BORING POSTCARDS: I still don't know any more about these postcards than what they show and tell. I couldn't tell you the history of the various printers, or the hallmarks of collectibility. And I love it like that. ... more ...

ALLURE: A half-concealed woman is a power, if she chooses how to display herself and does so with an eye to drawing my eye. A naked woman's body is a biological fact. A woman dressed to seduce is an inhabited beauty, a promise of pleasure, a flame from Heaven. ... more ...

MOTHER TONGUES: A dictionary half in an unknown language is a fountain of inspiration. Delightful connections are expressed there, along with conceptions that convince me that, in ancient India, the world had a civilization that has hardly been matched in subtlety and sophistication. ... more ...

TIME TRAVEL: Yeats and Pound wrote about "the Nineties," meaning the 1890s. Those Nineties persisted in popular memory into the 1960s. But say "The Nineties," today, and you will be taken to mean something entirely different. Gulf War, grunge, Bill Gates. When did the change happen? ... more ...

HERACLITUS: We painted and planted peas and sewed and sang. Impossibly ancient: Those people were six times more distant from ancient Mycenae than ancient Mycenae is from us. And we live yet within the echo of their voices. ... more ...

VIRTUE: Classical virtue was not meek. It strove to be first in doing good for one's country and coveted the glory that comes with unrelenting devotion to the good of the people. It expressed itself in endurance, industry, frugality, and probity -- "the will and capacity to put the public interest over the private." ... more ...

TURNING POINT: I had been instinctively opposed to an invasion of Iraq until then. But I began to be persuaded. This is an archival record of a mind being changed. ... more ...

WMD: None of us knew at the time what weaponry Saddam had up his sleeve. Probably not even Saddam knew. We all chose — overthrow him or leave him alone — based not on our wisdom or our ignorance but on the gap between them, the fog of uncertainty. ... more ...

MARATHON MAN: It's part of being a "liberal," in the old, good sense of that word -- the only sense of it I can still claim -- to believe in the consistency of the human experience. ... more ...

HEROES: These are the honorable dead of a new war. Not all of them are soldiers, but the new war sweeps up more than soldiers in its causes. And all believed in something. They believed in it enough to get up and do something about it, at peril of their lives. They went to the war to do something about it. ... more ...

EARTH DAY: Environmentalists often share with creationists the utterly unscientific view that the world was set spinning in one complete, harmonious form, until evil Anglo-American corporations come along and destroy it. ... more ...

OUR GEORGE: George Washington was the steady hand on the tiller when we set sail as a nation. Steadiness, not reckless innovation, was the thing America needed at the time. It's to his credit that we forget the serpents of tyranny and mob rule that slithered about the American cradle. ... more ...

'WASHINGTON'S CROSSING': Hessian prisoners were so well treated that, once they had got over the shock of it, they could be sent from one holding place to the next without an armed escort. ... more ...

UNDER the GRASS: Memorial Day began not in one place but in many. Hilltop cemeteries across the North, behind old stone churches and meetings, with long views across the farms. On the grass where fathers and mothers -- the ones who could find the corpse among the slain -- laid their boys. ... more ...

SNAKEHIPS: She cued the tape, and the music swelled and she just lit up, improvising every move. I have seen nothing so stunning and powerful in decades. She wasn't a dancer, and it wasn't music. She was an elemental force that pulled music into her body and merged both into something more than human. ... more ...

The LAST FARMER: "I've been offered several million dollars by developers. But I'm almost 80; what good's that money going to do me? I don't need it. I wouldn't know what to do with it. And I know what to do with a farm." ... more ...

GROUND ZERO: Down each street, through the reek of smoke and steam, we saw wilted girders droop from broken foundations or the black box of a ruined building with banks of windows like dead men's mouths. The wrecked buildings looked organic; like melted candles or rotting chunks of flesh. ... more ...

