Author Archives: Brent

Roth: hetero guy and great writer

Philip Roth, who died on May 22 at 85, has long been castigated by feminists for sexism, but his case represents a twist on what has, in the MeToo, era become a familiar scenario. The careers of the likes of Morgan Freeman, Garrison Keillor, (or more seriously Bill Cosby) have been seriously damaged by their […]

Roseanne vs. “Roseanne”

Should “Roseanne” have been cancelled because Roseanne is a racist? The MeToo era, in which art is being removed from museums and TV shows cancelled because of the extracurricular behavior of the artists, raises the old question: How should we view the relationship between the art and the artist? Apparently ABC didn’t find “Roseanne” racist. […]

WHY THE FUSS ABOUT ONE SELF-DRIVING CAR FATALITY?

The death in March by an Uber self-driving prototype in Phoenix has been a serious speedbump on the road to what many think is the imminence of this revolutionary technology. The car’s braking system was apparently mis-programmed and the human overseer possibly distracted. In media stories, all the emphasis has been on the unacceptability of […]

What is causing “Deaths of Despair”?

“Deaths of despair on the rise across state, country” read the headline of a recent story in this paper. Massachusetts is only 34th in the nation in deaths from suicide, alcohol, and drugs, as such deaths are being defined. But the Cape’s suicide rate is twice that of the state, the story noted. Given that […]

Are we dying? Or just changing?

In Wellfleet’s recent town meeting a speaker noted, as shocking evidence of the need for affordable housing, that “in last 25 years we have lost 62% of the young people in our town.” In a column a couple of years ago I raised the question “are Outer Cape towns dying?” I had seen an article […]

Does Facebook have more to apologize for than electricity or the telephone?

I’m sure there must be an easy answer to the following question that occurs to this pre-millennial. In Mark Zuckerberg’s recent appearance before a congressional committee, Rep. David McKinley, a West Virginia Republican, pointed to Facebook ads offering opioids for sale without a prescription and addressed Zuckerberg accusingly: “Facebook is actually enabling an illegal activity, […]

Thoreau: liberal or conservative?

173 years ago this March, Henry David Thoreau, age 28, took his axe down to the still chilly shore of Walden Pond and began cutting down pine trees with which to frame his famous cabin. It was an iconic American moment, embodying youth, hope, can-do spirit. It’s my favorite part of “Walden,” the perennial classic […]

Taking the future into their own hands

On March 14th students around the country will leave school to protest the latest school massacre, at the Parkland Florida high school, and all the others. Teachers and administrators are being invited to walk out, too. But the students apparently aren’t asking permission to do this.If this shows disrespect for their elders, so be it. […]

On failing to understand bitcoins

I admit it, I’m confused about bitcoins. Actually, now that I think about it, my failure to comprehend what is for me aptly called “cryptocurrency” is only the latest in a lifelong history of failure to understand technology. I’ve driven a car since I was 16, and I still don’t really understand that either. I […]

Queen Elizabeth for president?

I just finished watching the second season of “The Crown,” the Netflix series about the career of the current Queen Elizabeth. Given the timing, I doubt the series was conceived in response to the American crisis of leadership. But in a year in which the overarching headline has been “country coming apart at the seams,” […]