Perspective: The Best Movie Line Ever Written

Everybody knows that movies are moving pictures. And people go see them in order to see, well, moving pictures. The dialogue generally exists just to advance the plot. But every now and then the dialogue stands out on its own. Take, from the film Casablanca , two lines: "Round up the usual suspects" and "I'm shocked — shocked! — that gambling is going on in here." These lines are known for their high irony. And then there's Robert Niro's scary line in Taxi Driver : "Are you talking to ME?" And

Perspective: A Lesson From The Pandemic

A rogue wheel, loosened from a truck, bounced madly across the tollway in front of us as we headed east on I-88. Had we been a little closer, it might have slammed into our car. It was a vivid reminder, as though we needed another one, that we are not really in control of our fate. Control is an illusion that has been shattered over the past year as the virus flashed through the world's population, morphing, striking, strengthening. No one could feel entirely safe. No one was entirely safe. This

Perspective: Despite COVID, I Had High Hopes

High hopes! I had high hopes — high apple pie in the sky hopes! I was going to go line dancing, learn how to play the ukulele, visit my granddaughter in California a couple of times (Toddlers grow so fast!), take a sailing cruise in Italy with a friend. After all, COVID-19 was little more than an annual flu — from far, far away and would disappear, almost like a miracle. What? Me worry? This has been a year of evolving information--a year replete with misinformation and disinformation. Our

Perspective: Send More Positivity, Please!

Occasionally, our regular Perspectives contributor Elsa Glover decides to share the voices and opinions of other teachers or students with WNIJ's listeners. Today, Elsa brings us the wisdom of Kaneland 6th graders Chloe Sullivan and Katilyn Schuhler. During this pandemic, it's hard to find positivity. More often we see people reach out to help. The thing is, we have to keep sending positivity to others. If we don't, returning to normalcy will be harder. This is because positivity is what keeps

Perspective: A Life Of Unintended Consequences

Reading the history of food and agriculture in Mark Bittman's book, Animal, Vegetable, Junk. I have been thinking about how events in history, given our hindsight, seem to have set in motion a domino effect of unintended consequences. How a choice which made sense at the time can later seem a tragic mistake. Take the story of Fritz Haber, a German Jew born in 1868 and a friend of Albert Einstein. Haber was influenced by William Crookes, president of the British Association for Advancement of

Perspective: It's All Relative

I just found out my Aunt Janice passed away. She wasn't really my aunt; I think she was a second cousin, but no matter, she had a talent for always showing my parents and me a memorable time whenever we were with her. I remember the time we went out to see her, she lived on the East Coast and she drove us into an Amish area so we could see the boxy, black horse-drawn buggies with the orange triangle reflector on the back; we stopped at a farmers market and bought juicy, ripe peaches and a shoo

Perspective: The Liminality Of Pandemic Time

It is amazing to think that it's been over a year since we began our mad hunts for toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and Lysol wipes — back when Zoom calls were still a novelty. We're at a very different place now in the rolling tide of pandemic time. We tend to mark our lives in "before" and "after" periods of time – things like, "Before I went to college" or "After the kids were born." Last March, the firm "Before the Pandemic" marker was set in our minds. What followed next, for most of us, was

Perspective: Give!

Give DeKalb County is next Thursday, May 6, which gives you a week to do your research before you vote with your dollars. Our county has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to nonprofits and the directors and the volunteers who make them go. But the reality is the impact of those organizations hinges on how well they're funded. So check out the list of more than 100 nonprofits at Find the organization, the cause, and the important work that means the most to you, and

Perspective: Mucking With Politics

Does your political life feel like you're slogging through piles of horse manure? Perhaps my perspective about cleaning the barn will bring an image to mind that might help. You need special tools—a pick that has tines spaced about an inch apart--the plastic ones hold up better than the metal--a scoop shovel, a broom, and a muck bucket or wagon. We invested in a wagon because trips to the manure pile are tiresome. My pick easily slides under those round balls. I sift the clean shavings and dump

Perspective: You're Both Wrong

The President convened a commission to consider "reforms" for the Supreme Court. This was a dreadful mistake, for two reasons. First, this is simply a petty example of retaliation. It is a petty example of "tit for tat"--a disease for which currently we have no vaccine. Does anyone believe that if Republicans had not rammed through Barrett to replace Ginsburg literally days before the election that Democrats would be doing this now? Republicans violated a tradition then, and Democrats now rush

Perspective: Play Ball!

