Can the Bible Be Taken Literally?

witch-stake-wide

Steve Hochstadt: So-called literalists choose which passages they want to take literally on the basis of principles which are very modern, far from the ideas and attitudes of Jews and Christians thousands of years ago.

Traditions at the County Fair: Judging Little Girls

beauty-contest-wide

Steve Hochstadt: The Princess Pageant brings up questions for me. Is this what we want to teach 5-year-olds about how they will be judged in the world? Are these the only useful qualities that the fair organizers think 5- to 7-year-olds have? Why should 5-year-olds be sexy?

Second-Class Citizens

train-travel-wide

Steve Hochstadt: I don’t understand why people who paid a commercial airline for a first-class ticket get their own line through official TSA security. Does TSA get more from them? Or are they better people, deserving of better treatment, by everyone, private or public, like other privileges of access that the rich get

Rich Get Richer and Richer

Rich-and-Poor

Steve Hochstadt: But neither party has tried very hard to protect the poorest Americans from the outsized greed of the wealthy. About half of all members of Congress are millionaires, and all of them are beholden to the very wealthy for donations to their constant campaigning.

Clean Water and Good Government

drinking-fountain-wide

Steve Hochstadt: Supplying pure water is just one of many essential functions of governments that we all must fund with our taxes. Governments, representing all citizens, were created for just such common purposes.

Saving Lives, Preserving Life

newborn-wide

Steve Hochstadt: Whether cities and states are ruled by Democrats or Republicans, self-identified as “pro-life” or not, too much human life is lost across America, in birthing rooms and in the years of childhood.

Doctors and Science

global-warming-wide

Steve Hochstadt: When it comes to global warming, thus far the public is like a teenager who hears that tanning booths will produce skin cancer much later in life: I’ll worry about that later.

The Science of Cicadas

cicada-wide

Steve Hochstadt: In some desert regions, people fry cicadas up and consider them a delicacy. Those people are not playing “Survivor” games. Where food is scarce, any local source of nutrition is valuable.

Sports Without Money?

ultimate-frisbee-wide

Steve Hochstadt: Without money and coaches promoting seriousness, the players are able to indulge a sense of fun. The play is hard, but silliness is everywhere else, beginning with team names

I Have Faith in My Doctors

Steve Hochstadt: The delivery of health care in the US is being transformed in my lifetime from individual practice to corporate medicine. It can be difficult to find a family physician who will take on a new patient.

Mother Nature’s Day

hostas-wide

Steve Hochstadt: My whole gardening effort is unnatural. Without constant human intervention to develop these artificial arrangements of plants, very different processes would take over.

The Death of Public Service

sheriff-wide

Steve Hochstadt: Republican governors across the country argue that teachers and police and all the other employees of local and state governments make much too much money.

Academic Freedom and What I Write

censorship-wide

Steve Hochstadt: The recent effort of Wisconsin Republicans to silence Professor Bill Cronon, historian at the University of Wisconsin, because he was critical of the legislation to remove collective bargaining rights from Wisconsin state employees, shows how easy it is for politicians to try to punish political speech they don’t like.

How to Boil a Frog

boiling-frog-wide

Steve Hochstadt: If you are in the broad American middle class, though, don’t worry. The disintegration of the public school system will take many years, as classes get bigger, skilled teachers leave the profession, and buildings crumble.

Being Right or Being Good

debate

Steve Hochstadt: The ability to offer anonymous and uncensored opinions to the world, that is now offered for free by the internet, has greatly increased the forcefulness with which more and more people assert their superior knowledge and everyone else’s confusion.

Then Just What Is Freedom?

union-built-wide

Steve Hochstadt: Isn’t freedom more than having a low tax rate? Doesn’t freedom mean the ability to direct our own lives, to influence the big decisions that affect our families, our workplaces, and our communities?

Being Good Citizens

tree-planting-wide

Steve Hochstadt: Being a good citizen is not mainly participating in elections every November. It means thinking about our neighbors every day.

Normal Homosexuality

no strings attached

Steve Hochstadt: Is Hollywood trying to push a gay agenda on right-thinking Americans, as some people claim? I think it’s the other way around: Hollywood is trying to sell products.

Guns, Polls, and Too Many Dead Americans

automatic pistol

Steve Hochstadt: New polls about high capacity magazines show that nearly two-thirds favor banning their sale. A minority of Americans, consistently about a third, favor banning the sale of all handguns, except to police.

Who Are the Knuckleheads?

Paul Winchell and Jerry Mahoney and Knucklehead Smiff

Steve Hochstadt: It disturbs some conservatives no end that Americans who teach in colleges and universities tend not to share their ideas about evolution, global warming, and history. So dismiss the source: just look at where we work, and that should tell you all you need to know.

Is No New Taxes What Voters Really Want?

tax cuts

Steve Hochstadt: The voters spoke in November: They picked Quinn and a tax increase over Brady and no new taxes. One reason is that Brady could not identify for voters where he would cut much spending. The opponents of taxes did not propose any reasonable alternative to raising taxes to solve Illinois’ debt crisis.

An American Nightmare

antisemitism

Steve Hochstadt: What does matter in 2011 is that mainstream libertarians and conservatives think a film that portrays Jews as evil monsters bent on world domination is worth showing, praising, and promoting. After decades of retreat, the antisemitism of Ford and Coughlin, and of the Nazis, is back, on a screen near you.

Don’t Discriminate

dadt ends

Steve Hochstadt: Ending discrimination will not be achieved through a new military policy nor by new laws. Such political acts reflect an evolving popular understanding that America can prosper by defending equality.

The Gifts of Christmas

christmas

Steve Hochstadt: We can’t create a perfect Christmas. But we can use this once-a-year moment to exchange gifts of love, to celebrate what we have and what we are.

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