Lunch All by Yourself

Brooking Dissent: The To-Do Over David Brooks’
Latest Column

Allow me to start with a confession: I don’t eat sushi and I am addicted to American cheese. I know, I know, American cheese isn’t even properly cheese. It’s cheese food, whatever that means.

Why does this matter? Because such small Continue reading


Like Paper in Fire


Politics designed to fit on a bumper sticker may not be effective in the real world.

I kept thinking that as I read Wesley Yang‘s 2011 piece in New York Magazine, “Paper Tigers: What happens to all the Asian-American overachievers when the test-taking ends?”  I came across it in an anthology (yet to be reviewed in this space) and feel compelled to take the unusual step of addressing it on its own.

Yang is struggling with duality. He’s a red-blooded American writer who just happens to look in the mirror and see an Continue reading

Is Someone’s Mind on Vacation?

CV1_TNY_08_04_14Chast.inddWhat’s up on 42nd street?

That’s terribly vague. So let me ask a more specific question: did The New Yorker give the entire editorial staff an extended summer holiday? I fear the answer must be yes based on the 6 pages or so of space wasted on John Lanchester’s story, Money Talks, in the August 4 issue. (Free access for the rest of the summer.)

Lanchester doesn’t like the language of finance. He says of it, “You are left wondering whether somebody is trying to con Continue reading

To Woof or Not to Woof

The Watchdog that Didn’t Bark: The Financial Crisis
and the Disappearance of Investigative Journalism
Dean Starkman

Been missing too long and while there are plenty of good reasons for that they’re also all excuses. So, no hairshirts. Let’s just get back to it.


Dean Stockman is a  veteran journalist turned j-school professor. This work embodies all the contradictions contained in that last sentence.

A strong case can be made that some professions actually operate on a craft model. Simply put, that means you can’t be ‘taught’ how to do it, you just have to learn how by trial and error with the guidance of more experienced hands. It’s a guild-like model that still holds true for jobs like master cabinetmaker and, I’d argue journalist. (Or, for that matter, direct marketer.)

I say that because at the end of the day journalism is about storytelling and you Continue reading

Exceptional Language

My friend Joan called to my attention a post by Paul Brians on the William James & Company blog. Brians takes as his subject the sometimes cavalier use of words by academics. Actually, that’s not quite fair and it’s worth reading the whole thing if only to check that my take away is right.

Brians notes some infamous examples of the language used in literary criticism.  He cites recent usage where the words chosen by academics Continue reading