Friday, January 28, 2011

Money Is A Technology

Money is a technology used for leveraging time. I could go a bit further and say that it's a technology for doing a kind of time travel, but that would disappoint the people who like to think of time travel as something Jules Verne or Dr. Who, where you go to places in parallel dimensions, or to the same place, but see it as it will be. Planet of the Apes.

People like to say that money is a tool.

Sure, it is definitely that, but I'd like to posit that credit is a stronger, tougher tool than mere money.

Credit is a technology by which one can avert or forestall a Malthusian disaster.

Use credit to buy seeds, equipment, fertilizer, and other inputs, as well as processing, storage, distribution.

Credit is one of the most effective technologies ever invented. It multiplies the money supply, and helps get capital into the hands of people who will truly make it productive.

The only flaw in this technology is that it is not so much a mechanical technology (using machines, etc.) as a "belief" technology which requires faith and a collective suspension of disbelief. Everyone needs to accept the instrument as real, viable, and ultimately defensible (by someone or something -- the major entity of the day).

Money and Sports and Time: Gambling is another time technology

Sports outcomes contain built-in uncertainty, which make sports amenable to gambling.

How does time factor in it? The outcomes are worth something before they're determined; not so much afterward (except in terms of developing hierarchies).

People place their bets before the sporting event take place (kind of obvious).

Gambling is another time technology.

Are sports economically meaningful without gambling? Is enthusiasm for sports really muscled by its pure entertainment value? Does it contribute to the informal economy in an aggressive way because of gambling -- or, time technology?

Sports-themed restaurants are not so much about the sports as much as they are all about themed networking.

I'm tired of women sportscasters complaining about being treated strangely in the guys' locker rooms. To me, it's painfully disrespectful to hold interviews in locker rooms, regardless of gender.

What's next? Interviews in the bathrooms? In the stalls?

What happened to maintaining a locker room as a sanctuary for the players and coaches -- no outsiders allowed -- EVER.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Perry Mason Time Travel Diaries: Into the Film Noir of Our Lives

My son gave me a full set of Perry Mason episodes -- all nine years -- a year ago for Christmas, and it has brought me untold hours of joy. I love watching them -- I've watched many episodes -- especially the first two seasons -- many times. The later episodes are a little harder to watch; the videos were burned from recorded videos, and they are not in the best condition. They skip, get hung up, and do other annoying things. The shadowy black and white is great, though, and it's amazing how much of the action takes place at the witching hour -- midnight or near it -- and how rainy and dark many of the locations are. I love it. The episodes filmed after 1962 seem a bit heavy on the method acting -- it's as though the cast has gotten too far into A Long Day's Journey Into Night, The Iceman Cometh, and any / all Tennessee Williams plays. The gothic lighting of Elia Kazan (echoes of German expressionism and Fritz Lang) is reinforced by Perry Mason's questionable ethics and his cat-and-mouse maneuverings.

The cat-and-mouse game seems, at first blush, to be with Lt Tragg and DA Hamilton Burger (Los Angeles -- pronounced often with a hard "g") and with law and order, but each episode reveals that the true cat-and-mouse is with Occam's Razor, and the facile assumptions that flow from appearances. If any two-word slogan could epitomize Perry, it would be "appearances deceive."

Over the last year, there have been a few times when, after weeks and weeks of pushing myself to work 18-hour days (okay -- I'm including tennis in that calculation -- take out tennis, and you've got 15 - 16-hour days), I've taken to my warm, comfortable, and rather small upstairs bedroom. With a laptop on my lap, and my portable DVD player at my side, I sit, propped up with pillows and in soft flannel pajamas (and fluffy slippers) -- working on various projects from work, while watching episode after episode of Perry Mason. I love the theme -- the 1965 version of the theme song totally grooves; there is a baritone sax melodic line that is absolutely unforgettable; it gets into your veins, nerves, organs, even -- and you just groove with that dark, smoky, intimate sound until tears come to your eyes.

