By now, the writing of the blog as turned not into a burdensome routine, but a discipline of thinking and writing. Mostly, the mix of history, law, politics, and education has been the same; but I’ve had to pay increasing attention to not repeating myself. I apologize for redundancies (I hope at least for consistency), but with more than a hundred entries under by belt, I hope I may be excused for the occasional lapse.
By now, you are likely familiar with my wry/acerbic style, including a few quirks like using multiple phrases/separated by slashes/rather than commas and an aversion to spelling out “century.” These are benefits of not having a copy editor with a slavish insistence on the Chicago Manual of Style. I’ve tried to keep footnotes to a minimum, too.
One highlight of the year was my 50th high school reunion, which occasioned some serious thoughts about the pace and path of my life and on how I try to comprehend the passage of time—not in the abstract, but as the sum of me so far.
COVID has certainly demonstrated a variety of historical adages about uniqueness, contingency, and continuity. Putin’s misadventure in Ukraine has demonstrated (again) Hegel’s comment that “The only thing we can learn from history is that people don’t learn from history.”
Still, I hope we can learn from Historians!
I know I can learn from you, so keep the comments coming.
Here’s the summary of the year:
Date Title: Subject
9/17/21 A Few Good History Books: 10 great reads for smart general readers
9/17 Recalling Democracy: Why California’s electoral recall system is a failure
9/24 Big Picture: Historical Frameworks
10/1 Names and Places: How geographic names are culturally imperialistic
10/8 The Pace of Science: Patience in an age of miracles
10/15 Me First: The “trickle-down” illusion
10/22 Monopoly Power: Regulating big business to keep the government in power
10/29 Existentialism: Coping under dire threats
11/5 America as an Empire: The limits of our adherence to democracy
11/12 Fragility and Sclerosis: Our precarious modern culture
11/19 US Mail: Improving the postal system
11/26 Western Civ: Why the old standby history course doesn’t work anymore
12/3 Welfare State: Who takes care of us?
12/10 Brexit II: UK shoots itself in the foot; surprised it can’t walk
12/17 Non-Geographic Districts: Where you live shouldn’t determine how you can vote
12/24 Lysistrata: Opportunities for radical action
12/31 Pascal’s Wager: You bet your life (everyday!)
1/7/22 Rights and Responsibilities: The need for social and constitutional balance
1/14 Age Expectancy and Horizons: Better health has changed how we see the world
1/21 Nationalism: The bugbear of modern politics
1/28 A Few Good SF Books: Some fun and provocative reads from the future
2/4 Elbridge’s Progeny: The apparent irresistibility of gerrymandering
2/11 Ungovernability: Do we take societal success for granted?
2/18 Biggest Problem: Where to start for constitutional reform
2/25 Ukraine: Putin’s evil folly
3/4 Construction Zone: Does nation-building work?
3/11 This Means War: How do we define war in the 21C?
3/18 Limits to Growth: Sometimes, more is less
3/25 Little Brother is Watching: A bigger threat to privacy
4/1 Middle Kingdom: China’s perspective on the world
4/8 Failed States: Why the European political model often doesn’t work
4/15 A History of the Future: The way we think about the future has changed over time
4/22 In the Shadow of History: Don’t just read the historical headlines
4/29 Social Darwinism: The abuses of good science
5/6 Revival of the Fittest: What’s worth keeping after the apocalypse
5/13 [omitted]: Blogus interuptus
5/20 Denial: Can we handle the truth?
5/27 The Meaning of 50: How to use a high school reunion
6/3 Sound Tracks: The music of your life
6/10 Public Opinion: How do we know what “the people” think (before polling)
6/17 Games Historians Play: Why I use games in history classes
6/24 The Meaning of 50 (Part II): Post-hoc reflections on the Reunion
7/2 Rights and Wrongs, Roe and Wade: Finding a solution to the uncompromisable
7/9 Inequality: How to read Thos. Jefferson
7/16 Inequality (Part II): How to read Thos. Piketty
7/23 Wonders of Modern Medicine: Gratitude and frustration
7/30 Precedential Seal: Why are we fixated on history?
8/5 Smith, Sieyes, and Darwin: 3 thinkers who created modernity
8/12 Outta’ Sight: What you can’t see can hurt you
8/19 Military Economics: War is (crazy expensive) hell
8/26 How is Now: My upcoming course on modernity
9/2 State of the States: Do we really need our 50 states?
9/9 Post-Boris: The UK is really Trussed-up