Latest Essays

Abandoned House with a Trump electoral sign

Undoing Trumpism

Even if we are fortunate enough to defeat Donald Trump in 2020, that won't mean the end of Trumpism.

Many of the things that Trump came to stand for were around before his candidacy – and, in fact, helped him to get elected – and they won't simply vanish on their own. If we're foolish enough to think they will, then we're engaging in as much magical thinking as The Donald is when he claims that COVID-19 will simply disappear all by itself.

Louis Armstrong Stamp

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.
Young couple standing on the jetty and watching sunrise

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.

What can we learn from our current crisis? Not so much in the “I should have stocked up on more toilet paper” vein, but in terms of understanding more about who we are and our place in the universe? You know: big picture stuff?

Here are my thoughts.

History book

Understanding Human History

When I was in school, history was one of my least favorite subjects: It just seemed like a bunch of arbitrary names and dates and events that I had to memorize.

In hindsight, I realize now, the problem I had with the subject was that it had been “storified.” That is, rather than trying to educate us on grand themes, everything had been turned into a story: certain people did certain things, in a certain sequence, and interacted with other people in certain ways, and ended up with some conclusion.

Markdown Logo

Why I Use Markdown (And Why You Should Too)

What is Markdown, and why should you care?

Let's just start by saying that Markdown is a deceptively simple tool for writers.

Why do I call Markdown's simplicity deceptive?

If you're coming from Microsoft Word™ or Google Docs or Apple Pages, then at first glance using Markdown might seem like going from a fully loaded luxury sports sedan to a dune buggy: as you look aghast at how much you'd be giving up, you first balk, and then start to back away, and finally are tempted to turn tail and flat out run.

But that would be a mistake.