Category Archives: Columns

Contradictions of our modern romance of the ocean

There was an emotional gathering at Newcomb Hollow beach in Welllfleet in October to celebrate the life of the young man killed by a shark. Part of it was a “paddle-out” of dozens of surfers to form a circle. It took some guts to go out there, I thought, well beyond warnings on the posted […]

The logic of not voting. And of voting.

For as long as I can remember, a theme of civic life has been the scandalously low voter turnout in national elections. On average 40% of eligible voters don’t vote in presidential elections, about 60% in off-years. A curious phenomenon, this failure to vote–to exercise the most basic right in what we think of as […]

The shark crisis: speciesism vs. ecological altruism

In response to the shark fatality crisis, Wellfleet’s selectboard scheduled what was called by some a Shark Town Meeting. It filled the elementary school gym to overflowing, maybe half again the number of attendees as at the Special Town Meeting earlier the same week. After preliminary statements from town officials and shark experts, the meeting […]

Contradictions of shark romance

“We all knew this day would come” ran the big front page headline about the fatal shark attack in Wellfleet. Well, actually, no, we didn’t. Six deaths annually worldwide on average (and first fatality in Massachusetts in 82 years) is pretty good odds Sure, those odds rise when you eliminate all the people who don’t […]

Crazy poor Americans

Can we talk about “Crazy Rich Asians”? We crazy, poor Americans are turning out in crazy numbers to see this movie, whose exotic opulence transcends its cliched romantic comedy plot. The movie seems fresh, not just in its all-Asian cast, but in widening our continent-locked, monolinguistic diversity horizon. The plot takes us to Singapore, where […]

Good for us; shame on us

You know that trick of eyesight: how you can see a moon crater as concave or as convex, but not both at the same time? It keeps flipping between. There was a story in this paper recently that produced for me something of the same effect. Back in the 80s and early 90s, Ben Buck, […]

Discriminating between two forms of democracy.

As an English major I’ve been confused by the term “populism” being bruited about recently. It has the sound of democracy, of which I have always been a fan. So why are so many liberals associating it with the drift toward fascism? Turning dutifully to my wikipedia, I discovered that the confusion is not just […]

Outer Cape non-residents pushing to vote locally

When Wellfleet’s non-resident taxpayers began to organize themselves about 20 years ago, they made a big point of declaring their innocence of any ambition for a vote in local affairs. But some, at least, of the growing demographic of second-home owners are now pushing for the vote. The Wellfleet Non-Resident Taxpayer Association (NRTA) recently held […]

Feelings complicate the immigration puzzle

Immigration has even a lot of liberals scratching their heads trying to figure out how we should feel about the various issues around the phenomenon of fellow human fleeing terrible conditions in other counties. The daunting complexity of the issues around the phenomenon of asylum-seekers just got a bit clearer with the outcry over the […]

The fight is on. Which side are you on?

Something’s wrong with our political system when the most unpopular and, in the opinion of most, morally dubious president ever will, via Supreme Court nominees, have one of the greatest influences on American life in coming decades. No doubt Trump idolators are chortling at the irony. Checks and balances? None of the three branches of […]