Letter-Writing Wednesday: Three Cheers for Free College

[I sent a copy of this letter to Gov. Cuomo, my state senator and state representative.]To whom it may concern:I'm writing to applaud New York State's successful passage of a budget measure that makes tuition free for qualifying students at two-year and four-year public colleges. Our governor and our legislative leaders deserve the credit for making this happen. It's a a smart and generous political idea that I hope other states adopt, and I'm proud to see New York in the vanguard of … [Read more...]

Fear of Female Friendship

Since these are the beliefs now running our country, there's renewed interest in Mike Pence's rule that he'll never be alone with any woman who isn't his wife. Supposedly this is called the Billy Graham rule, after the famous evangelist who lived by a similar precept, as a hedge against temptation. (Yes, this man willingly chose to work for President Grab-Her-By-The-Pussy. Christian hypocrisy knows no bounds.)Several pundits noted that it would be impossible for a woman to have a career in … [Read more...]

The Fountainhead: Know Your Customer

The Fountainhead, part 1, chapter 5As Peter Keating is moving up in the world, Howard Roark's career is circling the drain.In two years, Henry Cameron's firm has lost one commission after another. He's had to lay off one of his few remaining draftsmen; the others, including Roark, aren't getting paid on time. Even keeping the lights on is a burden. Worse, Cameron has begun disappearing from the office to go on benders:Cameron had lost even the shame of his agony, and had come to … [Read more...]

I Get Religious Mail: Bibles for China

The 1.3 billion people in China are a tempting target for marketers, especially as the country industrializes and they become more affluent. Countless Western companies have tried to expand into China, often complying with the authoritarian government's censorship demands, for the sake of access to that enormous market.Religious evangelists are hungering to make converts in China for similar reasons. And they, too, appear to be engaging in calculated self-censorship to do so, as we can see … [Read more...]

Dystopia Journal #4: Incompetence Trumps Evil

This isn't really what I'd call a victory, but I'll take it.On election night, I was sure that Obamacare was doomed. It seemed certain that the safety net would be ravaged, that all our painfully hard-won gains would be rolled back. But just a few months later, that's looking a lot less likely. I didn't expect to hear, from Paul Ryan of all people, that "Obamacare is the law of the land" after a Republican-controlled Congress failed miserably in their attempt to replace it and then … [Read more...]

Photo Sunday: Ecstatic

One thing we can relearn from babies is the way they live and feel entirely in the present, untroubled by the past, unanxious about the future. Capturing this one transcendent moment of happiness, I was reminded of a quote:"The word 'infant' is derived from the Latin word for 'unable to speak,' but you'll be perfectly capable of saying one thing: 'I suffer,' and you'll do it tirelessly and without hesitation. I have to admire your utter commitment to that statement; when you cry, you'll … [Read more...]

The Fountainhead: Good Classic

The Fountainhead, part 1, chapter 5A year passes, and Peter Keating is moving up in the world. Through clever manipulation of office politics, he's gotten rid of everyone who had seniority on him, leaving his own path clear for promotion.The first to go is Tim Davis, the firm's star draftsman. In the guise of wanting to be helpful, Keating volunteers to do more and more of Davis' work, which Davis welcomes since it gives him the opportunity to slack off. However, it soon becomes obvious … [Read more...]

Evangelicalism Returns to Its White Supremacist Roots

Since the election, my post on the white supremacist roots of evangelical Christianity has been getting a lot of hits, and no wonder. In retrospect, it was the key to understanding the transformation that this election cycle has wrought in the country.And that change is continuing, as argued in an article by Sarah Posner with an unsurpassable title, Amazing Disgrace. Posner traces the resurgence of what she calls "alt-right Christianity" - the marriage of convenience between white … [Read more...]

The Hypocrisy of Geert Wilders

I've written before about Geert Wilders, the right-wing firebrand (and ex-Catholic agnostic) Dutch politician who infuriated Muslim governments worldwide with his anti-Islam film Fitna. The kingdom of Jordan demanded that the Netherlands extradite him so he could stand trial under their blasphemy law. While the Netherlands rightfully refused this chilling request, they also charged him under the country's own anti-hate-speech law, which I opposed for the same reasons. (He was later … [Read more...]

The Fountainhead: A Dream Deferred

The Fountainhead, part 1, chapter 4Howard Roark has been working at Henry Cameron's office for a month. Cameron often comes out to loom over Roark's shoulder and glare at him, but the two of them have scarcely spoken in all that time. Finally, he calls Roark into his office:The light of the lamp fell on Cameron's cheek, on his beard, the white threads glistening, on his fist, on a corner of the drawing, its black lines bright and hard as if embossed on the paper."You're fired," … [Read more...]