I'm not sure which episodes I prefer. Most Perry Mason aficionados seem to think that the first and second seasons are the best. I will say that Perry is much more rogue-ish, and some of the lines seem to be double-entendres of the most shameless stripe (in "The Sulky Girl" Perry says he's holding out for a "sulky boy" -- which, if you're a viewer who has not been watching closely and do not realize he's referring to the impending birth of a child of his client, a hard-to-handle "sulky" heiress -- strikes you as amazingly outre.

It's one of those golden closeted moments -- Perry Mason -- represented by Raymond Burr, a gay actor who had invented an entire mythology of heterosexuality, including three wives (who died tragically), a son (who tragically perished from leukemia), a heroic sojourn in the Marines (Iwo Jima?), education at Ivy League schools, and a childhood in China -- when you just can't believe he's outing himself in such a bold way, with no "wink-wink / nod-nod" but a explicit, sexually honest statement about his animating urges...

Well, upon re-watching the episode, the actual context made the line, "I'm holding out for a sulky boy" quite pedestrian, even patriarchal -- the girl heiress had been such a handful, that it was perceived as quite natural to root for the birth of a boy -- not only would he preserve the line, he would also serve as a sane, stabilizing male force.

Lovely ironic double-entendres -- I think they were probably unconscious -- but perhaps not.

In other episodes, Della advocates for the "damsel in distress" potential client by pointing out her physical attributes: "she's quite lovely" etc. Perry always takes the bait, and takes on a client that, presumably, he would have spurned, if she were old, plain, or simply uninteresting.

The frumpy clients always have a certain "je ne sais quoi" quality -- that either makes them pathetic ugly ducklings (where "nature's green is gold") with potential; or aging and/or indigent clients whose personalities serve as foils to Perry & Co. -- showing the dark, noirish, yet noble qualities of Perry, Della Street, and Paul Drake. In one episode, the formula was put on its head via a disconcerting off-the-cuff exchange: Della Street: "Perry, she's quite lovely" to which Perry retorts to ask why she never describes the men --

If you don't know the true sexual orientation of the cast, it's easy to applaud Perry's statement as a proto-feminist freedom-fighting against sexism.

However, if you know the true sexual orientation, the statement is filled with irony, wonder, and a deep, dark acknowledgment of the human condition.

In fact, it's this darkness, this subtle world of the double-entendre that most attracts me to the first two seasons. On the other hand, the later seasons pull me in because of the fundamental darkness of consciousness itself, where Perry Mason distinguishes himself with anti-communist / anti-progressive pontificating, while still plunging into the heart of darkness -- into the worlds inhabited by troubled, conflicted, flawed protagonists who repeatedly self-destruct, self-immolate, and psychologically self-mutilate -- they become reminders of how fragile the human psyche is. In doing so, the later episodes of Perry Mason are amazing tributes to individualism and the notion of deliverance as something radically courageous because it allows the individual to be multi-faceted, complex, and often contradictory; and yet, in the end, a symbol (or entire narrative) of salvation.

So, when I sit in bed, sipping hot coffee laced with gingerbread-flavored coffeemate and sweetened with stevia, stretching out in my flannel and micro-fiber fluffy slippers, I'm drawn to the darkness behind the personae -- after all, aren't we all in the same boat... ? My public persona is very tailored -- I prefer dark jackets, white blouses, narrow skirts (think flight attendant garb); it's a corporate uniform. Yet, I know I have to pay a high price for all those days when I'm "on" and I'm in all-day meetings and am aggressively launching / promoting / facilitating programs and concepts. I'm aware of the darkness within -- in my case, it's all about self-doubt. In the Perry Mason "noir" world, it's all about longing, fear, despair, envy, loss, hunger, and -- above all -- helplessness. There's "Rage Against the Machine" but how about "Rage Against Existential Helplessness"?

