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A hideous Google pleads, “Don’t look at me!”

15 Jun

Google car

The world is filled with great ironies. Here is one of them.

Google, a company unrivaled at invading privacy, does not want to be watched while it works.

Here is the background.

This great innovator of search, which knows so much about what we do on the Internet, knows every word we write in our Gmails, provides the world with pictures of our homes and streets and shares everything it knows about us with the government and any marketer willing to pay, soon will visit the campus setting where I work.

In its desire to record everything there is to record, Google crews will photograph the thoroughfares within the campus and also enter buildings to map interior hallways.

The first they do with backpack-mounted multi-directional cameras; the second with GPS enabled smart phones.

Prior to the visit, an email was sent by my employer to all employees alerting them to the presence of Google crews and asking us to honor a request not to disturb them. That’s reasonable, but it went on to ask us not to photograph them, which is less reasonable, nor even to watch them, which is absurd.

Don’t watch, we were instructed.

Google may have a host of non-ironic reasons for this request, but they were not shared and I can’t think of even one.

It brought to mind those horror movies where monsters plead, “Look away! I’m hideous!”

With each passing day I realize that the Internet, with all its wonder and potential, with its ability to better lives, improve society and educate the masses, has degenerated into the world’s greatest con game. It provides us with the things we desire in exchange for our souls and the inner workings of our brains. Google does this so that it and many, many others can make money.

After receiving the email, I was at first tempted to protest the directive and watch.

But now I’ve decided to take the opposite approach. When this hideous thing enters campus, I’m going to – as requested — look away.

By Lanny Morgnanesi

 

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Should Hershey and M&M make government policy?

19 May

candy sugar lips2

I came to understand how power could ravage the individual on the day candy bars increased in price and decreased in size.

As a 10-year-old I was willing to concede that prices could go up OR size could go down. But to have both occur at once struck me as unjust and criminal. This shocking and unexpected event remained with me and prepared me for later lessons in politics, morality, pragmatism, irrationality, the market place, self-interest and hypocrisy.

In some respect then, the price I paid for that under-sized Milky Way was worth it.

Thoughts of those days, when candy was so important, came back this morning when I read a piece by Jonathan Tamari in the Philadelphia Inquirer: “Not a sweet fight: Chocolate vs. sugar.”

It details the struggle between “Big Candy” and “Big Sugar” over pending legislation governing price supports for sugar. Currently, the price of domestic sugar is kept high by a policy that limits cheaper imports from countries such as Brazil and Mexico. “Big Candy,” which must pay the higher prices for sugar, wants the restrictions removed so the price of sugar will fall. “Big Sugar” wants to maintain the restrictions to protect U.S. farmers who grow sugar and to offset the subsidies paid to foreign growers by their governments.

CandyBoth sides claim their positions save jobs. Both sides claim their positions are best for the economy. One interesting claim by “Big Sugar” is that “Big Candy” won’t lower its prices even if the cost of sugar comes down.  Why does that sound so believable?

As I read on, my thoughts turned from candy – which I no longer eat much of – to the differences between governmental policy that is piecemeal and policy that is comprehensive.

In the United States, we generally govern the first way. The second way, while enviable, is much too difficult. For now, we leave that kind of governing to the politburo of the Chinese Communist Party, which has its faults and foibles and vast problems with corruption and oppression but is made up of engineers and technocrats who take the long view.

If Congress were to act properly and strategically, it wouldn’t joust over every important piece of legislation, with one kind of action chosen in one case and an opposing kind of action in another. Rather, all actions would be supportive of an effective strategy and plan.

So instead of deciding over “Big Candy” or “Big Sugar,” government   should decide if import barriers and supports as a rule are desirable or undesirable.

Figure out what works best and employ it everywhere where it works.

It’s called National Policy and we need it in every sector.

In the end, an unhappy child may have to pay too much for too little, or his teeth may rot because sweets are cheap and abundant, but if the chosen policy boosts the nation, creating jobs and wealth, then either outcome represents reasonable pain for ultimate gain.

By Lanny Morgnanesi

How soon before McDonald’s opens in an Arctic shore town?

12 May

Ice Age

As a child I was shocked to learn there were Ice Ages. My concern was they would return.

With the globe warming up, I no longer worry.

As an adult, I’ve always been of the mind that the Earth is cataclysmic, dynamic and without care for the creatures and life forms that inhabit it. Because of this, I haven’t spent much time trying to figure out what’s going on with the current variety of climate change. I’m not even sure I could.

