Aurora is All-American, Grimly So

I consider myself to have some facility with words but I’m struggling today to find a term that will describe a political debate that has progressed to the point where the most perspicuous contributions to it are made by satirists, cartoonists and professional humorists. (Should all political debates be so blessed? I wonder.)  The ‘debate’–forContinue reading “Aurora is All-American, Grimly So”

Online v. In-Classroom Education: Not Quite a No-Contest

“AH, you’re a professor. You must learn so much from your students.” This line, which I’ve heard in various forms, always makes me cringe. Do people think that lawyers learn a lot about the law from their clients? That patients teach doctors much of what they know about medicine? This is an exceedingly strange wayContinue reading “Online v. In-Classroom Education: Not Quite a No-Contest”

The Olympics Are Here, I’m Leaving

I am a sports fan. I have spent many hours, days, weeks–I’d better stop now before this gets depressing–of my life centered around the sports I follow. Cricket most notably, but football (Association and American), tennis, boxing, baseball, basketball, track and field–the list goes on. It might therefore be a reasonable surmise that I shouldContinue reading “The Olympics Are Here, I’m Leaving”

The ‘Narcissism of the True Artist’ and Reading What One Writes

In his seminal Nietzsche: The Man and his Philosophy, RJ Hollingdale, after noting that Nietzsche made note of some forty-six poems composed between 1855 and 1858, goes on to say: The sign that he was a born writer, however, is not to be found in them, but in a remark in Aus Meinem Leben [From My Life],Continue reading “The ‘Narcissism of the True Artist’ and Reading What One Writes”

Incubating Corporate Wrongdoers: Catch ’em Young

Luigi Zingales asks, ‘Do Business Schools Incubate Criminals?,’ in response to news that continues the depressing ticker-tape of scandal emanating from our financial and business communities, wonders how so many business executives show little ethical sensibility given that business schools offer instruction in ethics, suggests the classes offered are flawed, and eventually prescribes that: [E]thics shouldContinue reading “Incubating Corporate Wrongdoers: Catch ’em Young”

Colm Tóibín on the ‘Real’ and the ‘Imagined’

Colm Tóibín writes of the intimate relationship between facts and fiction (‘What Is Real Is Imagined’, New York Times, July 14 2012), about how the story-teller’s primary responsibility is to the story, about how the novelist may, in creating fiction, embroider the facts, embellishing and enhancing, for being stuck just with the facts is not aContinue reading “Colm Tóibín on the ‘Real’ and the ‘Imagined’”

Readin’ and Ridin’: The Subway Car as Reading Room

Like many New Yorkers, I do a lot of reading on the subway, standing or sitting. (It is a depressing fact, of course, that too many of us now seem fixated by smartphones, playing video games, or texting endlessly.) Sometimes I walk into  a car with a book already open, sometimes I seat myself, openContinue reading “Readin’ and Ridin’: The Subway Car as Reading Room”

Skinny Puppy’s ‘Nature’s Revenge’ and Tracing a Sample’s Provenance

As should be clear from the contents of this blog, I fly my nerd flag proudly. One way in which this nerdiness manifests itself is absurd pleasure in etymology lessons. (For instance, I’ve just discovered the Civil War-era origins of  ‘shoddy‘ and ‘sideburn‘ and feel curiously gratified as a result.) This morning, I’ve chanced upon anotherContinue reading “Skinny Puppy’s ‘Nature’s Revenge’ and Tracing a Sample’s Provenance”

My Father’s Aviator Sunglasses

As a young boy I loved and admired many things about my father. Foremost among them was the fact that he was an Air Force pilot, a decorated one, one who had fought in two wars, capable of feats of valor and skill that boggled my juvenile mind. He seemed impossibly charismatic. How could heContinue reading “My Father’s Aviator Sunglasses”

Staying Together, Fighting Together, Dying Together

In his one-volume history of the American Civil War, Battle Cry of Freedom (Ballantine Books, New York, 1988), James McPherson notes how the protagonists mobilized for war: In the North as in the South, volunteer regiments retained close ties to their states. Enlisted men elected many of their officers and governors appointed the rest. CompaniesContinue reading “Staying Together, Fighting Together, Dying Together”