September 2023

As most alert readers (ARs) know, 11,500 members of The Writers Guild of America have been on strike against The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers since early May. While the viewing public awaits a resolution of this dispute and a resumed flow of fresh material from Hollywood, some ARs might be interested in revisiting some older stories that were around long before the advent of movies or TV.

August 2023

I recently attended a presentation on cyber security that addressed some of the risks of using email. In the course of this presentation the presenter, who was less than half my age, mentioned that the “Cc” feature referred to “carbon copies” and the “Bcc” feature referred to “blind carbon copies.”

July 2023

Back in 1780 Benjamin Franklin famously wrote that nothing is certain except death and taxes. With all due respect for the author of Poor Richard’s Almanack and the founder of The Library Company in Philadelphia, I have to quibble. While death is inevitable and certain for everyone who has ever lived, taxes are not. As is well known, there are some individuals and entities that pay more in taxes than others; and some that are totally exempt from taxation.

June 2023

Alert readers (ARs) who follow politics will be aware that the 118th Congress of the United States convened in January of this year. What most ARs may not recall is that one of the first priorities of the new Congress was the availability of tickets for concerts on Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour.

May 2023

As some alert readers (ARs) know, I’ve served on the board of The St. Louis Public Library longer than I’ve been in the beer business. When The Schlafly Tap Room opened in 1991, I had already been on the library board nearly seven years, having been first appointed by Mayor Vincent Schoemehl in December of 1984. At the time John Robert “Jay” Ashcroft was still in elementary school.

April 2023

Like lots of alert readers (ARs) I’m preparing to send a check to the Internal Revenue Service on or before April 18th. And, perhaps like some ARs, I often wonder what happens to the trillions of dollars we collectively send to the federal government every year. We have been told, for example, that none of the $1.2 trillion that was pumped into the economy under The Inflation Reduction Act came from individual taxpayers.

March 2023

Like me, most alert readers (ARs) have probably heard of ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence (AI) tool that some college students are using to write papers. Before any ARs even ask the question, I want to say for the record that every word in every column I’ve ever written has been my own. I’ve never used ChatGPT for anything and have no intention of doing so. As long as we’re on the subject, I should add that, unlike the 19-year old grandmaster Hans Niemann, I have never used AI to cheat at chess nor been accused of doing so. I have also never sought romance or friendship through Replika or any other AI chatbot mobile app.

February 2023

It’s hard to believe that it was just a year ago that the horrors in Ukraine began to unfold.  As may be the case with many alert readers (ARs), my initial shock and disbelief have gradually  turned to numbness.  It’s almost as if I’ve become inured to the barbarism that now seems sickeningly mundane.  I can’t help but be reminded of  Hannah Arendt’s memorable phrase “the banality of evil” in writing about The Third Reich.  It’s in this context that I want to share part of the Christmas message  my wife and I sent out two months ago.

January 2023

In early 2022 the eyes of the sports world were on the Winter Olympics in China. At the end of the year they had turned to the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Both of these events were quadrennial spectacles featuring the best athletes in the world in their respective sports. In addition to TV audiences consisting of billions of viewers around the globe, the Winter Olympics and FIFA World Cup had something else in common: the appalling human rights abuses committed by the two host nations.

December 2022

On November 13, 1789 Benjamin Franklin famously wrote, “Our new Constitution is now established, everything seems to promise it will be durable; but, in this world nothing is certain except death and taxes.”  Two and one third centuries later this statement is as true as when it was first written.