Noir is incredibly seductive. The honesty it engenders transcends words. It's freedom through honesty -- existential honesty. It takes a lot of effort to overcome the cognitive dissonance we have to deal with when we muscle our own identities into compliance with what the world seems to be telling us what we should be (I guess you could say that we pay a price as we go into a socialization process)....

Best case - it requires energy to adjust ourselves so we can enter the stream -- reminds me of the way natural gas has to be compressed in order to be able to enter the pipeline, which only takes line pressures that are sufficiently high --

Also well, it takes a lot of effort to beat ourselves into submission.

Film noir openly acknowledges -- even celebrates -- the fears and insecurities that drive people to beat themselves into submission; and, the fears and insecurities that accompany those who tried to beat themselves into submission -- to conform to the status quo -- and who failed...

I'm not sure if I'm making my point, or if I'm expressing myself with sufficient clarity ...

But I want to explore this topic and I welcome your thoughts and responses.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Dena Baab: Response to Valerie Fox's The Glass Book

Critical Thinking Essay by Dena Baab, written in conjunction with an English composition course at Florida State College Jacksonville, Fall 2010. For the "Thought Block" prompts, please scroll to the bottom of this article.

I chose to write this essay on the suggested alternate writing, The Glass
by Valerie Fox (The Glass Book: After reading “They know about fish”, I must admit I
was a bit confused by it, and wondered if I just wasn’t having an open

Thought Block #1 - The kinds of scenes and ideas that come to mind don’t
really even make sense to me. When I read “people adopt them as pets
and put them on TV”, I first thought of aquariums. Then I began trying to
widen my view into a different perspective. If they were speaking of
possibly a TV show or documentary, I felt like the “tables and desks with
things on them called computers” was maybe referring to all the people
and paperwork involved in putting together a TV show. It wouldn’t be just
about the two fisherman anymore.

However, I still feel like I might be off-base about this story. In a different
direction, I’m thinking that maybe the debacle is some form of debate and
this is two government officials. I think what’s makes the fisherman
authentic is their down-to-earth appearance and ability to appear as
heroes. People will believe what they want to hear and follow those that
tell them exactly that.

I feel to be authentic is to be real, genuine and honest. You have to BE
these things, not just act that way. Eventually, the truth will come out and if
you are just acting a part, people will see you for what you really are. You
can be honest without being brutally honest and hurting people’s feelings.
If you are genuine and true, it will show through and people will not only
see it, but feel it as well.

Thought Block #2 – In “Well Met”, I felt like I was watching a scene unfold.
I’m on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what will happen next. I think
each specific “snip-it” draws my attention . The entire piece reminds me of
an actual dream, because you are zipping around from place to place to
person to person. You’re always trying to get somewhere, or find
someone, and you usually wake up before you accomplish that. The kind of
stories that seem to fit these poems might be children’s books. Maybe I
am way off base here, but the poem just makes me think of Dr. Suess
stories and other children’s books. The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and
Ham read much the same as “Well Met”.

Thought Block #3 –The places mentioned that might be in a collision course
with each other are somewhat extreme. The woman in the hotel room
scantily clad, to the church at St. Anne’s. In “A True Story, everything is
back and forth. “He is her salt and she his pepper”. The reference to
romance and war shows so much contrast, a person doesn’t know which
end is up. The woman’s getting older and the man’s getting younger. Which
way do we turn?

I think the gist of these stories says a lot about the world. There is
tremendous chaos and confusion, but there is also a lot of good in the
world and people who strive to do so. Yes, there are people who are
carefree and don’t really care what happens, but I also think maturity about
things comes with age. When you are young, you don’t really care or
understand ways of the world as much. Wisdom comes with age.
However, some people never grow up or gain the maturity expected of
them to be responsible adults and positive members of society.


If you're familiar with Valerie Fox's work, you know her work takes the reader to an intense, new world of associations, connections, and reconfigured perception.

