Category: Society at Large

Hyggelig 3: From Counterculture Colors to the Black Diamond

Posted May 11th, 2018
Hyggelig 3: From Counterculture Colors to the Black Diamond

Christianshavn is a relic of 17th-century development. Thus its shape is that of a segment of a circle with the København Havn (the redundant “Merchants Harbor Port”) representing the chord and Stadsgraven Canal forming the arc.  Originally a moat protecting the ramparts of the city’s ring of fortifications, Stadsgraven marks the beginning of the southern…

Books # 16 & 17 in 2018: Memoirs by Daughters Who Survived—Tara Westover and Jeanette Walls

Posted May 10th, 2018
Books # 16 & 17 in 2018: Memoirs by Daughters Who Survived—Tara Westover and Jeanette Walls

Violence, incest, abuse of every stripe: such horrors fill both narratives by these relatively young writers. In the words too are moving reflections on salvation: the selfless love and sacrifice of siblings, the insight and enduring patience of peers and educators; serendipity and luck. Then there is hope, the force that did not escape Pandora’s…

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…

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…

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…

DISCARDED

Posted July 2nd, 2017
DISCARDED

In the course of making some point or other, I asked the high-school age students in my summer workshop what their favorite books were. Any book, I said, it could even be a picture book you read with your parents. Not one of the eight mentioned a book. Finally, a lad allowed as how a…

Based in Batignolles 6: Architecture and Arrondissements

Posted May 31st, 2017
Based in Batignolles 6: Architecture and Arrondissements

“Alistair Horne, Vivid War Historian and Onetime British Spy, Dies at 91.” The headline in today’s New York Times would have caught my eye any morning. Right now, however, I am up to page 306 of Horne’s Seven Ages of Paris, engrossed in his narrative of the years leading to World War I. It’s a wonderful…