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Trump, the University of Chicago, and the Collapse of Public Language

The New Yorker

A while back, I went to San Francisco to report a piece about some protests happening in town. The conflict, as narrated in the local papers, puzzled me. Although it supposedly centered on private buses for tech workers, the concerns had a more broadly political air. This was not surprising--San Francisco is the capital of broad politics--but I couldn't see where ideological disputes actually arose. Protesters painted themselves as grass-roots liberals, speaking up for poor, creative, or countercultural outsiders.


Waiting for Gödel

The New Yorker

In June of 1975, the Office of the White House Press Secretary announced President Gerald R. Ford's picks for the National Medal of Science. One went to the Austrian-born mathematician and logician Kurt Gödel. Nicknamed Mr. Why by his parents, Gödel was known to a subset of his constituents as, simply, God. He received fan mail from all over the world, archiving it into files of "autograph requests," "inquiries from students and amateurs," "letters of appreciation," and "crank correspondence." A self-described "dunce fool of Mathematics" in West Bengal wrote seeking Gödel's "Guruship," and a svelte math teacher in California confessed that she'd taken the liberty of enlarging a photo of Gödel to make a poster for her classroom.