Recent Commentaries

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The Heart of Fools
The House of Mirth is a dark and depressing Edith Wharton novel about a self-absorbed young woman obsessed with fitting into the upper-crust of wealth and society in turn of the century New York. Lily Bart is a striking woman “to the manner born.” Although she’s been ready for her close-up since she was 18, her perennial talent seems to be putting...
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November 30, 2009
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A Word of Action
Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn. – Benjamin Franklin When he was a mere 26 years of age, Benjamin Franklin conceived of writing a book about living rightly.  Always a student of new ideas, Franklin was constantly examining codes of behavior and how each of us might better understand our place and purpose in...
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November 26, 2009
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Coach Wooden
Some people think that the only way you can teach college athletes and build a winning basketball season is to intimidate, bully and demean. It’s a good thing John Wooden and his students never paid much attention to that kind of “conventional” wisdom. Always there to support, encourage, and congratulate, Coach Wooden directed his UCLA Basketball teams to 10 NCAA...
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November 25, 2009
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Speaking of Emperors…
Are my guiding principles healthy and robust? On this hangs everything.   – Marcus Aurelius In writing these commentaries, it’s interesting to see how one topic will lead to another. Last Friday’s discussion revolved around the ethical question of whether the end justifies the means, a theme from the filmThe Emperor’s Club. In browsing my bookshelf, The Emperor’s Handbook, a 2002 translation...
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November 23, 2009
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Character as Destiny
There’s a scene late in the film The Emperor’s Club when William Hundert, a teacher who believes that character is the path to true success, dispenses a final lesson to an errant student. “All of us, at some point,” Hundert tells an older but no wiser Sedgewick Bell, “are forced to look at ourselves in the mirror and see who we really...
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November 20, 2009
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End of the Road
“What he has accomplished is really nothing short of extraordinary.  We are not saying that this extraordinary story should give him a pass.” Those “extraordinary” words were spoken by defense attorney Robert P. Trout regarding his client, former congressman William Jefferson of Louisiana, asking the judge to take into account Jefferson’s life story before sentencing. In response, prosecutors pointed out...
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November 18, 2009
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Fluffing Towards Gomorrah
Several conversations about ethics and art led me to revisit Friday’s commentary. An article from the New York Times (Nov. 11) raised my interest about “concerns in the art world over the propriety of a coming show at the New Museum [of Contemporary Art in New York] that will feature the private collection of a museum trustee, Dakis Joannou.”  Returning to The Times,  » Read more about:...
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November 16, 2009
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The Fluffer
“A person who maintains a pornstar’s erection between scenes; a broker of products or services that gets the client ready.” – Urban Dictionary The New Museum of Contemporary Art “…has evolved from a scrappy alternative space into a mainstream institution,” The New York Times reported (Nov. 11). However, in the opinion of many, the Museum “…is jeopardizing its integrity by giving too much...
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November 13, 2009
Featured image for “November 2009 Ethical Hero – Judith Mayotte”
November 2009 Ethical Hero – Judith Mayotte
One of the great pleasures of living in an active community is having the opportunity to meet and listen to those who are fully engaged in service to others. Featured as one of the Smithsonian’s 100 Everyday Freedom Heroes, Dr. Mayotte has a fascinating life story of humanitarian service.  For ten years, she worked as a nun in the inner-cities...
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November 12, 2009
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The Answer to the Health Care Debate
Hold on to your hats, folks, I’m getting ready to be brilliant. I have the answer to the health care debate.  No, really! Last Saturday, the House narrowly passed its version of health care reform.  Now, we all hold our breath as it goes to the Senate and then back to the House and… let’s skip past all the parsing...
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November 11, 2009