Category: Thoughts

Natural Disasters and God

With the Iranian city of Bam nearly obliterated by an earthquake and now buried in rubble, devout Muslims must be asking themselves how this latest catastrophe (40,000 souls estimated dead) fits into their God’s grand plan. Jews could wonder something similar about the holocaust, but that tragedy could at least be ascribed to the cruelty...

Junior Idols

The other night a proud music producer played for us a new recording of his latest protege, an enormously talented diva who could sing like Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, and the Mariah Carey, among other songbirds. Not only could she hit the high notes, he assured us, his latest discovery had tremendous stage presence, movie...

Performance Enhancing Drugs

The sports world is aghast — as it often seems to be — that athletes in disciplines as diverse as track & field, football, and baseball are ingesting “designer” steroids that allegedly make the competitors bigger, stronger, faster, and eminently more endorse-able. Since an organization like the NFL can’t possibly claim that it’s looking out...

Against Charity

Giving to the needy is supposed to be a virtue. Indeed, it’s once of the sacraments of most religions. In our venal world, being charitable — sharing with those who don’t have what you have — is akin to secular holiness. How much someone gives to charity is a powerful if imprecise barometer of how...

Strom und Drang

From the Department of Delicious Irony we get news that the late Strom Thurmond, the perpetual Senator from South Carolina who died in June, had fathered a child out of wedlock with a black teenager. That child, Esther Mae Williams, is now in her sixties, and for the first time in a life of secrecy...

It’s Almost Over

My barber was incredulous. “Do you believe it, Mikey?” he said, gesticulating with scissors alarmingly close to my ear. “Only three more weeks and this year is over. I can’t understand how this year went by so fast. It seems like we celebrated New Year’s just yesterday.” Franco is in his late-forties. His eldest daughter...

The ‘Broken’ BCS

Many tears were shed this past weekend in Los Angeles, and the lachrymal mourning wasn’t over starving Africans or bleeding Afghanis. The crying – and the whining and the righteous indignation – was inspired by a college football ranking system that kept the USC Trojans out of the putative national championship game, the Sugar Bowl,...

The Nature of Vice

Drugs like caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol are legal and more or less woven into the fabric of daily American life. Drugs like cannabis, cocaine, and LSD are not and those who use them are more or less consigned to the squalid fringes of society. Paying a woman to take off her clothes and display her...

America’s Violence Fetish

Every third movie poster features one of our beloved celebrities brandishing a gun. Every other hip-hop song on the radio features one of our beloved thug-poets declaring his intention to “cap” his victims with a “nine,” among other convenient weaponry. Every Sunday (our day of rest and worship) three of our beloved television networks broadcast...

The Dust of a Comet

The other night in Los Angeles, it was possible to see faintly the Leonid meteor showers with the naked eye. A bright gibbous moon made the show less spectacular than it will be tonight, on the 19th, when the moon will be on the wane. The light we saw shooting across the sky was thrilling...