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Poverty By America
2023-09-26 14:24
Matthew Desmond previously wrote about our housing crisis in Evicted. His 2023 book, Poverty By America, is a broader examination of socio-economic dysfunction. Life for the poor is harde… Read More
My Running Music
2023-09-23 20:33
Most days I run to the post office for my mail; about a mile; ten minutes. Music helps. Not long ago I happened to run a similar distance but found it puzzlingly hard going. Then I realiz… Read More
The Deep Roots Of Religion
2023-09-20 22:55
My humanist group hosted J. Anderson Thomson, a psychiatrist, speaking about his book, Why We Believe in God(s): A Concise Guide to the Science of Faith. Everyone knows religion reflec… Read More
Impeachment And The True Crime
2023-09-14 13:08
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has announced a presidential impeachment process, as the “next logical step,” based on “serious and credible allegations” of Biden’… Read More
Dirty Pictures
2023-09-11 14:45
Child porn cases are often in the news. It creeps me out that anyone could get their jollies from that. But human sexuality is very varied. Even if only 1% of men (it’s virtually all m… Read More
The BLOAT — Biggest Loser Of All Time
2023-09-08 19:00
Heard a radio report about California’s Shasta County switching from automated to hand counting of election ballots. Ditching their Dominion equipment. The estimated cost is $1.6 mi… Read More
“Democrats Will Destroy America”
2023-09-01 23:49
Democrats will “destroy” America. They want to. This is now a staple of Republican rhetoric. Democrats supposedly want to destroy America because they hate it. But don&rsquo&hell…Read More
Does Religion Increase Happiness?
2023-08-25 23:18
My local humanist group hosted a presentation by Ryan Cragun, a sociologist with a flair for statistics, talking about studies purporting to find correlations between religion and happine… Read More
John Bolton Eviscerates Trump
2023-08-18 23:50
John Bolton’s book, The Room Where it Happened, chronicles his time as Trump’s national security advisor. Not pretty. Bolton had wide-ranging foreign policy experience, and… Read More
Life Is Good
2023-08-14 23:45
Flew to Pittsburgh for the American Numismatic Association convention — big annual coin show. Would have preferred to do just one full day, but the flights didn’t work, so I s… Read More
Profiles In Ignorance
2023-08-11 13:10
An Xmas gift from a family member was Andy Borowitz’s 2022 book, Profiles in Ignorance: How America’s Politicians Got Dumb and Dumber. Easy to see why they thought I’d l… Read More
Trump And Trumpism — The Final Word
2023-08-04 12:51
Trump calls his latest indictment, for January 6, a political hit-job, with a “deranged” prosecutor trying to interfere with the 2024 election. The reality is Trump himself tr… Read More
The “No Labels” Party Threatens America
2023-07-28 00:00
Once upon a time I advocated for a centrist third party, as a way out of our polarized partisan impasse. Even suggested a presidential candidate (Bill Gates). That was in a different Univers… Read More
What’s Up With Black Republicans?
2023-07-20 18:01
Senator Tim Scott, who’s Black, seeks the presidential nomination of what has really become the White Nationalist party. I want to say, Good luck with that. Yet more than a token… Read More
Chirp, Chirp, Chirp
2023-07-17 18:50
Carol Quantock’s recent talk (to my local Humanist group) was for the birds — or, rather, “For the Birder: Identification, Observation, and Protection.” She’… Read More
Who Are The Real Patriots?
2023-07-13 12:16
The Albany Times-Union this morning published my letter-to-the-editor (slightly edited). Here is my unfiltered text: Jay Jochnowitz’s 6/25 commentary*, “Let’s reclaim… Read More
WEIRD People Getting To Denmark
2023-07-08 22:34
I am WEIRD. You probably are too. WEIRD is an acronym for Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic. This is explored in Joseph Henrich’s 2020 book, The Weirdest Peopl… Read More
On Bullshit
2023-07-03 12:12
On Bullshit is actually a serious book, by a serious philosopher, Harry Frankfurt, published in 2005, by Princeton University Press, no less. Or at least it purports to be a serious book… Read More
The End Of Fat
2023-06-21 12:45
I used to be guilty of looking askance at fat people, sharing the common idea that they just overeat. While that may sometimes be true, I’ve increasingly learned how obesity is more… Read More
God Is Now Following My Blog
2023-06-19 12:11
WordPress sends me a notificationOf every new blog subscription.The latest one was kind of odd:My newest follower is God. That really made my day.Although you might sayHe actually reads… Read More
Responding To The Music Or The Maker?
2023-06-14 13:01
The 50th anniversary of Picasso’s death prompted an essay in The Economist pondering how his lousy treatment of women should affect our response to his art. Which no longer has u… Read More
The Ministry For The Future
2023-06-05 21:10
A recent article in The Economist addressed global warming’s effect on India and Pakistan. With discussion of “wet-bulb” temperatures, a more complex measurement of heat… Read More
Is Life (Always) Worth Living?