Writing Assignment / Journal Based on Valerie Fox's The Glass Book

Step 1: Please respond to the following questions and observations. Let your thoughts flow, and do not worry about complete sentences or grammar. You may make lists and your thoughts can be fragmentary. The goal is to free-write, which may involve free association.

Thought-Block 1: In "They Know About Fish," what kinds of scenes and ideas come to mind? How might the work evoke notions of reality television or a documentary? What is the role of the viewer in making the fishermen authentic? What do the fishermen themselves do in shaping a notion of authenticity? What does authenticity mean to you in this situation? Write a few sentences about what it means to you to be authentic.

Thought-Block 2: Which prose poems make you feel as though you're watching a scene unfold? What are you, the viewer or reader, doing? How is your attention directed to specific elements of the scene? Does it make you seek to find a story to tie all the elements together? When do you first find yourself looking for a story to make sense of it all? What kind of stories seem to fit these poems? What did you expect to see? Investigate Alain Robbe-Grillet.

Thought-Block 3: List places where the characters in Fox's writing are in a collision course with each other. What will happen? What does the impending encounter reveal about each? What does it say about the world we live in? What are the locations they're in? What is the context? How does the fabric of reality hold up with all of this investigation into relations / places / encounters? Do you sense a strengthening of the people (or the places)? Or, an increasing fragility of the people? If you were to write a version about an encounter in an odd place in your life, what would it look like?

Step 2: Read your thoughts. Then, expand them. Revise and edit for clarity, but do not remove the vital spirit, the essence that flows forth. Then, share your thoughts on a blog, or turn them in as an assignment for a course.

Step 3: Create your own prose poem / writing. As you do so, visit the notion of "fu" -- the Han dynasty form of writing that blended poetry and prose. Here's a rather incomplete article on Chinese poetry, but a good starting point:

Monday, January 10, 2011

Ashley Jay: Response to Valerie Fox's The Glass Book

Writing Assignment / Journal Based on Valerie Fox’s The Glass Book. Free pdf of the "lite" version; gorgeous printed version here.

Thought Block 1: "They Know About Fish"
Scenes of a small cold ocean side town, with lots of family owned storefronts. No big department stores, just the mom and pop stores. The town shuts down on Sunday. Everyone is trusting and believes there town is very safe. The way the towns’ people just flock to these men does bring to mind reality TV. It is liked the show “Punked”; these to men go in acting like they are something that they are not. Then in the end the truth comes out, however, they did not want it to. The viewer believes the men are telling the truth so they promote the fact that these men are really what they say. The “fishermen” go on telling stories about the sea and the fish they have caught. Telling stories is a great way to bring people in to the lies you are telling, the better the story the more people believe. Authenticity in this situation is explaining about fishing and being a fisherman. To be authentic in my opinion is to be true and honest. Just being you, whether that is being mean, nice, or in-between.

Thought Block 2: “The cornmeal ceiling, The furry couch”
This poem makes me feel like I am watching someone’s dream unfold. Its like I am watching from afar someone’s daydream, his or her subconscious is jumping all over the place. It is making for a very interesting story. The person starts out by worrying about another man and a child. Almost like he is self-conscious. Then it grabs my attention by the person being a rider on a greyhound bus. So that kind of explains why the person would be saying the comment about the other person and the child. Then it jumps to a nun, then a scarecrow in front of a seminary. It really jumps from subject to subject but the writer does a good job of in a subtle way to tie it all together. Toward the end I kind of was wondering of the cornmeal ceiling and the furry couch come into the mix. I envision the writer is speaking of himself or herself at the end of a long hard day. The cornmeal is the popcorn ceiling; the furry couch is where they have been perched at all day working hard. This poem goes with stories that are very image driven, that do not come out and say what they are saying, however the writer paints a picture as they go. Almost like Alfred Hitchcock shows. Alain Robbe-Grillet used imagery and repetition to drive his readers to the point he was trying to make. When reading his stories you really had to pay attention and study the subtle description of the story line. I find this kind of reading to be very interesting and enjoyable.