LOLA AND BOB: She was old enough to be mother to many of them. She crooned "Lili Marleen" to the boys as the snow drifted down in Luxemburg. None of them ever forgot it. She was fearless; she wore a GI's uniform and stayed so close to the front lines she almost got caught up in the German push when the Battle of the Bulge began. ... more ...

FAITH HEELER: America is a Christian nation. Yet it's no more unified in its religion than ancient Rome was in its faiths. Or modern India. They are a collective tradition of individualist faiths. ... more ...

LUSH LIFE: Coltrane and his quartet already had taken their tools to tonal music and drilled through it, sawed it open. But here they went back to the studio, with a very conventional crooner, to draw a map for listeners to follow them. ... more ...

PAUSANIAS: He was the first of us, the historial tourist, and he gazed as we gaze, noticing what we would notice. Not just monuments and heroes, but the details: dark spires of pines that rose from the seacoast of Elis, the deer, the wild boar, the crows. ... more ...

OLD ENGLISH: It was an English without all the cobweb words. It was an English with far more strong verbs, with their juicy evolutions. It was an English that had far more plurals of the "man-men" type, and more possessives with a suffix -an rather than the hiss that's now tacked on to the end of words in both cases. ... more ...

ODD WORDS: English is typical of languages in that some of its most common words are some of its oddest and have convoluted histories. "Do," "be," and "you" are among them. ... more ...

ROBERT G. INGERSOLL: "God cannot send to eternal pain a man who has done something toward improving the condition of his fellow-man. If he can, I had rather go to hell than to heaven and keep company with such a god." ... more ...

GREATEST GENERATION: America was supremely gifted in the generation of administrators and bureaucrats -- the middle men of the federal government -- it had from roughly 1940 to 1960. We haven't been so lucky since the Founders in any one generation having just the right skills the times demanded. ... more ...

COLD WAR NIGHTMARES: We grew up thinking there was a pretty good chance, maybe 50:50 or worse, that the whole world was going to go up in a nuclear fireball holocaust some day in the near future, without any warning to any of us. ... more ...

LONE RUNNER: Individualism is the dynamo that drives Western culture, from eco-feminist performance art to plutocratic wealth-hoarding. Separation of church and state, the rule of law, social pluralism, representative government, all these hallmarks of Western civilization either define or protect the individual's autonomy from collective power. ... more ...

WITCHES: Men stopped burning witches not because they stopped fearing them, but because they stopped believing in them. ... more ...

MASTERS and DEATH: We tend to think of death as a country for the old. It was not so then. People of all ages were vulnerable, the cold calculus of contagion meant that if a bacterium got into a household parents could lose some or all of their children in a matter of days. ... more ...

FRENCH SLAVERY: The French turned four times as many Africans into slaves as the Americans did, they used them far more brutally, and French slavers continued the trade -- legally -- until 1830, long after the rest of Europe had given it up. ... more ...

FOUNDERS: The people made the revolution. Their political theory may have been wanting, their views on race certainly were deplorable by modern standards, but neither were they sitting passively at home in June 1776. If they did not hear the Declaration read aloud that day, it was because they were too busy, about and doing. ... more ...

GEORGE W. BUSH: The chance I had been waiting all my adult life for: To see America use its power and good will to clear a path for millions of people who had done nothing to earn the suffering that had been visited on them as a side-effect of the Cold War. To give them a chance to take hold of part of our lucky legacy of wealth of freedom. ... more ...

SOUND FAMILIAR?: He was an egotist and a pain in the ass, but he could wield the rhetorical whip. Jefferson, the infidel, did heed advice like this and buy Louisiana away from France the next year. I haven't done enough research to know whether Cobbett praised him for this, but I rather doubt it. ... more ...

GUY DAVENPORT (1927-2005): Davenport was one of the last living disciples of Ezra Pound. He was a brilliant and learned man, but with a warm, salt-of-the-earth, Southern sensibility. Think Pound without the prickly aestheticism and the Ivy League snobbery, without the fascism. ... more ...

