All posts by Philip Yaffe

Philip Yaffe was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1942 and grew up in Los Angeles, where he graduated from the University of California with a degree in mathematics and physics. In his senior year, he was also editor-in-chief of the Daily Bruin, UCLA's daily student newspaper. He has more than 40 years of experience in journalism and international marketing communication. At various points in his career, he has been a teacher of journalism, a reporter/feature writer with The Wall Street Journal, an account executive with a major international press relations agency, European marketing communication director with two major international companies, and a founding partner of a specialized marketing communication agency in Brussels, Belgium, where he has lived since 1974. He is author of 14 books, which can be found easily in Amazon Kindle.

The Feather, an Extraordinary Ordinary Thing

Have you ever heard the expression “stuck a feather in his hat and called in macaroni”? If you grew up in the United States, you almost certainly have because it is part of a popular American nursery rhyme that goes “Yankee Doodle went to town, just to ride the poneys, stuck a feather in his hat and called it macaroni.” And just like most Americans, you have no idea what it means. I’m not going to explain it here because it is quite a story, but rest assured it will be explained later on.

The important thing at the moment is to recognize that a feather is more than one of the identifying characteristics of birds. In fact, the story of the feather (or feathers) in certain ways parallels the history and development of mankind. This is why the word is found in so many idioms and commentaries on the human condition.

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How Computing Could Help Put an End to Wars. All Wars. Everywhere in the World.

The outbreak of hostilities in Ukraine has riveted the world’s attention on the unthinkable, a major war on the European continent. Although it has been some 77 years since the last major war in Europe ended, to anyone paying attention its outbreak should have come as no surprise. War appears to be inherent in human nature. So invoking it seems to be inevitable as long as human beings have the material means and political ability to put it into practice.

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Thimble—Extraordinary Ordinary Things

My wife loves thimbles. Not that she sews all that much; in fact, she hardly sews at all. Rather, she finds a thimble to be the ideal souvenir to remember each place we visit. In fact, the wall of our dining room is devoted almost exclusively to a display of souvenir thimbles.

I also love thimbles. Or at least one thimble, the thimble piece in the Monopoly board game. I don’t know why but when I was a kid, I always chose the thimble as my preferred playing piece. I haven’t played in decades, but every time I hear the word thimble, my childhood comes rushing back to me.

To the general mind, the thimble probably has nothing historic or fascinating about it; it is quite mundane. However, it has a history much more fascinating, and its uses are much more exotic than a non-aficionado could possibly imagine. This is why I believe the not-so-lowly thimble deserves a place on the list of what I like to call “extraordinary ordinary things.”

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TV Remote Control—Extraordinary Ordinary Things

The purpose of the “Extraordinary Ordinary Things” series of blogs is to highlight that certain things have become so embedded in daily life that we hardly ever think about them, and then to show how they are really dramatically remarkable. Frequently, examination of a particular extraordinary ordinary thing opens the door to a much broader concept whose effects on society are virtually incalculable. This is the case here with the TV remote control, specifically, and the virtually all-encompassing concept of remote control in general.

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