April Fool

This is a piece from eight years ago.   My li’l Tony is much older, but still very strong for a 16 year old wild animal.

The wake-up call came at 6:30AM, just as light was sneaking into my bedroom.  It didn’t come as a glowing ball over the Mississippi valley but as an orange blur on little cat feet.

Galumpgalumpgalumplop! A leap onto my feet and Brrrow! As a small caliber tiger licensed for home use Tony always means what he says, too.  It’s Spring.  There’s no time to spend lazily in bed.  Happy April Fools’ Day!

April means a lot to both people and cats.  The weather is turning and it’s time to shake off the glum of a drippy lingering Winter.  A few pranks and jokes are just part of the fun – and they’re part of an ancient and natural celebration  we can all get into.

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Keepin’ Bizzy

Some have asked, “With the Mueller Report and Brexit and the yield curve inversion, why are you going on about ethics and sociology stuff?”  This piece, from a year ago, explains it.  Just take the long view.

Did you see the news today? It’s hard to not simply react to the world around us. There’s too much going on, too much chaos, too much news. And that post on facebook – did you see what “they” are doing now?

There are many problems associated with this sort of life, starting with anxiety and unhappiness. Stress induced coronaries come to mind as well. But as bad as this is for a person, it’s even worse for people. Everything in our world depends on some level of planning, deliberation, and rational thought.

Good luck with that.

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National Identity

You are a citizen of many different things. You belong to a city and a neighborhood, a state or province, and a nation. The word “citizen” is something like a title in that it implies there are certain rights and privileges that are at your command, in addition to a few obligations to maintain the entity.

More important, however, is that citizenship is an identity. While the various actions required by law or custom only come up once in a while, your kinship is a constantly defining force. You might travel around the world and meet someone who shares a citizenship with you, and there is an instant bond.

But what does any of this mean to the ever increasing number of people who call themselves “global citizens”?

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Disconnection

We don’t need daily reminders about how disconnected our world has become, but we do have them. People rather routinely commit heinous acts somewhere, somehow, for some reason that seems important to them. But why?

Disconnection seems to be a by-product of industrialization. It’s a kind of pollution for the soul and society, a thick gunk that clings to some people and makes them terminally sick. But what will it take to not just stop this, but clean up the mess?

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We Are All Immigrants

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

At most of our southern borders, there is no great statue welcoming anyone. There is only the vast expanse of desert to cross, there is only the journey. No one comes through this looking good, but at the end there is the goal. It may not be paradise, but it sure looks like it to someone running, riding, walking, moving however they can just a few steps ahead of death.

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Seeking the Source

This piece from four years ago is a bit dated, but it also is not. We do need to find original sources, and far too many important issues in our world are clouded by the lack of them.

The internet is a wide, rolling river of information. It can be treacherous and dangerous to wade into if you’re not careful. If you’re looking for a cool drink of truth, the muddy brown of this mighty Mississippi of data often has a harsh stench of bias bubbling along with the waves. What can a reader thirsty for knowledge do?

The answer is to seek the source – the cool, clear stream that feeds into the torment at the headwaters. I call it the “Urquelle”, a German word meaning “original source” favored in the mountains and rolling hills that are the source of so many great rivers in Bavaria and Bohemia. This process of seeking out primary sources is valuable not just for writers, for whom primary sources have long been a staple of good, useful prose. As surely as reading is writing, today’s discerning reader should also seek the Urquelle.
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Work Redefined

What has been called “The best job market in half a century” is reason enough to revisit this piece from three years ago.

Is technology a net creator or destroyer of jobs? The question is as old as the Industrial Revolution, when workers in mills found themselves put out of work by large industrial looms. In France, they threw their shoes (sabots) into the weaving machines to destroy them – the origin of the term “sabotage”. The protests didn’t stop the machines, however, and the workers had to find something else to do in an ever-changing economy where machines did more and more work.

Today, the pace of technological change is faster than ever, with new gadgets coming into our lives constantly. Automation is also transforming our lives, with new robots and artificial intelligence replacing workers constantly. Are today’s productivity gains tomorrow’s unemployment? Increasingly those who study technology in our lives and the popular media are coming to the conclusion that yes, workers are net losers in the race against tech. And this is not a partisan issue.

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