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"Tradition?? The only good traditions are food traditions. The rest are repressive."

"There are two ways to think. The first is to trust to your ancestors, your religious leaders, or your charismatic professors. The second is to question, to challenge, to explore history for meanings, and to analyze issues. This latter is called Critical Thinking, and it is this that is the mission of my web site. "

Dr. Laina Farhat-Holzman  

September 2017

"Why Can?t a Woman Be More Like a Man?"


One of the funniest songs in My Fair Lady is when two men, a professor and his best friend deplore the situation that women are not like men. Men are so easy, so uncomplicated, so decent. "Why can?t a woman be more like a man?" they ask.

George Bernard Shaw was making fun of them, of course, because at the end, the misogynistic professor finds that he cannot do without the woman that he considered at first a scientific experiment and learned how very special she was. No, s more...

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Iran's Simmering Rebellion

Misaugh Parsa, a Dartmouth professor, has published a fascinating book, Democracy In Iran: Why it Failed and How it Might Succeed (2016). He sought answers to why countries such as Taiwan and South Korea, both military dictatorships, accepted representative democracy in the late 20th century, while Iran's many attempts at democratization always failed. This comparison is interesting because all three of these countries once enjoyed a comparable level of economic development. Taiwan and South Kor more...

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Is There Democracy in Iran's Future?


I was in and out of Iran the year (1978) just before the country fell to an Islamic Revolution. As an observer, it was clear that a revolt was brewing; young demonstrators were marching daily, howling for the Shah to step down (actually, the chant was "death to the Shah"). This sort of turmoil had roiled the country before: in the 1920s when the new shah, Reza Pahlavi, outlawed the veiling of women; in 1952, when a populist prime minister wanted to nationalize the oil company run by Brit more...

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The Past and Future of Work

There are people in the lesser-developed parts of the world who do work that our modern societies have long forgotten. Women and children live atop mountains of garbage that they sort through to find anything that can be sold for a few pennies. In India, women sort through slag heaps from coal-mines to find a few pieces of coal that can still be used for fuel.

Miners in China, Latin America, and Africa do not live as do our modern miners, whether coal or other minerals, who are u more...

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Limits to Tolerance (Part 2 of 3)


On May 13, my column provided the global history of religious tolerance. This column features the history of western religious persecution that led to today's modern values of tolerance.

European religious intolerance dates back to when the Romans made Christianity the state religion. Other faiths were discouraged and some actively persecuted. The arrival of Islam in North Africa and the formerly Christian Holy Land created a conflict that soon became the three-century "C more...

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December 2016

Tradition!

In Fiddler on the Roof, Tevya, the milkman, a poor Jewish villager trying to survive in Tzarist Russia, is faced by societal changes that he resists with all his might. Tradition is his shield and protection from what he sees as chaos.

Of course, there are limits to how much one can resist the present. Around the world, and even in our own country, there are people who resist the present, or, rather, resist some of the changes of the present. They cherry pick.

The more...

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