Trevor is a writer, editor, and diehard sports fan. He grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, and after a stop in Madrid, Spain, where he taught high school English, he currently lives in Chicago. He believes in the beauty and morality of free speech, free markets and free people. On weekends, you’ll find him traveling and golfing — or some combination thereof.
Author’s note: The book Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen was assigned to me during my senior year of high school. I still reflect on its lessons and have found them applicable not just to the past, but, in some cases, to the future. The book analyzes 18 different U.S. history textbooks and is scathing in its assessment. As stated on the back cover: “Marred by an embarrassing combination of blind patriotism, mindless optimism, sheer misinformation, and outright lies, these [text]books omit almost all the ambiguity, passion, conflict, and drama from our past … From the truth about
You’ve probably heard of “Rob Your Neighbor.” You might know it as “White Elephant” or another name, but the gist of it is: a family gets together for the holidays and everyone brings a wrapped gift — usually with a limit of, say, $30. All the gifts are put on a common table, or under the Christmas tree, and each family member draws a number. Number 1 gets to choose first. She chooses the biggest, or shiniest, or most interesting-looking gift, and opens it in front of everyone. Number 2 then has two options: he can either “steal” that gift, or select a new one from the
What American universities are doing to economics students is shameful. I can’t speak to universities in other countries, but I’ll bet the same applies in most of them. When I was a freshman in college, for example, I enrolled in a class called Econ 1051. I wasn't interested in economics; it was just a prerequisite for my journalism major, but obviously I still wanted to do well. I still have many of my notes from that class. Here’s the study guide I put together for an exam: I’m pleasantly surprised to see some mention of concepts like division of knowledge/labor, comparative
One way or another, the “wise, old Chinese man” became one of Western pop culture’s oldest tropes. I think part of the trope comes from two fictional characters: one is Charlie Chan, whose alliterative name even evokes his heritage; the other, Mr. Miyagi, gave us the memorable tagline “wax on, wax off,” even though he’s actually Japanese. His wisdom and power became associated with Eastern culture. Even the sitcom Seinfeld poked fun at the trope way back in 1994: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Es5na8WQLJI I think that trope is a big part of why we in the
Americans are famous for their poor diets. We eat far too much high-fructose corn syrup, overly processed foods, and one of our most iconic corporations, McDonald’s, is the poster-child for junk food. I was no exception as a child. My diet consisted of macaroni and cheese, fish sticks, pizza, ice cream, potato chips, and little else. And of course, McDonald’s. But, like so many Americans, I didn’t want anything to do with lettuce, pickles, and onions, so I ordered plain cheeseburgers: bun, meat, and cheese; they came with a Coke, naturally. I was young and
There are a few books that almost every American high schooler has to read. Lord of the Flies is one. The Catcher in the Rye seemingly becomes every freshman’s favorite. Then there’s To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, and Huck Finn. But there’s only one book I was assigned in high school that I go back to again and again: George Orwell’s 1984. I wound up reading 1984 twice more, including once in a foreign language — I remain fascinated by Orwell’s appendix on “Newspeak.” Did it secretly signal a different, more uplifting
My friend and I were road tripping through the Southwestern U.S. and were passing through Utah — the prettiest state in the U.S., if you ask me. My friend had rented the car instead of using his own. He turned to me and said, “I’ll Venmo you for half.” “Sure thing,” I replied. “But just out of curiosity, why did you rent a car instead of using yours?” “I don’t wanna put all these miles on mine, man. The rental…we can just beat the crap out of it.” “Fair enough,” I said, but suddenly I was no longer admiring the mountains; my mind was spinning. He
Last week, we wrote about Frederic Bastiat, the king of communicating economic and philosophical ideas in simple, direct (and often funny) ways. Of course, in the 19th century, Bastiat’s medium was the printed word. But if you had to find an heir to his throne in the social media era, Thomas Sowell would be a leading contender. The only catch is that, having been born in 1930, Sowell isn’t on social media himself. For a lesser writer, economist, and social theorist, that would be a problem. Sowell, however, throughout a career that spans 51 books (including an astonishing eight since
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