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Professor emeritus of world politics. Interested in current events and potential futures. Tired of living in the Dark Ages. Working to build something better.

Everything You’ve Been Taught Is Wrong

Economics has been defined as the study of how people deal with scarcity: production, exchange, labor, capital, wealth, desires, values, incentives, goods, services, and all the other means that people use to create and distribute value. …

The Eastman Memo

Tyler Merber, Creative Commons 2.0 license, via Wikimedia

The January 6th insurrection, some suggest, was no big deal. Violence, yes. A threat to kill the Vice President and the Speaker of the House? True. A dead insurrectionist and injuries to several Capitol Police? Granted. Multiple suicides among the Capitol Police afterward, and one who died…

The origins of a viral meme

Photo by mwangi gatheca on Unsplash

For most of human history, we went without the concept of “race.” Without that invention, “racism” was impossible — both as an idea and as a social practice. This does not mean that humans didn’t sort themselves into groups, or identify their group as somehow superior to others, or use…

What will happen now that QAnon got it wrong again?

Photo by Tom Carnegie on Unsplash

It does not pay for a prophet to be too specific. Vague details can be reinterpreted to fit whatever happens; vague timing can always be defended as “not yet, wait for it.” To be specific about what is going to happen and when means setting yourself up for disaster.


For those who still doubt climate change

Pedersen Glacier, mid-1920s and early 1940s, image courtesy of NASA

“Climate is what we expect. Weather is what we get.” Mark Twain was right. But these days, we need to update his observation: weather is what we notice; climate is what we ignore. Weather happens at the human scale; climate happens at the…

And the Fun is Just Beginning

Michael Dziedic on Unsplash

Sometimes it seems everything is happening at once. There’s the good news: The District Attorney’s office for Manhattan has revealed they aren’t only going after Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg and Trump Organization Chief Operating Officer Matthew Calimari — and other members…

The Case for Sortition

Photo by Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash

What is democracy? What is it for? Why should we care? Abraham Lincoln provided a summary better than any political scientist:

Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all…

An Essentially Contested Concept

The idea of freedom is a long one. It has been subject to multiple interpretations, and its meaning has changed over time. It is one of what political scientists call “essentially contested concepts”: words with strong values and emotion attached, but without a common definition in…

Political debate on the Planet of the Apes


The political narrative is always important. People live and die in accord with their myths, and the struggle to define political reality is a fundamental element of American life.

Let’s drop the pretense that people are “rational.” Many try to be, and…

Laugh Until It Hurts

Government, as George Washington once observed, is like fire: dangerous, difficult to control, and too useful to live without. The only difference between the state and organized crime is that the state is perceived to have legitimacy. People obey laws not because they will be punished if they don’t, but…

Daniel McIntosh

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