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Leonard Wood: Then and Now

Growing up in western Missouri, I recall hearing a lot about Fort Leonard Wood. It’s located in a beautiful portion of the Ozarks, in Mark Twain National Forest on old Route 66 between Rolla and Lebanon (now Interstate 44). As a Boy Scout who attended a popular summer camp in the Ozarks, I’d meet people who knew those stationed at Leonard Wood. School acquaintances and friends who enlisted in the Army might receive training there. And finally, it was a recurring object of base closure speculation in the 1990s. Read more…


Baseball, The Cubs, and the Idea of Success: A Brief Reflection

For my MLB-loving friends who also like great ideas, history, and big questions:

Joe Maddon’s potential extension as Cubs manager depends on finding answers to some deeper questions about both fostering and defining success. This article gets at some of the areas of concern–questions that need answering. The questions being asked get at issues that extend well beyond the Cubs, Maddon, and baseball in general
Read more…

Midterm Theses on Trump, Republicanism, and U.S.-style Democracy

1. Every Republican who voted for Donald Trump, supported him, or has remained silent on his rhetoric and actions, before and after November 8, 2016, should be held responsible. Every party official that supported his nomination should be expelled from the party for a period. Every official who has accepted an appointment by Trump and not actively resisted his policies should be barred from work by future Republican officials. Every GOP voter who has supported Trump should take a self-imposed two-year timeout from voting and political activity. In that time they should reevaluate their core social and political principles, rooting out whatever vices or malignancies that caused support for Trump.

2. No party should be allowed to nominate a candidate for president who has not been cleared of psychological disorders and/or assessed for mental acuity. Some sort of psychological evaluation for stability is necessary in a political situation where the president is in control of nuclear weapons. Read more…

The Sociology of Student Affairs: Higher Ed’s Equality-Driven Staff Cadre

This article*, which relay’s some socioeconomic characteristics of student affairs staff, partially explains why some in that staff circle *may* swing more to the left of faculty and administrators. The piece contains some notes to keep in mind when one is tempted to find fault with some of the excesses of student affairs offices. Read more…

Ideas and Things

This promotional piece, by Ray Haberski, discusses a book to which I contributed an essay.

Sage House News: The Cornell University Press Blog

Can we be forgiven for feeling overwhelmed by American culture and politics? Daily we read or more like hear about political polarization, deep ideological divides, a politicized Supreme Court, protests over race and history. Of course, there are histories and context to each issue and conflict, but sometimes what we need is something more fundamental. Behind all these things are ideas.

Intellectual historians have attracted larger and larger audiences that are hungry for explanations about the origins, contexts, and consequences of ideas that seem more powerful than ever. How do we understand a society riddled by profound contradictions—a society that transitioned, most recently, from Barack Obama to Donald Trump?

Ideas matter. A lot. Most people recognize as much. Intellectual history—the study of ideas in the past—thus has a lot to offer people. With my colleague Andrew Hartman, we have co-edited a collection conceived with this basic fact in mind.


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Student Evaluations

An old graduate school friend from Loyola, Abe Schwab–currently an associate professor of philosophy and medical ethicist at IPFW–wrote an interesting reflection on “the ethics of student evaluations and program accreditations.”

I surprised at how much the complaints of his students mirrored those I’ve heard from my past students (prior to the fall of 2018)—even though Schwab’s students are in philosophy rather than history. Here are the passages that resonated: Read more…

It Happens

The essence and mystery of freedom, in Christian theological terms:

“For it happens that God does not give some the assistance by which they may avoid sin, which assistance were He to give, they would not sin. But He does all this according to the order of His wisdom and justice, since He Himself is Wisdom and Justice.” – Thomas Aquinas, *Summa Theologica*, II-I, Question 79, Article 1 (Respondeo)

…it happens…

Is there a more fraught condition, or moment, in that short phrase? It happens–to you, because of you, around you, for you, in spite of you. Things happen, because God, in a mystery, does not at this time choose to give you the assistance you need. Shit happens. Read more…