Chemical Weapons and the ‘Unnecessary Roughness’ Rule

Fans of the NFL will be familiar with the unnecessary roughness rule; it’s one of those features of America’s most popular game that  sometimes causes bemusement, even to those who consider themselves long-time devotees. In a game memorably described as ‘young men running around risking spinal injury’ or ‘an endless series of head-on collisions’, thereContinue reading “Chemical Weapons and the ‘Unnecessary Roughness’ Rule”

I’d Rather Be ‘Working’?

A New Yorker cartoon shows us a car careening down the street; from the rear, we can make out the silhouettes of a mother and three children in their car-seats; a ball is being thrown up in the air; and on the back of the car, a bumper sticker reads ‘I’d rather be working.’ ParentsContinue reading “I’d Rather Be ‘Working’?”

Is Economics a Science?

Eric Maskin, 2007 Nobel Prize winner in Economics, responds to Alex Rosenberg and Tyler Curtain’s characterization of economics: They claim that a scientific discipline is to be judged primarily on its predictions, and on that basis, they suggest, economics doesn’t qualify as a science. Prediction is certainly a valuable goal in science, but not theContinue reading “Is Economics a Science?”

Ambition, the ‘Dangerous Vice’ and ‘Compelling Passion’

In reviewing William Casey King‘s Ambition, a History: From Vice to Virtue (‘Wanting More, More, More‘, New York Review of Books, 11 July 2013), David Bromwich writes: Machiavelli thought ambition a dangerous vice…for Machiavelli ambition was also a compelling passion—a large cause of the engrossing changes of fortune that happen because “nature has created men soContinue reading “Ambition, the ‘Dangerous Vice’ and ‘Compelling Passion’”

Of First and Second Languages – I

Costica Bradatan‘s essay ‘Born Again in a Second Language‘ made me think my own homes in the two languages I speak: English and Hindi/Urdu/Hindustani. Because I grew up in India, English is often termed my ‘second language.’ I, however, describe English as my ‘first language’ because it is the language in which I posses the greatestContinue reading “Of First and Second Languages – I”

Edward Mendelson on Anthony Hecht and the Palliations of Poetry

In writing on Anthony Hecht‘s poetry in  (‘Seeing is Not Believing‘, The New York Review of Books, 20 June 2013), Edward Mendelson remarks: In a familiar paradox of art, Hecht’s poems got their structure and strength from his irrational judgments and defensive vulnerability. But Hecht did something deeper and more complex than finding compensations in theContinue reading “Edward Mendelson on Anthony Hecht and the Palliations of Poetry”

Skyler White, The Anti-Muse?

Yesterday I wrote a short response to Anna Gunn‘s New York Times Op-Ed about the negative reaction to the Skyler White character on Breaking Bad. I want to add a couple of points to that today. Some of the adverse reaction to Skyler finds its grounding in her instantiation of an archetype that I alluded toContinue reading “Skyler White, The Anti-Muse?”

Skyler the Shrew?

Anna Gunn has an interesting Op-Ed in The New York Times today, detailing her response to the almost universally negative, vitriolic, misogynistic response that her character on Breaking Bad—Skyler, the wife of Walter White–has evoked. In it, she writes: My character, to judge from the popularity of Web sites and Facebook pages devoted to hatingContinue reading “Skyler the Shrew?”

Stop and Frisk, Jersey City Style

This horrifying story of TSA overreach prompts my post today. It has nothing to do with the TSA but everything to do with the abuse of power. Almost twenty-five years ago, while attending graduate school in Newark, I visited Jersey City to meet a good friend of mine. I was accompanied by two other friendsContinue reading “Stop and Frisk, Jersey City Style”

Drop The Whistle; Shoot A Black Kid Instead (or Torture Prisoners)

Chelsea Manning has been sentenced to jail for thirty-five years for committing the heinous crime of whistleblowing. Manning knows that she didn’t just commit a crime, she committed the wrong sort of crime: Manning spoke to reporters after the hearing, to admit his disappointment at the sentence, telling those gathered, “I look back to thatContinue reading “Drop The Whistle; Shoot A Black Kid Instead (or Torture Prisoners)”