Essay, Headline »

Why Poor Americans Are So Patriotic

By | December 6, 2017

Why do the worst-off American citizens love their country so much?
Patriotism may be defined as a belief in the greatness, if not superiority, of one’s country relative to others. Depending on how one defines the term exactly, somewhere between 85 to 90% of America’s poor are “patriotic.” They would rather be citizens of their country, for instance, than of any other country on Earth, and …

Essay, Headline »

Treason Isn’t Just a Crime—It’s a Sin of the Heart

By | December 5, 2017

If you’re looking to nail someone for treason these days, don’t talk to a lawyer. The answer you’ll get will be short and likely disappointing: It’s hard to convict someone of treason and chances are the actions you’re describing won’t qualify for the charge. But if what you’re really trying to express is an emotional response, you’re better off turning to 14th-century Italian literature, not …

Connecting California, Featured »

With Charles Manson Gone, California Needs a New Villain

By | December 4, 2017

It’s hard to find a villain who can bring Californians together these days.
That—more than any other factor—is why Charlie Manson’s death produced so many remembrances in California media. Manson was a murderer, but he also represented the time, a half-century ago, when people had enough in common to share certain experiences—like fear of the crazed killers of the Manson Family.
Today, it’s difficult to think of …

Headline, What It Means to Be American »

When Burlap Underwear Was Fashionable

By | December 4, 2017

In 1928, when President Calvin Coolidge visited Chicago, the ladies of a Presbyterian church presented him with a set of pajamas made from flour sacks dyed lavender and finished with silk frogs and pearl buttons in appreciation of his program on economy and thrift.
It seems surprising now, but once the use of cloth feed bags for clothing and household items was a part of …

Featured, Poetry »

Do we and our words have any effect/ on what the Fates sew? #poem

By | December 1, 2017

Evidence and Inquiry
It was an ordinary October afternoon,
the sky dimmed by clouds that filled
the valley and stripped it of all color,
the sun a rueful smile peeking through.
Inside, drabness total as an eclipse:
the concrete block, lead paint, dust
and greenish light of our classroom.
You and I were there, and Anne as well,
wearing a large hat and enveloped in
her cloud of thoughts. Bob was droning on
when Howard overrode …

Essay, Headline »

Hiking Wisconsin With ‘Ghosts’ of the Ice Age

By | December 1, 2017

In “Marshland Elegy,” an essay in A Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold described a dawn wind slowly rolling a bank of fog across a Wisconsin marsh. “Like the white ghost of a glacier,” he wrote, “the mists advance, riding over phalanxes of tamaracks, sliding across bog-meadows heavy with dew.” It’s a haunting image that enthralls me each time I read the essay. Even if you’re …

Featured, What It Means to Be American »

What Calvin Coolidge Didn’t Understand About Native Americans

By | November 30, 2017

During the summer of 1927, Calvin Coolidge, 30th president of the United States, was formally adopted into the Lakota nation. The ceremonies took place in Deadwood, South Dakota, with the prominent Sicangu Lakota activist and teacher Chauncy Yellow Robe presiding. Yellow Robe’s daughter placed an eagle feather headdress, a potent symbol of Lakota culture, on Coolidge’s head. The tribe also gave Coolidge a Lakota name—Wanblí …

The Takeaway »

Hawaii Isn’t So Beautiful at the Ballot Box

By | November 30, 2017

During Hawaii’s early days as an American state, the late U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye would boast about its high voter participation rate.
But since that mid-20th-century high watermark, Hawaii has fallen behind the mainland in measures of civic participation and engagement. Its voters ranked dead last among the 50 states in the 2016 presidential election, and, despite its reputation as a warm, personable place, …

Essay, Headline »

Forget Fake News. Social Media Is Making Democracy Less Democratic.

By | November 29, 2017

Anxieties that new communications technologies and media formats would undermine democratic citizenship go back more than a century. In the late 19th century, critics worried about sensationalistic “yellow journalism”; a cartoon from that era even used the phrase “fake news. And indeed the newly cheap mass newspapers—in reckless disregard of facts—helped push the United States into war with Spain in 1898.
A generation later, …

Essay, Headline »

Why the Planet Should Fear North Korean Nuclear Testing

By | November 28, 2017

Fishermen in Japan peer wearily into the skies, fearful of the North Korean foreign minister’s recent warning that Pyongyang may conduct an atmospheric nuclear test over the Pacific. Earlier this fall, sirens and “J-alerts” sent to millions of cell phones terrified Japanese citizens as two North Korean ballistic missile tests flew over Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido.
The North Korean threat to launch another …