Sunday, September 13, 2020

Temps reach over 117 degrees in Phoenix, Fires rage across CA, Ore. and Wash. and Denver goes from 99 degrees to snowfall in 24 hours

 Its easy to get caught up in the relentless waves of sad news 'sweeping' (clean) our country.

One plague after another. 

As if the Covid pandemic is not enough---claiming over 1,000 American lives daily....

In the summer of 2018, the Camp Fire leveled the town of Paradise, CA destroying some 14,000 residences. 

This summer saw the LNU Lightning complex (yes, multiple strikes of lightening)  igniting  many fires affecting residents in Napa County, Solano County, Lake County, Yolo County and Sonoma County. 

                                              Photo from MSNBC news, Sept. 10, 2010

And just yesterday, fires are burning in many areas of Oregon and Washington states; an area size of New Jersey is now aflame in all three Pacific coast states.  

As the West is burning, cities are still reeling from the shocking deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Daniel Prude. 

Widespread flooding and storm damage has occurred in the Lake Charles, Louisiana area as a result of Hurricane Laura.

And its aftermath has caused severe storm damage here in New England (thousands without power for over a week and communities littered with downed trees on almost every street). 

And here in Connecticut a number of freak tornadoes have wreaked havoc in the the Westport area and elsewhere. 

And the beat goes on ....the beat goes on.

Is there cause for pessimism?

No doubt!

But there is cause for optimism! Continue reading my articles in the weeks to come.

Yes, the beat need not go on. 

And I will show you how. 

So stay tuned. 

Thursday, April 30, 2020

National Poetry Month: Celebrating Poetry in Motion at Transit Museum at Grand Central

Hundreds of short poems have been displayed on  train stations, subway cars and buses for over 25 years thanks to a collaboration between the Poetry Society of American and the Metropolitan Transit Authority.

This year I highlight the poetry of native american poet Sherman Alexie with this verse from Crazy Horse Speaks:

I wear the color of my skin
like a brown paper bag
wrapped around a bottle.
Sleeping between
the pages of dictionaries
your language cuts
tears holes in my tongue
until I do not have strength
to use the word "love."
What could it mean
in this city where everyone is

Sherman Alexie was born in Spokane, Washington and is a poet, novelist and filmmaker and his works reflect his experience as a native American whose genealogy includes a number of different tribes.  

Sherman Alexie from
For NPR broadcast interview, click here 

To view my prior articles celebrating the power of poetry click here. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

A Must Read Letter from a Guilford Connecticut resident on Adjusting to Virus Social Distancing

This blogger is indebted to the New York Times for publishing the following  letter written to the Editor of New York Times and published on Thursday, March 19, 2020.

We can optimize our social distancing time by writing
memoirs, collecting family photos and reaching out
to our friends and neighbors and display gratitude and compassion,
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images 

 To the Editor:

 Come on, boomers! We grew up in the 1950s, hid under desks during air raid drills, suffered through the Vietnam War. Mostly we have enjoyed safety and prosperity. Now we are the elders. (Just look at the presidential candidates!) It’s our time to lead by example.

 Don’t grab all of the toilet paper on the shelves. (Store owners, set limits, two per customer.) Don’t veg out in front of the bad news being recycled on TV, whether Fox or MSNBC. Read your morning New York Times, do the crossword puzzle and then move on.

 Are you self-isolating? These are good times to be alone and quiet, go inward, seek meaning from the paths our lives have taken, write memoirs, gather family photographs. Hunkering down does not mean hiding. Send out positive messages. Wave and smile from the front porch. Grow flowers. Bake bread and cookies for the neighbors who shop for you. Wouldn’t we rather burn out than rust out?

Find a way to make a positive difference in your community. Rock on!

 Susan Coley Leonard
 Guilford, Conn.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Super Bowl Fifty Four, Palindromic Sunday, Janus the Roman God of Transitions and Change, the Resurgent Kansas City Chiefs and What We Can Expect in the Decade(s) to Come

February 2, 2020, the date of Superbowl Sunday, can be written as 02/02/2020.

