Monday, February 28, 2011


"What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; for there is nothing new under the sun." [Ecclesiastes 1:9]

If it wasn't the Bible, it was Shakespeare; if it wasn't Shakespeare, then it was my 7th grade teacher Sister Mary Ursala. From among the three, I learned just about everything I know. Which is not to say everything in the world, but just about everything I've needed to navigate the world.

College professors, social net-workers, and think tanks will challenge such hubris. More precisely, though, it's really humility. It's that sigh which comes with the dawning realization that while everything in our lives changes, lives themselves remain virtually the same. It's that dawning deduction which reports back how human nature and the human condition have endured intact despite history's most tectonic shifts. It's that dawning humility hard to grasp at first as we keep witnessing so many bold new headlines being made by our prime ministers, presidents. popes, scientists and of course newest Oscar winners.

Dawns rarely erupt upon us. Most often they creep in upon us. And so it's easy at first to believe everything that shines so smartly on the horizon is brand spanking new. "New" has always been one of the most efficacious adjectives in our language. From Washington to Hollywood, Wall Street to Main Street, Silicon Valley to Radio Shack, "new" has a rhapsodic ring to it. Still -- what Ecclesiastes, Shakespeare, and especially Sister Mary Ursala seem to advise is this. The victory will not go to the most excited witness to what's new in the world. Rather, to the witness whose excitement can be steadied by understanding what's also enduring in the world.

To put all that another way, it's how a lot of pitching coaches try to steady their new recruits in spring training. One who I knew would always pace in front of his eager rookies as he held up a ball. "Baseball is a game of basics. So lets start there! This, gentlemen, is a baseball...."

Sunday, February 27, 2011


Oprah Winfrey, queen of the teary talk-show hosts, almost killed my inner child. Maybe not intentionally -- actually she's forever cherishing this spark of youth still flickering within us -- but she did it relentlessly. Lets be honest, Oprah, you can sometimes kill the thing you love by loving it too much!

That's what almost happened to me. So much slobbering love and affection and talk talk talk. I never doubted you and your guests for a minute. My inner child -- that wondrous small spirit of youthful innocence -- had survived very nicely throughout my eight decades. Until you started turning it into what it's not. It's not just all about being giddy and goofy and wanting to shoot the moon. What's more it's not only about being rebellious and racy and looking to wear more purple.

My inner child survived this long simply because there's something about him I like. Even admire. I'm guessing the same way many of your audiences feel too. Instead of a flash of late-in-life ostentation, our inner child is more like the warmth of the-way-it-was. The way it was when we were still young enough to believe in fairies and goblins, Santa and saints. Young enough to understand Charles Schultz's comics gallery of little folks. Young enough to feel the world is good, our life is safe, and everyone loves us like Mom and Dad.

Oh, I understand! How ephemeral and gossamer are these illusions. Traveling the adult world all these years, we learn full well that Linus's little blue blanket is no longer enough to get through a day, let alone a life. We also learn full well it's a hard Darwinian struggle for survival out there. But we're still here, so apparently we knew how to survive the struggle.


That inner child Oprah and other do-gooders give so much attention is not merely a wispy memory. Or emotional escape. Or excuse to act out some long repressed fantasies. That inner child most of us have come to know is, well, it's just us...! It's just who we were, who we are, who we will likely be till the day we die. In case anyone has forgotten, it's many of the very same hurts and loves, trials and triumphs, fears and epiphanies we harbored as seeking children just outside the front door of that place we once called home.

Our world has changed much since then. Our mind and bodies and experiences too. And yet candor demands -- no, invites -- us to reflectively admit that our essence has remained mostly intact. Because, after all, there really was and still is only one of us in this world.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


Lets admit it. We take ourselves ever so seriously. Especially in this modern age when we can record every precious moment of our precious selves on our precious tapes. We possess a capacity ancient emperors would have killed for -- a permanent history of ourselves for all time.

And yet...

When later historians -- even later family members -- come across these collections, most will have scant importance. Little chance someone some day will come across our bar matzoh or anniversary footage with the same excitement of discovering a lost Mozart manuscript.

Talking about ol' Wolfgang, what would truly be exciting is Thomas Edison's last dream. He was working on a way of re-capturing the sounds of the past. Working from the principle of conservation-of-energy, he believed the energy of our voices is never lost. Somewhere in the cosmos the electrical impulses of past utterances might be found and re-created.

Think of it...! Mozart in rehearsal for his Jupiter Symphony. Alexander the Great at the conquest of the Persian capitol of Persepolis. Jesus at the Sermon on the Mount. Caesar at the moment of his bloody death in the Senate. Patrick Henry's "give me liberty or give me death!" Lincoln addressing the crowds on that rainy field at Gettysburg. Warren Harding playing poker and drinking whiskey with his cronies in the West Wing during Prohibition.

Then there's General Patton slapping that hospitalized GI in Sicily. Hitler's last rants from inside his Bunker. Martin Luther King the morning he stepped out on the fateful balcony. Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney in the Oval Office selling the Iraq invasion.

Not to mention what Clark Gable said to Scarlett during some of the Gone With the Wind rehearsals. Or those tense moments backstage just before Sinatra or Elvis or the Beatles stepped out before the crowds.

While we're dreaming Edison's dream, how about the first halting conversation between mom and dad the day they met. Or the feelings expressed between them the night you were conceived. Or then there's --

But wait. Even Edison would admit that some sounds and voices from beyond the barrier of time were meant to fade away right along with time. Perhaps just experiencing one day at a time is quite enough....

Friday, February 25, 2011


The older we are, the more we remember; the younger we are, the more we imagine. How then can the young and the old together imagine our impending future? Say, waking up in the year 2050...?

Chances are it'll be a world without newspapers, post offices, land-line phones, books, checks, or privacy. But imagining what we won't have is easy. The footprints to those futures can already be seen in the sand. More to the point, what will be new about us? about how our bodies & brains will operate? about what will still make us us?

Using an imaginary trajectory from 2050 births to deaths, one guess may be as good as another:

* No Orwellian baby hatcheries in 2050, but surely babies-by-genetic-order. Planned parenthood between you and your obstetrician will now take on bold new meanings!

* Schools and instructors as we know them may be passe, considering we can now purchase digital chips to be be inserted into the brain for mastery of any of a hundred distinct disciplines!

* Hospitals and doctors may now service our bodies electronically, from wherever they are to wherever we are!

