Category Archives: Columns

The election season of voting dangerously

You could almost thank Donald Trump for lessons about democracy. It’s almost as if he set out four years ago to expose our complacency and naivete and teach us about the vulnerability of our system to the impulses of one man of a certain sort. But that it would come to this, that only two […]

Homeschooling and the babysitting function of public education

One of the biggest effects of our response to the covid-19 virus is to turn us into a nation of involuntary homeschoolers. There’s always been a suspect coincidence between the educational and the babysitting functions of compulsory public education. Kids need to get educated as basic preparation for life and citizenship in a democracy. And […]

“ Queen of Katwe” and movies as cultural weapons

A s the debate about the tearing down of monuments and cancel culture in general has evolved, we’re beginning to see the problem with zero tolerance. If we are going to flush all the people and culture that are flawed with racism, anti-semitism, sexism and other sins, little or no culture would be left standing. […]

The end of the idea of police as peace-keepers

Whether or not policing is abolished, as has been seriously proposed, a cherished concept of policing has probably taken a mortal hit. The weeks since the nine minutes of a cop’s knee on George Floyd’s neck have made it much harder for anyone to seriously entertain the idea of policing as neutral peace-keeping. That’s the […]

Trump fans: how far does your loyalty go?

The world wants to know: can anything finally get to Trump’s loyal fan base? Is there nothing he can do, no insult to the office, no threat to the constitution, no petty vindictiveness, no mendacity, no nastiness, no failure of leadership costing, it would seem, thousands of lives, that will shake their affection for the […]

Getting sophisticated about living with risk

  Is there a five second rule for covid-19? Remember the rule that said if you drop a piece of food on the floor you have five (or is it 10?) seconds to retrieve it before the cooties climb on board? It was always a joke—but not only. It did feel–does feel–safer to eat the […]

Imagining the New Normal.

My wife is annoyed at the phrase “new normal.” She sees it as an unnecessary concession to the virus. She’s taking it one day at a time, she says, and hasn’t given up hope that the Old Normal (which is just plain normal if you don’t allow New Normal in your vocabulary) will come back […]

Covid-19: re-learning risk tolerance

“We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” Does FDR’s famous Depression Era pep talk apply to our present situation? Well not entirely of course. We have the virus itself to fear. The curve may have peaked in some places, but the numbers of cases and of deaths are still rising. It still feels like […]

Getting Biden’s Appeal

So (if one may take a moment out from the nonstop conversation about the virus) it’s come down for Democrats to Biden, our lowest-common- denominator candidate. A lot of us are having to deal with our disappointment. Really? From that attractive, smart, gender and racially diverse field of candidates? This sameold, white male is to […]

Finding out what we can’t (or don’t want) to live without

Buddhists say that all suffering in life comes from attachment—to whatever it is you’re attached to . The remedy is non-attachment. Hard to argue with that: get dependent on something and you could lose it and suffer withdrawal. The way we are discouraging the spread of COVID-19 deprives us of many things that we are […]