ENTREPRENEURS: That in seeking private gain, the Englishman also would seek the common good of England, Hakluyt presents as an obvious matter. ... more ...

PRINCE KROPOTKIN: Peter Kropotkin lived through the crashing collapse of the Russian Empire and the opening of the nightmare that came after. "Revolutionaries have had ideals," he said. "Lenin has none." ... more ...

WAR and PACIFISTS: Peace movements in Britain began to take shape only gradually, after the 1730s. They were children of the British Enlightenment, with its remarkable marriage of evangelical Christian values and rational humanist ones. ... more ...

EZRA POUND: He lived among a literary public so revolted by carnage that it turned its back on the heritage of Western Civilization. He arrived at maturity with the skills of a great poet, only to find his audience half-slaughtered, half-disgusted. So he wrote for the dead. ... more ...

The ENEMIES WE MAKE: When Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall approached him with the idea, he demurred, saying he'd never made a documentary before. Marshall told him, "Capra, I have never been Chief of Staff before. Thousands of young Americans have never had their legs shot off before. Boys are commanding ships today who a year ago had never seen the ocean before." Capra apologized and signed on to make "the best damned documentary films ever made." ... more ...

J.R.R. TOLKIEN: Tolkien was a devout Catholic. But as a scholar Tolkien was deeply immersed in the pessimistic, pagan world that he studied and taught every day. Look at Middle Earth: there is good, but it is not sure as the strongest thing going. Its durance depends on heart and wit and luck. And there is evil, limned and solid and vastly strong. ... more ...

SUPPORT the TROOPS; OPPOSE TORTURE: The troops now fighting on our behalf in Iraq and Afghanistan need to see that the criminals in their ranks will be found and purged. They need to see that we at home don’t make excuses for bad behavior. ... more ...

BERLIN MEMORIES: West Berlin was an artificial child of the Cold War. You take a big, sprawling capital, smash it flat in a war, then split it in two, and isolate one of the halves -- cut it off from its outer suburbs and garden farms. Then you build a huge concrete wall around that half. ... more ...

ALEKSANDR SOLZHENITSYN (1918-2008): He lived in Vermont, and his heart never left Mother Russia. His courtesy to us, his gift to us in exchange for our hospitality, was to look at America as a patriotic dissident would, and say the things about it a dissident nationalist would say about us, if we had one. ... more ...

'IN the RUINS of EMPIRE': It's convenient for the organizers of curricula and the writers of textbooks to break up the world like that. So 1945 joins other convenient "zero" dates that punctuate history: 1914, 1815, 1776, 1492, 1215, 476. ... more ...

WARSAW: On January 17, 1945, Warsaw's war was over. Or was it? The war in Europe began when Germany attacked Poland, followed soon, by agreement, by a Soviet stab in the back. In 1945, one of the two conquerors pushed the other out of Poland and settled down to own it. ... more ...

LEFT BEHIND: The liberals I know have no interest in the Kurds, because the Kurds made the unforgivable mistake of liberating themselves with the help of American military power. The only indigenous people a modern liberal approves are those that burn American flags. ... more ...

AMATEUR HISTORIAN: The academics succeeded. They turned out the amateurs, imposed objectivity, and turned a craft into a profession. They banished the author from the text and the values-booster from the national history. ... more ...

NECESSARY WARS: I'll give you my version of a necessary war: The brief 1936 conflict between Germany, alone, and France, Britain, and Czechoslovakia. ... more ...

HALLIBURTON: The "Catcher in the Rye" style inverts him entirely. You need that, too. You need both to achieve full maturity. But we've lost too much in collapsing the space between childhood and adulthood. The transition of adolescence needs open rooms to linger in. People mature at different paces. ... more ...

