Tagged: life

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...

Would You Be Jesus?

During war time, countless young men and women sacrifice their lives so that others may inhabit a “better” and safer world. At least that’s the idea. When the people who run our government lie and steal and generally desecrate the principles upon which our country is built, warriors and their families must feel persistently nauseous knowing...

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...

The Elderly

The surrealist artist and poet Dorothea Tanning is 96 years-old. The gentleman who organizes our local golf club tournaments is 82. Countless people in their seventies (do the Rolling Stones qualify?) lead full and active lives. My father is in his sixties. At this point in his life, numerical age is irrelevant. After surviving two...

Fifty Years After Brown v. Board of Education

In 1954, after years of prevaricating and equivocating, the United States Supreme Court finally decided that the “separate but equal” test established in Plessy v. Ferguson was discriminatory and unconstitutional. For the next fifty years, people of color have been slowly integrated into our still-racist society. Today, blacks are no longer required to go to...

Including Dogs in Everyday Life

I’m presently going over the manuscript for my next book, an account of traveling through Europe with my wonderful mutt, Ella. (It will be out around this time next year.) Just as I’m reviewing a section of the book about Ella lunching with me at one of Paris’s finest restaurants, I’m confronted (yet again) by...

Never Too Late

In addition to being a sublime Victorian novelist, George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) was a reliable source of refrigerator magnet epigrams about subjects as diverse and enduring as friendship, love, and destiny. One of our favorites is her thought about fulfilling one’s dreams: “It is never too late to be what you might have been.”...

Sheep, Cows, and Fields of Grass

Spending a week in the Welsh countryside is like a drinking a nepenthe that scours away all memory of air pollution, terrorist attacks, and venal corporations. The real world feels far, far away. Although it was the first country to become industrialized (to exploit the coal, copper, and tin in its ground), Wales today is...

Why People Hate Art

A rich guy we know gives generously to a wide and cheering cross-section of charities: Special Olympics, animal shelters, American Cancer Society, institutions of higher learning. He feels good giving away some of his millions to any cause or appeal, except “the arts.” That he won’t do. The arts, he’s told us in so many words,...

Chemicals

Just as devoutly fatalistic folks ascribe everything that happens – or doesn’t happen – to an omnipotent author in the sky who meticulously scripts several billion not very interesting biographies every day, we have a friend who transfers responsibility for the course of life to a different higher power. Chemicals. Our pal believes that human beings are...