Monday, May 23, 2016
Here’s a new feature where from time to time we will look at some of the facts and figures that are affecting our lives, and grossly misinterpret them. I shall call this special feature The Bad Statistician. Yes I shall. Ahem. In the year 2010, the average United States family of four spent $11.46 on unwrought rhodium. (Unwrought rhodium imports totaled $884,811,866, the population was 308,745,538.) The market price for the metal is around $675 an ounce, so somewhere in the average American home there is about a half gram of rhodium. Why would anyone make such a silly purchase?
Monday, May 16, 2016
It takes a surprisingly long time to write 100 words, and it takes about 40 seconds to speak them out loud. That’s not very long. Yet I’ve spent hours and hours of my life in active and rapid colloquy. Leaning on bars, riding in cars, walking on sidewalks, sitting in chairs, hunkered over desks. Chattering, blathering, prattling, babbling. Millions and millions of words, and I can’t remember any of them. Well, probably there was a lot of “the” and “of.” Those are biggies right there. Also I seem to recall saying “No, no. Listen. Listen to me” quite a bit.
Monday, May 9, 2016
Somebody asked me, “How old do you think I am?” I was both rude and prudent. I flatly refused to answer. “I’m not answering that,” I said. Isn’t there some age beyond which you got nothing left to prove? I guess not. I’m hearing now about people exchanging organ recitals; that’s where they try to top each other with their lists of the afflictions plaguing every single part of the body. So there’s always something to win at. I wonder if the second-oldest person in the world spends a lot of time checking the obituaries, hoping for that big break.
Monday, May 2, 2016
Worried about what’s happening to the American middle class? Maybe it’s a little late. Years ago, you might have checked for a union label before you picked up that six-pack of t-shirts. You could have voted yes on that school bond issue. But don’t beat yourself up about it, it’s just bad impulse control. It’s that moment when you realize you’ve filled up on bread. And there’s an obvious solution: Uber. I see a future where we survive entirely by driving each other around. But trust me. It’s not a gig economy until you’re told to enter through the kitchen.
Monday, April 25, 2016
I was hearing about how some popular musicians are using their high visibility to inform and inspire their listeners around critical issues confronting our culture, our civilization, and our species. This is a powerful historical moment, potentially a game changer. There are precedents. Nobody who was alive in the early ‘70s can forget how Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra recorded “Song for Che,” thus bringing an end to American imperialism in the Western hemisphere. Oh, by the way, for all my readers who are corner office executives: Wednesday is Administrative Professionals’ Day. So tell your secretary to buy some flowers.
Monday, April 18, 2016
Why are we proud of stuff we can’t control? Maybe, like me, you’re tall and you feel good about that. Maybe you’re rich, or smart, or have nice shoes. Maybe a team in the town where you live is good at the game they play. It’s all just luck; should you take credit? What about kids? A couple told me their first grader was reading at a fifth grade level. I agreed that it was exciting and pointed out that if this kept up, by the time she was 40 she’d be reading as well as a 44 year old.
Monday, April 11, 2016
Poker is the game and they say take a seat. I say how about I just hand over my wallet and the last of my self-respect. I say I don’t gamble and the fella says what about craps isn’t that gambling and I say not the way I do it it ain’t. See, I was running a crap game and a guy shows up from Stockholm with a big gray donkey. And he says he hasn’t got a solitary dime but can he wager the animal. And I say – get this – I say, you bet your Swede ass you can.