Monday, January 29, 2018

Gem of the ocean

By all reports, North America was a pretty nice place to live before 1492. People had figured out how to grow maize and beans and squash, and how to groom forests to make harvesting venison more convenient. They built mounds and buried golden plates for Joseph Smith to find. Then a (literal) plague of Europeans arrived. In a historical blink of an eye the forests where stripped away, the mountaintops removed, the rivers dammed, the grasslands desertified. A time-lapse movie of the last five centuries would look like maggots on roadkill. It’s a shame we can’t make immigration reform retroactive.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Hobson's choice vs. Occam's razor

Other than holding a bunch of unarmed noncombatants hostage to ideological conflicts that have as much lasting consequence as the Nestorian heresy the worst part about neo-tribalism is how once you pick sides you have to swallow an entire set of orthodoxies in one big bolus. As a result you got smart people who choose to be stupid on specific chosen topics. Like there’s good science that indicates that climate change is caused by human agency and that GMO foods are safe and nutritious. And most of us are absolutely convinced that one of those statements cannot possibly be true.

Monday, January 15, 2018

And that's the way it is.

Suppose you attended journalism school with a minor in political science. Suppose further that you had decided that a career in broadcasting was what you wanted, that you had interned first at a small-market station, become a stringer, a staff reporter, finally gotten a shot at the big desk. And from there the quality of your work and your studied on-air gravitas have earned you a national audience. You have the respect of your colleagues and the trust of an audience of untold thousands. What is left to strive for? The opportunity to repeat the word “shithole” on the air.

Monday, January 8, 2018

On reflection

A hospital near Bangkok is providing penis lightening laser treatments. Longtime readers will know that I’m not the kind of writer to use this news as license to make cheap jests invoking schoolboy euphemisms for the male genitalia. Not happening. But I do have questions. Like, isn’t this something to be avoided? I know if someone asked me, “What should I do with this laser?” I would likely respond, “I don’t care, just don’t point it at my penis.” In fact, didn’t Goldfinger threaten James Bond with this very treatment? And finally, are these people simply confusing albedo with libido?

Monday, January 1, 2018

The one best rant of 2018 so far

Everybody makes these lists for the new year, so me too. Even better, mine is a countdown of lists. Okay: Five things I will never ingest again: Tang. Space Food Sticks. Pimento loaf. Those candy dots on a strip of paper. And this one big bug that fell out of a tree (I was drunk). Four people you didn’t know weren’t Jewish: Dave Brubeck. Charlie Chaplin. Bruce Springsteen. Rachel Maddow. Three Stooges who are not the Three Stooges: Joe Besser. Joe DeRita. Joe Lieberman. Two perfect things that we’ve actually gotten right and don’t need to change ever: Shoelaces. Pencils.