J.D. Vance’s 2016 best seller, Hillbilly Elegy, a memoir of growing up in — and ultimately escaping from — the quicksand of endemic, debilitating poverty in America’s Rust Belt, is coming to Netflix, November 24. The book was prescient in predicting the appeal of an emergent Donald Trump. The movie comes at a time when the country is grappling with the possibility that the divisions among us might be unbridgeable.

Vance turns his lens on his own people — poor, uneducated, dispossessed whites, a cohort that occupies a vast swath of this country running from the Great Lakes in the…


In technology, government is not the problem; it is the solution

Could that be a slender iPhone? Peter Sellers in the 1964 movie “Dr. Strangelove, Or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb”

New camera systems are usually the focus of any iPhone launch. And, while 5G capability may have made the headlines at last week’s iPhone 12 debut, Apple did not disappoint on the camera front: A new, larger image sensor combined with cleverer image-processing software helps in low-light situations, corrects distortions and enables many other features.

A bit of history: The CMOS active pixel sensor (the “camera chip” that enables all modern digital photography) was first developed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), back in 1993 by an engineer named Eric Fossum. Later, Fossum left JPL to found Photobit Corporation to…


On Monday, 27 February 1933, precisely four weeks after Adolf Hitler was sworn in as Chancellor, the Reichstag, home of the German parliament in Berlin, was consumed by a massive fire in a daring act of arson.

It turned out to be a pivotal event. The Nazis promptly blamed the Communists for the fire and for plotting against the German government. The very next day Hitler urged President Hindenburg to issue an emergency decree to suspend most civil liberties in Germany, including habeas corpus, freedom of expression, freedom of the press, the right of free association and public assembly and the secrecy of the postal service and the telephone. Publications not considered favorable to the Nazi cause were banned for life. Hitler promised to pursue a “ruthless confrontation” with the Communist Party of Germany. …


MIT Sloan

In his 1973 Pulitzer prize winning book, The Denial of Death, cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker maintains that we live life as a constant struggle to control our basic anxiety: the fear of death. “This is the terror: To have emerged from nothing, to have a name, consciousness of self, deep inner feelings, an excruciating yearning for life and self-expression — and with all this to die.”

What this means is significant: All we ever think about — what we constantly struggle with — is how to assert our existence; unconsciously, and at every moment, we fight, deny, ignore, or attempt…


A health care worker outside the emergency center at Maimonides Medical Center, in New York City, on April 13. (CNS photo/Andrew Kelly, Reuters)

Unsurprisingly, millions around the globe have turned to the internet for solace as the pandemic sweeps the land; searches related to prayer in 75 countries skyrocketed to their highest levels in five years in March. Online ministries are doing a land office business in cyber conversions. Confused, worried and looking for hope, more and more are putting their faith in the divine.

Yet, even as deaths mount, particularly in disadvantaged strata of society, God has remained silent. …


We’ve long since abandoned the belief that natural disasters are divinely initiated punishments. And yet, as the virus ravages the land, who amongst us couldn’t be forgiven a slight twinge of something like guilt — a vague sting of what could be called “karmic justice?” Is this divine retribution for our accumulated predations against nature? Is nature itself rebelling?

Experts tell us it’s not God punishing us, but that the pandemic is, indeed, a reaction to human activity. “We invade tropical forests and other wild landscapes, which harbor so many species of animals and plants — and within those creatures…


There are reasons enough to hate him; yet another recitation of his flaws, transgressions and inhumanity is pointless. Especially since every day reveals a fresh horror. But now, even as he reels from the body blow that is the coronavirus crisis, to those of us who think that will be his Waterloo, I say this: He’s at his best when his back’s against the wall.

This Politico article details how, time and again, he’s turned almost certain defeat into victory. The victories, of course were short lived; every one of his investors, partners and customers were left in the lurch…


That the United States suffers a profound — and paralyzing — polarization along ideological lines is no big revelation. The question is: Will the coronavirus pandemic heal the divide, or will it deepen the fissure? With unemployment forecast to exceed the worst of the great depression, with the wholesale destruction of its industrial base, compounded by the rising tide of irrationality and science denial that has already swamped much of the country, there is a real possibility that the nature of US society will undergo fundamental and irreversible change.

We’re already bracing for something akin to — or worse than…


We were already going mad and then the pestilence arrived.

A double whammy; a promise of upending life as we know it.

How do we survive (what surely seems like) thermonuclear war?

Lao Tsu is very precise on this: retreat is the only strategy. Consider this stanza from the Tao Te Ching:

There is a saying about strategy:

I dare not play the host but play the guest;

I do not advance an inch but retreat a foot instead,

This is known as

Marching forward when there is no road,

Rolling up one’s sleeve when there is no arm,

Taking…


“Humankind has got itself into a fine pickle. We are being exploited by companies that paradoxically deliver services we crave, and at the same time our lives depend on many software –enabled systems that are open to attack. Getting out of this mess will be a long-term project. It will involve engineering, legislation and, most important, moral leadership. Moral leadership is the first and biggest challenge. “

Rodney Brooks, professor emeritus, MIT

As the largest and most pervasive of social media platforms Facebook faces an urgent test of moral leadership. So far it is failing and dangerously so. In fact…

Girish Mhatre

Just trying to figure things out.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store