Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Robin Williams and Making Live Comedy Live

    Robin Williams was funny, lightning fast, and a gifted improviser, but what really set him apart as a comic was that he let his audiences share the experience of what doing standup comedy feels like. He didn't do that explicitly. It probably can't be done explicitly. But he did it, maybe better than anyone else ever has. It was the core of his gift, because a great comedian is not merely funny. A great comedian creates a relationship with the audience, and the relationship Williams created with his live audiences was something fundamental and profound.

    About Human Shields

    I lost a longer version of this and that is probably for the best. Here is the shorter version in which I don't try to cover every possible nuance but just hit the high points to make my point.

    The phrase “human shield" has, IMO, become Orwellian in its use in relation to the ongoing conflict between Israel and either Hamas or the Palestinian people as a whole. One aspect of actually using humans as shields is emphasized while another equally important aspect is ignored. The complete, true, and honest implications of the phrase itself, regardless of whether Hamas actually does use humans as shields, is intentionally obscured. A narrow and less than complete understanding of the implications of the charge is intended to be mentally embedded while the full implications are distorted or, hopefully, un-noticed.

    Ramona's picture

    Charles Koch Schools Us on How to Keep His Family the Second Richest In The Country

    The gazillionaire Charles Koch, the Right Wing benefactor whose father was a co-founder of the John Birch Society,  the same Charles Koch who, along with his brother, David, works tirelessly against any sign of government interference when it comes to health care, public education, infrastructure, climate change, or  aiding the pitifully down and out, and who most generously funds any person, politician or party promising to fight along with them on the Kill the Government Before They Kill Us battleground--that very same Charles Koch has just written

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    The Intellectual Heft Behind Broken Windows

    The March 1982 Atlantic article called "Broken Windows" by George L. Kelling and James Q. Wilson is a darned interesting artifact 32 years later.  It begins with an experiment with community policing and foot patrols in Newark, New Jersey in the mid-1970s.  We are, at that point, seeing the start of the use of technology in law enforcement and, of course, the start of globalization and the hollowing out of America's cities that resulted.

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    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    The Other Two Sides in Israel and Palestine

    It is not only hard to write about the bloodshed in Israel and Palestine without taking sides. It is impossible for most people to read about the violence in Israel and Palestine without taking sides. So the debate bogs down into questions of justification and self-defense and proportionality: that is, into the utterly useless question of whether Israel or Hamas is more in the wrong. It may well be that one side or the other is more justified, or more culpable. But since the answering that question will not prevent even a single death, the question is meaningless.

    Michael Maiello's picture

    It's Time For Bill de Blasio To Abandon "Broken Windows"

    Best I can tell, "broken windows" policing does sort of work to reduce crime rates, though it probably also gets more credit than it should.  The theory behind it is that you can reduce crime by reducing "disorder."  There's a logic to this that can't be dismissed.  If millions of people living in New York City really internalize the idea that the city cannot be governed, then the city will be harder to govern.

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    Ramona's picture

    George Will's Backhanded Tribute to Sherrod Brown

    I don't know what to make of George Will lately.  It's as if George Will the Good has been working his way out of George Will the Bad's closet, escaping for a few minutes of sunlight before his evil twin GWTB discovers him and throws him back in.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Why Cutting Benefits Helps Nobody

    One of the ancillary benefits of the success of Michael Wolrach's Unreasonable Men is that when websites like The National Memo choose to excerpt from it I get to know websites like The National Memo.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    The Cause Of Poverty

    I can't say this enough, especially with regards to this where David Brooks tells us from up high that character defects cause poverty.  See, I know a lot of wealthy people who have character defects.  I know a lot of poor saintly types.  Most people fall somewhat in between on both matters of wealth and character.  But, here's the truth: we don't live in a world where people necessarily get what they deserve.

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    Ramona's picture

    Teddy Roosevelt and the Republican Rebels Who Brought Us Progressivism

    (My late entry into the "Unreasonable Men" promos.  Sorry for the delay.  I was reading this really great book. . .)

    So much of Theodore Roosevelt's life comes to us now in what seems like caricature:  The Rough Rider, the bellowing bull, the hearty back-slapper, the rugged outdoorsman--all images the man himself would be happy to know we've kept alive.  The handle-bar mustache, the pince-nez, the rakish explorer's hat, the exaggerated movements of a stage actor. . .all carefully created and nurtured by a man who saw himself as destined for American greatness and struggled to make it happen.