It is clear to me, however, that today’s Earth will not be tomorrow’s Earth. Nature has never worked that way.

There aren’t many trees on the Mid-western plains of the United States because they once were under water. Humans or pre-humans walked out of Africa and into Europe because there was no Mediterranean Sea.

So now the ice is melting and temperatures are getting warmer. Surely, the great amount of carbon gases being produced by the dominant species is a contributor. But are there stronger, natural, cyclical factors at work?

Maybe. But I wouldn’t know.

Does it matter?

Human cultures seem unable and unwilling to actively and intentionally reverse things. It is possible the market place could do the job on its own when advances make clean energy more profitable than dirty energy. Until then, we will suffer the disadvantages.

Just as past civilization have migrated due to changing climate, we will, too.  The Earth won’t even flinch.

When the shock of the coming changes wears off, we should focus on the benefits. And there are benefits.

Temperature change chartThink about it this way: If you lived in an ice world and have fully adapted and someone says they could melt it for you, you’d say no. If you lived in a world without ice and someone says they could freeze it for you, you’d say no.

No one wants change, even if their butts are as cold as mountain snow. The good in change often is obscured by the status quo and a locked-in mindset.

Since we are changing, let’s look for the good that has been ignored.

  • We can grow wheat in Canada.
  • They’re making real estate again.
  • New tourist destinations are coming.
  • There will be new access to abundant minerals and resources.
  • You can ship goods across the top of the world and save bundles of money. (The once mythical Northwest Passage is real).

Polar bearUntil recently, I hadn’t heard anyone talk about such things. It would be rather insensitive in light of the many species losing their habitats and the wealthy losing their beachfront homes.

But it is being talked about now.

The Obama Administration this week released a national strategy for the Arctic in advance of a conference of eight polar nations, where temperatures are warming twice as fast as everywhere else.

“Our pioneering spirit is naturally drawn to this region for the economic opportunities it presents and in recognition of the need to protect and conserve this unique, valuable and changing environment,” the president said.

I think the key words are “economic opportunities.”

My experience is little gets done unless there is money to be made.

While the environmentalists moan, complain and argue about climate change (not necessarily bad), visionary entrepreneurs are jumping in an investing. They see the possibilities. From a strategic and security standpoint, the U.S. cannot let other countries – Russian, for example, which has miles of Arctic coasts – get ahead or dominate in the new, warmer world.

And it won’t.

It’s just a shame the kind of mobilization and investment that is about to occur couldn’t have been used to combat the climate change in the first place.

Then again, maybe it wouldn’t have worked. Maybe nature has its own plan and our CO2 really is not a factor. I wish there was a way to know.

Either way, I’ve finally stopped worry about the coming of a new Ice Age and having to wear animal fur 24 hours a day. I guess that is some consolation.

By Lanny Morgnanesi

Shocking disclosure: TV is Free!

31 Mar

Retro TV

It’s hard to remember old technology. That includes devices popular just a few decades ago.

I was surprised that there are people today who don’t know TV is free.

I tried explaining broadcasting and networks to a younger person who had a difficult time with the concept. He only knew that TV came through a cable. He didn’t know that a significant portion of what is on cable also travels through the air and that with something called an antenna it can be brought onto a screen and viewed.

For free.

And because cable can deteriorate data, the broadcast signal actually is clearer, like a higher high definition.

Old tech

Old tech

This lost knowledge of pre-cable TV is being used by at least one business to draw attention to its product – an antenna. In a full-page newspaper ad made to look like news, the ad’s headline reads: “Public gets Free TV with no monthly bills.”

The “story” that follows says the announcement is being made by CompTek, a company whose phone lines, it adds, are ringing off the hook.” The ad list all the Philadelphia area zip codes that can get free TV, and urges people living there to immediately call CompTek.

It’s highly deceptive, but not really a lie. It fails to mention that every zip code can get free TV, as long as it’s within the range of a broadcast.

“Philadelphia area residents who call the Toll Free Hotlines before the 48-hour order deadline to get Clear-Cast can pull in Free TV channels with crystal clear digital picture and no monthly bills,” the ad says.

“Clear-Cast” is the antenna. No mention that other companies sell them and don’t have a 48-hour order deadline. No price for Clear-Cast is listed in the large ad.

