Raconteur. Adventurer. Kimchi Enthusiast.


You may or may not have heard about the kerfuffle surrounding the reviews of Jonathan Franzen’s latest novel, Freedom.  (Franzen is no stranger to kerfuffles: his last release, The Corrections, temporarily brought about the end of Oprah’s book club.)  NPR has an excellent and even-handed summary of the situation, which discusses some facts that the whole discussion has brought to light: namely, that the New York Times reviews a significantly higher number of.. Read More

Do Not Pass “Go”

(The title is a lame Monopoly pun.  I apologize.) Being a good union-loving, tree-hugging, anti-corporate liberal as I am, I have read so many takedowns of Wal-Mart that I can’t even keep track of all the reasons why they are evil.  This essay, however (a few years old, but still excellent) takes a new perspective: analyzing the damage the US economy is incurring from Wal-Mart through political economy, specifically, antitrust law.  The author’s.. Read More


I give you an article by Elizabeth Warren, she of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency-architecting and sassy interviews on “The Daily Show.”  I loved her before, but I love her even more now.  The article is a few years old (2005 publication date) but still quite relevant, particularly when considering much of the rhetoric surrounding the mortgage modification debate.  What I was most struck by, however, was the following sentence: “Failing schools impose.. Read More

Joblessness v. Uselessness

I quite enjoyed this article by Julian Dobson, posted at the RSA website.  Although the statistics are drawn from Britain, the gist of the article — that ‘unemployment’ and ‘uselessness’ are not identical states of being — resonates well on this side of the pond, particularly given the lingering employment concerns of the Great Recession. I also found it to be an excellent counterpoint to a meme that’s developed amongst conservatives, a kind.. Read More

In Which I Disagree With People Whose Opinions I Generally Support

I have been gone for a bit now, recently returned from a delightful vacation in Madrid, which marked my first trip to Spain.  If there’s anything that cramming 700 years of art history into a few days can teach a person, it’s that human culture doesn’t change easily — the Prado is crammed with great works by great masters that are full of violence (generally religious, natch) or naked ladies (who never have.. Read More

Roundup? Ready!

Both of these were headlines today: U.S. Supreme Court Overturns Ban On GM Alfalfa [ScienceInsider] High Court Leaves Ban On Planting Of GE Alfalfa In Place [Civil Eats] There was much confusion in my Google Reader, but perhaps more so amongst the media coverage, with each side in a major legal battle over genetically modified crops claiming victory.  As so often happens, the excellent online magazine Grist gives us the real story.  The.. Read More