The Real Home Test

The Real Home Test

It’s been a while since I’ve written – the end of Aug. 2021 was the last column. Not for lack of things to say, but work intervened. A colleague, Scott G. Nelson from Virginia Tech University, and I have been frantically polishing a manuscript we have been co-writing for the past year and a half, one in which we look back at the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic and what that foretells for the future of the country. The book, “Citizenship After Trump,” will be out in April under the publishing label of Routledge. Don’t blanch at the price of the hardcover; let’s just say we recommend the paperback and have already ordered copies. One of the difficult things in writing a non-fiction book like this about contemporary events is that you have to pace the tone so it is relevant and timely when it comes out, which is usually a year or two after you have been writing. When we began writing in the spring of 2020 the pandemic was in full force and we were all more or less locked down, getting used to Zoom meetings and teaching and venturing out only timidly. By the beginning of...Read more

Vital Signs

There can be no more powerful sense of well being than the feel of walking out of the hospital under your own power. I know this after a four-day stay, one that turned out to be a little longer than anticipated. I went in Monday morning for a standard procedure, one of those classified as “minor surgery.” Earlier this spring, in the course of a standard, once-every-few-years colonoscopy, my gastroenterologist had spotted a small polyp under my duodenum and suggested it needed removal. It’s the kind of growth that, if left unchecked, can mutate into a cancerous growth and so we took the precaution of scheduling what’s called an endoscopic duodenal adenoma. Basically, they burrow inside of you and pull the thing out without making an external incision. I never got to see the contraption they used since I was under heavy sedation for what turned out to be a wo and a half-hour procedure. But as I came to understand, they basically snake a tube down your esophagus, wend a little cutting device down as they monitor it and maneuver the cutting edge so that they can snip off the polyp. Amazingly, they then fish the polyp out and...Read more


I had forgotten how much I disliked flying. All it took was two recent business trips to the American West and Midwest to remind me. Among the many hidden benefits of enforced nesting during the pandemic was the pleasure of staying home. Now that we are returning to a modicum of normalcy I am determined to limit my ventures on the road to absolutely needed. It’s not for fear of flying. I have long known that flying is actually the safest way to travel compared, say, to driving, taking a train or bus. Credit the FAA and the professionalism of career pilots for that safety record. I know there are lots of people who not feel particularly safe hurtling six miles up in the air at 500 miles per hour, protected from freezing to death and/or asphyxiation by only a ¼-inch thick aluminum tube. The fact is that flying is just about the safest thing in the world you can do. Taking a bath in the comfort of your home is far more dangerous. Not that some folks will be assured by such data. The difference, of course, is the sense of vulnerability and exposure. Still, it’s not the safety...Read more