The institutions of college athletics exist primarily as unreality fueled by deceit. The unreality is that universities should be in the business of providing large spectacles of mass entertainment. The fundamental absurdity of that notion requires the promulgation of the various deceits necessary to carry it out.
As a writer, I have to admit, there is something darkly compelling about Alzheimer's because it attacks the two things most central to a writer's craft - language and memory, which together make up an individual's identity. Alzheimer's makes a new character out of a familiar person.
Gradually, football has seen its appeal slip at the most basic levels. Pediatricians are advising parents not to let young children play organized football too early in life.
If religion comes into the public square, it is as vulnerable as any other human institution to be pelted with produce. Ignorance does not become wisdom just because you gussy it up with the Gospels.
There is a reason why conservatives talk about 'government' and not 'self-government,' because to refer to the latter is to concede that 'the government' is really the most basic product of our political commonwealth, that it is what we produce among ourselves so as to order the production of everything else that we do together.
In the fall of 1989, I was writing 600-word columns at the 'Herald.' My heart always was in long-form narrative writing, though. It's what I cut my teeth on at the 'Boston Phoenix.'
Football was always a deal we made with ourselves. We adopted it for its brutality, which was embedded in a context that happened to be perfectly suited to television and to gambling, but which we could convince ourselves was only incidental to our enjoyment because it was only incidental to the game itself.
There was no way to lock down, or tighten up, or Fail-Safe into Security Theater a race that covers 26.2 miles, a race that travels from town to town, a race that travels past people's houses. There was no way to garrison the Boston Marathon. Now there will be.
We create our own government. We are responsible for its beauty and for its ugliness. We are responsible for its glories and for its failures and, most important, we are responsible for amending those failures no matter who are their most immediate architects.
The idea that America elected a black man to be its president forty years after it declined to allow Martin Luther King Jr. to stand on a balcony without getting shot still maintains its power to awe and inspire.
One of the great changes wrought by the increased public awareness of Alzheimer's - and thank you, Nancy Reagan, you wonderful tough old dame, you - is that people in the early stages of the disease are now speaking out while they still have the capacity to do so.
Launching a newspaper without a coherent idea of how you're going to promote it, or get it to people who might want to read it, is like launching a boat without a rudder or an engine... or a hull, now that I think about it.
To recognize that head injuries were as essential a part of football as they are of boxing would be to erase the fine distinction on which the game's respectability rested.
For all the huffing and blowing we get about rugged individualism, the American spirit and the American experiment always have had at their heart the notion that the government is all of us and that, therefore, the government may keep things in trust for all of us.
It is now an article of absolute faith among Republicans that 'the government' is an entity separate from 'the American people,' which they say the same way that the old Jesuits talked about 'the mystical Body of Christ.' It is now an ironclad commandment of conservative orthodoxy that 'the government' is something parasitic and alien.
If you offer athletes stipends, then you're into pay-for-play, and that's the ballgame. People should realize that, and they should realize that amateurism never has been a sustainable model for a sports-entertainment industry. It wasn't in tennis. It wasn't in the Olympics. And it's not in big-time college sports.
It is the doctrine of the oligarchy that there is nothing that we hold in common, that the commonwealth is a myth, that it is even a sign of softheadedness and weakness. The oligarchical power feeds on the sense that we are all individuals, struggling on our own, and ennobled by the effort.
The Republicans find their faith imperiled by Barney Frank's marriage. There is always a shadow on the wall, a monster in the closet, a mysterious rustling in the teeming underbrush of the conservative Id.
According to the people who dearly would love to throw him out of office, Barack Obama was elected to be 'above politics.' He wasn't elected to be president, after all. He was elected as an avatar of American tolerance. His attempts to get himself reelected imply a certain, well, ingratitude.
In the year of our Lord 2010, the voters of the United States elected the worst Congress in the history of the Republic. There have been Congresses more dilatory. There have been Congresses more irresponsible, though not many of them.