Ebola comes to America

A man in Dallas has  the Ebola virus, the first diagnosed case in the United States.  Do you think this country could handle a plague? [Read more...]

The friendliest and unfriendliest cities

Conde Nast Traveler has conducted a survey to find the friendliest and the unfriendliest cities in the world and in the United States.  See the lists after the jump.  Sound about right?  What does this tell us about the various cultures represented? [Read more...]

The island that time forgot

Back when I was in graduate school, I took a course on American English.  We studied the history and characteristics of the various American dialects, including that of Tangier Island.  This little island in the middle of Chesapeake Bay was settled by English folks from the Cornwall district back in the 1600s.  They and their descendants were so isolated–today it’s an hour-and-a-half boat ride from the mainland–that their language and culture have hardly changed over the centuries.

As a 17th century scholar, I have always wanted to visit Tangier Island.  So we did. [Read more...]

Towards a conservative foreign policy

We have gone from one foreign policy extreme (waging wars to impose democracy on people who don’t want it and who have no cultural or religious foundation for it) to the other (projecting a weakness that has given us Islamic radicals taking over Iraq, Russian aggression in eastern Europe,  Chinese aggression in Asia, a war between Israel and Palestinians, civil war in Syria, and a “new world disorder”).  Is there a happy medium?  What would a truly conservative foreign policy look like?

George Will reviews a new book on that subject that proposes things like “limited government” applied globally, the preservation of local cultures, and “armed diplomacy.” [Read more...]

The new world disorder

British journalist Peter Foster, writing in the London Telegraph, sees the shooting down of the Malaysian airliner over the Ukraine as just one symptom among many of the global order coming apart.  And with the disengagement of the United States and the timidity of Europe, conditions are starting to resemble the way things were just before World War I. [Read more...]

Alexander Hamilton on religion

July 11 was the 210th anniversary of the death of Alexander Hamilton, who was killed in a duel with the sitting vice president Aaron Burr.  Hamilton was one of the important founders, having written most of the Federalist Papers, being a key aide to General Washington, and organizing the foundations of the American economy.  He well deserves to be on the ten dollar bill.  But, according to Mark Movsesian, “he also wrote one of the most important texts on the place of religion in American public life.” [Read more...]


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