Tagged: hendrik hertzberg

Symbols

Celebrities aren’t the only people who need public relations help. Anyone oblivious to the power of symbols ought to have a publicist on retainer to interpret for them how the “message” is playing under the microscope of societal consumption. Newsmakers and ordinary citizens alike have a tendency to botch their presentation. Someone needs to refine...

Self Destruction

Depending on one’s quotient of Puritanical self-abnegation, the follies of other less disciplined souls often inspire the pensive equivalent of a scoff. Of the fatty we think, “Surely he knows that a diet of doughnuts and fries will only make him more obese.” Of the smoker we think, “Surely she knows that smoking causes an...

Arab Madness

The recent fuss over Dubai Ports World, a well-known shipping company based in the United Arab Emirates, illustrates once again that the facts never get in the way of a good story. Or, depending on your outlook, a bad one. Sadly, our news media, increasingly rabid for the ratings that drive corporate profits, seems more...

Keeping the World Safe with the Patriot Act?

Your elected representatives voted yesterday to renew the so-called Patriot Act, the noxious piece of legislation originally penned in the weeks following the September, 2001 terrorist attacks. The new version, we are assured by our senators, is a vast improvement over the old version, which granted the federal authorities unprecedented powers to seize and imprison...

Judging Athletics

Let us consider the absurdity of judged sports now, before the inevitable scandal sure to arise sometime before the current installment of the Olympic Games have concluded, before nationalist passions and hometown prejudices cloud the discussion, and before headline writers ask “Was She Robbed?” Let cool heads prevail. Diving, gymnastics, and figure skating are athletic...

State of the Union

Our union, intended as the felicitous conjoining of disparate states into one cooperative congregation of like-minded souls, is badly disjointed, fractured and splayed worse than perhaps any time in American history since the Civil War. The last presidential election cleaved the country into two: those who endorsed the antics of George W. Bush and those...

Philippines Notes, Part 3: Free Markets

Those of us with a libertarian bent are at times susceptible to the theoretical ideal of “free markets,” the utopian concept of economics unburdened by interfering governments or regulations. Expressed purely (and absurdly) as the perfect crossroads of Supply and Demand, free markets are supposed to produce the best product at the best price, letting...

Rosa Parks, Shirley Horn, and America’s Enduring Schism

Rosa Parks, an unintentional maker of history, was buried this weekend. She was an ordinary citizen of the United States who did something extraordinary, something that today seems so normal and reasonable that the courage Parks must have summoned at the time is easily forgotten. She refused to abide a transparently unjust law, and she was...

The Lords of Power

The chief goal of almost all elected officials, clergymen, CEOs, talent agents, executive vice-presidents, district managers, assistant managers, and onward down the chain of command, is to lord power over others. One can detect a quasi-sexual glee in the ministrations and machinations of those who can affect the lives of others. To the power-holder, the...

Do We Really Believe in Education?

Aside from the concept of family, few pursuits are more important to Americans than education. Our politicians return to the theme as insistently as the repeating leitmotif of a pop song: We must invest in our future; we must spend more, do more, care more so that the quality of education improves — and, the...