Short Work of It

You could fault me, I suppose, for having spent the week thinking about marriage, and, by extension, about families. Listening to the justices of the Supreme Court turning over the possibility of extending to same-sex couples the right to enter into the kind of matrimonial contracts devised over the centuries to serve men and women was as interesting as anything I had done in month.

It made me think of the granite panels that decorate the outside wall of Boston’s beautiful Federal courthouse – extracts from cases heard by Boston judges, at intervals over more than a century, on which  basic rights of citizenship were extended to one group after another – poor as well as rich, foreign-born as well as native, those who must rely on others as well as those who make judgments for themselves, black as well as white, female as well as male.

Tendentious?  Perhaps a little.  Read this elegant pamphlet describing  the installation, with its preface by the late Anthony Lewis (who died only last week) and decide for yourself. When I stopped by the courthouse  this week to refresh my recollection, I found the logic of the inscriptions difficult to follow from memory. With the pamphlet’s commentary. by US District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock (who chose the quotations), I was moved all over again. (Updated 1 April 2013.)

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In a A Letter to Paul Wolfowitz, in the current Harper’s Magazine, historian Andrew Bacevich, of Boston University, untangles the roots of the Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq and urges Wolfowitz, former deputy Secretary of Defense, to write a memoir. It is an extraordinary speculation on the real aims of the war, more compelling than any other I have read.

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The Yrjö Jahnsson Award is the European equivalent of the John Bates Clark Medal, awarded every two years since 1993 to one or two economists under 45 judged to have made significant contributions. Helene Rey, of the London Business School, and Thomas Piketty, of the Paris School of Economics shared it last week.  Rey is the first woman to be cited.

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You may have guessed – an overly ambitious column fell through.  That’s all I’ve got this week!

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