David Benfell

David Benfell
Sebastopol, California, USA
April 29
David Benfell holds a M.A. in Speech Communication from CSU East Bay, has studied at California Institute of Integral Studies, and is pursuing a Ph.D. in Human Sciences at Saybrook.


JUNE 29, 2011 6:54PM

Violence in the lab

There was a popular professor at CSU East Bay who in any normal department would be a dream teacher. She was enthusiastic, bright, and likable. Her assignments were always exactly, even on those occasions when I thought they seemed too trivial, what she said they were—no more, no less.… Read full post »

Reacting to last night’s passage of same sex marriage legislation in the state of New York, journalist, human rights activist, and temporary National Security fellow at Enduring America Josh Shahryar tweeted, “Dear Sen. Ruben Diaz of the New York State Senate, read up a little on ‘S… Read full post »

JUNE 22, 2011 11:41AM

How reckless is too reckless?

Forget for a moment that this is an outgoing United States Secretary of Defense with whom I have many disagreements:

Aboard the Pentagon jet on his last foreign trip as secretary of defense, Robert Gates takes a moment to peer across the American horizon—and the view is dire: the U.S. is

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JUNE 20, 2011 4:39AM

Kicking a dead horse

Having been unemployed for two years since I graduated with a Master’s degree, I feel intense nausea when fully employed people tell me about what it takes to reduce unemployment. Kim Brooks argues that it is time to kill the “liberal arts” degree, by which she means any degree whi… Read full post »

JUNE 18, 2011 2:06AM

Time to take the toys away.

That the United States has an unhealthy relationship with war might be inferred from a history in which there are only sixteen calendar years—since 1775—in which its armed forces have not been deployed against somebody somewhere in a hostile situation[1] and from Tom Engelhardt’s ab… Read full post »

As I sat in front of the Rubicon Brewing Company in Sacramento Saturday, I remembered a reason why I might suddenly have felt a nostalgia for that town that morning. I first moved there in 1976 with my mother, having left high school a year early (with a Proficiency Certificate,… Read full post »

There’s so much manipulation of unemployment numbers[1] that we probably shouldn’t draw any conclusions from any of it. A better gauge can be found in the boarded-up shops, the nearly vacant shopping centers, the people waiting in “soup kitchen” and food pantry lines, the peo… Read full post »

Juan Cole posted that, “Memorial Day, in my view, should be a time of reflection not only on the sacrifices made for the nation in war but on whether our wars are necessary and whether they are being fought in the right way.” And he criticized the war in Afghanistan… Read full post »

MAY 29, 2011 6:51PM

Why Palin might win

I’m guessing Barack Obama feels pretty good about his re-election prospects about now. While his poll numbers are not great—Gallup says 46 percent of U.S. adults approve of his performance and 45 percent disapprove[1]—judging by reaction to the possibility, however remote, that Tex… Read full post »

Those who believe that the system can reform itself might have been justified in dismissing Ari Fleischer’s chilling remarks that, “There are reminders to all Americans that they need to watch what they say, watch what they do” as the expression of a single person in a single presid… Read full post »

MAY 27, 2011 6:01PM

Plagiarism, selectively condemned

In my academic career, plagiarism has been the big no-no. As a student, the sanctions are severe: professors will almost certainly fail—without any further consideration of its merits—any paper they catch which replicates the ideas or the words of another author without attribution, they… Read full post »

It seems Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has taken on a personal challenge of eating mostly vegetarian and only meat from animals he personally kills.[1] This is supposed to be an improvement. As Zuckerberg puts it,

I started thinking about this last year when I had a

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It has been a revealing week for hierarchy. Rebecca Solnit treats International Monetary Fund head Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s alleged sexual assault of a hotel maid as a metaphor for the IMF’s treatment of developing nations, tragic for the maid and the countries, but with benefits for Str… Read full post »

Apparently the writers of an editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle feel taxi riders are getting a raw deal in a recently approved fare increase, the first in about seven years, even with sky-high gasoline costs, because cabs are still so hard to get.[1] These complaints are nothing new.… Read full post »

MAY 18, 2011 6:19AM

Power, patriarchy, and hubris

It is hard to imagine—and I am assuming that a hotel maid’s sexual assault allegations against International Monetary Fund head Dominique Strauss-Kahn are true—a better example to support an analysis of rape as an expression of patriarchy. A very powerful white man assaults a very… Read full post »

It took longer than usual for me to be excused from jury duty this week—so long in fact that I thought I might actually have to serve.

The judicial system’s love of law—even at the expense of justice—is really quite an amazing thing to behold. But if law could ever… Read full post »

MAY 15, 2011 8:39AM

Jury Duty

I have jury duty this week. I do not know if I will even have to go in, let alone whether or not I will have the opportunity to deliver these remarks in this form, but here they are as I have prepared them:

Your honor, my sense of

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From the reading I’ve been doing lately, the question seems to be coming up a lot lately: if things are getting so bad for the middle and working classes, why is there no uprising? Even Barack Obama, who has been as insensitive to the plight of the unemployed and of… Read full post »

MAY 11, 2011 5:33AM

A phony alliance

In all the rhetoric—some of it heated—about Pakistan-U.S. relations following the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, George Friedman finally addresses my suspicion, writing that “Posturing designed to hide Pakistani cooperation would be designed to cover operational details, not to l… Read full post »

MAY 9, 2011 5:44PM


When I was in college the first time, in the late 1970s, I did a very silly thing. I actually indulged the Jehovah’s Witnesses who came door to door in conversation. Of course, they were being silly too. They actually hoped they could convert me through rational argument.… Read full post »

So it’s the first Friday of the month, which means it is time for more fiction from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to their release, the number of people employed rose a little bit, but so did unemployment.[1] They don’t really explain and, trying to minimize the adjustments… Read full post »

MAY 6, 2011 4:52PM

Three years vegan

Vegans have something called V-day, an individual annual commemoration of the day they went vegan. It’s a bit like a birthday or a wedding anniversary. Mine is the day before I joined HappyCow.net, a guide to vegan and vegetarian restaurants. HappyCow.net sends out a yearly reminder and I… Read full post »

I thought I might never see this:

"It appears that purchasing managers have undergone a reality check and may have suddenly woken up to the reality that no one is getting hired who can buy all the goods that their firms can produce," said Steven Ricchiuto, chief economist at Mizuho

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Editor’s Pick
MAY 4, 2011 9:30PM

“Debate” on torture?

Several issues have arisen in the aftermath of the killing of Osama bin Laden in a risky raid in the sovereign territory of Pakistan. First, though Pakistan has apparently not objected to this operation, its legality under international law was dubious;[1] Pakistan has reportedly told the United Sta… Read full post »

It is hard to imagine that Liz Sidota, writing for the Associated Press, is completely correct when she claims that “Armed with intelligence showing bin Laden living in a secure compound outside of Islamabad, Obama authorized U.S. military action without Pakistan’s consent and bin Laden d… Read full post »