Notes from South America

Hey, look who’s got an ISBN number and everything! (The book is called “Notes from South America,” but the subtitle could be “Exploring the Brave New World of Alternative Publishing.”) A couple of quotations: …The couch I have landed on is owned by a woman named Vero, a young mother of a darling little boy; […]

A White Girl Like You

Forgive me. I have not yet fully worked this all out. But Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn describes the prisoners headed to the Soviet Gulag as waves flowing underground. These waves “provided sewage disposal for the life flowering on the surface.” I understand this to mean that the gulag was not just mindless evil—was not just incomprehensible insanity—but […]

To Be A Teacher

There’s a fascinating article in The New Yorker which discusses the notion — the contemporary American religion, perhaps — of performance improvement.  The subject is introduced via a discussion of athletics, where performance (as RBIs or race times or free throw percentages, or whatever the contest may be about) is fairly easily to quantify and […]

The Data Agenda

When it comes to education reform, the reliance on “data” is purported to be a values-neutral statement: data has no ideology, this line of thinking goes, so its use cannot be manipulated.   Two important articles — one very long, the other less so — illuminate the lie at work in this proposition.  First, the […]


In which four AmeriCorps alumni attempt to make plans. Nic:  Hello beautiful people, I know that there was a preliminary push for an Ameri-Hangout on Friday, but I was hoping to get the ball rolling with concrete plans! Who all is available on Friday? Would we want to do dinner? Just drinks? No drinks (I’m […]

Come Healing

I wrote this two weeks ago.  I sat on it for a bit but have decided to go ahead and put it into the world now. behold the gates of mercy/an arbitrary space and none of us deserving of the cruelty or the grace… (sincerely, l. cohen.) Like so many others I am surprised by […]

Pride Goes Before…

Generally speaking, I don’t recommend staying up late at night by oneself to watch a television show about a serial killer.  Unless that show is “The Fall.”   “The Fall” is a BBC show with one five-episode season under its belt — barely a blip, by American television standards — and a second due in […]

Entering Prejudice

The desolate truth was that the Colonel was extremely stupid, and it came to me, as we sat there, glumly ordering lunch, that for extremely stupid people anti-Semitism was a form of intellectuality, the sole form of intellectuality of which they were capable. It represented, in a rudimentary way, the ability to make categories, to […]

Odds & Ends

With ideology masquerading as pragmatism, profit is now the sole yardstick against which all our institutions must be measured, a policy that comes not from experience but from assumptions – false assumptions – about human nature, with greed and self-interest taken to be its only reliable attributes. – Alan Bennett, in the London Review of Books […]