ERNIE PYLE: Pyle said he wanted "to make people see what I see." But Arthur Miller wrote that Pyle "told as much of what he saw as people could read without vomiting," which is probably closer to the truth. ... more ...

DEUTSCHLAND über ALLES: The official name of the German National Anthem is Das Lied der Deutschen "the Song of the Germans," though it is popularly known also as Das Deutschlandlied "the Germany Song." But most Americans, if they know it at all, would call it Deutschland über Alles, which are the opening words of the first stanza. ... more ...

YANKEE at OTAKON: We sat on a restaurant balcony and heard the passing remarks by the "normal" people about the oddballs and the freak show. That's when I realized where my instinctive sympathies lay. ... more ...

LIES and SPIES: In World War II, the British had the best-balanced espionage. Americans had decent intelligence-gathering (especially as a result of code-cracking), but iffy analysis. The French, before they got knocked out, had superb espionage in Nazi Germany, but they lacked the political will to act on it. The Soviets also had a vast network of spies -- in the capitals of their nominal allies Britain and America. ... more ...

SEPTEMBER 11 and AFTER: So I sat down in my bathrobe at the computer. And I kept looking at the pictures, and the words, and thinking, "That can't be right. That can't be right." ... more ...

9/11 PLUS FIVE: "Tuesday" is as much a part of 9-11 as the date or the month. It was a workday. The people who died almost entirely died at their jobs, or commuting on work-related matters. And every workday is different. ... more ...

'AMONG the DEAD CITIES': Did bombing civilians hasten the end of the war and thus spare the Allies greater battlefield casualties? Some say so. But saving military lives by substituting civilian ones is, Grayling says, like using civilians as human shields on the battlefield. ... more ...

ORIGINAL ZINN: Howard Zinn's vew is the new triumphalism -- the triumph of negativity. America is left with a history without heroes. Only the ones who fought against whatever prevailed in America at the time can claim the heroic mantle, and then only if they were some sort of approved minority. ... more ...

GUNS: I came of age associating firearms with Christian enthusiasm, flag-waving patriotism, fondness for the military, and other irrational fixations of the right-wing loonies in this country. ... more ...

WHY IS THERE A CIA?: Is there any entity in modern America that has eaten up more money, wasted more lives, and done less good to the American people? Is there any group representative of America in the world that has brought more humiliation to our friends and more delight to our enemies? ... more ...

MISSING PIECES: I appreciate being able to lock or unlock the entire vehicle with a click of a button on my keychain from 30 yards away in the pouring rain. On the other hand, having to turn the key in the ignition just to crack a damn window drives me nuts, in a crotchety old man kind of way. ... more ...

OLD MONEY: When I was in West Berlin in the '70s, I bought in an antique shop a stack of old German World War I-era currency. You could get it by the fistful, out of a cardboard box, for, I think, 5 for the Mark. ... more ...

PATRIOTISM: "He is not a citizen who is not disposed to respect the laws and to obey the civil magistrate; and he is certainly not a good citizen who does not wish to promote, by every means in his power, the welfare of the whole society of his fellow-citizens." ... more ...

OCCUPATION: West Germany was a faithful American ally through the Cold War, and the united Germany is a rock of stability in the center of Europe. Yet almost all the things cited as American mistakes in Iraq also were done in Germany. ... more ...

NEW TIMES: "Neue Zeitung, like a chameleon, continually changed its color. It represents the often confused, reluctant, and incoherent course of U.S. policy in postwar Germany." ... more ...

COLUMBIA TRAGEDY: She was a double-wide trailer fitted with angel wings. She could heft 4 million pounds into space and fly 17,000 mph and pass unscathed through a blast furnace that would pulverize a solid block of concrete and melt battlefield armor. ... more ...

KEYS VACATION 2002: I didn't realize that Key Largo was named for the movie, not the other way around. The good citizens, seeing the film's popularity, got the bright idea of rechristening the place, which they did in 1952. Whoring after tourist bucks, but the name was much improved by the change. ... more ...

