Tag archives: humor

The Ignorance Industry
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   December 5, 2023

In the mental economics of our species, there is a slow but steady demand for Information – but the market for Ignorance has become increasingly busy. The plain fact is that most people do not want the Truth. Why? Because it’s too inaccessible, too incomprehensible, and too likely to be unpleasant. Of course, you and […]

Stressed or Blessed
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   November 28, 2023

It used to be called “worry” or “anxiety.” Now, I gather, the fashionable term is “stress” – and I seem to have lately been gathering plenty of it. But what is there really in life worth having such feelings about? It’s all in the mind, I think. That’s what keeps psychiatrists in business. Those professional […]

Training Days. Sacré Bleu!
By Ernie Witham   |   November 21, 2023

The driverless Metro flew into the station and stopped on a euro. The doors opened. There were so many Parisians crammed into the front car, I thought it might have been an AI-generated crowd image. Trois got off. Dix got on. Including moi. Yeah! But not my wife. Oh-oh!  She mouthed, “See you at Saint-Sulpice.” […]

On the Job
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   November 14, 2023

For most of human history, the people who did the hardest physical work were at the bottom of the social scale. These were jobs that went to people called peasants, villeins, or slaves, working in the fields alongside horses and oxen. Women and their traditional roles of housekeeping and child-rearing were always in a class […]

Wetness for the Prosecution
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   October 31, 2023

Although I have done my share of things I regret, sometimes my misdeeds have brought their own penalty. Two of those occasions involved the theft of books, which, at the time, I justified to myself because, being a poor college student, I couldn’t always buy the books I wanted. One episode took place in the […]

Taking Place
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   October 10, 2023

In the normal functioning of our society, many situations arise in which one person has to take the place of another. The details, of course, can vary widely. It may be temporary, as when somebody has to “call in sick” and their part of a job must be done by somebody else. Or it may […]

By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   September 26, 2023

One of Irving Berlin’s best-known songs begins with the words: “I’ll be loving you, always.” And it goes on to assure the “you” to whom it’s addressed, that this is really a very special pledge, with no terminal date. It’s “not for just an hour, not for just a day, not for just a year […]

Ode to What’s Owed
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   September 19, 2023

In Hamlet, Shakespeare gives to one of the play’s less exciting characters, whom he is about to kill off anyway, one of the most quoted passages in the entire drama. It is spoken by Polonius, as a father, giving advice to his son, Laertes, as the son is about to depart for school in another […]

Home Groan
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   August 29, 2023

Despite all the sentimental claptrap about “Home,” still in circulation, there are many good reasons why that word is virtually meaningless, if not actually offensive, to many people, in various situations. I personally can remember a time (in the prosperous years after World War II, when the “American Empire” seemed to be about to replace […]

By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   August 22, 2023

The play A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams, was first performed in 1947, and has become a classic. But how many of the people who hear about it for the first time know what that title means? For one thing, streetcars (“trolleys”), which used to be the major urban provider of public transportation, are […]

Coming Back
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   August 15, 2023

There was a time in my life – not lately – when I used to enjoy re-visiting places where I had previously lived. There were quite a few of them – towns, neighborhoods, even countries, going back to my childhood. Nowadays, when people in general are much more mobile, it’s not unusual for your family […]

Glass Ceilings, Glass Floors, Wine, and Hot Dogs
By Ernie Witham   |   August 15, 2023

“Wow, what a view, huh?” my wife said. “Nice,” I said, leaning against the wall as far away from the tall glass panels that slanted outward at a disturbing angle and had a gap on either side large enough to put your arm through. A family walked by, a little kid climbed up onto the […]

By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   August 8, 2023

You may not remember Tom Lehrer, who performed his own satirical songs, very successfully, in the 1960s – but his offerings included a song satirizing the whole idea of National Brotherhood Week. The last stanza began:  “It’s fun to eulogize the people you despise.” The foil for this frivolity was a genuine decades-long effort to […]

Before I Wake
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   August 1, 2023

For many of us, this little prayer was the first – and possibly the only – one we ever learned: Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep.If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. There were several lessons contained therein: […]

The Crowded Self
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   July 25, 2023

Have you ever asked yourself “Who Am I?” Probably not – or at least, not very often. Identity is one of the few things we are all pretty sure of. We may wonder WHAT we are, and WHY we are – but WHO we are is a question that hardly troubles us. After all, we […]

Start and Stop
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   July 18, 2023

Here is a riddle for you: Everybody knows that Albert Einstein was one of the world’s greatest physicists – but nobody knows his last words, even though they were clearly heard by somebody who was with him at the time. How can this be? (The other person present was an intelligent adult.)  Speaking of words […]

What Next?
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   July 11, 2023

Out of a party game called “Truth or Dare” (which is still being played), there somehow evolved, way back in the 1940s, a very popular radio program called Truth or Consequences. This weekly feature was heard nationwide. I myself – then a child – listened to it regularly. The program used various gimmicks to increase […]

Lots of Cones, but No Ice Cream
By Ernie Witham   |   July 11, 2023

I was at my computer looking at one of the local online news services when I spotted an exciting headline. “There’s no construction scheduled on Hollister Ave. today,” I yelled to my wife. Pat ran into the kitchen and grabbed the car keys. “To the waterfront for lunch and ice cream,” she said in a […]

The Last Straw
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   June 27, 2023

We have all been informed that it was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. But that image troubles me. As a proverb and metaphor, of course, it is very powerful. Another one, “The Tipping Point,” conveys almost the same idea, but less negatively. The image now is of a balance, by which everything […]

My Business Career
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   May 30, 2023

Two women greatly affected my life in the world of business: my mother and my wife. From age five to seven, I lived in my mother’s hometown of Toronto, Canada. There, her father and several other of my relatives were in what was called the “second-hand” business. Their merchandise was mostly used goods. They had […]