08 October 2015

Held in Contempt

Who is being held in contempt? We are, the American buying public, by the companies that produce the increasingly shoddy goods we depend on. Take toilet paper, for example. It's now almost impossible to start a fresh roll without destroying several sheets. Also, despite being given muscular brand names like "Brawny," paper towels can't mop up more than a few drops of water without disintegrating. And how about perforated statements from credit card companies? The perforation has all but vanished, which means tearing the section you have to return with your payment. Everyone knows that opening products sealed in tough plastic risks cutting yourself, possibly badly. (Larry David devoted a segment to this on Curb Your Enthusiasm.) Most of us have long since given up trying to connect with a live "Customer Service" representative on the telephone. You know things have gone south when the phone company's automated CS message encourages callers to visit the company's website for help. I don't know what to do about these infuriating practices, but throwing all the Republican corporate enablers out of Congress would be a good start.

02 January 2014

Ode to 2013

The NSA is reading every message that we send,
not just yours and mine but those of leaders we call friends.
So raise a glass to Snowden and the whistle that he blew,
for no one else had told us, and we didn't have a clue.

05 November 2012

20 August 2012

Love Is All You Need

This photo shows John Unger cradling his 19-year-old dog Schoep in the waters of Lake Superior. Unger rescued Schoep when he was a puppy, and the two have been inseparable ever since. This is an achingly beautiful love story, related partly by John himself in this video. Don't miss it.

18 May 2012

Gentleman Cat

The great jazz pianist Oscar Peterson, heard on this YouTube video with longtime trio associates Ray Brown on bass and Ed Thigpen on drums, plays Duke Ellington's "C Jam Blues" during a 1964 performance in Denmark. If you know a better recording of this jazz standard, I want to hear about it.

video

20 April 2012

Unfriending Myself

Yes, it's true: I pulled the plug on my Facebook account a few months ago. I got tired of trying to decipher FB's privacy settings and concerned about various governmental inquiries into some of the company's practices. Frankly, it's a relief to be disconnected from social media's great "connector." One thing is clear: When you're on Facebook, you're not having a real connection with anyone. You're staring at a screen and typing. So, I'm choosing face time with actual friends, instead of screen time with Facebook "friends." In the magazine's May issue, The Atlantic has a long, well-wrtten, balanced article about Facebook titled "Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?" You can read the whole piece here.