Recent Blog Posts

Book #7 in 2018: “Fire and Fury” by Michael Wolff

Posted February 22nd, 2018
Book #7 in 2018: “Fire and Fury” by Michael Wolff

For a book that has a signal presence within the critique of the Donald Trump presidency, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff (Henry Holt and Company, 2018) is an abysmal piece of writing. I watched a few televised interviews and found the author arrogant and obnoxious, not a personality that…

Guns and Mental Health: Just Who Is Crazy?

Posted February 22nd, 2018
Guns and Mental Health: Just Who Is Crazy?

On Valentine’s Day 2018, Nikolas Cruz packed up the AR-15 type rifle he bought just after his eighteenth birthday, and countless rounds of ammunition loaded into large capacity magazines, into a carrying case. He called an Uber and headed over to Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida (a town recently voted “safest” in…

Portraits of a Presidency

Posted February 15th, 2018
Portraits of a Presidency

On February 12, 2018, the portraits of the 44th President and First Lady of the United States were unveiled. How do I like them? Let me, as it were, count the ways. The paintings are modern. The artists who made them (Kehinde Wiley, b. 1977, and Amy Sherald, b. 1973) are young-ish. Both are figurative…

Book #6 in 2018: “City of Endless Night” by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Posted February 9th, 2018
Book #6 in 2018: "City of Endless Night" by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

No genetically engineered monsters, no exotic locations, no time-travel: #17 of the Pendergast series, The City of Endless Night by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (Grand Central Publishing, 2018),  is a good, old-fashioned thriller. Truth be told, Doug Preston is my cousin. I adore him and I think he is a wonderful writer in any genre. I would…

Book #5 in 2018: A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived by Adam Rutherford

Posted February 4th, 2018
Book #5 in 2018: A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived by Adam Rutherford

My sister used to drive me crazy—well she still does in many ways—for her interactions with her daughters. One of the worst things was her flat assertion about her younger daughter’s problems with math. “She can’t do math,” Sister said. “She get’s it from me.” Then a few years ago we were at lunch with…

Book # 4 in 2018: “Leonardo da Vinci” by Walter Isaacson

Posted January 17th, 2018
Book # 4 in 2018: “Leonardo da Vinci” by Walter Isaacson

My brother the Boston Lawyer mentioned a couple months ago that he was reading Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson (Simon & Schuster, 2017). I thought that was an interesting choice for him, a little off-road considering his normal preferences.  When My Dear One gave me a copy for Christmas, I emailed a question: “Why…

Book #3 in 2018: “How To Bake π” by Eugenia Cheng

Posted January 14th, 2018
Book #3 in 2018: “How To Bake π” by Eugenia Cheng

How To Bake π: An Edible Exploration of the Mathematics of Mathematics, by Eugenia Cheng. (Basic Books, 2015) is a disappointment. Cheng is, I am sure, a fine mathematician and probably an excellent teacher, but she needs help writing, especially the help of a copyeditor. The jacket cover features lavish praise from five professors of…

Book #2 in 2018: Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

Posted January 4th, 2018
Book #2 in 2018: Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

I had read David Grann’s article in The New Yorker, “The Marked Woman,” last March so the outlines of this appalling story were familiar to me.  The completed book, however, Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI (Doubleday, 2017), includes a dark coda that reminds us that all…

Book #1 in 2018: “It’s All Relative” by A.J. Jacobs

Posted January 1st, 2018
Book #1 in 2018: "It’s All Relative" by A.J. Jacobs

I decided a few days ago that I would record every book I finished reading in 2018 and say something about each. As it turns out, this book, It’s All Relative: Adventures Up and Down the World’s Family Tree by A.J. Jacobs (Simon & Schuster, 2017), a Christmas gift from My Dear One, went faster…

The Mouth In The Oval Office: One Year Down

Posted December 31st, 2017
The Mouth In The Oval Office: One Year Down

The news media—certainly the “fake news” media from which I get most of my information—are weighty with analysis this morning, the Sunday morning of New Year’s Eve 2017. Trump has been president of the United States of America for just under twelve months. On every day since 20 January 2017 I have gone to sleep…

Christmas Letter 2017

Posted December 19th, 2017
Christmas Letter 2017

Dearest All, A single Japanese eggplant plunked in a pot parked on the edge of the driveway around the first of July was still producing beautiful purple fruit at Halloween. Eggplant parmesan. Ratatouille. A whopping lot of pasta alla Norma. Dan reaped the final bounty on 9 November while mesclun lettuce, radishes, beets and oh…

On The Erie Canal 3: The Saints That Guided Us

Posted August 26th, 2017
On The Erie Canal 3: The Saints That Guided Us

The more we travel, the longer our list of patron saints becomes. When our divinities—not all of whom, we believe, have made themselves known– bestow grace, we appreciate our good fortune. When they are cranky or generally feeling punitive, appeasement is not an option. Prominent among them are: Saint Accomode (not to be confused with…

On the Erie Canal 2: Not Quite As Expected

Posted August 22nd, 2017
On the Erie Canal 2: Not Quite As Expected

I don’t know, because I have never used a dating site, but this must be what it feels like when you show up for that introductory coffee and the person waiting for you has only the vaguest (and not in a good way) resemblance to the picture that originally caught your eye. According to the…

On The Erie Canal 1: History, Boats and Changes

Posted August 21st, 2017
On The Erie Canal 1: History, Boats and Changes

I’ve got an old mule and her name is Sal Fifteen years on the Erie Canal She’s a good old worker and a good old pal Fifteen years on the Erie Canal … Low bridge, everybody down Low bridge cause we’re coming to a town And you’ll always know your neighbor And you’ll always know…

The Mouth In The Oval Office: Boss Tweet

Posted July 5th, 2017
The Mouth In The Oval Office: Boss Tweet

As I write this, Donald John Trump has been President of the United States for 161 days—not quite 24 weeks. He has been, as he tweets it, “modern-day presidential.” I can’t even begin to parse that; obviously such presidential qualities as dignity, humanity and patriotism are utterly unknown to this Know-Nothing Nativist and portly, “short-fingered…