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Opening Day 2019: Why I Still Care

Yes, the Cubs are now part of baseball’s oligarchy. And yes, the ownership team is populated by one neoliberal, Laura Ricketts, and a bunch of Trump sympathizers and supporters. And yes, Wrigley has been gentrified in a way that makes the team less accessible to the least privileged, economically speaking. The players, too, happily participate in a general capitalist individualism that contributes to wider inequalities in the game and beyond. The game, and one of my teams, hasn’t necessarily changed for the better in recent years. Read more…

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The UChicago IOP Mayoral Candidate Public Safety Forum: Observations and Reflections

I decided to screen and take notes on the UChicago Institute of Politics mayoral candidate forum on public safety from last week (March 13). The event resulted in some backlash, from the left, against Lori Lightfoot because she floated the idea that some closed CPS schools could be used as police training facilities.

Despite that motivation for listening (i.e., to get the context and flow of the idea balloon), I felt a full screening, of the entire forum, would help me figure out—maybe once and for all—how I feel about both candidates. My goal here is to be a charitable, fair listener and observer. The issue of public safety spirals into many areas that illuminate the candidates’ political philosophies, policies, tactics, and assumptions.
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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
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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.

We…

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