Something’s Got to Give
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   April 19, 2022

Although it has now become a somewhat ritualized procedure, particularly associated with Christmas and birthdays, the practice of gift-giving has a long and colorful history in our culture. According to a leading authority (St. Paul, quoting Jesus), “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Far be it from me to question anybody’s holy […]

Dilemma
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   April 5, 2022

You’ve probably heard of someone being “on the horns of a dilemma.” It’s a particularly apt expression, because a dilemma, by definition, involves having to choose between two alternatives, neither of which is attractive. And, with certain exceptions, (such as a rhinoceros or a unicorn), most creatures who have horns have two of them – […]

 

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Driving is Subsidized?
By Robert Bernstein   |   April 5, 2022

Do you know how much private motor vehicle use is subsidized in the U.S.? Here are examples of motor vehicle expenses not paid adequately by user fees: “Free” parking. Climate impacts. Land used for roads. Road maintenance. Pollution deaths and illness. “Barrier effect” of blocking access to pedestrians and bicyclists. Military expenses to maintain global […]

Taking Aim
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   March 29, 2022

Archery began with the discovery that a propelled arrow could travel farther than a thrown spear – but has subsequently gone in many strange directions. In late Victorian England, there were two outstanding schools for women, which each had an eminent headmistress. At the North London Collegiate School for Ladies, there was Frances Mary Buss; […]

Come to Your Senses
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   March 22, 2022

You have probably heard the story about “The Princess and the Pea,” which was made famous in our culture by Hans Christian Andersen (but is, like most fairy tales, traceable far back to other times and places). The essence of the tale is that a girl who has claimed to be a Princess is subjected […]

Sacrifice for a Better Future?
By Robert Bernstein   |   March 22, 2022

With Putin’s attack on Ukraine, many of us wrote to President Biden to ask him to cut off Russian oil imports, even if it meant a rise in prices and/or rationing. In my message I called on him to speak to the American people to sacrifice for a greater good. I talked of how my […]

Looking for the Best Pot
By Ernie Witham   |   March 15, 2022

Bonsai pot, that is.  I gave up the other kind of pot when my last lava lamp died. “Dude, Check it out. I think it’s just as groovy when it doesn’t do anything.” “Righteous.” I sold all my bongs at a yard sale. “Excuse me, did you use reverse osmosis water in this one or […]

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On the Side of the Angels
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   March 15, 2022

One of the religious ideas I find most attractive is that of divine intervention – particularly in the form of guardian angels. How wonderful to feel that, if things get really bad, there is a specially appointed agent of the deity who is assigned to protect you personally. Many religions and cultures promulgate ideas of […]

Sad Beauty
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   February 22, 2022

Why do we like watching the sun set? Is it the beauty of changing colors and shapes? Or is it rather the emotional impact of experiencing the passage of time, the ending of another day of our lives? These two closely interwoven themes, the sad and the beautiful, permeate our culture. Three of my favorite […]

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Why Follow the News?
By Robert Bernstein   |   February 15, 2022

I have friends who proudly say they shut out following the news. They find it depressing. I have another friend who is on top of everything in the news. Why should we follow the news? Democracy requires participation. And participation requires informed understanding. My friend who is on top of the news does not attend […]

Learning From the Young
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   February 15, 2022

A friend who was about to turn 50, knowing that I’m in my late 80s, asked me what advice I might have for a person reaching that milestone. I had to tell him that I thought all such “landmarks” artificial and insignificant, being based on our arbitrary counting in tens, which in turn derives from […]

Live Well. Laugh Often.
By Ernie Witham   |   February 15, 2022

I was staring blankly at a shelf in the garage. I’d been on a quest for something when I left the house some 15 steps earlier, but my mind stopped working at about step 12. I moved some boxes around for inspiration. That’s when I found the Monopoly game. It was an early edition. Still […]

What’s in It?
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   February 8, 2022

Much of our folklore, including Greek mythology, has to do with explaining the origins of things. For example, why are there so many troubles in the world? Well, it seems they were once all contained in a certain neat, secure box. But some naughty female named Pandora, hardly realizing what she was doing, opened the […]

Sin-tegrity
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   February 1, 2022

In the popular mythology of our culture, women have had a bad rap. The stereotypical images of the Mother-in-Law (never the Father-in-Law), the Dumb Blonde, and the Woman Driver – to say nothing of the Stage Mother, and the Spinster Schoolmarm – have been the butt of innumerable jokes. There has also been the legendary […]

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