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Posts Tagged ‘War’

Yesterday’s Zoom with siblings was fun. My sister Kay and I enlightened our brother Dr Jim about the powerful, witchy ways of women. Particularly in courtship rituals – Jim always thought it was the man who usually chose his mate. Being a scientist, he saw reproduction in Darwinian terms. In fact, women have been helping women pick and choose their ‘forever after’ since Biblical times.

For instance, there was a friend of the Bride’s who was ready to settle down with her long-term boyfriend, but there was no ring in sight. Enter my single response to her plight – he says he “thinks” he loves me.

“In love there is no THINK. You either do or you don’t love someone. Move on.”

They were engaged within three months. Kay told one of her friends in an extra long relationship to buy a ticket home to South Africa. That ticket was the catalyst to a long, happy marriage. When ambiguity is a state of mind and living with uncertainty is untenable, give back what you’re receiving. Bend like the willow.

So when I read an article about the US policy regarding Ukraine this morning, I was intrigued. Written by a Rumson man I had interviewed at the Miller Center, Eric Edelman urges the State Department to abandon its “Strategic Ambiguity” policy. He is looking ahead to Taiwan, to the Peoples Republic of China, and urges us to plan accordingly by reinforcing their military capacity now. IF…

“…we are not prepared to see a thriving, prosperous democratic society swallowed up by a brutal autocratic regime led by a messianic zealot, there are a series of steps the United States must take—and soon.. .Deterrence ahead of time could very well be the stitch that saves nine.”

https://www.thebulwark.com/the-lessons-of-ukraine-for-taiwan-and-the-u-s/

Most of you know I am very much a pacifist. If only the women of the world could somehow convince men not to rattle their sabers. But after our collective experience with Mr T and a pandemic that killed millions of people, continuing an ambiguous strategy does not feel right at this time in history. Being Switzerland is NOT an option.

IF in fact, we want to save our democracy and defend fledgling democracies around the world, being proactive makes perfect sense. What do you value? Free speech? Let’s not worry about Twitter. A woman journalist for Radio Free Europe was killed by a Russian bomb in Ukraine last month. https://www.rferl.org/a/rfe-rl-president-pays-tribute-to-journalist-killed-in-her-home-in-russian-missile-strike-on-kyiv/31827576.html.

It was beautiful to see the night sky in NYC ablaze with blue and yellow buildings. But wearing the colors of Ukraine can only do so much.

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Waking up to snow a few days ago was the perfect start to Spring Break.

I always loved flying off to our favorite island in a storm, and returning to a spring full of robins and daffodils. The Rocker and Aunt Kiki flew cross country to attend the wedding of the last, single, Parlor Mob bandmate. The drummer with “Oh Yeah” tattooed across his chest said “I Do” to his new bride this weekend. And our Bride and Groom’s family took off for the mountains.

We stayed home in Nashville – to pack for The Big Move, and run our temporary kennel of three rescue dogs!

I’ve let a sober January turn into a sober February and March so far. Before the 2016 election, I’d gotten used to a glass of chardonnay with dinner; but afterwards it turned into wine while cooking dinner during a pandemic and after dinner and a tornado too. Day drinking was never my thing, although I do remember a certain soccer mom who brought a thermos of vodka cocktails to a practice in the 80s.

I’m not opposed to drinking, in fact, I’ll probably be the first to order a margarita whenever we go out to an actual restaurant again!

I’m remembering my foster Daddy Jim, every now and then he’d stop off at a bar for a beer and leave me in the car. I know, he’d be arrested today, but back in the 50s this was normal. Especially if your foster mother didn’t allow any alcohol in the house! The Flapper was a coffee addict, her liquor cabinet was locked up tight. She always said there was NO alcoholism in our family. And by filming my brother drunkenly climbing a set of stairs after his high school graduation, and showing the film every so often, she tried to insure our sobriety.

Honestly, my sleep has been so much better. In sleep hours alone, I figure I’m buying myself a few extra years of life. I was listening to a classical music station on the radio when an advertisement came on for a hospice care facility. Its mantra was – “Calm Comfort Clarity.” And my immediate response was – why can’t I have that now?

It turns out, I can…

… except for the war in Ukraine. Every day I wake to a sense of impending doom. Russia puts nuclear weapons on alert, another journalist is killed, and today we learn of a pregnant woman dying from an air strike in Mariupol. We can see her body on a stretcher. her left hip drenched in blood.

