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Trump and the Banality of Evil

Trump is not an example of “the banality of evil.” In fact, he’s pretty much the exact opposite. There are few turns of phrase more misunderstood than Hannah Arendt’s brief description of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann. “The banality of evil” is an important concept that is nevertheless difficult to grasp fully, if the way people use it is any indication. First is that “the banality of evil” refers not to all evil, but only a specific kind of it.

The Media of Deplorables

The way US media are approaching this Presidential election is an absolute disgrace. On Friday, Hillary Clinton spoke at a fundraiser and referred to some Donald Trump supporters as a “basket of deplorables.” The full quote, in context: I know there are only 60 days left to make our case -- and don't get complacent, don't see the latest outrageous, offensive, inappropriate comment and think, well, he's done this time. We are living in a volatile political environment.

Just Another 9/11 Post

Fifteen years ago yesterday, the United States was attacked in a way it never had been before. It changed our country, perhaps forever. It’s funny how a major event can crystallize your memory. There have been other occasions of this type: everyone remembers where they were when Pearl Harbor was attacked, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, when Kennedy was shot, when we landed on the Moon. For my generation, 9⁄11 is that event.

Broken, Broken, Broken

I’m going to rant here. Be warned! Let’s talk about software updates. Isn’t it great when a new update brings some cool new features, and fixes bugs that have annoyed you for months or years? It’s not so great when a new update brings a lot of bells and whistles while breaking well-established functionality. In this case, I’m referring to the “publicize” feature of the Jetpack plugin. If you aren’t familiar with it, Jetpack is a WordPress plugin that brings all kinds of different features.

Link Roundup: September 10, 2016

Because I love you all so much, I brought you a new set of links. Health * [The uncounted]( -- A detailed expose of a hidden epidemic: patients dying of drug-resistant infections, then having their deaths blamed on other factors to avoid properly counting the number of such infectious deaths. * [Workplace wellness programs are a sham]( -- Somehow, this doesn't surprise me. Social Justice * [Showdown over oil pipeline becomes a national movement for Native Americans](https://www.

Is This Social Justice?

It began with a puff piece featuring a small, local restaurant, and ended with acrimony and Yelp’s team stepping in to stem a tide of abusive reviews. To put it mildly, I have some misgivings about stepping into this issue. There are plenty of reasons I shouldn’t, but I also feel compelled to speak up because I think this entire situation has spun out of control. Food magazine Bon Appetit ran a profile a few days ago of a restaurant in Philadelphia called Stock.

Spotting Junk "News"

You just saw this interesting link on social media. It makes very surprising claims–it might even promise to turn your world upside-down. But think before you click “Share”! I’m going to assume that, if you’re taking the time to read this, you are someone who cares about truth and accuracy. You don’t want to share fabricated nonsense. You want the links you share on Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms to be meaningful, informative, and truthful.

Nature in Verse: A Review of "Treasures"

I’ve always been more of a prose guy than a poetry guy. I don’t write or read poetry very often. But with a copy of Donny Barilla’s Treasures in hand, I feel compelled to do more of both. I ended up with Treasures in a somewhat roundabout way. I made a number of friends on a writing site several years ago, and while I eventually left that site behind, I stayed in touch with many of those people.

A Theory of American Politics

I’ve written about American politics many times over the last several months, gradually putting together a broad survey of how our political culture works. Time to lay it all out! The focus of American political life is manifest in our two major parties–the Democrats and the Republicans. Everybody knows this. But what decides who belongs to one party or the other? What draws someone to the Democrats? What repulses a voter from the GOP?

The Hypocrisy of Labor Day

Today is supposed to be a celebration of American labor. Instead, it’s a crass spectacle of commercialism. The first thing that sets our Labor Day apart is when it’s held. Over 80 countries around the world celebrate their workers on May 1st, otherwise known as May Day. The American equivalent is set four months later. This was a deliberate choice made to undermine labor movements, especially those with socialist or anarchist elements.