Archive for June 2013

In Today's World Of Big Data, Maybe The Data Are Letting Us Down

In an age of sophisticated computer networks and algorithms, advanced societies have come to depend on the great amounts of data at our fingertips. The question is, how dependable are the data. For instance, in Kansas City they tracked 12 months of rain forecasting to find the computer’s batting average was no better than the... Read more »

Surveillance and Scientism ~ How To Protect Your Sanity From Both

We are told by some that Surveillance and Scientism can each represent a threat to our everyday lives. The first is easy to understand, the second is not always understood at all: * Surveillance in the public mind probably means some cluster of sun-glassed feds scanning millions of data bytes on ominous screens in ominous... Read more »

Hitchens And Hawking Double-Team God And Lose

The gifted journalist and atheist Christopher Hitchens died recently still insisting the “God thing” was a fairytale. The gifted physicist Stephen Hawking is still alive although recently he has shifted from a seeking agnostic to a Hitchens-like atheist. Both serious thinkers who rarely shoot-from-the- philosophical-hip. No, these are minds whose skepticism is to be taken... Read more »

If You're Under 30, There's Good News And Bad News

A lot of people are apoplectic about the feds conducting surveillance and profiling. Personally I haven’t got enough secrets — terrible or terrific — to worry one way or another. If you’re under 30, neither do you. That’s because you haven’t had enough time to forge enough resumes or write enough inflammatory letters to interest... Read more »

Paula Deen's N-Word Is Only One In An Entire American Lexicon

White southern belle chef Paul Deen is now fighting for her commercial life as she is publicly sued and slammed for her treatment of her African-American employees. Trouble is, Paula is just one of the many here-today-forgotten-tomorrow examples of what is a never-forgotten slavery fixation in our culture. Long ago White America decided Black Americans... Read more »

When You And I Forget How To Be Small

‘Small’ is an unpopular word in our national lexicon. You rarely see Hollywood feature a small movie…. Walmart a small store….the military a small missile…a university a small campus…and, god forbid, a bride plan a small wedding. Big is the name of the game in America. In fact, big is the game. It was not... Read more »

So What Does The Battle Of Waterloo Have To Do With Oak Park?

Of the historic defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo, the Duke of Wellington is supposed to have said: “This victory was won on the playing fields of Eton.” Meaning the British line troops had acquired their courage and mettle as boys playing in hard-fought school sports. I can’t help reaching for an unlikely comparison between the... Read more »

Listen Up! There's Actually Nothing Slippery About That Slippery Slope

We love the sharp turn-of-a-phrase. Often because it substitutes clever for thoughtful. Take that infamous ‘slippery slope.’ Whenever someone wants to lock in their argument they drag out this classic. Legalize marijuana…? That puts us on a slippery slope to becoming a stoner nation! Require gun registration…? Slippery slope to confiscating all arms! The President... Read more »

At Last ~ 4 Easy Ways To Become Famous Without Even Trying

When Richard Dreyfus and Laurence Olivier were making the film ‘Marathon Man,’ Dreyfus asked the most famous actor of the 20th C: “Why did you become an actor?” Olivier surprised him with the unpretentious but honest answer: “So people would look at me, dear boy” Every cab driver to steeplejack to lawyer craves for just... Read more »

Losing What No One Can Ever Afford To Lose

We live in a world in which there is eternal struggle between winners and losers. Turns out, you and I are at risk in this very struggle every day. In the case of nature, the struggle hides behind nature’s otherwise benign beauty as animals kill or are killed. In the case of society, the struggle... Read more »