Every day I wake to see if the capital city of Kyiv has been invaded. The shelling of innocents in that city started four days ago, and still its citizens fight for their freedom. They say they would rather stand tall than live on their knees. Putin’s tanks and missiles are getting closer to Poland. I wonder what NATO will do. Will Biden step up to the bully?

What can we Americans do? Ignoring a bully like Putin won’t stop him – it was silence and indifference that allowed Hitler to invade Poland after all. I would like to put my money right in the hands of those Ukrainian people who are staying to fight for their land. A British Twitter writer I follow suggested we book an Air BnB in Ukraine, but is that a good plan? That would just help the top 2% of the population that has wifi and property to rent to others.

“The reaction to Russia’s onslaught on Ukraine has inspired innovative new ways of supporting people on the ground. Two students at Harvard designed their own “stripped-down” version of Airbnb to quickly connect Ukrainian refugees with emergency housing, Google rolled out an air raid alerts system for all Android phones, and the US State Department has even partnered with GoFundMe to establish a channel for businesses, philanthropies, and individuals to support organizations providing humanitarian assistance to Ukrainians. Separate from individual customer bookings of Ukrainian properties, Airbnb has started a refugee fund, where it is aiming to offer free, short-term housing to up to 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine.”

https://www.vox.com/22973133/ukraine-russia-airbnb-booking-donate-effective-altruism

I don’t mean to imply that the war is damaging my serenity. I’m about to move again, and that is my American, immediate stressor. I’m not bunking in a metro station or learning how to make molotov cocktails. I’m not running for my life. Just be careful what you say to your children and grandchildren about war and freedom. Now is the time to be clear-minded. Our country must light the way forward.

How many humans do you need to put up a chandelier?

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Coming home to a cold and rainy Nashville has been hard. But our daffodils are in bloom, the tulip magnolia has tiny pink buds, and today the sun has returned. The promise of spring is in the air, along with all the construction noise of living downtown. It’s time for a rebirth; for us to start sorting, cleaning and organizing. After all, next month we move into our cozy, quiet, new/old bungalow!

Then the non-stop news from Ukraine disrupted my Pollyanna tendencies. How could a war like this happen in the 21st Century?

If we could flip a switch back to the last century, I would be heading toward the local library to read up on the history of Ukraine and Russia. After all, I have a vivid memory of my foster mother Nell (a first generation Slovak) crying in front of our black and white TV when Russian tanks rolled into Czechoslovakia. My generation came of age during the Cold War, we are primed to distrust Vladimir Putin. My children OTOH, can barely remember the Berlin Wall.

Instead of visiting the free public library, I Googled the conflict. Did you know that Stalin actually killed 4 Million Ukrainians? FOUR MILLION.

Maybe the reason this earlier genocide didn’t catch the attention of the international press was because Germany was bigger news? Hitler became Chancellor in 1933, but in 1932 Stalin ordered his soldiers to confiscate all Ukrainian grain and farm animals – he deliberately tried to starve the Ukrainian people to death. Children were eating acorns.

Still earlier, Russian Czars knew that to extinguish a culture, you start with their language.

And, very early, the Russian Empire recognized the threat posed by a separate and particularly literary Ukrainian language to the unity of the empire. So, starting in the eighteen-sixties, there was a more than forty-year period of prohibition on the publication of Ukrainian, basically arresting the development of the literary language… and in the middle of World War One and revolution, with other nationalities trying and in some cases gaining independence, Ukrainians tried to do that but were ultimately defeated.

https://www.newyorker.com/news/q-and-a/vladimir-putins-revisionist-history-of-russia-and-ukraine

Along with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine finally won its freedom. “On 21 January 1990, over 300,000 Ukrainians organized a human chain for Ukrainian independence between Kyiv and Lviv.

Once an authoritarian state begins to flex its muscles – to demolish a free press and ban books, including those written in a certain language – we must all pay attention. With the election of Mr T, our country came very close to the edge of democracy; our school board members were threatened with violence, and his followers are still trying to ban books! Why would the GOP continue to flirt with our twice-impeached, retired golfer at Mar-a-Lago? The craziest Florida Man I know has been praising Putin. He even fantasized aloud about being president forever like Xi Jinping!

