The Trope Dope: “Check Your Privilege”

December 9, 2013

In the final analysis, Madame Bovary is just another trope. Unknown academic wag. dope: an illicit, habit-forming, or narcotic drug; a stupid person; [slang] the inside scoop, the poop, the skinny, the lowdown Cant kills ideas. Leaves them dead in the field, their tongues swollen and hanging. Flies buzzing. (They fell in love too easily. [...]


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A Second Look: Abraham Lincoln on the “Mud-Sill” Theory of Labor

December 2, 2013

The movement to increase the minimum wage, and to tie it legislatively to the cost of living, is growing. The obscenity of low-wage employment among adults – full-time employment that does not offer a living wage – is increasingly apparent. As Arindrajit Dube pointed out in The New York Times: the evidence suggests that around half of [...]


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Objectivity and Neutrality

November 26, 2013

From Thomas L. Haskell, “Objectivity Is Not Neutrality: Rhetoric Vs. Practice In Peter Novick’s That Noble Dream“ I regard Nietzsche‘s attack on asceticism as a cultural calamity, all the more regrettable because of his high seriousness and the brilliance of the assault. Had he directed his wrath merely against Victorian passionlessness there would be no room [...]


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The Rhetorical Element: Not only where you’re coming from, but where you’re going.

November 21, 2013

From Thomas L. Haskell, “Objectivity Is Not Neutrality: Rhetoric vs. Practice in Peter Novick’s That Noble Dream” That two people sharing the same position should say different things about it need not be surprising. One obvious reason is the difficulty of forecasting audience response. We all occasionally polemicize on behalf of our own version of the [...]


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A Second Look: the End (of History, War, the Enlightenment, and Western Civilization) Or Not

November 18, 2013

My recent posts on Syria were argued against a more global backdrop: considerations of war and how it is entered into, with what achievable (or other) ends in mind, and, more specifically again, how the United States engages in it. In focus were questions of American empire and the nature of victory and whether it [...]


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Invisible Cities

November 14, 2013

Tonight the The Industry and LA Dance Project production of Invisible Cities completes its extended one month run at Los Angeles’s Union Station. A 75-minute opera based on the Italo Calvino novel, with music and libretto by Christopher Cerrone, choreography by Danielle Agami, directed by Yuval Sharon and conducted by Marc Lowenstein, the production has [...]


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Syria, the Limits of Interventionism, and the International Order

November 11, 2013

Noted in the comments to the previous post, “A Plague: Contesting Syria, in Context,” is the posting of a reply to it at his blog from my ever wry blogging compadre, Snoopy the Goon. Please do  read it here. Below is my response to, ahem, the Goon. Dear Snoopy, How do we go on after [...]


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A Plague: Contesting Syria, in Context

November 4, 2013

Context They are always there, sitting on both shoulders, sounding into your ears. On either side, they buzz insistently their ceaseless drone. Now, they speak of Syria, whisper and wheedle action or inaction as they wish. They have been singing their songs of superpower or imperial America since the end of World War II. In [...]


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Norm of the Norm

October 22, 2013

I didn’t think I would write anything. I was not friend or family to Norm Geras, and so could speak nothing of the private man that those to whom he truly belonged had known. And how many were there who could say at least as much as I – that though I had never met [...]


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Edward Snowden and the Question of Authority (a Surveillance of Terms)

October 14, 2013

Edward Snowden received the Integrity Award from the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence this week, and WikiLeaks has posted several videos of the rarely-seen whistleblower during the event. The Huffington Post As opinions about Edward Snowden have flown wildly back and forth, the vocabulary of public debate has suffered woefully. The sorry truth is that [...]


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A Second Look: The Honor of the Mascot, or A Team by Any Other Name

October 8, 2013

The latest publicity over the very name of the Washington Redskins is only the most recent eruption in a longtime simmer. As recently as 2009, the Supreme Court refused to hear a case dating back to 1992. This should not surprise given that the Supreme Court has never overturned Johnson v. McIntosh, its 1823 decision [...]


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A Second Look: James Madison & the Tea Party

October 2, 2013

The current government shut down over the Affordable Healthcare Act speaks directly to issues found in the nation’s beginnings. Among the many ironies of Tea Party foolishness is that while its adherents are enemies of federalism and shape minor deities of the nation’s founders, the nation’s founders very purposefully opted for federalism. This post from [...]


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Homer (Dean Adler)

September 29, 2013

September 1, 1999 – September 27, 2013 Homer was a 21st century dog, so he took the last names of both his parents… In his tenth month, he met his adoptive older sister, Penelope (Anne Dean – third and most diminutive in the line of Anne Deans)… It was instant love, and through the rest [...]


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Photography, Fathers, and Mayors

September 23, 2013

When Gil Garcetti was voted out as Los Angeles District Attorney in 2000 after two terms, he turned his dedication in life to another love besides the law – photography. In the years since, he has become a respected figure in the L.A. and broader photo community. He is especially known for what has become [...]


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Masters of War

September 11, 2013

 “Masters of War,” compellingly titled, fortuitously timed in its creation, ranks among Bob Dylan’s most jejune songs. The apparent good fortune of its historic timing emerged out of a natural uprising from circumstance. Given that circumstance, and the song’s generalized complaint, how, it almost seems, could the United States not have become fully drawn into [...]


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Forgetfulness Is a Chemical Weapon

September 6, 2013

Something fails to fire. Across the synaptic gap, neurotransmission falls short. For only a moment or forever, we cease to remember – “as if,” Billy Collins writes, … one by one, the memories you used to harbor decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain, to a little fishing village where there are [...]


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Seeking Submissions: Wiyoĥpeyata, a New Journal of Native American Literature

September 3, 2013

Our friends at Alternating Current press, who are behind so many fine projects and publications, have yet one more, Wiyoĥpeyata: a Literary Journal for the Pine Ridge Reservation. The title, in Lakota, means Westward, and the journal is open to Oglala Lakota Sioux of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota as well as members of neighboring Great Plains [...]


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Scientism, Signifying, and Meaning

August 29, 2013

Since I wrote my brief broadside against Steven Pinker’s monumentally misguided New Republic essay “Science Is Not Your Enemy: An impassioned plea to neglected novelists, embattled professors, and tenure-less historians,” a slew of additional responses have come to my attention. Rhetorically, my reply was a proslepsis (among its many names), a technique by which one talks about something while pretending [...]


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A Second Look: The Brotha & the Otha

August 21, 2013

President Obama’s summer vacation just concluded, there was a fair amount of attention to the frequency of his golfing: courses traversed, rounds played, partners played with. ABC News even gave us “Obama’s Vacation by the Numbers.” He made FIVE outings to local restaurants, including TWO dinners with friends, ONE intimate night out with the first [...]


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Citizen Bloomberg & the Fallacy of Appeal to Efficacy

August 13, 2013

When will it stop? I’m asking. When? These are supposedly educated people. (If all the supposeds in the world were actuals, the world would be a far, far better place than it has ever been before: all the cows would come home to hear the fat lady sing.) When will the people who would lead [...]


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The Spectacular Arrogance & Ignorance of Steven Pinker’s Scientism

August 8, 2013

What is one to make of an essay seeking to bridge a purported divide of understanding between science and the humanities – in which the humanities are said to fear and mistrust the sciences – that opens with the sentence, “The great thinkers of the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment were scientists”? The essay [...]


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