Wolraich: Obama at the Gates of... Gates
Dr. C: In Praise of Writing Binges
Maiello: Gatsby Doesn't Grate
The Harvard cheating scandal has ground to something like its conclusion, with somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 students being
suspended asked to withdraw. There's been a lot of discussion, from different perspectives, about student ethics, educational standards, and what the world is coming to. [Read more]
How many outfits will Lady Bey wear?
How many numbers will Destiny's Child perform?
Will Jay-Z make a cameo?
Let's discuss America's most important cultural moment of 2013.
Josh Marshall flagged this Walter Kirn article already, so my guess is that some of you have read it. I'm a big Kirn fan, and have been ever since he published the interesting and underappreciated novel, The Unbinding, in Slate.
Kirn is a gunowner, of the type that I think many of you will relate to. He has actually pointed guns at two people in self defense, though he seems to have no illusions of the risks he's taking by having such weapons available. He's a hunter. He's willing to give up the AR-15 in exchange for a revolver and legitimate hunting rifles. [Read more]
Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords appeared at the Senate judiciary hearing on gun violence yesterday to try and convince lawmakers that we have a major problem with guns in this country and gun control must be addressed. This is what she said, in its entirety: [Read more]
I've started a new non-political blog at WordPress and this is one of my posts there. Come on over and check it out!
Oh, no. Sybil [Read more]
When I worry about the future of my chosen profession, which I do too often these days, I take bleak consolation from the fact that every other profession I considered during my early years is also in crisis. Was it a mistake to become a university professor just as the job market for professors collapsed? Maybe. But if the original question was, "Should I become a professor, a lawyer, or a newspaper journalist?" then maybe not. Lawyers are having a hard time finding jobs; newspapers are laying off. And I can't say I would have been better off staying a high school teacher, as wave after wave of "reforms" make that job harder and worse.
When Justin Sisely announced that he planned to film a “Virgin Sells Virginity” porn, the media went wild, endlessly repeating a story based on nothing.
Now, that’s not a big surprise. What is a surprise is that after the announcement – heck, even before it – random dudes with lots of walking-around money started hurling incredible bids at Sisely, asking to be the male lead in said porno. [Read more]
Workers are repairing the facade of the building where we rent our winter apartment. They started on the 17th floor on January 2 and today they've finally made it to the fourth floor, and right now they're drilling and chiseling and scraping away the old finish right outside the window next to my desk.
This article continues from The Information Jacuzzi - Part I.
The Middle Ages was not a great era for budding writers. In those days, there was only one large publisher in all of Western Europe: the Catholic Church. Nearly every scribe on the continent worked in one of its affiliated monasteries or theological universities. Any writer who hoped to have his work duplicated and distributed had to win the sanction of Church leaders, and they were not known for permissive editing. Even writers who published outside the Church suffered from its monopoly on information, as the Pope routinely ordered heretical works banned and burned—usually along with the author.
That’s why the printing press, invented in the 1440s, was so significant. It bypassed Church scribes and produced books so quickly and cheaply that anyone with a little money or a wealthy patron could spread their ideas across the continent. Seventy years after its invention, Martin Luther published his famous 95 Theses criticizing Church practices. His ideas were not entirely new, but they spread far further than those of his predecessors, who lived before the printing press. As with previous heretics, the Pope excommunicated Luther and banned his writings, but his tracts had already flooded every corner of Europe. Thousands of people read and reacted to his ideas. The Protestant Reformation was born. [Read more]
Back in 1996, when mobile phones looked like giant calculators, and a social network was a just group of friends, comedian Dave Barry published a book called Dave Barry in Cyberspace. He devoted a chapter to the newly popular “World Wide Web,” which he titled, “The Internet: transforming society and shaping the future through chat.”
Sometimes truth is stranger than comedy. Internet chat and its heirs—blogs and social networks—are in fact transforming society and shaping the future in ways that no one imagined in 1996. [Read more]
So yesterday was the day Hillary Clinton finally testified on the Benghazi tragedy at hearings in both the House and the Senate. The Republicans have been after her for months now to get it done, but things happened, including Influenza and her fall and subsequent hospitalization for a concussion in late December. (A clear stall, wicked lady. Hmmpph!)
No surprise, was it, that if the Republicans pushed that hard to get her on the stand, it would be theater less like Shakespeare's Globe and more like Gonzo Gaiety. Satisfying, isn't it, that they didn't disappoint?
One of the latest growing crimes in Brazil is to rig explosives to ATMs, blow them up and get away with the loot. Here’s an ATM from my bank here in Uberlandia, Minas Gerais, Brazil. This happened last week:
Monday, January 21, 2013 - 7 AM:
As I'm about to begin the fifth year of my blog on this morning of Barack Obama's second Inauguration (held on the anniversary of Martin Luther King's birth, a most appropriate and fitting confluence), I feel I should write something so powerful, so moving, so wise, nothing anyone ever writes about this day will even come close.
Unlike New York City teachers, most Americans have no say in how their employers evaluate their job performance. The process, if there is a "process," usually emerges from an obscure H.R. task force that bases its guidelines on whatever trendy corporate gobbledygook some associate vice president read in the latest issue of Human Resources Executive.
Once the process reaches its lofty conclusion, the employee has to live with the consequences. A glowing evaluation may mean a raise and promotion. A scathing report may trigger demotion or even termination. The processes are not necessarily fair. Bosses often use them to justify whatever they wanted to do all along. Good bosses treat their people fairly. Bad bosses exploit their power for petty politics. [Read more]
Oh, the states.
Those of us educated in one of them have learned since childhood that Federal law is "the law of the land." When federal law contradicts state law, federal law wins. State law is rock. Federal law is paper. The practical challenges of living together, though, are scissors.
In the last election two states decriminalized marijuana use. Prior to that, numerous states made it legal for doctors to prescribe marijuana, on a pretty wide variety of pretexts. Almost everyone I know in California, for example, has prescribed access to marijuana. My friends and associates are not all sickly people. [Read more]
For weeks now, since the tragic murders of 20 sweet children and six dedicated educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, (one month ago today, and that is some sad anniversary) we've been in the middle of some serious, long overdue gun control arguments. The gun nuts see any form of gun control as "an infringement of their right to bear arms". (Oh my God, I can barely type that one more time. It's so stupid. Even in quotes, it's stupid. But I must go on.)
I never thought this could happen to me …
My life was an ordinary one. My wife had left me two years earlier, taking the kids. My job with the cable company was unsatisfying but it paid the bills. I went to the bar three or four times a week. I played poker once a week with some guys I really didn’t even like. I was a nobody.
Then I saw her.
I was at Walmart to pick up something to eat and maybe a puzzle. I had some time on my hands – ok, I always had time on my hands – and I wandered about the store. That’s where she called to me.
She was long and sleek. Her power was undeniable, but her smouldering sensuality was undeniable. [Read more]
I've always been skeptical of the two alternatives floated that Obama could use to avoid a debt ceiling standoff, but I've also liked them both and I continue to like them both far more than the option of the U.S. voluntarily defaulting on its debt, which is a silly thing considering that the U.S. controls its currency supply. [Read more]