TRISKELION: He told her of his great sudden passion. She told him forget it, cast it away, there is no use in hoping for fulfillment. But he asked her name, and she told him: Halwa, that is, "Solitude." ... more ...

DEMOCRACY: To understand the founders of American democracy, and the system of government they devised, you have to stand where the founders stood, and then look back, from there, at the past they knew. ... more ...

HIGH ENOUGH TO SEE THE WORLD: I lived from ages 2 to 11 in a bedroom community along a west-running wooded ridge. We moved there when suburban development had just begun to crowd out the farms. ... more ...

HEARTS and MINDS: The Paris peace agreement reserved the U.S. right to oppose Hanoi if it broke the accord. But any remaining U.S. will to defend South Vietnam was dragged down by the rising malaise in America, the domestic political scandals, and the media war against all things Nixon. ... more ...

KIDS MENU: And I know he has to grow and I would never hold him back, but I'm going to miss the child that he is. I'm going to have to say good-bye to that kid. It puts the seal on a lot of "somedays" that will now never happen. ... more ...

VOTING 2004: At this moment in history, it's absurd to vote for a man who doesn't have a single good word to say for millions of Iraqis looking to America to guide them out of political squalor, and for hundreds of thousands of Americans who are risking their lives to do it. ... more ...

WILSONIANS: The Statue of Liberty has no wings; she is not an angel. The nation that reveres her often does things unwise or unjust. Like Athens, like Rome, like America. ... more ...

'The END': Yet however close we get to those lost lives, and we try and try, they have crossed over -- gone under. No traveller returns to tell what they felt, falling, burning, crashing down. ... more ...

JOURNALISM: Journalism is 90 percent the art of deciding not what to tell you. You pay us to decide what's essential to you. The news editor dispatches reporters to cover an accident or a meeting. The reporter picks out the relevant facts, among thousands of facts he might choose. ... more ...

MEDIA and IRAQ: If only perfect nations could act, none ever would. We won our independence with the help of a French fleet and a Dutch loan. Were the Dutch and the French pure at heart? Did they have a self-interest in seeing Britain lose its colonies? ... more ...

JOURNALISTS and HISTORY: Journalists should not try to write with historical perspective. Because among all people, journalists uniquely lack it. ... more ...

FIFTH COLUMNISTS: The belief in the media that the sole purpose of a printing press or a television camera is to shine a light on every fault and failure of American authority has its uses. It may at times be what saves democracy. But too steady application of it can be a water torture. ... more ...

GAYS, GODS, and JOURNALISTS: Gays and Christianity are crossing paths all over the place these days, and the local newspaper is writing about it. ... more ...

PRONOUN TROUBLE: One thousand years of using English language pronouns based on physiology just went out the window. ... more ...

CHE TRIPPERS: "The Motorcycle Diaries" is bound to induce a whole new generation of disaffected youth to hitch their dreams of liberation and freedom to this handsome rebel. ... more ...

MISCARRIAGE: Months after the miscarriage a phone call came, a sales pitch for a diaper service. I figured out it was just about the time the baby would have been born. Apparently, the HMO sold the mailing list from that first-baby program to all sorts of marketers. We were on it and it was too late to get off. ... more ...

'UNDER GOD': The "under God" part of the public school Pledge of Allegiance is clearly unconstitutional, but only the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals could say so. ... more ...

'GOD BLESS AMERICA': I know some people see that slogan, and the song that embodies it, as creeping Christianism. Which is amusing, since it was written by an Ashkenazi Jew, albeit a Republican. ... more ...

TEN COMMANDMENTS: Amid boos and chants and civil disobedience, fifty-by-29 inches of Old Testament bronze on the courthouse in West Chester disappeared behind 50-by-29 inches of blank plastic. ... more ...

