It’s the Campaign, Stupid
Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

by Victor Margolin Anyone with doubts about Barak Obama’s ability to lead the United States should look at how he has run his campaign. Whereas John McCain’s considerably smaller organization has imploded more than once and is now in the process of self-destructing – riven with accusations and recriminations from within – Obama’s army of […]

English and Palinese; Two Separate Languages
Monday, October 13th, 2008

Victor Margolin Most anthropologists would agree that the number of languages in the world is declining. This is particularly true for those spoken by small communities that over the years have either dwindled to a few survivors or become extinct. While it is common for languages spoken by large groups to overwhelm those spoken by […]

The Valet of the Dolls
Thursday, August 14th, 2008

Victor Margolin One of the most privileged populations in America today is dolls. They are the beneficiaries of powerful forces of consumption that seek ever-new audiences for the plethora of goods that is available for sale. In earlier times, dolls were not thought to be such active participants in the consumption process. They were for […]

All That is Solid Melts into Air
Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

Victor Margolin I live in a densely-populated downtown Chicago neighborhood. When I moved to the neighborhood six years ago, there was a small local video store within easy walking distance and a large CD emporium, Tower Records, not much farther away. Now there is neither. Tower went down first when the entire national chain collapsed […]

Where Have All the Humans Gone?
Tuesday, January 1st, 2008

Victor Margolin Not long ago I received a letter from a friend inviting me to review an article for a journal he edits. However, it was a form letter that was sent automatically through the complex reviewing system the journal publisher has set up. In order to access the article, I had to punch in […]

You Only Go Around Once
Thursday, October 18th, 2007

Victor Margolin Second Life is an online “consensual hallucination” that now involves more than one million players around the globe. It is a visual environment in which players choose virtual avatars or personas to represent them. These avatars carry on a virtual life, establishing relationships, shopping, buying and selling real estate, and engaging in other […]

Welcome to the Health Police State
Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

Victor Margolin In the State of Michigan and almost twenty other states, it is legal to fire employees for smoking and even to penalize them financially if their insured spouses smoke or chew tobacco. The Weyco Company, a subsidiary of Meritain Health Michigan, conducts random testing on employees every three months to see if they […]

Consuming the Commons
Wednesday, September 12th, 2007

Victor Margolin Throughout history, people of privilege have always believed that they could live as they liked. Whether Emperor Augustus, Louis XIV, or the CEO of a successful dot,com, wealthy folks have viewed the world as a source of goods and services to which they were entitled either by virtue of asymmetric power, wealth, or […]

The Limits of the Artificial
Monday, April 9th, 2007

Victor Margolin New developments in technology are moving faster than our ability to understand their biological and social consequences. From the age of mechanical invention, we arrived at the digital domain and have now moved on to the realm of biotechnology. Faced with extraordinary technological capabilities, we struggle to delineate the boundaries between the human […]

Children of the World Unite
Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

Victor Margolin’s byline launches

On Reading Aristotle
Monday, February 5th, 2007

The ethics of restraint

Casualties of the Bedding Wars
Sunday, June 25th, 2006

Victor Margolin Hotels today compete for customers with an escalating array of comforts, offering everything from high-speed Internet to 24-hour in-room massage. Key to their identities as sanctuaries for weary travelers are the luxurious sleeping appointments they provide. Engaged in what have come to be known as “bedding wars,” hotel chains like Starwood, Westin, and […]

Public Isolation
Saturday, June 10th, 2006

Victor Margolin's private thoughts on Public Space