Critique of Pure Reason

Reason Rally

For reasons that are still mysterious to me—you might say it’s a holy mystery—I decided to attend this year’s Reason Rally in front of the Lincoln Memorial. In the words of its organizers, the rally is meant to celebrate “secular, atheist, agnostic, humanist, freethinking, and nonreligious identities” and “showcase the presence and power of the nonreligious voting bloc, and to demand that reason be put at the forefront of our public and political discourse.”

Bull in a China Shop

David Gurfein

The baseball game was my idea. We were supposed to sit on the first base line, third deck. But instead of seeing the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard strike out Nationals shortstop Danny Espinosa to lead off the third, I stand in the Donohue-Cecere Funeral Home in Westbury and watch David “Bull” Gurfein pray over the body of a stranger. He looks at peace there on the kneeler, though he’ll tell me later that he’s uncomfortable at wakes, even the ones he doesn’t crash. He rises, pauses at the casket as if to say a final goodbye to a man he’d never said hello to, then turns to greet the grieving son. I lunge for the kneeler and remove the prayer card from my coat pocket.

The Jukebox Mafia


One of the best things about going to bars is conversation, which is why, except in airports, I no longer bring books to them. It would hardly be an exaggeration to say that every friendship I have made as an adult has been either initiated or sealed in a public establishment that serves intoxicating beverages. Bars are also the places where one tends to have the best conversations with strangers.

Women Hardest Hit

Women in North Korea

SEOUL—When my plane landed in South Korea earlier this week, the nation was much occupied with a controversy that seemed, to this American journalist, somewhat perplexing. Families of those killed by South Korea’s then-military regime during a 1980 uprising were upset because a conservative government minister had ruled against making a song called “Marching for our Beloved” the official anthem of the government’s observance of the anniversary.

I Protested NAFTA

TPP protest

About 20 people are on the steps of the Treasury Building at 1500 Pennsylvania Avenue. Their signs say “NO KXL” and “CLIMATE NOT TOXIC TRADE.” In the middle there is a giant novelty check for $15 billion. The check says “Voided” in large red letters. It is raining lightly. Only one of them has an umbrella. They don’t plan to be here long.