* Interpersonal communications may by now surpass the speed and spread of today's world-wide-web, via brain chips which will bring us everything our networks, Internets and tweets do now!

* Love and arts? Well, matters of the soul may be a little more challenging for souless technologies, but surely there will be attempts. Perhaps 3-dimentional screens in our homes by which we can program live performances of the fine arts; also appearances by those whose psychological resumes seem most compatible with our own psychological resumes!

But first, a reality check...! Quite likely most of the above is quite likely all wrong. The history of futurists (from the Delphic Oracle to Nostradamus to the 19th C Millerites) has proved embarrassingly inaccurate. One 2050 prediction, though, is likely to prevail. The human condition...! Whether it was spawned just outside the closed gates of Eden or just out of the Darwinian dusts generated by the Big Bang, it has remained stubbornly unchanged throughout our recorded history. The very same human traumas and triumphs featured on tomorrow's media will, most likely, be very much the same as on yesterday's papyrus scrolls.

And so the eternal battle of the eternal titans will probably carry right into 2050. The irresistible force of new technology meeting the unmovable object of old humanity. Any bets...?

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Polls and surveys have become part of the American fabric of life. We now have them for most everything. What we eat, what we wear, how we vote, how we pray, when we watch television, when we have sex. There's comfort in statistics. Sliced and diced into neat rows of numbers, they have the unmistakable allure of the queen of the sciences: mathematics.

Computers of course are essentially mathematical. It's the dazzling beauty of their billions of sequencing 0's and 1's which bring them to life. Endow them with their power. Permit them to store enormous bodies of data with which to process enormous numbers of questions. In just the last month, here are some of the results. Inviting the discerning to see if there is a pattern:

59% of American high school students say they cheated on a test during the past year. 21% say they stole from a parent or relative. 80% say they lied about something significant to their parents. Still, 92% report they're satisfied with their personal ethics and character [ Josephson Institute of Ethics ]

70% of Americans say religion is losing its influence on national life. Still, 61% say they are a member of a church or synagogue [ Gallup ]

President Obama's latest job approval rating has reached 50%. Still, it remained in the mid-40s throughout much of 2010 [ Gallup ]

Opinions on the reliability of Fox News is now 46% agree and 42% disagree. Still the most trusted news source on television is PBS [ Public Policy Polling ]

As expected, none of the survey centers called me. Or offered to connect their dots to postulate a national pattern. It's entirely likely the only real pattern is there is no pattern. And while that cannot be said about our computers, it may be one of the few blessings we can still say about us.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Among other items around the house, two of the most commonly tucked away: old letters and old keys. The operative word here is "tucked." You see, we always intended to use them again. Then never did.

If you like metaphors, a couple come to mind. The letters are sightings to pasts we once knew and lived; the keys are for the doorways to some futures we still wish to enter. Then again, perhaps there's nothing metaphoric about them. Simply old letters and keys.

If you come across the letters, it's always interesting to discover from whom and for why. By golly -- I had forgotten I saved that class reunion invitation, that scribbly note from our child, and especially that astounding poem she wrote for our 25th wedding anniversary. Something like perfume, you kept them around to remind yourself those sweet memories really did happen. Why in heaven's name did you ever misplace them?

As for those rusting keys -- frankly I can't for the life of me figure out what they are to. Something like old biases, you kept them around just in case you'd need them again. Was this one to the garage? OK, but then which of the four garages we've owned? And this one, it looks like it could be to a mailbox. But where? And why? I don't even remember owning a keyed mailbox.

So there it is.....! Two more little mysteries to the network of mysteries that make up our life. Like resolute pack-rats, we're forever saving, storing, treasuring up the moments of our lives. Which is perfectly fine, for we thereby recognize our lives were worth remembering. However, why then do we so often forget?

Perhaps it's because we are genetically programmed to keep moving on. Growing. Advancing. Old letters and keys...? Well, like most old things, we keep them around out of habit. Sometime out of hope. The habitual hope that someday we'll find the time for them once more.

Funny, we never know when "once more" could be right now.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


There are recurring adages that pepper our lives. Little truths like: "The apple never falls far from the tree," "beauty is in the eye of the beholder," "the best things in life are free." I grew up with these. But here's one new to my scene: "Right now, someone's getting rich from this."

When you think about it, that's probably been true from the time tribal shamans sold prayer beads and pharonic high priests kept the key to their boss' pyramids. Over time, the idea of making money became institutionalized. At first it was called inherited wealth. Later, mercantilism. More recently, capitalism.

So long as capitalists like Andrew Carnegie and Henry Ford felt a social obligation to their workers, there was peace in the valley. But over time, corporate "good citizenship" lost some of its charm Today, corporate profits skyrocket even while the rest of the economy remains stalled in a deep recession.

Enter the adage: "Right now, someone's getting rich from this."

Whether it was their spiking oil prices or growing food prices, corporations were known to have shared-the- wealth through the jobs they provided, and the salaries & benefits they pumped back into the economy. Today, however, Americans face a hard new reality. Our corporation don't need us anymore...!

Increasingly, their products, revenues and workers come from abroad (the preferred name is Global Economy). Harold Meyerson writes in The American Prospect: "With every passing year, America's leading corporations grow more and more decoupled from the American economy. Their interests grow increasingly more detached from those of our workers, our consumers, and our economic future. Unlike any other recession, including the Great Depression, today's leading employers can return to profitability without hiring large numbers of American workers."

Everyone -- from the posturing political parties to the chattering political pundits -- have decided that the weapon of choice in today's crippling recession is to slash government spending. If done judiciously and justly, that will help. But until corporate America rejoins America, much of the help will continue to benefit only those who least need it.

Monday, February 21, 2011


As any cosmologist will tell you, the only real sign of life in the universe is growth. When you think about it -- here too.

Growth, however, happens in spurts. Watching spring now spurting to life helps make the point. Our own little everyday spurts do too. The trajectory of growth in our lives is never exactly predictable or consistent. Significant growth spurts occur when and how we least expect them.

Small example. Ever notice when you find a new word you never heard of before? Suddenly it seems that word is now all around you. Newspapers, magazine, blogsites. Actually it always was, only you never noticed it before.

Or take the classic political examples. A conservative is suddenly a liberal who just got mugged; a liberal is a conservative who just got arrested. Little growth spurts in how we see our world.

A sudden illness, an unexpected death, a surprise revolution. Each of these will trigger a spurt in our thinking and feeling. One we should have, but probably never did prepare for. It's in the nature of humanity to find a comfortable rut -- usually called a groove -- and kinda stay there.