JUDGE MOORE'S ROCK: Roy Moore snuck into the Alabama Judicial Building in the middle of the night three years ago and plunked down a 5,280-pound rock chiseled with the Ten Commandments. He paid for that with his job, after being given many chances to think better of his misdeeds. ... more ...

'IN GOD WE TRUST': "In God We Trust" got inscribed on the money only after a coalition of Protestant church groups failed to rewrite the Constitution to "indicate that this is a Christian nation." ... more ...

'UNDER GOD' AGAIN: Would you replace the mosaic of American Christianity with another faith? Which one? Where would you find one more inclined to steer its adherents toward public virtue, love of humankind, humility, tolerance, optimism, and non-violence? ... more ...

The NAZI SLUR: There is something about the Germans' stagger into darkness in the 1930s that thoughtful Americans can take as a warning. And maybe, by keeping the "Nazi" insult alive as the worst one in our cultural vocabulary, the partisan loudmouths are doing us a small favor. ... more ...

WHY WE FIGHT: In 1946, at a beautiful society wedding in London, a Tory MP remarked to Lady "Emerald" Cunard how quickly life had returned to normal. "After all," he said, gesturing to the crowded room, "this is what we have been fighting for." "What," she replied, "are they all Poles?" ... more ...

DIPLOMACY: "Diplomacy" is thrown up as a sort of magic word that seems to mean "getting good results without getting any Americans killed," but it does have a real meaning, and it presents severe challenges for any modern-day American president who plans to use it as a policy. ... more ...

DR. SUZY: Even the Islamic gutter-press, which twisted this stupid venting of a dull mind into a news story, had the smidgen of humanity required to change its tune -- after it was too late, of course. A prominent writer admitted the rape reports were "without any foundation." ... more ...

CROSS and CRESCENT: Many bloggers will confuse the historical realities of Christianity and Islam, as human constructions, with their natures as revealed religions. As a skeptic of both, damned by both, perhaps I can be of some help. ... more ...

ISLAMIC REFORMATION: There already was an Islamic Reformation. It happened while we were sleeping. The result is Wahhabi dominance, and Islamic Brotherhood, and Bin Laden. This is the Islamic Reformation. We're fighting it now. ... more ...

The IMPURITY of TEARS: In what other place in the world would a man, obviously gravely injured, have to shout out an explanation of his religious affiliation before he got help to save his life? ... more ...

READING ISLAMISTS: I think it would be a valuable exercise to have the whole nation take a day off work and read what Osama Bin Laden has said and written about us and what he plans to do to us and why. ... more ...

SHARIA in CANADA: Ontario has authorized the use of sharia law in civil arbitrations. A group calling itself the Islamic Institute of Civil Justice will hold tribunals in which marriage, family, and business disputes can be settled according to fundamentalist religious law. ... more ...

NECESSARY BLASPHEMY: Nobody's going to cut your head off for mocking American fundamentalist Christians who oppose physician-assisted suicide. That's hardly a test case for free speech. It's more important to hold up a candle in the demon-haunted darkness than in broad daylight. ... more ...

TOLERATING the INTOLERANT: Paradox of paradoxes: Is Western separation of church and state an idea rooted in Christianity? ... more ...

WHAT is IT GOOD FOR?: A little familiarity with history does disabuse one of the sort of sham shock some people seem to feel on entering a war down one hole and coming out another. ... more ...

LUCKY BOMB: Is it possible that something as awful as the nuclear holocausts at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was -- in the cold, long view of historical time -- a positive good, a lucky break for the human race? ... more ...

'YOU WOULD WEEP': The Arab women who had slipped between the lines and warned Eaton of their enemies' plots and plans, were left to their fate. Everyone knew the town would be looted and the inhabitants massacred when the Americans left. ... more ...

'RISE of AMERICAN DEMOCRACY': "The Rise of American Democracy" sees the past too much through the filter of current events. Wilentz even lapses into modern catch phrases like "support the troops" that have dubious utility when applied to the War of 1812. ... more ...

