Category Archives: In the News

One last Trump financial con

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Trump & Barrett

I first wrote about the fragility of the Trump fortune in April of 2018, and that theme has been followed by several more related posts in the years since. I sometimes feel that the financial chroniclers of the Trump Organization like myself and the far more knowledgeable David Farenthold of the Washington Post and Adam Davidson, co-founder of NPR’s Planet… Read more »

When we become inured to death

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Petrarch's Triumph of Death.

In 2017 and 2018, when all eyes were on several horrific incidents of mass gun violence, the United States was averaging just under one incident of mass gun violence per day (defined by the excellent Gun Violence Archive as four or more people killed or injured in one reported incident). During the pandemic year of 2020, that number rose to… Read more »

The self-destructive bravado of the Covid snake-handlers

Snake handler

“And these signs will accompany those who believe…they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them.” — Mark 16:17-18, NRSV During my years living in Cincinnati, across the Ohio River from Kentucky, we would regularly see a news story from south of the river with a headline like this:… Read more »

The Covid math of “us” versus “me”

Smallpox vaccination

I wrote a few weeks ago about how the Covid crisis has exacerbated the need for America to move from a very self-centered “me” culture into the more compassionate and action-oriented “us” culture required to combat the virus. Listening to the voices raised in protest to such collective action as mandated vaccinations and masking, I have noted that there are… Read more »

Afghanistan and aggressive dependence

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The moral conversation

I first heard the term “aggressive dependence” from a friend who spent over forty years creating community self-help cooperatives in mostly-rural locations in a dozen developing countries. Haiti was the one country where, in recent years, he expressed resignation rather than his typical ebullient hope. In his expression, aggressive dependence characterizes a society that defeats all attempts at practical outside… Read more »

The capricious God of Covid

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Dice icon

“At the first glance, the only ‘law’ … seems to be that of Caprice — caprice in inheriting, caprice in transmitting, caprice everywhere, in turn.” — Philosopher William James (1842– 1910) One of the classic examples in an introductory statistics class is the drawing of billiard balls from an opaque sack containing an unknown mix of various colored balls, and… Read more »

Let’s pretend rural Iowa is Mars

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Storm-Clouds-Over-Lamoni-Cemetery

Note: This is a cross-post from Bleeding Heartland from earlier this week. So, I have watched the bizarre unpiloted, billion-dollar carnival ride that took Jeff Bezos into the barest edge of “space.” We are looking at spending more billions of dollars as a collective society to pursue a goal of living on the moon or Mars, for some just for… Read more »

Worth a read: Shape by Jordan Ellenberg

Shape-Ellenberg

You have probably not thought much about geometry since your tenth-grade math class where you learned how to calculate the area of circle or a triangle. Have you retained anything else? Or even that? Well into the 19th century, you would not be considered to be an educated person unless you were familiar with Elements by Euclid, a Greek mathematician… Read more »

When your pain becomes our pain

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Empathy-Sympathy-Compassion

Odds are…you personally will not suffer any ill effects from the coronavirus. But over 600,000 U.S. families have watched loved ones die, often without the hugs of family who had to say goodbye via FaceTime. Odds are…you personally will not be killed in a grocery store by a domestic terrorist wielding an AR-style high-lethality weapon. But over 40,000 families lost… Read more »

Biden, the bishops, and a failure to communicate

Cool Hand Luke

American Catholic bishops have apparently backed off plans to deny the Holy Communion from practicing Catholic Democratic politicians like President Biden and Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Comments from the Jesuit Pope Francis and public sentiment appear to have convinced the bishops that this stance would be politically unwise at this time. California Republican and gubernatorial candidate Caitlyn Jenner, who in a… Read more »