Entries Tagged as 'Culture'

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

40 Years Out of the Closet #NationalComingOutDay #NCOD

On a bitterly cold January night in 1976, after cooking me a dinner of whole wheat pasta with marinara sauce, after sitting with me on his bed in a campus rooming house while listening to Maria Callas singing her signature role as Floria Tosca (Vissi d’arte, vissi d’amore “I lived for art, I lived for […]

Friday, September 4th, 2015

Protestant Reformation, Muddled Protestant Sacramental Theology Created #KimDavis

You can blame the Kim Davis affair (i.e, the current legal controversy surrounding her professional refusal to do her job granting marriage licenses, not her past personal bidness exploring fornication and adultery) on an event that occurred nearly 500 years ago: the Protestant Reformation. No sooner had the ink dried on the U.S. Supreme Court’s […]

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

NY Times Book Review: Emma Sky’s “The Unraveling”

The American Adam — naive, armed, and dangerous — stomping about a world he fails to grasp and in whose boundless narcissism broods “Why do they hate us?”: “Throughout the months, and then years, that Sky spent in Iraq, she was amazed at the naivete she encountered among the Americans. ‘When I arrived, one of […]

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

Sex and the Single Cybernaut #Tinder #AdamGopnik #thelongviewtom

“Sexual manners in the age of Tinder tend to ease, or eroticize, ethnicity. Ethnic identity is still important as an abstract artifact of ‘pride,’ but pride, which goeth before a fall, also goeth, so to speak, before a rise.” –Adam Gopnik, “June, Moon, Tune,” The New Yorker

Monday, June 29th, 2015

Etymologies: French Cabbies Are Revolting #Uber

News that French taxicab drivers were protesting the presence of the sharing-and-caring car service Uber by engaging in the French national sport of setting cars on fire, got me thinking about the French origins of the word “taxicab.” According to the OED, a cabriolet (“applied not only to the original vehicle so named and its […]

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

Longstanding Southern Addictions

Three addictions have afflicted the American South since the antebellum era: Tobacco, whiskey, and an aggrieved sense of entitlement.

Saturday, January 10th, 2015

Blogging #MLA15: Day Three

It’s easy to be cynical about the annual convention of the Modern Language Association. Its session and paper titles are fodder for usually news-starved media during the winter break. (Unfortunately, there is other global news to preoccupy us.) Its spectacle of posturing and pretentiousness is legendary. More snark than the love child of Lewis Carroll […]

Saturday, January 10th, 2015

Blogging #MLA15: Day Two

My strategy at cocktail parties is to find one location (usually near the bar or buffet) and wait ’til the world comes around over the course of an evening. So today I staffed the booth of the Council of Editors of Learned Journals, which displays samples of our member editors’ journals. I’d reserved a location […]

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

Blogging #MLA15: Day One

The 130th annual convention of the Modern Language Association began for me on a medieval-Renaissance note. If Dante Alighieri were alive today, commercial air travel would be one of the storeys of Mount Purgatory. Not the Inferno, mind you, because no matter how awful the experience, it will eventually end. My travel day started at […]

Monday, August 11th, 2014

Bezos, Don’t Be a Bozo #JeffBezos #Amazon #Hachette #AuthorsUnited

To Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder, Amazon jeff@amazon.com Jeff Bezos: Don’t be a Bozo. Silicon Valley-style arrogance and bullying have become legendary. And, although I have no case for a major commercial interest Hachette, which can take care of itself, I do support the claims of Authors United: It is not right for Amazon to […]

Saturday, August 2nd, 2014

Gigatrend Friedman Moist Over “Sharing Economy” @tomfriendman @airbnb

NY Times columnist Thomas A. Friedman, the gigatrend entrepreneur de jour, recently got his panties moist excited about the “sharing economy.” Services like taxi Uber or shelter Airbnb, Friedman breathlessly prophesies, are “burying the past with the future, and actually bringing strangers together.” The millenarian Friedman declares Airbnb to be the anodyne to the world’s bad […]

Saturday, August 2nd, 2014

And Not a Professor Among Them @NYCConf #NYTsft

The Gray Lady is hosting Schools for Tomorrow: Disruptions in the Lecture Hall, asking “Is a college degree really worth the investment?” (the answer, as is well documented, is “yes,” but the the New York Times hasn’t gotten the news yet), also proposing to explore “how innovations and challenges . . . impact the very nature of […]

Sunday, July 20th, 2014

And Fall of the National Geographic

Demonstrating how far the National Geographic Society has declined, this week’s NatGeo episode of How to Survive the End of the World: Hell on Earth: “Examining the possibility of black hole colliding with Earth and its impact on volcanic activity.” If gold can rust, what ill iron do?