And just like Mr T, Putin is stuck in the past. He probably wishes he’d thought of a “Make Russia Great Again” slogan. Only young Russians aren’t buying it. They live in a wired world, where truth confronts fiction. Only the elderly watch state-sponsored Russian TV. Only the old venture into libraries; young Russians and Ukrainians alike have the world at their fingertips, in their smart phones. This is becoming an intergenerational war, one Putin didn’t predict. Ukrainian civilians aren’t throwing flowers at Russian troops, they are making molotov cocktails!

My Irish ancestors taught the Irish language in schools, even though it was not allowed at the time. What can we do here to help Ukraine? The Flapper always said, “Charity starts at home!” First, I’d work to make sure our own elections are safe and secure, and that ALL Americans who are eligible to vote actually have the chance to cast their ballots. Let’s make election day a national holiday! I’d fight the misinformation and propaganda machine that is FOX news, and I’d contribute to the cause of independent journalism. Subscribe to a newspaper online that isn’t owned by a venture capitalist.

The Washington Post has an excellent article on how we can donate directly to help Ukraine. “Journalists with the Kyiv Independent have done tremendous work covering the war, offering the world constant updates as they fear for themselves, their families and their homes. The Independent has started a GoFundMe asking for support, but they’ve also promoted a separate GoFundMe — “Keep Ukraine’s media going” — for journalists around the country who have received less international attention.” 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/02/27/how-to-help-ukraine/

We need a virtual human chain today to fend off the Russian bear.

The next generation

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Do you ever find yourself sitting in your car, in front of your own house, listening to NPR and glued to your seat? Well, since I’ve received my second jab in the arm, Life has opened up beyond my neighborhood. I’m getting out alone, strolling through a bookstore and yes, I admit I went to Target. Still masked and keeping a good 10 ft distance from humans, I felt like a prisoner just let out of a cave, blinking into the sunlight fluorescent light. The other day, rooted to my car seat, time stood still as I listened to Terry Gross finish interviewing the author Tim O’Brien.

https://www.npr.org/2021/02/24/970880767/tim-obrien-on-late-in-life-fatherhood-and-the-things-he-carried-from-vietnam

O’Brien wrote the Hemingwayesque anti-war book, The Things They Carried in 1990. This was required reading for the Bride’s high school AP English class, and I believe her teacher knew the author. O’Brien was drafted into the Vietnam War and later went on to study at Harvard. After loading some grocery bags into the car, I was excited to hear that Fresh Air was live on Nashville Public Radio… then just like that I morphed into an awkward feeling.

Gross pointedly asked the author if he was still smoking, and he said he was, and in fact he was at that moment in the one room in his house where he can continue to smoke. He didn’t smoke in front of his young children. And even though he’s had multiple trips to the hospital for COPD, he used the same old trope to justify his behavior, “You’ve gotta die of something, right?” I know all about this kind of reasoning since the Flapper continued to smoke until her death. But Gross wouldn’t let it go, she pushed him about being a good father, and staying alive to see his children grow up.

She pointed out his contradictory thinking – telling her that if he stopped smoking he may stop writing. What was more important, being a writer or a father? She put O’Brien on the hot seat, and didn’t let him up.

Then, O’Brien said he’d been doing some research about madness lately, about whether war is just simply codified lunacy.

The definition of madness is having a disordered mind, or exhibiting foolish behavior, or being in a state of frenzied activity. Personally, I was hoping for a much calmer state of activity with our new President and Vice President, only to wake up this morning and find out we bombed Syria.

“While the exact death toll remained unclear, Mr. Biden appears to have calibrated the strikes, hoping they would cause enough damage to show that the United States would not allow rocket attacks like that on the Erbil airport in northern Iraq on Feb. 15, but not so much as to risk setting off a wider conflagration. “He is kind of putting his first red line,” said Maha Yahya, the director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/26/world/middleeast/biden-syria-iran.html?action=click&module=Spotlight&pgtype=Homepage

Maybe war is simply a bunch of crazy red lines over territorial conflicts. If you bomb me, I will bomb you by proxy. I lived through Vietnam, I was actively against the war and watched two brothers head off to that conflict zone, now it is full of eco-tourists. Or at least it used to be, before Covid. Now the Bride is learning how to roll sushi, and we get take-out from our local Vietnamese restaurant. Our grandchildren wield chop sticks with impunity.

I think we need more French clowns in the world. These clowns practice the medieval art of buffoonery; they were the poor and disenfranchised, the gypsies, gays and Jews, who were allowed to put on a play for the Noblemen every so often. And in so doing, they would point out the most ridiculous, contradictory happenings in their culture… in a funny, slightly smart and sarcastic way. Sacha Baron Cohen’s character Borat is a classic buffoon.

