Purple Haze

I grow intestinal polyps as well as the wine country grows grapes. Such polyps, benign growths when small and young, can become pre-cancerous if allowed to mature; accordingly, every three years I have a colonoscopy and any polyps are removed.

The worst part of having a colonoscopy is the prep the day… Read the rest


I loved science fiction movies and books as a kid; I still do, although I don’t read much sci-fi these days. In 1958, at camp Androscoggin in Maine, Earth vs. the Flying Saucers was shown one movie night, and visions of a disabled saucer crashing into the Washington Monument stayed with me for years. The… Read the rest

In love with the glow

Character Ralph Kramden (right) and Ed Norton (left) of the Jackie Gleason Show, The Honeymooners

I grew up in the glow of TV. It was black and white until I was perhaps ten years old, and color television after that. Color television actually was a big deal, once.

My childhood shows were foolish affairs… Read the rest

Eating Sunlight

I think that if we are going to alter human genetics, we should get going on it right away and concentrate on giving human beings the gift of photosynthesis. As  you most likely know, through photosynthesis plants feed themselves with sunlight.

Chlorophyll, water, carbon dioxide and oxygen are the … Read the rest


Workers labor to produce canned tangerine to be exported at the Huangyan No 1 Canned Food Factory in Huangyan, eastern China’s Zhejiang province Wednesday Dec. 12, 2007. China has taken a series of steps to crack down on tainted and unsafe products after various foods, medicines and other items
Read the rest

The child of invention

We live in wondrous, terrible times. In every field of human endeavor we are exceeding ourselves, almost daily. Our tallest buildings are getting taller, our fastest computers are getting faster; gas-powered autos are giving way to electric vehicles, natural evolution is being supplanted by gene-editing.… Read the rest

Friend or Food

The most uncomfortable truth of human experience is that life feeds on other life, and each of us depends upon the death of other living things for our continued existence. In early societies, this truth infused creation mythology and manifested in rituals during which life-from-death was reenacted… Read the rest

Oil Price Skeptic

Just as global warming gains international traction with treaties, targets and timetables the price of oil miraculously drops. A coincidence? I think not.

Just as solar, wind, biofuel and electric technologies become more competitive with high-priced oil and gain wider adoption worldwide the … Read the rest

Ebola Rising

Illustration of the Ebola virus among red blood cells

Every new artifact of human culture generates a set of effects. The most predictable of these relate directly to the operation or impact of the artifact; for example, the invention of the automobile made the horse and buggy obsolete. Less obvious… Read the rest

The poverty problem

Why does poverty exist in the wealthiest countries in the world? This question has vexed economists for several hundred years, and the answer remains elusive.

In tribal societies, now increasingly rare, economy is intrinsic to cultural habits and social relationships; reciprocity, sharing and… Read the rest

The role of ritual

An unoccupied mind is a dangerous thing. Organic brain’s powerful processing capacity combined with limitless symbolic creativity of mind gives rise to the need for pursuing purpose and meaning. Lacking these, people veer into forms of madness; hyperactive states of violence against others, self-injury,… Read the rest


Like Jack ferrying a donkey to market, trading it for magical beans and then escaping the confines of conventional society in ‘Jack and The Beanstalk’, the giant he disturbs is analogous to the giant gray-market behemoth suddenly disrupting our economy, stomping on established forms of commerce … Read the rest

Outmoded and outworn

We’re all familiar with verbal clichés; they’re a dime-a-dozen and no big deal. We use them all the time as shorthand for the commonplace, experiences so everyday as to resonate with nearly everyone. The path from metaphor to cliché is particularly fast in our information-centric 24-hour news cycle,… Read the rest

Baby-sitting the baby-sitters

Surveillance in the digital age is a universal reality at unprecedented scale, reaching into the intimate details of uncountable millions of individual lives. Now politely called “data-mining” to lessen it’s sense of violation, we used to call such activity espionage or spying and its “Peeping … Read the rest

