Despairs of the heart

When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government. The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous. — Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik When Pima County Sheriff ... Continue reading

God, airlines, and questions of sovereignty

If there's a God who controls floods and earthquakes, does the deity also have a hand in an airline's mechanical problems? ... [Southwest Airlines] recently added "mechanical difficulties" to the list of acts of God and other events for which the carrier will not be liable if travel is delayed. — ... Continue reading

Underwater Thanksgiving

The headlines don't seem to offer much reason for being thankful this Thanksgiving.My home state of Arizona is second in the nation for "underwater" mortgages, according to a Wall Street Journal report. 48% of all homeowners here owe the bank more than their homes are worth. Nationally, 23% of ... Continue reading

Flawed justice

Bad laws are the worst sort of tyranny. — Edmund BurkeWhen William Hawkins was 28, he was convicted of attempted sexual contact with a 12-year-old girl. It is the sort of violation most of us find odious, but Hawkins' crime actually occurred much earlier, when he was 16. Young men often do ... Continue reading

Turning lead into gold

I started college as a philosophy major. While my friends were agonizing their way through calculus and organic chemistry, I was happily holed up in the library stacks with musty volumes by Nietzsche, Socrates, Pascal, Descartes, Leibniz, et. al., or in the Student Union having deep conversations ... Continue reading

Blind faith

When a Fail-Safe system fails, it fails by failing to fail safe. — John Gall, Systemantics: How Systems Work and Especially How They Fail, 1975. "I truly believe Metro is a safe system." — DC Metro General Manager John B Catoe, Jr., quoted in the Washington Post. A "fail-safe" automatic traffic ... Continue reading

Confessing our national guilt

May 26 is National Sorry Day in Australia, a national attempt to heal the wounds of the century-long practice of forcibly removing mixed-race children from their Aboriginal mothers. This government policy, which was carried out for about 100 years from 1860 to modern times, is known to have ... Continue reading

The Mozart paradox

...Mozart's early abilities were not the product of some innate spiritual gift. His early compositions were nothing special. ... What Mozart had, we now believe, was the same thing Tiger Woods had — the ability to focus for long periods of time and a father intent on improving his skills. Mozart ... Continue reading