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Doctor Cleveland blogs about politics, education, literature, and the arts. His personal obsessions include live theater, Red Sox baseball, and powerful black coffee. He teaches college under another name, somewhere along America's glorious North Coast. He has also been known to write about Shakespeare and early modern theater.

While he blogs about the general academic life, he does not discuss his current institution, its students, or its employees on the blog. Nor does he use any university resources to blog. Any public statement he chooses to make about his employer will be made under his legal name.

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The Fire This Time

There is one truth that we need to face today, after the grand jury's decision in Ferguson. And that truth is simple. No one can live like this.

No one can live with an arrangement where their sons can be killed with impunity. No one can make their peace with that. No one can accept that. No one can live like this.

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Turning Down the Imaginary Car (Advice from Actors to Academics, Part 2)

I blogged earlier about how the academic job search can be framed like the search for an acting job (where the odds are incredibly steep, rejection is pervasive, and the stakes feel deeply personal). Today's post is a second installment of advice from Robert Cohen's classic Acting Professionally, a very career-specific book of advice that I have found applicable to other careers.

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Thinking Like the Plague

The Ebola panic in the American media seems uncannily familiar to me, in the worst possible way. Anyone who studies Renaissance literature for a living has read many accounts of terrible epidemics, and many stories of epidemic hysteria. (In fact, some people have written learned and illuminating books about literary responses to the plague; I can't pretend to be one of them.) Smallpox is a terrible affliction. Bubonic plague is worse.

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Career Advice from Actors to Academics

It's that cruelest of seasons again for young scholars: job search season. In an annual fall ritual I've discussed in previous years, the list of jobs for new professors beginning next fall has recently been published, and people who want those jobs are now laboring over complicated job applications. As has been the case for many years, and especially since the Great Recession began, there are far fewer jobs than there are talented and qualified applicants.

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Stop Panicking About Ebola

Hi. I'm at Logan Airport in Boston. Unfortunately, CNN is on in the departure lounge. They are raving (indeed, nearly foaming at the mouth) about Ebola.

And it seems, according to CNN, that the CDC has quarantined a plane from Liberia (oops, my bad: Dubai) where some passengers have fallen ill. They have quarantined that plane here at, well, Boston's Logan Airport.

Should you be worried about Ebola? Let's put it this way: should I be worried about Ebola? No, and no.

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Who Lost Scotland?

Today Scotland votes on independence: a fifty-fifty referendum on leaving the United Kingdom. It's gone from a long shot to a statistical dead heat, and nobody can say for sure how the vote will go. But what's certain is that Scotland's old relationship with the rest of Britain is finished. The Scottish independence movement will not just go away if they come up a couple percent short; they're never going to give up now that they've gotten this close. And if a united United Kingdom squeaks by, Scotland will expect to be given much more autonomy than it's had so far.

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Obama's Mission

Barack Obama was elected because the American people were tired of being bogged down in unwinnable foreign wars. He was elected because a majority of American voters had come to view the Iraq war as a mistake. This is a basic, bottom-line political fact. Therefore, it is not (and cannot be) Official Beltway Wisdom.

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Let's Review the Michael Brown Case

Let's review some basics from the Michael Brown case:

  • If a police office kills an unarmed person for jaywalking, that is murder. 
  • If a police officer kills an unarmed person for shoplifting five bucks' worth of cigars, that is murder. 
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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.

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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.

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