Tagged: essay by michael konik

Thanksgiving Thankfulness

We were once under the misapprehension that Christmas was the holiday that had become commercialized and drained of meaning. After witnessing the emergence of Black Friday as a widely understood part of the lexicon, we’re inclined to think that the Thanksgiving holiday has become just as bad. Never mind that the whole Pilgrims and Indians thing...

The God Enigma

With the help of advanced telescopic technology, astronomers are now able to see into the past more deeply than ever before. What they’re finding, according to the capsule reports in the newspaper, is a universe that is larger and more crowded with Earth-like objects than previously understood. If you believe in old-fashioned notions like mathematics,...

Department of Bold Predictions: Crackpots

Bold prediction: Within a decade, a whole class of societal crusaders will develop and be recognized by the arbiters of culture. They will be called radicals, Luddites, crackpots. They’ll be dismissed and ridiculed. And they’ll be consistently marginalized by those with money and power. But they’ll be right.  Their main focus? Harnessing the astonishing energy...

Marijuana’s Dirty Little Sceret

Marijuana’s earnest legislative warriors don’t want to come right out and admit it: pot makes people feel good. Its main “side-effect” is that it makes everything feel better. It’s pleasurable. It’s fun. Medicine is not supposed to be any of these things. To placate the angry prudes who don’t want anyone enjoying themselves too much...

Unlikely Bedfellows

No one is surprised that among the groups opposing California’s Porposition 19, the Control, Regulate, and Tax Marijuana initiative on the November 2 ballot, are financially entrenched business organizations. The prison and law enforcement industry, which profits every time a marijuana user is branded a criminal; the beer industry, which worries that Californians will collectively...

No Free Parking

The idea behind Congestion Pricing is to charge people more to use things — city streets, toll roads, cellphones — during peak times. By raising the cost you reduce demand, freeing up more space. And if demand stays constant you earn higher revenue and then raise the price some more. Such programs are in place...

Participatory Democracy in Bell, California

If there were such a thing as a Public Outrage Meter, it would be registering unprecendented levels of angst. The Gulf Oil Spill. The Wall Street Bailout. LeBron James. The latest (and possibly greatest) case of societal outrage, at least in my corner of the country, is being directed at the public servants of Bell,...

Why I Wrote “Reefer Gladness”

My new book, coming out in a couple of months, is about marijuana. Fans of my gambling and golf and dog books have been wondering what gives. Why this? Aside from not wanting to repeat myself, I sought a subject that’s moving to the forefront of our ongoing cultural conversation, a subject about which people...

Ode to “Opening Night: The Improvised Musical”

Los Angeles is lousy with talent. Just as the plethora of beautiful men and women on the streets (and in the stores, and everywhere else) start to blend into the palm-lined boulevards, it’s easy to become immune to the charms of so many funny, clever, quick-witted people. When you see theater or hear music or...

A Letter to Craig V

Dear Mr. Venter, I read today that you and your team at the Human Genome Project had successfully implanted synthetically-created DNA into a living organism (a bacterium) and got it to replicate your man-made code. That’s marvelous! The possibilities for your discovery feel fantastical, like something culled from overly optimistic science fiction. Soon we really...