News of Very Narrow Interest

The virtue of being up close and personal

Some men wrest a living from nature and with their hands; this is called work.

Some men wrest a living from those who wrest a living from nature and with their hands; this is called trade.

Some men wrest a living from those who wrest a living from those who wrest a living from nature and with their hands; this is called finance.


Checking in with the Tooth Fairy

Is the economy strong or is it tanking? Should we be worried? Let’s face it, our concern about the health of the economy is an exercise in blatant self-interest poorly disguised as concern for the big picture. Is the reassurance we’re looking for found in a mountain of financial algorithms, neural networks and investment advice? Possibly. 

The story of the incredible, if somewhat brief, life of Jim the Bee

When it came to animals, my father was often one to bring home the unexpected. An intoxicating prospect for a family of five children, although it didn’t always have a happy ending. The baby chicks at Easter probably wasn’t well thought out. My youngest sister “liked to pet soft things”. Think Lennie in “Of Mice and Men”.

Only the lonely

Although the U. K. seems to be caught up in an economic death spiral thanks to its ill-informed Brexit vote you’ve got to hand it to the Brits for tackling one of the most insidious public health issues of our time.


Getting it done in the United States of America

‘What this country needs is a good 5-cent cigar.” The immortal words of the otherwise forgettable Thomas Marshall, Woodrow Wilson’s vice president, are a reminder that America has a long tradition of creating and fulfilling perceived needs, albeit many of dubious necessity. 

They promised us jetpacks

‘You are not thinking. You are merely being logical.” Mr. Spock being admonished by Captain Kirk on the Starship Enterprise? Actually, this quote belongs to Danish physicist and Nobel laureate Niels Bohr.


Let’s try another one. “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” That observation belongs to none other than iconic 20th-century genius Albert Einstein.


Baby you can (self-drive) my car

Judging by the many car commercials showing an oblivious (but happy) driver saved by technology from hitting a pedestrian, the campaign for the autonomous driving vehicle is shifting into high gear. Apparently, no one will be safe unless we agree to share (and eventually abandon) the driver’s seat.

A Luddite rant from an aging baby boomer? No. Although I do resent having it shoved down my throat, based on projected safety stats, some or all of it is probably inevitable. 

The high cost of low ambitions

“Oh, the humanity!” has long been associated with radio broadcaster Herbert Morrison’s anguished cry as the giant airship Hindenburg burst into flames in May of 1937.

Who speaks for Uncle Billy?

It bothers me that Mr. Potter got away with it. He skates and (after the credits roll) everyone else falls through the ice. It’s a wonderful life, for Mr. Potter.

A cynical take on a beloved classic? Perhaps. Looking through a contemporary lens reveals a few cracks in this veneer of fellowship and goodwill.

Looking Through the Water Glass

“Bottle or tap?” was the familiar question as I sat down recently at a Boston restaurant. “Tap, of course … after all, we flooded four towns to get it!” The puzzled look on the waiter’s face meant that I had once again achieved my petty goal for a teachable moment. Like most people, this guy had no idea where his drinking water came from … no idea about Quabbin.