After a hike several months ago in my cable rate, I cut the cord in protest and bought a new-technology antenna. I wanted to save money but also had a spare laptop to connect to the TV for Netflix and other Internet TV.

The new antennae are not like the rabbit ears of old. You can buy them for the roof of your house if you want, but the more popular kind go inside the home. They come in several shapes. Mine is from RCA. It is square and flat and black, about the size of an iPad.  I think I paid $40. All you do is connect it to the TV.

New tech

New tech

Well, that’s not all you do. After you connect it, you have to program it on the TV and allow it to locate nearby signals. It takes a few minutes. The TV runs a sequence of all available channels and grabs the one in your area.

I had hoped to get signals from Philadelphia and New York, but my reach was not that strong. New York was out. Big disappointment.

Still, I found myself running the sequence several times to see if I could capture more. It reminded me of fishing. You hit the button on the remote and then wait and watch the screen for a catch. I actually captured more signals the more I ran the sequence. But this doesn’t mean you can watch all these channels, nor does it mean the position of the antenna can stay the same for all.

Just as people used to move the rabbit ears around to get a good signal, the new antenna has to be moved, depending on the station you want to receive. I generally have two positions. One gets about two-thirds of the signals, the other pulls in the remaining one-third. It is bothersome to have to get up and move the device, but you get used to it.

 

Weather and atmosphere seem to be factors. Sometimes the signals are strong and you get everything. Sometimes a few are weak and they conk out or break up. There are a few you almost never get.

It’s not perfect, but it is a big savings over a monthly cable bill that usually runs toward $150. What I like least is there is no program guide. You may be watching a movie but there is no way to check its title or which actors appear. You don’t know when it will be over or what is coming on next.

And, of course, there is no DVR or On-Demand. You’ll have to use a connected computer to help get around this.

And just a reminder, you won’t be getting any cable stations – no CNN, or Comedy Central or TBS or ESPN. You get only broadcast channels on networks such as ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX and PBS, plus local stations.

Unlike old TV, most networks broadcast their main channel and a couple supplemental ones. The supplements usually aren’t high definition and the programing is second-rate. Still, there are old movies, old shows and plenty of cooking and fitness demonstrations to watch.

So if you didn’t know, now you do: TV IS FREE.

By Lanny Morgnanesi

 

 

A land once overcrowded now builds cities for no one

9 Mar

 

Struggling to sell real estate. -- NEW YORK TIMES PHOTO

Struggling to sell real estate. — NEW YORK TIMES PHOTO

 

A Chinese casino dealer from Vancouver called about an investment. He said vacation homes in China’s tropical Hainan Island, off the southeast coast, were selling for 600,000 yuan or about $92,000. A friend of his bought 16.

China once had no room for its people. Dingy one-room apartments were the norm. That was 25 years ago. Today, there is housing galore. There is so much housing that many cities are completely empty.

Shiny, modern, architecturally splendid ghost towns.

They’ve been built for no one.

According to a report on CBS’s 60 Minutes, these empty new cities are being constructed at a rate of 20 or more a year.

The ghost towns – the name used for them by the Chinese – are not modest. They are grand, with rows of skyscrapers. Many resemble Manhattan.

Why are they being built?

They are being built because people like my friend and his friend are willing to buy them whether they are empty or not. People want to buy them because they see housing as a sure investment, with prices – because of massive speculation – going up and up and up, as if there will be no end to it.

To a smaller extent, this happened in the U.S. Remember? Homeowners all thought they were rich, or would be soon. A bubble was created, and it burst, causing the recession of 2008. The thought of easy money (the easier it looks the harder it hooks) causes people in both the West and the East to lose all reason. But how in God’s name can someone look upon an empty city, knowing that many other empty cities exist, and think real estate is a good investment?

How can developers get financing for these cities? How can an economy that not long ago could not feed its people sustain such ridiculous, irresponsible and wasteful practices? It strains my mental capacity to come up with answer.

But I feel confident of this: Soon there will be great hell to pay.

As the high price of wheat caused an Arab Spring, a drop in housing prices could cause revolt and even revolution in China. I see it as that serious. Average people have invested entire fortunes that will most certainly be lost. Chaos will follow, but it won’t bring back the money.

The Chinese government has tried to cool the housing market and stop the wild speculation. Recently, it said it would apply a 20 percent tax on the sale of investment homes. The New York Times photo at the top of this post shows people struggling to sell their properties after they learned of the new tax.  The Times also reported that couples are getting divorced as a way to skirt the tax and have two people claim residence in two houses.

