Entries Tagged as 'diatribes'

diatribespolitics & government

Some Thoughts on Charlie Hebdo

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Today, while walking past the Center for Jewish History on West 16th Street in New York, I observed four policemen with submachine guns; several other patrolmen; a patrol car; and a police dog. Unless there’s some specific threat I don’t know about, this strikes me as a bit of an overreaction to what happened in Paris last week. Forgive me for saying what I believe: it amounts to feeding and encouraging paranoia, at the taxpayers’ expense. [Read more →]

diatribespolitics & government

The Matter with Kansas

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American politics is an endlessly fascinating procession of national and local selfies: little snapshots that tell us a little bit from moment to moment about who we are as a country. And often those snapshots are split-screen, presenting conflicting images of a nation that is not just deeply divided ideologically but also riven by conflicts, paradoxes, and contradictions. [Read more →]

diatribesfamily & parenting

Ten Things I Won’t Miss Hearing After I Have My Baby

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Being pregnant, in my experience, is kinda like being part of an extremely trippy science experiment for the better part of a year. Suddenly, the body with which you have been intimately familiar for thirty-some-odd years changes drastically, turning you into a pod person for an ever-growing alien life form. It’s terrifying. There is a lot of poking and prodding, and I’m not just talking about what happens in the doctor’s office. I’m getting advice bombs lobbed at me from all angles, usually from people I don’t know all that well. I love talking to friends and family about every aspect of my pregnancy but the comments and questions I get from co-workers or strangers on the train have ranged from mildly odd to just plain uncomfortable. Here are some of the many things I will NOT miss hearing once my baby is born. [Read more →]

diatribesterror & war

And for What? Reflections on the First World War

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The centennial of the outbreak of World War I, which began a century ago this month, has excited the usual sort of checkbox-ticking media comment. Here’s some further perspective: more than 15 million people died in the conflict, including some 8.5 million soldiers and 7 million civilians. Millions of widows, orphans and single women were left behind.

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diatribespolitics & government

Facts, values and our politics

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A conundrum is emerging that confounds my understanding, limited as it may be, of politics and economics.   [Read more →]

diatribes

Dallas valet: Excessive and out of control

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Dallas is a great city. In the short time we’ve been here, we’ve watched new parks, festivals and other community unifiers sprout up weekly. But, I like to be realistic about the negatives. I have fun criticizing what I deem stupid. This post’s target: Dallas valet parking. It’s excessive and dare I say, wrong (I do). The rest of Texas views Dallas as pretentious, and it’s not without reason.

Before moving to Dallas I never gave valet parking a second thought. I understood it. Valet parking shows a touch of class. In other cities, it exists in places where parking is scarce or distant. Valet parking for restaurants in crowded cities is great because you don’t have to drive around for an hour and then get towed or pay a fine when you don’t make it back in time (I’m talking to you Philadelphia!).

Valet parking is used at hotels to make it easier for people to get their bags to their room. It’s used for the elderly patrons at old-school Italian restaurants with big parking lots. Currently, our apartment building mandates valet [Read more →]

creative writingdiatribes

Sounds like… victory.

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At around 7:15am every weekday, two whiny children run down the street making enough noise to wake the dead. Only, the dead are dead, so they just wake the living. They drag or ride some sort of hard plastic vehicle, like a wagon or a tricycle. I’ve never actually looked to see what it is, for fear that I might be tempted to shout profanity-laced threats of violence out of a window at children (not an entirely humorless idea, but one that tends to be frowned upon by society). But if you’re familiar with the sound, you know that hard plastic on a sidewalk is not a quiet rumbling, but rather, a sound similar to what you might hear if you were to eat a handful of sand while someone gently played a drum roll on your head with the bottom of their fists.

It happened again today. [Read more →]

animalsdiatribes

Should vegetarians eat fast-food?

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In a recent post, I pointed out that many vegetarians focus on keeping meat away from their mouths more than they focus on things that matter like preventing animal abuse, staying healthy, and buying food responsibly. My point was wonderfully illustrated by comments on the article. Unless you’re a vegetarian for the image and feeling, your behavior should reflect more than just your attitude toward meat (or lack thereof). Reducing animal exploitation, increasing availability of healthy foods, and other typical vegetarian causes require that we act intelligently when talking to others and spending money.

