A Duck’s Worth of Existential Dread Uncle Jack and Donald
It was around the time that I met my duck Donald that I begin to experience my first feelings of existential dread. Yeah, I was precocious, but big picture responsibility — questions like "Who am I?" and "Why am I here?" — held a fascination for me. Donald however, didn’t think much of my effort.
All Kinds of Runners Bad Knees, the Marathon and Dividing by Two
People love to bifurcate — to imagine the world divided in two — even when there’s no real division: Us against them, red and blue, night and day, zero and one..
My Uncle Buddha The Passive Activist
If we had more time to let our problems dissolve, maybe we wouldn’t do so many stupid things. We’re always in action, pushing forward, compelled to excel — never stopping to ask ourselves if what we’re doing is worth the result.
Living Every Day Like It’s Your Last A Funeral for Platitudes
Living every day like it’s your last is ridiculous. It sounds like a curse or a way of life for end of the world prophesizers — your own private dooms day.
The Poverty Suit How the Rich Paid Their Bill
John Steinbeck said, “Socialism never took root in America, because the poor there see themselves not as an exploited proletariat, but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”
Socialism aside, the have-nots always find ways to fantasize about the haves. In their have-not imaginations, even while poverty was at its highest level ever, the economically poor saw themselves as soon-to-be resurrected financially rich. That’s right. Poverty peaked, but the poor, somehow saw themselves not as downtrodden, but simply waiting their turn at Donald Trump won the lottery riches.
And wait they did.
I Meant to Do That The Mistakes of Monkey Jesus
Eighty-year old Cecilia Gimenez made a mistake. Thanks to her, a 120 year-old image of Christ with a crown of thorns was transformed. Located in the Sanctuary of Mercy Church in Borja, Spain the painting Ecce Homo (Behold the Man), by Elias Garcia Martinez, became, in the hands of Cecilia, a desecrated trending mess — Ecce Mono (Behold the Monkey). .… more
Apocalypse Then The Big Ending That Never Was...Yet
December 12, 2012 is the end of the world. That’s a big story. December 12, 2012 is the date that the 5,125-year-long cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar ends. That calendar belongs to the Mayans, who apparently forgot to make it infinitely long. Because of this oversight, some people, who like stories, think we’re doomed. .… more
My Pyromaniac Friend The Not So Very Original Sinner
When I was 5, I lived next door to a pyromaniac named Allen. He was 8. We floated boats in my kiddie pool, played with my train set, climbed on stacks of wood in the lumberyard, and eventually learned about original sin from his Baptist church. .… more
The Compton Crosswalk Stroll Patience Meets the Street
My life has been a battle with impatience. Sometimes my exasperation with the pace of progress boils down to the way people cross the street in front my car. I like to imagine that everyone wants the gears of transportation (and forward momentum) to move smoothly and effectively. This is not always the case. .… more
A Necessary Deception My Last Dance with Ruth
Ten years after her husband's death, Ruth’s mental facilities began deteriorating. Senility, you might say, brought her to live with my parents. Their house was never the same. In Ruth’s eyes my father Frank was her Uncle Harry. My mother, her daughter, Betty Lou was Aunt Elizabeth. Harry and Elizabeth were long dead, but that didn’t stop Ruth from enjoying an afternoon with them — and she didn’t stop her imaginings at swapping the dead for the living. She imagined settings, situations, livestock. My parent’s Laguna Niguel tract home back yard filled with fantasy cows and chickens. “Did you milk the cows, Harry,” Ruth would say to Frank. Reality became negotiable. .… more
The Americans with Obesity Act For a Bigger America
Fat friends and friends of the fat, a new future awaits us. Today, one-third of America — grown-up America — is obese. About 17 percent of our children and teens are also obese, which is triple the rate from a generation ago. If we triple again, we will all be obese. Even conservative estimates predict that by 2030 about half of men and women in the U.S. will be obese. However you look at it, big times are ahead. .… more
The Physics of Fathers’ Day Quantum Ethics, Racism, and Grandpa Joe
Our state of quantum ethics is a reason to not condemn our past and not condemn our fathers. Like the ancients said, “when you reach the top of the mountain, don’t curse the path that brought you there.” .… more
