On The ‘Net: Letting ‘Em Have The Last Word

I began arguing on the Internet some twenty-seven years ago. I haven’t stopped yet. At first, it was all about the Usenet newsgroups; later it was mailing lists–private and public, online conferences, blog posts, blog comments spaces, IRC channels, Facebook and Twitter timelines. I read, I wrote, I flamed; I was read, I was flamed.Continue reading “On The ‘Net: Letting ‘Em Have The Last Word”

Mad Max: Furiosa Road

It’s entirely appropriate that Mad Max: Fury Road end with Max bidding a quiet farewell to Imperator Furiosa and slinking away into the crowd that has gathered for what appears to be her coronation. For as you sit through the extended closing credits, listening to a pounding reprise of the movie’s epic score at fullContinue reading “Mad Max: Furiosa Road”

Doris McIlwain On The Rationality Of ‘Irrational’ Love And Hate

In Living Palely: On the rationality of a certain fullness of feeling (Artlink, Vol 29 No. 3, 2009), Doris McIlwain writes:  Friendship and love are not fully rational enterprises. They become strangely symptomatic when we approach them as if they are….To me the sign that you really like someone is when you cannot quite offer a fullContinue reading “Doris McIlwain On The Rationality Of ‘Irrational’ Love And Hate”

Heard The One About Fascists, Socialists, And Murderers?

In Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny (W. W. Norton, New York, 2006, pp. 6-7), Amartya Sen, in the course of asserting how ‘our freedom to assert our personal identities can sometimes be extraordinarily limited in the eyes of others’, slips in the following: [S]ometimes we may not even be fully aware how othersContinue reading “Heard The One About Fascists, Socialists, And Murderers?”

Schopenhauer On Disillusioned Lovers

In On Human Nature: Essays Partly Posthumous in Ethics and Politics (1896:1957, Allen and Unwin, London, pp. 14), Schopenhauer writes Every human perfection is allied to a defect into which it threatens to pass; but it is also true that every defect is allied to a perfection. Hence it is that if, as often happens, we make a mistake aboutContinue reading “Schopenhauer On Disillusioned Lovers”

Women Raping Women And The Frightening Ubiquity Of Rape

A woman I used to know told me–in the course of recounting her political journey from timid, sheltered suburban dweller to a passionate feminist and advocate for abortion rights–that she had been raped twice. On the second occasion, she had been raped by a workplace friend; she became pregnant and required an abortion.  On theContinue reading “Women Raping Women And The Frightening Ubiquity Of Rape”

Sam Harris Should Read Bernard Williams

In Shame and Necessity (Sather Classical Lectures, University of California Press, 2nd ed., 2008, pp. 68-69) writing on the ancient Greeks’ conceptions of responsibility and human agency via the tale of Oedipus, Bernard Williams writes: [T]here is another aspect to responsibility, which comes out if we start on the question not from the response that the publicContinue reading “Sam Harris Should Read Bernard Williams”

Alan Dershowitz: A Hypocrite Grows In Brooklyn

Alan Dershowitz has long perfected the art of throwing a toddler’s tantrum  – especially in his fulminations against the academic freedom that his fellow academics and he himself enjoys. Last year, when Omar Barghouti and Judith Butler spoke at a BDS-themed event at Brooklyn College,  our esteemed academic hygienist threw a particularly epic fit. HeContinue reading “Alan Dershowitz: A Hypocrite Grows In Brooklyn”

The ‘Trivial’ Roots Of Resentment

Some three decades ago, I went to buy tickets for a major sports event. I was a teenager, eager to see top-class athletes in action; I woke early, caught a bus to the ticket box-office and joined the long queues that had already formed by the time I arrived. The lines grew and grew; ticketsContinue reading “The ‘Trivial’ Roots Of Resentment”

The Greek Alphabet: Making The Strange Familiar

In his review of Patrick Leigh Fermor‘s The Broken Road: From The Iron Gates to Mount Athos (eds. Colin Thubron and Artemis Cooper, New York Review Books, 2014) Daniel Mendelsohn writes: His deep affection and admiration for the Greeks are reflected in particularly colorful and suggestive writing. There is a passage in Mani in which the letters ofContinue reading “The Greek Alphabet: Making The Strange Familiar”