I’m not saying that Terry Gross was calling O’Brien a buffoon, but she did embarrass him, and that was not called for IMHO. Today, people who still smoke are dwindling, they have become pariahs. Still, I’d like to see some anti-war PSAs like the kind of attacks against smoking, where a woman is talking through her esophagus. Let’s try and change public opinion about war, and guns. You know, this is a guy with his legs blown off by a drone. Here we have the damage a Glock can do to a brain.

Send in the clowns.

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Did anyone else watch that horrific footage of the Beirut explosion this past week and think of a nuclear bomb? Or has the world forgotten that we still have over 13 thousand atomic weapons waiting peacefully around the world to be deployed. https://fas.org/issues/nuclear-weapons/status-world-nuclear-forces/

There are nine men in control of the bombs we know about, nine with their fingers on the button of a blast that could level the entire earth.

Yesterday marked 75 years since America dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima in 1945. Three days later, we did it again in Nagasaki. Hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians were incinerated or badly burned. The survivors are now well into their 80s. And yet, today the news is all about economic numbers and coronavirus graphs – nuclear disarmament isn’t on the radar of nationalist/strong/men leaders around the world.

Coincidentally, I’m right in the middle of July’s first edition book, “Inheritors” from Parnassus. It’s almost like reading a separate story every night; each chapter builds on the other with differing points of view from the same Japanese family two years after WWII ended. Right before sleep, before entering my COVID nightmares, I escape into a tragedy of the the war’s aftermath. How does one survive under American occupation? How will we survive this inflection point while trying to “reopen” our country? Here is what NPR has to say about Asako Serizawa’s masterpiece:

In the before times — e.g., pre-pandemic — the big thinking on social issues by institutional media, philanthropy and academia had reached a point of commodification — curated conversations about the nature and causes of oppression, public health, and public policy were (and still are) sold as revenue generating events. Fixing social problems meant having money and therefore access to policymakers. I’ve curated enough of these events to understand the impact monetized access has on the balance sheet of high profile think tanks and social justice organizations.

But the pandemic and upheavals in our civic culture forced a pivot. Now, we’re reckoning on fundamentals — on happiness, on good and evil. Now, ordinary citizens drive the conversations about solutions for the common good, in social media, through street activism, citizen journalism and grass roots litigation. This emerging civic culture is demanding access to solve tough questions: shall we re-boot the American idea? What are national boundaries for? Does American society need something else besides consensus government? What might that something else look like?  

“The Inheritors provides a stark scenario as one answer. These stories follow the impact of exclusion, of cultural and biological manipulation, of men turning away from humanity…” https://www.npr.org/2020/07/14/890571662/inheritors-maps-a-complicated-family-tree-through-the-centuries

A young photo journalist uploaded a picture of her high school’s crowded hallway in Georgia, no masks with students shoulder to shoulder, and she was suspended by her principal. She tweeted that she didn’t mind, this was “Good Trouble.”

The Groom uploaded a video urging Gov Lee to mandate masks in TN. Yesterday he spoke again from isolation, his voice not quite as strong, but his message was even stronger. https://fox17.com/news/local/tennessee-who-urged-gov-lee-to-take-more-precautions-tests-positive-for-covid-19

He is a critical care doctor battling this virus with courage. When I asked him if he’s losing weight, he said something that warmed my heart,

“No, your daughter’s love language is food.”

In our after times – post- pandemic – which way will the curve of equality and humanity go, what will keep us up at night? I have to believe our arc is trending toward Good Trouble.

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Here we are, in the middle of another heatwave, and my First Edition’s Parnassus book was waiting for me on the front porch this morning. I left the house early to score some parmigiana cheese to make the pesto my August basil is telling me it’s time to make.

The book of the month is, “Chance’s Are…” by Richard Russo. He is a Pulitzer Prize winner, so I couldn’t wait to dig in; there’s always tomorrow for pesto…

Three 60-something-guy-friends are meeting up on the Vineyard and we flashback to 1969, when they were seniors in college and gathered around a TV to hear their draft numbers announced – like me standing in a deli line waiting for my number. Not. Not like that AT ALL. It’s hard, as a woman today, to imagine the gravitas of that first draft call for our young men in December of ’69. I know that some of my friends had to go to Viet Nam:

Who wouldn’t want to go to Southeast Asia and be shot dead in a jungle?