One of the more astonishing growth spurts occurs when we read an obituary or attend a eulogy service. Suddenly so many things we never knew about this person -- good and giving things -- are laid out in front of our surprised eyes. I never knew that about him...! She never shared that...! If only I had known...!

Any teacher will tell you -- at least this one will -- good teachers hope for such spurts in their classroom. Such eureka moments when clouds lift and sun shines in. The glow of recognition on the face of your students is what you're there for. What you work for. And what's interesting about these spurts is how they come in the form of a gift. Yours to them!

Unlike most professions, a teacher (as the clergy) is giving away what they know without a fee. Most professionals charge for what they know. Not the teacher. Oh...but about that rich fat pension plan we're told teachers have by sucking the economic blood out of the American economy? Well, here's a followup question for the mis-directed rage of the deficit hawks. How many retired teachers do you know hobnobbing on the French Riviera with those retired professionals who charged big-time for every minute of their knowledge? Every case, every client, every patient, every consumer?

Not pointing. Just asking....

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Ahhh...hmmm...gurgle. It's warm and soft in here. Why in heaven's name would I want to leave this place for that cold white room out there!

But, want to or not, we're born into this cold white world. A little dicey at first. Pretty soon, though, we can get to like it. Because, well, Mom's even warmer and softer. Plus the milk. Not so bad after all.

The trajectory of our life begins on a sweet I-take-you-give arrangement. Lasts for a long time. Parents...older siblings ...doting aunts...concerned teachers...kindly clergy...maybe even neighbors with after-school cookies. No, not bad at all.


This felicitous trajectory eventually takes a sharp turn. Now, of all things, people start expecting me to do some of the giving. College collectors. Wait a minute, I didn't sign up for this. No wonder Linus hangs on to that little blue blanket. He misses that first-draft to that contract. Much easier to take than to give.

That -- as any adult can now tell you -- is the irony to childhood's ardent dream of becoming an adult. All that freedom to do whatever you want. Ahh, upon some reflection, it may have been a little over-sold. With every birthday there's more freedom, yes, but it comes with a price. The world, once so yielding and giving, expects you to give back.

This, then, is that fork in the road's trajectory where adults must make a choice. Taking is easy; giving, not so much. Unless, that is, you can give with an open hand rather than a clenched fist. Unless you can start to understand you're really not an island, but part of a continent. Unless you can uncover the great dusty wisdoms enshrined by all the world's great religions.,,

...that in giving a little of yourself, there's lot to get back. The reward of learning this little space you're taking up on the planet has a big purpose after all.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


The Artificial Intelligence teams are beaming with recent successes. Their IBM Watson computer beat the best the human race could throw up against it in a nationally televised "Jeopardy." At the same time, the sprawling build-a-brain Blue Brain Project in Switzerland is well underway. What does it all mean to Franklin Simms, third VIP to the left at Rush Street's newest place-to-be...? And to Luis Adams, the parking valet...?

I had to ask.

Franklin could be the prototypical alpha male. Working on LaSalle Street as a stock broker, he's 38, smart, lean, and rich. Drives the right car, owns the right technology, attends the right power seminars. I'm pretty sure he knows the answers to all his clients' questions, although I'm not altogether sure he could answer Luis' questions.

Luis is a little older than Franklin, a little heavier, and a lot poorer. But I've always enjoyed Luis more than Franklin. I'm not sure why. Could be that Thoreauvian taste for the simple, because Luis is a simple man. In the best philosophical sense of being un-complex and un-pretentious. In the few times I've been here, he's never asked Franklin any questions. But if he did I have a hunch they might be: "Why don't you ever look me in the eyes when you toss me your car keys? Or the person your with?"

I've watched Franklin a few times. Luis' questions would be valid ones. Like any famished alpha male on the hunt, Franklin exudes this intense Western exceptionalism which says: People are not so much people as rungs on a tall ladder I'm climbing. Clients like me are perfectly fine to be with; Luis, well lets be honest, he's never going to be investing any money with Franklin. In a highly-sophisticated, technology-driven culture, people are a lot like investments. Those who promise a return are worth my time. Those who don't, well they park cars.

I don't know either man very well, so the right to judge is off-limits. But to guess, well why not? If so, I guess Luis smiles more during his dreams than Franklin. No Watson or Blue Brain to verify that guess, but the guess comes from watching a man who always smiles and looks me in the eyes.

Friday, February 18, 2011


When the child is in pain, the mother is there to ease and sooth. When the child becomes an adult, mothers alone are no longer enough. Soon we learn that pain is endemic to life itself. Be it physical or emotional, pain travels resolutely with us across the treks of time. With few get-out-of-jail cards!

Frankly, it may have been the very first question Adam and Eve pondered in the shadows of their very first night outside the Garden. How could a good God allow so much pain in His world...? Christianity's answer: "It is the free will of humans that often leads to such pain." Augustine went on to argue the pain continues until "we at last rest in the Lord." Chekhov shook his Russian head and added: "Life is a tragedy filled with joys."

If there had been no pain in the world, there would probably have been no philosophers. Trying to explain suffering is the philosopher's main raison d'etre. But then after centuries of suffering in the Old Worlds, a New World was discovered across the Atlantic. Soon entire populations looked to this land-of-the-free-and-home-of-the-brave as the best option available for "...the tired, poor and huddled masses yearning to breathe free."

In 1893, Antonin Dvorak premiered his New World Symphony in Carnegie Hall. The ultimate musical salute to where humanity might still flee to be free of its ancient curse. Since that night, hundreds of millions have streamed into this land, including my own Father. For some seekers, they found what they were looking for. For most, the curse stubbornly clung on.

Now 118 years later, Dvorak himself might wonder. The New World has bred a consumerist ideology which promises to relieve our suffering with just the right meds or toys. Until, that is, near the end. In just the last decade, federal spending on hospice care for the dying has tripled to more than $10 billion a year. Nursing homes and hospices are among the top 10 employers in the nation. Would Dvorak see this as symptomatic of our incurable curse...? Or would he admire a government willing to care for its terminally ill...? Or would he decry those who would now find money for the weapons of war while slashing these weapons of comfort...?

The New World symphony is scheduled for next season's CSO programming here in Chicago. Lets see how the audiences respond to these questions. Has our new world found new answers to humanity's old curse? Or is suffering still the guest we try to leave out in the cold, until it finds its way in?

