Tagged: hendrik hertzberg

America’s Greatest Export

While traveling abroad in Southeast Asia, we shirked from inquiring eyes when George Bush’s coronation was broadcast live on CNN. We weren’t ashamed to be an American — on the contrary, we’re proud to be a citizen of this glorious country — but at that inglorious moment in history we were mortified to have come...

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,...

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...

Giving to the World

With very few exceptions, all of us must work. Our jobs, those five-days-a-week responsibilities that earn us the money for food, shelter, clothing, and recreational drugs, allow us to both survive and feel like we’re actually doing something with our brief lives. Some jobs pay more than others. Some are dirtier than others. Some are fun...

The Voracious Appetite

Recently we spent two weeks away in Central and South America, including a visit to the country of Ecuador, which, among other tourist attractions, offers visitors an opportunity to visit the “Mital del Mundo” — the middle of the world. It’s an obelisk with a painted orange line on the ground bisecting the northern and southern...

A Subtle Hazard of Reading the Wall Street Journal

As a counterbalance to the reflexively liberal Los Angeles Times, which we read every morning, we also read the reflexively conservative Wall Street Journal on weekdays. The paper is extraordinarily well-written, and its non-news feature articles are better than those in most magazines. The problem with reading the WSJ every morning, though, is that you soon discover the way the...

Looking at Child Porn

We received an email from an address we didn’t recognize, with a subject line that said “Children Porn.” We considered forwarding it to the FBI, but that would have required opening it, which we didn’t want to do. In today’s political climate, we imagined all sorts of horrible scenarios involving illicit materials found on our hard drive,...

The Wisdom of Crowds

Currently making the rounds of all the free advertising outlets [read: fawning reviewers], a new book by theNew Yorker columnist James Suroweicki asserts that a big bunch of average people often turn out to be smarter than a small group of experts. Mobs, the author asserts, are often better predictors of the future — whether it’s...

Three Strikes

Editorial Note: Our position on the death penalty has evolved in the decade since the original publication of this essay. California presently has a law on the books known as “Three Strikes” — as in, “and your out.” Recidivist criminals who have been convicted of two felonies are supposed to be scared of the penalty...

The Pernicious Funnel

The United States of America is presently running a larger deficit than any other time in its history. Measured in constant dollars, which adjusts for inflation, our country is deeper in debt than ever. Dozens of states, including California, the republic of the west coast, are running near-catastrophic deficits that inspire economic commentators to use...