Category: Life

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Xandria Phillips’ “Reasons for Smoking”

“I write to you from the predicament of Blackness,” is the opening line of Xandria Phillips’ new collection of poems, “Reasons for Smoking.” Unwritten, but deeply felt, is the predicament of Femaleness. And Gayness. And Differentness. All these challenges are met (and rhetorically bested) by this fierce poet’s keen sense of self and of the...

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Farewell, Meltdown. We’ll Miss You.

For 25 years, Meltdown Comics has been a part of our Sunset Square neighborhood. At the end of this week, they’ll close shop, another brick-and-mortar casualty of online commerce. As the largest tenant on the block, Meltdown was the area’s commercial anchor. Its closure will help the landlord, Jack Ilulian, demolish the low-slung retail building(s) consistent...

Secret Meeting

Thank you, esteemed representatives, for joining us at this historic congregation. I know it wasn’t easy for many of you, especially the flora. We appreciate your commitment to the revolution. Almost all living creatures are represented directly or indirectly here tonight. We understand and appreciate the passionate feelings surrounding our decision to have many crawling insect species be...

Get a Job

“Get a job, sir!” That’s the advice given to Jeff “the Dude” Lebowski by another person named Lebowski, the Big Lebowski, a patently successful achiever who lives in a mansion filled with commendations and photos with important people like Nancy Reagan, when she was First Lady — of the United States, not California. The Dude...

War Is Over If You Want It

Peace-loving, football-watching, patriotic-minded Americans abhor terrorism. Even when it takes the form of fanatical Sunnis bombing mosques filled with fanatical Shiites, we deplore and condemn senseless violence carried out against innocent civilians. We seem to understand intuitively that people who aren’t wearing uniforms while they’re murdered are victims, whereas those that are properly attired die...

Homo Deus

Magnificent contradictions: a book that argues for the eventual extinction of “useless” religions written by a Professor at Hebrew University in Israel; a book that envisions homo sapiens as a God-like species that, nevertheless, will soon render itself irrelevant; a book that contains many factual errors, spelling errors, and one giant conceptual mistake that, nonetheless, makes its...

From the Department of Prognostication

In the near future — 20 years? 50 years? — capitalism will implode. The vast majority of what we today consider “jobs” will be accomplished by machines running on artificial intelligence. Billions of people will rendered useless — except as highly nutritious protein meal for their machine-owning overlords. Without wages, consumption of goods and services...

The Polgar Variant

Is genius hereditary? Or can every child be groomed to be a genius? One brilliant (and controversial) father believes environment and training fosters genius. He attempts to prove his theory by raising all three of his young daughters to be world champions of chess. The engrossing Israeli documentary The Polgar Variant, about a family of Hungarian Jews living...

A Righteous Application of Misanthropy?

Have you seen any of the popular listicles enumerating the Top 5 Things You Can Do to Save the Planet? The Top 3? If not, can you guess the Number One Thing You Can Do to Save the Planet? Hint: It’s not “switch to LED bulbs.” Going full vegan is almost the strongest move. So...

The Struggles of Garry Kasparov

In 1986, when Jack Nicklaus won the Masters golf tournament at age 46, it was hard for us to understand what all the fuss was about. Sure, he made history, becoming the oldest player to win one of the four “majors.” But he was a lifelong athlete doing what he did best. Golf is a...