Some, like my brother Dr Jim, accepted his fate and enlisted; he went to OCS just to get it over with. My step-brother Dr Eric became a med-evac helicopter pilot, cause he told the Army he wasn’t about to shoot people; some friends were deferred for good and sometimes sketchy reasons, and some of them did a walk-around, like Lyle. He ended up training bomb-sniffing dogs in the states. I don’t know how that happened and unfortunately Lyle died last year in Vietnam, so I guess we’ll never know.

My starter marriage husband joined ROTC in 1969 at Harvard Law School. It was supposed to transition him into the National Guard, but that never happened. Clerical error?

Bob got a low number, but fortunately had well-documented asthma as a kid. Even today, if I get a bronchitis, he gets pneumonia. The Bride and the L’il Pumpkin unfortunately have inherited his reactive airway disease, which has been pretty scary in the middle of the night. Great Grandma Ada reminds us that asthma will keep our little Grandbaby Boy safe, always. I try not to think it can also kill you.

In the wake of Woodstock nostalgia, which Gma Ada made Bob retell again this past weekend, I find myself feeling adrift. The Big Chill group did a Face Time chat on the day of their arrival in a re-purposed school bus. Bobby, Dickie, Jeff and friends. They were heading into the unknown of a prolonged camping trip with music, mud and acid; while i was heading into a marriage in Cambridge, MA I thought would save me. A nice Catholic boy. Mea Culpa.

Bob’s been sounding wistful. Long before cell phones, how did he ever find Albie in the newspaper taxi on the road to Yasgur’s Farm?

I’ve been wondering what the hell was happening in 1969? We landed on the moon. We went to a concert about Peace and Love in a field. And we started a draft to send our best and brightest off to be slaughtered. What a country.

But even earlier, we imported slaves to our shores and killed Native Americans with impunity. 400 years ago, in 1619, twenty Africans came to Jamestown, Virginia in chains. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/08/14/magazine/1619-america-slavery.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

And today a New York City cop was fired, finally, for killing an African American man selling cigarettes on the street in Staten Island. Despite clear video of the man in a choke-hold saying, “I can’t breathe,” it only took five years and a social movement to convince the police chief that Eric Garner didn’t need to die. Anyone wondering why we need a Black Lives Matter revolution should read last Sunday’s Times. And vote for Bernie!

I’m not sure who I’m voting for yet, but my fear is that Mr T, President “Bone Spur,” may try to slide us into another war, you know, for his numbers. His polls are dropping. And with him, it’s all about the numbers, the size of the crowd. Dr Freud would know exactly what that’s about!

Here is the school bus and the newspaper taxi 50 years ago. Did you know where your children were?

 

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Sorry to be quoting a Russian, but we spent a recent evening at an art show to benefit the Love Bug’s school. And because we had a mini-tour the day before with Nancy and Great Grandma Ada, who has converted her family room into an art studio, we had a long conversation with one of the Lost Boys from South Sudan. James Makuac paints memories from his dreams of Africa. They are bright, vivid colors, and some are not for the faint of heart. http://jameskuolmakuac.tumblr.com

His work is about resilience, about people fleeing their homes in the midst of war, walking through rain with the ubiquitous yellow water barrel on a woman’s head.

And I thought of all the artwork my Sister-in-Law Anita collected over the years. She left my brother Dr Jim surrounded with bright California images and fragile pieces of art glass. He loved her with all his heart, their last years together spent tenderly caring for each other, collecting Amish quilts on sunny rides through the country. And as we tried to organize, to make sense of her collections, it dawned on me that she too was trying to recapture her home. To bring the Northern California aesthetic into her Twin City life.

And I wondered yet again, what will my children do with the things I leave behind? Will they find them beautiful, or will they be a burden?

One night, in the midst of my visit to Dr Jim’s MN home, we watched the Minimalism documentary on Netflix. It opens with the abundance of cheap stuff people fight over the day after Thanksgiving. And the take-away is that we should:

“Use things, and Love people!”

The Bride had wanted me to see the film, because she thought Bob and I are heading in that minimalist direction, divesting of “stuff” and living a simpler life in our two bedroom town home. And it is somehow freeing, to put out on a table or up on a wall only those things I love, that bring me joy.