ALGERIA: Algeria was the first modern terrorist thugocracy, a nation born of a cowardly father -- European lack of will -- and a cruel mother -- unrelenting terrorism on a grand scale. Naturally, the country fell into complete economic collapse. ... more ...

PARAPHILIA: Sexuality is something you receive, in one form or another, in one measure or another, early in life. How you cope with it, that is a different matter. Sexuality is the hand you've been dealt in life. How you play that hand is your character, your ethics. ... more ...

DEBATE: Where the word problems in the math worksheet used to begin, "John is an engineer ..." they now as often began "Jane is an engineer ...." On another page was the same simple line drawing illustration of a group of kids on a playground. But now some of the faces were stippled over with black Benday dots to make them African-American. ... more ...

SLAVES in the FAMILY: When I hear people ask why Washington, Jefferson, and Madison didn't live up to their principles and free their slaves, I think of Henry and Pauline. ... more ...

WONDERLAND: "Was this really the way a post 9/11 American government was supposed to be operating," she wondered. "Where were the careful security measures, where was the record-keeping, the checking and double-checking?" ... more ...

WHAT WOULD KLEISTHENES DO?: The Founders looked to classical models when they built the American political system. Sometimes I wonder what would happen if we continued that policy. ... more ...

PROFESSOR CHURCHILL: Ward Churchill's "Chickens coming home to roost" explanation of 9/11 was hardly unique to him, though he may have been one of the first to rush it into print. It's hardly perceptive, either. ... more ...

CHOMSKY, COULTER, and MOORE: I have no more use for someone who calls his book "Stupid White Men" than I do for someone who calls his "Stupid Black Lesbians." Yet some of the white men I work with adore this guy. ... more ...

UNCLE GULLIVER: Since Americans forced the issue of their independence, the intellectuals in the former colonies have tried to cozy up to the Mother Country, who has returned the affection with scorn. ... more ...

TAGS and FLAGS: Across the street stood a gutted McDonald's; its shatter-proof windows all spider-webbed by some massive assault, and the whole thing plastered in posters proclaiming McDonald's is dead and merde a McDonald's. I learned more of the story when I got home. ... more ...

COWBOYS: John Jay was among the Founders who feared the frontier's influence on Americans. "Shall we not fill the wilderness with white savages," he wondered, "and will they not become more formidable to us than the tawny ones who now inhabit it?" ... more ...

DEEP IMPACT: There's a fascinating, but unexplored, subtext to meteorite hunting, since it converges astronomy and geology. The boys who sit on the hills gazing out at the heavens take one path into science, and it's different from the path taken by the boys who clamber into caves and come home muddy at dark. ... more ...

LOOSE BUCHANAN: To dismiss James Buchanan's adherence to the Constitution as a cover to allow treason is to write off the foundation of the American republic. It overlooks the seriousness with which Americans once regarded their government. ... more ...

'TEAM of RIVALS': Goodwin's starry-eyed Lincoln biography grows whiggish. If some crisis erupts and Lincoln does nothing, then his masterly inactivity proves his genius. If some crisis erupts and he makes a sudden change, then the bold stroke proves his genius. ... more ...

LINCOLN on DISSENT: The Great Emancipator shows his political skill, in a way Bush and Cheney can only envy and never hope to match, in pulling the rug out from under the Democratic opposition without stepping down from his own high ground. ... more ...

WAR WITHOUT END: Every generation has its own Civil War. Now, I think, we have ours. ... more ...

RACE in AMERICA: Should we work to reconcile ethnicity with citizenship, or the other way around? In 1967, Martin Luther King Jr. offered us a choice: "chaos or community." Which are we choosing? ... more ...

LASCAUX: Nobody picks up a charcoal stick for the first time and draws like that. This is the result of a long process of art skill-acquisition. Perhaps spread over generations. If we have a half dozen of these cave scenes, they imply hundreds, or thousands, of designs in bark, pottery, tattooing, that have been long lost. ... more ...