2023-06-02 02:28
A French court decreed that a teenaged boy was entitled to compensation for having been born. Medics had failed to detect conditions resulting in severe birth defects, leaving the child d… Read More
The Pez Outlaw
2023-05-23 23:18
Steve Glew was a Michigan machinist. A job he hated. Hated. But he loved his wife, a ’60s “flower child.” And his hobby, collecting old cereal boxes, which he found real… Read More
The Coddling Of The American Mind
2023-05-19 00:52
The Coddling of the American Mind is a great 2018 book by Jonathan Haidt, an NYU social and cultural psychologist, and attorney Greg Lukianoff, head of the Foundation for Individual Right… Read More
2024: The Battle For America’s Soul
2023-05-14 12:48
I vividly remember when Obama’s 2008 election victory was declared, and TV showed a middle aged Black Chicago woman jumping up and down shouting, “God bless America! God bless… Read More
Ukraine Foolishness
2023-05-11 12:45
This is the biggest foreign affairs crisis of my post-WWII lifetime. Shattering a world order which had seemingly eliminated the age-old curse of major power wars. Some “peace adv… Read More
May 14: Democracy’s D-Day
2023-05-08 17:00
The 1970s through ’90s saw a great democratic floodtide. Since greatly receded. Many wonder whether its authoritarian antithesis is really the wave of the future. I’ve writt… Read More
The Color Of Law: Racial Segregation
2023-04-22 16:47
Richard Rothstein’s 2017 book, The Color of Law, concerns U.S. residential segregation. He says we have a myth that it’s de facto segregation, meaning mainly a result of peopl… Read More
China And The New Cold War: Detente?
2023-04-08 12:56
What makes nations enemies? The Soviet Union aimed for Communism’s ultimate global triumph. The free world, led by the U.S., strove for containment. That was the Cold War. But… Read More
Why Trust Science?
2023-03-26 23:30
Why Trust Science? — a book by Naomi Oreskes — was reviewed at the Albany Library by Sherrie Lyons, herself a science author. Ours is the age of science. Yet the book&rsquo……Read More
Justice — Maybe Just A Little?
2023-03-18 14:07
The Judges of the International Criminal Court in the Hague have issued an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin. For a crime against humanity (only one of his many), abducting thousands of U… Read More
Religion Wrecking Israel
2023-03-14 18:53
We’re often told religion provides “comfort.” It’s understandably comforting to imagine death isn’t death. Though a more authentically meaningful life can be… Read More
About Fox News: Just Facts, No Rhetoric
2023-03-11 14:39
As a writer, I love language, the challenge of putting ideas into words. To find just the right words to convey something. Hyperbole is extreme language. The last seven years have prese… Read More
How Identity Politics Hurts Democrats
2023-03-08 20:54
I heard a radio report about Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Cal.) declaring her candidacy for the U.S. Senate. Asked why she’s running, virtually the first word in reply was “LGBTQ.&rdqu……Read More
Freedom Of Speech — Can Of Worms
2023-03-04 14:46
Elon Musk said he was taking over Twitter in the name of free speech. Twitter was faulted for trying to keep a lid on harmful craziness. Notably, its banning Trump (as did Facebook) in th… Read More
The Masculinity Crisis
2023-02-24 17:01
I’ve written about “lookism”* — discrimination against the less attractive. Graduating law school in 1970, I wasn’t ugly, but short, which didn’t help… Read More
Sam Harris On The Evil Of Religion
2023-02-19 18:47
Sam Harris was one of the famous “four horsemen” of “new atheist” writers (along with Dawkins, Dennett, and Hitchens). He’s actually not materialist enough f… Read More
Ukraine: The Long And The Short Of It
2023-02-15 14:09
Long war or short war? That seems to be the question. Putin apparently had fantasized a very short war, Ukraine a pushover — believing it’s not really even a country, its peop… Read More
Why You Can’t Trust Your Brain
2023-02-11 19:40
I heard a talk by Dr. Caleb Lack, a clinical psychologist and author. His topic: Why You Can’t Trust Your Brain. Well, whose brain can you trust? Actually, the brain is an extreme… Read More
Democrats And Non-white Voters
2023-01-27 13:49
I wanted to scream, hearing a recent radio panel discussion about voting rights legislation. The talk was all about “politicians” not caring enough to pass it. I’m so fe… Read More
China’s Covid Catastrophe
2023-01-19 14:17
When Covid began three years ago in Wuhan, China’s regime acted ruthlessly to contain it, with draconian lockdown, testing, and quarantining rules. This did succeed — in China &m&hell…Read More
The United States House Of Reprehensibles
2023-01-06 14:51
I kept warning that voters giving Congressional power to these Republicans would be insane. Kevin McCarthy is a reprehensible character, totally self-serving and dishonest. But that&rsq&hell…Read More
Blacks Go Back To Africa
2023-01-03 13:57
“Go Back to Africa!” the marchers chanted, shaking their torches. “Go Back to Africa!” their signs declared. One small detail they overlooked. Black Americans&r……Read More
An Artificial Intelligence Rebuts Me!
