Paul Greenberg

Posted September 17, 2014

It's an old superstition among actors, who tend to avoid calling one of Shakespeare's tragedies by its name, which is supposed to invite disaster. It's like the way they avoid wishing each other good luck opening night lest they jinx it, preferring to say something like Break a Leg -- but here's hoping that Thursday's referendum on independence for Scotland will prove a flop, and a resounding one. So this issue can be settled definitively, and stay settled. Instead of being decided by the razor-thin margin some of the polls have predicted. So it won't hang around indefinitely, like Banquo's Ghost, showing up at the most inopportune times. Like now and forever. And the United Kingdom can stay united, Scots and Englishmen and the rest, all Britons together.

Posted September 13, 2014

How say anything clear about a presidential address to the nation that wasn't?

Posted September 11, 2014

Man cannot bear too much uncertainty. We like our problems spelled out as clearly as possible, the choices before us arranged neatly, maybe with little boxes beside each to check "For and Against," for nothing seems to frustrate us like being handed an indeterminate sentence and told to persevere. As patience runs out, making a bad decision may come to seem better than making none at all. At least it would end the suspense.

Posted September 10, 2014

Once again our secretary of state is busy observing American foreign policy rather than shaping it.

Posted September 08, 2014

Just a few blocks away from Little Rock's snaggle-toothed skyline, its intersecting interstates and rush-hour traffic, an island of respite opens in the middle of downtown. It's an exhibit of photographs taken between 1995 and 2012 in and around sleepy little Wilmot (Pop. 550) down in Ashley County. That's in L.A., or Lower Arkansas, the southernmost part of the state, which is about as Southern as it gets.

Posted September 06, 2014

2014.

Posted September 04, 2014

The scholar H.W. Fowler described and diagnosed many a linguistic malady in his classic study, "A Dictionary of Modern English Usage," back in that very modern year 1926.

Posted September 01, 2014

Sometimes all it takes is a single snippet in the news to open a world of insights.

Posted August 29, 2014

What a surfeit of surreal scenes have been pouring out of little Ferguson, Missouri, these past few weeks -- as if they'd never end. Amazing.

Posted August 29, 2014

On this Labor Day weekend, like most Americans, I come to praise labor, not indulge in it. Has there ever been a people that speechified more about the joys and satisfactions of work and the work ethic, yet was so enamored of labor-saving devices?

Posted August 27, 2014

Ebola isn't the only plague in this troubled world.

Posted August 26, 2014

The on-again, off-again war in Gaza and Israel is on again, with a massive barrage of rockets fired at whatever targets Hamas can hope to reach in the Jewish state -- Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, anything and everything in between. The Israelis then strike back with an air assault that, by all signs, will be followed by their next land invasion of the Gaza Strip, their third of the decade. Or maybe fourth or fifth. It's not easy to keep count.

Posted August 20, 2014

Lauren Bacall's death at 89 got front-page coverage complete with picture in the New York Times, and it deserved to. Like so many American images and voices in our vast celluloid memory bank, she may have been more familiar than famous -- if the definition of fame has something to do with greatness rather than just exposure. But familiar she definitely was, at least to the generation of American moviegoers who grew up with movies the way their grandchildren now grow up with the Internet.

Posted August 19, 2014

In one of those faux Ye Old English Tea Shoppes serving tidbits as inauthentic as its spelling and typography, Margaret Thatcher briefly shares her thoughts on our current "wobbly" President.

Posted August 16, 2014

"I think this is going to take some time," our president warned last Saturday as he took off for a vacation on Martha's Vineyard, maybe because he felt he had to offer some explanation as Iraq collapsed along with his foreign policy in general.

Posted August 14, 2014

It was just a snippet of conversation overheard in a crowded restaurant: "... and we put the Buddha in the TV room."

Posted August 12, 2014

There are certain rivals who may differ on the issues, and in style and background and even basic attitude, yet understand and respect one other. For they belong to the same club -- the fraternity of the great.

Posted August 09, 2014

Only now, after the latest offshoot of al-Qaida has emerged out of the desert in fanatical strength, cut through whatever is left of the Iraqi "army," and allowed to advance in all directions, has the supposed commander in chief of this country's armed forces been heard from. Vaguely.

Posted August 06, 2014

We sit quietly, maybe a dozen of us, in the little synagogue a couple of blocks off the interstate here in Little Rock, and wait for night to fall -- like Anne Frank and her family in the Secret Annex, not stirring during the day lest they attract attention, waiting for dark.

Posted August 04, 2014

It made no sense, not from any rational perspective. Even as Gaza was falling in all around it, Hamas kept firing rocket after rocket in the general direction of Israel, no matter how many might hit or miss or go completely astray, as when they fell inside Gaza itself -- as many did.