Category Archives: society

Cheating Is Bad, but Bad Cheating Is Worse

During my seven years of teaching, one of the things that particularly distressed me was the suspicion that some of my students were cheating. This gut feeling often accompanied my paper grading and was especially severe when the assignment was a “research” paper…


I’m Not Angry

Every time I go back to my hometown of Philadelphia (actually Willow Grove, but who’s counting?) for a visit, I have to readjust to the cultural differences between the east-coast city and my current place of residence, Grand Rapids, Michigan. During the first couple days of my visit, a typical conversation might go like this…


Above the Law

The Boston Globe reported on Sunday that throughout his presidency, George W. Bush has determined that hundreds of laws simply don’t apply to him…


It’s an Ad Mad World

Sometimes I get confused and dizzy like I’m going to fall off a precipice even though I’m sitting on the sofa in my living room when I think about the endless choices I have for all manner of consumer goods and all I want, all I really, really want, is for some movie star or television sitcom character to tell me what to buy. That’s why I was thrilled when a friend of mine at work today showed me an article on the Wired News website that reported an 84 percent rise in product placements on TV this year…

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Those Liberal English Teachers

A friend of mine just forwarded an article to me from the CNN website. It’s about a history and English teacher in Vermont who was recently called on the carpet for giving a “liberal” vocabulary quiz. Here’s one example, in which the students had to circle the correct word in parentheses: “I wish Bush would be (coherent, eschewed) for once during a speech, but there are theories that his everyday diction charms the below-average mind, hence insuring him Republican votes.” Yeah, maybe that one went a little too far.
It reminds me of my time as a liberal English teacher in Hudsonville, Michigan. It was the year 2000, and the presidential race was really heating up…


Personal Photographic Account of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans

This photographic account of New Orleans before, during, and after Hurricane Katrina swept through is quite staggering and more informative than most of what has appeared in the mainstream media…


America’s Most Thwarted Home Video

The other day I read an interesting entry on JD Lasica’s weblog Darknet, in which Lasica describes his attempt to put together a home movie “just for showing off to family or friends.” The problems he faced were not technical, but legal, as he wanted to splice into his project a few seconds of video from a handful of movies. He could have simply inserted the clips without any fuss, and nobody who cared would have been the wiser, but Lasica, who wrote a book about the “personal media revolution,” decided to play the game according to the rules of the media oligopoly. He sent formal requests to the seven major studios that own the movies.
Now, who in their right mind would have a problem with someone wanting to use a few seconds of film footage for a home movie? Apparently the movie studios would. Here is how things shook out…

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Compleat Steve

I’ve never been all that wild and crazy about Steve Martin’s Saturday Night Live years. But the essays he’s written for The New Yorker’s “Shouts & Murmurs” section over the past few years are some of the funniest I’ve ever read. The other day when I was searching for one of those articles, I came across the website The Compleat Steve, which has an enormous collection of writing by and about Steve Martin, including transcripts of speeches and the Academy Awards show that he hosted a couple years ago. It’s hard to believe that the site isn’t infringing on a copyright somewhere, so maybe you should check it out soon, before the owner gets a “C and D” letter from somebody’s attorney.
Here is an excerpt from one of my favorite essays…


More on Bush at Calvin College

Here’s a quick rundown of what some people have been saying lately about Bush’s upcoming commencement address at Calvin College.


George W. Bush to Speak at Calvin College Commencement

I’m speechless. (official announcement)