EUROPE VACATION 2003: In America a leather jacket should look like it's been worn by the kind of person who needs to wear a leather jacket -- a test pilot or a motorcycle rider or a lumberjack. In Paris, men's black leather jackets are sleek fashion statements. ... more ...

GOODFRIEND: The woman asked my mother something that implied she was Jewish. "I'm not Jewish," my mother answered. "We're all Jewish; all the Goodfriends are," was the reply. ... more ...

MILL for the GRIST: I have no patience with people who try to use logic to convert me to their faith, any more than I have with those who use logic to try to convert another out of his. ... more ...

POLITICAL LABELS: A pair of labels invented to describe the seating arrangement of the French National Assembly in 1789 may have been useful for a time in describing the rudimentary politics of the early French Republic. Their application to anything else is a farce. ... more ...

'RED DAWN': Long before 9/11 I sat in a tavern with our staff columnist (highly liberal, of course) and some other people and "Red Dawn" played on the TV over the bar. He refused to even look at it, and spent the rest of the night looking the other way. ... more ...

TSUNAMI: Sometimes it takes a village. Sometimes, when the village is in trouble, it takes an aircraft carrier battle group. ... more ...

CHERNOW's HAMILTON: I like Alexander Hamilton, and so does Ron Chernow, whose cinder-block-sized biography of the financial genius was a non-fiction best-seller this summer. The trouble is, I don't like Chernow's book. ... more ...

ABSOLUTE MORAL AUTHORITY: Almost from the moment the British evacuated Dunkirk the Allies began attacking French infrastructure and factories to cripple the German war effort. Stray bombs killed French families and even ones that hit their targets killed French workers. ... more ...

CITY LIVING: They are lords of the street. They treat every property on it like it's their own. They will lounge for hours on any stoop or porch that appeals to them. People trying to walk down the sidewalk have to step around them. ... more ...

THOROUGHLY MODERN MARGARET: Margaret and John Eaton left town after the Cabinet purge, prompting Henry Clay to quip, echoing Shakespeare, "Age cannot wither nor time stale her infinite virginity." ... more ...

MERCENARIES: Julia Ward Howe's eye might have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord, but if she had looked out on the street she would have seen the less-than-glorious coming of more than half a million immigrants to the U.S., almost 200,000 of them from Ireland. ... more ...

PRAISE for PARTISANS: "Partisanship" may be in bad odor today. But if the parties are rooted in something real, and are not merely ad hoc coalitions of "whatever the other side is against," it can be the heartbeat of a democracy. ... more ...

FOUNDERS DEFENDED: I'm grateful to Mark Kurlansky for busting loose and saying what a lot of people think, but are too intimidated to say. That doesn't mean he's not grossly wrong about every sentence he writes in a Fourth of July fireworks assault on the Founders. ... more ...

BILLY YANK: I compiled roughly 2,600 names of young men in Chester County, Pennsylvania, who volunteered or were drafted into the Northern armies in the Civil War. "William" was the second-most common name, and fully 107 of them bore the given name William H. or William H.H. ... more ...

CHARLES MINER: When the First Amendment was written, newspapers were the voices of politics, and the press was shockingly partisan by modern standards. It made no pretense to being fair and unbiased.... more ...

INDEX - AUTHOR



Online Work

The SCIOLIST

ONLINE ETYMOLOGY DICTIONARY

SLAVERY in the NORTH

CIVIL WAR and AFTER

Family

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Some Sites

Nat Hentoff

Today's Front Pages

Watching America

N.Y. Observer

Democratiya

The Economist

Hoover Institution

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Deceits of "Fahrenheit 9/11"

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© August 26, 2008 Douglas Harper Moe: "Say, what's a good word for scrutiny?" Shemp: "uh ... SCRUTINY!"