Calavera Ciclista in a Yellow Jersey on the Great Western Trail (Deep Dream filtered photo by Barry Dredze)

Happy Bicycle Day! April 19 brings the occasion to celebrate Dr. Albert Hofmann’s discovery of the recipe for lysergic acid diethylamide and his psychedelic bike ride home while blazing on the world’s first intentional acid trip.

Out of this discovery, there have grown essentially two schools of Psychedelia. There is the scientific orthodoxy of Harvard professors Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert (aka Ram Das), Stanislav Grof and Thomas Roberts. And then there is the Rock’n’Roll ecstasy of Owsley Stanley, Ken Kesey, Hunter S. Thompson and the Haight-Ashbury scene.

It seems most vital yet futile to celebrate such a historic affirmation…


Norman Rockwell Visits a Country Editor, by Norman Rockwell (1946)

“Fundamentally,” said Mordecai Richler, “all writing is about the same thing; it’s about dying, about the brief flicker of time we have here, and the frustration that it creates.”

Journalism is not creative writing. Journalism is a discipline that is taught and learned. To recognize solid journalistic ethics look for multiple primary sources and solidly supported facts, from the public record to the level of consistency across primary sources. As the informal creed of the old City News Bureau in Chicago put it, “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.”

Mechanics: Lead paragraph — short, around 25…


Unite The Right marchers, University of Virginia at Charlottesville, Friday, Aug. 11, 2017 (Photo by Andrew Shurtleff/The Daily Progress)

“You very likely will not be flattened by the news that Economic Insecurity does not hold a prominent place in the data,” wrote Charlie Pierce in Esquire about Robert Pape’s recent University of Chicago study of Capitol rioters arrested during the January 6 insurrection. “Neither will you be stunned by what form of insecurity actually does.”

It is largely about race. But even as all of this plays out against the backdrop of the Derek Chauvin trial for the murder of George Floyd, ongoing violence against Asian Americans and perennial panic over Central American refugees crossing the southern border, huge…


Satan Presenting His City to the Children by Michael Hutter

I was raised in a town made famous for fighting Nazis in court, so we wouldn’t have to fight them in the streets. I went away to college, returned to a cable TV internship and then moved away to a small suburban town where the residents were supposed to bow down to every idea and opinion of the guys who inherited third generation family businesses that they hadn’t yet run into the ground or sold out. It was there that I started my first newspaper, which ultimately suffered from the common lack of advertising support from local business. …


April Fool’s Day in a land with its sense of humor on the decline. Humor is important. It can liberate us from the limitations of our conceits.

If anyone ever wrote a history of April Fool’s Day, no one would believe it. And that would not be a bad thing, because we now really live in a land where one of our two ruling parties routinely tricks a solid half of our participating electorate into believing absurdities. For example, as the nation’s president and the federal legislative leadership try to advance legislation making it easier for the electorate to vote…


Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signing Voter Suppression bill into law at his office hearth beneath plantation portrait and Georgia’s state flag modeled after the national flag of the Confederacy (Photo: Office of Gov. Brian Kemp)

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp posted the above photo to his Twitter feed, upon signing his state legislature’s new voter suppression bill into law on Thursday, March 25.

Among the elements that jump out of that photo is the plantation portrait hanging above the Georgia Governor’s office hearth. Flanking the hearth are the flags of the United States and the State of Georgia.

That flag we see in Kemp’s photo was adopted in 2003, replacing the previous design that represented the state since 1956 — two years after the Brown v. Board of Education decision that desegregated schools:


Parson Weems’ Fable by Grant Wood (1939)

“Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.” George Washington, Farewell Address (1796)

You likely recognize that scene above in Grant Wood’s Parson Weems’ Fable where George Washington in his youth, confronted by his father upon being caught in the act of chopping down the legendary cherry tree, uttered his fabled confession, “I cannot tell a lie.” Wood made his name in American modern art when his American Gothic won $300 and a solid degree of fame at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1930. …


Vigil for the victims of the Atlanta area shootings in the Chinatown neighborhood of Washington, D.C., on March 17, . (Photo by Shuran Huang for The New York Times)

Massachusetts US Representative Tip O’Neil gets the credit for the old familiar expression, “all politics is local.” In an expression of civic and physical fitness, we took a nice little bike ride on an early spring day to the County Fairgrounds and voted early in our local consolidated elections. On Election Days my wife regularly serves as an election judge in our polling place and on April 6, I will again be poll watching. We have been doing these jobs for decades by now but it does not feel as long ago from the last time we did this. …


(Photo by Erin Schaff, New York Times)

Cancel culture is real. But it is ill defined in its popular use in the rhetoric of conservative pundits and Republican politicians. In the Republicans’ war on so-called political correctness, “cancelling” is synonymous with “censorship” but none of what they choose to rant against is government action that violates Constitutional protections of free speech.

The private corporations that are currently drawing Republican outrage, from Twitter to Hasbro and Dr. Seuss Enterprises are making business decisions about their product lines and how to market them. …


Col. Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally at the Gospel Tabernacle in Fort Wayne, IN; Oct 3, 1941 (Photo: AP)

The Republican Party is a fascist death cult. This is not hyperbole but rather a simple statement of fact, borne out by the GOP platform adopted by the 2020 Republican National Convention and submitted for the public record:

“RESOLVED, That the Republican Party has and will continue to enthusiastically support the President’s America-first agenda….”

The Trump White House never had a coherent policy for dealing with covid-19, if it even had any interest at all in developing one, leaning instead on an inane but deadly promise of herd immunity (with conservative projections under such a policy adding up to at…

Barry Dredze

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