New Year's resolutions come in two kinds. Some resolve to sweep away the practices and habits of a prior way of life to produce a fresh start, a blank foundation on which to build a new and freer self. Others resolve to stay a given course, renewing an older dedication to do much as had been done before, but with greater deliberation and reinvigorated intention, seeking independence from what has hampered the effort. To make a joke, perhaps history and assonance allow us to call the first a French resolution, and the second American. Of course, many Americans are inclined to the former view of things.