Monthly Archives: July 2012

The necessity of algebra

Recently Andrew Hacker published an op-ed in the New York Times about Algebra. It’s extremely hard for many people, and it’s of dubious practical value, he says. We should de-emphasize it. I’m entirely sympathetic to this point of view, even though in general, I support the agenda of the traditional liberal arts. I’m one of […]

Joe Paterno’s Glasses

Ta-Nehisi Coates, my favorite public intellectual, has a good post at TheAtlantic about Penn State. In the wake of the grotesque and appalling child abuse scandal, they’ve elected to take down the statue of Joe Paterno that stood outside the football stadium. Coates thinks they should leave it up, and put explanatory text around it. […]

Higgs Boatswain

The news is full of Higgs Bosuns. Theoretical physics predicted its existence, and now thanks to the 9 billon dollar Large Hadron Collider, physical evidence, of a sort, has been produced to confirm it. I’m not a physicist, have no training at all in physics and in fact never managed to pass high school algebra. […]

The Evasive Henry Adams

Part of an occasional series series on “lesser known DC” One of the most compelling pieces of sculpture in North America sits hidden in Rock Creek cemetery in DC. It’s a statue that suits its sponsor: smart, tasteful, controlling, melancholy, arch, cryptic. It’s  a monument to decline, and silence. The story is well known to historians. […]

Reclaiming the flag

Today is the fourth of July, and we’ve decided to fly a flag. My wife and I have both hesitated to put out a flag. We both felt it’s become associated with jingoistic rightwingery, with eagle-and-flag empty bluster and an odor of compulsion. My wife grew up on military bases, where the raising and lowering […]