 

With that in mind, should vegetarians and vegans eat fast-food? I was surprised to learn that PETA, the organization uncompromising enough to decry pet ownership, thinks so:

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animalsdiatribes

Should vegetarians allow themselves to eat meat from the plates of others?

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When I first became a vegetarian, I decided it was more important to withhold financial support from the meat industry than to be a stickler about diet. I wasn’t ready then (or now) to become an activist against the meat sellers by holding protests or burning down slaughterhouses. I felt that a vegetarian is defined by  living primarily on a vegetarian diet and not by the absolute absence of meat.

I decided I didn’t have a problem eating meat that would otherwise go to waste. [Read more →]
damned liesdiatribes

Gun rights, two amendments, and a lot of funerals

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The obituary of Robert H. Bork in The New York Times (Dec. 20 2012) notes that, “In a 1971 article in The Indiana Law Journal, [Bork] argued that the First Amendment’s protection of free speech had been wildly extrapolated beyond the intent of the Constitution’s framers. In a starkly narrow interpretation, he said free speech existed to perpetuate the process of self-government; therefore, he wrote, only explicitly political speech about governing was protected.” That is indeed a tortured reading. Explicitly political speech about governing could be construed as narrowly as speech about whether the Senate should change the filibuster rule. To Hell with freedom of speech about everything else. But there is a striking comparison between Bork’s First Amendment and the Second Amendment as it relates to the recently re-ignited gun-control debate. The Second Amendment has indeed been “wildly extrapolated” by the gun lobby beyond its original intent. The crucial difference is this: the limited original intent of the Second Amendment is clear, and is thrown into relief by the massive social and technological changes since it was written, whereas the narrow reading of the First Amendment is almost certainly not the intended one, nor is that amendment so antiquated.  [Read more →]

diatribessports

A humble request

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Dear Professional Athletes (five in particular),

It would be entirely unreasonable of me to expect that all professional athletes follow When Falls the Coliseum and are currently reading this. However, I don’t think it’s entirely unreasonable to assume most of you do. So if those of you reading would be so kind as to aid the proliferation of this message by directing to it those few lost colleagues who clearly struggle with identifying worthy internet readings, it would be greatly appreciated. Now, to the point…

There is an epidemic sweeping your industry that needs to be stopped (and I’m speaking specifically to you, Shaquille O’Neil, Michael Vick, Dwight Howard, Cam Newton, and Robert Griffin III): you cannot all be Superman.

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diatribespolitics & government

It would serve them right

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It would serve them right.

Republicans, who have done everything in their power to tilt this and recent elections by denying people access to the polls based on fraudulent claims of voter fraud, richly deserve to lose this one. (Admittedly, in forty years I have voted for a Republican only once, when the Democrat was under indictment.) I suspect that on Tuesday President Obama will win a popular majority nationwide as well as in the Electoral College. But there’s a more than slim chance that the President will lose the popular vote but win in the Electoral College. And after the national disgrace of the 2000 election – and the ongoing disgrace of Republican voter suppression efforts – it would serve them right. [Read more →]

diatribespolitics & government

Two fears of a pseudo-Republican

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Watching the two national conventions, I’ve tried as a thought experiment to imagine what it’s like to be a Republican. Not a snarling right-wing Limbaugh type, but a moderate, libertarian conservative who believes in small government and dignity for all – the kind of Republican that once defined the GOP. Like some of my Republican friends, many of whom voted for Obama in 2008. And in so doing, I find myself confronted by two doomsday fears. [Read more →]

diatribessports

London 2012: final thoughts

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The Olympics are finally finished. Last time we dissected the first week of action from a point of view highly more sophisticated than NBC, or anybody else for that matter. Now it is time to break down the second week of action, and ponder some final thoughts for London 2012.

