Robin would have been Sixty-Four Today

Robin Williams

Finding myself thinking of Robin Williams. … [Read more...]

Of Memory, Remorse, and Small Redemptions: A Small Appreciation of the Movie Mr Holmes

Ian McKellen as Mr Holmes

Jan & I promised each other that a significant part of our new lives in California will include going to movies. In the past month we’ve been to two, so while more than modest, it looks to be shaping up to be an improvement on the past.The other night we saw Mr. Holmes, a small movie exploring Sherlock Holmes imagined in his old age. The amazing Ian McKellen, who I gather is in his early seventies, plays Holmes at sixty-five, and at ninety-two.This is, as you might imagine given those t … [Read more...]

When the Devil whispers in your ear…

Hitler as knight

I see it was on this day in 1925 that Adolph Hitler's vision for the world Mein Kampf was first published. I think of hard times, and I think of men on white horses, and those who listen to their siren songs. And I think about how these preachers of an easy solution putting the blame for all the ills we are experiencing on some other, usually people with little actual power, women, foreigners, sexual minorities just seem to reincarnate generation after generation. I also find myself thinking of … [Read more...]

When Does it Begin? A Brief Meditation on Calendars, With Few Discernible Conclusions


One of the things I like about Wikipedia is their willingness to ascribe actual dates to events that took place long, long ago, and for which, the actual evidence supporting that particular date seem to me to be rather tenuous. Of course the closer we get to today, the easier it is to feel the date is the date. And so today is counted in Islamic culture marking when Mohammed and his companions fled from Medina to Mecca 622 years ago. It is also the Islamic New Year.I have to admit that date … [Read more...]

The Day Emerson Burned Down Harvard Divinity


It was on this day in 1838 that Ralph Waldo Emerson, who six years before had resigned as minister of the Second Church (Unitarian), was invited to speak to the graduating class at Harvard Divinity School. The now famous or infamous, your choice, Divinity School Address, as Coleen Walsh writing in the Harvard Gazette notes, "represented a turning point for Unitarianism, beginning its transformation from a liberal form of Christianity to a type of religious liberalism independent of specific … [Read more...]

Onward to the Edge! New Horizons Whips Past Pluto (We’re Pretty Sure)


After a decade hurtling through space at seven forty-nine in the morning, Eastern time, space probe New Horizons should have passed less than eight thousand miles from Pluto. Assuming nothing horrible happened we will receive pictures, lots and lots of pictures around midnight on Wednesday. For more on this amazing feat go here. … [Read more...]

A Briefest Critique of Pure Capitalism

El Chappo

Forbes Magazine ranked Joaquin Guzman Loera, Mexican crime king pin, and now twice escaped prisoner, on its list of self made billionaires for four years running. On the one hand it was simply meant as a list of rich people without regard to how they made their fortunes. And when people objected they discovered reasons to not include him on the list. However, I have an abiding feeling the initial impulse of the good folk at Forbes was that in some deeper sense business is business. (I wish, but … [Read more...]

Happy Birthday, Captain Picard!

Patrick Stewart

Sir Patrick Stewart was born on this day in 1940, in Yorkshire, England. … [Read more...]

Henry Thoreau & His Disobedience Sutra

Henry Thoreau

(Some of what follows has appeared in somewhat different form elsewhere before, including in my most recent book If You're Lucky, Your Heart Will Break. But, it felt appropriate, considering the day....)Henry David Thoreau was born on this day in 1817.I was maybe fifteen, possibly sixteen when I first read Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience. I thrilled at the opening paragraph with its pure disdain for external authorities of any sort. In retrospect I realize this is the principal e … [Read more...]

The Spread of Religions: A Video Clip


An interesting clip from Business Insider, produced by Alex Kuzoian. The price of viewing is an advertisement. They seem to like to do things like this. Of course it is only the big five. I personally would enjoy a somewhat more nuanced picture, ideally, including the rise and spread of secularism. Still, as I said, interesting... … [Read more...]