Dan Savage Should Run For Dogcatcher

Dan Savage thinks the Greens should walk before they try to run: I have a problem with the Greens…. I have a problem with these fake, attention seeking, grandstanding Green…party candidates who pop up every four years, like mushrooms in shit, saying that they’re building a third party. And those of us who don’t haveContinue reading “Dan Savage Should Run For Dogcatcher”

Dishwashing: The King Of Procrastination Strategies

Washing the dishes has long held a honorable position in the arsenal of strategies adopted by those who procrastinate. (Sometime in the near future I anticipate Facebook and Twitter conducting some sophisticated data analysis to indicate how many of their users announce it as such.) Indeed, we should elevate this claim to be one ofContinue reading “Dishwashing: The King Of Procrastination Strategies”

Melville On ‘The Most Dangerous Sort’: The Outwardly Rational Madman

In Billy Budd, Sailor (Barnes and Noble Classic Edition, New York, p. 40) Herman Melville writes: [T]he thing which in eminent instances signalizes so exceptional a nature is this: though the man’s even temper and discreet bearing would seem to intimate a mind peculiarly subject to the law of reason, not the less in his heartContinue reading “Melville On ‘The Most Dangerous Sort’: The Outwardly Rational Madman”

The Comforts Of ‘Abide With Me’

Legend has it that Mohandas Gandhi adored Abide With Me, “a Christian hymn by Scottish Anglican Henry Francis Lyte most often sung to English composer William Henry Monk‘s…’Eventide‘.” I learned of this particular proclivity of the Mahatma long after I had first heard the hymn’s notes as a child attending or watching the Beating RetreatContinue reading “The Comforts Of ‘Abide With Me’”

Barbara Tuchman Contra Hot Takes

Barbara Tuchman kicks off the preface to her Practicing History: Selected Essays (Ballantine Books, New York, 1981) by writing: It is surprising to find, on reviewing one’s past work, which are the pieces that seem to stand up and which are those that have wilted. The only rule I can discover as a determinant–and it is aContinue reading “Barbara Tuchman Contra Hot Takes”

Teflon Trump’s Terrifying Troops

I did not watch the Donald Trump acceptance speech last night; I did not want to run the risk of a disturbed night’s sleep. I did however, read a transcript that was available on the net before he went live. It was a terrifying read just because it was so ‘good’: pitch-perfect in its toneContinue reading “Teflon Trump’s Terrifying Troops”

A Trump Win And The First-Past-The-Post System

Every election cycle, we learn all over again, the bad news about ‘swing states’ and ‘undecided voters’ and ‘independents.’ There are ‘red states’ and ‘blue states’ and then there are ‘states in play’: those electoral precincts in the nation whose demographics make their electoral outcomes uncertain. Every election cycle, the political candidates of the twoContinue reading “A Trump Win And The First-Past-The-Post System”

An Unforgettable Image, Appropriately Contextualized

In the summer of 1992, I traveled to India to visit my family: my mother, my brother, his wife (my sister-in-law), and my little, then barely six months old nephew. The monsoon lay around the corner, promising mixed relief from the brutal heat of the North Indian plains; the humidity would still oppress, but evenings andContinue reading “An Unforgettable Image, Appropriately Contextualized”

Bertrand Russell On Deterrence By Making ‘Freedom More Pleasant’

In ‘What I Believe,’ an essay whose content–selectively quoted–was instrumental in him having his appointment at the City College of New York revoked¹, Bertrand Russell wrote: One other respect in which our society suffers from the theological conception of ‘sin’ is the treatment of criminals. The view that criminals are ‘wicked’ and ‘deserve’ punishment isContinue reading “Bertrand Russell On Deterrence By Making ‘Freedom More Pleasant’”

Veterans And The Dallas And Baton Rouge Shootings: Wars Return Home

Today, on Facebook, Chad Kautzer offered some brief reflections–“not interested in condemning or justifying”–on the shootings in Baton Rouge. They begin as follows: First, the police have to stop killing black and brown people. I say that up front, because it’s the social relation and institutional practice that frames everything. Period. Second, although it’s tooContinue reading “Veterans And The Dallas And Baton Rouge Shootings: Wars Return Home”