Incognito

“Excuse me, ma’am,” the attendant says, averting his eyes. He reaches awkwardly for my mother’s elbow, then points down the hall. “This way.”

Mother looks dimly perplexed, as if trying to remember what she’s forgotten. Perhaps where she misplaced her purse or some other item indispensable to functioning outside the house? She does not notice that everything about her person is, as always, intact: muted paisley suit with matching hat and bag, sensible but stylish heels — no sling-backs for Mrs. Anderson — and short, fixed coiffure. She turns slowly in the attendant’s direction, an index finger lingering on her coral lips as if deep in thought and about to point out the result of her deliberation.

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The Perpendicularity of Horatio Caine

David Caruso as Horatio Caine on CSI: Miami

Horatio. Light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Hor-a-tio.

You know how some people say everything happens for a reason? I think they’re right. And anyway, if this is wrong, I don’t want to be right. If this is a dream, don’t wake me. I am guilty, guilty, guilty, but I don’t care! I have begun watching reruns of CSI: Miami.

Horatio. Steps into the frame. Perpendicular.

It wasn’t long into my first episode of CSI: Miami that the perpendicularity of Horatio Caine announced itself to me. Subtle, at first. Tucked discretely beneath the cool paradoxically radiating heat. Insouciant pauses nevertheless throbbing between liquid phrases. Hypnotic repetitions of people’s names, people’s names, people’s names, pitched just low enough so you have to lean in to hear. But there’s more.

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The Examined Life, Public Service, and Philosophy in the Community College

In Plato’s Apology, Socrates declares himself “a sort of gadfly” to Athens, constantly stinging it, ‘stirring it to life.’ Among other things, he is concerned with the idea that Athens’ survival depends upon the quality of its citizenry. That quality is determined by each individual’s continual self-examination, that is, reflection on what makes a good life and how to live it. This is no easy task. Just what is the method whereby one examines one’s life, and just how one recognizes what the good is, requires an investment of time and effort that many people find insupportable.

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Only a Nobody Walks in L.A.

I live on 17th Street.

Before dawn on any weekday morning, my street awakens. Bedroom windows in the apartment next door open onto my driveway. Showers start, people cough. Someone sings in Spanish, a radio is tuned to classic rock. Minutes later, a guy walks to his car, lunch box in hand. A mother stops briefly to tie her small daughter’s shoelaces before hurrying on to school.

I grew up in Malibu.

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A Primer on Critical Thinking: A Response to Richard F. Miniter’s “The Great Critical Thinking Dodge”

About a month ago, I landed on a site called American Thinker. I noticed “critical thinking” in the title of an essay by investigative journalist, Richard F. Miniter: “The Great Critical Thinking Dodge”. Because I routinely conduct critical thinking courses in my discipline, my curiosity was piqued. I was disappointed, however, that the essay was more a superficial political attack than a genuine engagement with an interesting topic: critical thinking and the politics of education.

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The Life of Her Mind: How Tammy Ruggles Sees the World

“I am an artist first,” Tammy Ruggles declares. “I am also a legally blind artist.” The soft patter of her accent belies a steely determination she developed growing up in the rural South.

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Temple Grandin: Innovator and Advocate

It was the only place where she felt calmer, and she had created it for herself. Temple Grandin was just fifteen-years old when she designed and built the “squeeze machine,” or “hug box,” and she’s been using her extraordinary mind to innovate ever since.

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Donald Trump: BS-er Extraordinaire

 

You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time. — Abraham Lincoln

Some people believe that politicians attempt the ultimate fool: all of the people all of the time. Consequently, many observers find politics, and especially political campaigns, to be distasteful at best, and morally offensive at worst. Candidates, it is believed, will say anything to get elected, will engage in ruthless practices to win votes.

Of course, political “dirty tricks” and manipulative rhetoric disguised as argument are nothing new. That’s because they’re effective, inviting you to check your thinking skills at the door. The current master of this technique is the man who ‘has the best words,’ Donald J. Trump:

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