Many of you have by now seen the official portrait of President Obama, which shows him seated not quite squarely on a chair that is partly swallowed in a wall of luxuriant vegetation. It is in many respects an odd picture, as I suppose befits an odd man. Continue reading
René Flores is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Chicago, and a notice in this morning’s mail informs me that she will deliver a lecture at this university next Tuesday evening. I’m afraid I will not be among those who will be edified by Dr. Flores, since on Tuesday evenings I either wash my hair or sort my socks. But even if I were free, I would not be tempted to take a place at Dr. Flores’ feet, because I already know the answer to the question that burns so hotly in the title of her lecture.
“Who is ‘Illegal’?”
The answer is, of course, no one! Continue reading
“As fit . . . as a pancake for Shrove Tuesday . . .”
Shakespeare, All’s Well that Ends Well, ii.2
This line is spoken by a clown, and what a clown he was. Everyone knows that it is a shoe that fits, not a pancake. And fortunately there are American retailers on the ball and ready to remind us that this last day of Carnival is really Fat Shoesday. Bless their soles! Continue reading
(With acknowledgements to the previous post by T. B.) Continue reading
My wife was chatting with a friend the other night, this friend being, by day, a high school pedagogue. The pedagogue told her that, a few days earlier, she had dimmed the lights in her classroom to play an instructional video, and that under the cloak of darkness one young scholar near the back had taken the opportunity to give head to another young scholar. Owing to modesty or fear of detection, the recipient scholar had taken the added precaution of holding a binder open before him on his knees, while pretending to read. His pretense of reading was, of course, his fatal mistake, since the pedagogue was not a little curious when she saw the young man apparently reading in the dark. Continue reading
A couple of the commenters to my last post told me that they subscribe to Noah Webster’s definitions of patriot, patriotic and patriotism. Turning to Webster’s Compendious Dictionary of the English Language (1806), we find that these definitions are: Continue reading
I lost interest in football nearly forty years ago, in the fall of 1969, when it became clear that my beloved Packers would not be advancing to their third Super Bowl. Memory can play the harlot, but my memory is that my loss of interest happened very suddenly, while I was waiting in my father’s car, listening to the Packers lose the decisive game on my transistor radio with the Green Bay Packer helmet logo on its brushed metal face. I believe it was the game against Baltimore, just a couple of days after by twelfth birthday, because I still twitch when I think of Johnny Unitas (which isn’t very often). Continue reading
Just to be perfectly clear, I do not think that sexual assault is a laughing matter. But I do think there is such thing as serious satire, by which I mean satire intended to correct and not amuse. Mordant humor is written to bite, and by biting to deter. As folks say, “once bitten, twice shy.” Continue reading
I am sitting in a hotel room in Austin, Texas, looking across an urban canyon at the curtain wall of a high, buff-colored office building. The sun has yet to rise, so I can see into its empty offices; but my eye is especially drawn to what appear to be small conference rooms at the corners. I see little round tables, wire-frame chairs, and conference rooms stacked like soup cans, one above the other, right up the corner of the gargantuan hive. Continue reading
Plato’s allegory of the cave appears in Book VII of Plato’s most famous and longest dialog, The Republic. Plato’s dialogs frequently star Plato’s teacher Socrates as a character. The dialogs involved discussions and philosophical arguments between various characters, some of whom were based on real people. Plato particularly disliked the sophists who were professional rhetoricians and who seemed to care more about money and social success than truth. In fact, Plato accused them of teaching their students how to make the worse argument appear better – enabling their students to convict the innocent and set free the guilty.