Thoughts on an American tradition.

“When will Santa’s list be digital?” by kevin dooley is licensed under CC BY 2.0

For most of us born after the 1950s, our lives have been steeped in the consumerist ethic. It is nearly synonymous with American culture, and nearly impossible to escape. It can be summarized like this: Having things and being good are equivalent.

Our lives are organized around consuming, possessing, and managing the things we acquire. From youth until death, many of us define ourselves by what we have acquired, what we want to acquire, and what we are ready to discard. Youths are surrounded by toys and equipment for games, mid-life workers by homes, furnishings…

Deal with it.

“Norlin Library, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado” by Ken Lund is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

When I told my family and friends I wanted to go back to school, there was at least a lukewarm acknowledgement that I had said the words. I’ve been in school a long time, switched majors twice, and tested my kin’s patience, who all only want the best for me (a house, a spouse, little children, a settled life, with a clear trajectory straight towards death). The stigma of being a non-traditional student begins at home, with subtle hints to “move on,” “settle down,” get a “good job,” whatever that is nowadays.

The future they want for me, a mimic…

Joe Biden’s former rival was not chosen for Vice President, but her expertise and vision can still reshape America’s broken financial system.

“Elizabeth Warren” by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Though she ended her campaign for president this spring in a disappointing third place, and was passed over for the Vice Presidential nomination, Elizabeth Warren remains the Democratic Party’s premier visionary on economic policy. Her presidential campaign underscored the depth of her knowledge on financial matters and the sincerity of her commitment to a fairer economy. To manage the growing economic crisis, brought on by the pandemic, devastating Republican tax cuts, and the incompetent Trump administration, Sen Warren’s expertise and agenda of ‘big, structural change” will be needed. …

The revolutionary’s reign.

You’ve been zucked. London Street art Shoreditch. Annie Spratt.

The strategy in which Facebook manages a growing storm of distrust and criticism about its practices presumably is rooted in the values and judgment of its creator, Mark Zuckerberg. Mr Zuckerberg is a lifelong member of an elite class of citizens. The highly educated parents, private schooling, fencing talent, awards and honors…his excellence emerged as much from hard work as it did from opportunity and privilege. What values and judgment did he learn from such an upbringing? His general remoteness, evasive answers to congressional inquiries, and meager policy adjustments made only when scrutinized, all speak to a characteristically aloof plutocrat…

Beginning a conversation about what our world will look like knowing we’re not alone.

Spiral galaxy UDF 423, Hubble Space Telescope, STScI, NASA, ESA

The discovery of extraterrestrial life appears likely, though not a certainty, perhaps within our lifetimes. As humans have fielded ever more technologically advanced investigations into space, outlining the unimaginable size of the universe and its constituents, the assertion we are not alone has become anachronistic, rooted in deep prejudices that privilege the position of Earth and her inhabitants. Major paradigm shifts throughout the history of science have deconstructed those old beliefs. Heliocentrism usurped geocentrism, general relativity replaced Newtonian mechanics, and religions great and small, struggling to compete with scientists’ better explanations for how the world works, are in retreat. Rather…

Pundits once deemed the former Vice President a sure bet — to lose.

“Joe Biden” by Paris Malone is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Joe Biden has run for president three times. Once in 1988, again in 2008, and 2020. Obviously, he has thus far been unsuccessful. But after defeating countless rivals, he is now the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee and closer than ever to his elusive goal of becoming president. His success against so many well-spoken, qualified, and appealing candidates suggests that Joe Biden is a better politician than most people thought.

Looking back, it seems strange so many people regarded the six-term senator and 47th Vice President as a weak candidate for higher office. Supporters of Bernie Sanders insisted Biden’s support was…

A candidacy to meet the moment.

“Elizabeth Warren” by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

After serving many years as a widely praised Harvard Law professor, Elizabeth Warren won her U.S. Senate seat in 2012 by defeating Republican Senator Scott Brown. She was buoyed in her election by her past work as the Troubled Asset Relief Program watchdog following the 2008 financial crisis, by her integral role in creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and by her long history advocating for the middle class. During her time as a senator, her prosecutorial questioning of financial executives and regulators has brought her viral attention, and has angered many entrenched interests in the private sector and government…

No. Unless…

“We the People” by StevenANichols is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

As the coronavirus threat races across the globe, governments have responded by restricting movement, cancelling mass gatherings, and locking down businesses, schools, and other public spaces. Europe’s streets are deserted, airports spanning the globe are filled with panicked travelers scrambling for flights home, stores and schools in my home town are empty — the dramatic response to the pandemic is being felt everywhere.

The longer the crisis persists, the more it threatens to undermine civic life. Already, in this election year, the methods of campaigning are changing, as candidates opt for digital engagement over rallies, debates with no audience, and…

Zackary John

Writing stuff down

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