Blog Archives

How ‘offline’ came to mean ‘online’

How ‘offline’ came to mean ‘online’

I read this sentence in The New York Times not long ago: “Most evenings, before watching late-night comedy or reading emails on his phone, Matt Nicoletti puts on a pair of orange-colored glasses that he bought for $8 off the Internet.” The phrase that caught my inner ear was “off the Internet.” It sounded odd […] … learn more→

Easter scuppers the certainties of modern fundamentalists

Easter scuppers the certainties of modern fundamentalists

Teaching any sort of academic program with religious content can be a tricky undertaking. Religious passions, whether pro or con, can be volatile; religion is a matter about which people can become upset. My doctoral studies were in the relatively safe arena of Greek philosophy – no-one really cares what you say about Socrates and […] … learn more→

The end of male supremacy

The end of male supremacy

Women are not equal to men; they are superior in many ways, and in most ways that will count in the future. It is not just a matter of culture or upbringing. It is a matter of chromosomes, genes, hormones, and nerve circuits. It is not mainly because of how experience shapes women, but because […] … learn more→

How branding 101 can make leaders more mindful of diversity

How branding 101 can make leaders more mindful of diversity

A few years ago, I overheard two of my MBA students talking after class about their “personal brands.” At the time, I was amused. But then I kept hearing more about this notion of “my brand.” I noticed it was the subject of articles in Forbes and Harvard Business Review. Suddenly, I saw book upon […] … learn more→

Why satire matters

Why satire matters

As recently as a few months ago, the common wisdom seemed to be that the only people who raise concerns about illiberalism in academic life are the embarrassing old avuncular types. You know the ones: the men in Hawaiian shirts who want to know why they can’t call women “dames” anymore. There was little serious […] … learn more→

Dark Leviathan

Dark Leviathan

The Hidden Wiki holds the keys to a secret internet. To reach it, you need a special browser that can access ‘Tor Hidden Services’ – websites that have chosen to obscure their physical location. But even this browser isn’t enough. Like the Isla de Muerta in the film Pirates of the Caribbean, the landmarks of […] … learn more→

What really kills children: Nationwide's Superbowl ad

What really kills children: Nationwide’s Superbowl ad

Nationwide wants us to be afraid of the wrong things. This tweet was in reference to the nasty Nationwide ad that showed cute kids saying they never got to do things, with the kicker, “because I died.” Then they showed an overflowing bathtub, an open cabinet under the sink, and a crashed flatscreen TV. What […] … learn more→

Garage sociolinguistics

Garage sociolinguistics

Read the above title aloud before you continue. I have a real problem about pronouncing it. Let me explain. In the fall I was quite unexpectedly forced to move house.My new home has not only an off-street parking spot but also a standalone structure (pictured at left) intended for storing an automobile (but actually occupied […] … learn more→

‘Charlie Hebdo,’ Houellebecq, and France’s pungent satirical tradition

‘Charlie Hebdo,’ Houellebecq, and France’s pungent satirical tradition

Accompanying many of the appalling accounts of Wednesday’s massacre at the offices of Charlie Hebdo is a reproduction of the satirical weekly’s cover. It features a caricature of the writer Michel Houellebecq, garbed in a blue wizard’s outfit, face unshaven, jowls sagging and eyes bleary (no doubt from one glass de trop), smoke spiraling from […] … learn more→

The defense of satire is the defense of free expression

The defense of satire is the defense of free expression

In response to the terrorist attacks on the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. The television coverage of the terrorist attack has been quite uniform in not showing the materials that led to the attack on the magazine’s offices, and that decision seems to me to be implicitly reinforcing the point that the gunmen […] … learn more→