I'm writing this after rewatching a beautifully crafted movie called "A River Runs Through It." It's about trout fishing, which is like saying "Gone With the Wind" is about the Civil War that divided this indivisible Union for four long, terrible years. Or maybe the movie is about two brothers. Or maybe it's about memory. All your faithful ...Read more
If one of the greats in the history of mathematics and physics -- Sir Isaac Newton -- could act like any crazed and dazed day trader under pressure, what does that say about the chances of us ordinary folk making a killing in the stock market? It's far more likely that the market will kill us.
Andrew Odlyzko, who professes mathematics at the ...Read more
It seems the two-party system is alive and well now that the political pendulum has swung back again, this time much to the Democrats' delight and the Republicans' despair. They tell a story about an old farmer up in Kansas who emerged from his cyclone shelter after a storm had swept away everything in sight -- the house, the crops, even the ...Read more
Here's the thing about about language: What isn't said can be as subtle as what is.
While preparing to spend some weeks touring the late unlamented Soviet Union, I once took a highly abbreviated course in Russian offered by the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Then I went off, armed with my pidgin Russian, to see what was then Leningrad (...Read more
It was a big deal when I was growing up in the bosom of what was in spirit an orthodox Jewish congregation in Shreveport, La.: Balfour Day.
The date was observed every Nov. 2, for that's when a British Foreign Secretary named Arthur James Balfour sent a letter to Baron Rothschild that was only a couple of hundred words long but ...Read more
This is where we came in, and where we left -- the scene in which a special prosecutor, also known as an independent counsel, brings charges against a high-ranking politician or two. The criminalization became a familiar and odious feature of the day's news just a couple of decades ago and now it's back. Does anybody else remember how Kenneth ...Read more
It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood when the sukkah mobile drove up. Sukkot, the Jewish feast of tabernacles, or booths, had arrived. And with it, all the accessories thereof in order to celebrate it in style -- including a couple of rabbis and a mobile sukkah or harvest booth.
Soon enough a gentile friend or two, attracted by all the ...Read more
The phantom pilot who's tossed live turkeys from his airplane for 15 years now over the annual Turkey Trot Festival at Yellville, Ark., is a phantom no more. Now that he's been succeeded by a different pilot flying a different aircraft, he's proudly revealed his identity. He turns out to be Dana Woods, pharmacist and alderman from Mountain View....Read more
Allow me to add my decidedly inexpert voice to the chorus of conservationists that has spoken up for Arkansas' population of wild turtles. The impressive list of those petitioning the state's Game and Fish Commission to ban the trapping of these slow-moving, ever lovable creatures reads like a Who's Who of turtle lovers from all over.
At last ...Read more
It appeared to be the latest federal giveaway here in Arkansas -- but turned out to be more of a takeaway. File it under WFA for Waste, Fraud and Abuse, and there's no telling how long it might have gone on if a snap inspection hadn't revealed the extent of this scandal.
It all happened in Pine Bluff, where a local food-distribution program ...Read more
I'm on probation these days. For it's that time of year when Jews put themselves on trial before the High Judge, so I write today's column from the dock, being my own accuser and, at the end of these Ten Days of Repentance, my own defense attorney. Even my own forgiver, if I can show myself sufficient mercy.
It's a simple assignment, and there'...Read more
Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. To such an extent I can't even remember when, where or if I last made confession. The truth is, Father, I don't want to be human any more. The only feeling I have left is pain. Of course you understand, for that's your profession, your calling, your obsession in and out of the confession box. You make it a ...Read more
Rush Limbaugh -- yes, he's still going around and around on your radio dial. True to his name, he's still rushing in where angels fear to go. And he still tends to leap to every conclusion in sight except the sensible one. Days before Hurricane Irma hit Florida, he decried the rush of anyone with the good sense and/or the good memory to get out ...Read more
If you're reading this message, there's no need to burn it. For it and I have already been burned beyond recognition. It was good knowing you and a great trip while it lasted. I danced through the sparkling rings of you earthlings' neighboring planet, the sixth one from the star you call the sun, as if there were only one in all the universe. ...Read more
Which do you prefer? The black or white Madonna of Chartres cathedral in France -- neither or both? Your call. Of this much there should be no doubt: Historical preservation is a cause well worth supporting. But which part of that history is best preserved? Just selected slices of it? And if so, which ones would you choose to save, new or old or...Read more
Step on the gas, then the brakes. Repeat till Gentle Reader grows dizzy or the whole jerry-built vehicle falls apart. Just as it did during during the Great Recession of 2007-09, when 9 million Americans lost their jobs and/or houses. Then came the not-so-great recovery, which left the chairwoman of the Federal Reserve System, Janet Yellen, to ...Read more
It's not easy to choose the most ignorant comment of the month during these dog days of August, but surely a remark by the Hon. Paul LePage, governor and ignoramus-in-chief of the Great State of Maine, must rank up or rather down there. He dismissed teachers as "a dime a dozen" employees as he opened a new vocational school in his state. If only...Read more