Oct 072018

Evanston RoundTable, Oct. 4, 2018 Things go better when we’re attuned to the task at hand. A disciplined focus allows us to avoid the mindless and usually fruitless and frustrating ruminations that seem to hijack our thoughts when we lose our concentration. And yet something seemingly so simple—staying engaged and on task—is one of the hardest things to do. The […click to read more…]

Sep 202018

Evanston RoundTable, Sept. 20, 2018 Imagine that the presidency, instead of being a four-year term, rotates among common citizens. Everyone gets to be the chief executive for 24 hours. And today is your turn. What would you do? Here’s a speech draft you can use to address a joint session of Congress. “Ladies and gentlemen, I have only one goal, […click to read more…]

Sep 062018

Evanston RoundTable, Sept. 6, 2018 Are we tied implacably to our personalities or are we free to reinvent ourselves? That’s a question scientists, philosophers and even novelists have long explored. One take on this question comes from an unlikely source, the 1929 noir masterpiece “The Maltese Falcon” by Dashiell Hammett. Film buffs remember Hammett’s gumshoe anti-hero Sam Spade, played in […click to read more…]

Aug 232018
Remembering the '68 Democratic Convention

Evanston RoundTable, Aug. 23, 2018 Next week marks the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Democratic Convention, held in Chicago at the International Amphitheatre. I remember it well: I was there. Reports had been circulating for weeks beforehand about planned demonstrations by anti-Vietnam War activists. The more radical fringe elements, led by master provocateurs Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, were intent […click to read more…]

Aug 122018

Evanston RoundTable, Aug. 9, 2018 Aug. 16 is International Apostrophe Day (right, who knew?) and to celebrate let us examine a short story, “Displaced,” in the current New Yorker by the estimable Richard Ford, winner of the Pulitzer, Pen/Faulkner and many other fiction awards. In the piece he writes from the perspective of a 16-year-old who has lost his father: […click to read more…]

Jul 272018

Evanston RoundTable, July 26, 2018 During these difficult and trying times, we find comfort in heroism and inspiration. That’s why the rescue of the 12 young soccer players and their 25-year-old assistant coach from the flooded Tham Luang cave in northern Thailand has been so satisfying: it reinforces the notion that global teamwork, individual courage and effective decision-making can still […click to read more…]

Jul 122018

Evanston Roundtable, July 12, 2018 Like everything else, relationships change over time. There’s a formula to them that is remarkably consistent. Relationships start out full of passion and excitement. The object of our infatuation is a paragon of virtue or beauty or intellect (maybe all three!). We can’t spend enough time together. Love blinds and blinkers us. Love, as Shakespeare […click to read more…]

Jun 302018

Evanston RoundTable, June 28, 2018 Everything comes easier with practice, from skeet shooting to horseback riding to piano playing. It takes 10,000 hours, experts say, to master a skill. Dying is different. There are no scales or exercises, no practice runs, no warm-ups. It’s one and you’re done. That is why it’s good to think about the unthinkable in advance, […click to read more…]

Jun 142018

Evanston RoundTable, June 14, 2018 Food, why do you love me so? Sadly, you go right to my heart—and my waistline. It’s not because you taste so good or I’m so hungry for you. No, sad to say, it has more to do with our love-hate, approach-avoidance, feast-or-famine relationship. Really, I’d rather we were just friends. Don’t take it personally; […click to read more…]

Jun 032018

Evanston RoundTable, May 31, 2018 Among the gregarious and hilarious regulars at the men’s locker room at the McGaw YMCA, where we regularly consider the wisdom and stupidity of the world, one recent conversation centered on an interesting question: what will life be like in 100 years? A consensus emerged that things will, by and large, be better. Surely, people […click to read more…]