Tagged: thought of the day

Accepting Suicide

To we the living — those of us who rejoice and suffer, work and play, ruminate and act, love and hate, laugh and cry — willfully bringing about a premature end to this absurdly wonderful experience of being alive seems unfathomable. Anyone who would commit suicide, whether because of despair, political conviction, or religious brainwashing,...

Evolution

A recent trip to the Galapagos, Charles Darwin’s remote research center in the Pacific Ocean, got us thinking about evolution, that heretical theory that certain school boards around our semi-enlightened country don’t want taught to impressionable children who might question the validity of the Creation Story. Evolution is not kind. It’s a wicked filter that removes...

Specializing in Everything

Ours is the age of specialists. To be better than average at anything requires a mono-maniacal dedication to that one thing. Should you wish to be a successful professional golfer, you need to devote most of your waking hours to hitting dimpled orbs. Should you wish to be a successful oboist, you need to devote...

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...

Screaming the Loudest

The benefit of teaching young people that the world is a meritocracy is that this enduring myth encourages people to try their best. As long as they believe that the cream eventually rises to the top, they’ll continue to toil diligently, confident that there’s a demonstrable correlation between dedicated effort and eventual reward. Once the...

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...

Anatomy of the Sports Fan

The flags are out again. The yellow-and-purple banners flicker in the breeze, mounted on the SUVs of dedicated Los Angeles Laker fans who demonstrate their fealty to the 14-time NBA Champions by wearing replica accused-rapist jerseys and plastering their homes and vehicles with admonitory signs. If it all seems vaguely fascist, it’s because Laker fans...

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...