Tagged: liberty

Living Large

Prior to the dynasty of Bush the Younger, my chief embarrassment about being an American abroad wasn’t that we were a nation of belligerent, imperialist, arrogant bullies. It was that we were fatties. Among the French and Finnish, Dutch and Danish, American tourists were easy to identify, whether or not they wore fanny packs. The...

No Worries, Bro

You’ve talked to someone thirty-or-younger recently, so you’re aware that we’re presently living in the blissful state of no worries. No worries, bro. The problem for those of us who read newspapers and have some time to think is that there seems to be plenty to worry about — if you’re into that whole caring...

Free to Be Disconnected

If you’re reading this essay on MichaelKonik.com, you know that this is a reliable place to find “me,” the me who shares his ideas with the world, whether or not any part of the world is interested. This is where I unilaterally invade my privacy, allowing strangers to read my mind, exposing my beliefs and...

Suspension of Disbelievers

North Korea is launching rockets, Syria is slaughtering its citizens, and the Filipino community is organizing a massive get-out-the-vote campaign for a crucial election (not for something boring and unimportant like a public office but a cause that’s got folks passionately engaged: the American Idol finals). So the astonishingly weird five-game suspension of Miami Marlins...

Perverse Priorities

Sometimes our chaotic, unknowable, seemingly random Universe arranges itself with perfect symmetry. In these moments of bracing clarity, authored by a Creator (in whatever guise or nomenclature you prefer) whose sense of irony is matched only by her/his/its sense of wicked humor, our innate foolishness and learned stubbornness are robbed of their pretensions. We see...

Lotteries, Poker, and Other People’s Money

Braving odds of 176 million-to-1, scores of otherwise sensible Americans, including several of our intelligent friends, were infected with Lottery Fever this past week, standing in lines of up to three hours to buy a ticket at “lucky” liquor stores and gas stations. The prospect of a $640 million jackpot and the assurance that some...

Violence Voyeurism

Outrageous. Horrifying. Disgusting. These were some of the adjectives hurled in the press when news broke that the former world champions of football, the New Orleans Saints, for years had instituted a bounty system that rewarded their players for knocking opponents out of the game. Players contributed to an in-house pool and collected $1,000-$1,500 when...

What the Frack!?

In 1969, the Cayahoga River, one of Lake Erie’s major tributaries, caught fire. This provided the kind of visual evidence boring old science never could. Folks got hip: Industry, they realized, was using American waterways as a massive free sewage system for their most noxious waste. Americans got serious about pollution in our water for...

Cages

After reading Adam Gopnik’s masterful examination of the American prison system in a recent issue of the New Yorker, in which he examines our fetishistic compulsion to warehouse millions of errant citizens in prisons, it’s easy to conclude that our conception of “cruel and unusual punishment” needs reconsideration. Gopnik burrows through the rotten veneer of...

Our Endless War(s)

First there was “shock and awe.” Then the counterinsurgency, or “surge.” Now it’s “targeted assassinations.” Evocative labels all, making state sanctioned murder easy to accept, if not easy to understand. But does anyone remember why we commit these acts of violence and commit unfathomable amounts of our GDP to their execution? Right! Because we’re fighting...