Though Block 3: Collision Course
In the first poem the fishermen are on a collision course with themselves. The truth of what they truly are, just plain outdoorsmen not fishermen at all. In the second poem the person is on a course with himself and the reality of the person they have become. In all the poems it seems that people are trying to find him or her or something. What will happen in the end, I think will be a mixture of good and bad. Some people will be happy and some will be sad. I think they are all in the location of searching for who and what they really are and want to be. Some of the encounters are positive and some are very threatening and scary. I think that the stronger people are sometimes the ones you have to watch out for. They may seem like the ones that have it all together, however, they are the ones that fall the hardest once left to do things alone. I sense an increasing fragility among people. With the finance strain that many Americans are facing it is easy to get depressed. It seems like every day you hear of someone losing their job, house, or something devastating happening to them and it is easy to just give up hope. If I were writing about and odd place in my life it would be about the constant change of a career and major in college choice. One day it is nursing, then teacher, then and hospital administration. The list goes on and I am at the point were I have to make a choice and I am scared to jump.

Step 3: a response

There is this girl she is 27
This girl needs to find her way
There our lots of paths this girl can take
This girl is at the point where she has to choose and take one
There is a lot of fear in this girl
This girl’s biggest fear is failure
There is only one way this girl will fail
That is by just sitting back and doing nothing
This girl will make a choice
There is no truning back for this girl
She has made her choice and will succeed with all she does.

Note: Ashley Jay's response to Valerie Fox's poetry / poetics was written in conjunction with an English Composition course at Florida State College Jacksonville / Fall 2010.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Mischief Afoot


The newscaster announced that the Creek Nation's oldest living member had just died at age 110. She was born in 1900. Pretty amazing.

Question: How often are the "hyper-generians" not the person they claim to be? How often is it a much younger person who has assumed their identity?

I am always skeptical when I hear the 105-year-olds discuss their lives -- especially the ones who claimed the secret to their longevity is hard living -- drinking, smoking, gambling, eating pork fat, donuts, deep-fried American cheese? They could get the requisite skinniness through bouts of anorexia and bulimia. Why not consider at 75-year-old imposter? Even a 50-something pretending to be an 80-something?

I'm sure it's been attempted, especially if there are entitlement payments in the mix (pension, headrights, oil and gas revenue, etc.).

Where there's money, there's mischief afoot.


If I were compelled to pretend to be a 110-year-old, what would I do?

First of all, I wouldn't do it. I would not pretend to be an 80-year-old, either. Not worth it. I don't want to have the conversations I'd be expected to have -- boring historical ramblings and an invented personal landscape. The alternative would be to feign dementia or Alzheimers. That would be a fragile defense against being exposed as an imposter. It would make me too vulnerable. Before I knew it, I'd wake up to find myself in danger of having my own identity snatched from me, and an imposter installed in my stead.

No thanks.


It's only tangentially related, but the idea of a person pretending to be a super-annuated citizen who has, in fact, passed away, in order to get her Social Security check, pension, and any other dividends or royalties that might be coming her way seems to have incalculable psychic consequences to the person who decides to shove their own identity and reality off to the side in favor of a secure income stream.

What ever happened to "to thine own self be true?"

I suppose the person who is willing to rebirth themselves is somehow dissatisfied with their personal reality.

Don't they realize it means they will never see their existing friends, family, and colleagues?

I guess it's considered the sweet end of the deal, if their life is really so bad that they must go down that path.

Perhaps they're old enough that they've lost everyone anyway and the person they're impersonating was their only remaining relative -- a mother, etc.

Who knows. Seems lonely, and not as regenerative or as materially secure as it might look to the person who is idly contemplating it.


Which leads to My Ten New Year's Resolutions:

1. Be true to myself. Play more. Buy more toys. Translation: get involved in high-tech and very visionary educational / literary projects that challenge me on at least three or four levels.

2. Enjoy what I eat, and eat what I enjoy. Slow down, sit down, and don't wolf it down while standing up. I'm not a cow (yet).

