I am now writing on Medium, so I think something on the order of an introduction is called for.

I have never been crazy about talking about myself. I always thought that the world at large is a lot more interesting than I am. But I am part of this larger world, and when I talk about it I am in fact also talking a bit about myself and how that world shows itself to me. …

Photo by Heidi Kaden on Unsplash

The January 6th House Select Committee hearings, which took place last Wednesday, were troubling, to put it mildly. Both the testimony of the witnesses from D.C. and Capitol police and the new video footage made it very clear that the Capitol rioters wished to stage a hard coup against the pro forma process of certifying Joe Biden’s election to the presidency. But I also found it troubling that all parties were adamantly insisting that the Committee was non-partisan.

I understand why. The Democrats were eager to define the Committee as an effort to uncover the truth about the events of…

(Photo by Sushil Nash on Unsplash)

Review of George Packer, Last Best Hope: America in Crisis and Renewal (Farrar Strauss and Giroux, 2021).


George Packer begins his reflections on the state of the nation with the following quip: “I am an American. No, I don’t want pity.” (Kindle loc 30) Packer’s book expresses his hopes for national renewal, however bleak things seem to be; pity is antithetical to sustaining these hopes. However, a paragraph later, he says the following:

I know a woman who said of her own husband and children, “They’re not the people I’d choose to be quarantined with.” Are my fellow citizens…

(Wikimedia Commons: Portrait of Alice Neel by©Lynn_Gilbert_1976)

(Alice Neel: People Come First, an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, through August 1, 2021)

“The human body is the best picture of the human soul.” — Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, §25


Does Dasein have a body?

One would think so: Heidegger’s Dasein has a world — or more precisely, it is in the world, in its world, as a “thrown project.” The world shows itself as a phenomenon to a Dasein that projects itself into the world through its aims, goals, and ends. …

Wikimedia Commons

“I’ll teach you differences!” — Ludwig Wittgenstein, quoting William Shakespeare, King Lear, Act 1, Scene 4

Ever since the eponymous Time article of 2014, much has been said about the “transgender tipping point,” the emergence of trans women and trans men as a critical part of the LGBTQ constellation and their place in the discourse about culture, society, and politics. Unfortunately, “the discourse” has of late been, at best, a mixed bag for us trans people. …

Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

Review of Torrey Peters, Detransition, Baby (One World, 2021), pp. 341

Midway through his explanation of why he detransitioned, Ames (formerly Amy), one of the main characters in Torrey Peters’ Detransition, Baby, likens his struggles and that of his trans cohort to the predicament of orphaned baby African elephants. Habitat destruction, poaching, and thousands of micro-encroachments on elephant culture caused orphaned elephants to become violent and uncontrollable. Ames explains:

Throughout their long history, elephants have lived in intricately ordered social structures. Young elephants learned their place and healthy behavior in concentric societal rings of caregivers — birth mother, aunts, grandmothers…

By Ava Lowery from USA — Picture 18, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57407973

I did not vote to elect Joe Manchin de facto President of the United States of America, not because I disagree with his policy positions or location on the political spectrum (which I do), but because I live in New York State. As someone once said in another context, “It is what it is.” Manchin, along with Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, is holding the rest of the Democratic Party hostage, and with them the ability of Congress to function. He wields more power than Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and Chuck Schumer combined. …

(By Diliff — Uploaded by Diliff, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=517895)

On the night of the attack on the United States Capitol building, my local public radio station scheduled a program with the theme “Time to Come Together?” It was hard to stay on topic given the day’s events, but they tried.

No, it’s not time to come together. Eventually, yes. But not anytime soon.

There is a lot of blame to go around concerning how we got here. The Republican “southern strategy” which has now borne its strange and rotten fruit. The assumption on the part of right-wing media and internet platforms that the devotion to freedom of expression does…

(Wikimedia Commons)


Richard Rorty’s autobiographical essay “Trotsky and the Wild Orchids”, published in 1992, begins with the following observation:

If there is anything to the idea that the best intellectual position is one which is attacked with equal vigour from the political right and the political left, then I am in good shape. I am often cited by conservative culture warriors as one of the relativistic, irrationalist, deconstructing, sneering, smirking intellectuals whose writings are weakening the moral fibre of the young. . . Yet Sheldon Wolin, speaking from the left, sees a lot of similarity between me and [conservative] Allan Bloom…

(Lena Balk, Upsplash)

1: Two Spaldeens

I was about five years old, give or take a year. It was a typical New York summer day: sunny, hazy, humid but not insufferably so. I was not much of an outdoor kid, being bookish and precociously (i.e., annoyingly) talkative, but that day I was playing outside vigorously, bouncing pink rubber Spaldeen balls against the garage door and trying to catch them as they came back. I returned to my room, physically spent but still mentally wired.

My mother came upstairs to check up on me to tell me about some new books that she bought…

Laura Nelson

Writer, philosopher, information technologist,guitarist, neurotic, polite radical, avid and indiscriminate reader, Episcopalian, trans woman.

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