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Life in The Machine

My wife and I are in Munich now. We are enjoying Christmas with old friends, whom we have known through high school, university and the first job.  As I am reflecting on the magic of this relationship, I have realized that it predates the Time of The Machine, or our contemporary society.  And I am not merely suggesting here that "the grass was greener, the light was brighter, the taste was sweeter, the nights of wonder, with friends surrounded, the dawn mist glowing, the water flowing, the endless river, forever and ever," as Pink Floyd once famously sang.

Imagine spending your free time with friends wherever, playing outdoors, biking, walking, or going to the movies or to somebody's house.  The parents needed not know and there were very few phones, so they had to believe that we were OK.  "Privacy matters," as Edward Snowden would say. Imagine standing in line at 5 a.m. in front of a bookstore to buy "One Hundred Years of Solitude" by Gabriel García…

Our Roots

I wrote this blog on August 2 and 3, 2013, after my arrival in Warsaw.

In 8 hours, this marvel of modern technology, Boeing 787 DreamLiner, transplanted me from Chicago to Warsaw, and three hours later, after a fabulous dinner at a by-the-word-of-mouth-only home food diner, here I was on the Nowy Świat Street, walking towards the Old Town and the Royal Palace.

Literally every building I passed by had a plaque commemorating those murdered there during the war (World War II for the younger audience) and ten bloody years of the Stalinist terror after the war.  Every beautifully kept old building and church or cathedral I passed was meticulously rebuilt after the war.  For all of them perished during the war, together with the people of Warsaw.

I arrived one day after the 69th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising.  On August 1, 1944, at 5 p.m., the Polish resistance army (mostly Armia Krajowa, or AK) attacked Germans all across the city.  It was an incredibly stupid political gamble of the …

Some Narratives Are Better Than Others

The dominant contemporary narrative in the U.S. was delineated 42 years ago by Lewis Powell in his August 23, 1971, confidential memo to the Chamber of Commerce. No one I have talked to in the U.S. knows anything about this memo, but several people in other countries do.

As the Powell memo instructs its confidential readers, there should be a concerted effort to bring our side of facts (our facts?) to fore regularly, with high intensity, and from many seemingly independent sources:

"The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society.  Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country."
Edward Bernays, Propaganda, Chapter 1, 1928.

In this vain, for a while now, it has been fashionable to put down OPEC and Russia, and tout eternal oil and gas abundance in the U.S.  Here are but three recent examples:
Meet …