War as a Meteor

W.J. Astore A great book on the brutality of war and its aftershocks is Scott Anderson’s Triage (Scribner, 1998).  Anderson, a war journalist and author, captures the inhumanity of war as well as its lingering effects on war veterans themselves and the people in their lives. One particular passage in Triage captures the intrinsic nature…

All the Insecurity Money Can Buy

W.J. Astore The United States spends nearly a trillion dollars a year on national defense, to include wars, homeland security, a bewildering array of intelligence agencies, and the maintenance of nuclear weapons.  Are we buying greater security with all this money? Consider the following fact.  A private contractor hired to vet security clearances for US…

Rulers’ Ideas Rule

W.J. Astore I can’t remember where exactly, but I stumbled across this apothegm of Karl Marx: “In every era, the ideas of the rulers are the ruling ideas.” Striving for even more brevity, I truncated it to rulers’ ideas rule. Contrarians of the world should unite to identify and challenge these ruling ideas. When they…

Patronage, Politics and Charter Schools

By Don Rose.  Introduction by William Astore. Charter schools, in theory, offer advantages to public schools.  They’re advertised as offering “choice” to concerned parents, who shop for the “best” schools as measured by test scores and related data.  They promise to hold teachers accountable.  They say they offer novelty in pedagogy.   But in practice…

Is the Digital World Too Ephemeral?

W.J. Astore A concern I have about the new borderless digital world is its ephemeral nature.  Even though I keep a blog and write a lot online, I still prefer books and hardcopy.  I clip newspaper articles.  I file them away and then occasionally resuscitate them and use them in class when I teach. Hardcopy…

Chris Christie, You Lost My Vote

Also at Huffington Post In his non-apology about “bridgegate,” Governor Chris Christie lost my vote. In his “mistakes were clearly made” pabulum, Christie failed the test of leadership. It doesn’t matter whether you think Christie is a bully. It doesn’t matter how much Christie knew about the bridge lane closures and when he knew it.…