't change. – Jane Goodall

Current wisdom

“You cannot be a true God-fearing person and be on a television show like that. I know I can't. I'm not OK with what I'm learning, what the Bible says, and being on that television show.” – Actor Angus T. Jones, 19, encouraging viewers to stop watching the hit CBS comedy “Two and a Half Men,” in which he plays Jake Harper.

Quiz answer

Adolph Hitler

Snob words

potvaliancy (POT-val-yuhn-see), n. – brave only as a result of being drunk, as in: “The editorial writer knew he would suffer a terrible hangover, but his potvaliancy was the only reason he could endure the meeting with the politician.”

Today in history

On this date in 1913, the continuous moving assembly line was introduced by Ford; and the rest, as they say, is history.

Now you knoiw

The bus is a relatively new means of travel. Its name comes from the Latin omnibus, which means “for all” (hence the “omnibus bills” that are considered by Congress).


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