Category Archives: Culture

Gracie’s Ghosts

There’s a real ghostly mystery developing around the residence of the Mayor of the City of New York. As if the presence of the last mayoral inhabitant of Gracie Mansion wasn’t enough to scare the bejesus out of anyone, it appears that the current resident attests that there is an other-wordly presence in the house.

During the May 10th broadcast of the NY Yankees game, Mayor Eric Adams told Michael Kay that he wasn’t too thrilled about his new digs.

“I don’t care what anyone says, there are ghosts in there, man,” Adams said. Some have claimed that it’s the ghost of the daughter of original owner Archibald Gracie, who built the country home in 1799. The mansion was later incorporated by the city, briefly used as the Museum of the City of New York and became the official mayoral residence in 1942.

But Adams attests that he sees stuff moving “all the time, man, all the time! They’re creeping around.”

I’m hoping that some of these entities might join the Mayor’s cabinet, say “Boo” — and scare away all of the city’s problems!

Wikipedia Adds New Profile Pic!

Yay! I’m very happy to report that The Mystery Photographer who took this pic of me with the Parachute Jump in Coney Island, Brooklyn as backdrop finally got clearance (since said photographer apparently held the copyright) to post this updated photo of me on my Wikipedia Profile Page, over which I have no control. I didn’t even write it!

Anyway… thanks Mystery Photographer! Much appreciated!

Song of the Day #1946

Song of the Day: Friday the 13th (“The Bed Axe”) [YouTube link], composed by Henry Manfredini, is featured in the 1980 slasher film, which went on to spawn a huge multimedia franchise. I’m not particularly superstitious—but I do have to say that I closed not one, but two (!) different book deals on a Friday the 13th! So that sounds like good luck to me! Now “Bring me the Axe!” [YouTube link].

The Essential Women of Liberty

For people looking for a fine introduction to the thought of a select group of women who have contributed to the cause of liberty, let me recommend The Essential Women of Liberty, coedited by Donald Boudreaux and Aeon J. Skoble, published by the Fraser Institute, with a foreword by Virginia Postrel. My dear friend Aeon informs me that the book is also available in hardcover and softcover editions.

The volume includes essays on Mary Wollstonecraft, Harriet Martineau, Rose Director Friedman, Mary Paley Marshall, Isabel Paterson, Rose Wilder Lane, Ayn Rand (a nice essay by Carrie-Ann Biondi), Anna Schwartz, Jane Jacobs, Elinor Ostrom, and Deirdre McCloskey.

I am truly delighted by the remarkably diverse selection of thinkers featured in this anthology. Indeed, any volume that runs the gamut from Wollstonecraft and Rand to Jacobs and Ostrom is worth the price of admission.

Deirdre McCloskey is the only woman featured in this collection whom I’ve ever had the privilege of getting to know personally, having worked closely with her as a contributor to The Dialectics of Liberty: Exploring the Context of Human Freedom, which I coedited with Roger Bissell and Ed Younkins. (Indeed, a Facebook symposium dedicated to that anthology generated a colloquy on her delightful contribution, which appeared in the May 2020 issue of Poroi.)

The book is available as a PDF (for free) and in a Kindle edition (for a mere 99 cents!). Check out a nice YouTube video highlighting the collection …

Happy Mother’s Day

… to all the Moms out there!

May the 4th Be With You

Okay, okay, I too have succumbed. 🙂 [and it’s also my 4th post of the day lol]

Mutual Aid in an Urban Setting

With another H/T to my dear friend Walter Grinder, I wanted to highlight yet another article from Boston Review, this one by Nate File: “Detroiters Are Not Waiting to Be Saved“. The article highlights how Detroit activists have turned to forms of mutual aid to meet the needs of their community, hit heavily by systemic instabilities. From the article:

[Activist Dean] Spade notes that mutual aid has also sometimes been misclassified as a charity project, indifferent to the state. That misreading echoes the conservative view that people should take care of their own communities and eschew government. But mutual aid, Spade explains, is really an entry point into movement building … The leaders of EMA [Eastside Mutual Aid] are aware of criticisms of mutual aid, but they believe it is more important to listen to their community and meet the needs they describe. People sometimes have preconceived notions about “what’s best,” Price explains, “but when they get here [and talk to people], the community needs something completely different.” Marronage and mutual aid may not themselves the end goal, but they can help us get closer to it. “Without new visions we don’t know what to build, only what to knock down,” Kelley writes in Freedom Dreams. “We not only end up confused, rudderless, and cynical, but we forget that making a revolution is not a series of clever maneuvers and tactics but a process that can and must transform us.”

The essay is worth a good read, especially for those of us who seek nonstate alternatives in a time of systemic crisis.

Learning from Gramsci

With a H/T to my dear friend Walter Grinder, I wanted to share this article by Alan Wald on “Gramsci’s Gift“, which appeared in the April 2, 2022 issue of Boston Review. Wald’s article is a review of Jean-Yves Frétigné’s book, To Live is To Resist: The Life of Antonio Gramsci, but it is much more than a review.

Wald surveys our changing understanding of the impact of Gramsci’s work. That impact, which is typically decried in right-wing circles for having contributed to the rise of “cultural Marxism”, is something from which libertarians, especially those of a more dialectical bent, can learn much. Gramsci’s emphasis on the role of culture and ideas and on the need to build parallel institutions from the bottom up, which might usurp those currently in place, offers many sobering lessons on the nature of social change.

Check out the review and the many books on Gramsci to which it refers.

“Roe, On the Edge”

It’s all over the news this morning. As David Leonhardt tells us in the New York Times:

The Supreme Court has decided to overturn Roe v. Wade and allow states to outlaw abortion, according to a written draft of the justices’ decision obtained by Politico.

Other publications have not confirmed the authenticity of the draft, and Supreme Court justices sometimes change their minds during the writing of opinions. But many legal observers are treating the draft as authentic and assuming that abortion policy in the U.S. is about to be transformed.

Among the reasons: The tone and style of the draft match those of earlier court decisions. The outcome also matches an outcome that seemed plausible based on the justices’ questions during arguments in December. After Politico published its story last night, the Supreme Court declined to comment.

If the court overturns Roe, many conservative states would likely outlaw nearly all abortions. One estimate suggests that the number of abortions in the U.S. would decline by about 14 percent, The Times’s Claire Cain Miller and Margot Sanger-Katz explain.

I note this here not to get into a debate on the reasoning of Roe v. Wade or to even debate the issue of when life begins. I note this here for one reason and one reason only: If this Court overturns Roe v. Wade, and throws it all back to the states, with many of the most neanderthal states looking to outlaw it completely, it will have annihilated the reproductive rights of women who have fought for a generation to secure them.

If folks thought the “culture war” has been raging out of control, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. A fight must be waged against those who have the audacity to think they can dictate what any woman can or should do with her own body and her own life.