To be a monster

See update for July 27, 2022, at end of post.

Moving to Pittsburgh, as I did a little over three years ago, has been an eye-opening experience.

Not only have I witnessed a remarkable toxically masculine viciousness and a shamelessly blatant racism I certainly never expected to encounter in the 21st century, but as I have driven around, revisiting the places of my childhood—I lived in Mount Lebanon, a Pittsburgh suburb, and walked to my grandparents’ house in nearby Dormont for a couple years—I have had an intensive look at a vignette of that experience. Read more

Elon Musk’s Achilles’ heel

See updates through April 16, 2023, at end of post.

Fig. 1. “Elon Musk shared a video of his entrance on his Twitter account.” Photograph attributed to Elon Musk, October 26, 2022, via the New York Post,[1] fair use.

Unlike Boris Johnson, who is having to resign as British prime minister,[2] Elon Musk has not yet met his comeuppance. In the long and annoying saga of Musk’s agreement to buy Twitter,[3] we’re seeing yet again that Musk, like Johnson,[4] believes he is invincible, in no small part on a profoundly defective personality.[5] Even to the unbelievably rich, this world is a harsher place: Read more

  1. [1]Thomas Barrabi, “Elon Musk barges into Twitter HQ as deal nears: ‘Let that sink in,’” New York Post, October 26, 2022,
  2. [2]Max Colchester, “U.K.’s Boris Johnson to Resign After Scandals Grow Too Great to Handle,” Wall Street Journal, July 7, 2022,
  3. [3]William D. Cohan, “The Twitter Board’s Panic Room,” Puck News, April 14, 2022,; William D. Cohan, “How Elon Can Get That $40B,” Puck News, April 20, 2022,; William D. Cohan, “Elon’s Gamble: Imagining Tesla Stock Judgment Day,” Puck News, April 27, 2022,; Rob Copeland, Rebecca Elliott, and Cara Lombardo, “Elon Musk Makes $43 Billion Bid for Twitter, Says ‘Civilization’ At Stake,” Wall Street Journal, April 14, 2022,; Rebecca Elliott, “Elon Musk Says He Would Reverse Donald Trump’s Twitter Ban,” Wall Street Journal, May 10, 2022,; Dan Gallagher, “Musk Gives Twitter’s Board an Expensive Out,” Wall Street Journal, April 14, 2022,; Spencer Jakab and Dan Gallagher, “Musk’s Twitter Deal Is No Sure Thing,” Wall Street Journal, May 11, 2022,; Cara Lombardo and Will Feuer, “Elon Musk Says He Has Commitments for $46.5 Billion in Financing for Twitter Deal,” Wall Street Journal, April 21, 2022,; Douglas MacMillan et al., “Elon Musk acquires Twitter for roughly $44 billion,” Washington Post, April 25, 2022,; Dan Milmo and Mark Sweney, “Twitter takeover: EU and UK warn Elon Musk must comply or face sanctions,” Guardian, April 26, 2022,
  4. [4]Tim Shipman, “Boris the cat with nine lives has finally been neutered,&rduo; Times, July 9, 2022,
  5. [5]William D. Cohan, “Elon’s Next Moves,” Puck News, May 18, 2022,

The lesson of Boris Johnson: apologizing, moralizing, and finger-pointing

See update for July 7, 2022, at end of post.

The thing about apologies is that they should be genuine. And to be genuine, they should mean a commitment not to repeat the mistakes that have led to the apologies.

By such criteria, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s apologies have not been genuine, and a whole bunch of Tories are pissed.[1] But all this is not quite as simple as Johnson’s ego. Read more

  1. [1]Heather Stewart, Rowena Mason, and Jessica Elgot, “Sajid Javid and Rishi Sunak quit – throwing Boris Johnson’s future into doubt,” Guardian, July 5, 2022,

Glad all you gun nuts are feeling safer now

In the wake of the Supreme Court decision expanding gun “rights,”[1] we have yet another mass shooting, not really ironically at a Fourth of July celebration celebrating “freedom.” At least six are dead;[2] I guess they’re free now. Read more

  1. [1]Saul Cornell, “Clarence Thomas’ Latest Guns Decision Is Ahistorical and Anti-Originalist,” Slate, June 24, 2022,; Jon Healy, “Supreme Court throws out New York’s concealed weapons law. Here’s what it means for California,” Los Angeles Times, June 23, 2022,; Jay Michaelson, “The Future of Gun Control Is in Danger,” New York, June 23, 2022,; David G. Savage, “Supreme Court bolsters gun owners’ right to carry a weapon in public,” Los Angeles Times, June 23, 2022,; Mark Joseph Stern, “Clarence Thomas’ Maximalist Second Amendment Ruling Is a Nightmare for Gun Control,” Slate, June 23, 2022,; Ariane de Vogue, “Samuel Alito lashes out at liberals in guns case as tensions boil over at SCOTUS,” CNN, June 23, 2022,
  2. [2]Michael Tarm, Kathleen Foody, and Roger Schneider, “6 dead, 30 hurt in shooting at Chicago-area July 4 parade,” Associated Press, July 5, 2022,