It may seem an odd parallel, but there exists an interesting relationship between the judicial evolution of obscenity and changing sensibilities regarding police use of force. The comparison suggested itself as I read an article on James Joyce’s landmark tome, Ulysses. Eighty-one years ago this week, a federal magistrate ruled that the book was not obscene.
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‘Tis the season for culinary exploration. At least around the extended Pate household, that’s when Mother and I usually trot out at least one “experimental” dish alongside the perennially prepared and preordained.
Over the last few months I’ve grown a big goofy handlebar mustache. I didn’t start out with that as the intended end product, but a slight end curl during the formative weeks kept suggesting itself.
There’s been a lot of discussion lately regarding the proper separation of church and state with respect to business practices. The most notable example of which is the fight waged between the conservative Christian owners of the craft store chain, Hobby Lobby, and the federal government over that company’s resistance to certain parts of the Affordable Care Act mandates for birth control coverage.
Since I was 16 I’ve worked in more than two dozen political campaigns. While most of my candidates have been Democrats, I’ve also worked in several Republican and Independent campaigns. I’m a registered Democrat, but some of my fellow party members might argue I’m not a very good one.
Last week I ran across Martine Rothblatt’s new book, “Virtually Human: The Promise - and the Peril - of Digital Immortality.” In this philosophically evocative tome, Rathblatt describes a not-so-distant future world where exact digital copies of humans which she calls, mindclones, co-exist with traditionally conceived (pun intended) organic beings.
Plants help form the enduring memory of my great-grandmother, Maggie Bryant. Everybody called her “Big Momma,” a quintessentially Southern endearment. She always had something rooting, blooming or growing.
As most regular readers know, I don’t often address issues that attract the bulk of commentary or punditry. This week is an exception. Recent events in Ferguson, Mo., demand a critical response. As someone who studies crime and social responses to it, I feel compelled to say something.
Woodstock Model 5N. This might not mean much to most folks, but this designation plays a significant role in American Cold War politics. It also has a special place in my life as a writer.
August 8, 2014
I must have been 8 or 9 years old when I met my first celebrity. The star was Burt Ward, best remembered for his role as Robin on the television series “Batman.” Our meeting took place a few years after the series’ 1968 final airing.
If you’ve taken or taught a college class in the last decade, you can probably attest to the changes brought about by digital technology. We have so-called “smart classrooms” where the technological interface is front and center; and even when it’s not in the limelight, digital technology is omnipresent.
The 19th century poet and cultural critic Matthew Arnold once observed, “Culture, then, is a study of perfection, and perfection which insists on becoming something rather than in having something, in an inward condition of the mind and spirit, not in an outward set of circumstances.”
Regular readers of this column might well guess that I’m a fan of the absurd.
As a criminologist, I have seen time and again that the process one is due and the justice one is accorded depend largely on one’s bank account.
Only the truly devoted will recall Prof. Roy Hinkley, but legions remember “the Professor” from the 1960s sitcom Gilligan’s Island. The actor who brought the Professor to life, Russell Johnson, passed away on Jan. 16. He was 89.
My parents just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. In a world that coined the term “starter marriage,” such accomplishments are all-too rare.
The Internet has been described as a kind of “great equalizer” in that it holds the power to give otherwise voiceless masses a platform for public opinion.
Back in 2008, the topic of my Christmas column was the song, Good King Wenceslas. Since its original publication, I’ve only become more fond of the familiar refrain. I’ve collected many versions of the tune, everyone from Mel Tormé — the best version — to the Beatles and REM.
Pete, my best friend from college, used to teasingly call me “the man with a thousand hobbies.” Perhaps “a thousand” overstates it a bit, but I will admit to having a variety of interests. Most of these interests would likely be curious to the uninitiated.
When I was around 17, my father gave me a piece of advice.
As the holiday season creeps closer, I fall prey to the same rush and urges that many people experience in their drive to find just the right Christmas present. It’s all-too easy.
Ayn Rand, the controversial darling of the rightmost extremities in modern politics, once wrote, “Civilization is the progress of a society towards privacy. The savage’s whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men.”
A few years ago I wrote a book chapter on the scandal surrounding silent film star, Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle. The research taught me many things. I learned that Arbuckle was perhaps the first real movie star. He was among the first — if not the very first — actor to write, direct and star in his own films. He was one of the original Keystone Kops. He was a mentor to Buster Keaton, and his million dollar studio contract even predated Charlie Chaplin’s.
This week the New York Times ran an article titled “Sparse Competition and Higher Premiums.” If ever five words could sum up every broken aspect of American health care, those do it perfectly.
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