If I had grown up with a father, even for a few years, maybe I would have been bold enough to separate more from my mother in my teens, go a little wild, stop worrying so much about her feelings. If I had grown up with a father, maybe I would have felt free to admit how much I missed having a father.

Can Wildlife Live Among the Strip Malls in a Booming Metro Area?

Given the loss of the Foucek farm, which would have helped serve all these goals, a funny but familiar feeling rises—that as priorities change something worse can always happen to the landscape. Are these towns a good model for conservation in American suburbs in the age of sprawl? Or are they creating a situation that fosters more conflict and justifies more development?

Songs About Cities and Urban Life, Part II

Songs and music give tangible form to the invisible by making the invisible audible, and therefore visible in our hearts and minds. Listening to music, we travel through the human soul. Hopefully, the following songs and music give ample space only to some of the best songs of all time.

My Mother the Book

Her strength was both poise and pose, and her independence had to be on her own terms, because no one else cared about her terms but me. She had no standing, within a few years of my birth, socially, financially, professionally, or personally. Truth is, she may have felt a kind of freedom in not working for years, not having to deal with people, puttering in her ruined house and curating her family junk.

The Thunder and Gold of Horses Running Free

We have used horses to do our work, fight our battles, race for us, carry us. It is the few that still run wild, though, that send a thrill down our spines. We have no claim on them, yet a long and regrettable history has placed us in a position where we must “manage” them. Now, like newlyweds, we have to learn how to be part of their lives without changing who they are.

Black Conservatives Explain It All! or Princes and Powers 2.0

One may reasonably disagree with the views of Black people who attended the recent Old Parkland Conference this month in Dallas. But it is the height of intellectual, cultural, and political dishonesty and irresponsibility to call these people Uncle Toms or sellouts. They can only be understood as part of a Black tradition of thought, the rise of new ideological descendants of Booker T. Washington.

The Clockwork Orgasm

Any minute now, all this technology will be mass-produced and affordable, transforming what are now sex dolls with AI heads atop their silicone bodies into the sex robots of science fiction, so sophisticated they are easy to mistake for a human. And then? Will men still bother with real women? Or will they prefer a projected fantasy to a more demanding reality?

Jack Higgins, Good Germans, and the Problem of Sympathy in Fiction

“Sympathy” in narrative usually means something more like “complex interest” than “pity.” The goal is (often but not always) to make characters as human as possible, within constraints of form, so audiences will find them meaningful. This requires treating characters with respect, at least to the point of trying to understand them, even if they are crooks, sadists, torturers, murderers, or Nazis. But if a narrative dramatizes very well, it risks justifying bad people or making us feel we “understand” or “identify with” them. This too is sometimes called “sympathy”—though it is more like empathy—for the devil.