How I became Pop

When I found that I was about to become a father in 1977, I embraced fatherhood. I read books about babies, mothers and fathers, and I attended a series of Lamaze classes with my wife designed to help me be an active and equal partner in the process. When Chris started having contractions on September 3, 1977, I was there with her throughout the twelve hours of labor.

Filth, glorious filth

Exactly one year ago this week I navigated an ancient and nasty alleyway in the heart of the medieval medina of Fez in the country of Morocco in the spring of 2010, and I celebrated filth.The worn cobblestones were smeared with donkey dung and olive oil, dirty rain splashed down into puddles of smelly, viscous mud, and the wares in a hundred tiny storefronts ‚Äì gentian eggplants, berber carpets, and plastic packages of chocolate chip cookies ‚Äì all were smeared with a layer of ash and dust and grime.

Sin, salvation, grace, damnation, repentance, revival, judgment, forgiveness, soul-winning, heaven, hell

The following set of words has the capacity to annoy and intrigue me: sin, salvation, grace, damnation, repentance, revival, judgment, forgiveness, soul-winning, heaven and hell. This is the vocabulary I learned in the church of my youth. These were the signature words for a thousand sermons I heard preached by my Baptist preacher father, my grandfather, and half a dozen uncles whose task it was to save souls and instruct me in how to win more souls for Jesus throughout my own life. The words themselves continue to exert a raw power over my deepest emotions.

Native Son

It is clear almost from the beginning that Bigger Thomas is doomed, trapped in a downward spiral that will lead to arrest, prison, or death, driven by despair, frustration, poverty, and incomprehension.

Flaubert's Parrot

Julian Barnes astounds. Just what sort of book is this, anyway? A literary biography of 19th century French novelist, radical, and intellectual impresario Gustave Flaubert? A meditation on the uses and misuses of language? A novel of obsession, denial, irritation, and underhanded connivery? A thriller complete with disguises, sleuthing, mysterious meetings, and unknowing targets?

Making world history for free

This spring will mark fifteen years since I built my first web site -- years marked by an avalanche of convulsive technological change. It was the spring of 1994, and I was working at Microsoft as the managing editor of the Microsoft Developer Network, in charge of providing information, software development kits, and useful resources to an audience of a few million developers creating software for Windows.