Paling Kings

“Most of us are allowed to go through the span of life allotted to us in actuarial tables.” from The Echo newspaper, November 1, 1869 Except the tables don’t tell the whole tale, do they? There are also qualitative burdens—especially when it comes to certain folks, say for example kings, who: …must bear all. O …

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Apocalyptic Occasion with a Curmudgeonly, Andy-Rooneyesque Beginning

Can you believe the newspaper? Have a look at the last two graphs from a recent article in the business section detailing the long lines and general excitement associated with the release of the new Blackberry Storm: Standing on line in San Francisco’s financial district, Fred Vassard, a systems administrator, said he owns both versions …

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A Vision

My face was three inches from his face, max. I couldn’t tell for sure on account of the darkness, it being night and we being lightless, an “oversight.” He was on his back; I on my side. He doesn’t get my puns—the light/oversight thing. I’d taught him the word breeze earlier, my euphemism for the …

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What Does “Stabilizing Housing Prices” Mean?

An American walks into a bank and obtains a mortgage loan he can’t afford—be it an ARM, interest only, or even a 30-year fixed. Because of the risky loan, he’s able to pay more for a house than he otherwise would have. If he hadn’t obtained a mortgage on the house he wanted, it seems …

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What Rough Beast Slouches Toward Bethlehem to Be Born?

I’m in the process of being bludgeoned by three media whales – Ike, Obama vs. McCain, and the meltdown of the financial sector. I can’t check my electronic mail or turn on public radio without encountering “news” about them, and I’ve descended into a sort of meta-panic, not about the “news” but about the fact …

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Learning Curves

How Differential Calculus and Reading Employ the Same Skill We build too many walls and not enough bridges. -Sir Isaac Newton It’s fairly widely known, and confirmed in an old NFL Films piece, that former Pittsburgh Steeler Lynn Swan studied ballet in the off-season. I’m sure some of his teammates who spent their free months …

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Pied Beauty

If you find yourself on Lake Lonely near Saratoga, you see two distinct shorelines, different in many ways. To the south lie the manicured lawns and square-cornered docks of lakefront properties, each separated neatly from the next, cultivated and carved into a perfect waterfront dream house like you see in magazines. Some aren’t yet complete, …

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Moved to Sing

To prod students to think about why academic conversations tend to take place on the page, I ask them, toward the end of the semester, to reflect on the virtues of writing and explain what they believe writing can offer that other communicative mediums—e.g. television, film, music, etc—cannot. I believe this to be an important …

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The Pleasure of Despair

Two Russians approached in a spit-shined truck w/corporate logo. I didn’t yet know they were Russians but one look and I knew. The driver had a shiny and ruddy face and a pleasant smile. When he nodded hello, smoldering gray bits of cigarette ash tumbled down his chest. He didn’t seem to notice, expressing immediate …

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The World is Too Much With Us

I watched Clash of the Titans last night to perform my solemn FCC-like duty of identifying any language, images, or other content unsuitable for my wife’s 7th grade students. I claimed never to have seen it before, but as Perseus approached his climactic battle with Medusa I admitted that the mechanical owl, Harry Hamlin’s lips, …

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