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The New York Times Wants You to Know How Normal Everyone Is Here at the Applebee's

Here in bucolic Fairfield, California, amidst rolling vineyards and struggling big-box stores, unassuming souls like Norman Bates go largely unremarked. While most Americans would instinctively recoil from his habit of brutal murder and the uses to which he puts his victims’ bodies, here in Middle America he is Norman Next Door, a soft-spoken young man whose manners nearly any mother would applaud, working to keep open a family motel that serves both as symptom and as symbol of the economic anxieties roiling the heartland. Norman has heard murmurs advocating radical change, from Wal-Mart’s gun aisle to the local church’s pork-and-beans supper, and seems guardedly optimistic. Perhaps it will become easier for him to date. “Most girls don’t want to hear about being violently stabbed to death and having selected portions of their remains repurposed,” he says, browsing the knives at the dollar store. Now, he feels, things may be about to go his way.

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What Is Praying?

I have been too angry to write about the mass murder in Las Vegas, and too angry to write about the empty and reflexive offerings of "thoughts and prayers" that now follow every murder like it. But let me take this opportunity to talk about the question of what prayers are, and how they might be different from thoughts. America's general enthusiasm for religion masks deep, sometimes nearly bottomless religious differences, and so many, many people talk about praying, but use that word to mean very different things: sometimes contradictory things. What is praying, anyway?

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Some People Are Not Duelable

I'm not a big proponent of bringing back customs and manners from hundreds of years back. The centuries I study were much worse to live in than this one. But there is one concept from Ye Olden Days that (suitably retooled), I have always found pretty useful. That is the concept of people being "not duelable." I use it in my academic writing. I use it in my daily life. I occasionally teach it to graduate students. And it turns out to be a concept that both the Age of Twitter and the Age of Trump badly need.

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Trump Does Not Care If People Get Hurt

President Trump's impromptu press conference today was a shocking display of his moral depravity and his allegiance to bigotry. There are so many things wrong with it, in so many stunning ways, that everyone is trying to digest it and focusing on different parts. But one particularly scary thing has not yet gotten much attention: Trump shows a nearly complete lack of interest in preventing more bloodshed like this. That is unprecedented, and extremely dangerous.

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The Three Myths of Reverse Racism in College Admissions

Twenty-five years ago, I was sitting in the tiny teacher's room of the little parochial school where I taught, talking to a few other people about the news. The principal's administrative assistant said something about affirmative action letting unqualified black students into Harvard, and I asked her if she thought that was a real worry. She actually gasped. "Don't you?" she asked, in shocked disbelief that I could not be concerned, nay scandalized, about such a well-known social problem.

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Presidential Pardons and Obstruction of Justice

One thing is finally clear about the Russia investigation, thanks to Donald Trump, Jr.'s decision to tweet his incriminating e-mails: someone is going to prison over this. All three principals who took that meeting looking for Russian oppo research, Manafort, Kushner, and Trump, Jr., are likely in serious criminal jeopardy. Other figures (like Flynn, Sessions, and peripheral creeps Eric Prince, Carter Page, and Roger Stone) may be in danger of prison as well. But the Trump Tower Three certainly are.

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Ask the Blue States about Terrorism

Here are a few pictures from Copley Square in Boston, where the Boston Marathon ends:

 

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About Julius Caesar

So those literary geniuses, Fox News and Donald Trump, Jr., have decided to attack a "New York play" that they allege stages the assassination of Donald Trump. It is, of course, Shakespeare in the Park's production of Julius Caesar. And of course, Fox and Trump's loyal followers don't need to actually see the play to raise an enormous outcry, because denouncing people is too much fun for fact-checking.

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How This White House Lies

Donald Trump is both one of the most gifted liars in American politics, a genius of dishonesty, and at the same time hopelessly bad at lying. His lawless firing of FBI Director Comey shows the ineptitude. Trump led with a story so weak that no one could pretend to believe it and then, within forty-eight hours had abandoned that story for one that was actually more incriminating. A White House that keeps changing its story is in crisis. A White House that changes it story to something more damaging is out of its mind.

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Today in Jedi Studies (Self-Promotion Edition)

Yesterday, I had a small humor piece published by McSweeney's Internet Tendency.

It's called "Questions for the Jedi Vice-Chair of Graduate Studies"

Do I absolutely have to construct my own lightsaber to graduate?

Will you accept 30 hours of transfer credit from the Dark Side?

How will being at one with the Force prepare me for today’s job market?

Pages

TypeTitleAuthorRepliesLast updated
Blog entryYour New Year Public Domain Report: 2012 Doctor Cleveland41 week 3 days ago
Blog entryThe New York Times Wants You to Know How Normal Everyone Is Here at the Applebee's Doctor Cleveland171 week 4 days ago
Blog entryPrayer for Atheists & the Culture Wars PeraclesPlease131 month 1 week ago
Blog entryWhat Is Praying? Doctor Cleveland142 months 1 day ago
Blog entryHef & the Culture Wars PeraclesPlease252 months 1 week ago
Reader blogFor the Friends of Stratofrog librewolf252 months 1 week ago
Blog entrySome People Are Not Duelable Doctor Cleveland252 months 2 weeks ago
Blog entryHarassing the Professor Doctor Cleveland212 months 4 weeks ago
Blog entryCharlottesville, Salem Witch Trials and Historic Monuments Danny Cardwell93 months 3 weeks ago
Blog entryTrump Does Not Care If People Get Hurt Doctor Cleveland143 months 3 weeks ago
Blog entryThe Three Myths of Reverse Racism in College Admissions Doctor Cleveland543 months 4 weeks ago
Blog entryThe Gravity of the Office Cannot Change Character Michael Maiello34 months 15 hours ago
Blog entryWar and Words and Words and War Michael Maiello114 months 2 days ago
Blog entrySex, Lies and Hate Danny Cardwell44 months 3 days ago
Blog entryWho Hijacked Yahoo Mail? Michael Wolraich3134 months 1 week ago
Blog entryDonald Trump Jr. Really Is Patrick Bateman Michael Maiello54 months 3 weeks ago
Blog entryPresidential Pardons and Obstruction of Justice Doctor Cleveland65 months 1 day ago
Reader blogSnobs vs. The Ivy League (or, The Question of Bill Deresiewicz's Character) Doctor Cleveland135 months 1 week ago
Blog entryAsk the Blue States about Terrorism Doctor Cleveland45 months 2 weeks ago
Blog entryAbout Julius Caesar Doctor Cleveland146 months 23 hours ago
Blog entryThe Moral Necessity of the Civil War Doctor Cleveland136 months 1 week ago
Blog entryHow This White House Lies Doctor Cleveland126 months 2 weeks ago
Blog entryToday in Jedi Studies (Self-Promotion Edition) Doctor Cleveland77 months 1 week ago
Reader blogA Plea to my Fellow Progressives HSG407 months 1 week ago
Blog entryNo Negotiations Without Preconditions Danny Cardwell68 months 1 week ago

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