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    barefooted's picture

    Optical Illusions

    They say a picture paints a thousand words. There's a reason that phrase has been used in song and prose, spanning the years and provoking our imagination. We believe those six words to be true because they speak to the very core of who we are, what we innately desire communication to be. A pure, unadulterated description without motive or hidden agenda -- we see in a picture an innocence lost in words. Yet we rarely consider that pictures can lie.

    Perhaps it would be more succinct to say that pictures can manipulate, by virtue of the fact that they can be easily manipulated. No, I'm not referring to Photoshop or the like, although it would be the easiest example. What I am suggesting is a far more insidious method of alteration, one that carries the heft of a new word: Optics. Ah, therein lies the rub.

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Snobs vs. The Ivy League (or, The Question of Bill Deresiewicz's Character)

    There is nothing a snobbish Ivy Leaguer likes better than putting down the Ivy League. It's an easy way to signal that you are above your own Ivy League school and the privilege it confers -- all a big humbug that your superior perspective sees right through -- while holding on to every last scrap of that privilege. It allows you to position yourself as not only 1. better than people who didn't get into Harvard, Princeton, or Yale, but 2. the benevolent champion of those little people who didn't get in and also 3.

    trkingmomoe's picture

    Florida's Amendment 2 Medical Marijauna

    This November the voters in Florida will be voting on Amendment to legalize medical marijuana. In order for it to pass 60% of the voters have to vote yes on it. This will amend the state constitution to allow it's use.  A group called United for Care was the force behind getting bill on the ballot. Florida will be the first state in the deep South to legalize medical marijuana if it passes.  

    Michael Maiello's picture

    Unreasonable Men and the Art Of The Political Long Game

    The Theodore Roosevelt that I thought I knew was the trust-busting, Bull Moose rebel – a liberal reformer with the interests of the people foremost on his mind. In Unreasonable Men, Theodore Roosevelt and the Republican Rebels Who Created Progressive Politics, my mythical Teddy (a myth I believe others have shared) is forcibly upended.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Q&A With Michael Wolraich: "The Ted Cruz Of His Day"

    I am working on a review of Unreasonable Men, but there is no reason to rush when the book is getting such great coverage by top writers like Elias Isquith at Salon.

    My favorite part is here:

    "For people who don’t know, the Gilded Age — especially the late stages of it — was a period with a lot of financial instability, right?

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    Mexican kids, world's luckiest!

    Mexican children, unlike their unfortunate neighbors from slightly to the south, are apparently to be envied for the secure and loving bosom  in which their enlightened country envelops them.

    Notwithstanding the depravity of Mexican narco traffickers, who will not hesitate to decorate the public square with the heads of those who discomfort them, no Mexican children are forcibly recruited as drug couriers, sellers, or lookouts, unlike those unfortunates in Honduras, El Salvador, or Guatemala.

    Ramona's picture

    North Carolina’s Gov picks a Poet-you know-Laureate

    A bit of a stink going on in North Carolina this week.  Nothing so serious that lives are at risk, but serious enough, in a state that prides itself on its ability to nurture and grow literary giants, that the story moved all the way up the Looky Here ladder to the New York Times.

    Michael Wolraich's picture

    The Washington Post just reviewed Unreasonable Men

    As Michael Wolraich argues in his sharp, streamlined new book, “Unreasonable Men,” it was “the greatest period of political change in American history.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/book-review-unreasonable-men-on-p...

    Footing the Bill for Assisted Suicide

    One of issue that will become increasingly debated over coming ten years, in part due to the aging baby boomers, will be the legalization of assisted suicide

    It is already legal in places like Oregon and upheld (surprisingly) by the US Supreme Court.

    Ramona's picture

    Harper Lee: You Don’t Know Me

     More than 50 years ago Nelle Harper Lee wrote a book called “To Kill a Mockingbird”.   It was her one and only book and it is a masterpiece, but the story behind it has always been a tantalizing enigma.

    Through the years there have been rumors that her best friend and neighbor, Truman Capote, edited her writing so much, by rights he actually wrote it.

     

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