Culture

With a Sharpie® what can go wrong?

Reading Time: 4 minutes You just can’t go wrong with a product like Sharpie Well, you might, if you happen to be a recent chief executive of the United States who happens to have problems with way more than one or two words in the lyrics to “God Bless America”… It’s OK with that to hum along and bob your head to the rhythm. […]

Whose Job Is It To Undo the Damage?

James Madison, 4th President of the United States

Reading Time: 5 minutes It was James Madison who was the great champion of separation of powers, that is, an active and robust separation, so that each branch of government with its several well-defined assigned powers is itself always potent, equally so compared to the others, so the overall result is a state of active equipoise. Madison saw a danger in any form of […]

Shorts & Briefs | 10 May 2019 | Deconstructing Facebook

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

Reading Time: 3 minutes 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

Reading Time: 2 minutes 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 […]

My Café Life: Memoir as Cultural History

Town Hall Coffee, Merion Station PA photo: © Howard Dinin

Reading Time: 12 minutes 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 […]

Tom Nichols on The Death of Expertise

Reading Time: 1 minute 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 […]

“Our democracy is not working as it should”

Reading Time: 1 minute That seems like clear understatement, and just two short months ago, when the guy who said it joined the Campaign Legal Center it was less so. Today it’s much more so, if I’m allowed the tautology. But to fight the good fight, we must understand it’s a war, not a skirmish, or even, as yet, a battle. That’s coming, as […]

China in Ten Words

Reading Time: 2 minutes 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, […]

Shorts & Briefs | 29 May 2016

Reading Time: 1 minute 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

Reading Time: 1 minute 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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