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For Le Guin

Ursula K. Le Guin was my hero. Urusla K. Le Guin is my hero still. She is gone from this world, and only her words are left to us. Those words are marvels.

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The Art of No Deal

As everyone has already noticed, a president who boasts about his deal-making skills, author of The Art of the Deal, has been unable to strike a deal to keep his own government funded. Worse, he actually blew up a deal in the making, and now negotiations from the White House side seem to have all but stopped. This is because the word "deal" doesn't mean what Donald Trump thinks it means. He doesn't want a deal. He wants a "win," which he defines as the other side losing. And that makes deal-making impossible.

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Your Public Domain Report for 2018

Hey gang! It's time for Public Domain Day again, where we list all of the music, film, books, and other pieces of art leaving copyright today. And here's that list again, just like last year:

Nothing. Nothing at all.

Happy New Year.

Although the Framers of the Constitution only gave Congress power to grant copyrights and patents "for a limited time," repeated extensions have made sure that nothing has entered the public domain in the United States since January 1, 1979. Today makes nearly forty years since that happened.

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Never Trust an Action Hero: Star Wars' Lost Politics

Star Wars: The Last Jedi has hit the cineplex and begun raking in the customary astronomical profits. But the film has some angry detractors among hard-core Star Wars fans (a minority, I think, but a loud one) who complain bitterly that The Last Jedi is unfaithful to the Star Wars tradition. I'm not going to talk about the new movie here, and I'm going to do my best to delete discussion of it in comments (no spoilers!) for at least the next week. But I'd like to talk about the old Star Wars movies, the originals and the prequels, and the ambiguity that George Lucas tried, but failed, to give them.

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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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TypeTitleAuthorRepliesLast updated
Reader blogOnly Once, Why Women Don’t Tell tmccarthy0185 days 2 hours ago
Blog entryThoughts On Education Danny Cardwell45 days 3 hours ago
Blog entryThe Art of No Deal Doctor Cleveland173 weeks 6 days ago
Blog entryFor Le Guin Doctor Cleveland74 weeks 1 day ago
Reader blogOprah for President? HSG321 month 1 week ago
Blog entryNever Trust an Action Hero: Star Wars' Lost Politics Doctor Cleveland571 month 2 weeks ago
Blog entryYour Public Domain Report for 2018 Doctor Cleveland191 month 2 weeks ago
Blog entryCharlottesville, Salem Witch Trials and Historic Monuments Danny Cardwell121 month 3 weeks ago
Blog entryYour New Year Public Domain Report: 2012 Doctor Cleveland42 months 3 weeks ago
Blog entryThe New York Times Wants You to Know How Normal Everyone Is Here at the Applebee's Doctor Cleveland172 months 3 weeks ago
Blog entryPrayer for Atheists & the Culture Wars PeraclesPlease133 months 3 weeks ago
Blog entryWhat Is Praying? Doctor Cleveland144 months 2 weeks ago
Blog entryHef & the Culture Wars PeraclesPlease254 months 3 weeks ago
Reader blogFor the Friends of Stratofrog librewolf254 months 3 weeks ago
Blog entrySome People Are Not Duelable Doctor Cleveland254 months 4 weeks ago
Blog entryHarassing the Professor Doctor Cleveland215 months 1 week ago
Blog entryTrump Does Not Care If People Get Hurt Doctor Cleveland146 months 1 week ago
Blog entryThe Three Myths of Reverse Racism in College Admissions Doctor Cleveland546 months 1 week ago
Blog entryThe Gravity of the Office Cannot Change Character Michael Maiello36 months 1 week ago
Blog entryWar and Words and Words and War Michael Maiello116 months 2 weeks ago
Blog entrySex, Lies and Hate Danny Cardwell46 months 2 weeks ago
Blog entryWho Hijacked Yahoo Mail? Michael Wolraich3136 months 2 weeks ago
Blog entryDonald Trump Jr. Really Is Patrick Bateman Michael Maiello57 months 5 days ago
Blog entryPresidential Pardons and Obstruction of Justice Doctor Cleveland67 months 1 week ago
Reader blogSnobs vs. The Ivy League (or, The Question of Bill Deresiewicz's Character) Doctor Cleveland137 months 3 weeks ago

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