The Ebb and Crest of Who You Are

When we speak of someone’s “personality” or “character” we tend to treat it as something more or less static. If we allow for change or growth, we think they are relatively extraordinary events that “transform” the personality into a new static thing. But really, isn’t a personality more of a range? Maybe a wave, with…

Bizarro Ex-Pres, the Race, and Race

Maybe I was wrong about Russert on Edwards. Maybe people are just “pointing to” really weird things now! It was stunning to hear Bill Clinton comparing Barack Obama to Jesse Jackson completely out of context, not because I don’t know that Clinton is a ruthless campaign attack dog, which he clearly has become, but whatever…

Bizarro Pundit

Tim Russert said on MSNBC tonight: “he [John Edwards] may have gotten more votes from white voters in South Carolina than either Clinton or Obama and I think he’ll point to that.” What???? “He will point to that”? Someone in the Democratic Party will “point” to getting more of the “white vote”? Is this perhaps…

Martin Luther King and My America

In the American imagination it has almost become trite to say that one admires Martin Luther King Jr. – it’s like loving Mozart or Shakespeare (or, if you share my Bengali-Indian heritage, Rabindranath Tagore) – it goes without saying and is almost second-nature and ceases to feel significant or impressive. But listen again, and you’ll…

Why Do YOU Love McCain?

McCain is the most dangerous of the Republican candidates. Precisely because there’s this perception of him as safe. As someone sane, and kind, and of good character. He’s the media’s golden boy (no, I’m not talking about his age). I don’t get it. Does anyone remember his comments about Chelsea Clinton when she was just…

It Could Be Worse Than Pakistan… Sort Of

There are fresh political conflicts in Pakistan. How much is this really informed by the events of this past month? What happened to Benazir Bhutto is a horrible tragedy. But what’s really changed for ordinary people in Pakistan? Were the “elections” going to be free and fair? Did Musharraf’s shedding of the military uniform really…

Language Is a Many Splendored Thing

I found this etymological history of the word “Cabal” on wordsmith.org: “The history of cabal reveals how a word can be transferred from one sphere of activity to another while retaining only a tenuous connection with its past. Ultimately from Hebrew but transmitted to English probably by way of Medieval Latin and French, cabal is…

The Writing Life

Last month, I asked a writer/performer friend of mine to come speak to a New York City writers salon of which I am a member. She asked what she should talk about, and we told her “talk about the writing life.” The “writing life?” she asked, puzzled. We said — you know, whatever you want…

My Old Fears

Gloria Steinem wrote an interesting New York Times op-ed piece today. It rings true to me, sadly. In an earlier post, I lamented that some are giving too much credence to old fears about race and sex in politics. But while I hold to my conclusion that our fears about the (real or imagined) prejudices…