Thursday, February 17, 2011


What is this thing called life....? At one time we thought of human life as the center of the universe. Some of us tried to imagine it like a dome resting on the back of a cosmic turtle. Others found ever more fanciful images. Today, modern science simply calls it: The biosphere. The global sum of all the ecosystems on earth.

That's what it must look like from the Space Shuttle, and that certainly makes good sense. But what if we push the image further? What if we ask ourselves where each of US fits into this living cosmic organism? Because, after all, there is every good neurobiological reason to conclude that you and I are more than coincidences here. When the finest minds weigh all the incredible odds against human life taking hold on this rock, it's hard not to conclude like award-winning physicist Paul Davies: "We were meant to be here."

OK, push the image one step further.

By every biologically known logic, each of us 6 billion little organisms are somehow a part of this overall organism. Given what we know about organisms, the question must arise: Within this cosmic biosphere, what is each of us doing within our own personal sphere of influence? A fancier way of asking: Are we pulling our own weight in this relentless planetary endeavor to survive out here in all this black threatening space...?

If you're a president, prime minister or pope, the question makes immediate sense. You have enormous power at your fingertips. But what if you're only a parent, a teacher, a salesperson, or a cop; then what? What real influence do you have within this fiercely complex organism?

Wait a minute....! To address that question you first have to delete that ever-popular, cop-out word: "Only." Now what's the answer?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


There's a rumor going around that statistics are the ultimate manifestation of authenticity in our lives. You know, throw some numbers against the wall, and those that stick suddenly become the law of the land..!

The Pew Opinion Center has taken up where Gallup left off in making these proclamations. This percent of Hispanics eat tacos, this percent of white urbanites vote liberal, this percent of church-goers fall asleep during the sermons, etc etc etc.

This is not to say Pew or statistics are useless. It is to say that everything depends on how one reads and uses the statistics. Here, lets take four new sets of numbers, and see what we can make of them:

1. For the first time in the history of food gathering, the UN estimates 10% (500 million) of the world's adults are currently obese from over-eating

2. Since 2000, 79% of the US population growth has been among Blacks, Asians and Hispanics; in 10 states, Whites are now the new minority

3. This year's Super Bowl was seen by 111 millions viewers, the largest TV audience in US history

4. Biographies of Hollywood legend Humphrey Bogart continue to grow by 40-50% each new year

To show how stats can be used in remarkably different ways, try some of these conclusions on for size:

1. McDonald's greasy french fries have now reached the farthest flung corners of the world's corners...!

2. In 10 states the White population is too busy watching reality TV to really have sex at night....!

3. The Super Bowl may be the only time this many Americans share anything in common at the very same time since the long ago days of radio when everyone gathered around their living sets to listen to Jack Benny, Lux Radio Theatre or an FDR fireside chat...!

4. As more and more college students put aside their in-bred sense of exceptionalism to watch old re-runs of Bogart's classic "Casablanca," more and more are re-discovering what Americans once believed about themselves. Tough on the outside, loving on the inside, and not afraid to put corny values like God, Country and Love ahead of Wall Street careers....!

OK, # 1 & # 2 were for laughs. But I assure you, # 3 & # 4 were for real..........

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


There's a small island in every life.

This is a space and place that goes by different names. It tends to appear just over the horizon of our lives at a very young age, although it is frequented most often at older ages. Like most small islands, it is unpopulated and perfectly private. It is where we go when we need unpopulated privacy.

We usually travel there when our hearts are exploding with joy or breaking with pain. It would be unseemly to shout our glee or roar our hurt in public. Our small private island of emotions is where best to do this. But let it be understood the island is indispensable, for in every life there must be just such a pyscho-spiritual outlet.

There are times when we are inclined to share our small island with another. A parent, a spouse, an intimate friend. And yet, even they are only visitors, for this small island is usually just big enough for one.

Priests and poets, psychiatrists and philosophers have tried to map our small island. And their maps are very helpful. Still, there will always be islands in this world for which there can be no professional directions; only personal journeys. What is important is not so much how we get there (it can happen in the explosion of a second); rather, it is how we get back from there. How we navigate its perfect privacy, but then return to the land of our everyday lives. More enlightened. More emboldened. More prepared for the moments and miles ahead.

It is said that a mind is a terrible thing to waste. And hearts will not be perfect until they can be made unbreakable. In keeping with those large wisdoms, these small islands must be protected. Not over-grown with too much pride nor infested with too much fear. That takes our attention, a kind of on-going emotional ecology.

What then might we call our small protected island...? Treasure Island sounds about right, only someone already copyrighted that one.

Monday, February 14, 2011


With more than 6 billion of us jostling up against one another on this planet, imagine all the infinitely different ideas and inspirations, feelings and fears crackling out there. How in the world can anyone ever conceive and construct a single sense of all this complexity...?

Occasionally great institutions or leaders arrive and try. Religions and empires, popes and poets. But mainly conspiracists. Booming voices who find vast conspiracies in their world. Pharaohs did this about their enemies. Alexander did this with the Persian empire. Islam did this when they looked out at the infidels in Europe. European Christians did this with their Crusades into the Holy Land. Martin Luther did this with the infidel he saw in Rome. After WWII, both Washington and Moscow found conspiracies in the other

But there's another way to try making singular sense out of a complex world. Pick a generation, then turn it into a tiger you can give a name. America tried it in the 1920s, later in the 1960s, and now again in the 21st C. It's Youth!

In the 20s, F. Scott Fitzgerald best captured the young generation in his novels, and society rode this tiger of harness-busting swells and flappers. Until the Crash in 1929 busted the tiger into a debris of depression. In the 60s, the revolutionaries on the fields of Woodstock and in the streets of Chicago best captured the tiger. Until the disaster of Nixon's Viet Nam and venom. Now it's happening again. In an age when youth has learned how to work the new digital levers of power in the Social Media in order to change politics at home and ignite revolutions like Cairo abroad. As they do, old men in three-piece-suits in governments, banks and corporate offices wonder.

They see another tiger of youth roaring across the world. Hundreds of millions of young people -- with more dreams than jobs -- are trying to bare their claws of desire. Not for the first time, but each time the old men look for ways to make it the last time. Time alone will tell the tale.

And talking about tales, we've got this tiger just by the tail. How best to ride it? Probably that depends on our age. The old usually out-think or at least outlast the young in these affairs. On the other hand, it's good to remember that tigers like Alexander, Luther, Fitzgerald, Woodstock and Cairo were young. Very young...

