• My Café Life: Memoir as Cultural History

    As a boy, I never liked coffee, or thought I didn’t. Dark, bitter, mysterious, and forbidden. It was for adults somehow, and the last thing I wanted was to be an adult. Some things don’t change. Liking coffee did change for sure. And as it did for so many people in so many different ways, going to college—the mythic “rite […]

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  • Skinny Legs & Other Attractions

    Adventures and Musings on the nether end of St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands Taken from the travel journals of Howard Dinin, circa 2003-2005 Skinny Legs is a bar and grill at the Coral Bay, the eastward or windward, end of St. John, USVI. It is a real place, though it has all the earmarks of a fiction, a made-up place […]

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  • The Homeless of Provence : Summer 2004

    The following story written originally as a journalistic first-person account of the state of the social order in rural France 12 years ago is, naturally, in the present tense and conditions described concurrent with the time. There are hints, here and there, though with no pretense to prescience—I could only report on what I myself observed, buttressed by readily available […]

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  • Patriotic Flamingos

    a very short story The fading sun on a warm New Hampshire summer day, a man confronts the lay of the land and the condition in which his life lies Herm whizzed the weed whacker closer and closer to the edge of the ridge at the front of the lawn. It was the piece that jutted out beyond the croquet […]

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The Culprits in 2004 at Harvard. photo credit: Rick Friedman, © New York Times Company.

Shorts & Briefs | 10 May 2019 | Deconstructing Facebook

I want to recommend for your current events reading today this rather long read, a New York Times opinion piece as part of their Privacy Project, intended for the Sunday Review by the co-founder of Facebook, Chris Hughes (so insinuated into the fledgling company, when it hadn’t quite started to fly, that his name appears on the patent for NewsFeed—but […]

Shorts & Briefs | 6 May 2019 | Big Noise

What are we doing to our hearing? “The New Yorker” in the current issue takes a serious look at a serious, and seriously neglected, threat to health, especially in developed nations. There is a great risk, not just of developing impaired hearing, but of far worse diseases and disorders, some irreversible. The worst hearing impairment is a little-known condition called […]

Me and Noam and Meagan Day

Meagan Day, Leave Elizabeth Warren Alone

Megan Day is a staff writer and a clear-headed polemicist for that most polemical of journals “Jacobin,” which makes up for its earnest, and a somewhat wobbly (not surprisingly, and yes, a play on words) take-no-prisoners advocacy of a fairly pure strain of socialist ideology, by adding the tang of its generally youthful zeal, evident from the frequent displays of […]

No Good Can Come of This—Newstead of State to Facebook

So, the deathstar gets Jennifer Newstead as wily mouthpiece: Newstead—from the Patriot Act to Zuckerberg’s Counsel This is where I dip into my highly conserved store of exclamations rarely used. Yikes. I see in this move, probably objectively a brilliant one by Facebook, though they’ll need a public relations genius of equal caliber to add to their roster, trouble for […]

Tom Nichols on The Death of Expertise

This essay, printed in “Foreign Affairs,” in their current issue, and extracted from Nichols’s new book, just published is a sobering, yet witty account of a phenomenon long in the making. He adopted an essay that originally appeared in “The Federalist” in 2014 to write the book. So, in a sense the essay is a distillation of a reconstitution of […]

China in Ten Words

Just getting into the book, China in Ten Words, by Yu Hua. Loads of marvelous stuff. Insights not only into China and the culture, but a much broader insight into universal behavior. Some highlights off the top: [the word is “Leader”]: “Historically, emperors have always cut the kind of figure and spoken the kind of language expected of an emperor, […]

About Sam Wang, the PEC, and Nate Silver and 538

Anyone with a serious interest in electoral politics ignores the Princeton Election Consortium and one of its founders, Sam Wang (disclosure: he is the son-in-law of close friends of close friends; the only way I would ever have heard of him, without stumbling on him) and speculates about November at his or her peril. It was because of Sam and […]

Shorts & Briefs | 29 May 2016

100 years, 70 years, 50… Verdun, Hiroshima, Vietnam… it’s a busy time, and a busy week, for reconciling ourselves to one another on the planet, or doing so ceremoniously. We seem to choose nice round numbers—even decades are best. I reckon in 2066, we’ll be joining hands with Syrians and Iraqis, who include Al Qaeda and Daesh descendants who have […]

Shorts & Briefs | 27 May 2016.2

Had I stuck to my original plans for college and med school, I would have nearly been the Doogie Houser of my generation. But it appears this man is of his—turns out he’s 33… I was surprised to see he has an MD (my defective expectations—hence possibly a sign that I am losing my ability to discriminate important social cues), […]

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