Monthly Archives: January 2016

Redefinition Politics – An Incomplete Rhetorical Dictionary

“China’s chilling plan to use social credit ratings to keep score on its citizens”, a CNN headline from October 2015 reads. The article describes the Chinese state’s plans to use data from surveillance along with scoring algorithms to analyse – en masse – the credit worthiness of its population. China’s stated goals sound legitimate enough: […]

Pizza, birra, faso (1998)

Crime, just like any other job, divides people into classes. If you’re at the top, if you’re a Goldman Sachs banker, you can steal hundreds of billions of dollars, and the President will declare you above the law, and invite you into his cabinet. If you’re a small time drug dealer, on the other hand, […]

SPOOKS: a dystopia (2014)

SPOOKS, a self-published novel by the pseudonymous writer E.M. Quangel, is a roman à clef about the world of hipster journalism centered around Vice Magazine. That SPOOKS is effective satire is attested to by the way one of its targets, the “artist, activist, writer and entrepreneur” Molly Crabapple, has recently gone out of her way […]


before there were prints on my fingers —-or nails to clutch or a ——————name for any of it, when my hair was still shifting —-and waiting to hatch from ——————-an uncooked skull, when i did not have an unbent —-spine, there was a red and ——————–hollow space between the rows of empty seats —-and you […]

Carol (2015)

These days, with gay marriage legal in most of the United States, it’s difficult to imagine what life must have been like for Therese Belivet, a woman in her 20s struggling to come to terms with her homosexuality in the 1950s. I grew up during the Reagan years, where homophobia was openly expressed and socially […]

Late Victorian Holocausts (2000)

The recent debate over Germany’s decision to legalize publication of Mein Kampf is a sobering reminder that no book should use the word “holocaust” lightly, especially in its title. From the end of 1942 until 1945, over six million Jews were herded into concentration camps where they were systematically exterminated for no reason other than […]

The Year of the Inside-Outsider

It’s easy to take the media repetition that America’s 2016 election year is “the year of the outsider” to heart. It even sounds like what we need in an election cycle: something truly different. Sources ranging from PBS (“Will 2016 be the year of the political outsider?”) through The New York Times (“‘Outsider’ Presidential Candidates […]

No Regrets for Our Youth (1946)

Sometimes getting beaten in a war can be good for a country’s soul. I am convinced that losing in Vietnam was one of the best things that ever happened to the United States of America. The sense of humility that came out of getting stomped by a third world country prevented us from going fascist […]

A Personal State of the Union

(Disclaimer: I am not currently, nor have I ever been either in or eligible to nominate myself for the office of President of the United States of America. Warning. endorsement, irrelevance? Take that biographical scrap as you will.) It could be argued by a person far more eager to troll than myself at this moment […]

David Bowie Was Probably Worse Than A Rapist

When I was an undergraduate at Rutgers University back in the 1980s, my favorite book was probably Death in Venice by Thomas Mann. Made into a film in 1971 by the Italian director Luchino Visconti, it told the story the last days of Gustav von Aschenbach. A renowned German novelist in his early 50s, Aschenbach, […]