Up with Armageddon Irrational Exuberance, Mark Zuckerberg, and the Arsenio Hall Effect
The recently deceased Pasadena-born conservative cultural historian Paul Fussell once said, “I find nothing more depressing than optimism.” Fussell died on May 23, 2012 and although his stepson Cole Behringer said the cause of death was “natural,” I suspect Fussell succumbed to depression brought on by the misplaced optimism embedded in Mark Zukerberg’s May 17 initial public offering of his dot com Facebook. .… more
The Dental Conversation Restriction Initiative Black Paint, Cool Cars and Root Canals
If passed, this initiative would limit any conservation in a dentist office to small talk: the weather, bad jokes, cute commercials, cat videos. .… more
The Stroke Thought Clots, Apraxia and Must See TV
On Thursday, December 11, 2008 at 1:55 am, my father Frank’s right hand went numb. At the time, Frank was upstairs alone in bed watching his TV favorite, Seinfeld. It was episode number 16, The Chinese Restaurant. .… more
Too Much Apparatus In a Brave New Improved World
What’s the connection between REI and Aldous Huxley? Did the author of Brave New World wear a Primal Warrior dayglow spandex cycling jersey? Did he cross-Country ski? Or was it something more insidious?… more
Travel Narrows the Mind From Here to There
"They change the sky, not their soul, who run across the sea," said Horace, the Roman lyric poet. Think about where you are right now, he might have added. Do you want to leave? Do you want to see more of the macro-geographic world, and less of where you call home? Do you think that travel broadens your perspective? Don’t. Travel narrows the mind.
Nuclear Plume Paranoia AMA Approved Radiation
I’m recording this message now because when you hear it, we’ll all be dead. The iodine supplements won’t be enough to counteract the harsh dosage of radiation we’ve absorbed. Or maybe not.
It’s been over a year since radiation overdrive. I’m not talking about the one at Fukushimi Daiichi. I’m talking about the one at Irvine’s Hoag hospital… in my gut.
Smoke Free, At Last Second-Hand Modern Living with Carcinogens
I come from a smoke-free family. I’m not a smoker. My parents never smoked and neither did their parents… smoke tobacco. But that didn’t prevent us from being smoke tolerant. As long as we were in a well-ventilated area, we never made a fuss about the carcinogens we may have breathed in from the smoke of others. … more
Junk Calls for Angels Southern California Telephone Etiquette
I’m in Costa Mesa on Placentia near The Detroit Bar without my car. It’s in the shop — clutch problems. So I’m at a stop waiting for a bus to arrive. Perfect. I brought a book. The Angel Esmeralda is calling me. I’m reading when a homeless man with a black plastic sack filled with cans shows up. … more
The Safety Net Safety Net Opening Remarks at the Metaphor Debate
“Pork barrel,” “sacrificial lamb,” “witch hunt,” “blank check.” No doubt, we are entering the critical season of political metaphor where expressions like these and others — “straw man” and “sacred cow” — take on added weight. Rather than simply shorthand expressions for you, as politicians, to avoid answering a question with any specificity, these metaphors can, at this time in the political calendar, help shape a campaign. For example, recently the image of “safety net” was invoked by one of you on the stage tonight — Mitt Romney. … more
Monster Food Truck Rally Where Bad Ideas Go to Die
Let others quarrel about street food licenses, health permits and the accuracy of the word “gourmet” in gourmet food truck, I’ve looked into the glaring headlights of free range capitalism and they’re blinding. If I’m desperate enough to buy it, the market will supply it. Forget about how my desires effect and reflect on the real world. As long as I have a Vietnamese slider, life (in the economy) is good. The future rolls out from there. … more
The Western Gate How the SoCal Byte Got Its Name
From Point Conception to the Mexican border, the coast shears in. Named after the Mission of the Immaculate Conception of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, the Point’s early residents — the Chumash — thought of their home as the "Western Gate," where the souls of the dead found passage to paradise. We live south of paradise, below the Cape of California. In the bight … more
Duck and Cover The Culture War Fetal Position
To better understand America’s culture war, a full consideration of Bert the Turtle is essential. Bert, by the way, starred in the 1951 United States Civil Defense film, Duck and Cover — a black and white animated American pop culture respond to the Soviet Union’s first atomic bomb test in August of 1949. … more