Winter of Our Discontent

I have borrowed the title of this blog from Shakespeare’s play, Richard III. Richard III was not a nice man, although the real Richard was probably not as evil as Shakespeare and others have made him out to be. He was the last king of England to actually lead his troops into battle and died in the Battle of Bosworth Field. Shakespeare portrays him as evil, and he may well have been. Medieval kings had a tendency to be corrupt and cruel, and someone I have quoted before, Lord Acton, famously said, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts . . . → Read More: Winter of Our Discontent

Ignorance Is Bliss

An English poet, Thomas Grey, ended his 1742 poem, Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College, with what has become a well-known aphorism: “where ignorance is bliss, / ‘Tis folly to be wise.” The part that’s quoted most often is, “Ignorance is bliss.” Considering ignorance bliss has a long history. One of the central stories of both Judaism and Christianity is Eve’s being tempted by Satan to eat the fruit of knowledge and then persuading Adam to do the same.

The theme has been important to me for a long time. The title of my 1974 Ph.D. dissertation . . . → Read More: Ignorance Is Bliss

Another Brick in the Wall

I have borrowed the title for this blog from a song by . . . → Read More: Another Brick in the Wall

Living In Interesting Times

The expression, May you live in interesting times, is usually considered an ancient-Chinese curse. Whether it’s true that it is an ancient Chinese curse is doubtful, but the part about the curse definitely seems true. The reason the expression is considered a curse rather than a blessing is that interesting “times” result from political intrigue and wars rather than from peace, happiness, and tranquility. We (and that includes the mass of humanity at this point) are living in interesting times. Charles Dickens begins his great novel, A Tale of Two Cities with the following paragraph:

It was the best . . . → Read More: Living In Interesting Times

The Fire This Time

With apologies to James Baldwin for appropriating his title: If people could actually “spin in their graves,” my guess is that he would be doing a very rapid rotation at this time, as would, I think, Abraham Lincoln and many others who have done their best to make the United States a better country than it has been in the past. We have taken at least one big step backwards with the recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia. I am both angry and sad that “white nationalism” is on the march, and that the Ku Klux Klan is crawling out from . . . → Read More: The Fire This Time

Stuff That’s On My Mind

The original impetus for this article was the North Carolina Bathroom Bill. I am writing this from the perspective of a male who has been sharing bathrooms with women all my life—not always at the same time, of course, but most of the time, people use bathrooms one at a time. There are exceptions, of course. Public bathrooms (airports, highway rest stops, restaurants, and other public places). If you have ever flown anywhere with a woman, you know that when people exit the plane, men enter the men’s room, take care of business, and exit. In all likelihood, the female . . . → Read More: Stuff That’s On My Mind

Living in Interesting Times

The wish, “May you live in interesting times,” is assumed to be an Ancient Chinese Curse because “interesting times” typically meant war, rumors of war, and loss of economic and political stability. Regardless of whether it really is an ancient curse, when you read and/or watch news of today’s events, you’ll see just how many of the factors that make times “interesting” are present today. Here’s a partial list:

In the Mid-East, we have ISIS, an on-going war, the destruction of ancient cities, and millions of refugees.

In Europe, we have millions of refugees seeking a place they can . . . → Read More: Living in Interesting Times

The Long and Winding Road

With apologies to Paul McCartney, the winding road I have in mind for this blog is not to your door but to the 2016 elections in the US. For one reason or another, we seem to be off to an earlier and stranger start than is usually the case. The impetus for this blog post was an article in Salon by Heather Cox Richardson about the intellectual battle for the soul of the Republican Party. The article caught my attention because I started my political life as an “Eisenhower Republican” while I was still too young to vote. I liked . . . → Read More: The Long and Winding Road