Essays by Title

8 Big Lessons We Can Learn from the Pandemic

Suffering through a pandemic is a terrible way to have to learn a lesson or two about the nature of humanity.

But it's what we have, so we may as well make use of it.

A Broadcast ConsciousnessLet me take you on a little journey of thought exploring some hitherto unconsidered aspects of our common cultural evolution.
A Practopian Approach to Gun Issues in the USThe big ideas at The Practical Utopian may seem very broad and general, but I'd like to illustrate how they can be usefully employed in a specific debate such as this one.
A Resumption of our Humanity

As I watched the Biden-Harris inaugural ceremonies this week, I found myself overcome by unanticipated thoughts and feelings.

Although I've been aware of presidential inaugurations since 1960, when I was nine, this is the first one I've ever taken the time to watch in its entirety.

An Integral ApproachAt its most basic, taking an integral approach simply means that people can see things from different perspectives, and that often no one way of seeing something is the “right” or only way.
Apollo 11 - 2019 film

No matter what your age or orientation (political or otherwise), it's hard to gainsay the significance of humankind's first trip through space to set foot on a celestial body other than our birth planet.

Art and the Eye of the BeholderI've noticed that Big Thinkers tend to get confused about art and why it matters. Unable to find a neat place for it in their developmental models, they end up describing it as an entirely subjective experience. Of course, I've never run across an actual artist who sees things this way.
Auld Lang SyneAlthough this isn't strictly a Christmas song, its use in the closing scene of It's A Wonderful Life qualifies it as one in my book. And, in any case, it expresses a wonderful sentiment entirely appropriate to the holidays.
Boogie Woogie Santa ClausR&B singer Mabel Scott recorded this little number in 1948, and it's been making its way onto stylish Christmas compilations ever since. The song was written by Leon René, who also penned “When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano” and “Rockin' Robin”.
Building a Case for the Detective Story

Over the many years since the receipt of my Bachelor's degree in English from the University of Michigan, I have probably spent more rewarding hours reading detective stories than any other form of fiction.

Calling for a US Sustainability Initiative

Looking back over the history of the United States, it's easy to see in hindsight a series of events and actions that have either united or divided us.

Can the US Become a Truly Egalitarian Society?As with many of us, I've been thinking deeply lately about the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breanna Taylor, and so many other people of color, and wondering how and why these atrocities continue to occur in my country, and what we can do to turn things around. I've concluded that there are basically two types of human societies, with very different ways of thinking about themselves.
Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)

Phil Spector released his magnum opus in the 1963 holiday season. Titled A Christmas Gift for You from Philles Records, it's hard to overstate the extent of Spector's ambition and accomplishment on this album.

Christmas BellsOn Christmas day in 1863 American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote “Christmas Bells.” Longfellow's words from this poem have been set to music by a number of different composers and performers, starting as early as 1872. There are a number of contemporary recordings based on this poem, but the one with which I am particularly taken is a rather obscure track by John Gorka. The music here is Gorka's, and doesn't seem to share anything with other musical renditions of the poem. Gorka dropped three of the stanzas, including those most directly referencing the Civil War, leaving him with four verses for his song.
Christmas Favorites from The Practical Utopian

The Christmas season is one of my favorite times of year, and I've acquired a huge collection of holiday music over the years, so I thought I would share my thoughts about a few of my favorites with all of you. So here are 20 of my favorite holiday tracks.

Christmas Must Be Tonight

I've always loved this Christmas song from The Band.

Christmas Night in Harlem

As long as we're enjoying a “Holiday in Harlem” with Ella, we may as well stick around a little longer for a “Christmas Night in Harlem” with Louis

Christmas Song by Dave MatthewsLike Robbie Robertson and The Band, Dave Matthews seeks here to craft a retelling of the story of Jesus that might cause us to look at this old tale from a fresh perspective, and consider anew its core meaning. This retelling is a bit more ambitious than Robertson's. Like Jackson Browne, Matthews is not an avowed Christian, and yet he finds deep meaning in this story.
Christmas Time Back Home - Song by The Country GentlemenIt seems to me that the eternal promise of Christmas is to restore for us a certain unbroken wholeness. This wholeness can take on many appearances, but this song certainly nails one of them for me: a feeling of returning to a family home, isolated from our usual cares, but still connected to something larger than ourselves.
Christmas Time's A-Coming

This is a bluegrass song written by Bell Labs engineer and bluegrass fiddler Benjamin “Tex” Logan, and first recorded by Bill Monroe in 1951.