Justin Cary

Long before the world of prime time TV food competitions, the barbecue world was hosting contests to find out who made the best ribs, brisket and more.

We do not live in a kind world. You don’t need me to illustrate this point.

It’s difficult for me to know how to talk about Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, the new documentary on Mr. Rogers, because what I’m tempted to do is to recount all of the lessons he taught us throughout the years. That we’re all unique people who are worthy of love. That it’s OK to be scared sometimes, or to be angry sometimes, or not to know what to feel sometimes. But what can I say that Mr. Rogers hasn’t already said better?

fuxoft / Flickr

This commentary originally aired May 9, 2013.

Fairy tales are a part of our shared cultural knowledge – if you refer to Jack and the Beanstalk, the Three Little Pigs, or Goldilocks, almost everyone knows what you are talking about.

Stephanie Mitchell

Harvard political scientists Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt have spent more than 20 years studying the breakdown of democracies in Europe and Latin America. Donald Trump’s presidency has raised a question that many Americans never thought they would be asking: Is our democracy in danger? Levitsky and Ziblatt believe that the answer is yes. 

Binge-watching Netflix
And shopping on Amazon
Videos of pet tricks
And following Kardashians
Basketball, football, and Taylor Swift sings
These are my favorite distracting things

When the headlines sound like “end times”
Trump outrages galore
I simply tuck my head down into the web
And distract myself once more

Facebook and X-Box
Twitter and Snapchat
A Googilion new ways to obsess and distract
Back when the Internet was first on the scene
Who knew it’d become a distraction machine?


For much of American history, gold and silver were directly linked with the country’s currency. Memories of the hyper-inflation associated with the circulation of fiat “Continental Dollars” during the Revolutionary War prompted a long-standing belief that “sound money” consisted of paper dollars linked with gold and coinage created from silver.

Late spring and early summer is wheat harvest season in Kansas, and it has me thinking about how deeply agricultural metaphors interweave into common speech.

This is maybe a bit surprising, considering how few of us actually farm.

Even in urban settings, we “reap what we sow.” And Russian web-bots have been accused of “sowing the seeds” of dissent in American elections.

Heavy eaters are still admonished for “eating like pigs” and “hogging” their food, even though few of us have seen real swine at the trough.

Whiting Award Winner Jen Beagin introduces us to a beguilingly damaged character in her debut novel, Pretend I’m Dead

Erick Riedell

Erick Riedell is a lifelong record collector and music enthusiast in addition to being co-host of the podcast Voodoo8ball with Aaron Cross. Riedell lives with his family in Wichita.

If you’ve been a Marginalia fan for a while, Rebecca Makkai’s is a voice you’ve heard before. She stopped by the studios in 2016 to talk about her book of short stories, Music for Wartime.

Makkai is also a novelist, and we spoke recently about her third novel, The Great Believers, which was released this past Tuesday. In The Great Believers, Makkai takes a look at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in Chicago.