My daily paper

I like getting the newspaper every day. I like the ritual of looking for it in the darkend driveway, and plopping it down on the kitchen table. I read the the “funnies” last, holding off what for me is the most revealing part of the daily paper. That sense of anticipation doesn’t last long, though; I read … Read the rest

The All-American game

I grew up with All-American images of clean-cut baseball heroes — Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford and the like. Despite later revelations of alcohol problems, their images as wholesome, talented sportsmen resonated across the 1950s and contributed to the backdrop of conformist cultural… Read the rest

On poppin’ counterfeit pills

I recently refilled a prescription for a beta-blocker I’ve been taking daily for twenty-some odd years. The electrical system of my heart becomes unstable every once in a while, and Atenolol settles it down to a nice normal rhythm.

Atenolol was first produced by pharmaceutical maker AstraZeneca under… Read the rest

The umpire strikes back

One of the great things about baseball is the umpire. No ump and baseball would be a never-ending series of arguments and fist fights. As it is, the umpire is God, and his word and rule is absolute. To defy the ump is to risk being banned from the field. Even an eyebrow raised in his general direction is a challenge.… Read the rest

Ordinary madness

By all accounts, particularly his own, poet Charles Bukowski was a miserable wretch. I attended one of his readings in my youth, and from the mini-fridge next to his stool on stage, he extracted beer after beer; as the evening progressed he ended up falling-down drunk and unable to continue.

But Bukowski… Read the rest

Marking territory

Males of many species mark their territorial boundaries. The other day my wife accused me of marking mine.

I will confess to feeling shocked by her comments at first. The shoes I leave under the coffee table in the living room, a pile of mail stacked on the dining table, my pants draped over the cedar chest… Read the rest

Let them eat bugs…in space

The subject of two articles in today’s newspaper have been conflated in the title of this column. Article one involved the prospect that as the world’s population reaches 8 billion people, the need for a protein-rich food source will create an international diet of bugs. Bugs, the article points out,… Read the rest

The real tourist trap

For the North Bay wine country, including Sonoma, tourism has been a mixed blessing. Just one-hour’s drive from five million people looking for a weekend escape, the boom in tourism has both irrevocably altered the rural landscape with wineries, hotels and backed-up traffic and simultaneously filled… Read the rest

Going nuclear

Contaminated, radioactive water stored in tanks at Fukushima

Recent reports on the condition of the Fukushima nuclear power reactors in Japan indicate that highly radioactive water used in the makeshift reactor cooling system has been leaking from buried storage tanks damaged in a tsunami several… Read the rest

Oh those Giants

My wife surprised me a few weeks ago when she announced that she thought we should follow Giants’ baseball this year. “It will,” she said, “be fun.”

I should note that we like to watch the World Series when we can, but to call us regular baseball fans is more than a stretch. We’ve gone to a few games over the … Read the rest

Letting boys be boys

A recent report indicates that as many as one-in-five high-school-age boys have been diagnosed with ADHD and many of them are being treated with drugs like Adderall and Ritalin. Clearly, either there is a growing epidemic of ADHD of unknown causes, or diagnostic criteria and social standards… Read the rest

The food of the gods

For nearly 10,000 years human beings have lived in a land of milk and honey. Milk and its derivatives are used ubiquitously as food, and the importance of cattle made them one of society’s first forms of money. Old African tribes like the Maasai still measure wealth by number of cattle and notably, the … Read the rest

Drone wars

Drone Bee

In the insect world, drones are males suited for only two functions, mating and work. Actually, that sounds like many of the guys I know. Seriously though, male honey bees, ants and termites spend their entire lives working constantly at the behest of the queen of the hive, the matriarch who … Read the rest

From hunter to hunted

Ancient vase depicting the Greek myth of Actaeon, the Hunter

Amid the debate about guns and violence little seems to be said about the true nature of guns. Some say “guns don’t kill people; people kill people,” and in some sense this is correct. People have killed each other for a long time, well before … Read the rest

