My Kind of Escape Reading
My reading is more or less divided into two camps: stretching and escape. Most of my nonfiction is of the stretching variety, magazines and books I read to learn and to encourage ideas. My fiction tends to be of the escape variety. Recently I’ve discovered a detective series that suits my kind of escape reading.… Read More »
Representative Government: a Dangerous Experiment
Representative government is a balancing act between our sense of responsibility and our selfish natures. This is as true of the often silent majority as it is of the elites. When times are good, the majority are content to let the minority—the elites—run things. They are more interested in their individual lives than in what… Read More »
Imperfection: Live With It.
Extremist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda are unable to accept an imperfect society. By force, ISIS would bring in its conception of the perfect society, the Caliphate. The followers of ISIS believe their perfect knowledge justifies killing innocents to attain power. Less extreme versions exist in democratic societies. My brand of politics isn’t just better… Read More »
Betting on the Losers to Lose
I took out a mortgage and bought a condo in my single days. I had a good job and good credit and put down a sizeable down payment. I got the condo, lived in it for several years until I joined the Foreign Service, then sold it. I thought everyone bought homes this way. They… Read More »
Elie Wiesel and Others Died This Week
During the past few days, hundreds have died violent deaths in the Middle East and South Asia. Other deaths included five police officers in Dallas, a man in Minnesota, and the named sniper of the police officers. A survivor of the Holocaust, Elie Wiesel, also died naturally at the age of 87. Of all of… Read More »
Crisis Contest: How Would You Handle This Crisis if You Are President?
Thomas L. Friedman’s column in The New York Times (“Trump’s Miss Universe Foreign Policy”) suggests we’re not asking the right questions. Friedman asked, “What are the real foreign policy challenges the next president will face?” He cited a few of them: What happens to the spillover from spewing crises in Syria and Iraq? Besides being… Read More »
Was the Fourth of July Necessary?
The founding of the United States gave substance to the ideal of representative government. It remains a work in progress. The U.S. Constitution wasn’t written until several years after George Washington and his colleagues won the American war for independence. It did not even abolish slavery until almost a century after delegates met to write… Read More »
What if Politicians Practiced Solitude?
Frank Bruni wrote an op ed piece a few years ago for The New York Times on the need for solitude, even for politicians—what a stunning idea. I recently attended a writers’ conference in a woodsy retreat center. Established writers flock to it because it gives them time to wander in the woods or find… Read More »
City Street Lights and Brexit
Our small town plans to replace the city’s street lamps with bulbs that last longer and use less electricity. One type of light is being considered, but residents in some cities with these lights have criticized the emission from the bulbs as “too harsh.” Thus, one such light was installed on a corner for residents… Read More »
It’s Okay to Disagree
Fifty-one diplomats within the U.S. State Department recently signed a document dissenting from the current U.S. policy on Syria. They wish a more activist policy against Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s leader. They believe the U.S. should do more to stop Assad’s brutal treatment of his civilian population by barrel bombs and other atrocities. The dissent channel… Read More »
Smoothing Out Life’s Ups and Downs
“When the flames of devotion are within your soul, it is wise to consider how it will be with you when the light is taken away. And when the light is extinguished, remember that eventually the light will return.” –Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ, compiled and edited by James N. Watkins I confess… Read More »
Once More With Hatred
After a gunman killed forty-nine people in Orlando, Florida, Jen Christensen wrote an article for CNN (June 12, 2016). According to Christensen, the United States has five percent of the world’s population, while about thirty-one percent of the mass shootings occur in the U.S. No one reason appears a motive for a mass killing. Mental… Read More »