Category Archives: the History of Disaster

March 6, 2012, 11:37 am

The Gospel of the Toothbrush; Or, How Many Teeth Does Your Child Have (Left)?

Just when you thought that middle-class parents had reached the limits of ignorance, the New York Times reports today that children under the age of five are showing up at the dentist’s office with a dozen or so cavities.  Some need the kind of extensive repair that is usually characteristic of people my age. One little darling featured in the story had 22 cavities, and was due for a root canal — at the age of two and a half years.  Go read it here.

My first thought was, well, these are probably parents working 3-5 jobs between them: things like toothbrushing just fall through the cracks as Mom and Dad pass each other in the hall like ghosts between day shift, night shift and swing shift.  But apparently not. The kid with the root canal?  Mom is described as a homemaker and Dad is in IT. Homemaker is not an easy career, I’ll grant you, which is a reason I checked the “historian” …

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July 18, 2009, 3:28 pm

And Before Bill, There was Jack: Jed Mercurio’s American Adulterer


Jed Mercurio, American Adulterer (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2009), 339 pp. $25.00.

It is very rare that I finish a book with no real opinion about whether it was a good book or a bad book, but I think that this is a bad book, perhaps even a very bad book — unless, of course, you are on an airplane (check) and are not really in the mood to think much (check). My verdict is that if you don’t own a Kindle, wait for this one to be remaindered or at least come out in paperback. And I suppose whether you like American Adulterer may well depend on what you expect of historical novels in the first place. This one takes such obvious liberties with the actual history of the Kennedy administration that it isn’t clear whether, in its exhaustive attempts to explain how Jack Kennedy lived in his own ailing and hypersexual body, it adds anything to the vast amount of regurgitated information…

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March 18, 2009, 9:54 pm

Extra, Extra — Read All About It: Tenured Radical And Rupert Murdoch Agree On Something

I saw this when I stopped into the CVS a few minutes ago, and thought I would put it up for those of you who have the good luck to live outside the range of a Murdoch tabloid. Sometimes the New York Post hits it right on the head don’t they? This ranks right up there with the Daily News headline after Gerald Ford declared in 1975 that he would veto any “federal bailout” dedicated to keeping New York City from going into bankruptcy: “Ford To City: Drop Dead.”