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March 23, 2013

I overheard you discussing your favorite books


• “The Art of War,” by Sun Tzu. This book’s wisdom is so general and broad that it could easily have been titled The Art of Conflict, or even The Art of Planning. Written in the form of a dialogue among officer cadets, The Art of War is a surprisingly quick and lively read. The text’s gentle and humane nature also comes as a surprise; to Sun Tzu, warfare should always be a purely defensive measure. “Regard your soldiers as your own children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys,” one passage states. “Look on them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death.”

• “Meditations,” by Marcus Aurelius. Regarded by many historians as Rome’s finest emperor, Aurelius was an unusually enlightened ruler whose views on free speech and equal rights under the law were centuries ahead of their time. As a Stoic philosopher, Aurelius’ teachings are ideal for those who find life difficult. During a period in my life when I was hit by a sequence of random and senseless tragedies, Meditations offered invaluable solace, and helped me muster the will to persevere.

• “Res Gestae,” Ammianus Marcellinus. Born in the late 4th century A.D., Ammianus was alive to see the beginning of the end of the Roman Empire. His Res Gestae (“things done” in Latin) is widely considered the last great historical account of ancient Rome. As a writer, I identify in some ways with Ammianus. His “coarse and undistinguishing pencil,” as described by Edward Gibbon, produced the kind of terse, efficient prose that I prefer to write. Also like me, Ammianus looked around and saw that an institution widely believed to be “too big to fail” was actually in a state of profound crisis. And like me, Ammianus wanted his compatriots to take heed before the situation became unsalvageable.

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  • Schreibman tops Chris Gibson on women's issues

    As the time to vote draws near, we need to remember how money can run politics more than we can. Raising funds is a prominent (if not the dominant) task of getting elected. Raising issues is also crucial, but those efforts are subject to distortion and fear-mongering.

    September 18, 2012

  • Republicans feelentitled to allthey can garner

    An entitlement is a legal benefit available from the government to individuals who are within a defined category of recipients, such as needing insurance for unemployment or health services.

    September 4, 2012

  • Romney focuses on self; Obama emphasizes unity

    Mitt Romney criticizes President Obama for saying a person's success is rooted in his community, and is not all his alone. Romney belittles this with his belief in individual initiative. He is better at the put-down than the push-up.

    August 21, 2012

  • Romney shows little regard for common man

    The Republicans in Congress have voted over and over, 33 times, redundantly and uselessly, to rescind what they call Obamacare.

    August 7, 2012

  • Scouts' gay ban creates problem where none exists

    The Boy Scouts of America's "emphatic reaffirmation" of its vow to exclude any and all homosexuals from its hallowed ranks is ill-considered and pathetic, especially in view of its having reviewed the matter for two years.

    July 24, 2012

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