The Misuse and Devaluation of the Word Beautiful

A separate, yet also important manipulation in the ad is the deliberate misuse of the word “beautiful.” When they say, “You are more beautiful than you think,” what they really mean is, “You are more attractive than you think.” By distorting the definition of beautiful, they devalue the word’s real meaning by perpetuating both the notion that everyone is beautiful, and even that beauty, as the most exceptional form of attractiveness, is something we all should strive for to begin with.

Continue reading at Slate / Double X

Posted April 21st, 2013

Smart phone use and kids

I was recently interviewed for an article on parenting and kids’ use of smart phones. I came across a bit more curmudgeonly and Luddite-ish than I intended, but it’s a good piece.

“Most things can wait till the afternoon or in the evening when I’m away from the kids. I think we want to send emails, and feel they’re urgent, but in reality almost all of them can wait till the end of the day.”

Posted March 18th, 2013

The Resilience of Slow Art in a Sped-Up Culture

I’ve got a new article “This Is A Longreads On The Internet: The Inroads Of Slow Art In A Fast Culture” up on The Awl.

As the natural order always seeks balance, an era of impatience demands a corrective. More and more, it seems, people are seeking permanence from art both as a reaction and remedy to the anxiety imbedded in our culture of impermanence.

Posted March 5th, 2013


I had the honor recently of talking with UC Santa Cruz sociologist, Andrew Szasz. His book Shopping Our Way to Safety: How We Changed from Protecting the Environment to Protecting Ourselves is a few years old but still as relevant as ever. From the book description:

Many Americans today rightly fear that they are constantly exposed to dangerous toxins in their immediate environment: tap water is contaminated with chemicals; foods contain pesticide residues, hormones, and antibiotics; even the air we breathe, outside and indoors, carries invisible poisons. Yet we have responded not by pushing for governmental regulation, but instead by shopping.

“It’s a peculiar form of environmentalism in which people recognize the problem but have given up on any hope of collective improvement,” said Szasz in the UC Santa Cruz Review magazine. “Consumers believe these products will protect them, which creates a kind of political ‘anesthesia’ that severely reduces their willingness to participate in collective political action to generate real change.”

Related to the book’s premise, I’m reminded of after 9/11 when President Bush told everyone to simply “go shopping” as a response to the attacks. The ethos today seems to be that although our hyper consumerism is the cause of much of our ills, it also is the best, or only solution. It’s as if we’re inside a tunnel and we can’t see that there are other options besides simply consuming stuff (even “good” stuff) for how to function – politically, personally, socially – anymore.

New Website!

This is the obligatory “I just redesigned my website” blog post.

Still working out the kinks, so email me (see CONNECT page) if something isn’t working or looks weird!

More content coming soon. . .

Posted March 2nd, 2013