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Category Archives: Culture

Nigel Tranter

I wish I could say that the prolific historical novelist Nigel Tranter left us with a rich and readable lode of historical novels set in Scotland. Unfortunately, I cannot say that, having just finished Sword of State. Sword of State opens in the year 1214, when the young Patrick, the 5th Earl of Dunbar, is […]

Drag queens reading to children?

Photo credit: dragqueenstoryhour.org What is it about the conservative mind that totally flips out at the idea of drag queens? Even most of us liberals, I imagine, raised our eyebrows in surprise upon first hearing about Drag Queen Story Hour. It’s edgy for sure. But, upon reflection, liberals realize that children love costumes, and that […]

Harris tweed

Vintage Harris tweed jacket bought in Stornaway The Scottish island of Harris is remote, windswept, rainswept, and underpopulated. How, then, did it become so famous? For Harris tweed, of course. First, a technicality. The usual way to refer to this place in the Outer Hebrides is “the isle of Lewis and Harris.” That raises the […]

How hatred and racism are backfiring on Republicans

Periodically I hold my nose and look at the Facebook group of the Republican Party in my county. It’s a swamp of hatred and stupidity. There’s a sample above. Notice that someone named Sam Hill calls Democrats “Demoncrats.” Is the racism study cited above legit? I believe it is. Right-wing media made much of the […]

Some questions for the animals

Chaser. Wikipedia photo A few days ago, the New York Times carried an obituary for a dog. The dog was Chaser, a border collie who was taught to understand 1,022 nouns. Here’s a link to the story: Border Collie Trained to Recognize 1,022 Nouns Dies I often wonder if I should be ashamed of my […]

Clues to the future in how people talk

This video has been dubbed so that Trump is speaking with a British accent. His words are the same. How many fans would Trump have if he actually talked like this? We Americans believe that the British are excessively judgmental about how people talk (and they are). But not only are we Americans just as […]

Please, somebody … just get us out of here

Jason Momoa in Apple’s “See” The diagnosis, I feel sure, is chiefly Game of Thrones withdrawal. Whether you loved it or were disappointed, Game of Thrones ended, leaving us exposed and defenseless in the here and now. Europe has been in an oven. The American heartland keeps flooding. Many farmers have been ruined. The water […]

The history you know without knowing you know it

The Oxford Introduction to Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-European World. J.P. Mallory and D.Q. Adams. Oxford University Press, 2006. 732 pages. I have a standard riddle that I thought of years ago. I don’t think anyone has ever gotten the answer: Name something that you use every day and that you couldn’t get by without. It […]

Things we lost when newspapers died

Rob Morse, former metro columnist at the San Francisco Examiner. Photo: Mill Valley Patch, 2011 I am the product of an almost-extinct culture: newspaper culture. I got my first newspaper job at the age of 17, as a part-time copy boy when I was still in high school. I retired as a newspaperman in 2008. […]

The church sees rot everywhere but in itself

“Tintern Abbey and Elegant Figures,” by Samuel Colman, 1780-1845 Conservative minds are obsessed with institutional decay. They can’t stop writing books about it. To the conservative mind, change is an existential threat, as though the Dark Ages were a utopia that we must return to. Do you remember William F. Buckley Jr.’s famous quote? “A […]