So, a year ago (Sept. 13, 2020 to be precise), I started this blog. It was a personal challenge: to see if I could discipline myself to write 900-1000 more-or-less coherent and interesting words every week. I hope that, beyond my own benefit, this blog has stimulated some thinking and reflection on your part. Some of you have been kind enough to comment and even to get friends and family to sign up for the weekly notifications.
As I look back over the process, the entries have been a combination of long-held ideas and beliefs and topical responses. In each case, I have tried to flesh out my ideas so that they make sense to my (relatively intelligent and well-read) audience; even if you’re not ‘inside-my-head.’ I have seen my style (lots of asides/parentheticals/multi-slash words) evolve. I have tried to balance topics between history, politics, law, philosophy, education, and related areas. I’ve done my best not to beat the same drum twice; although sometimes, I’ve sidled up pretty close to previously-made points/themes/angles.
Sometimes the ideas accumulated faster than the words to express and develop them. Sometimes an idea came and the piece was done in an hour. Sometimes I had to struggle to “meet the deadline.” Some essays were inspired by what I read in my main news sources (NYT, Economist, Atlantic, links posted in FB by my friends); but more often they presaged what I later read in those places.
Even the (relatively few) entries that have been stimulated by recent events are really more about long-term issues and perspectives, so as I was reviewing the list below while writing this entry, I was struck that, while far from “timeless,” almost all are still current and relevant. I still stand behind my critique of Brexit and of the Afghanistan war, for example. If you missed a few along the way (unlike most op-eds in the NYT etc.) they may be worth reading. (you can go to the ‘archives’ section to the right of this entry and click on the appropriate month of publication)
9/13/20: Welcome - This Blog Project.
9/14:Thoughts on the Semester - Pandemic Teaching.
9/15: Brexit - The Fall of Britain.
9/19: Global Pandemic.1 - COVID and the world.
9/20: Condemned to Repeat It - Santayana and all that.
9/26: Anomalies and Exceptionalism - What is “normal”?
10/4: Ending American Imperialism - Repairing one of our country’s defects.
10/9: A Democratic Crisis - Demographics colliding with institutional inertia.
10/16: Global Pandemic.2 - COVID, Science, and History.
10/23: The Comforts of History - Do we rely too much on history?
10/30: Agendas - What to do after the election.
11/6: The Path Forward - Nation-building in 21C America.
11/13: Party Time - Our obsolete political structure.
11/20: Stories - The distortions of historical coherence.
11/27: Triage - Power, Wealth, and Pandemic Priorities.
12/04: The Laws of History - The limitations of using the past as a guide to the future.
12/11: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes - Do we need a 4th branch of government?
12/18: Rising and Falling Powers - Dealing with American Decline.
12/24/20: The Word for Our World is Forests - We can do something significant about climate change.
1/8/2021: Judgments - Consigning Trump to history.
1/15: Role Model - Will the US be the inspiration of the world?
1/22: In Media Res - Making sense of the information deluge.
1/30: Democracy in America - Is it a fluke?
2/5: ConCon.2 - Can we change our government without a revolution?
2/12: Contingency - God plays dice with the universe.
2/19: Democratic Federalism - Rethinking the Senate.
2/26: Historical Fiction and History - Are facts always important?
3/5: Globalization Course - How do we see our world?
3/12: Royal Families - Atavistic Fantasies.
3/19: Sci-Fi Governments - Different political models from the future.
3/26: Reparations - Error, shame, and money.
4/2: Who Lost Hong Kong? - A future foreign policy debate.
4/9: Bhutan - One extraordinary place.
4/16: Pop Culture - So many more people.
4/23: Global Democracy - Why it’s a long way away.
4/30: Avocational Education - A quandary for most universities.
5/7: Electoral College - Some obvious fixes.
5/14: Three-State Solution - Thinking outside the box in the middle east.
5/21: Representing the People - A radical change for Congress.
5/28: Forever Wars - Are our ideas about war outdated?
6/4: ______- Americans - Ethnicity and labels.
6/11: De-merit - Do we live in a meritocracy?
6/18: Google U - Accreditation where accreditation is due.
6/25: History and Truth - The long road from one to the other.
7/2: Gettysburg - Lincoln’s choices… and ours.
7/9: Changing the Past - Why we construct mythologies.
7/16: Limiting the Leviathan - A case for smaller government.
7/23: Accounting for the Future - How to think long term.
7/30: Thinking Fast and Slow - Kahneman’s classic is worth a read.
8/6: AI, vay! - Is the Borg coming? Is resistance futile?
8/13: The Complexity of Liberty - Modernity has made it harder to be free.
8/20: Territorial Imperative - People and dirt
8/27: Too Early to Tell - Historical framing
9/3: Back in the Classroom - Returning to face-to-face teaching
I haven’t counted, but I’m guestimating that the total is about 45,000 words, about half a book’s worth.
Going forward, I may release myself from the once-a-week constraint. I may try some shorter (400-500 word) entries as well. I’d love to see your comments more; particularly disagreements and challenges. I’m certainly open to suggestions for topics as well.
Thanks for coming along so far. I hope you’ll stick with me going forward, too.