Tagged: adam gopnik

The Privilege, the Honor, the Responsibility

We have a very smart friend, an American, who never votes. He excuses his laziness with an intricate, self-negating argument that equates voting with an endorsement of a broken and fraudulent process. Like many citizens of this great country, my friend hasn’t traveled very much, and never to a place we would call a “third-world” nation,...

Mistaking Commercial Popularity With Artistic Achievement

Not long ago a couple of friends invited us to watch a concert DVD of one of their favorite performers, a woman named Beyonce Knowles. One of our friends, a musician, said that although most fans admire Ms. Knowles for her pretty face, powerful singing voice, and shapely ass, the really impressive thing about her is...

The Magic Formula

AxD – P = M (C+F) Where “A” represents apathy, “D” represents dismay, and “P” represents powerlessness. And “M” represents misery, “C” represents contentment, and “F” represents fulfillment. Thus, our formula expresses the ability of one force — the dismayed and apathetic individual with a perceived lack of power — to inflict misery upon another...

A Gambling Book Worth Reading

The vast majority of books about gambling hold out the faint (and mostly spurious) promise that they’ll help you somehow gamble better. Or smarter. Or longer. They suggest, usually erroneously, that they contain some sort of heretofore unexpressed secret about beating unbeatable games. These books may be safely ignored, unless you’re a hopeless degenerate who...

The Bad Thing About Dying

Except for suicidal people, those desperate souls who wish for nothing more than oblivion, none of us wants to die. Why? Many religions teach us that there is a “better place” awaiting us when we depart this earthly plane. Whether it’s heaven, nirvana, or some parallel universe where Louis Armstrong provides the soundtrack and ice...

Some Free Gambling Advice

At dinner with a lovely couple, a sweet husband and wife of obvious intelligence and clarity of mind, the topic turned to Vegas. One of their favorite pastimes, they remarked, was going to Las Vegas for quick one or two-day trips during which they assiduously avoided the showrooms, much-lauded restaurants, and anything else that might...

The Most Toys

The other day an older friend of ours was describing a trend he had noticed among his acquaintances nearing the age of 60. “They all seem to be increasingly obsessed with things,” our pal noticed. “The older they get, the more money they have, the more stuff they want.” He went on to recount a rather...

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,...

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...