Author: Michael Konik

Giving to the World

With very few exceptions, all of us must work. Our jobs, those five-days-a-week responsibilities that earn us the money for food, shelter, clothing, and recreational drugs, allow us to both survive and feel like we’re actually doing something with our brief lives. Some jobs pay more than others. Some are dirtier than others. Some are fun...

This Mysterious Notion of Quality

People blessed with this amorphous attribute we call “taste” like to congratulate themselves for being able to discern the difference between that which is good and salutary and that which is bad and degrading. (Those who are too busy or distracted to make such distinctions rely on taste consultants known as reviewers.) Books, music, paintings,...

Young at Heart

Back when they used to write songs the way they no longer do today, the composer Johnny Richards penned these words: “Fairy tales can come true/ It can happen to you/ If you’re young at heart” and the penultimate stanza, “If you should survive/To a hundred-and-five/Think of all you’ve derived/ Out of being alive.” In...

Accepting Suicide

To we the living — those of us who rejoice and suffer, work and play, ruminate and act, love and hate, laugh and cry — willfully bringing about a premature end to this absurdly wonderful experience of being alive seems unfathomable. Anyone who would commit suicide, whether because of despair, political conviction, or religious brainwashing,...

Evolution

A recent trip to the Galapagos, Charles Darwin’s remote research center in the Pacific Ocean, got us thinking about evolution, that heretical theory that certain school boards around our semi-enlightened country don’t want taught to impressionable children who might question the validity of the Creation Story. Evolution is not kind. It’s a wicked filter that removes...

Specializing in Everything

Ours is the age of specialists. To be better than average at anything requires a mono-maniacal dedication to that one thing. Should you wish to be a successful professional golfer, you need to devote most of your waking hours to hitting dimpled orbs. Should you wish to be a successful oboist, you need to devote...

The Voracious Appetite

Recently we spent two weeks away in Central and South America, including a visit to the country of Ecuador, which, among other tourist attractions, offers visitors an opportunity to visit the “Mital del Mundo” — the middle of the world. It’s an obelisk with a painted orange line on the ground bisecting the northern and southern...

Screaming the Loudest

The benefit of teaching young people that the world is a meritocracy is that this enduring myth encourages people to try their best. As long as they believe that the cream eventually rises to the top, they’ll continue to toil diligently, confident that there’s a demonstrable correlation between dedicated effort and eventual reward. Once the...

A Subtle Hazard of Reading the Wall Street Journal

As a counterbalance to the reflexively liberal Los Angeles Times, which we read every morning, we also read the reflexively conservative Wall Street Journal on weekdays. The paper is extraordinarily well-written, and its non-news feature articles are better than those in most magazines. The problem with reading the WSJ every morning, though, is that you soon discover the way the...

Looking at Child Porn

We received an email from an address we didn’t recognize, with a subject line that said “Children Porn.” We considered forwarding it to the FBI, but that would have required opening it, which we didn’t want to do. In today’s political climate, we imagined all sorts of horrible scenarios involving illicit materials found on our hard drive,...