Category Archives: Activism

The Pills & The Post Office

[NOTE: My former employer, the USPS, is close to being the least glamorous government agency. I learned there a basic lesson of working-class life: the better we did our jobs, the more invisible & taken for granted we were by the public. I’m not complaining.

But as I watched and waded in the mail stream (we did speak of it as a river: it flowed in, it flowed out; sometimes flooded), I also learned that in its routine way, the mail also delivered many more dramatic chunks of the nation’s life and the people’s’ rights. It was once necessary for freedom of the press, and much of religion. It was Amazon before Amazon, bringing much of our stuff. It even served death: the cremated ashes of many citizens have bounced anonymously down its conveyor belts into parcel tubs; and it brought life: millions of prescriptions every day.

Even though digital now reigns and hogs the attention, the USPS still does all that. There’s no 3-D printer yet that can spit out my blood pressure pills, but the carrier slides them into my mailbox, and thereby delivers one of many important pieces of my national patrimony.

When seen from this angle, it’s no surprise that the mailbox is also a frequent scene of conflict, even battle: it has been the hammer of censorship; in the antebellum South, and again in World War One, it was sifted for seeds of abolition and terrorist anarchy.

And it is now contested again.  It may sound far-fetched, but is entirely plausible that soon, otherwise ordinary Americans will be clapped in jail for using the mail. . . . Maybe you. Maybe me. . . .]

The Next Phase of the Abortion Fight Is Happening Right Now in New York [And in Your Mailbox]

Linda Prine spends a lot of time speaking to frantic women navigating the end of Roe v. Wade.

Prine is a New York physician and co-founder of the Miscarriage and Abortion Hotline, which provides support to people using pills to end their pregnancies on their own. She started the hotline during the Trump administration in response to escalating state restrictions. At first, with abortion clinics still operating in every state, there weren’t many calls. Then Texas banned most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, and more calls started coming in.

Continue reading The Pills & The Post Office

Weird Thursday/Friday

Real headline, major paper:

Okay — I can believe Santos didn’t perform “45 minutes ago.” But on his way to Congress, it was one long costume performance, and a total drag. I can’t wait to see his version of the Orange Jump Suit Perp Walk Two-Step. (Now, how do you say that in Portugese?)

Continue reading Weird Thursday/Friday

Harvard, Affirmative Action, “Reparations,” & Me

An earlier exposés of legacy preference/WASP affirmative action, from 2006.

One of the most shopworn and least shocking of discoveries about USA higher education Is that of Ivy League “affirmative action” (aka preferential admissions) for the non-genius children of wealthy donors or powerful alumni (mainly WASPS). This “exposé” (which, to be fair, is also found at many other non-ivy schools) has been around about a century or so, and has since been repeatedly documented by many scholars, novelists, biographers, pretend radicals — and news editors who have not read much or got out enough.

Someone fairly high up on the editorial ladder at The Guardian — normally relatively up to date on such matters— evidently fits into one of these dim categories. At least they thought the scandal of legacy preference needed to be disclosed back in the unenlightened times of fourteen months ago, and then worth repeating, at least online, in January 2023. Continue reading Harvard, Affirmative Action, “Reparations,” & Me

Academic Tenure Will Soon Be Gone — Unless . . .


[NOTE: one scholar cited here says that the number of tenured professors ballooned after World War II, when more Amerians, especially veterans, went to college, got advanced degrees and stayed on to teach.

Today, student body numbers are falling, but grad schools keep churning out new PhDs. So  there’s a glut, too many carrying big debt loads, faced with vanishing tenure prospects and exploitive work conditions. Because most are also more or less liberal, this makes the academy an easy target in the culture wars. Continue reading Academic Tenure Will Soon Be Gone — Unless . . .

More of My 2022 trip

This first question below has not yet been asked aloud. But it still rankles: why should I have to even think about this before she is much older? Why do I keep wondering what I’d say if her mother turned to me and said, “Let’s ask Grandpa . . . .”

Not to mention if they were in Texas last spring, that awful, awful day . . .

As much as possible, I preferred to focus on our little piece of turf, which the Fair Wendy was turning from the conventional “lawn” into a “rewilded” patch of habitat.

We started this spring by needing to take out the small maple tree, which we had found to be very diseased. Wendy refilled its space with a mix of wildflowers.

She did a fine job.

But I kept being buffeted by stuff from outside; you know. . . .

And the continuing presence of 45 . . .

And the labor of keeping up with the war . . .

The hearings went on, magnificently. Finally there were the midterms . . .

. . . when the long-dreaded Red Wave did not arrive . . .

Eventually the frosts of autumn came. The wild yard died back, to compost til spring.

And despite the recent bitter cold, my mood, at least was lifted measurably from the last winter.

Then at the sunrise of New years Eve, I looked out the kitchen door to catch a glimpse of the future, but . . . all was shrouded in mist and fog, with rain to follow.

But undaunted, later the Fair Wendy and I went out to get some fare to mark the occasion, I had a yen for a COSTCO pepperoni pizza: big, hot, greasy, yummy and inexpensive. I arrived just in time to see the very last Costco pizza of 2022 emerge slowly  from its big oven- the heat and aroma so near — and yet so far,  as it was meant for someone else; then they were all out!

But we found an inferior version at a nearby supermarket, and with it I drank a bottle of Coke made in Mexico, and a quiet time was had by all. Is that enough to sustain hopes for the new year?

I guess it better be.

So near, so aromatic, so affordable, and yet so far . . .