Category: Blog

These are random thoughts about topics that interest me — including books, rock and roll, philosophy, culture and daily life. I update it whenever the mood strikes me, shooting for at least once a week but often more frequently than that. I welcome your comments on anything I may discuss here and, when appropriate, will reply as promptly as possible.

One Hundred Years of Solitude

I have to be honest. I really didn’t like this book. My first memory of it was from an English professor at Sauk Valley College, circa 1978 gushing over how unbelievably good it was. I resolved to read it someday, and after hearing repeated reverential praises for this masterful moving book, I finally got around Read More …

The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve

I wasn’t sure that someone could make talking about the fairly straightforward Garden of Eden story interesting for several hundred pages, but I’ve always been interested in the implications the story has for Christianity and spiritual philosophy, so I decided to give this book a try. What a great decision. Yes, it was a bit Read More …

Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America’s Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan

I did not read the volume that preceded this book, “Ghost Wars,” but that was no handicap in quickly getting into the story of Directorate S and its peculiar role in the , essentially, defeat of American goals in Afghanistan. Coll’s incredibly vivid descriptions of characters, events and competing political and ideological interests in Pakistan, Read More …

Book review: Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man’s First Journey to the Moon

This is not the personality driven, author showcase of a “The Right Stuff,” nor the tense drama of an “Apollo 13.” It was something of a mix of the two, an introduction to the personalities that were involved in the Apollo 8 mission to the moon alongside a description of what a tremendously difficult team Read More …

Book Review: Divine Fury

The best part of Divine Fury is the final 30 pages, wherein McMahon reflects on the impressively diverse and thorough research that is reflected in the rest of his discussion of the nature of “genius” and how our understanding of it has changed over the course of the centuries. In his epilogue, he reflects on Read More …

Speaking honestly to heart and brain about immigration

Daily Herald Editor John Lampinen called several senior editors and staff to a meeting this week to discuss the newspaper’s policies on reporting about immigration. It’s one of the most controversial topics of our day, and in our news stories, we want to give readers, whatever their personal stance, the most accurate information we can Read More …

Newsroom settings change, but goals don’t

I’m thinking about newsrooms today. I’m looking around me at a cavernous gray chamber that has been stripped of 23 years of personality. Twenty-three years of iconic news photos. Twenty-three years of baby, family and vacation pictures. Twenty-three years of signs and posters. Twenty-three years of desks groaning under stacks of outdated newspapers, knickknack displays, Read More …

Two questions, one answer on reporting

Two very different questions were directed to me at a recent panel discussion on journalism. One questioner sought to know why we weren’t reporting more details about a police shooting in Bloomingdale earlier this month in which a Carol Stream man carrying a knife was killed. From the wording of the question, it was clear Read More …