 So it's a palindromic Sunday,  meaning that the numbers read the same whether read forward or backward

The last time we had a palindromic day in all formats was 909 years ago on 11/11/1111.

Statue representing Janus Bifrons in the Vatican Museums.
Janus is the God of Beginnings, gates, transitions, time duality 
doorways, passages and endings (courtesy of Wikipedia licensed under 
the Creative Commons)

This phenomenon and the date is, by coincidence,  juxtaposed to the month of January which is 'two faced.' It is, by convention, named after the Roman God Janus who was depicted on coins and statues as having one neck and one head with two faces each facing in an opposite direction. . So, one face is looking backwards at the past--- to last month as well as the last decade(s) and the other is facing toward the future-- next month and decade, etc.

Statues of Janus were traditionally placed at the entrance of homes and at gates to ward off any evil that might enter.

For those of us who tuned into to Super Bowl 54, we witnessed a remarkable comeback and victory of the Kansas City Chiefs over the the San Francisco 49'ers, the former led by the dazzling quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

Final score: Kansas City 31 San Francisco 20 with   KC scoring  3 touchdowns in 5 minutes

We have to 'look back' exactly 50 years to 1970 to when the Chiefs won their only Superbowl title.

Kansas City, then, led by quarterback Len Dawson, defeated the Minnesota Vikings 23-7.

So, in a sense,  The 'Superbowl  4'  team had to look forward 50 years to repeat the performance. In essence, Superbowl 4 endured 49 hapless years for a repeat performance.

So, what can we learn from the first decades of the the 21st Century.... as we look back from 2020.......What  clues can we discern in anticipating and predicting what we can reasonalbly expect to occur in the the next decade(s)....looking forward?

To learn about the next major Mega-trend, perhaps the most important Megatrend of our times--  already making its appearance on the gloabl horizon---look for my next article which will shortlty address glaringly and blatantly remarkable phenomena--- we as humans will be coerced to address NOW and in the decade to come to assure the survival of humanity. .

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Agent Running in the Field: John LeCarre's latest novel rivots attention to world politics

With Britain in a near state of political crisis over Brexit, Le Carre weaves together a suspenseful tale that involves the the clandestine swapping of classified information to our adversaries the Russians.

Edward Stanley Shannon, a lowly British 'clerk' with security clearance has been photocopying highly classified  documents  from Topsecret Jericho. This is a project involving clandestine negotiations between the US and Great Britain to to increase and tighten economize trade between the two countries in the wake of Britain's exit from and then being locked out of  European trade partners.

Nat is a 45 year old 'retired spook' that has been called back to head an 'office'-- a spy operation that seems of little importance.

He is also reigning Club Champion of a Badminton club in Battersea. Here, he meets a shy, self effacing 25 year old Ed who as an unranked player and hence unknown player challenges Nat to a match. Nat rather surprising accepts and beats Ed handily
   And so begins a casual relationship centered around a sometime weekly match  and a few beers afterwards. 

  They each have a vague idea what the other does for a living.

I suggest you read the novel to fill in the details (a hint: like Peter Guilliam in a Le Carre's previous novel, Legacy of  Spies who is implicated in the shooting of Alex Leamas and his girl friend  Liz Gold at the Berlin Wall, Nat must answer for treason in aiding and abetting a Soviet Spy.
Enjoy, Le Carre at his best.


Monday, December 2, 2019

Harold Bloom: A Bronx Tale and Yale Legend (July 11,1930- October 14, 2019): with Fangs...

It's a beautiful rather balmy afternoon here at the Yale Bowl and as I am watching the Bulldogs quarterback Kurt Rawlings  completing a career high 390 passing yards and his team running past the somnolent Lions---and I am thinking what is Harold Bloom that towering admirer, creator, critic and sometime  curmudgeon worshiper at the canonical temple of western humanities doing right now? 

