All posts in Meta

Ugly Truths

A friend asked for my thoughts on a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education titled “The Ugly Truth about being a black professor”. It is written by George Yancy, a professor at Emory University and it is here if you want to read it. In it the author recounts hate mail and death threats he received after writing an op-ed piece for the New York Times in 2015. Another version of his response to the backlash is here. The op ed piece is here if you want to read it. He is writing a book about the reaction


A scholar I know has just written an article bashing a jazz group for re-creating Miles Davis’s classic “Kind of Blue”album note for note including the solos’ of the musicians. She makes the point that this is a Western way of seeing music as property rather than the African American one of what Henry Louis Gates calls signifying. Gates defines signifying as “repetition with a difference” which is at the center of black art and culture. This Western way was fetishizing the form of the music rather than the experience of the music. A long time ago I read something by C.S.

What Trump Doesn’t Understand About Immigration

Donald Trump doesn’t understand a lot of things, but right now we are concentrating on what he doesn’t understand about immigration. Historically most immigrants have come from “shithole” countries although which countries these were has changed over time. Even his beloved Norway was once a shithole and although I haven’t checked the stats I would hazard a guess that there was more Norwegian immigration then than there is now. Most of the 19th and 20 century immigration was from what were then “shithole” places. If you think about it people are more likely to leave their homes if the economy

Yelling at my TV

From time to time there are things on the news that make me yell at my television because they are so outrageous or because the media have so spun the wrong narrative that it is brainwashing the public. Cases in point:

In a photo op I watched on CBS news Trump was  handing out sandwiches or something to hurricane victims when a middle aged white man contrasted Trump’s behavior in coming out to help with Obama’s who was golfing during the last hurricane. This of course is keeping with the internet memes which show a picture of Trump helping compared with

Faith and Epistemology

Out of the blue my friend asked me “What do you think of faith and epistemology?” He was an old friend who I hadn’t seen in a few years and we were having a pleasant lunch together. In his youth he had earned a master’s degree in philosophy before turning to a 35 year career as a middle and high school teacher. We were both seeking to exercise our intellectual chops as we hadn’t done so for a while. By faith he meant belief system and by epistemology he meant an investigation of our knowledge of what is true or false.

MLK Day 2017

To be honest I have always been ambivalent about Martin Luther King Day. It’s not because I didn’t think he was a great man. If anyone in my lifetime deserves an American holiday it is surely this man. There are two things though that bother me about the holiday. First, it reduces the civil rights movement to the actions of one man when it really wasn’t. This is of course in line with the American myth that it is only great people who move American history. The civil rights struggle, as probably every other event in American history, was very

Soul Man

Keep in mind that I am an historian not a fortune teller and I am writing this before the final primaries and the convention. Maybe one of the Republicans wild punches will land and Hillary will be disqualified as a candidate;  maybe Bernie’s followers’ fantasy of the superdelegates becoming convinced that only Bernie can beat Trump, comes true. However,  Hillary’s march to the nomination seems to me the most likely scenario. I believe Bernie will ultimately endorse Hillary when she wins the nomination and I am not afraid of him dividing the party with a third party run. His followers are a different

Rubio’s 25 second talking point

There has been so much internet talk about the fact that at last Saturday’s GOP debate in New Hampshire Sen. Marco Rubio repeated himself four times, but there hasn’t been enough talk about what he actually said. Here is what he said:

But I would add this. Let’s dispel with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing. He knows exactly what he’s doing. He is trying to change this country. He wants America to become more like the rest of the world. We don’t want to be like the rest of the world, we want to be the

New Year’s Eve in Front of the TV

As one ages New Year’s Eve rituals get more and more constricted.  At first you get tired of spending your New Year’s Eve in public places among strangers so you restrict yourself to private parties with friends. Eventually you wind up spending it at home among family and eventually just in front of the television. You end up realizing that time zones are artificial inventions so you don’t have to stay up until midnight. Whenever you go to bed it has become a new year somewhere and upon awaking you will find it has become one for you. This is

Defunding Planned Parenthood Does Nothing to Stop Abortions

Although the Senate has rebuffed the first attempt to fast track defunding Planned Parenthood, there will be more attempts.  The Republican controlled New Hampshire state government has already done so. There is more sound than light in the recent opposition of anti-abortion advocates to the edited secret tapes of Planned Parenthood officials. I would no more accept those tapes as proof that PP was responsible for wrongdoing than I would accept Jurassic World as proof that dinosaurs exist. Let’s try to clear up the issues.

Defunding PP will not stop abortions. The information that PP provides about abortion is freely available