3. Record more podcasts -- audio and video. Continue to interview e-learning innovators. Ask them to provide a video -- 2-minutes average time -- hosted on youtube, which I can embed.

4. Write a children's book. Do not center it around vampires, werewolves, zombies, luisons, or other undead, unless the publisher absolutely insists.

5. Set savings goals; reduce my overhead. Achieve the savings goals. (In other words, set them low).

6. Transform the workplace, make the world a better place. Think of solutions to hamster-wheel jobs and hamster-family workplaces. Do what I can to help people prepare themselves for jobs that have a chance of resulting in something. Who wants to think that their only thrill in life is seeing how many sunflower seeds they can pack into their cheek pouches? It is important to take the high road. Don't become a hamster mommy or daddy who emerges from its shredded Kleenex nest with a hunk of newborn hamster baby tail hanging from your mouth. Be nice to your co-workers, even if it is difficult. It's all about overcrowding and overpopulation. Why else would the hamster mommy or daddy eat its young, live spawn the very night they're born? Sometimes the cage is too small, the cube farm is too cheek-to-jowl and invasive. Help people spread out.

7. Warn the world of the danger of exotic pets. An African black mamba is not a good pet. Don't encourage genetic engineering and the development of such aberrations as glow-in-the-dark anacondas.

8. Watch more film noir.

9. Assume a relaxed, passive position when my loved ones are speaking to me. They will think I'm listening and have acquired (finally, after all these years!) an ability to hear what they're saying -- and-- more importantly -- accept it. I know in my heart of hearts that I have not (and cannot) acquire that ability. It's better to learn how to mentally multi-task. I can mentally rerun what I'm choreographing for fun dance routine, or visualize tennis and the serve I'm trying to learn.

10. Develop a new character to draw as I illustrate the children's book I intend to write.

Meta-Goal: Smile, chant, pray.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Pandora's Boxes, Escheatment, and a Stolen Wheel


Tanguely Frere emerged from the racquet club damp with sweat and ready to make the long drive across the dark city to her mid-town apartment where she planned to take a hot shower and to collapse into a soft bed with clean cotton sheets.

It was not to be.

As she approached her car, parked under a light and in view of the surveillance camera, she saw that the right rear end of her car resting on the ground. Someone had stolen her right rear wheel. Not the tire, but the entire wheel. There was a small pile of 5 lug-nuts on the ground.

It was the second time in two weeks that it had happened. The first time, Tanguely had interrupted the thieves, who sped off in a souped-up box of a car – an Element or something like it-- that sounded like a Harley Davidson with glasspacks. She did not realize what had been happening until the wheel started to come off as she drove down the road, heading toward Starbucks.

"At least the wheel did not come off while I was on the turnpike or in traffic," she said to the tow-truck driver.

They stole her wheel sometime before 9:15 at night on the shortest, darkest day of the year, which happened to coincide this year with a full eclipse of the moon, slated for around midnight.

"You were right." Tanguely texted her hair stylist who had become a mystic, soi-disant, with tarot cards and psychic visions. She wasn’t alone. Others were feeling the psychic groundswell, as late-night Coast-to-Coast radio interview subjects waxed eloquent on underground civilizations, reptilian aliens, Trilateral Commission meetings, Bohemian Grove, and 2012.

The eternal return of the apocalyptic narrative.

In the QuikTrip convenience store where Tanguely bought a coffee after airing up the spare tire, she noticed a bleached blonde woman with a chipmunk-like laugh that was so loud it echoed off the glass doors of the refrigerated SmartWater and sugar-free energy drinks. The woman was young, but with a laugh like that -- the result of being goofed up one whatever cheap stimulant around (meth? glue? shoe polish?) -- she would be wizened and toothless within three years. She could run around the trees with the other toothless chipmunks on crystal meth, thought Tanguely. Ordinarily, Tanguely felt a twinge of compassion for the drug abusers who seemed to gravitate to the convenience stores. Tonight, though, after having her wheel stolen, Tanguely felt hostility; raw aggression.

