Blog Archives

Mum and dad are fighting – what should I do?

Mum and dad are fighting – what should I do?

This is a republish of the blog Resolving conflict with your partner in front of children can be a harrowing business. My parents were happy to have a domestic in front of my sister and I. When the dust settled, my parents would inevitably deny they had been fighting at all. “It was only a […] … learn more→

“Fifteen minutes of fame” and a lifetime of notoriety

“Fifteen minutes of fame” and a lifetime of notoriety

One of the effects of the rise of social media and “reality” entertainment is that we are all, in effect, in danger of becoming the topics of tabloid stories. It used to be that you had to be already famous at least to some degree for anyone to be interested in the stupid things that […] … learn more→

Waiting for the word of 2014

Waiting for the word of 2014

For 2014 there seems to be no leading candidate for Word (or Phrase) of the Year. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of candidates. Just last week, for example, the news from Washington was generously sprinkled with enhanced interrogation techniques, the disputed CIA practice for obtaining information, and cromnibus, the disputed Congressional practice for […] … learn more→

Why torture is so American!

Why torture is so American!

Every American school child knows or should know about the Salem witch trials, and part of that chapter of American history involves torture. Perhaps we should not torture our own citizens that overtly, but events as they transpired a few hundred years ago certainly represent American ingenuity so that an early form of water torture, […] … learn more→

Most noteworthy quotations of 2014

Most noteworthy quotations of 2014

Fred Shapiro, an associate director at Yale Law School’s library, has edited the Yale Book of Quotations since 2006. The book has been conceived as “the most accurate, most comprehensive, and most up-to-date major quotation dictionary”: “By using state-of-the-art research methods such as searching online collections of historical periodicals and books, the YBQ revolutionizes our […] … learn more→

Slavery and capitalism

Slavery and capitalism

Few topics have animated today’s chattering classes more than capitalism. In the wake of the global economic crisis, the discussion has spanned political boundaries, with conservative newspapers in Britain and Germany running stories on the “future of capitalism” (as if that were in doubt) and Korean Marxists analyzing its allegedly self-destructive tendencies. Pope Francis has […] … learn more→

Will ‘Selfie’ stick?

Will ‘Selfie’ stick?

Earlier this year I welcomed selfie as a new word that reflected the unselfish selfishness of the currently young millennial generation, epitomized by the Electronic Dance Music song “Selfie” by the Chainsmokers. That, I thought, was my last word on selfie. But I was wrong. I had missed an important accessory, the selfie stick. This […] … learn more→

The strengthening economic case for fossil fuel divestment

The strengthening economic case for fossil fuel divestment

The controversy ignited by the Australian National University in October, when it decided to sell its shares in seven resources companies, has raised two important questions about divestment from assets such as fossil fuels. The first is whether divestment is an economically prudent choice, and the second is whether there is anything special about universities […] … learn more→

There is no debate about hitting children – it’s just wrong

There is no debate about hitting children – it’s just wrong

US sports continue to struggle with the controversies surrounding Ray Rice’s domestic violence case, and the arrest of Slava Voynov on suspicion of domestic violence. But what has not been a matter of debate is where the line is for men hitting women. The media and the public have been nearly uniform in rallying around […] … learn more→

The satiric lesson of ‘Dear White People’

The satiric lesson of ‘Dear White People’

Rarely is a white audience afforded a lucid and freewheeling response to the deluge of indignities blacks still endure. Instead, reaction to the barrage of stereotypes embodied in many Tyler Perry films, the one-dimensional depiction of blacks in news or reality television, or whites’ insulting appropriation and commodification of a hard-earned black urban culture, is […] … learn more→