Home
In this issue
December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 17, 2014 / 17 Adar I, 5774

The future is now: A sci-fi geezer's lament

By John Kass

John Kass


JewishWorldReview.com | The post-apocalyptic sci-fi stories I liked best as a boy weren't space operas on distant planets, involving warlike aliens who (weirdly enough) spoke guttural English, as if they were KGB officers in some action movie.

The sci-fi I loved took place right here, on Earth, our Earth, the Earth of the future after the fall. These were sagas of "forbidden zones" around ruined cities, and mutants, and things the survivors had forgotten about the America we live in today.

Some characters were barbaric humanoids living underground. They served machines and ate human flesh. There was no reasoning with them.

One story featured a large mutant hunting cat about the size of a mountain lion. She could telepathically communicate warnings to the boy who searched for lost knowledge in the ruined cities where the "beast things" roamed.

In other lurid sagas of future lost civilizations, there is often an archetype:

A geezer.

And not just any geezer, mind you, but a special geezer with knowledge of the old ones, the forgotten.

This geezer was terribly old, ready for the burial ground, perhaps as old as in his mid-50s.

He'd sit by the fire and entertain the tribes with stories of the forgotten people, who ruled before the death rays fell from the sky.

And what would he tell them of those days before the death came?

Of magical things like creamed corn in a can.

And candy bars. Electric power. Airplanes, cars, salt shakers and vaccines and so on.

If I were writing his lines, I'd have the geezer mention something that has been already assigned to the ash heap of the future by the tribes of the present:

Privacy.

"Privacy?" asked the people in animal skins around the fire. "Can you eat it? Can you get drunk on it? Could they use it to eat as much 'creamed corn in the can' as they wanted, whatever that is?"

The geezer sighed. He tried to explain "privacy" and its twin, "freedom," but these subjects were as terrifying and unsettling as they once had been to the forgotten.

"Privacy?" said one. "Are not a man's thoughts his own?"

Now they are, said the geezer, but not in the old days. There came a time when everyone's thoughts were known, said the geezer.

The people grumbled. One war chief barked at the moon. The geezer looked around nervously, and saw the people fingering their spears.

Then the geezer said (foolishly): The only ones who didn't have to share their thoughts were the leaders and the war chiefs.

One war chief looked at a leader. He hefted his club, a large stone lashed to a springy green limb. They'd have to kill this geezer. He was troublesome indeed.

But they did marvel at his stories, about the technological skill of the forgotten ones of long ago, a tribe that could preserve food in cans and kill predators with fire sticks.

How could such wondrous things work? Carts that fly in the sky? Fire sticks to kill the "beast things"?

Sadly, the geezer said, the thread of the ideas that helped build such wonders had been lost to humankind.

"Were the old ones really 'gods'?" asked the people.


No, the geezer might say. They were just men who forgot their way. Once they had a code, which guided their actions. But they forgot it and gave up freedom to their leaders because, without privacy, their thoughts were not their own.

And even before that they became lost, disillusioned, afraid. The first step was that they became confused, the geezer said.

"Let's just kill this geezer," said one of the tribesmen aloud. "We already have our holy men. We don't need another holy man around here."

"Yeah, shut up, geezer. Take your magic elsewhere, holy man!" said another.

"His skin looks soft," said another. "I need slippers. So let's kill him."

"Let's not," said a clan leader. "Let's keep him alive as long as he tells us more about TV. I love hearing about TV."

So they decided that geezer would live, as long as he'd entertain them with his fanciful stories about fire sticks. And as long as he'd stop talking about "freedom."

As I was jotting notes about the geezer, using the ancient, perhaps subversive tools of pen and paper, a young woman in front of me in line ordered a cheese Danish.

We were waiting to place our orders at the expensive coffee emporium on Michigan Avenue. You know the place. Coffee beverages with caramel and salt that cost about five bucks. But the good thing is that the regular dark roast is under two dollars.

Anyway, she ordered a cheese Danish, and held her smartphone up to the cash register.

"Do it again, please," said the woman at the counter, and I watched.

She did it again, put her phone with its application from the expensive coffee store up to the screen. She got her Danish.

"That's how people pay now," said the woman at the counter. "About half of our customers pay by phone."

Then she told me what I owed her for my coffee.

I paid with cash.

Yes, I know, it was a small, symbolic, futile gesture. It wasn't exactly standing before a line of tanks in Tiananmen Square, but at least I didn't get my head clubbed in by a war chief or clan leader.

"You don't have to take your wallet out, or your card," she said. "Just swipe the phone. It's easy."

ARCHIVES

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

John Kass is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Comments by clicking here.

• Archives



© 2014, Chicago Tribune. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles

Quantcast