The crippling effects of overprotecting kids

Is dodgeball a mean, violent sport unfit for kids?

By Jim Tortolano  E Pluribus Unum Not all bad parenting comes from abusive parents guzzling cheap beer in a trailer park. A fair amount of it seems to spring from the educated, well-meaning and oh-so-involved fathers and mothers that you see hovering about schools, playgrounds and soccer fields. The trend which began quietly with the […]

Did Beatles change the world? Yeah, yeah, yeah

The Beatles arrive in America, February 2012.

By Jim Tortolano  E Pluribus Unum We’re in a frenzy of Beatlenostalgia, which is only fitting considering that so much of the world we live in has been shaped and soundtracked by the four boys from Liverpool. Folks like to make a big deal out of the way that the Beatles affected popular music, and […]

It’s still Christmas, until …

The final four for the 2014 Super Bowl.

By Jim Tortolano E Pluribus Unum If you live in most of the United States in this season of the polar vortex, you may think you are trapped in eternal winter.  For those who reside in Minnesota and the Dakotas, it may seem like there are really only two seasons: Winter and Non-Winter. That idea […]

Liberal literary paranoia in “Nation.”

Sarah Palin, harbinger of disaster?

By Jim Tortolano, E Pluribus Unum “Christian Nation,” a cautionary novel by Frederic Rich about the possible consequences of triumph by far-right “Dominion” Christians seeks to portray itself as modern-day equivalent to Sinclair Lewis’ classic anti-fascist “It Can’t Happen Here,” and in some ways it succeeds. It does shed needed light on the scary ambitions […]

Movie review: “Mitty” minimizes the wit

Ben Stiller and Kristen Wiig in "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty."

By Jim Tortolano, E Pluribus Unum Tom Clancy often complained about the way that Hollywood – in his view – mangled his books when converting them into films, but he cashed the checks anyway. James Thurber, if he were around, would probably have the same complaint about what 20th Century Fox did to his most […]

And now a word in favor of capitalism …

Is Scrooge (from "Disney's A Christmas Carol") a typical capitalist?

By Jim Tortolano, E Pluribus Unum ‘Tis a rough time of the year to be a capitalist.  First the Pope takes a broad swipe at the practice of free enterprise in the world today, and now, of course, the constant repetition of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” which paints a successful businessman as the embodiment […]

Breathe easy, and don’t mind the raccoons

A smokestack in Detroit.

By Jim Tortolano, E Pluribus Unum A raccoon walked into our house. Brazenly strolled through the open casement doors one morning and looked around like he was a potential buyer. Then, he strolled back out. That might not seem like a big deal if you live in the back country, someplace rural and rustic, but […]

Drones: hit or myth?

A MQ-9 Reaper drone

By  Jim Tortolano/E Pluribus Unum Nikola Tesla thought up the idea.  A hobbyist named Reginald Denny built the first one, and Barack Obama’s military is making them a household name. Officially, they are unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV); you and I know them as drones. Not only is Uncle Sam using these sleek, menacing-looking aircraft in […]

Book review: “Catastrophe: 1914″

Royal Irish Rifles in the trenches during World War I.

By Jim Tortolano/E Pluribus Unum Of all the great conflicts in the last 100 years or so, the one that seems the most pointless and heartbreaking is World War One. In his new book “Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War,” Max Hastings paints a vivid and depressing portrait of a continent destroying itself in what […]

Should you be a veteran?


By Jim Tortolano/E Pluribus Unum Are you a veteran? Should you be? Monday is Veteran’s Day, an observance that began after World War I as Armistice Day.  It is an event featuring remembrance of Americans who served in the armed forces in our many wars, with speeches, flags and ceremonies. But the number and percentage […]

What if JFK had lived?


I was sitting in a fifth grade classroom when the principal’s voice came over the loudspeaker.  President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated. He was dead. Like almost everyone else on Nov. 22, 1963, I was stunned and saddened. I was a particularly political kid; my family and I all worshipped JFK in a way […]

The selling of the unions


By Jim Tortolano E Pluribus Unum If you were one of millions of Americans who watched football or the World Series this past week, you probably know about Papa John’s latest pizza offer, Volkswagen’s new “clean” diesel car and that Coors Light is literally – supposedly – hacked out of the frozen wastes of the […]

What’s really scary this Halloween week


By Jim Tortolano E Pluribus Unum It’s a doubly scary week. Not only is it Halloween on Thursday, we are now steeped in a culture wherein monsters and terrors are all the rage. Books, movies and TV series celebrate the shivery appeal of vampires, werewolves, zombies and such.  Who you gonna call? After I passed […]

A pink slip from red states?


During the 2012 presidential campaign, GOP candidate Mitt Romney took flak for having suggested that he “liked to fire people” who provided services for him.