The dominant story of week one was Michael Phelps. The dominant story of week two was Michael’s conceited evil twin brother Usain Bolt. Bolt won the 100m, 200m, and 4x100m for the second Olympics in a row. But he was such a prick in doing so, I could hardly watch. After winning the 200m, he did pushups on the track in front of the other runners. Just a few minutes later, with his slobbering NBC groupies, he self-proclaimed himself a legend and one of the greatest athletes of all time. [Read more →]

diatribessports

All Coliseum Olympics

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I am cynical of the Olympics for 3.95 years out of every Olympic cycle. I remember well that the events are obscure, the clichés are hyperbolic, and the coverage is amateur. Then once it starts, I admit I cannot look away. There is something about international competition and around the clock multi-venue multi-channel coverage that is just addicting.

This is not to say that my reasons for being cynical are unfounded. Trust me there is plenty to make fun of. But there is plenty to appreciate too. In the next week you will see, hear, and read plenty of commentary on the Olympics, but none so profound as the kind you will find in the Olympic Coliseum. Let us take a look after one full week. [Read more →]

animalsdiatribes

Why I’ve stopped eating animals

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This is my first summer without hamburgers; no hot dogs on my grill, no chicken or shrimp on my shish kabob. I’ve quit eating meat. Now, before you stop reading and dismiss this as yet another victory for the tenderhearted but unrealistic vegetarians, the healthy but wimpy hippies– hear me out. [Read more →]

diatribespolitics & government

Welcome home

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All politics aside – or most of it, anyhow – President Obama’s decision to stop the deportation of young undocumented immigrants was long overdue. It was a cruel policy that diminished all Americans. And hopefully this move is the beginning of a long-term trend toward a sane immigration policy. By “sane” I mean one that judiciously bars the door to some, opens it at least part-way to many, and offers a pathway to citizenship that Americans can be proud of and makes us a stronger as well as a better country. Yes, stronger. [Read more →]

diatribeshealth & medical

Dragging horses into Troy…

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Last night I dreamt of you, Abbie Hoffman peddling your books, I gave five bucks to you, the other kids just gave you dirty looks.

I said “I’m sorry it didn’t work out quite the way you planned.”

You said, “That’s silly boy, the revolution is at
hand.”

And if you got a ten spot brother, I got a dime,
These are desperate,
desperate times.

Last night I dreamt of you, Pepe Lopez strung out on a stage, It don’t even look like you, smiling like sawed-off twenty gauge.
I still remember the
Telecaster down around your knees,
It’s late November and I think I smell tequila on the
breeze.

And if you got the Cuervo honey, I got the lime,
These are desperate,
desperate times.
And if you got the shotgun honey, I got the crime,
These are
desperate, desperate times.–Rhett Miller

I’ve been too busy dealing with family issues to write or think or do anything really coherent of late. [Read more →]

diatribestelevision

Two Outta Three Ain’t Bad

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One look at me, and it’s obvious that food is a big – perhaps TOO big – part of my enjoyment of life. That includes my time on the move, traveling, which I’m preparing to do later this month. Looking at our itinerary, I’m already looking forward to making a couple of stops at places I’ve seen on the Travel Channel.

TC has three shows on their prime time lineup devoted largely to food at various locations around the country and around the world. Two of them – Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” and Andrew Zimmern’s “Bizarre Foods” – are really, REALLY good, and encourage me to set my feet and my palate along the paths they have followed. Then there’s then there’s Adam Richman’s “Man vs. Food” … oh, well – two outta three ain’t bad.
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diatribespolitics & government

Toast to Texas … and America!

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These are thoughts I’ve addressed before … but somehow they gained a new relevance for me, a new perspective after Rick Perry – our state’s governor – tossed his hat into the ring, seeking the Republican party’s nomination for President of the United States. And while that candidacy has long since come and gone, some of its impact still resonates within me. More than once Governor Perry used the states’ rights (some would say ‘secessionist’) rhetoric that has endeared him to so many here in the Lone Star State, encouraging that ‘Austin versus Washington’ or ‘Texas versus the rest of you guys’ attitude that still has its staunch defenders.
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