Tagged: michaelkonik.com

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A Chinese Man with a Latin Name and Many Dangerous Ideas

His Chinese title was Mang-tze: Mang the Master. Just as European scholars changed his philosophical predecessor K’ung-fu-tze into “Confucius,” Latin-trained historians of the West called him “Mencius.” He spent most of his adult life (378-289 B.C.) counseling princes and kings, teaching them to rule like philosophers instead of barbarians. In his final years, he composed — or...

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Knock Down the House

The award-winning documentary Knock Down the House by director Rachel Lears, covers four working-class, “regular” women — a registered nurse, a bartender, a coal miner’s daughter — running for Congress during the 2018 mid-term elections, including the sensationally charismatic, eloquent and inspiring Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, who, most of us now know, shocked the world by defeating an entrenched...

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Ancient Questions, Modern Answers

When we consider regions of the world less “developed” than ours, let’s keep in mind Europe (and its imperialist offspring around the globe, like the United States) were also once Medieval. We, too, were once benighted, ignorant, backwards. Long ago, our civilization preferred the mystical powers of alchemy to the rational comforts of science, the...

The Driveway Mural

It began as a New Year’s folly, an impulsive lark. Some children and I splashed a few square panels of our concrete driveway with old house-paint from the cellar, shrouding the dull stone with color and shapes. We thought it looked pretty good, so the next day I did another panel, and then another the...

A Modest Proposal for Optimal Use of Artificial Intelligence

If you’re still in the camp that believes a near future dominated by artificially intelligent machines is nothing but a dystopian daydream, consider this: Not long ago, an artificially intelligent computer program called AlphaZero, hooked up to industrial-strength, Google-supplied processors, was given the rules of chess. That’s it. By playing countless games against itself, billions(?),...

Free Solo

The impossible is possible. We understand the concept in theory; films like “Free Solo” remind us of the thrilling truth. The movie documents climber Alex Honnold’s attempt to scale Yosemite’s iconic El Capitan cliff face — more than 3,000 feet of virtually perpendicular rock — without ropes, clamps, or nets, using only his claw-like hands,...

Vocal Jazz, Old and New

The ethereal jazz singer Jeanne Lee would have been 80 this year. A re-release of her duet album with New England Conservatory titan Ran Blake, “The Newest Sound You Never Heard,” more than 40 years after its 1966-7 recording, reveals a thoroughly modern singer unafraid to sound like no one but herself. This vocal individuality...

The Hate U Give

America’s ongoing oppression of people of color, expressed most viciously in police brutality against unarmed black men, is the subject of director George Tillman, Jr.’s film version of Angie Thomas’s book “The Hate U Give.” (The title refers to a Tupac Shakur lyric riffing on the theme of “you reap what you sow.”) The movie...

Corruption in Los Angeles: An Update from City Hall

The persistent showers pelting southern California this past week served as poetic foreshadowing for the hard rain that’s about to fall on some of the well-dressed crooks who control Los Angeles. Mayor Eric Garcetti’s absurd delusion that he’s somehow “presidential” is about to end. Charlatans posing as “community leaders” soon will be exposed. Once powerful...