Blog Archives

Sounding real by speaking fake

Sounding real by speaking fake

Arthur Chu is apparently best known as one of the top Jeopardy! winners of all time, but since I haven’t watched Jeopardy! since the last millennium, I have no opinion on his style of play or use of the Forrest Bounce. I came upon him, instead, in an essay on his current voice-over work. Born … learn more→

History, hashtags, and the truth about slavery

History, hashtags, and the truth about slavery

When we sat down last week to read The Economist’s dismaying—and subsequently retracted—review of Edward E. Baptist’s new history of American slavery, The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism, we experienced a strong sense of déjà vu. The anonymous Economist reviewer objected to Baptist’s portrayal of slavery as a … learn more→

College relations: Boston’s brains behind the Olympics

College relations: Boston’s brains behind the Olympics

In a fascinating op ed in the Boston Globe recently, Andrew W. Lo, a professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management and Tom Rutledge, chief investment strategist at Alpha Simplex Group, looked at how the area’s colleges and universities might support Boston’s bid to host the 2024 Olympics. The reaction across Boston to the City’s … learn more→

More self-sponsored and self-serving far-right scholarly research

More self-sponsored and self-serving far-right scholarly research

Richard Vedder, an emeritus economist at Ohio University, has recently released another study showing the benefits of “right to work” legislation. In a newspaper interview, he has predicted that Ohio will adopt “right to work” legislation in 2015. Vedder has, of course, long been on the payroll of the American Enterprise Institute; so, despite his … learn more→

Race matters

Race matters

It happened again: the single most contentious and edifying day of the semester, which I look forward to year after year. It’s the session in my editing class where we discuss racial and gender bias in language. And it’s the one in which my undergraduates, mostly blacks and Latinos from the Bronx, do the educating. … learn more→

Life for child migrants is even harder beyond the US border

Life for child migrants is even harder beyond the US border

Between 2003 and 2011, 8,000 to 40,000 unaccompanied migrant children from Central America were stopped every year on the southern border of the US. When this number boomed to more than 57,000 during the first nine months of 2014, president Barack Obama announced an “urgent humanitarian situation requiring a unified and coordinated Federal response” at … learn more→

All set with that

All set with that

I recently returned from a vacation to southeastern Massachusetts, where my wife grew up and I know of as the home of the greatest restaurant in the world (apologies to Calvin Trillin, longtime advocate of Arthur Bryant’s barbecue joint in Kansas City). I refer to The Bayside, in Westport, Mass., which claims the honor via … learn more→

The Nixon flag in my office

The Nixon flag in my office

On the bright morning of August 9, 1974, I stood with my parents and older brother on hot metal bleachers at El Toro Marine base, in Orange County, California. We looked up and squinted to watch Air Force One appear as a tiny speck on the horizon, grow into a full-size 707, and land on … learn more→

Selfie-love

Selfie-love

I must be getting old because I didn’t know what a “selfie” was until a few months ago, when a friend referred me to a short, hilarious essay by the actor James Franco on “The Meanings of the Selfie” in The New York Times. What partly defines the genre, Franco says, is that you immediately … learn more→

An incomplete rainbow

An incomplete rainbow

When I came out, at 16, in those fashion-challenged late 70s when tweedy jackets and pinky rings had to do hard labor in signifying lesbian identity, my (liberal) mother sent me to a shrink before she began her queer re-education and joined the cause, righteous pink triangle pinned on her ample bosom. I knew not … learn more→