Author Archives: Timothy Burke

The Kid With the Hammer

A certain kind of application of social science and social science methods continues to be a really basic limit to our shared ability in modern societies to grapple with and potentially resolve serious problems. For more than a century, a … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Oh Not Again He's Going to Tell Us It's a Complex System, Politics | Comments Off on The Kid With the Hammer

A Place at the Table, or the Whole Damn Dining Room?

What kind of problem is it if a substantial minority of a community’s citizens are deeply and persistently opposed to a policy that the majority support? It is, among other things, a political problem. I found myself in an argument … Continue reading

Posted in I'm Annoyed, Politics | 10 Comments

A New Year

This is not the first time I’ve gone quiet on this blog simply because I was busy. Fall 2017 was in many ways the busiest semester I’ve ever had at Swarthmore: I taught two courses, I chaired my department, I … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Blogging, Politics, Swarthmore | 12 Comments

Enough

Gun control has long been one of the things I feel least intensely about in terms of issues. The reason is both that I don’t see the point of pushing it in a country where there is sufficient electoral math … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 10 Comments

Chasing Tails

I appreciate the need to feel optimism, to think this is all coming to an end soon, a good end secured by the remorseless force of law or by the rising of a core of American decency or by radical … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 5 Comments

On Harvard and Admission

Longer comment tomorrow, if I have time; and maybe also on the debate over the essay “The Case of Colonialism”. But in the interim, a quick thought on Harvard not admitting a promising student. ————————- Considering that Harvard is in … Continue reading

Posted in Academia | 1 Comment

Game of Rewrites

As we arrive at the end of the penultimate season of Game of Thrones, much of the credit given to its showrunners for significant improvements to Martin’s original draft of the story has to be qualified by the revelation that … Continue reading

Posted in Popular Culture, Sheer Raw Geekery | 1 Comment

When In Truth Did We Win Anything?

Progress is dead. In the same sense that Nietzsche spoke of the death of God, only to be habitually misunderstood by the same kinds of people that misunderstand Einstein saying that God does not play dice with the universe. The … Continue reading

Posted in Politics, Production of History | 10 Comments

Recipe for Coalition: 1. Add Recognition, At Least Half a Cup.

David Atkins at Washington Monthly has a point about what progressives, Democrats and anyone else who is dismayed by the current political situation in the United States has to do. It’s entirely possible that at a grassroots level in many … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 13 Comments

On Confederate Counterfactuals

For some years, I’ve taught a course on counterfactual history. Unlike many scholarly historians, I find counterfactual history useful for a variety of reasons. For one, I accept the argument that a number of its proponents have made that all … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Production of History | 25 Comments