Some China experts say crafty people will find ways to avoid the tax or the government will end up ignoring it.

So, the frenzied buying of homes is not likely to stop soon. It’s like a contagious disease. Even I would like to have a $92,000 vacation home on lovely Hainan Island if it will be worth $200,000 in a year or so. But if I can control myself and wait a little longer, I might be able to get it for $10,000 – or maybe two for 10.

In a country of 1.3 billion people, I’ll probably have the Hainan beach all to myself. A ghost beach is so much better than a ghost town.

By Lanny Morgnanesi

The lucrative tunnels of Gaza

18 Feb

gaza-tunnels

 

For those without it, money always seems to end up in the wrong hands.

A fool and his money are soon parted because there never will be a shortage of disreputable types willing to fleece the weak and unknowing. Writer Dorothy Parker said if you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to. And the Bible itself, in Matthew 19-24, plainly and poetically states that heaven is not for the rich.

But while money has caused great misery in the world, it also has the remarkable, almost magical power of solving problems. It can literally break down barriers.

In the Middle East, in Gaza, there is a wall. On one side are people who need things they can’t get. One the other side are those things.

Due to the force and power of money, the wall and all its associated political obstructions have been circumvented.

They’ve been circumvented by tunnels, which in Gaza can make millions for their owners.

These outlaw entrepreneurs find the means to acquire the wood, concrete and excavation equipment needed to create 700-meter corridors of commerce. Some might even dig a tunnel by hand, even though it could be destroyed by Israeli bombs.

These tunnels are in the town of Rafah, which is split down the middle. Egypt controls one side; Israel the other. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Gaza has 1.6 million people, with 40 percent living below the United Nations poverty line. Unemployment is at 31 percent.

Yet the tunnels can cause the economy to boom. Businessweek says that the tunnel system employs almost 15,000 and carries 75 percent of the good sold in the area.

One successful tunnel owner, Emad Shaaer, has family members on both side of the barrier, which greatly facilitates his business. Payment for his services vary. “Sometimes you got $200,000, and sometimes you got nothing,” he said.

Tunnel construction can cost about $200,000, but you only need $50,000 to get started. You don’t have to pay the labors and tunnel experts until the flow of goods starts.

Things became really good for the smugglers in 2007 when Hamas took control of Gaza from the Palestinian Authority. To punish Hamas and Gaza residents for taking a more radical stance, Israel closed the borders even tighter. If anything can make a smuggler rich it’s a tight border. But as success and profits grew, they attracted attention.

When Hamas realized how much money the tunnel owners were making, it began to tax the operations, raising an estimated $188 million annually. (Hamas denies this.) The local Gaza government also regulates the good that can be transported, outlawing all the things that make the most money. (Further outlawing what is already outlawed.)

Even so, it is doubtful the tunnels will go away. Taxes and regulations can be skirted. Or, maybe there is enough for both the tunnel owners and Hamas.

The only thing that can truly destroy the tunnel system is peace, a highly unlikely prospect. Still, it is possible that the day may come when there will be enough profit in peace that the power and force of money will have succeeded in making us civil.

In such a case, I would argue that the time has finally arrived to allow the rich into heaven.

By Lanny Morgnanesi

 

A Christmas lament: Arrivederci to all that was great and is lost

26 Dec

I belong to something called the Societa Romana Di Mutuo Soccorso, which is based in Trenton, N.J., the tired, failing city of my birth.

The name in English means the Roman Society for Mutual Aid. Until a few years ago, the group’s meeting minutes were recorded and read in Italian. That changed, along with everything else in Trenton. Today, the society’s name is misspelled all over the Internet, a sad state of affairs for a once noble organization.Roman Hall

The Roman Society is a fraternal group whose members have ancestral roots in Rome and its surrounding provinces. Founded by 13 men in 1896, its primary purpose was to provide sick and survivor benefits. The society’s motto is the applicable but mildly unoriginal, “One for all and all for one,” which sounds less cliché in Italian: “Uno per tutti e tutti per uno.”

Dues originally were 50 cents a month. More than a century later, they are $25 a year. This is quite a deal, especially if you attend the Christmas party, which is free.

When you walk into the party, as I did a few weeks ago, there is red and white wine on the tables, along with fresh Italian bread. The first course is always Italian wedding soup. Then a salad. Next is the big favorite: two kinds of pasta, served home style. One has a red sauce, the other a white. Everyone eats both. For entrees there is a choice of roast chicken, veal Parmesan or fish.

