Author Archives: haljohnsonbooks

The Jemima Effect

This popular meme is very silly, of course. I am kind of amazed it’s even necessary to debunk it, but, look: Pontius Pilate. He’s very famous! He’s in the Bible, and he’s Italian. I don’t just mean, he’s Roman (which of course he is; there’s more than one Roman in the Bible—to whom do you […]

What We Most Feared, by Decade

1900–1909 Being cheated out of our lawful inheritance, perhaps as an orphan 1910–1919 Pro patria mori 1920–1929 Getting tied to railroad tracks/lumber buzzsaw conveyer belt 1930–1939 Our plucky impromptu talent show fundraiser failing to prevent bank from foreclosing on farm 1940–1949 Ratzi Japateurs/running out of cigarettes 1950–1959 Dying in teen drag race, coming back as […]

That Foul Storm part 2

(Continued from here; hardly a self-contained unit.) iv. Where’s Natasha? The bromide “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” is probably false—falsely so-called gnosis, one might say. Few people long to be on the receiving end of an internet shame mob. But there might well be no such thing as a bad commercial. I’m trying […]

Everything’s OK

The New York Times had an article reviewing the racist “OK” hand gesture, which I figure is a sign of the whole thing entering the mainstream enough that we should look at it now. I mean, we should look at what we’re doing now, in this unique moment when everything is dewy new and nothing […]

We Have No King but Caesar

A couple of years ago, a Connecticut senator worked tirelessly to remove any books that had the “n-word,” so-called, from school libraries. Then she gave a speech to a political club of fellow Democrats, bragging about her success in the endeavor. During the course of this speech she used the n-word, which got people upset. […]

That Foul Storm part 1

i. We Are All Obama Back in August President Obama shared his 2019 summer reading list, and—look, it seems curmudgeonly to complain about this list at all, since it is a reminder that once upon a time, presidents could read, and did read. These are (or look like—it’s not like I’ve read them) fine books […]

Albion II

Harold Bloom has said that Blake’s prophetic work is “in proportion to its merits the least read body of poetry in the English language,” and now that I’ve read all of Albion, I would like to propose this poem as a rival. I’m not so crazy as to think it’s as good as The Four […]

Demographics Gotta Demographic

(I’m going to assume you, dear reader, have already read The Age of Demographics and if not in agreement with it at least willing to treat it as hypothetically true.) Most people are pretty good at signaling their demographics, and no one’s going to confuse a swot for a blot or a square for a […]

Signaling and Tragedies

I found this tweet in the archives. We all saw it back in the day and we all decided (“vile,” “jackass,” “disgusting“) it went too far. I’m not here to defend either the politics or attitude of Brienne of Snarth, both of which I think are too silly really to react to; but I’m not […]

Too Little, Too Late: The Kavanaugh Hearings

It’s 2019, what’s the thing you care the least about at the moment? The Kavanaugh hearings? Okay then, let’s talk about them. Because I think almost everything anyone said about the hearings is wrong. I know I pick on the left a lot, so I should probably pause a moment to address the rightwing bromide […]