Author: Michael Konik

MLK

Martin Luther King’s birthday is the same as mine, January 15th. According to several recent books, Dr. King was anything but the saintly leader his hagiographers would have us believe. He was, it seems, a complicated, flawed person. A human being. And he is worth remembering. King’s great and lasting legacy is that he helped...

Mars Versus Earth

Like millions of others, I watched with fascination and wonder as NASA’s space probe Spirit touched down safely on Mars and began to transmit back to Earth images of our planetary neighbor. As a child who enjoyed reading the science fantasies of Arthur Clarke and Ray Bradbury, among others, I didn’t imagine that sending a spaceship...

Poem: Without Health

Do you agree? Do you think this is true? Have you considered or are you offended or does this conform? When we say with certainty and a large (any word but “healthy”!) dollop of pomposity:   Without health, we have nothing. Without health, abiding happiness is not possible. Without health, the pleasures of life seem muted...

Helping by Hurting

The 7-11 store in our neighborhood dispenses cigarettes, sodas, chips, hot dogs, coffee, cookies, and most every other snack food that can be fashioned out of partially hydrogenated oil and other trans-fats. This convenience outlet offers most of the noxious poisons people ought to ingest if they wish to slowly kill themselves. Though the products on...

Smooth Jazz

You can find karaoke machines in hundreds of bars and restaurants and bowling alleys around Los Angeles, where everyone is a budding star (or at least wants to be.) You can find fewer live piano bars, where a player well-versed in the standards and Broadway show tunes accompanies enthusiasts with cabaret dreams. And even rarer...

The Astrology Enigma

Anyone who believes in astrology is operating irrationally. If you don’t understand why, you may safely skip this Thought and return to your horoscope, where you will discover that you and the other twelfth of the world that was born on the same month as you are predisposed to success (or lack thereof) because of...

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...