Living in Interesting Times

The wish, “May you live in interesting times,” is assumed to be an Ancient Chinese Curse because “interesting times” typically meant war, rumors of war, and loss of economic and political stability. Regardless of whether it really is an ancient curse, when you read and/or watch news of today’s events, you’ll see just how many of the factors that make times “interesting” are present today. Here’s a partial list:

In the Mid-East, we have ISIS, an on-going war, the destruction of ancient cities, and millions of refugees.

In Europe, we have millions of refugees seeking a place they can . . . → Read More: Living in Interesting Times

Time Flies

I knew that it had been a while since my last posting, but I had no idea how long it had been. John Lennon is usually given credit for saying that “life is what happens while you are making other plans,” which is included in the lyrics for Beautiful Boy, written for his son, Sean. Since my last blog, we’ve had two major holidays (Christmas and New Year’s), and more than a month has slipped away while I was busy making other plans. And shoveling snow. It is, after all, winter in Michigan….

We have had some winter weather . . . → Read More: Time Flies

The Spin I’m In

In “That Ol’ Black Magic,” in reference to the Ol’ Black Magic of love, Robbie Williams says he’s loving the spin he’s in. Love isn’t of course, the only “Black Magic,” that puts people in a spin. In the U.S., we’ve grown increasingly aware of the “spin” used by major corporations and politicians to influence politics and consumer behavior. “Spin” is basically a biased interpretation. While some form of “spin” has undoubtedly been with us throughout human history, the “father” of modern political spin is usually thought to be canaries in cages down in coal mines so that, when the . . . → Read More: The Spin I’m In

What Did You Get for Christmas?

On a cold and frosty late-December morning, when I lived in a previous neighborhood, I was out walking my dog. It was so long ago that in the years between then and now, not only has that dog died of old age, but my next two dogs have also died of old age. Even so, on that late-December morning I said something that still haunts me. A boy who lived in a nearby house, ran up to me holding up a new pair of gloves, saying excitedly, “See what I got! New gloves!” My reply: “They are really neat. Did . . . → Read More: What Did You Get for Christmas?

The Long and Winding Road

With apologies to Paul McCartney, the winding road I have in mind for this blog is not to your door but to the 2016 elections in the US. For one reason or another, we seem to be off to an earlier and stranger start than is usually the case. The impetus for this blog post was an article in Salon by Heather Cox Richardson about the intellectual battle for the soul of the Republican Party. The article caught my attention because I started my political life as an “Eisenhower Republican” while I was still too young to vote. I liked . . . → Read More: The Long and Winding Road

The Left-Behinds

No, not the The Leftovers TV show…. The “left-behinds”—those who are failing to keep pace with the technological revolution. I am increasingly one of them.

At one time, I was among the “techno” leaders. I was one of the first academics to embrace email and did so at a time when most of my colleagues were rejecting email as a method of communication. I have previously mentioned secretaries I knew in days gone by who resisted having their typewriters replaced by computers and word processing programs. They were among the first left-behinds. At the time, I didn’t fully understand why . . . → Read More: The Left-Behinds

Cheating on Our Ethics Test

We certainly live in interesting times, don’t we…. Lately, we’ve recently seen a number of complaints about how a percentage of those living in the US are only interested in “free stuff.” The main complaint is that those people will vote for Democrats for political office rather than for Republicans, who want to make sure that no one receives “free stuff.” According to some, we have become a culture of “cheaters.” The original impetus for this blog entry was a comment a friend made about the concern companies have about people who “telecommute” and work from home rather than driving . . . → Read More: Cheating on Our Ethics Test

The Hearse Goes By, The Hearse Goes By

If you are old enough, you can doubtless remember the rhyme from childhood about the hearse going by: The hearse goes by, the hearse goes by…. I couldn’t find the version I learned in childhood, but all the versions I saw online are highly similar. The main point is that death is the great equalizer. Everyone eventually ends up dead. In the version I learned, you were buried under the “moss and peat.” That suggests that the version I learned originated in pre-Medieval England, where dead bodies were often left in the abundant peat bogs. For our ancestors, the awareness . . . → Read More: The Hearse Goes By, The Hearse Goes By

Earthquakes

By now, you undoubtedly know about the devastating earthquake in Nepal. You may not have heard, however, about the earthquake in SW Michigan. Earthquakes come in all sizes, from the huge and deadly to the minor shake-ups. Michigan’s earthquake was a minor shake-up. When I was growing up in California, we had numerous minor quakes. Even though they always came as a surprise, we learned to recognize them for what they were. After I had grown up and left, California experienced at least two serious quakes with extensive damage and some deaths, one in northern California and one in southern . . . → Read More: Earthquakes