Monthly Archives: March 2012

The Strange Career of King Louie

Millions of kids grew up watching Disney’s 1967 version of The Jungle Book. The most memorable scene probably comes when Louie, the King of the Apes, tries to convince Mowgli to tell him the secret of fire. There are a number of secrets in the scene, it turns out. Here’s the clip: I saw it […]

Goldman Sachs Confessional

The’re been a lot of buzz about Greg Smith’s editorial in the New York Times, explaining why he resigned from Goldman Sachs. It’s mostly a load of nonsense, not because he’s wrong about Goldman Sachs, but because of the way he sets the story up. Smith says he’s resigning, after 12 years at the firm, because […]

The existential despair of teaching

I teach American history at a state university. I like the job, for many reasons, not all of them noble. But I walk out of nearly every class with a feeling of having failed. Nearly every class. I suspect that’s true of most teachers. This could just be neurosis, because according to the standard metrics […]

Greenbacks, Negro Soldiers, and the President

In honor of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, an excerpt from my book Face Value. During the Civil War, Lincoln’s opponents saw African Americans in uniform and Greenback dollars as the same thing: inflated. We can see the same phenomenon today. The Civil War wasn’t all that popular in the North. Despite a […]