Monday, February 8, 2016

Gage Park murders

I somehow found out about the recent murder of six people in their home in the relatively tranquil Gage Park neighborhood of Chicago, and since then I haven't been able to get it out of my head.  The brutality of murdering an entire family, including seniors and children, seems like something out of the beastly gang wars of Central America.  And yet I can't see that the news is very interested in following up this story.  Anyway, I just wanted to share it with my readers, since it is so shocking and mysterious.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Ode to the post office

This is a short little reflection on how great the US postal system is for its reliability, ubiquity, and standardization.  I can testify after having lived in many other countries that their postal systems are okay, but none is quite as strong as the US model.  The article also gives a shout-out to the public library system and just mass infrastructure in general that are real assets to people living in the US.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Sunday, January 31, 2016

A new charter for philanthropists

This is an op ed from the Ford Foundation president.  He details the history of modern philanthropy as a product of the Gilded Age, a way for dirty fortunes to quell the social unrest caused by inequality.  In this mold, the magnitude of philanthropy will always be a pittance compared to the magnitude of the inequality that breeds gargantuan fortunes.

But the writer proposes a new use, a new direction for philanthropy, based not on merely salving the most egregious wounds of inequality in order to allow it to continue comfortably, but rather on destroying the very bases of that inequality and injustice.  This is a noble proposition, and I believe it is the only entirely coherent goal for those who wish to improve the world's state.  But it would totally undermine the status quo economic system that produces philanthropists.  I don't see this as a bad thing--if wealth were more equally distributed, we wouldn't need billionaires to donate large sums to help the wretched of the earth, because there would be neither billionaires nor wretched.  But I don't think the billionaires would stand by quietly to become like the rest of us.  Ergo, I don't see their money financing foundations whose aim is to do away with the billionaire's excessive wealth.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

All hail the Goblin King

I was really sad to hear about David Bowie's death.  I didn't know the guy personally, but he played a prominent role in my childhood (and has forever remained for me) as the Goblin King of the movie Labyrinth.  Reading some of the obituaries, I realize that I didn't really know much of his music.  I would like to--he seems to have been a real innovator, a sui generis force in the popular music world.