August 14, 2019

Drycephalus Water is poetry. Loose-limbed and supple. Deserts are prose. Hard, inflected, and jagged. Water is the condition of civilization. Limpid sheath of collective self-awareness. Hymn to synchronicity. Deserts are the absence of water. Pure heat. Pitiless heat. Reduction to cause and effect, reflex and reaction, metabolism and instinct. Water is spring, rebirth and renewal. Heralded by mountain snow melt, unfathomable quantities of stored fresh water annually released to fill streams, estuaries, lakes, and reservoirs. Stored water pleating the soil. Replenishing itself…. Read more

August 12, 2019

In 2007, Professor Robert George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University, delivered the John Dewey Lecture in Philosophy at Harvard Law School. George himself received his legal education at Harvard, and was there introduced to ideas about the relationship between law and morality, the study of which, as he happily tells us, became his life’s vocation. George’s 2007 lecture, entitled “Natural Law” (and subsequently published in the Harvard Journal… Read more

August 10, 2019

In this otherworldly, discordant political moment, I’d like to reclaim two fine articles published just prior to the 2016 presidential election that pay attention to the deeper structure of the tortured, mangled language games that beset us. Neither essay claims to have answers, but both in their humble, searching manner point us toward definitions of the problem: a kind of drenched solipsism that has dissolved our public institutions at a moment when we most need them, and so hurtles us… Read more

August 8, 2019

In October 2015, Bloomberg further burnished Robby George’s reputation as the wise man of the Republican Party with an article headlined “Half the Republican Field Seeks Advice From This Princeton Professor.” During the earliest stages of the 2016 presidential campaign, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, and Rick Santorum sought Robby George’s advice on how to think about and talk about wedge social issues such as religious liberty, same-sex marriage, and abortion rights (and wrongs), and other “key constitutional values.”… Read more

August 6, 2019

Collegiate gothic citadel of learning in a historic, picturesque town roughly equidistant from New York and Philadelphia, from Boston and Washington, DC, Princeton University is proximate to urban centers of wealth and power, while remaining demurely provincial and unassuming (the town is a mere 5-minute ride from the Northeast Rail Corridor via the terminally adorable Dinky, a single-car train that departs regularly from the Princeton campus). Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, Princeton (both the town and the university, actually) has a bit… Read more

August 2, 2019

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. The media has spilled much ink parsing the meaning of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recently announced  State Department “Commission on Unalienable Rights.” According to the Federal Register notice, “The Commission will provide the Secretary of State advice and recommendations concerning international human rights matters…. Read more

July 29, 2019

I’ll just say it. Four years out, Hamilton the Musical remains the most important American cultural moment of the 21st century. The genius of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s creation is that his imaginative, hip hop, racial caste/casting adaptation of the massive Ron Chernow biography of Alexander Hamilton almost instantly, and effortlessly, has changed the way we think about American history. Part One / Alexander Hamilton, Superstar Music and the Historical Imagination Any human community dies, quickly, when it can no longer, inclusively, sing about itself, laugh about itself, and know and… Read more

July 26, 2019

For those interested in a framework for thinking about University of Pennsylvania Law School professor Amy Wax’s controversial remarks about immigration, culture, and race at the recent National Conservatism conference in Washington, DC, I’d recommend reading these two documents. Here’s What Amy Wax Really Said About Immigration (The Federalist, July 26, 2019) – Provides a full transcript of Wax’s address to the conference, and the panel discussion and audience Q&A that followed. Amy Wax Is Wrong. Immigrants Are Integrating Just… Read more

July 25, 2019

“Mine is an odd destiny. Perhaps no man in the United states has sacrificed or done more for the present Constitution than myself — and … I am still trying to prop the frail and worthless fabric. Yet I have the murmurs of its friends no less than the curses of its foes for my rewards. What can I do better than withdraw from the scene? Every day proves to me more and more that this American world was not… Read more

July 24, 2019

In the first decade of the 21st century, an unsexy, inoffensive software markup language called  XML solved a problem that has been the predicate for all major historical transformations: extracting content from its conventional forms and repurposing this content in ways never before imagined. XML became the vehicle for liberating data – as digital representations of the stuff of the material world – from established publishing formats. With almost no one paying attention, new possibilities for endlessly reproducing, recombining, and remapping… Read more

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