For instance, I have an Irish ceramic vase that had lived its life on display in my VA guest bedroom, one of four bedrooms. It is now happily holding utensils on my small kitchen counter. I couldn’t part with it because it had been a gift from my Irish cousins, but I also loved its line. To me, it is beautiful.

Fyodor Dostoevsky said, “The world will be saved by beauty.” He also said

By interpreting freedom as the propagation and immediate gratification of needs, people distort their own nature, for they engender in themselves a multitude of pointless and foolish desires, habits, and incongruous stratagems. Their lives are motivated only by mutual envy, sensuality, and ostentation.

Maybe our country needs to adopt a new interpretation of freedom, because the American dream, like all dreams, is changing. We need to stop loving cheap shiny objects that appear at Walmart and on our Twitter feed, and make a point of listening to the people we love. Finding the truth in another’s story. Understanding why we are in Niger. Stop fighting proxy wars, and search for beauty in the world, and not on Google.

Painting by James Makuac

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In Nelson County, VA, no one wanted a pipeline going through their property. And when surveyors found the remains of an African American slave cemetery would be in the path of a proposed 554-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline, to the tune of 5 Billion dollars, let’s just say things heated up at the local Planning Board.

“It is among at least four known African-American cemeteries in the area of Union Hill, an African-American settlement that is now in the path of a 42-inch natural gas pipeline that is proposed to sweep through Nelson from the Blue Ridge Mountains across the James into Buckingham County.

“This is the heart of the African-American community,” Rev James L Rose said. “It runs right through it.”

I’ve always been intrigued by metaphorical and physical lines. Iraq was invaded because we thought they had crossed President Bush’s WMD line; President Obama drew his line in Syria with chemical weapons, but didn’t follow through. We all draw our own personal lines in the sand of time – for instance, I will (or will never) get a tattoo!

But let’s get back to land lines. In the last eight years I’ve been crossing the Mason Dixon Line, traveling between VA and TN. I never really gave it much thought, in fact I used to think it was nothing more than an idea. A leftover relic of the Civil War, like the plaques and memorials that litter the South. But I’ve discovered that it is an actual boundary line that was drawn 250 years ago, pre-Revolutionary War, by two Brits, named surprisingly enough, Mason and Dixon!

And of course it was drawn to settle a land dispute between two families.

“For 80 years the Calvert family of Maryland and the Penns of Pennsylvania had been locked in a bloody dispute over the boundary between the two colonies they had been granted by the English Crown.“The stakes were very high,” said Mr Thaler, trustee of the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore and an expert on the Mason-Dixon project.“There was about 4,000 sq miles of territory that was in dispute and nobody knew who to pay taxes to. Warfare regularly broke out along the border.”

Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon were sons of a baker and a miner respectively who had immigrated to the new colony to make their fortune. They first collaborated on a Transit of Venus map in 1761. For this adventure, they dragged exceptional, state-of-the-art instruments through the wilderness for 5 years between Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland and Delaware. One scientist has called it the “moon landing” of that time period. Its accuracy was astounding and continues to be relevant, the very first geodetic survey in the New World!

During the Civil War, the Mason Dixon Line symbolized the border between free and slave-holding states. An outstanding engineering achievement for its day, the line came to represent a mortal wound in our country’s history. Did I feel any different after crossing that PA line in my CRV listening to This American Life podcasts? Not really.

While most of us are preparing a potato salad for a Labor Day picnic, I’m planning on Nanasitting the baby boy so his big sister can accompany the Bride delivering donuts to the Groom. He is on call in the MICU. Hospitals never close for holidays, and I guess neither does the United Nations.

This morning I just listened to Nikki Haley address the UN Security Council. She said that North Korea was “…begging for war.” I am praying Mr T’s line in the sand is permeable.

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Another pundit bites the dust. Jeffrey Lord, a Mr T defender on many CNN shows, has had his contract with the network terminated. I would usually turn the channel whenever his smugly leering mug appeared because he always seemed to me insincere. Nothing worse than a reluctant ideologue. And guess what he said – in a Twitter tirade no less – to Angelo Carusone, the President of Media Matters for America?

“Sieg Heil!” 

“Nazi salutes are indefensible,” a CNN spokesperson said in a statement. “Jeffrey Lord is no longer with the network.” https://www.washingtonpost.com

This particular German phrase is banned in Germany. You can’t put air quotes around these two words and pretend you don’t know what they mean. In English the phrase means “Hail Victory;” in reality, it goes along with the Holocaust and an arm in the air and black shirts.

