culture

Courtesy of Pixabay

I very nearly posted a photograph on my Facebook page the other day. This would have been a rare event. Normally the page simply sits there, unchanging, like a picture on a gallery wall. Some of my friends post pictures of themselves, their friends, relatives, pets, airports they are passing through, and even meals they have cooked or eaten in restaurants. But I don’t want to force my friends to live my whole life at second hand, it’s just not that interesting.

It’s been said that if there are raised letters on the jacket cover and the pages have a ragged, hand-cut look, the book’s important. Of course, that doesn’t mean it is, but in the case of Anita Shreve’s new novel, The Stars are Fire, her 18th, the signaling design proves correct. 

They say that nostalgia is never what it used to be, and that’s true. But still it never goes away, and renews itself in each generation. Nostalgia is the warm feeling we get when we imagine the good old days. Television, and especially public television, is a wonderful source of ready-made nostalgia, with its apparently endless series of quasi-historical dramas, many of them British, like Midwives, Home Fires, Victoria, the perpetually repeated Downton Abbey, and now The Victorian Slum.

Courtesy of Pixabay

NPR’s Weekend Edition on this station has a segment called "Barbershop,” on which invited guests can openly discuss any subject in the news. Not in my barbershop you can’t. My barber has strong opinions. With the big voice of Fox News shouting from a screen over our heads, he tells me what I need to know, but evidently don’t, about foreign policy, economics, the complexities of social class and race, the nature of democracy and government, and just about any other topic that comes up. I’ve learned to keep quiet.

Steven Senne / AP

As we navigate the dreaded pre-summer season of tests, exams, and the breathless wait for results, students from kindergarten to university are facing the challenge of their lives. They don’t like it, and nor do their parents, thousands of whom have withdrawn their children from standardized testing so as to avoid this trauma.

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