You see, I have never met Dr. Bloom, appointed Yale Sterling Professor of the Humanities in 1983, have never read any of his 40 books of literary criticism.

So, why was he on my mind?

 Some 3 weeks earlier while perusing the weekend October 12-13, Review Section of the Wall Street Journal, I chanced on an  article entitled A Cat that Walks by Himself  which informed me that "As a student of Western literature, (emphasis mine), Mr Bloom is drawn to what Longinus called the sublime--to works of power, strangeness and intensity that leave one spiritually shaken and stirred. Such works, as the critic once said (nodding to Wordsworth), are 'capable of giving you a sense of  something ever more about to be.' "

I know he,too, was born in the Bronx. And at an early age he began reading and memorizing books at the Melrose branch of New York City library about 2.5 miles from my birthplace in the East Tremont section.

I knew this man adored Shakespeare as a divinity (indeed, his spirit dwelt on mountaintops) and  had a voracious appetite for only  those western writers deserving to reside in his self created pantheon .

What I did not know at the Yale Bowl is that Prof. Bloom had passed away about 3 weeks earlier.

When skimming articles in the Arts and Letters section of the  Jewish Week of October 25, my eyes caught a JTA article entitled Harold Bloom Dreamed in Yiddish Until his Death.

Indeed, Yiddish was his mother tongue and the very first Shakespeare play Bloom heard was in Yiddish where the magnificent Maurice Schwartz played Shylock.

Alas, at the Yale Bowl that balmy day with the Yale Bull Dog showing its might and supremacy, Professor Bloom may have well bellowed these memorable lines from The Merchant of Venice : "Thou callest me a dog before thou hast cause. But since I am a dog, beware my fangs." 

(Perhaps, the often curmudgeonly Bloom might have had more than his beloved team in mind.....)

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Nietsche and the Will to Power : Columbia University Scholar Herb Roseman's Climactic Presentation

 Columbia University Senior Scholar  Herb Roseman 
illuminates Friedrich Nietsche (1844-1900)

Lecturing to a small but appreciative audience, Herb's passion and admiration of great philosophers of the Western Canon illuminated the life and philosophy of Nietsche.. 

 Last month, he climaxed his four years of bi-weekly presentations at our local JCC by setting forth the 'essential' Nietzsche. In so doing he dispelled  a misunderstanding  that has surrounded this enigmatic figure for the better part of the last century as well as this one.

He explained that our antipathy to this great thinker was caused in great part by his sister Elisabeth Forster-Nietzsche, herself a rabid anti-Semite. After his mental collapse in 1889, he lived out his remaining years with, first,  his mother and then his sister. The latter was responsible for revising her brother's writings to reflect her own biases. 

Herb explained that Nietzsche actually 'appreciated' (or better yet, recorded) the role that Semitic culture played in the genealogical development of morality.

 Originally, the Master Morality (which he favored) symbolizing  the strong, the brave, the aggressive and self-sufficient rulers was dominant over the slave mentality (think of Pagan Rome), representing the weak, subservient, altruistic and humble folk.

The killing of Jesus, who represented the humble and weak, was followed by the will to power of an elite group of 'priests.' Instead of serving to elevate and strengthen the morality of the flock, the priests now ruled over the passive impoverished masses keeping them in check by illiteracy and ignorance.  This inversion of power (think religious wars such as the Crusades), an inherent contradiction as described above, secured the power of the priests who now dictated their own version of morality via their power.

 Religious hegemony vied with strong absolutist secular rulers as the Church became omnipotent....The Jews were simply a part of this evolutionary process... howbeit  in conflict with Nietzsche's world view.

 In reality, the Church (as a symbol all religious denominations) has been in conflict with the Will to Power of tyrannic authoritarian leaders from the beginnings of civilization.

Thanks Herb for your ever clarifying slide shows and for continuing our philosophic next we segue into the ever-fascinating topic of existentialism today.