The Daily Shower As Nero-ish Luxury

Sometimes the most mundane of experiences can serve as a particularly acute reminder of how my life in the present differs from that lived in the past. And sometimes that experience can serve too, to put a simple daily act into global context. For some twenty-five years now, whether in the US (1987-2000; 2002-present) orContinue reading “The Daily Shower As Nero-ish Luxury”

The ‘Long Live the Paper Book’ Argument Needs To Mention DRM

Justin Hollander’s defense of the traditional paper book  (‘Long Live Paper’, New York Times, 10 October 2012) is well-meant but given the severity of the challenge it faces from e-books, it is a relatively milquetoast argument. It gets to the nitty-gritty late, and as such is unlikely to convince those enamored of their convenient, pocket-stuffing e-readers.Continue reading “The ‘Long Live the Paper Book’ Argument Needs To Mention DRM”

Gus Fring: Breaking Bad’s Management Consultancy Guru

Yesterday, while writing on the corporate deadliness of The Wire‘s Stringer Bell, I noted in passing, some structural resemblances between that character and Breaking Bad‘s Gustavo ‘Gus’ Fring. But, in many ways, Gus goes well beyond Stringer in bringing the corporate to the corner. In particular, in his channeling indiscriminate violence into murderously well-directed andContinue reading “Gus Fring: Breaking Bad’s Management Consultancy Guru”

Baltimore Dispatches – III: Stringer and the Deadly Suaveness Of the Drug Trade

In New Zealand, you can get GPS-guided tours of locales used for Lord of the Rings action; tourists snap them up by the dozen. In Baltimore, the city of The Wire, you can get walking and driving tours that take you to Wire locales (like Season 2’s union-run shipping docks, for instance). It’s a pity theyContinue reading “Baltimore Dispatches – III: Stringer and the Deadly Suaveness Of the Drug Trade”

Baltimore Dispatches – II: Ford vs. Chrysler, Or, Picking Your Favorite Professional Sports Team

Today’s activities in Baltimore feature as centerpiece, attendance at a backyard barbecue structured around a football game. It’s Sunday, it’s fall, football is on, the Baltimore Ravens are playing the Kansas City Chiefs. There will be beer, grilling, and frequent trips to the restroom. Sounds like the kind of thing you’d do in a sports-crazyContinue reading “Baltimore Dispatches – II: Ford vs. Chrysler, Or, Picking Your Favorite Professional Sports Team”

Baltimore Dispatches: The Cask of Amontillado and the Terrors of Immurement

This Columbus Day weekend, I am ensconced in Baltimore, which has meant that, among other things, my thoughts turned to Edgar Allan Poe, the city’s most distinguished literary son, one of a select group of writers whose work I was first exposed to via comic books, and someone who, to put it mildly, gave meContinue reading “Baltimore Dispatches: The Cask of Amontillado and the Terrors of Immurement”

‘But Already It Was Impossible To Say Which Was Which’

It is almost accepted wisdom among political punditry that in recent times, American political and cultural life is characterized by two revolutions: the Fiscal Rectitude one and the Cultural License one. The former was won by the Republican party: it is committed to austere deficit reduction and budget balancing by attenuating social programs and tax cutsContinue reading “‘But Already It Was Impossible To Say Which Was Which’”

Debates: Good for Drinking Games

In 2008, during that year’s interminable election season, bars in my neighborhood posted signs they were showing the Democratic primary debates, the presidential debates, the vice-presidential debates; we all seemed to be comfortable and enthusiastic about the notion of election debates as spectator sport. I made plans to watch the vice-presidential debate between Sarah PalinContinue reading “Debates: Good for Drinking Games”

Birthdays, Coincidences, and Divination

I was born on the 156th anniversary of Percy Bysshe Shelley‘s expulsion–on grounds of atheism–from Oxford. (Thomas Jefferson Hogg, his collaborator on The Necessity of Atheism, was expelled with him; the two were accused of ‘contumacy in refusing certain answers put to them’ by the master and fellows of University College.) My birthday is also, remarkably enough:Continue reading “Birthdays, Coincidences, and Divination”

Copyright Protection for Academic Works: A Bad Idea, But Who’ll Bell The Cat?

Richard Posner has written yet another interesting critique of patent and copyright law; it includes a remark of particular interest to me: At the other extreme is academic books and articles (apart from textbooks), which are produced as a byproduct of academic research that the author must conduct in order to preserve his professional reputation and that wouldContinue reading “Copyright Protection for Academic Works: A Bad Idea, But Who’ll Bell The Cat?”