Tagged: michael konik essay

South American Travel Notes, Part Four

To those who haven’t experienced the beast outside of its natural habitat of strip malls and gated communities, the Ugly American seems an outlandish caricature, a literary device employed to make a point about modern capitalism. Unlike Nessie or Sasquatch, however, this monster really exists. You can see him every summer in Europe, and at...

South American Travel Notes, Part Three

After more than a week in the deep wilderness, in the Amazonian basin, where Boliva meets Peru and there are more waterways than roads, three native people asked me where I am from, since it was clear to them from my visage and my language that I’m not indigenous. Not a soul asked, “What do...

South American Travel Notes, Part Two

The butterfly lives on average for three weeks. Although it enjoys many months as a larva and caterpillar, its winged existence is intensely beautiful and unimaginably brief. In the few days it has before it expires, the butterfly must find a mate and leave behind the next generation. Its brilliantly gaudy wings help attract a...

South American Travel Notes, Part One

Is there a connection, real or imagined, between Costa Rica’s comparative dearth of governmental corruption and the apparent dearth of popular unhappiness? Does an official stance of neutrality and a more equitable division of natural resources produce a generally more cheerful populace that in the region’s kleptocracies? Like every other Central American country, Costa Rica...

Burn, Baby Burn: GM’s Fuel Protection Scheme

General Motors, the moribund American auto maker that’s been bleeding money (and slashing jobs) for several years, has a new sales promotion for California residents, who endure some of the highest gasoline prices in the nation. The company, which makes brands like Chevrolet, Pontiac, Buick, and Hummer, is offering a special deal: Buy or lease...

Pay to Play in the USA

In a rare show of bipartisan outrage, this week both of our nation’s interchangeable political machines expressed their mutual displeasure at the recent FBI searches of a Democratic lawmaker’s Capitol Hill office. Representative William J. Jefferson, of Louisiana, was videotaped accepting a $100,000 bribe; most of the marked money turned up in his freezer; and...

Sections of the Newspaper

The first section — the “A” section — of the Los Angeles Times, focuses on international news and domestic stories of national interest. It is here that one learns how ugly and cruel life is for most of our brothers and sisters living in places other than America and Europe. The next section is the...

The Power of Illogic

Lost among the impassioned finger-pointing that has accompanied the opening of “The Da Vinci Code,” the blockbuster movie based on the blockbuster book, is an alarming trend gripping our society’s discourse (or lack thereof): the inclination to justify one’s position without offering reasonable justification. Organized religion has been pulling this trick with no small measure...

The Sure Thing Called Imitation

The movies that most Americans watch are like the music most Americans listen to, which are like the television shows most Americans prefer and the books most Americans purchase (but don’t have time to actually read). They’re all, in varying degrees, imitations of something that came before and had some measure of commercial success. The...

Respect

To the rich man’s regret, respect cannot be bought. He can wield power, which inspires fear laced with enmity. But he cannot purchase that which can only be earned. The line is fine between respect and appreciation. Without the latter, the former seldom exists. Like unrequited love, a lack of respect leaves hollowness inside those...