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 Doorbell: Extraordinary Ordinary Things

I am an avid fan of television detective shows. Not the rough and tumble shows where someone is always hitting someone or shooting at someone. But rather, if you will excuse the expression, the more “intellectual” ones where most of the action takes place in a sophisticated crime lab and most of the action consists of people looking through a microscope or checking the readout from a mass spectrometer. However, even in the second, and to me higher-level category, at some point, you are almost bound to see members of the constabulary banging on the front door of a house and shouting, “Police! Open up!” Then instantaneously smash through the door, guns drawn and ready for action.

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A Perfect Combination, the Keyboard and Mouse: Extraordinary Ordinary Things

Say the word “keyboard” and people today almost invariably think “computer.” This is because today most people use a keyboard only in connection with a computer or computer-based devices (laptops, tablets, iPads, iPhones, etc.). The fact is, keyboards predate the computer and its derivatives by many centuries, being parts of specialized machines used for specialized purposes. However, public awareness of keyboards only began with the development of the first commercially successful typewriter in 1868.

The change in society wrought via the typewriter, of which keyboards were an integral part, was truly monumental. This is why the keyboard unquestionably deserves a place of honor on the list of what I like to call “extraordinary ordinary things.”

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How Technology Can Help Put an End to America’s Plague of Mass Shootings

Do a search for “mass shootings” with virtually any search engine (Chrome, Google, Yahoo, etc.) and you will find the references at the top of the lists will be about mass shootings in the United States. Many Americans believe in “American exceptionalism.” And indeed America is exceptional in the rate that they turn guns on each other to settle personal grievances, but also, and horrifyingly, on total strangers with whom the shooter has never had any previous contact.

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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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