American mythology circa 6013 AD

It is told that very long before our current age, powerful gods ruled the world, feasted on its riches, brought forth their sons and daughters and showered them with gold, jewels and the instruments of domination. Only when the flush of Earth Mother Saha (“endurance”) filled the world with searing heat… Read the rest

The Priests of Dionysus

The fermented fruit of the vine, grape juice, has been a big deal for a very long time – like 8,000 years long. This is true despite a lack of neolithic wine tasting rooms, and speaks to the role wine plays in human life. So strong is wine’s part in history that it’s inspired religious myth, tales of brilliance… Read the rest

The business of America

Those with wealth and power are terribly confused. Having become Lords of Materialism, seduced by the lure of money and the influence it can buy, they naturally assume all others share their values. Accordingly, as the recent national election illustrates, advocates for the view that “the business… Read the rest

Vampires among us

Popular culture seems to be satisfying a substantial public demand for violent, bloodthirsty immortals with large fangs seeking human victims. Strangely, it’s not like real life isn’t providing us with enough demons: the daily paper recounts shootings, stabbings, photos of suicide bombings, … Read the rest

Jobs folly

Both Presidential candidates are convinced that getting people back to work is the most essential ingredient in improving the American economy. This is, of course, true; more people working means more money consumption, more taxes to be collected, and more profits to be earned. The folly in this, … Read the rest

A price, love has

I’ve written about love before, and my words don’t really amount to much compared to how love feels. I’m not alone in writing about love, of course; it’s the stuff of rock and roll, Shakespeare, a thousand poets, romance novels, crime drama plots and notes passed back and forth in eighth-grade English… Read the rest

My dinner with Audré

“Good morning Audré,” I murmur, slipping out from under the covers. “Good morning, Larry,” Audré replies, “Do you want me to begin preparing your tea?” “Not yet, thanks,” I mutter, walking to the bathroom. “Lights dimmer please, Audré.” I blink as the illumination drops a notch or two.

My face looks … Read the rest

Recession redux

Nearly two years ago I wrote in this paper that popular fantasies about an increase in consumer spending turning around the economy were a joke. At that time the worst of the housing and credit crisis was becoming manifest, and foreclosures were beginning to soar. The bailout funds had made their way … Read the rest

I shoulda been a bank

At last count there are at least 10 banks in the City of Sonoma and more coming: Bank of the West, Wells Fargo Bank, U.S. Bank, Exchange Bank, Sonoma Bank, WestAmerica Bank, Rabobank, Citibank, Union Bank and Bank of America. It seems like a new bank opens in a new location every few weeks. This leads me to… Read the rest

To hell with us

A vision of Buddhist Hell

Most people I know don’t think about hell too often. I brought it up cheerfully at breakfast the other day but perhaps it was too early to talk about it; everyone just stared at me. Then again, I might have just been the only morning person at the table.

Of course, there are some people… Read the rest

For the sake of a great shave

Last year American men spent over a third of a billion dollars on shaving cream. Until recently, I numbered myself among them.

I have nothing against shaving cream per se; however, it does consume a vast amount of environmentally wasteful packaging materials and is supported by a massive amount of multi-media… Read the rest

A universe of WIMPS and MACHOS

A conception of the ways dark matter knits the visible universe together

Visible matter, the objects we can see and the sources of energy that emit radio waves, comprise but 5% of all the matter in the universe. There is so little visible matter, in fact, that astrophysicists explain that the gravity … Read the rest

Gender Blowback: Part Two

I ended last week’s column with a question: “What is it about the feminine that so frightens patriarchy?” In this column I will provide some possible answers. To summarize the hypothesis: persistent patriarchal silencing and domination of the feminine is the product of fear. Fear is not limited to … Read the rest

Gender blowback: fear of feminine

Over the past 100 years gender equality in the western world has improved dramatically. This is not to say that complete parity exists between the sexes. There are still significant economic differences (women are paid less than men for comparable work), discrimination issues (sexism in the workplace… Read the rest

Fully surrendering to love

When a culture places the ideals of freedom and independence at the pinnacle of personal and societal attainment, any act of surrender is problematic. When independence is elevated to a virtue, surrender is diminished to a fault. The conflation of identity with freedom frequently binds self image… Read the rest

Monday Morning 10:04 AM

“Hello, this is Larry. Hi Mom, hold on, my other line is ringing.” “Hello, this is Larry. Hi Bill, hold on for a minute, my cell phone is ringing.” “ Hello, this is Larry. Oh hi, Amy, can you believe I’m talking on two other phone lines? Can I call you back? Oh, OK, then. I’m putting you on hold.”

