The Lukewarm War: Part One

The world is in the throes of a Lukewarm War. And it is getting warmer every day. As I write these words, North Korea rattles a nuclear saber, and we meet their rants with our own. The peace of the globe hangs on the brink of that distant peninsula.

But there are many places in the world today that are one incident away from igniting the Lukewarm War into a hot one. A Russian plane shoots down an American one in Syria. Ukrainian rebels launch an attack towards Kiev. America responds….

Iran, infuriated by the Israeli response to the attack on the Temple Mount, decides it time to teach that state, which they’d love to destroy, a lesson. They launch some of their own missiles, which they’ve been testing and perfecting lately. Tel Aviv gets hit. Israel strikes back…. read more

Outrage is the New Black

(Trigger warning: If you’re a hypersensitive twerp you may feel unsafe in this column.)

It is time to party, my fellow Americans. Once again we come together to celebrate our national birthday and participate in our favorite ritual, internet shaming and outrage.

Nothing goes viral faster than some public person doing something it is possible to take offense at, because if it’s possible, everyone will.

While the medium of outrage is up-to-the-nanosecond Twitter feeds, our reaction is so old fashioned it’s quaint. read more

Curing my cold and capitalism

I recently came home from Palm Springs with a vicious cold. While I don’t hold the desert accountable for my current distress, I do blame capitalism.

You can’t watch TV without seeing endless ads for pharmaceuticals, usually for some dire condition. “Ask your doctor if Utrexa ™ (auxilimab) is right for you. Studies show you may live 53 days longer if you have small cell lung cancer that hasn’t responded to conventional chemotherapy. Side effects include swelling of the gums, incontinence, flatus, vomiting, coma and death.” read more

The Toxic Myth of Cultural Authority

I’ve been curious about the current explosion of sexual harassment scandals. Why now? Why all the high profile cases?

Some explanations occurred to me. One is that women are more vulnerable to sexual harassment now because they’re, rightly, more ambitious. In the old days locking down a good marriage prospect was enough for most women, not because that was all they were capable of, but because that was all the culture allowed.

Today, women are climbing into places previously forbidden to them. Those places are usually controlled by rich and powerful men. Many of those guys (they don’t deserve the honorific “gentlemen”) are trolls—in both senses of the word—and try to take liberties with young, ambitious women. read more

Requiem for Who’s Who in Baseball

For 101 years, a little red book called Who’s Who in Baseball, stuffed with players and stats between soft, glossy covers, arrived every spring. In 2017, it died. Disrupted, like so much else these days, by an efficient and soulless technology.

Who’s Who in Baseball was just a magazine. There will be no grieving relatives, crying hot tears as it’s lowered into the ground.

But for 101 years, before 101 opening days, Who’s Who in Baseball was there, on your coffee table, when you needed it. But not this year and never again. read more

Trump Dump

I have been hesitant to criticize Trump’s presidency during his first two months in office, because a ship can’t take on water until it sails.

But now the ship of the Trump state has left the harbor, and the early reports are not good. There is panic on the bridge.

One early warning is that the Devil has dropped the price of Republican souls to eleven cents a unit. So many have sold theirs, tying their fates to the president, despite his mortal sins of false witness and rampant untruthfulness, that the market has crashed. GOP souls are a drug on the market. read more

In Defense of Beauty

I come before you in defense of beauty. At first glance, that might strike you as necessary as defending money at Davos, but take a deeper look.

When the history of our age is written, whether by human historian or computer algorithm, on silicon wafers or copper plates, in shining cities or global ashes, this will be known as the Era of Ugly.

Pick a human institution, any institution, then put it back in the deck, don’t show it to me. You chose politics, right? Ugly. Oh, it was entertainment? Ugly. Internet snark? Ugly. Reality TV, Performance Art, Advertising, the degraded Environment, Ugly, ugly, ugly, ugly. read more

New Beginnings for End of Days

The Twit will Tweet, and we can’t stop him. But a greater challenge awaits us this New Year. Our difficult but vital task is to Change the Subject.

I know, it won’t be easy. It’s hard to turn away from a tire fire.

But it’s important that we try, because if we keep staring at Trump, we’ll start to look like him, the way a dog comes to look like his master. And nobody wants that.

So let’s stop talking about Trump and think about all the new possibilities life can bring us in 2017.

The New Year is a great time to consider joining a gym. This is a laudable goal, but often fails. January is the peak month for gym memberships, February is the peak month for dropping out. read more

You Can’t See America From Here

Wrong again. Not just me, everybody. The polls, the pols, the pundits, all wrong.

The West Coast went big for Hillary, as did most of the Northeast. But the rest of the country went for Trump. He lost the popular vote by over two million but won the Electoral College with ease. Trump captured thirty of the fifty states, the broad, vast, middle of the nation.

How could we not see this coming? How were we so geographically ignorant? Seen from California, it makes no sense at all. Yet it happened. What did we miss? read more

The Post Trump Blues

I’m writing this a week before the election; anything can happen. But I’m assuming anything didn’t happen.

Shortly after this paper hits the stands you’ll know how close a call we had. Right now, I’m confident that Donald Trump will lose and Hillary Clinton will win. By how much? Usually that doesn’t matter.

It matters this time. The American people were asked to choose between a tired old liberal who has been around long enough to display the disfiguring scars of a lifetime in public service, or a visibly ugly, viscerally unpleasant, lowest-common-denominator demagogue who would be poison if he ever got into the oval office. read more