How to Think About Politics

“How to Think About Politics,” my most recent essay, is being featured in the August issue of Fogged Clarity. I’ve also pasted it below. If you enjoy it, please consider linking to it, sharing it, or passing it along to others who might be interested. Thanks, as always, for reading. — How to Think About Politics Ryan McCarl First, question everything, beginning with the political ideas you inherited from your parents, family, community, church, and school.

The case for Facebook and social networking

Even though Facebook currently has over 200 million active users, many people continue to doubt the value of social networking in general and Facebook in particular. Critics argue that Facebook and other social networking and Web 2.0 tools - including blogs and Twitter - are symptomatic of the “solipsism” (meaning, in this context, the self-absorption of users) of the contemporary Internet. Indeed, Facebook can be an enormous time-waster and procrastination tool, as can any medium or Internet resource.

Farewell, Shaman Drum

Shaman Drum of Ann Arbor, MI, one of the best independent bookstores in the Midwest, permanently shut its doors today. It is a major loss for Ann Arbor and for book-lovers everywhere. Independent and used bookstores need your support. Shop at them. Go to their events. Buy their gift certificates as holiday gifts. Independent bookstores must fight back against the challenging economic environment by doing everything they can to improve their businesses.

For many in Chicago, driving is a necessity, not a luxury

My most recent op-ed, “For us, Mr. Daley, driving to work is a necessity, not a vice” (registration required) was published today on and will appear in this week’s issue of Crain’s Chicago Business. You can find the article here as well as reprinted below: — For us, Mr. Daley, driving to work is a necessity, not a vice Ryan McCarl It is exceedingly difficult for many commuters living on the North Side to find free parking after they return from work.

Readings on certainty, racism, and foreign policy

-Today’s Maroon column: “Certainty is a luxury none of us has.” Religious fundamentalists and secular fundamentalists are all-too-alike in their belief that they, and only they, have answers to the biggest questions in the human dialogue. What unites us all is doubt and searching. Read the article here. -Must-read: “Principal of Arabic School Says She was Forced Out.” This is what racist, nativist hysteria looks like. -From an Economist article on the new Fox Business Channel: Mr Murdoch apparently wants his channel to be more “pro-capitalism” than CNBC—which is hardly a pinko outfit—and, sure enough, there was soon a discussion about the pharmaceutical industry entitled “Capitalism cures cancer”, which—let’s be “fair and balanced”, as the Fox News slogan puts it—it does.

A personal update, and last quotes from Growth of the Soil

The internship is over and I am home in Muskegon, happy to use the weather as an excuse to spend entire days reading in coffeeshops. I am leaving for Japan on September 5th and my Japanese is very rusty, and there is plenty of IR and political theory I would like to cover before school starts in late September. This should be a wonderful week: home, family, friends, books, bowling, Muskegon, running on the lake.

Great quotes on education and business

After all, I got into teaching for the same reason, I suspect, that many people did: because I thought it was a high-stakes affair, a pursuit in which souls are won and lost. … One of the ways we’ve tried to be attractive is by loosening up. We grade much more genially than our colleagues in the sciences. In English and history, we don’t give many D’s, or C’s, either. (The rigors of Chem 101 may create almost as many humanities majors per year as the splendors of Shakespeare.