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Among the ancient questions are: Is there life after death? If so, can the living communicate with the dead?

Anyone who's ever thought about dying has likely cobbled together an answer they can live with. Most world religions have done more than cobble; they've exquisitely designed complex ideas on the matter. Among these is Catholicism's "communion of saints" which asserts that everyone lives on after death to become an enduring community of souls who can relate to one another from both sides of the grave.

OK, lets see how that works....!

If you've taken the time to plumb the depths of the dead, there's an excellent chance you might be able to commune with their ideas. For instance, I intuit that Lincoln would have had some problems with today'sTea Party and anyone else who seeks to crush the role of government in our lives. He once fought with tens of thousands of lives to preserve that very government.

If I try to commune with Teddy Roosevelt, I'm pretty sure his robust trust-busting policies would be saying to today's plutocrats: Enough! It's once again time for you to stop reaping rewards tantamount to rape.

If FDR and I were in spiritual conversation, I'm pretty sure he would remind me how he loved his country so much that even he, himself an wealthy aristocrat, felt obliged to stand up to the "economic royalists" of his day.

Dad and I would surely have a wonderful conversation about the American Dream. As an immigrant, he dreamed it and then lived it. He became what is proudly known as a free enterpriser, only on a neighborhood not corporate scale. I still hear him saying "the business of America is business." Although I figure he would add there's an enormous ethical difference between neighborhood and corporate business.

Mom..? Well, we talk frequently. Just before I slip off to sleep at night. I often ask her -- and Dad too -- what was it like to start life with none of the securities and pleasures they gave their sons? Mom was raised in a gun-toting, turn-of-the-20thC mining town near Indian Territory in Arizona, while Dad grew up in the Chicago ghetto known as Little Sicily. How in the name of everything holy did you two emerge from such origins to become such saints?

They never answer that question, because I imagine they don't accept its premise. They were no more saints than was Lincoln, Teddy, and FDR. But still, I'm terribly happy I can keep in communication with such saintly souls. Who do you commune with at night...?

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Watching the people's revolution in Egypt, everyone has to wonder what it will mean. For them and for us. One thing everyone should understand -- revolutions always ignite the law of unintended consequences.

Which means the autocrats of the Arab world and the plutocrats of the Western world need to tuck themselves into their beds at night just a little more tightly. The "few" have always ruled the world; but the "many" continue breeding both babies and discontent.

And yet...

Despite the tides of change in our lives, there is always the shores of stability. Take for example the stability of traditions like the annual class reunion. This spring another several thousand will gather together in some campus or hotel where Past meets Present. Whether you're ready or not. It's an ancient tribal ritual into which classmates are lured for various reasons. Subconscious as well as conscious. Behold what you can expect:

* The star quarterback -- now fatter, balding yet as loud as you remember him from the lunch-table

* The beauty queen -- now fatter, toned yet as coquettish as you remember her when she told you no

* The class nerd -- now fatter, confident and richer than anyone in the room

* The class bully -- now fatter, subdued and remarkably gentle after a life that has bullied him for years

* That special guy -- now fatter, wrinkled but whose eyes still seem to remember

* That special gal -- now fatter, slower but whose eyes you hope can still can remember

* That favorite teacher -- now fatter, grayer and for some incredible unlikely reason can't remember your name

Ready? Well, maybe you're not quite psychologically equipped. OK, no problem. Just take out the old yearbook, and smile a little; as you too tuck yourself in a little more tightly

Friday, February 11, 2011


The great American alley...!

You'll find no poems and hear no rhapsodies to these amazing little arteries back of the great streets and boulevards of our Park Ridge. In fact, in some neighborhoods you can't hardly find them anymore. Too dirty, too unhealthy, too uncivilized for our terribly civilized times.

Here's where some of you nod in soft satisfaction, knowing full well about the ancient mysteries and magic to these narrow gateways. And "gateway" is the correct definition, for while adults think of them as ugly necessities, children once knew much much better.

You didn't need a GPS system to track kids hanging out in alleys. All it took was a second look. I mean, to judge a neighborhood by its building fronts was only half the assignment. The more important half was how its inhabitants inhabited their alleys. What and how they discarded their refuse could tell you a lot about the people. Especially the little people, the kids out there where childhood games and imagination functioned freely.

A few generations ago, alleys were the main thoroughfares for a pageant of familiar vendors. First among them, the crisp-white-uniformed milk man. Early on, in his horse-drawn wagons; later in his motor-driven trucks; but either way, a member of the family who brought your milk, butter, eggs and gossip.

The ice-man was another frequent-flier, lugging bold blocks of ice over his padded shoulder to keep your kitchen's icebox cooling another few days. The ice-man was of particular importance to kids as we chased after him, scooping up precious shards of fallen ice to bear with pride until they melted in our hands.

Exotic is how best to describe other alley paraders from those long ago days. The produce man, pushing his cart spilling over with green and red vegetables freshly picked from nearby farms. Today's sleek supermarkets feature better and cleaner selections; but they don't come wrapped in one-on-one tributes to these treasures from the earth. Exotic also was the rags-n-old-iron guy who lumbered down these alleys collecting our disposables; and the scissors man whose grind-wheel kept our kitchen knives sharp; the pony-ride man and the monkey-man who featured their pets for our pleasure.

Today we have imposing routes like Lake Shore Drive, the Magnificent Mile, and Park Ridge's own tree-bannered main streets. Visitors rightfully fancy these features. Darn few will ever ask to see our alleys. And yet, to a child -- especially the children before TV, cellphones, iPads, and other assorted magic -- the real magic was to be found trekking the great parade routes of our alleys.

A silent prayer for the beloved deceased...

Thursday, February 10, 2011


So what do you think about when you're not thinking...?

For instance, when you're brushing your teeth? taking your pills? combing your hair? driving in traffic? These are automatic actions which require only a minimum of cognitive activity. But surely some something is happening in your consciousness. [Consciousness -- A whole other issue science and philosophy are vigorously debating]

Survival....! According to the Darwinian construct, most everything species do is due to their programmed instinct for survival. And in the case of another non-thinking activity -- sex -- the survivability that comes with pro-creation.

None of this is intended to minimize what we do as human beings. When looked at in a certain ambitious way, this Darwinian point of view can be understood as actually maximizing what we do. In historical point of fact, this is exactly how Darwin's great work was used here in the early 20th C to design a bold new concept called eugenics. Americans no less than Margaret Sanger, Woodrow Wilson and Oliver Wendell Holmes embraced eugenics as a way of improving and purifying the human species.

