Category Archives: Columns

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. […]

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 […]

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 […]