The tradition was that one week earlier there would be a party for the children and grandchildren of members. This also was free. The food was simple – hot dogs – but there was a magician, a very impressive Santa and a respectable gift for every child, like a basketball, a nice truck or a doll.

In the summer, there is a free picnic, a feast of near excess that goes far beyond the humble burger.

When I first became a member at my father’s urging, it was a mystery to me how $25 a year could cover all this. Then I learned that the sustaining element of the Societa Romana was something called the Roman Hall. It was what made the society great and of consequence.

The hall dates to 1938. Back then the nation had yet to whip the Great Depression, but the society and it 300 members had more than $14,000 in the bank. For such a time and for such an organization, this was an incredible sum. Seeing an opportunity, two members, Dr. Albert Moriconi and Sylvester Stella, decided the money should be used to allow Italians to do what Italians do best: cook.

And so the society, with its own money and its own labor, built the Roman Hall, a meeting place, restaurant and banquet facility. It was built in the Chambersburg section, a Trenton neighborhood filled with supportive Italians. The building is there still. It’s the Italians that have gone.

For many years the Roman Hall did well. Renovations and expansions were common. As a child I remember hearing people say with delight and anticipation, “We’re going to the Roman Hall tonight!” My family moved out of Trenton when I was young so I don’t have early memories of the place. When I grew up, however, I had the urge to return and erase this blank spot.

I visited shortly after the release of the film, “The Godfather.” I was home from college and living in a Philadelphia suburb with my parents.  My goal was a good meal but more importantly I wanted to experience some of the dripping Italianness I had seen in the Coppola film.

While I didn’t bump into any mobsters, the food and service were first-rate. The building – large, with many rooms — was brilliant white on the outside with black trim. The exterior was somewhat boxy but attempted a Romanesque style. The interior was heavy on columns, statues, gilded mirrors and chandeliers.

After I joined the society, it felt cool to be a member of an organization that owned something like the Roman Hall. I’d take my friends there for dinner, use my discount card and say only half in jest that I was a part owner.

Of course, I’d walk around like I was.

One of the reasons I joined the society was because my father said the hall paid dividends to members who held shares, that with each year you gained more shares, and that when a father died his member son would get his shares.

It seemed like a good investment.

But best of all were the Christmas parties.

They were lively, even though most attendees were very old. There wasn’t much going on except for talk, but this talk generated such energy. Much of it was about old times in the old neighborhood, Chambersburg. I would attend with my father, now 93, and mother, my wife and son, and sometimes my sisters’ families.

Often, there were people at our table we didn’t know. Still, after names and old addresses were exchanged, near ancient connections were always found.

“I knew your great-aunt,” a white-haired woman might say. “She lived down the street from the bakery, near the grocery store. Your grandmother was Cecelia. I knew her. She made great biscotti.”

One man asked where my family originally came from.

“My father’s father is from Perugia, in Umbria,” I said.

“You’re a Mountain Lion,” he responded. “A Mountain Lion.”

“What do you mean?”

“Your family is from the area around Monte Leone – the Lion Mountain. That makes you a Mountain Lion. You’re very stubborn and very strong. You will not let life defeat you.”

Pieces of information like that made the parties fun and deepened my identity; made me feel more complete.

Still, underlying all this frenetic chitchatting was an understated sadness. Chambersburg, home to the Italian culture, with modest but well-kept townhouses, great restaurants and bakeries, had somehow evaporated. People moved away as they prospered and became real Americans. Bankers, doctors, lawyers, politicians, publishers, commercial pilots. There was no longer a need to huddle together for protection. The immigrants and children of immigrants now could make it on their own.

As they did, something of inestimable value was lost.

What had been Italian transformed into something Hispanic.

Still, some refused to give up. They stayed.

“I was mugged for the fourth time last week,” a frail, wiry woman told me without a trace of fear in her voice. “They took my purse.”

Part of the problem with crime is the lack of good jobs in Trenton. It was once an industrial town with a broad manufacturing base. The dominant presence was the John A. Roebling mill that produced wire rope. The city was so proud of itself that on a bridge across the Delaware River it erected a huge sign proclaiming: TRENTON MAKES, THE WORLD TAKES.

