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Popular Culture, History, and Current Events

Adding Color to White Marble: The National Museum of African American History and Culture

Photo Credit: Rex Hammond

The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), established by an Act of Congress in 2003, opened its doors to the public on Sept. 24, 2016. Wrapped in bronze and inspired by the three-tiered crowns used in West African art, the museum’s outer skin shines brightly near the center of the National Mall.  Read more »

Following Convention (or Political Mathematics)

By Bobbie Kirkhart

Photo credit: Sean MacEntee
Photo credit: Sean MacEntee

The political parties spend countless hours planning their conventions. This is, after all, four nights of free advertising and their first chance to introduce their candidates to the public, who haven’t been paying attention through the primary elections. Everybody works for a great start. It almost never happens. This year was no exception. Interestingly, you could say that it was the same woman who saved both conventions. Read more »

Memorial Service

By Bobbie Kirkhart


Recently, I attended a memorial service for an old friend. Peg had led a long and accomplished life before her final years of excruciating pain and frustrating helplessness, so while we mourned her loss, we were there to share the joy of having known her. Peg was a firm atheist, a founding member and generous supporter of Atheists United, but most of her time was spent riding the horse trails that she loved, so it didn’t surprise me that I was the only person from the freethought community at the invitation-only event.

Her oldest son led off with a long remembrance, and then various friends and family shared anecdotes and enumerated Peg’s many contributions to the community. Peg’s involvement in freethought wasn’t mentioned. It was not that people were avoiding controversy; Peg’s colorfully negative opinion of Republicans was fondly recalled. Still, even in liberal Southern California, atheism is a whole different measure of controversy.

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This is a (M)ad Men’s World

By Kai-Arne Zimny

mad men
Photo credit: Christina Sainte Marche 

1960: Donald Draper (Jon Hamm) holds a high position in a renowned New York advertising agency, has an ex-model wife he calls “Betts” (January Jones), two kids, and a beautiful home. However, that is just the outside view of the protagonist’s life that is as multi-layered as the show itself. In the course of the decade-spanning seven seasons of Mad Men (2007 – 2015), the viewer gains revealing insights behind the so very appropriate facades of Don Draper and his fellow (m)ad men – and one (m)ad woman. Despite Don Draper being the show’s center, there are several plot lines being followed, for instance that of secretary Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss), who against all odds and conventions of the time aspires to a career that goes beyond wearing a tight dress, getting coffee, and operating a typewriter “simple enough for a woman to use. Read more »

New World vs. Old World Flipped

By Michael Lederer

As an American writer living in Germany, I care deeply for both countries. It is a strange time to do so, as powers-that-be in Germany and would-be powers in the States do all they can to reverse traditional roles these two powerhouses have maintained in my half-century lifetime and beyond. There’s a sense of vertigo trying to recall which is the so-called old world and which is the new. Read more »