IS BEIJING STALKING ME? 

I can’t identify every individual visitor to my blog, but I’m flattered to have readers from around the world, including Canada, Mexico, the U.K., Ireland, Germany, Poland, Israel, India and the Philippines. Still, one visitor country troubles me. I’m not paranoid, claiming “they” are out too get me. Of course, paranoia can be an effective…

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UKRAINE ONE YEAR OUT 

After Russia invaded Ukraine one year ago today, a friend—while not okaying the invasion—suggested considering Vladimir Putin’s fear of the West. I did. And dismissed it. Yes, Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941. During World War One, Imperial Russia suffered at the hands of Germany and Austria-Hungary. Alliances with Britain and France had…

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PUTIN—THE OVER/UNDER 

Humans long have loved gambling. (“See that mammoth?”) So, I’m offering the over/under on a matter of great significance—Vladimir Putin’s hold on power. I’m setting a six-month window. Take under, and you think Putin will vanish between October 15, 2022 and January 14, 2023. Bet over, and you believe he’ll be through between January 15 and April…

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LONG LIVE BOTH KINGS 

Queen Elizabeth II has gone to her ancestors. King Charles III reigns. Life in Britain and the Commonwealth goes on. Sounds like Rosh Hashanah. I monitored Elizabeth’s death and the rituals leading up to, and including, her funeral. Admittedly, I didn’t watch all that much; Carolyn followed the events far more extensively. As to the…

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POTATO KUGEL AND SHARED HUMANITY 

Last weekend in Los Angeles, Carolyn and I helped our son with a project for his summer anthropology class at Pasadena Community College. It involved a beloved family recipe and offers a lesson that should be familiar to Americans but too often isn’t. Yosi had to make a short video and write up a report…

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WELCOME TO THE GRAY ZONE 

Americans hoping Ukraine can resist Vladimir Putin share a common trait with many of the most memorable characters in the Hebrew Bible. This may discomfort us. Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, Miriam, David, Solomon all exhibit real flaws. (David takes Bathsheba to wife after sending her soldier-husband, Uriah the Hittite,…

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WHEN SMALL STUFF IS BIG 

A 6th-century mosaic, an ancient proverb and this week’s Torah portion all relate to a recent post, “Hopping Off the Treadmill.” They comfort me. The colorful mosaic map on the floor of the Church of St. George in Madaba, Jordan—I was there—details the Holy Land, particularly Jerusalem. Originally, it contained more than two million small…

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PUTINSPEAK

Americans have nothing on Vladimir Putin when it comes to perverting language. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (an act of “genius” twice accorded Putin by Donald Trump before the actual incursion), becomes entirely rational once you understand Putinspeak. Here are seven words to consider: Peace—order imposed by force of arms. A society without obedience to a…

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PUTIN’S SECRET DEMANDS 

Russia justifies massing 100,000 troops on its border with Ukraine in response to NATO encroachment. But Vladimir Putin recently sent Joe Biden his real demands.   “Comrade Joe: Do not mind ‘Comrade.’ Takes me back to glorious days of Soviet Union, which all Russia wishes to return. Except way things are now, situation not bad. “Enough…

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AFGHANISTAN

Following 9/11, President George W. Bush sent American troops into Afghanistan when the Taliban refused to turn over Osama Bin Laden. Twenty years later, we’ve all but pulled out. Have we learned anything? The Twin Towers turned rubble, Bush made countless mistakes. Defeating the Taliban was easy. But he refused to send American troops after…

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SICKENING

I almost tossed my cookies in front of the TV Tuesday. No, I wasn’t sick. It’s just that I saw part of Donald Trump’s live remarks to journalists on CNN. Sickening. The president told the assembled reporters and government officials that he called the COVID-19 problem a pandemic before anyone else did. I’ll repeat that.…

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PRECAUTION, NOT PANIC

“These are the times that try men’s souls,” Thomas Paine wrote as America struggled to birth itself. Now, we face the coronavirus pandemic. To strengthen our souls, looking back may offer a clearer picture of the future. Is the sky falling? Gray clouds have gathered and they’re darkening. According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of…

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QUEENS SYNDROME

I’m not spoiling season three of Amazon Prime’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel when I say I love the show, but one episode offended me. Midge Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) declares that her son will attend private school on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and not a public school in Queens. With those people. I’m one of those people—P.S. 174,…

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IRAN AND INCOMPETENCE

Usually, Donald Trump creates distractions from critical issues facing the United States. This week, the Democratic presidential debates performed that function, if not with the same intent. But let’s keep our eye on the ball—a specific one (of many) ignored at our own peril. In September 2012, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the United…

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HAUNTED BY HISTORY

Old newsreels and propaganda films of World War One can be difficult to relate to. Camera vibrations and slower frame speeds produce herky-jerky images in black and white. But Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies) has completed a documentary that brings the Great War to life. It’s haunting. The trailer for They Shall Not…

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