Detective Pikachu, Avengers, and the Appeal of Esoteric Entertainment

I don’t know anything about Pokémon, but my kids are into it, and so I’ve been checking our reviews of the new Detective Pikachu movie. The reviews from Pokémon fans are quite good. The negative reviews largely complain that it’s inaccessible to people unfamiliar with the source material. Along similar lines, one of the few […]

Loyalty versus Obsequiousness Through the Lens of Donald Trump

A loyal person is never an obsequious person. Donald Trump demands loyalty from those around him. It’s why he fired James Comey, why he’s mad at Jeff Sessions, and why he pulled John Brennan’s security clearance. He makes everyone passing through his orbit sign non-disclosure agreements, a kind of explicit loyalty oath by way of […]

On Civility in Politics

Shunning is sometimes appropriate, and politics shouldn’t change that. Should we shun political opponents? Should we refuse to associate with them, or to serve them in our businesses? The matter with Sarah Sanders getting kicked out of a restaurant has a lot of people staking out what strike me as poorly examined positions on these questions, […]

An open letter to alt-right, paleo-libertarian, “cultural Marxism”-hating, red-pill-popping dudes.

Hi. It’s come to my attention that you’re worried about the direction of this country. Specifically, you’re worried that America’s culture is shifting in ways you see as anathema to America’s values, by which you mean your values. The values of white men of a certain sort. And I hear you. You’re upset, and you’re […]

Making the World Better

Do libertarians want to destroy social bonds so we can live in a world without cooperation? If you believe Nick Hanauer and Eric Liu, libertarians are nuts. In a recent commentary, they gave a litany of reasons for “Why libertarian society is doomed to fail.” The trouble is, they’ve managed not only to misunderstand libertarianism, […]

America’s Hyperbole Problem

Why our culture has become so exhausting. Ours has become a culture of hyperbole. Nothing characterizes American social interaction, mediated through politics and social media, more than our need to assure ourselves, and broadcast to others, that whatever is happening now — whatever currently grasps our unexamined attention — is the most, greatest, acutest of whatever has ever been. […]

Has There Ever Been a Box Office Smash Scifi Movie With Less Cultural Impact Than Avatar?

http://avaretarded.deviantart.com/art/Na-vi-Costume-No-edit-306654733 We’re on our way to four(!) Avatar sequels, which is probably the same as number of people excited about Avatar sequels. It’s pretty striking, really, how quickly Avatar vanished from the public consciousness. The movie came out at the end of 2009, and in the years since, we’ve seen really no lasting attempts to […]

Maleness, Whiteness, Respect, and Donald Trump

Culture is shifting under the feet of white males, and many of them aren’t reacting well to it. Much of white male American has long felt it was owed respect because of its whiteness and maleness. And for decades, they pretty much got it. Now that’s changed, with people recognizing that respect has nothing to do […]

How Aristotle Predicted Twitter and the Alt-Right

Moral development can’t begin until the passions are under control I’m rereading Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics for the umpteenth time for a book club with some of my colleagues, and a passage early on struck me as informative about much that’s going on in American culture today. It comes in Book 1 of the Ethics, and for […]

Free Speech and the Whims of College Kids

Hadley is still a child, and so administrators should listen to her, but they should’ve give her an equal say in the institution. When I was in middle school, my history class staged a walkout. I don’t recall the reasons, but I’m sure at the time we all thought them righteous and just. I’m also […]