Maiello: Where Your Tax Dollars Go
Doc Cleveland: Copyright vs. Truth
For days now, since I heard about the death of Jamie Coots, the snake-handling preacher from Middlesboro, Kentucky, I've been struggling with my own thoughts about it. There is no reason in the world why I should be involved in any of it. I didn't know him. I had never before heard of his church. And I didn't know before this weekend, when I read about his death, that he had been the star of a National Geographic Channel series called "Snake Salvation".
Gun-rights advocates love to quote Robert Heinlein's line that "An armed society is a polite society." Heinlein argued that in a culture where many are packing lethal weapons, people are more careful with their manners because they're afraid of being killed over a minor lapse of etiquette. Heinlein is wrong on his facts; history makes it very clear that real armed societies don't work that way. But what's really ghastly is that Heinlein and his fans imagine his fantasy as a good thing. The belief that "an armed society is a polite society" depends on a conviction that murder is better than bad manners.
Michael Sam's brave decision to come out as gay before the NFL draft has been exactly the story that the NFL desperately needs.
Here’s the thing about self-help: If you’re reading a book or an article about how to fix your current miserable existence, or listening to a self-described “expert” tell you and hordes of others how to fix it, it’s not even close to being self-help.
It’s not that these folks don’t want to help you. They do! They really, really do! The goal is to help you to let go and try their tactics on your own. (But not to such a degree that you won’t be buying their next book or watching their next program.) [Read more]
The notion that work is dignity sure seems convenient for those whose fortunes depend on other people's willing labor. Or, hey, I don't want to make my own sandwich, so grab yourself some dignity and a block of swiss, my friend.
The issue has been raised regarding Obamacare which, functioning as promised, has decoupled some people from the work force as they are now able to get health insurance through the government exchange rather than through their employers. We won't know for some time if people are leaing to pursue their own business ideas or if they are leaving to follow their bliss.  [Read more]
At a Town Hall meeting held last week in Oklahoma, an audience member raised her hand and said to Jim Bridenstine, a congressman from the First District, “Obama is not president as far as I’m concerned. He should be executed as an enemy combatant.”
Read that again: "Obama is not president as far as I'm concerned. He should be executed as an enemy combatant." (Video here.)
I just read a snippet from an old article in Essence Magazine indicating that researchers have uncovered new information suggesting that Cleopatra may not have been Black. The article brought back to mind a piece I read by Earl Ofari Hutchinson many years ago entitled, Whose Black History To Believe? In that very insightful article Hutchinson points out that black history tends to be given either short shrift by traditional historians, or is exaggerated beyond all recognition by historians of a more Afrocentric persuasion. His premise is that both approaches do a disservice to African-American history. His analysis shows that African-Americans would be better served by a more balanced interweaving of African-American history into the fabric of American history as a whole. [Read more]
I'd love it if we could keep discussions of, um, current events to the other thread. This one is about the movies...
You can condition your tastes. I believe that. But what I love most about art, high and low, is that it gives us an opportunity to be honest about our reactions to things without the stakes getting too high. What I love most about comedy is that as an audience member, you can't fake it. Watching comedy is like having sex. You can try to be polite but if the other person is paying attention they know whether or not they got a laugh. [Read more]
So, J. K. Rowling has told an interviewer (the actress Emma Watson), that she paired off the wrong characters at the end of her Harry Potter series. Instead of marrying Harry's right-hand girl Hermione off to his left-hand boy Ron, Rowling has decided that she should have married Hermione to Harry himself. So, Rowling concludes, she was wrong when she wrote the books. In fact, she's wrong now.
Nick Kristof is, by his own admission, friends with Mia and Ronan Farrow, two people who have been pursuing their vendetta against Woody Allen for years. If you follow any of the coverage at all, that much is clear. Mia and Ronan hate Woody Allen and say so in public, at every opportunity. For his part, Allen says nothing about them. Now, Kristof sees fit to publish Dylan Farrow's allegations of childhood sexual abuse by the filmmaker. Laughably, Kristof covers himself by saying that Allen refused to give him an on the record interview. He then references Allen's previous denials but weakens them by claiming that when the issues were raised back in 1992 that the prosecutor claimed to have enough evidence to bring charges but didn't in orde [Read more]
Flying during the winter months has become an increasingly dicey proposition in 21st-century America. I make a handful of work-related plane trips a year, but the ones I do make tend to be for things that can't be rescheduled easily and often can't be rescheduled at all. I'm sure this is true for travelers in other kinds of business, but it's certainly true for academics: if you don't get there on the right day, the thing you were traveling to do may simply never happen. And American airlines can't quite promise to get you where you need to go any more, for reasons that have both to do with changing weather patterns and with a set of catastrophically-shortsighted business strategies that have become accepted as normal.
It would be lovely to never worry about money and to work only for the love of it rather than the need to care for ourselves and others that drives most of us out of our warm houses and apartments on frigid days where, all things being equal, we would just rather not. I imagine that if more of us had real choices about how to spend our days that it would be tougher to find somebody to pay to make you a sandwich but that we'd all be happier for it.
Judging by the behavior of the upper, upper crust, though, I might be wrong. Extreme wealth, it seems, also involves the paranoiac fear that it can all be taken away. [Read more]
“I am a transsexual sportswriter. It has taken more than 40 years, a million tears and hundreds of hours of soul-wrenching therapy for me to work up the courage to type those words. … When you reach the point when one gender causes heartache and unbearable discomfort, and the other brings more joy and fulfillment than you ever imagined possible, it shouldn’t take two tons of bricks to fall in order to know what to do.”
The United States of America has honored only four men in history by declaring the day of their birth a national day of celebration - Jesus Christ of Nazareth, widely accepted as the father of all mankind; President George Washington, the father of this nation; Christopher Columbus, the man credited with discovering the Americas; and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a man whose forebears were brought to these shores in chains. [Read more]
On this Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I would like to focus on his opposition to the War in Vietnam and his reasons for putting as much energy into that struggle as he did on top of the pivotal role he played in the Civil Rights Movement. Many of his allies and his enemies criticized him for his outspoken opposition to the war for many different reasons. The clearest answer to all on the matter that I have found was given in 1967 at the Riverside Church when he was addressing a meeting sponsored by a group called: Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam. The speech is titled: Beyond Vietnam  [Read more]
Over at The New York Times Ross Douthat wants to argue that Republicans can fight poverty by fighting single parenthood, which means promoting marriage on the argument that two parent families are more economically and socially successful. Matt Yglesias at Slate wants to know how small-government Douthat is going to accomplish using the government, of all things, to get people to marry and stay marry. Douthat's plan involves: [Read more]
Yesterday New Jersey governor Chris Christie took 108 minutes out of his busy schedule to do something so unprecedented there wasn't a pundit anywhere in the country who wasn't on top of it, who didn't have an opinion about it, and who, almost to a person, saw it as the beginning of the end of that lovable bully. No White House for you, big guy!