Category Archives: Columns

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,” […]

The arrow of history: where are we headed?

As we proceed from the old year to the new, it would seem that most of us are experiencing the world as going backwards. According to an October 7th AP story reporting on an AP-NORC poll, “Few say US going in right direction.” “Only 24 percent of Americans are confident about the future of the […]

The undeniably progressive politics of Christmas

At this Christmas time, I’m reprinting a column from the past because it seems even more pertinent now than five years ago when it first appeared: The Politics of Christmas Christmas has the reputation of being apolitical, above the fray. But in fact it wears its politics on its (fur trimmed red) sleeve. Dickens’ beloved […]

The status of gratefulness in the renewed Cold War

I suppose we should be feeling grateful this Thanksgiving for having survived so far the nuclear whims of the president. In recent decades, as Cold War nuclear war fears have receded, we have mainly had domesticated nukes such as our own Pilgrim plant to worry about. Now once again nuclear war is an entree on […]

Catalan Independence: Does size matter?

What are we citizens of the United States making of the Catalan threat to make Spain smaller? Our own country was founded in secession; a continuing part of our politics is the tension between the two terms in the name of our country, the union and the states. What do we think about Brexit? Or […]

Medicare-for-all and the New Democratic Party

I never thought I’d see the day: “Urgency grows for single-payer health system.” The front page headline of this newspaper on July 19th. The story went on: “With polls showing a majority of Americans holding unfavorable views of plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, the conversation about replacing the current system with […]

Sorry, no solution to mass murder of citizens

My wife and I have (also) been “dodging bullets” recently. Just a year before Maria devastated Puerto Rico we and our partners sold our house there, saving us a worrisome secondhome owner connection to that huge mess. Earlier this year we spent a few days on the very coast south of Oaxaca, Mexico where that […]