Sandy: A Royal Pain in the Arse

It is Wednesday morning, October 31st, Halloween, here in Brooklyn, in New York City; the sun is out, the winds have died down even as they retain their fall nip, and the subways aren’t running. That little nugget of information should tell you all you need to know about why it’s not business as usualContinue reading “Sandy: A Royal Pain in the Arse”

I See Your Pet Lover and Raise You J.R. Ackerley

Natural disasters, especially hurricanes like Hurricane Sandy, always bring forth, besides flooding, stories of dedicated pet lovers, of dogs, cats and mynah birds rescued and cared for in myriad ways by their doting owners, nay, family members. In that spirit, I bring you J. R. Ackerley and Queenie. Today…Ackerley is remembered primarily as a memoiristContinue reading “I See Your Pet Lover and Raise You J.R. Ackerley”

Children Meeting Children: Observations from the Field

Last night, I attended a birthday party for a one-year old, extremely cute, daughter of friends of mine. Watching her vigorous, always entertaining, even if occasionally tearful, interactions with her two-year old cousin prompted some thoughts on how children exist in an interestingly idiosyncratic universe, one observable by, and sometimes even participated in, by adults,Continue reading “Children Meeting Children: Observations from the Field”

Displacements of, Not Solutions to, Philosophical Problems: A Quick Primer

A close, critical reader is worth his weight in gold. I am reminded of this whenever I share a bit of writing with someone who proceeds to clear up confusions deftly and rapidly, and sometimes, represents my position better than I had managed. In part of a rough piece of writing tucked away somewhere, IContinue reading “Displacements of, Not Solutions to, Philosophical Problems: A Quick Primer”

Bosses Call For Mass Harakiri In Event of Obama Victory

In what some election observers are terming an ‘extreme, possibly misguided–and certainly un-American in its excessive Japaneseness–response’ to the US Supreme Court’s Citizens’ United decision freeing companies from restrictions on using corporate funds to endorse and campaign for political candidates, several large American employers have called for mass, public harakiri in the event that Barack ObamaContinue reading “Bosses Call For Mass Harakiri In Event of Obama Victory”

If Machines Do All The ‘Work’, What Will Humans Do?

At The Atlantic Moshe Vardi wonders about the consequences of machine intelligence.  Vardi’s article features the subtitle ‘If machines are capable of doing any work that humans can do, then what will humans do?’ and is occasioned by the following: While the loss of millions of jobs over the past few years has been attributedContinue reading “If Machines Do All The ‘Work’, What Will Humans Do?”

Our Truly Messed-Up Constitution (And Those Dedicated To Keeping It That Way)

Sanford Levinson‘s Our Undemocratic Constitution: Where the Constitution Goes Wrong (And How We The People Can Correct It) is a truly depressing book. As I read it last night and this morning–in preparation for a meeting today with this semester’s Wolfe Institute Faculty Discussion Group–I grew increasingly enraged, perplexed, and then, finally, even more convincedContinue reading “Our Truly Messed-Up Constitution (And Those Dedicated To Keeping It That Way)”

The Heartbreaking, Transformative Effect of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

This past summer, as my wife and I drove through parts the American West, we visited Badlands National Park in South Dakota. During our brief stay in the park, we made the obligatory visit to the visitor’s center: to pick up maps, refill our water bottles, and perhaps to pick up a book or twoContinue reading “The Heartbreaking, Transformative Effect of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee”

Shakespeare, Drayton, and Birdsong, Then and Now

In his The Life and Times of William Shakespeare, Peter Levi wrote, [H]istory and family connection do as much to throw light on Shakespeare as a poet as academic criticism has done, and maybe more. The problem is that England and Stratford and the Elizabethan age are all somehow part of his great mystery, andContinue reading “Shakespeare, Drayton, and Birdsong, Then and Now”

Ronald Reagan and the Casual Invocation of ‘Lynching’

In March 1983, Anne Gorsuch Burford, the chief administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, fired Rita Lavelle on charges of having abused the $1.6 billion Superfund that the US Congress had earmarked for cleaning up chemical spills and hazardous waste dumps. Allegedly, Superfund monies were being steered to Republican officeholders seeking relection. A few weeks later,Continue reading “Ronald Reagan and the Casual Invocation of ‘Lynching’”