Eugenics took a bloody turn on the road of progress in the 1930s when Adolf Hitler convinced 60 million Germans there was something like a "super race." Only you had to work on it. In effect, you had to speed up evolution. [Gestapo head Heinrich Himmler succinctly called Nazism "applied biology."]. Hence the camps, the ovens, the Aryan breeding, and all the ugly rest.

Like Galileo and Newton before him, Darwin changed our world. Forever. We could no longer understand ourselves as simply breathed into life in some Mesopotamian Garden 4000 years ago. [Well, maybe still in the gardens of some literal fundamentalists]. But for the rest of us, we have arrived at an oblique understanding that we, like everything else on this planet, evolved over long long stretches of cosmic time.

Prize-winning Genome Director Francis Collins has argued -- right along with the Vatican -- that God and evolution are not mutually exclusive. The trip-wire here is when the evolutionist may want to play God by manipulating the process. Considering the many human flaws and defects between you and me, this manipulating thing might be something to think about the next time we're not thinking. That is to to say, who and when among us will someone offer another Hitlerian twist to Darwin?

Maybe like today's Tiger Mom who has decided that parents are obliged to take Darwin (and their kids) by the hand, and push them forward even faster than they may be thinking about while brushing their teeth and combing their hair...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


As was Rome twenty centuries ago, Washington is the capitol of the world. Important officials and lobbyists therein sip 5 PM cocktails in the local bars considering new ways by which to translate this imperial status into the kind of "bacon" they can bring home to their constituents and companies.

Not far from their drinks looms the White House and the Capitol. Where stirring words are stirringly written on great marble walls and statuary. However, the guys who wrote them are long dead, and they actually are mostly there for the touring high schools classes. Over drinks, the real issues are trimming my taxes, boosting my profits, and making damn sure that neither Iran's crazies nor China's corporations do us any harm.

Self interest is not a crime. It comes with the territory of life; especially life at the top. And yet, even here in the current center-of-the-world, there are voices of concern. Whose words don't appear on marble walls, but recently in one of the local newspapers, The Washington Post. Columnist Richard Cohen wrote:

"The all-volunteer military has enabled America to fight two wars while many of its citizens do not know of a single fatality or even of anyone who has fought overseas. Had there been a draft, the war in Iraq might never have been fought. George W Bush didn't need your body or, in the short run, your money. Southerners would fight, and foreigners would buy the bonds. The US has become like Rome or the British Empire, able to fight nonessential wars with a professional military. Ultimately, this will drain us financially, and spiritually as well..."

Cohen doesn't -- couldn't -- work for Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal. Nor would he be invited to address the next Republican or Tea Party convention. Nor do most of the masters-of-the-universe over these drinks applaud him. After all, the US is not really an empire. Those military establishments we have in 195 worldwide locations are simply there to protect the peace. Which peace...? The one we signed after WWII in 1945...!

You don't have to hate your country to write columns like Cohen. Frankly, you have to love it so much that you worry about its current compass. Not every rich man is a demon, nor every poor man a saint. However, in a land where the really rich man (in after-tax-income and/or corporate profits) constitutes about 6% of the population, folks like Cohen are right to wonder how long will or can the other 94% keep bleeding in wars, losing status in income, and watching the rich-and-famous accumulate jets, yachts and overseas bank accounts.

That may sound like the old shibboleth: "Class war." But ask any street demonstrator from Los Angeles to Cairo to Paris. They simply call it: "Enough." Which is why the boys in the DC bars might think about as they drive home seriously avoiding all those "dangerous neighborhoods" in town.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


During its long trudge across the centuries, humanity has forged a number of laws that have never been written. They just happen. For example, there's the ever popular law of unintended-consequences which happens every war. Or that equally poignant law you-don't-appreciate-it-till-it's-gone which happens every wake.Then there's the law which says it's the exception-that-proves-the-rule.

This last one, though, doesn't always hold up to the test of time. Take for instance pitcher Gil Meche of the Kansas City Royals who just turned down a $12.4 contract, because "I didn't feel like I deserved it with my shoulder injury." What...? Or the Ohio man suing a South Carolina golf club where an alligator bit him "because I couldn't see your signs about alligators in the water." Oh really...?

It will be hard to argue these exceptional gentlemen prove any rules of about either baseball players' sense of justice or golfers' sense of sanity. However, the exception/rule law seems alive and well in today's mass media.

The rule of journalism is it's not news when a dog (or alligator) bites a man; it's only news if the man does the biting. And so, true to form, reporters ferret out the exceptions. Like the $5000 toilet seats in Pentagon budgets. Or the multimillion dollar bridge-to-nowhere in Alaska. Or, better yet, the gazillion dollar salaries and life styles of movies stars.

Trouble is, the only rule these exceptions prove is that they are exceptionally exceptional. Consider how the average annual salary of most film actors today hovers around $ 30,000/year.

Still, the media and its subscribers will not be denied their exceptionally lurid headlines. Among the latest are the rapacious city and state pension plans! When we hear about retired superintendents and criminally prosecuted police chiefs hauling in hundreds of thousands of pension dollars, taxpayers are righteously indignant. Only these disgusting exceptions are just that -- exceptions.

Look, the vast majority of public employees in schools, fire departments and police forces worked hard and honestly for their bosses, the taxpayer. And the taxpayer had no objection when they served the taxpayer well for extremely modest salaries. Now, however, when the long-promised, long-underfunded pension bills come due, the taxpayer is being enraged by heady headlines about fat pension checks and double-dipping loopholes which are killing city and state budgets.

Except that these reprehensible 2% exceptions prove very few rules about the other 98%.

Public pension plans should indeed be re-visited for future public workers. And loopholes should indeed be slammed shut. Only not like a noose looped around necks of currently pensioned teachers, firefighters and police officers who did their job for their bosses for many long, low-paying years.

So here's another unwritten law for consideration: Promises made and fulfilled today are still promises to be honored tomorrow.

Monday, February 7, 2011


When the novel was first published in 1818, its sub-title was its message: "The Modern Prometheus." It's better known simply as "Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley. She was but 18 when she began drafting it; now almost 200 years later, her haunting idea haunts on.

It is simply this -- the dangers sometime inherent in even the best of scientific intentions. Often described as the law of unintended consequences.

