Tagged: essay by michael konik

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Rescuing a Hippo, Killing a Horse

At the World Championship Match, in Helsinki, Finland, they reached a complicated position where The Champion intended on sacrificing a knight. The giveaway was not an obvious tactic; with all the minor pieces still on the board, the position offered a large number of possible variations, all of them leading to interesting circumstances, but nothing...

Wasting Your Vote

With elections looming this week, it seems as good a time as ever to revisit the badly misunderstood concept of Vote Wasting. The standard lie, perniciously attractive to uncritical thinkers, is: When you vote for someone who “can’t win,” someone from, say, the Green Party, you’re wasting your vote. Therefore, the flawed reasoning goes, one should...

Our Undemocratic Impulse to Defeat the Waze App

Vista, the little Sunset Square “capillary” street we live on, runs North-South between two major “artery” boulevards, Hollywood and Sunset. Because there’s a school at the end of our block, diverting traffic around the block to the East or West, Vista Street is inconvenient for those in a hurry. Most drivers take a more direct route, one that...

Earl Flowers Can Read

Earl Flowers can read. He can read this sentence. He can read every word on this page. If he doesn’t immediately recognize one of the words, he can sound it out phonetically – or, if it’s completely unfamiliar, he knows how to use a dictionary to teach himself. When Earl reads out loud – when...

The Story of the Clitboys

We were teenagers. We lived in the northern suburbs of Milwaukee. We knew nothing. But we felt deeply about everything. We were angry, confused, disgusted, frightened, and yet somehow hopeful. We were also blissfully unaware that three kids from Wisconsin could make music that would continue to mean something to listeners more than three decades...

Who Deserves to Be Sheltered from the Storm?

Just around the corner, a couple of blocks from our idyllic, tree-lined street, a homeless encampment has taken root on the sidewalk beside a utility building owned by AT&T. Nylon tents, food refuse, unwashed people — it’s an unlovely sight in an otherwise lovely neighborhood. Many of the wealthy homeowners in the area have taken...

When Los Angelenos Are Forced to Sue Their Elected Leaders

In the past two years, the City of Los Angeles has paid out more than $75 million to settle lawsuits brought against the municipality. Add in the expense of litigation and the total is more than $113 million. Unsurprisingly, some of that money was paid out  to settle hundreds of police misconduct cases — more...

#WeAreOne. Really?

You’ve seen the trending hashtags: #NotMeUs; #StrongerTogether; #WeAreOne. They’re all useful shorthand for complex ideas. On a “normal” day of “normal” news, the concept of Unity strikes most of us as reasonable, a thoroughly un-controversial acclamation of cooperation and fellowship. Great. Sure. What happens, though, when someone drives a truck into dozens of families? What...

Elizabeth Warren vs. Hillary Clinton

Liberal acquaintances who support the candidacy of Hillary Clinton – friend of Wall Street, friend of the Private Prison industry, friend of the War Machine – admit that they’re much more enthusiastic about voting for the maverick progressive muckraker from Massachusetts, Senator Elizabeth Warren. Unfortunately, she’s not running for President. Actually, she kind of is...

The Runyon Canyon Basketball Court: Doing Deals and Keeping it Quiet

When Edward Snowden disclosed that the United States government was abusing the powers of the National Security Agency by collecting data on every American’s phone calls and emails, most citizens were outraged to learn that they had been duped by the very folks who claimed to be looking out for their interests. Even if you...