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

Idea Pollen, Thought Allergies

April may be the cruellest month, not only for mixing memory and desire, but also for allergic rhinitis. For some people, a foreign substance (pollen) stimulates the body’s production of a reactive chemical, histamine. The allergic reaction can be mild (swelling of mucous membranes, production of mucous), or, in the case of some allergies, quite […]

Monday, November 19th, 2012

What Liberals Need to Understand

From Mavis Gallant’s diaries while living hand-to-mouth in Spain in 1952: Chose cinema over potatoes. I found myself watching the women’s clothes, drinking in their texture, appreciating every bite the actors put in their mouths. When one of the characters (because of some imbecility of plot) wore old clothes and pretended to be be poor, […]

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

Next Time You’re Asked to ‘Like’ the Pledge of Allegiance

A recent Facebook meme presents you with a picture of white elementary school children making the Pledge of Allegiance and invites you to “LIKE if you did this every morning and think that they still should!” So far it has nearly half a million “Likes” and over 30,000 “Shares.” But consider: The generation (the so-called […]

Monday, August 20th, 2012

Akin Medievalism

By now infamous, Republicon Congressman Todd Akin’s medical discourse on rape and pregnancy– “It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something, I […]

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

Jeremiads Incoming!

We were once a great nation, but we have strayed from our founding principles and now stand at the edge of the abyss. We face certain ruin unless we return to our founding principles. If that rhetorical formula sounds familiar to Americans, it should. It’s called the “jeremiad” (after the biblical prophet Jeremiah), and it […]

Saturday, August 4th, 2012

Ya Gotta Eat: Fast Food, Slow Justice

My first foray into gay activism occurred in 1976 while I was at the University of Illinois, and a group of us from the Gay Student Alliance met with the management of the local Sambo’s Restaurant, the only place open after the bars closed. After spending several hours twirling, twinkies, drag queens and our retinues […]

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

A Catechism of Gunolatry

My friends and colleagues outside the US have been appalled by the recent gun carnage in Colorado and puzzled why there is not a more vocal debate about controlling certain kinds of weapons. What they don’t understand is that the US, while it tries to maintain a separation of church and state, is dominated by […]

Saturday, July 7th, 2012

Books & Man at Yale

A recent visit to New Haven revealed that my favorite discount book outlet, Labyrinth Books, which had a very fine store on the north side of Yale, has closed that shop. Labyrinth describes itself as “an acclaimed independent bookstore for engaged readers” and observes that “Labyrinth serves Princeton University in all its course-book needs, taking […]

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

NatGeo’s Junk TV

When I was growing up the National Geographic magazine had the reputation for a stodgy exoticism (“native girls in all your favorite poses” as we quipped in our high school knowingness). In fact, you didn’t subscribe to the magazine: you became a member of the National Geographic Society (and received the magazine). Later critiques suggested […]

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

Faux News, “War on Christmas”

‘Tis the season for Faux News to crank up its annual “Secularists War Against Christmas.” Since Republicons are usually hysterians rather than historians, this page from our Puritan founder William Bradford (1590-1657) might be instructive: “On the day called Christmas-day, the Governor called them out to work, (as was used) but the most of this […]

Friday, November 18th, 2011

Benetton’s Kissing Pope Ad

The Vatican claims that this ad is “damaging not only to the dignity of the pope and the Catholic Church but also to the feelings of believers.” I can think of some things that the Vatican and its minions have done that have already done this damage. The Vatican is threatening suit to prevent the […]

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Generation Kewl, Daddy’s Leaving

The Spielberg Generation–by which I do not mean Steven Spielberg’s own Baby Boomer Generation (he was born in 1946), but the generation that grew up on Spielberg films and whose fractured families are often represented in Spielberg films–is now suffering separation anxiety as still another “Daddy” has abandoned them. Generation Kewl’s surrogate father, Steve Jobs, […]