Threats

In celebration of the year, I’m coming back to Stephen Kinder’s April op-ed. It’s not optimism to say that America can be secure in relation to its neighbors. It’s reality: When Americans look out at the world, we see a swarm of threats. China seems resurgent and ambitious. Russia is aggressive. Iran menaces our allies. Middle East nations we…

Published

Shaping communities

One of the things that Buzz Bissinger’s A Prayer for the City impressed upon me is how much the narrative of cities as blighted, troubled, or hopelessly corrupt environments was simply the product of serially poor policy making. City Lab illustrates how to effectively deal with policies that inhibit growth: Comes now Andrés Duany, the cigar-chomping,…

Published

Harmony

Peter Thiel writes in Zero to One that despite our innovation in the specific area of information technology, we’re actually living through an era of overall technological stagnation. “Technology,” Thiel says, used to encompass everything from computers to rockets to energy. Today it means Silicon Valley, info tech, etc. It’s a narrower thinking. I think what helps…

Published

Deciding what’s meaningful

When Alexis Madrigal started working at Fusion, he shared his perspective on the future: My animating belief is that politicians and bullshitters and ideologues have taken the idea of societal change and replaced it with a particular notion of technology as the only or main causal mechanism in history. Somehow, we’ve been convinced that only machines…

Published

Leisure

A few years ago I contributed to Academic Questions, a quarterly journal of the National Association of Scholars. Academic Questions focuses on the “vices and virtues of the contemporary university,” and my contribution was a part of their 2013 “Ideas for Higher Ed Reform.” Of the suggested topics, I chose “Advise students on one way to…

Published

Sheer fantasy

This short exchange between William F. Buckley, Jr. and Malcolm Muggeridge from Firing Line came to my attention thanks to Kathryn Jean-Lopez’s National Review Institute emails. Here’s Muggeridge: An integral part to belief is to doubt. Now why did this longing for faith assail me? Insofar as I can point to anything, it’s to do with this profession which…

Published

Christmas

Merry Christmas. In celebrating Christ’s birth, we’re celebrating the moment our Creator became man. William Blake: “Therefore God becomes as we are, that we may be as He is.” Christmas is also a day when so many of us in whom the faith lies dormant all year shines through in an act of tradition. This…

Published

Christmas eve

Dark is the hour, long the night; Hoarfrost sheds a shimmering light; The wind in the naked woodland cries A harp like music; the willow sighs. But a marvelous quiet dwells in heaven— Sirius, Markab, the faithful Seven— For the Old Year’s sands are well-nigh run; This is the Birthday of the Sun. No glint…

Published

Suspension

“On week ends in summer the town empties,” writes E.B. White of New York City in his 1949 essay. “No phone rings, no one feeds the hungry IN-baskets, no one disturbs the papers; it is a building of the dead, a time of awesome suspension.” Imagine this today. What White describes is a state of leisure.…

Published

Relationships

At least some of our most meaningful realtionships aren’t evenly distributed across our lives:  …despite not being at the end of your life, you may very well be nearing the end of your time with some of the most important people in your life. If I lay out the total days I’ll ever spend with…

Published