“Mom, you still… Read the rest

Don’t bank on it

I never expected to feel upset about banks. Growing up, I was taught that banks were places where you put your money into a “savings account” and over time it would accumulate. The bank paid something called “interest” which added more money to the savings account. Mostly, I liked the little green bank… Read the rest

Blackmail by credit card

I received a letter in the mail the other day, a nondescript white envelope from my credit card company. It was the sort of envelope I’d usually toss into the recycling figuring it just contained special offers on merchandise purchasable for all the points my wife and I have accumulated by using the card… Read the rest

A matter of health

The health care debate has been an unseemly exercise in political positioning, special interest lobbying, horse-trading and near bribery. Health care is the fastest growing sector of the American economy, so discussions naturally stimulate anxiety, anger and confusion.

I suggest that in order… Read the rest

Trader Horn meets Avatar

I didn’t sleep well the other night and woke up at 2:30 feeling hungry. Making my way to the kitchen, I prepared a small bowl of cereal, and sitting at the table clicked on the tiny kitchen TV.

Trader Horn, a 1931 black and white film starring Harry Carey (not a joke, really!) was playing on AMC, and while I … Read the rest

Getting ready for 2012

The world as we know it will end in 2012, or so says the Mayan calendar. Personally, I’ve not used the Mayan calendar for years; it’s too much trouble hauling around those massive stone structures aligned with cardinal points and keeping track of the shadows they cast. Moreover, I find human sacrifice… Read the rest

Heaping insult upon tragedy

As if the recent tragedy of the Maloney family – father, mother and two children killed by a speeding motorist as they headed home from vacation were not enough – we’ve now been subjected to the horror of two people burglarizing the Maloney’s vacant home.

The natural reaction to such behavior… Read the rest

Attention K-Mart shoppers

During a recent trip to visit our granddaughter I needed to buy a swim suit so we could go for a dip in the pool at our motel. I was stunned to discover my swim suit cost me only $5.98 at K-Mart.

I’ve never shopped at K-Mart before; call me naïve or perhaps just loyal. I buy my clothes right here in town and figure… Read the rest

Looking back at the future

Buckminster Fuller

Each year terribly well-educated and insightful people make predictions about the future. In some cases they are right but mostly they are wrong. Rarely, however, do we go back in time to review just how accurate our prognosticators have been. We are so caught up in “worrying about… Read the rest

Chinese Czechers

Uyghur men held in a Chinese “re-education camp”

Last year it was the Autonomous Region of Tibet; this year it is the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. China, it seems, is undergoing another round of its periodic socio-political upheavals.
Chinese history is not customarily taught… Read the rest

Not leading by example

As nuclear weapons technology has proliferated in non-western countries, Europe and the United States fulminate against authoritarian regimes viewed as a threat to peace and security. In some cases, like Pakistan, which is responsible for the spread of nuclear technology to the likes of North Korea,… Read the rest

Swine flu over the cuckoo’s nest

Something really big is about to happen when pigs sprout wings and fly – at least that’s what we’ve been told. The sudden world-wide pandemic of swine flu, in which a mix of pig and bird flu virus has spread to people and hitched a ride on the world’s fleet of AirBus jets and Boeing 757s comes as close to flying… Read the rest

A note from Mommy

A long time ago when things got too tough, I’d get a note from my mommy. I appreciated my mother’s understanding that I needed a break every once in a while, and that she was on my side. “Please excuse Larry from PE today. He has had a sore throat and needs to avoid getting overheated.” Tormented by my sadistic… Read the rest


In New York, where I grew up, the differences between the seasons were dramatic and obvious, each bringing sweeping changes in temperature and color. The whiteness of winter was broken by early spring crocus flowers poking yellow heads through the snow; verdant summer green yielded to fall’s palette… Read the rest

From the mouths of dogs

Possession, so they say, is nine-tenths of the law, and this law is well understood by dogs.