Science-fiction writers have been probing this conundrum for generations ever since. Luminaries like H. G. Wells ["The Time Machines"], Aldous Huxley ["Brave New World"], and George Orwell ["1984"] among them. Today Hollywood simply calls them Techno-Thrillers.

We are fancifully but fearfully reminded what can happen when the good scientist's dreams slip off the track into nightmares. The modern computer has percolated scores of film scenarios about master-minds harnessing the staggering powers of computer banks and sky-satellites for personal purposes. Control of the world's wealth...the world's armies...the world's leaders.

Now a bold new scientific venture is quietly operational in Switzerland called the Blue Brain Project. Under project director Henry Markram, it seeks to create a synthetic human brain. To replicate the tens of billions of neurons which go into the makeup of our brains. But while our brains are only a few small pounds, the Project has thus far put into play a network of super-computers that take up three football-fields of space. It seeks to do some of the work of evolution (or God) within three years.

One wonders what young Mary might think of this? What might her dedicated Dr Frankenstein say of this? What might Stephen Spielberg film of this? Time -- or perhaps coincidence -- well tell us within these three years. Once up and running, Professor Markram (and all the ghosts of all the scientists before him) may get the chance to answer some long-stading neocortical microstructure questions:

* will this brain achieve consciousness?
* if so, will it thereby achieve a soul?
* if that, have we become god?
* if not, will it?

Sunday, February 6, 2011


It's been years since we last sent a team to the Super Bowl. And decades since a World Series or NBA title game. Still, Chicago sends hundreds of teams out every day of the year. Teams of smart, broad-shouldered players whose eyes are on far bigger prizes than championships.

From day one, the new mayor will need to deploy these teams with the genius of a coach plus the heart of a lover. Hundreds of miles of the nation's finest streets, boulevards, parks and shorelines deserve not one whit less. Like any world-class city, Chicago is a sprawling living organism; and these are among its pumping arteries. The next physician-mayor will have to keep them clean and clear so the organism's farthest extremities can remain hearty and healthy.

Ever watch one of these city crews in action....? No crowds to cheer them on, but they operate with some of the same sweet execution of a Bears pass or a Cubs double-play. Cynics scoff at "cushy city jobs," but let them put their backs into these avalanches of snow in the winter and floods in the summer. Let them belt-up as they climb towers and down tunnels. Let them sweat 12-hour blue collar days so white collared bankers and executives can reach their desks unscathed.

It's human nature to take the good stuff for granted. Until they're not there anymore. Parents...spouses.... jobs... homes...and the spectacle of a beautiful functioning metropolis. Kids are blessed with the innocence to see castles in snow storms and magic lakes in rain storms. I'm just old enough to still see them myself. However, mayors must be made of tougher stuff.

Mr or Madam -- no one has to remind you of this. You wouldn't be running without understanding such un-cheered, taken-for-granted imperatives. It's we who have to tell ourselves. That great cities don't just happen. That grand lake shores, flowered boulevards, and lush parks aren't a matter of luck. And that good government isn't simply a cynical punch-line over drinks. They do exist. Because faceless, nameless teams of laborers grunt life into them every new day.

So welcome Mr or Madam Mayor. Look around at the proud heritage of the last one, and say to yourself: "I'm going to stand on the shoulders of his city crews so that I can see even higher and farther. The people who elected me deserve it...!"

Saturday, February 5, 2011


February may be short on days, but not on dates. Dates of some consequence.

For instance, February 2 was the date the groundhog trumped the weather-caster...February 3 was Chinese New Year...February 6 was when the ancient Greek Oracle at Delphi answered the great questions... February 14 is Valentine's Day...February 21 is President's Day. Well, you get the idea.

However, it's not the calendar that shapes our lives; it's our lives that shape the calendar. Right now a billion Christians and a billion Muslims are using these February days to arrive at a historic decision: Do we continue waging the East/West Crusades of old, or do we find common cause in rallying a new crusade between us?

The question is being asked throughout the streets of the Middle East, and the answer is likely to affect how you and I survive throughout the streets of America. With regard to our oil prices...our jobs...our budgets...and our kids' safety from future Middle East wars.

First, though, this name Middle East should be discarded. It was coined in the West, but it ignores something every protester in those streets knows very well. The world's civilizations began in these lands. They were not midway between more important regions. They WERE the region! The region where everything really began, whether you want to name it the Garden of Eden or Mesopotamia or whatever your literary pleasure.

Long before Europe and America, these were the lands of giants. Pharaohs, Persia and prophets. When Alexander the Great conquered the sprawling Persian empire (modern Iran) the civilizational battle was joined for all time. East vs West. Greeks, Persians, Muslims, Crusaders, the lands are soaked rich in the blood of both sides in these endless hatreds. Hatreds re-fueled when in 1948 the West helped create the state of Israel in the midst of this volatile region, and its most volatile haters condemned the action.

Today, East and West out here often hate one another without remembering quite why. Or simply because extremists on both sides stir the hatred brew anew. Now that the region's 1 billion Muslims are trying to throw off the shackles of dictatorships often funded by the West, the searing question that looms for the West is: Will their passions for freedom see us as the Great Satan their extremists charge?

To those -- both East and West -- who insist on easy black&white answers, you are a boil upon this eternal plague. There are no easy answers, there are no military answers, they are not even handy conspiracy answers. When you ride the tiger of history, you not only have to know how to hold on; you first have to understand the tiger's deepest fears and hopes.

Friday, February 4, 2011


After every major snow storm, people have stories to tell. Usually about getting stuck in their car for hours or losing their electricity for days. In this case, the lessons we less dramatic, but more enduring.

On the first two days, no paper delivery; so when they came the next morning, all three editions were bundled together. If ever you need to be reminded how fleeting -- often fatuous -- our times really are, compare the coverage. What was a blaring headline one day, is a page 12 item 48 hours later. What was a big revelation one day, may only be a small retraction this day. Yesterday's hero is today's old news, and so their 15 minutes is up.

There was a parallel lesson. Trudging through the snow to dig out the editions, you're probably grumbling. Not the kids out there...! They're giggling. With joy and abandon, for what are un-plowed streets to you are stout snow forts to them. To you what means you can't get to work or to the supermarket, to them means that most wondrous of all days...! A free day with which they can now use snow storms for what they were really meant.

