Penalties
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   January 23, 2024

Although various religions teach that there is some kind of life after this one, a life in which there is more justice than prevails on Earth, we still like to feel that, even here, people tend to get what they deserve. In our legal codes, this is usually spelled out much less precisely in terms […]

Water works
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   December 26, 2023

I have always been surprised by how many people are willing to pay for bottled water when perfectly drinkable water, certified by local inspectors, is available from their own home faucets (which of course they already pay for as a public utility). Somehow, a very good selling job has been done by the bottled water industry […]

 

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Last Things First
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   December 19, 2023

One of the saddest songs I know is called “The Last Time I saw Paris.” It came out in 1940, after France had been defeated, and Paris occupied, by the Nazis. Paris had been a favorite haunt of Americans. But the war was still going on (although the U.S. had not yet entered it) and […]

Duty
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   December 12, 2023

There are many different kinds of duty, but one thing they all have in common is a sense of obligation, which often attaches to a particular role or job. It can also be an amount owed to a government, or to some other authority, especially as a form of tax, in connection with imports and […]

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 […]

Machines Make the Scene
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   November 21, 2023

In this age of ever-advancing technology, we have become accustomed to non-human contrivances doing things which used to be done by humans (if they were done at all). Along with this, there has been the process of seeing everything in mechanical terms. Our bodies are machines; our homes (as Le Corbusier called them) are “machines […]

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  • 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 […]

    Wear and Tear
    By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   October 17, 2023

    Over time, it seems that everything wears out, even – or especially – our own bodies and minds. But many things that once seemed irreparable or irreplaceable – can now indeed be repaired or replaced. With regard to ourselves, the whole concept is relatively recent – not counting the story that Eve was made from […]

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    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 […]

    The Way it Was
    By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   October 3, 2023

    In the now-almost-forgotten days when many of us regularly watched an early evening network newscast, Walter Cronkite, who was then recognized as the Dean of American Newsmen (there were very few newswomen), used to sign off his report with the words, “And that’s the way it is…” To me, and perhaps to many other members […]

    Always
    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 […]

    Falling in Like
    By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   September 12, 2023

    Yes, let’s leave Love out of it. The word is too loaded. Saying “Like” is, in most cases, much easier and safer, and probably more accurate. There are too many songs about Love, and too few about Like. But aren’t we really talking about Friendship? True, there aren’t many songs about that either. But it […]

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