This Divided State

This Divided State: A Brilliant Film
March 24, 2005

At a recent screening of “This Divided State,” a brilliant documentary by Steven Greenstreet, someone in the audience asked the 25-year-old director what he thought would change the minds of conservatives in the film who expressed fear that liberals would corrupt their children, and who on that basis fought to keep all liberal opinions out of their community.

Greenstreet’s answer was not what you’d expect to hear in a gathering read more

Religion, Cultural Memory in the Present

By Jacques Derrida, editor

This is a very saddening book in which these authors, who have helped to move our thinking away from some of the remnants of religion over which we continue to trip, express their (perhaps elderly, not to say senile) longing for old-time religion itself. Not only that, but they suggest, as opponents of postmodernism or pragmatism do, that outgrowing the tiresome remnants of religion found in the arrogant self-descriptions of scientists or ethicists actually allows (or read more

A Sin Against the Future: Imprisonment in the World

A Sin Against the Future: Imprisonment in the World, By Vivien Stern

This is one of the best books I’ve read about prisons, and the one which goes farthest toward suggesting how they could be minimized (not eliminated).

My first encounter with the idea that prisons might be a bad idea was in reading Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish (1975). He spoke of alternatives or substitutes for prison, and also for factories, schools, barracks, and hospitals, all of which he said resembled read more

Fahrenheit 9-11

Moore and More is Needed
June 29, 2004

Also published at and and

Fahrenheit 9-11 reminds me of Howard Dean. Both were wildly promoted by the media in a manner not carefully thought through by media bigwigs, and then both were savaged by the media just before opening day.

The size of the audiences seeing this movie was guaranteed by the media hype, and the notion that the audiences consist mainly of liberal activists read more

Daniel Quinn's Books

Daniel Quinn has an idea. He sees homo sapiens as on the verge of self-destruction and traces the major behavioral patterns bringing this about back to what is commonly referred to as the agricultural revolution. According to Quinn, we long supposed our species to have originated when writing originated some five thousand years ago, and continue to suppose “humanity” to have begun when what Quinn calls “totalitarian farming” began some ten thousand years ago, and this despite read more

Roots to Power: A Manual for Grassroots Organizing

Roots to Power: A Manual for Grassroots Organizing by Lee Staples

In recent decades, community organizing has become an increasingly powerful force mobilizing low- and moderate-income Americans to improve their neighborhoods. When those most shut out of power and benefits create an organization that is able to strategize, negotiate, promote legislation, demonstrate, engage in civil disobedience, work the media, and turn out voters, the result is that banks and corporations, school boards and lawmakers, read more

A Very Long Engagement

“A Very Long Engagement” by Sebastien Japrisot.

“A Very Long Engagement” by Sebastien Japrisot, translated from French by Linda Coverdale, is a wonderful little book, a best-seller and heart-wrenching tear-jerker in the best sense (and there is a good sense of those terms). A girl’s fiance’ is reported dead in World War One, but she has reason to doubt the report. She tracks down leads for years, with the sort of perseverance only such a motivation brings. In read more