Culture, High & Low

Archimedean Points, Above and Below

Archimedes_lever September 24, 2014
“To the famous Archimedean boast:  ‘Give me whereon to stand and I will move the world.’.  Rabelais answers: ‘I move with my ship; and the waves of the world give way.’”    –John Cowper Powys One could choose a less fruitful…
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Life in the Kolache Belt: Reflections from the Intersection of Food, Faith, Farming, and Fracking

kolache fest September 23, 2014
In some ways, the little farming community of Hallettsville where I have spent a writing sabbatical still resides in a simpler time. Czechs and Germans came in the 1800s and brought a culture that remains surprisingly stable. My Dworsky forebears,…
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What Would the Father of Nationalism Say About Scottish Independence?

yes-no September 16, 2014
[Cross-posted to In Medias Res] On Thursday, voters in Scotland will go to the polls and either choose “Yes,” meaning that they want Scotland to become an independent state, or “No,” meaning that they want Scotland to remain in the…
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Please Block the Way: Campaigning Against Courtesy

Japan-quake_1291279g September 7, 2014
Japanese rail commuters ride train station escalators the way you might expect: those who are in no hurry stand to the right, leaving a ‘passing lane’ for those who walk or run up or down the escalator. The East Japan…
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Why I Won’t Participate in the Ice-Bucket Challenge

September 4, 2014
Holland, MI I can’t say I’m overly conversant with the history of charitable giving in America, but I can’t recall something taking off quite like this “ice bucket challenge.” In the unlikely event you haven’t heard of it, it involves,…
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The Demise of Virtue in Virtual America (Front Porch Republic Books)

Print September 3, 2014
Entrance:Virtual America’s Convention Hall                                                     Demise—1) the conveyance of an estate 2) transfer                                              of the sovereignty to a successor 3) a: death b: cessation                                              of existence or activity c: a loss of position or status                         …
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Of Lawyers and Strippers and Deadwood

decaying_wood September 2, 2014
Mostly they promise the truth about a rapture that isn’t in the cards.
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Travel in the Magic City

Lancaster_Gate_tube August 11, 2014
This summer I moved to a new neighborhood that happens to be much nearer the freeway that divides my city. My  house is less than a mile from an on-ramp, though you wouldn’t guess it in this quiet and wooded…
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Riverboat Pilots and Economists

life of the miss August 4, 2014
In “Life on the Mississippi,” Mark Twain recounts his earnest desire to become a Mississippi steamboat pilot, and his struggles to master the pilot’s craft—a craft that demanded technical knowledge of steamboat operation and detailed recall of the constantly changing…
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The Ailing Parson Malthus Project and the “New Sin of Pride”

malthus July 31, 2014
Anyone who’s had the good fortune to spend time reading Christopher Lasch might be able to identify with the specific experience of risable joy I feel when putting myself in his presence.  For me, the joy is found in a…
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Rituals of Embodiedness

A_time_for_a_cup_of_coffee July 29, 2014
[or “Talking with Our Stuff,” or “Salvation by Coffee”] This spring I had to buy a new coffee mill. Facing the loss of both my electric coffee grinder and my antique hand-cranked mill, I debated about what to buy. The…
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Something’s Fishy–But Not Very–At Dinnertime

tilapia July 23, 2014
Ingham County, MI As darkness falls upon what a friend of mine charitably calls “Jack-Ass Acres,” and as the promise of rain comes with the moving clouds at the end of one of the few really warm days we’ve had…
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Rollin Coal and the Empire of Desire

rollin coal July 21, 2014
Thanks to a good friend, I’m now up to speed on the phenomenon of “Rollin Coal,” which one commentator describes as “a new trend in which anti-environmentalist idiots with nothing better to do modify their diesel engined trucks to burn…
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Place and the Role of Planning

city planning July 17, 2014
[This post is adapted with permission from “The Space Was Ours Before We Were the Place’s,” an essay in the anthology Why Place Matters: Geography, Identity, and Civic Life in Modern America, edited by Wilfred M. McClay and Ted V.…
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Civic Engagement and the “Native Country”

alexis_de_tocqueville July 15, 2014
[This post is adapted with permission from “Making American Places: Civic Engagement Rightly Understood,” an essay in the anthology Why Place Matters: Geography, Identity, and Civic Life in Modern America, edited by Wilfred M. McClay and Ted V. McAllister.] The…
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Architecture and Urbanism: Traditional vs. Modern

urbanism July 10, 2014
[This post is adapted with permission from “Metaphysical Realism, Modernity, and Traditional Cultures of Building,” an essay in the anthology Why Place Matters: Geography, Identity, and Civic Life in Modern America, edited by Wilfred M. McClay and Ted V. McAllister.]…
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