2022-12-30 13:59
I’ve been rebutted by an Artificial Intelligence bot. My nephew, Ben Broderick Phillips, works for Microsoft, with Artificial Intelligence (AI) within his wheelhouse. For Christma… Read More
Trumpery Recap
2022-12-26 13:45
His tax returns have finally been made public, after a years-long legal battle. What was he hiding? The New York Times already reported in 2020 that he’d been paying almost no incom… Read More
Reunifications And Republicans
2022-12-22 14:21
Germany had long been divided, by a physical wall. It was opened, on November 9, 1989, and I’ll never forget seeing East Germans literally whooping with joy to finally pass through… Read More
The Supreme Court And Affirmative Action
2022-12-18 16:10
The way to stop racial discrimination, Chief Justice Roberts has said, “is to stop discriminating by race.” The Supreme Court will yet again revisit affirmative action this… Read More
Ai Weiwei And Bono On Art And Capitalism
2022-12-14 01:40
No word triggers more nonsense thinking than “capitalism.” For centuries, when Christianity reigned, the ubiquitous bogeyman was Satan. As that superstition wanes, now it’s… Read More
What Does Ancestry Mean?
2022-12-07 21:09
My wife was intrigued by a statistician’s writing that if you go back 3400 years, we’re all related. Not actually surprising if you think about it. After all, you’ve got tw… Read More
How To Play With Your Food
2022-11-25 13:58
Who could resist that book title found at a yard sale? More, the authors were Penn & Teller — renowned magicians and outspoken advocates for reason against superstition. We&r……Read More
Witch Hunts Past And Present
2022-11-19 23:54
I’ve written about the Western world’s witch burning craze during the 15th-18th centuries.* Recently I’ve read more on the subject in a book by Martin Harris, Cows, Pigs, W… Read More
Climate: We’re Cooked
2022-11-13 16:21
Like the proverbial frog in the pot whose temperature slowly rises. Yes (sigh) this is about climate change. But please read it anyway, it may provide some clarity. There’s an… Read More
America’s Appointment In Samarra
2022-11-06 13:25
An old Arab parable: In Baghdad’s marketplace, a man’s servant finds himself eyed ominously by a figure he recognizes as Death. To escape his fate, he’ll ride immediatel… Read More
Iran: Theocracy Hypocrisy
2022-11-04 13:18
Decrying Iran’s tyranny, and rooting for the women protesters, is facile. But two points: One, Iran is seemingly a special case among the world’s dictatorships — a the… Read More
Herschel Walker And The Character Issue
2022-11-02 12:50
The 2006 film Idiocracy’s premise was dimbulbs procreating like rabbits, producing a dumb population. Imagine the kind of people they elect. Our average IQ is not in fact falling; yet… Read More
The Pelosi Attack
2022-10-31 12:35
Okay, one swallow does not a summer make, nor one nutjob’s violence a holocaust. But it’s one more signpost on our downward road. David DePape was a Trumpian conspiracy driv… Read More
Right Track, Wrong Track: I Lied
2022-10-29 13:18
I lied, to a pollster. Asked the iconic “right track/wrong track” question, I said America is on the right track. Because my truthful answer would redound against the Biden ad… Read More
Ukraine: Russia’s Dirty Bomb Warning
2022-10-26 13:06
Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has warned that Ukraine will use a “dirty bomb.” That’s a conventional explosive that spews radioactive contamination. And… Read More
Max Boot On Trump Derangement Syndrome
2022-10-19 15:01
“Trump derangement syndrome” is invoked by his fans gleeful at his driving opponents nuts. Of course, those opponents are entirely rational; it’s Trumpers themselves who ar… Read More
Seeing “Hamilton” In London
2022-10-16 23:25
Calling London an international city is inadequate. It’s like a city with no nationality at all; no native tongue, everyone speaking their own. “Does anyone speak English in t… Read More
Bad Parents And Politics
2022-10-14 15:02
Bad parent memoirs are a big literary genre. Recently I read a very different kind of book, about guided psychedelic experiences. Many who undergo them have problems to work through. Most co… Read More
Crime And Policing
2022-10-03 13:21
Crime is rising! People always think this. But in fact crime rates hit a peak in the early ’90s (though nowhere near earlier epochs), and then fell inexorably and dramatically. But… Read More

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