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Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press

Alarms and diversions for the thinking person

Saturday, May 13, 2017 12:01 am

The reading list

“Plenty of readers know about the later, mature Dostoevsky, but far fewer know about the young man he once was, the one who thought he was moments away from execution. His presence in front of a firing squad may come as a surprise to anyone familiar with Dostoevsky's later writing, in which he was a ferocious opponent of the young generation's revolutionary ideas, and an equally ferocious defender of the tsar's authority and the Russian Orthodox Church. It's no exaggeration to say that Dostoevsky felt the very soul of Russia was at stake. Ivan Turgenev, in his short novel 'Fathers and Sons,' coined the word 'nihilists' for these young radicals, who seemed hell bent on smashing the existing society and replacing it with one founded on values inimical to people like Dostoevsky. They were an existential threat to the nation and they are presented as such throughout all of Dostoevsky's later works. Sometimes their ideas are the focus of his attacks, like in 'Notes from Underground,' which is essentially a rebuttal to the socialist arguments made in 'What Is to Be Done?' by Nikolai Chernyshevsky, (a book that, more than any other, inspired those who would later instigate the Russian Revolution). Other times, the youth of Russia are the explicit enemy. The plot of 'Demons' was directly inspired by the murder of a Russian at the hands of a group not all that different from the Petrashevsky Circle.” — From “At the Firing Squad: The Radical Works of a Young Dostoevsky,” at themillions.com

A quiz

In the U.S. it's 35 percent. In Ireland, it's only 12.5 percent, and in Bermuda it's zero. What is it?

Wisdom of the ages

“I want people to talk to one another no matter what their difference of opinion might be.” — Studs Terkel

Current wisdom

“South Korea must embrace the North Korean people to achieve peaceful reunification one day.” — Newly elected South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

Quiz answer

The top corporate tax rate.

Snob words

sophistry (SOF-uh-stree), n. — a subtle, tricky, superficially plausible, but generally fallacious method of reasoning, as in: “The editorial writer demolished the politician's sophistry with a devastating editorial.”

Today in history

On this day in 1846, the U.S. declared war on México, two months after the fighting began; surprise!

Now you know

In 1900, a hurricane in Galveston, Texas, killed more than 8,000 people, making it the deadliest weather emergency in U.S. history. 


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