Free Thought and Official Propaganda (Bertrand Russell)

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Free Thought and Official Propaganda

“This is the Conway memorial lecture, delivered by Mr. Russell at South Place Institute, London, 24 March, 1922.

Moncure Conway, in whose honour we are assembled to-day, devoted his life to two great objects: freedom of thought and freedom of the individual. In regard to both these objects, something has been gained since his time, but something also has been lost. New dangers, somewhat different in form from those of past ages, threaten both kinds of freedom, and unless a vigorous and vigilant public opinion can be aroused in defence of them, there will be much less of both a hundred years hence than there is now. Continue reading…

Ren Hang (Ren Hang)

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Ren Hang

“Ren Hang, who took his life February 23, 2017 is an unlikely rebel. Slight of build, shy by nature, prone to fits of depression, the 28-year-old Beijing photographer was nonetheless at the forefront of Chinese artists’ battle for creative freedom. Like his champion Ai Weiwei, Ren was controversial in his homeland and wildly popular in the rest of the world. He said, ‘I don’t really view my work as taboo, because I don’t think so much in cultural context, or political context. Continue reading…

Before We Were Yours (Lisa Wingate)

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Before We Were Yours

“Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge—until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents—but they quickly realize the dark truth. Continue reading…

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis (J.D. Vance)

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Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans. The decline of this group, a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over forty years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J.D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck. Continue reading…

Bad Language (Lars-Gunnar Andersson & Peter Trudgill)

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Bad Language

“The title of this book is intended ironically. The main thrust of this book is to argue that one should think twice before condemning particular forms of language or linguistic usages. Written by linguists, it takes the linguist’s objective view but is written in non-technical language so that it can be accessible and entertaining to a large audience. Topics covered include swearing, slang, dialects, accents and jargon.”

New Books Playground says: Bad Language is the most interesting linguistics book we’ve read—it’s entertaining and we got confirmation for what we’ve suspected (that language change is natural). Continue reading…