Christopher Hitchens wrote a half-assed review of one of my favorite novels, Flaubert’s Bouvard et Pecouchet. “This novel was plainly intended to show its author’s deep contempt, however comedically expressed, for all grand schemes, most especially the Rousseauean ones, to improve the human lot.” Obviously, but Hitchens missed Flaubert’s concerns about bourgeois society in general. Bouvard and Pecouchet were the lowest rung of a culture that valued literacy as a means to enlightenment. Unfortunately, literacy did not raise the spirit of the individual. It made him a valuable part of an emerging bureaucratic system. The comical errors that the two clerks made could have been made by any ‘white-collar workers’ (although not with as much frequency.)

Carnival of Feminists #7 is up.

At Die Welt, Emanuele Ottolenghi criticizes “Europe’s Good Jews”, the pressure from the European intelligentsia to say that Jews should turn against nationalism (Israel, that is) as their moral obligation as inheritors of the Holocaust. (In German) (Perhaps the question should be asked why analyses of nationalism often apply disproportionately to Israel than to other nations, as if they should eternally be ‘a people without a country.’) [ETA] Commenter Peet_G notes that the Ottolenghi article orginially appeared in English. Here is a link.

At Fistful of Euros, Mrs. T comments on how Germany’s legal prohibitions against the use of Nazi symbols has turned on people who use them to rally against the rise of extremism in Germany.

Le Monde reviews the memoires of Marc Bloch’s war experiences (not just WWII.) (In French)

Alexander at Pruned has an interesting post about the re-emergence of agriculture in areas of Los Angeles’ asphalt jungle. Joel at Far Outliers has been putting up posts about baseball in Asia and Australia (here and here.)