One morning I checked my e-mail to find that I had 23 messages. Suspecting that I had won a cruise or was about to learn the perfect weight loss secret, I quickly opened my inbox and discovered that the emails were all on the same topic: tan and white seersucker shorts. The e-mails were in response to an episode of Acorns and Merlot, a weekly podcast that I co-host, on which I had mentioned the stylishness of these shorts.\n\nAs background, podcasts are internet radio shows that can be downloaded to iPods or other audio devices. They are similar to talk radio but unlike traditional talk radio are not constrained by the need to please sponsors or stay within a particular time frame. My co-host on Acorns and Merlot is eccentric, creative, and openly aspires to a blue blood lineage. My father says he’s a "small-time thug"; my mother worries that he won’t live up to his potential; and I just enjoy podcasting with him. We make a good online pair because we are both outgoing and have a similar sense of style. Our show consists of an eclectic and often humorous mix of new and vintage soundbites and commentary on topics ranging from politics to fashion to our personal lives. Occasionally we invite guests, such as the radical conservative activist Shirley Phelps Roper or a local band. Under our ground rules, to ensure spontaneity we do not reveal our topics to each other before the show. For authenticity we never pause our recording or edit our shows. In the personal segments, we act as if the listeners are therapists that we can confide in freely, and when we are off the air we do not acknowledge anything that is said on the show. There are Acorns and Merlot fans all over America and a following has even been established on Britain’s Isle of Wight. Listeners like Acorns and Merlot not only because it is humorous but also because it offers a completely candid look into our minds. Many of them find the show addictive, and since we began the show last year our listener numbers have snowballed. Our latest episode was downloaded by over 3500 people, placing us in the top 1% of podcasts ranked by iTunes.\n\nI find podcasting fulfilling for a number of reasons. It is a cathartic experience and it provides me with the satisfaction of entertaining and influencing others. Most important, it provides a forum to validate my beliefs. It forces me to articulate my positions and thus to be able to justify them logically.

The DMV

Rarely before in mankind's history has there been a place as cruel and wretched as the Department of Motor Vehicles. I awoke last Monday filled with zeal and the determination to, after nearly eighteen years, enter the world of automobile operation by taking my learner's permit test. Eager to begin my journey, I threw on what I hoped would be a flattering shirt for an ID picture, hopped on my favorite bus, (the 71c Shadyside) and made my way downtown.

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I think man's desire to create can truly be traced back to his inclination to fashion the world around him in his image, or in accordance with his expressions. Humans are vain creatures, and we like to see ourselves in the world. When we create a sculpture we have imparted part of ourselves onto concrete solid material. When we father or mother a child we see another being with traits and genes from us. It is only natural for us to seek to adapt the world around us in our image and to our liking.

My intellectual development can be likened to the dating record of a middle-aged bachelor. I have restlessly trudged through affair after affair. First I was seduced by engineering and the marvels of man’s advances in technology; I got over her by distracting myself with the voracious and volatile lady of artistic expression but was left again without fulfillment; then I was courted by my oldest lover, mother nature, and fell under the spell of her many fascinating and outlandish pets; I suffered through a taxing separation with antiquity and finally broke an engagement I had entered into with my beloved, politics. However, I am happy to say that my committaphobia has ended and I am ready to settle down. My heart has fixated on a mistress to which I now unavoidably must devout my mind—philosophy. As all men who foolishly lower their defenses to the prospect of love do, I have fallen deeply in love and never again will any other be adequate for me. \n This is not to say that she is a kind lover. She casts us, as one of her former suitors famously said, "into a dark sea without shores or lighthouses," (Immanuel Kant) and then mocks us with the prospect of truth. Unfortunately, rarely do I, or any of her other lovers, catch a glimpse of her; and even more rarely do I have the opportunity to touch her. However, after her any other discipline seems unfulfilling. Perhaps ours is not the most pleasurable relationship, but ours is certainly the most necessary and fulfilling. \n