Pedro, my daughter’s gregarious two-year-old black lab retriever, is a full member of the family, but he’s 100 percent dog, which means not only does he claim his space, but also his possessions. As to possessions,… Read the rest

Reflections of a Post-Darwinian

Rutger Hauer as Roy Blatty in “Blade Runner”

I find myself in a bit of an emotional quandary. I am one of the tens of thousands of heart patients walking around with an electronic pacemaker-defibrillator implanted in his chest, yet I can’t help feeling somewhat uneasy about where we Post-Darwinian… Read the rest

The economy of enough

As the financial collapse continues – home prices falling and more job losses announced every day – attention has focused on stimulating the economy. The injection of trillions of dollars by the government into the banking sector and virtually every other segment of the American economy has been viewed… Read the rest

Playing the fool

Wall Street brokers commonly refer to market theory, a high-sounding pseudo-scientific set of investment principles developed to explain and predict how markets work. Between themselves, the brokerage community refers to yet again another valued theory, but this one is called “the bigger fool”… Read the rest

A slice of time saves dimes

It’s said that time is money, but until a recent discussion with an airline seatmate I’d not realized how far this idea has gone.

I’ve been flying back to NYC to visit with my parents fairly often this past year, and about 25 percent of the time, I chat with my seatmates. This last trip was particularly interesting;… Read the rest

Yet another modest proposal

Just as necessity is the mother of invention, so do desperate times demand imaginative solutions. Accordingly, it’s clear that the time has now come to introduce Kibble for People.

The economy is in a shambles, the unemployment rate is growing. Junk and fast food sales increase every year and people… Read the rest

Creating our better self

In mapping brain function, specific areas of the brain have been found to be primarily responsible for particular functions, such as hearing, seeing, feeling, motor coordination, reasoning and so on. Despite this clustering of functional areas, the brain is nonetheless capable of fully integrating… Read the rest

Depression jobs in abundance

Over a recent breakfast with the boys, discussion turned to economic depression – what each of us might do for a living if worse comes to worst. Some of the great strengths of human beings are resourcefulness and creativity, without which we would never have scrambled out of the savannah and invented … Read the rest

The domino effect revisited

A Vietcong tunnel entrance in Hanoi, Vietnam

My daughter and her husband are on their honeymoon. They didn’t go to Paris or to London or to Rio de Janeiro. They went to Vietnam.

For those of you too young to remember, Vietnam is the place that many link to America’s only lost war and greatest military humiliation.… Read the rest

Boys, men, victims and heroes

My first major exposure to the culture of the hero was at summer camp in Maine. Like many suburban New York boys, I was shipped off for eight weeks each summer, beginning at the age of eight.

Camp Androscoggin of 1956 (a mere 11 years after the end of World War II) was a military-style camp, located in the Adirondacks… Read the rest

On ‘muttness’

At his first post-election news conference, President-elect Barack Obama referred to himself as a “mutt.” Specifically, he said, “We have two criteria that have to be reconciled. One is that Malia is allergic, so it has to be hypoallergenic. There are a number of breeds that are hypoallergenic. On … Read the rest

The aging of Aquarius

The recent Broadway revival of the ‘60s musical “Hair,” along with my increasingly barren pate, prompts reflection on our contemporary obsession with matters hirsute. Americans spend billions of dollars each year to increase hair, and billions yet again on products to decrease it. We style it, shave… Read the rest

Wall Street’s Dow of physics

When water becomes hot and agitated enough, it becomes a gas. When solid iron is heated to 2,800 degrees, it becomes a liquid. These are examples of what physicists call a phase transition or shift, a radical restructuring of matter from one form into another.

While the actual transformation can be sudden,… Read the rest