An Appreciation of Harry Potter

[Warning: Spoilers are included, but just read the books already.]

Twenty years ago today, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published. This is a pretty big deal — seeing as the Harry Potter books were (and are) a publishing phenomenon like none that has ever existed — but a certain amount of cynicism has cropped up regarding the books. It’s well deserved. Harry Potter has become the go-to illustration for anything anyone does or does not like.

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A Letter to my Pro-Trump Friends

Dear Friend,

I know, you probably don’t want to hear from me about this subject. Yes, I have written many negative things about the man you supported for president. So perhaps you just want me to shut my trap, and won’t listen to any advice I give.

However, I will give it anyway.

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A Letter to my Anti-Trump Friends

Dear Friend,

There is no getting around it. This is going to be a rough (at least) four years. Odds are, you are a liberal who supported Hillary Clinton, but even a dyed-in-the-wool conservative like me appreciates the danger Trump is to our Republic. (I’ve written a bit about it.) He is a buffoon, he is arrogant, he definitely has authoritarian impulses, he traffics in anti-Semitic rhetoric, he conspired to bar black people from renting his apartments, he has abused eminent domain to take advantage of poor people, he has used incredibly sexist language, and he is a serial philanderer.

This is all absolutely true, and it should chill us all that such a grossly incompetent and immoral man now serves as our president.

But please — and I ask this as a fellow Donald Trump hater — let’s not go crazy when Trump does something that any other Republican would do.

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The Wonder of Aaron Rodgers

I have a confession to make: Initially, I hated Aaron Rodgers.

Perhaps hate is too strong of a word. But in 2008, after Brett Favre unretired and the Packers refused to give him his old job back, what other emotion was I supposed to feel? Brett Favre was my guy—a gunslinger if there ever was one, whose unadulterated joy in playing the game of football was infectious. Oh yeah, he was also a three-time MVP who led the Pack to their only non-Lombardi Super Bowl title.

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My favorite movies of the year

If you had not noticed, I like lists. That’s just how my mind works. I make lists for all kinds of things, especially at the end/beginning of a year: a list of books I want to read, a list of goals for the next year, a list of potential careers, a list of different subjects I’d like to teach… It can get a little out of hand. But I know no other way.

In this spirit, I thought I would write a list of the ten movies that I saw this year that I liked the most. Here are the ground rules: I must have seen it for the first time this year; the list includes not which movies I thought were the best cinematically, script-wise, acting-wise, or overall, it includes simply those movies that were my favorite; and, really, that’s about it.

Without further ado, here are my ten favorite movies I saw this year. (Critique away!)

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33. George W. Bush

The funny thing about a list like this is that you can’t just compare each man to each man, each person’s character to the next person’s character, or leadership ability, or political philosophy, and so on. It all depends on context. James Buchanan was perhaps the most prepared person to ever become a U.S. president. He certainly had the most decorated C.V. And yet, due to the collapse of the Union and the onset of the Civil War under his administration, he is universally seen as a failure (and rightfully so). Though this was partly his own doing, it also has much to do with context—in many ways, the Civil War, or something like it, was coming, whatever the president decided to do. Bill Clinton often and publicly bemoaned the fact that he never got to lead the country during a major crisis, and thus missed out on becoming a “great” president. Yet I would argue he is held in higher esteem based on factors largely outside his control, like the booming economy of the 1990s.

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