Monthly Archives: March 2009

presidents who do too much

Facebook0 Twitter0Total0A major question in the blogosphere right now is whether the Obama Administration is trying to move on too many fronts at once. For instance, Bill Galston’s New Republic piece entitled “Barack’s Too-Long Wish List” was discussed all over … Continue reading

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Shih Chieh Huang

Facebook0 Twitter0Total0Mr. Huang is a youngish artist who uses cheap, discarded objects (soda bottles, baggies) and electronic components such as motion-detectors, LEDs, and fans to create objects that seem animal. My family and I saw his installation at RISD this … Continue reading

Posted in fine arts | Leave a comment

coming of age in a winner-take-all society

Facebook0 Twitter0Total0These are some winning words from the National Spelling Bee, by year: 1932: knack 1940: therapy 1973: vouchsafe 1975: incisor 2001: succedaneum 2004: autochthonous The tremendous increase in difficulty is sometimes taken as evidence of rising achievement (e.g., in … Continue reading

Posted in education policy | Leave a comment

a new book on the way

Facebook0 Twitter0Total0Palgrave Macmillan has offered me a contract to publish my “Dante book” (which needs an actual title–and I’m not sure what that should be). I have been working on the manuscript for 14 years, and it has gone through … Continue reading

Posted in philosophy | Leave a comment

hot-potato socialism

Facebook0 Twitter0Total0The New York Times asked Barack Obama whether he was a “socialist.” He said no and then called back, saying, “It was hard for me to believe that you were entirely serious about that socialist question.” The word is … Continue reading

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snapshots from February and March

Facebook0 Twitter0Total0Out of the bathroom window in the middle of the night, a scene from an expressionist painting. The moon, too large, glares through black tree limbs. Snow forms a smooth shape, a pearly pool, amid the trunks. Houses stand … Continue reading

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flypmedia’s “meet the millennials”

Facebook0 Twitter0Total0I happen to be quoted/filmed in this FLYP cover story, which contains lots of good, basic information about today’s young voters. But I recommend it for a different reason: it’s a great example of multimedia journalism, complete with charts, … Continue reading

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critical thinking about “critical thinking”

Facebook0 Twitter0Total0Here are three interestingly complementary comments. The first is from the moderate-conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks: A few years ago, a faculty committee at Harvard produced a report on the purpose of education. “The aim of a … Continue reading

Posted in academia, philosophy | 4 Comments

thinking about scarcity

Facebook0 Twitter0Total0Environmentalists rightly argue that we should be much more aware of scarcity. Resources run out; there is only so much waste that the earth can absorb; and exploiting habitats causes species to vanish. Environmentalists are not the only ones … Continue reading

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the worm turns

Facebook0 Twitter0Total0Several months before the 2004 election, I wrote a post entitled “what’s wrong with the left, and what we can do about it?” I criticized the belief that Democrats lost elections because Republicans had unfair advantages or played the … Continue reading

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