A Swim in Denial by Kirby Farrell

With time to spare before a flight out of Pisa, I recently looked in on the Piazza dei Miracoli, where the famous tower of Pisa leans. The Piazza is the size of a football stadium. A medieval wall encloses a …

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Programmed Life Who's in charge here?

Kirby Farrell | May 28, 2016

One afternoon last year local police pulled me over. When I said hello and asked what was wrong (inspection sticker out of date—duh), the cop ignored me and stuck to his script (“Let me see your registration,” etc.). In a …

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Buffalo Trump: Closing the frontier again

Kirby Farrell | January 24, 2016

Instead of saying someone died, some folks a century ago might say he “went to the happy hunting ground,” or he’s gone “to join the Indians.” The euphemism referred to the closing of the American frontier in the late 19th …

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What better way to celebrate the holiday season than to give some thought to scapegoats?  We cope with the darkest time of the year by loading up undying “ever” green trees with a symbolic harvest of ornaments and lights that …

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Addiction and Rescue: The Pledge Goes Viral

Kirby Farrell | November 7, 2015

If you’d like to be rescued from death, vote for me. That’s the gist of a video clip Huffington Post put on Facebook. In it a presidential contender promises prospective voters in a New Hampshire tavern that he favors treatment for …

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We’re social animals, with an instinct for group competition that’s evolved to intensify solidarity, as in team spirit. Cooperation to win makes the group stronger and insures survival. Heroes, families, and tribes compete in order to expand, lead, and dominate …

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The Self as Schtick: Life as a Bad Movie

Kirby Farrell | September 11, 2015

Spoiler alert! If a story can be spoiled by knowing “the ending,” then the ending is likely to be an entertaining surprise, the answer to a puzzle or the punchline of a joke.  If the surprise comes to you like the flash answer to …

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Superman needs you: Do you have a super need?

Kirby Farrell | August 27, 2015

Great leaders, they say, have “magnetism.” Their “charisma” casts a spell.  But it’s really a collaboration. Hitler staged the Nuremburg rallies, but thousands had to show up and stand in the hot sun saluting and throbbing with crowd power. They’d been …

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