Kayleigh McEnany, another Mr T media consultant left CNN recently. She is now the RNC’s spokesperson, working for Mr T’s very own network. You can’t make this stuff up, in fact I wish I was making it all up.

Let’s skip over to Google shall we. James Damore, an engineer wrote some of his thoughts in a company memo on the reason we see nearly 75% more men in the tech industry and in leadership positions, and then he got sacked. His words of choice were “Biological Differences,”  which seems pretty tame on the surface. After all, we women are the ones giving birth and nursing if we so choose. That can sometimes put a dent in a woman’s career.

But we are not back in the 60s when women could be asked if they planned on having children in a job interview. On a deeper level, Damore was implying we’re not FIT for such complicated, intellectually stimulating and challenging work. Remember, initially we didn’t have women astronauts because of that little “time of the month” problem. No, it’s actually 2017 and young girls are encouraged to pursue Stem careers (science, technology, engineering and maths) – just ask my niece Lynn!

But I have to admit that censorship of any kind scares me. In fact, the ACLU is taking up the case of Milo Yiannopoulos’s free speech rights. He is that ex-Brietbart editor who was drummed out of speaking at a California campus, a British citizen who is ‘dedicated to the destruction of political correctness,’ an alt-right agitator extraordinaire. The Washington, DC Metro removed Yiannopoulos’s ads on their trains for his new book…now a train system is a utility and I guess they don’t have the right to discriminate. Right?

And believe it or not, I’m glad the ACLU is doing what it’s supposed to be doing – protecting our rights! When “Hate Speech” collides with “Free Speech” we have a fundamental question that speaks directly to our democracy and may end up at the feet of the Supreme Court. This is an essential thing that differentiates us among many nations, we don’t ban words or burn books, our only admonition is not to yell “Fire” in a big, crowded public room.

Yesterday I spent much of my time pointing out to a certain two year old, who loves his new Superman cape, we need to use our “inside voices.” We teach our children about tone and decibel levels effortlessly, we want them to grow up in a civilized world. Unfortunately, we have a President who needs someone to manage his Twitter speech, to explain to him it’s like yelling “FIRE” at North Korea, in an “OUTSIDE” voice.

This was my view yesterday morning on my way to the Zoo. Nashville has sent out the Bat Signal because we need a hero!

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What’s happening in the world. As Tillerson jets to Russia with a “Make my Day” kind of deal, an Asian physician is dragged off a United plane while passengers documented every minute. This morning, the United CEO has done an about face, finally apologizing for the incident; and simultaneously lovely Melissa, oops, Sean Spicer got his apology right on the third try. Yes Sean, Hitler DID use chemical weapons on innocent people, they just happened to be Jews.

The Jewish people are used to this kind of thing. In fact, a dear friend just told me that one of her son’s friends/acquaintances is a Holocaust denier. And that they actually don’t say it didn’t happen anymore, just that it was more like what we did with the Japanese internment camps…. You know, like a “Holocaust Center?!”

Over the years, I’ve met relatives with numbers on their arms. My first supervisor at an outpatient mental health clinic was a child of Holocaust survivors. One of our Big Chill friends was conceived at a refugee camp in Italy after his parents were liberated from a concentration camp in Poland. I’ve been attending Seders now for almost 40 years, and yet this was the first time I actually ran the show. I knew something would go wrong. I forgot to give everyone some parsley, so I started a new tradition of a parsley posey.

This is the first time I’m actually afraid for the survival of the human race, not just one group of people. Seriously – will Russia decide to sacrifice another pawn. Or maybe North Korea will put us into checkmate?

What kind of plagues should God rain down upon us this time? At least I didn’t poison anyone at my Seder. I’m a compulsive germaphob in the kitchen. Ever since I nearly killed my first husband with a salmonella infested sandwich I picked up at a deli in Harvard Square. I made Great Grandma Ada wash her hands all the time, and we cooperated on the prep for the haroset. Maybe Mr T will get a bad case of boils? Or locusts could infest the Rose Garden?

Our trees are greening and birds are singing. Spring is a time for rebirth, not sarin gas and armageddon. In fact Sean, you were right in one detail, Hitler did NOT use sarin to exterminate 6 Million Jews, “innocent” people, even though it had been discovered by a German scientist. Some speculate it was because he was gassed in the First World War. But most scholars say it was because Churchill would have retaliated if he tried to use gas on the battlefield or in the camps.

“War is chess. