Author: Michael Konik

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,...

The Wisdom of Crowds

Currently making the rounds of all the free advertising outlets [read: fawning reviewers], a new book by theNew Yorker columnist James Suroweicki asserts that a big bunch of average people often turn out to be smarter than a small group of experts. Mobs, the author asserts, are often better predictors of the future — whether it’s...

Anatomy of the Sports Fan

The flags are out again. The yellow-and-purple banners flicker in the breeze, mounted on the SUVs of dedicated Los Angeles Laker fans who demonstrate their fealty to the 14-time NBA Champions by wearing replica accused-rapist jerseys and plastering their homes and vehicles with admonitory signs. If it all seems vaguely fascist, it’s because Laker fans...

Three Strikes

Editorial Note: Our position on the death penalty has evolved in the decade since the original publication of this essay. California presently has a law on the books known as “Three Strikes” — as in, “and your out.” Recidivist criminals who have been convicted of two felonies are supposed to be scared of the penalty...

Would You Be Jesus?

During war time, countless young men and women sacrifice their lives so that others may inhabit a “better” and safer world. At least that’s the idea. When the people who run our government lie and steal and generally desecrate the principles upon which our country is built, warriors and their families must feel persistently nauseous knowing...

The Pernicious Funnel

The United States of America is presently running a larger deficit than any other time in its history. Measured in constant dollars, which adjusts for inflation, our country is deeper in debt than ever. Dozens of states, including California, the republic of the west coast, are running near-catastrophic deficits that inspire economic commentators to use...

The Elderly

The surrealist artist and poet Dorothea Tanning is 96 years-old. The gentleman who organizes our local golf club tournaments is 82. Countless people in their seventies (do the Rolling Stones qualify?) lead full and active lives. My father is in his sixties. At this point in his life, numerical age is irrelevant. After surviving two...

Fifty Years After Brown v. Board of Education

In 1954, after years of prevaricating and equivocating, the United States Supreme Court finally decided that the “separate but equal” test established in Plessy v. Ferguson was discriminatory and unconstitutional. For the next fifty years, people of color have been slowly integrated into our still-racist society. Today, blacks are no longer required to go to...

Including Dogs in Everyday Life

I’m presently going over the manuscript for my next book, an account of traveling through Europe with my wonderful mutt, Ella. (It will be out around this time next year.) Just as I’m reviewing a section of the book about Ella lunching with me at one of Paris’s finest restaurants, I’m confronted (yet again) by...