Happiness filled Wrigley Field. It rang out in laughter, in chatter, in cheers. It reverberated in the organ music, in the shout of the hotdog man, in the crack of the bat. You could see it in the steps of the grounds keepers as they raked the baselines. You could feel it in the flap of the flags lining the ballpark. But most of all you could sense it even behind our masked faces. We were all smiling. And even though there were only 10,000 of us instead of the usual crowd of 40,000, happiness

Perspective: I Know What You're Thinking

"I know what you're thinking." Ever have anyone do that to you? Splash right into the big puddle of your thoughts and you suddenly feel exposed. Then you relax. Of course they can't read your mind. They can only guess. Or they can gently ask, "Penny for your thoughts." (Why is it always a penny? Our thoughts are valuable. Should be a million bucks for your thoughts.) What's interesting is how we respond. I think we tend to dodge and weave. We don't reveal what we are thinking. We shrug it off

Perspective: You Are What You Eat

In the arsenal of what keeps us alive, food comes to the top of the list, right next to water and oxygen. Thankfully, we all have choices. Another new exciting choice is coming to McHenry County: The Food Shed Co-op, owned and operated by its owner/members. Food Shed will offer a significant percentage of products from local vendors. Here's the thing though: Owner-operated means us — you and I. I have been a Food Shed member from the beginning. My $200 membership entitled me to hang in there

Perspective: Happy 30th, WNIJ!

Happy Birthday, WNIJ! I remember when I turned 30 - well sort of. My recollection of when I started listening to WNIJ, however, is clear. In the 1990's I was living down under in Sydney, and my mate in Geneva would mail me tapes of WNIJ broadcasts — yes, cassette tapes! Programs like the Saturday Blues that Dan Klefstad curated and hosted, along with NPR news and arts features. My passion for radio kicked in, and I volunteered at a community station. Years later when I moved back to Illinois, I

Perspective: Cultural Trauma

The Derek Chauvin trial for the murder of George Floyd has gone to jury and I'm numb. When the killing happened, I decided to only watch the footage of the killing once out of respect. Now I have watched this chronicle of depravity hundreds of times and it doesn't get any easier. And it's not sadness, nor anger — it's trauma. Yale sociologist Jeffrey Alexander says cultural trauma occurs when members of a group feel they have been subjected to a horrendous event that leaves indelible marks upon

Perspective: In Defense Of My Besetting Sin

Years ago in my hometown, there were only three churches: the Presbyterian, the Methodist, and the Baptist. The three ministers met every month, but there was little to discuss in such a tiny town, so they decided to liven things up by gathering to confess, to each other, their besetting sins. The Presbyterian minister said that his was lust. He was having a torrid affair with the church organist. The Methodist pastor said his was greed. He had long been stealing from the collection plate. The

Perspective: Raise The Bar On Sexual Assault

Do you remember when Al Franken resigned from Congress? A photo came to light (distributed by the subject of that photo who disagreed with Franken politically), in which Franken, a sitting Congressman, is making a joking gesture about touching the body of a sleeping woman. He's not actually touching her, but his hands hover above her and it is clear from his smile that he and all those around him consider this a hilarious prank. When this photo surfaced and stories from a checkered past began to

Perspective: The Vocabulary Of Slavery

As a specialist in Caribbean literature, I teach about slavery every year. When we read the Cuban novel, Sab , or watch Tomás Alea Gutierrez's film The Last Supper, we study the organization of plantations, how sugar cane is cut and processed and the vocabulary of slavery. At night, slaves were locked into huts called barrancos so that they would not run away. Escaped slaves formed communities known as palenques or quilombos, where they defended their freedom by recreating the villages they had

Perspective: Call Me Max

The Eanes School District of Austin, Texas is in crisis mode. Letters have gone home, and counselors have been made available. Thankfully, this did not result from a school shooting. Instead, counselors are ready to help fourth graders who may have been "traumatized" after listening to their teacher read an age-appropriate book — Call Me Max — about a transgender child. As a parent, grandparent, former teacher and former youth services library clerk, I cannot understand the mindset of certain

Perspective: A Bad Case Of Biophilia

In April sometimes, in the morning, looking into the limbs of the catalpa tree from my upstairs window, I see strange creatures that don't seem to belong. I see...wood ducks. And then I suddenly don't need coffee anymore. A duck in a tree is better than caffeine. Does that ever happen to you? Do you get a jolt of energy from a good look at a wild creature? And then do you find yourself reliving that moment, thinking, Wasn't I lucky to see that? If you do, you might be afflicted with what

Perspective: Isolation In The Land Of Plenty

A booming economy masks underlying crisis, a sickness of our national soul. Symptoms include suicide rates at a 50-year high, not counting suicide by opioids. Life span projections contract. Polls indicate that Americans, for the first time, do not expect the lives of their children to be happier than theirs. We could continue, but the news of societal depression is itself depressing. Among the reasons we are so dispirited and disheartened is perceived social isolation. Sociologists speak of

Perspective: Thousands Will Lose Benefits

Editor's note: The audio portion of this Perspective is incorrect in the number of Americans who are food-insecure. The correct number is 1 in 8, which was in the original script. "I've never done this before , " a woman tells me as I help her sign up for food assistance at the Grow Mobile pop-up pantry. "My husband has been ill , and I had to quit my job to take care of him." One of millions of stories. There is so much going on in Washington. You may have missed this proposed change put