Category: Thoughts

In Praise of Barry Commoner

He had a name that you might call Dickensian, except Barry Commoner, who died this week at 95, was anything but his nomenclature. A man of the people, yes. Common, no. Barry Commoner was uncommon. Today, millions of Earth’s inhabitants believe that overpopulation, increased affluence, and advanced technology are the root causes of environmental degradation....

The National American Way League

Let’s start a business! Who’s in? We can accept up to 31 partners, maybe more if we expand one day. It will take a few decades, but our venture will eventually be worth nearly $10 billion. How’s that for success? We’ll be rich! And admired and feared and begrudgingly respected. We’ll be winners! Mostly we’ll...

Occupied with Occupy

The Occupy movement celebrated its one-year anniversary this week. Professional pontificators wondered in print and on TV, What has Occupy Actually Achieved? Prevailing sentiment seems to be: nothing much. At least nothing tangible, measurable, quantifiable, or, most important, commoditizable. Since protesters took over Zuccotti Park, numerous polls have shown that the American public – the...

An Open Letter to God

Dear God, Having witnessed recently the horrible ramifications of causing offense, we’re hyper-aware of not offending anyone, You especially. So if “God” is an inappropriate form of address, we humbly ask forgiveness of You and Your agents here on Earth, the ones who steadfastly protect Your name and reputation. We settled on “God,” because that...

Reefer Gladness in the NFL

Great timing! The first weekend of NFL football regular season play – and it really is so darn playful the way those boys run around – begins today. So we couldn’t be more delighted that the National Football League has asked us to help explain why their players – please don’t call them “warriors”; that...

Doing Something vs. Doing Nothing

Pick your favorite platitude: You can only do so much. You’re not going to change the way everybody else behaves (or thinks). You’re only one person. Comforting, aren’t they? You are hereby excused from culpability in the grand disaster that is human civilization. May your acquittal be an abiding relief from that weird sense of...

Legitimate Rape, Legitimate Abortion

The phrase “legitimate rape” is now a part of the American lexicon thanks to William Todd Akin, a U.S. Representative from Missouri. Todd, as he prefers to be called, has served in Congress since 2001, and this year he won the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat in a crowded field of similarly qualified...

The Art of Being Funny in Los Angeles

Lately we’ve been immersing ourselves in stand-up comedy and feeling altogether good about it. You can be addicted to a lot worse things than endorphins. Much of the past year in Los Angeles has been spent closely observing comedians doing their thing: ranting, rambling, telling jokes, riffing, raving, singing songs, reading from a script, making...

Litter Forensics

SINCE ORIGINALLY PUBLISHING THIS ESSAY, WE’VE COLLECTED NEARLY 3,000 PIECES OF LITTER IN RUNYON CANYON. The results are in! After nearly one week of highly un-scientific sampling, we’ve collected and analyzed the data. Literally. During the test period, we visited Runyon Canyon, Hollywood’s celebrated nature area, and collected as much trash as we could carry –...

Looking Back on 2012: An Oral History of American Values

I was young like you once. Don’t laugh. It seems impossible, I know. An old codger like me of 77! You probably can’t picture when I was only 47 and healthy, with all my own teeth and a libido that didn’t yet require boner pills. Sure, that was three decades ago, and I look a...