“I wonder how much they got for my wheel,” mused Tanguely. How long would it keep them high? They need to switch over to huffing gasoline. It’s cheap.

“Except they probably did it partially for the thrill,” commented Tanguely to no one in particular.

Someone was speaking Mexican-accented Spanish in a squeaky baby voice that someone had probably told her was "perky," and not simply annoying. She was showing her friend an engagement ring.

Tanguely paused by the door and punched the number in on her new iPhone which had a finicky touchscreen.

"You seem grumpy," commented her friend. Although it was pointless to call him, since he around 150 miles southeast of the racquet club.

"I am grumpy," said Tanguely. "I should be grateful. I know that. At least they took the whole wheel, and just one. It's better than having it fall off at 60 miles per hour."

Tanguely walked across the parking lot, and the sound of chipmunk laughter bounced up and down. Tanguely felt like turning around and running up to the chipmunk woman, recording her laugh and uploading it to iTunes.

That laugh would be perfect for horror films. You could play the laughter just before the knife came down in the shower, or the chainsaw appeared in Lovers Lane.


Tanguely walked through the door and opened her mail. She noticed a holiday card from the stock transfer company that had escheated 90,000 shares of stock she had inherited from her mother. The stock transfer company had claimed they had tried to establish contact with her. Unfortunately, the stock transfer company tended to deluge everyone on their mailing lists with spam and junk paper mail, to the point that whenever she saw an envelope with their return address, she expected a sales pitch for unneeded (but very expensive) workshops and third-party goods and services -- insurance, travel deals, even cosmetic surgery.

So, she didn't open her mail from them. She did not know she was not in contact. As a result she was turned over to the State of Colorado.

Getting her stock back once it had been escheated -- basically seized -- by the State of Colorado was harder than Tanguely ever imagined.

Now she was opening her holiday card.

It was a cute pop-up of gift boxes -- blue and purple. Undoubtedly, someone had thought they were nice little Hanukkah or Christmas gifts.

Pandora's boxes, thought Tanguely.

Beware the gifts proffered by a securities transfer company. Not Trojan horses, but worse. Open the box, open the present, and unleash pesky, needling, schadenfreude-ish energies of the night.

Was it the kind of energy that drove people to steal a wheel from a car in a racquet club parking lot? Did someone know she was inside, playing tennis on an indoor court?

"Doesn't your current boss live down the street from the racquet club?" asked her friend. "Doesn't he have a 16-year-old who just got a small SUV?"

"That looks like an Element?" responded Tanguely. She paused. "Yes."

Her friend sighed loudly. Tanguely spoke.

"I wasn't taking it personally until now," she said. "I guess I should. The police seemed to think it was an unusual event and that no one wants Subaru tires and wheels. If I had a Ferrari, yes. A 6-year-old Subaru? No."

She picked up the pop-up holiday card and peered inside the little pop-up boxes. Did they have gifts inside? The card was not elaborate enough for that.


The big questions:

How do we tell good from evil and right from wrong?

What is reality?

How do we know what we know?

Which professions are most ethical and which are the least ethical?

Why is being a circus clown a morally better choice than being an Olympic athlete?

Revenge fantasies flowed through Tanguely’s mind. How could she entrap the wheel thieves? It was not worth it.

Switching gears, Tanguely thought that the answers to the “big questions” were patently self-evident.

Therefore, they were not too interesting. She was more interested in the “nano-questions” – the subtle questions that left no “psychic footprint” to disrupt the flow…

“Morality does not unfold in a linear way,” commented Tanguely.

She assumed the thieves were young, male, with beliefs of impunity and immortality.

How about cornered rats? Desperate, angry, unwilling to conform?

Time for a few rat traps, of the human type, thought Tanguely.

And, well, rats were of any age.

It was sad.

Happy New Year.