One more lesson, one you might miss in the usual rush of a usual day. That intimidatingly long essay on the op-ed page about the power of today's "new plutocracy." before you shrug that off as old new, what's new is their new. enormous, border-less reach. Billionaires from around the world who have more in common with one another than they do with their own national government, and their own everyday nationals. Holding up to 90% of the planet's worth, they have become a new global nation of power brokers with names like Gates, Buffet, Koch, Soros, Pinchuk, and El-Erian who periodically gather in economic summits like the Bilderberg Group, the Boa Forum, and Google's Zeitgeist Conference.

Unlike the inherited aristocrats of old, these are the self-made meritocrats of now whose allegiance is more to one another than to any government. Indeed, they are closer to a world organization than the UN ever dreamed.

When Ayn Rand lionized her master-of-the-universe John Galt, he was a fictional character. Today's billionaire super-elites are quite real. And for them, self-interest is the mother of all rationalization when they roar at any president or prime minister daring to say their wealth should be taxed proportionate to its enormity.

Journalist Chrystia Freeland says it well: "The lesson of history is that, in the long run super-elites have two ways to survive: by suppressing dissent or by sharing their wealth." Some are currently sharing via their philanthropic foundations. Others...? Well, they could take a lesson from the kids building their forts out there. Even the biggest snows eventually melt...

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Mom lived to 93, so I gratefully believed I had the chance to really know her. Not just as mother, but as woman, wife, and survivor. A privilege I was denied with Dad who died much too young at 63. And yet....

It took Joan to pose a question I regretted I could not answer: "She always wore pearls. I wonder why?"

Never noticed before. But there they are in every photo, from the day of her wedding to the days of her aging. I suppose a son isn't obliged to know the answer to something that marginal to a life of 93 long years; and yet, the question still troubles me. It's the sort of question which can -- maybe should -- be asked of all the ones we know and cherish in our lives. Why, why, why?

The opportunity for this answer is now over. Mom is gone. So is Dad. So are all the family members with whom they grew up and reached such decisions as wearing pearls. Maybe it was some screen star's pearls who first intrigued my young Mother. Or possibly what her mother wore. Or then again, it's entirely likely that this smooth gleaming jewel spoke to her heart in some special ways.

I will never know.

This little cloud of ignorance hovers over almost all the lives in our life. Even our siblings, children, friends, teachers, clergy and leaders. Certainly it's not our right to know all the answers to such questions. But whenever we don't, haven't we lost the right to intone those rather pretentious words: "I know this person."

Multiply this by a factor of 6 billion, and it's clear why we each walk in a world of strangers. What we know of them and they of us is largely what we each permit. This much and no more. When both the Bible and Shakespeare say "know thyself," the invitation is not any easy one. And when it comes to others, an almost impossible one.


In the chatter of what is called our freedom of speech, we all speak much nonsense about our fellow man. From our family to our bosses to our clergy to our leaders. Having the right to criticize is clear; but the right doesn't always make us right! So when Uncle Peter makes political pronouncements at the family dinner table and cable pundits do the same during the family hour, pause. A pause in which to ask ourselves: How can they or I be so sure about other people when I don't even know why they like pearls...?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Hold on to your scales, because another new study is out on the eternal topic of weight. Only this one, from the University of Tennessee, is weighing the marital value of weight...!

Where do these guys come up with this stuff? And yet, research director Andrea Meltzer is perfectly serious when she explains: "Husbands don't necessarily prefer thin wives as much as they do wives that are at least thinner than they are."

Which strangely reminds me of an over-weight Italian gentleman in a Rome restorante some years ago. We had just left the Sistine Chapel, and although our spirits had been raised to the heavens, our appetites were still very much rooted here on earth.

Hurrying through a splendid al fresco lunch, we couldn't help but notice -- and admire -- this portly man impeccably dressed in a three-piece suit. The staff obviously knew him well. He obviously knew the menu well. Order by tantalizing order, he seemed to be working his hefty way right down the list. Antipastos...rolls & breads ...soup ... pasta...salad,,,fruit & nuts...with a variety of hearty red wines every bite along the way.

No way in God's green earth could you imagine him hurrying into a drive-up window to order a Big Mac with fries. Fast food....? What are you, pazzo...!! America is the land of the free and home of the quick. Especially meals. We have things to do and places to go. Food is fuel for the body, that's it. For the soul....? We've got church for that...!

Chances are our rotund Italian will have a shorter life-span than our lean health aficionados, but oh how much sweeter it's likely to be. The poets and philosophers tell us life is a gift. On a good day -- with a good sun in the sky and a good Italian festa on the table -- it would certainly seem that way. Every slow bite into every tasty morsel can be in itself a prayer of thanks to the great green bounties of this gift we call planet earth.

Now -- back in hurry-up, get-it-done America -- every time I order a Big Mac, I think of our enormous Italian gourmand. And feel just a little foolish....

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


On a sunny day in 1835, William Talbott placed a series of little boxes around his garden. "An hour later I gathered them up, opened them, and found in each a miniature picture of the objects before which I had placed them."

That was the day we killed time. From now on, the passing world could be stopped and preserved for all posterity. Until then, the ways man tried to achieve immortality -- from the paintings of kings to the pyramids of Egypt -- could in time fade. However, now even the smile of the common man could be passed on, in silver chloride effigy, from child's hand to child's hand down through the years. Photography had been born!

Today we can seize and freeze time with photographs, films, and video. This way no one -- like Alexander, Jesus or Napoleon -- can ever again be lost from our sight. Only....

....only we may have created a troubling irony. For now, all too often, we embrace the image but lose sight of the reality. Say like we do with our favorite stars of the screen. Up there, Robert Redford, Al Pacino, Goldie Hawn and Ann Margaret look exactly like they should. But to see them now -- what happened?

Time happened. To them and to us. In fact this is what happens to the even more important images we hold dear. The bold American GI of WWII...John F Kennedy exhorting us to do for our country...Woodstock as a generational love-in...Nixon as the demon-president...the Beatles young and together....the 9/11 firefighters strong and noble.

If perception is reality, consider the hundreds of photographic perceptions we carry with us as individuals. As families. As nations. Whoever owns these images owns the world. Which is why camera crews fight to get the perfect shot, from Dallas to Cairo....why the media then shares these shots with billions...why each of us finds our self moved to tears or courage or war from such images.

Mr Talbott opened a great and glorious world to us all. But like all new worlds, it's alive with as many dangers as dreams. Hence the wisdom -- always take a second look. Which incidentally happens to be the name of a blogsite I know >>