Seven Words That Can Change the World

Seven Words That Can Change the World – A New Understanding of Sacredness, by Joseph R. Simonetta (Hampton Roads Publishing Company) is an encouraging little essay. The title, the cover, the preface, the introduction, and various other trappings suggest that it is a religious self-help book that will probably remind the reader of the importance of connecting with his or her inner whatchamacallit in order to find true peace and increased market potential. But the body of the book consists read more

Moral Judgment: Does the Abuse Excuse Threaten Our Legal System

“Moral Judgment: Does the Abuse Excuse Threaten Our Legal System,” By James Q. Wilson.

James Q. Wilson’s “Moral Judgment: Does the abuse excuse threaten our legal system?” (1997) is a good contribution to a usually muddled discussion. I think that even people, like myself, who disagree with most of Wilson’s attitudes toward criminal justice should agree with most of what he says here.

Wilson favors a vocabulary of religion and traditional philosophy and displays read more

Dancer in the Dark

“Dancer in the Dark”
24 February 2001

Tonight I saw the most painful movie I’ve ever seen, in fact the only painful movie I’ve seen in my life. I was fidgeting and squirming, covering my eyes, shaking, and moaning during this horrible thing. A half dozen people left the theater during some of the worst parts. My wife nearly vomited. I still feel ill hours later.

There was nothing gruesome or frightening in “Dancer in the Dark.” It’s not a horror flick. read more

Deliberation Day

Deliberation Day
March 12, 2004

“Deliberation Day” is the title of a new book by Bruce Ackerman and James Fishkin. Ackerman was also the coauthor of The Stakeholder Society – a brilliant book proposing that we provide every young American with $80,000 through a 2 percent tax on wealth above $80,000, in order to give everyone the opportunity to acquire an education or launch a business. In Deliberation Day, Ackerman has produced an even more interesting idea, an even more exciting read more

Sexual Personae

“Sexual Personae,” By Camille Paglia.

Camille Paglia’s SEXUAL PERSONAE is a huge book in every sense. It makes me want to read and reread a great many books, examine and re-examine a great number of sculptures and paintings. There are in it interpretations of particular works with which I disagree, and others on which I am not qualified to judge, but the big themes in it – the continuity of paganism, the approaches to sex and nature – are a valuable contribution.

One read more

Our Unfree Press: 100 Years of Radical Media Criticism

Freeing Our Press
Sep. 6, 2004
A review of “Our Unfree Press: 100 Years of Radical Media Criticism,” edited and with an introduction by Robert W. McChesney and Ben Scott, published in 2004 by The New Press, 435 pages.

This book collects some stunning examples of U.S. media criticism from 1906 through 2003. The introduction is in many ways a wonderful work of analysis. The primary purpose it lays out for the book is establishing that radical criticism of for-profit media is not new or read more

Nursing Against the Odds: How Health Care Cost Cutting, Media Stereotypes, and Medical Hubris Undermine Nurses and Patient Care

Nursing Against the Odds: The Workers’ View
March 12, 2005
“Nursing Against the Odds: How Health Care Cost Cutting, Media Stereotypes, and Medical Hubris Undermine Nurses and Patient Care,” by Suzanne Gordon, Cornell University Press, 450 pages.

Nurses. Nurses. Nurses. Already I’ve guaranteed that more people will find this article on the internet who are searching for pornography than who are searching for answers to our health care crisis or insights into one of the most 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

Silver City

Silver City Smokes
August 14, 2004
Mark your calendar now and plan to go see John Sayles’ new movie “Silver City” when it opens on Friday, September 17. It’s a powerfully entertaining story and – more importantly for any good book or movie this year – it’s powerfully anti-Bush.

Someone told me “Manchurian Candidate” was an anti-Bush movie. I didn’t think so when I saw it, not even in the way that “The Day After Tomorrow” was read more

Poor Workers Unions

Poor Workers’ Unions: Lessons for Labor
Feb. 23, 2005
Poor Workers’ Unions, by Vanessa Tait, South End Press, paper, $20

At a time when the U.S. labor movement is engaging in an unprecedented
public debate over the course of its future, one of the luckiest breaks we
could hope for would be for an informed and talented labor communicator to
publish a book that not only advocates a focus that has been missing from
the discussion, but also lays out the evidence read more