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Ideologically Thomas

If you have a little boy or girl, then you probably know about Thomas the Tank Engine. No, I don’t mean a character. And I don’t even mean a show. And, no, I don’t even mean a merchandise aisle at Target. I mean what becomes, so very easily, an entire way of being. What is it about trains in general, and Thomas the Tank Engine in particular, that get inside little people’s brains?

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Post Election, Post Racism?

OK, so a long election cycle is over. I wondered if the chattering class – a class to which I aspire – would have much left to say. I mean, seriously, so much has been said already. I’m of course wrong. I should have known that the big and apparently only question would be raised: will this election lead people to say that racism is over?

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Wall-E’s Anxiety

I saw Wall-E a couple of weeks back. Unlike most, if not all of my friends who saw the movie, I didn’t like it very much. It was of course visually awesome and charming, for the most part, and told a decent enough story. It’s hard to “disagree” with the moral of the story, which, so far as I can tell, is that garbage is bad for the earth. And that submission to the spectacle of marketing is also bad. I got that. But I do think there is a more problematic something about the film – not a “message,” but instead something more like a presupposition.

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Goodbye Isaac Hayes

I’ve been reading the goodbye tributes to Isaac Hayes. I lived in Memphis for a handful-plus years and have, since I was a teenager, loved Memphis music. Hi-Records has always been by far my favorite, but the Stax sound is really the only thing in Memphis that can compare. So, I read the tributes to Isaac Hayes in search of remembrance of his place in that history. But that’s not what you find.

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Basketball versus bowling. Who knew it had such implications? I mean, seriously, when is the last time we talked about the Dream Team in the Professional Bowlers Association? Or even just saw bowling on television at a time other than 3pm on a Sunday? Turns out, this might be an important signifier in electoral rhetoric. How?

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Repairing, Apology

I’m really not enjoying the strange journey of race in the presidential election thing. I doubt many people are, save for the occasional Karl Rove, for whom it is a fabulous tactic – if you’re creative. I must admit to being surprised, though, to see the issue of reparations come up. It’s a nuanced and compelling issue, if one has the time to examine all of the folds. It’s about memory, state history, back wages, social justice, economics, the nature of representation, and so on. But that’s too much to ask. Turns out, sometimes a non-reparation actually is one.

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