I cannot recall ever seeing such a pronounced, public boast by a city. I certainly cannot recall one that remained so public so long after it ceased to be true.

In Jersey, an amusing pastime is to update, add to, or parody the slogan with something like: WHAT TRENTON USES, THE WORLD REFUSES.

But when Trenton thrived, the money earned by Trentonians helped support local businesses, including restaurants like the Roman Hall. Its three banquet rooms – for groups of 55, 160 and 300 – were places where Italians and non-Italians celebrated joyful events.  Like many restaurants in Chambersburg, the Roman Hall had a reputation outside the city. It fed the likes of George H. W. Bush, Larry Holmes, Derek Jeter and an assortment of famous governors and senators. We lost out on Sinatra, who went down the road to Creco’s, perhaps the best of the Chambersburg restaurants.

I’m not sure what’s there now, but it’s not Creco’s.

When people stopped coming to the Roman Hall, the society tried different approaches to keep it going. None worked. Members debated over what to do. Some couldn’t stomach the idea of a sale. Others said it should have been done years ago. As the talk continued, things got worse. In 2009 a buyer was sought and found and the Roman Hall, as the Roman Hall, was no more.

It was replaced by something more fitting for the times: a Hispanic nightclub called the Infinity Lounge. The society holds the mortgage, so the detachment is not yet one hundred percent complete. I’m unsure if that is a consolation or a concern.Infinity Lounge

As might be expected, the Infinity Lounge has its critics. At a city council meeting there were complaints of loud music, public urination, unruly crowds and sex acts. On an Internet site, one person complained of vacant storefronts being plastered with posters for the Infinity and other “ghetto nightclubs.”

At the council meeting, Antonio Martinez, a lawyer for the club owner, defended the Infinity saying the neighborhood had been a “ghost town” and now life had been restored. He added that the Roman Hall never had a chance, that it existed only because it was being propped up.

“That restaurant survived because it was funded by the society of Roman Hall … otherwise it would have closed years ago,” he said.

He didn’t realize it was the hall that was supposed to prop up the society.

For the last three years or so, the society’s Christmas party was held at a place in suburban Trenton called Cedar Gardens.  The name is grander than the building, which resembles a down-at-the-heels relic from the 60s. The food was not bad, but the much-loved red and white pasta was no longer homemade fettuccine. It was penne and rigatoni from a box.

Another casualty was the children’s party.

Decisions on the fate of the Roman Hall were made at the hall during monthly meetings of the society. Before the working sessions there was always free pasta and beer. Throughout my membership I only went to one or two meetings. The hall is about an hour’s drive from my house and I couldn’t get there in time after work. Also, I guess the interest was never very strong. The society was really run by an old guard with ties to Trenton. As a Pennsylvanian, I felt like an outsider.

In addition, I somehow thought the Roman Hall would always be there.

Now that it’s over, now that the Roman Hall has lost its flesh and has been reduced to stories and memories, I wish I had been more involved. Maybe I could have found a real estate speculator to invest in the area. Much of dilapidated Philadelphia is coming back, with a strong interest in forgotten neighborhoods.

Why not Trenton?

I actually like the row houses in the blocks surrounding the Roman Hall. If they were fixed up, if the restaurants came back, the neighborhood would be ideal for employees of the one vibrant industry left in Trenton, state government.

In recent decades, the forces of decline have taken hold of so much that was enviable and worthwhile. Sure, we moved out of the city on our own, but – naively — we didn’t know that would destroy it.

Could it be that we deserved all the good things then and don’t deserve them now? Could it be that we wanted them then and really don’t want them now?

Either way, it troubles me how we casually watched it all go away. There was no fight. Was there even a way to win?

In science there is a concept called entropy, a gradual tendency toward disorder. A college professor told me time was the path on which entropy travels. Living today, in an eclipse, one can easily believe that. Little gets better. Instead, it unravels and decays.

Entropy.

But if science shows us anything, it shows us nature favor the cyclical. This leaves the possibility that the macro entropy of our cities, our economy and our culture will halt and reverse. Rebirth and growth might lie ahead.

With respect to the cities, the trend has already started. Young people like the urban culture, even with its grit and danger. They are moving back. Our cities may one day be great again, reverting back to the creative founts of thought, energy and commerce that would never be squandered or abused.

I can see it.

It just a shame that it won’t happen in time for next year’s Christmas party at the Societa Romana Di Mutuo Soccorso.

 –By Lanny Morgnanesi

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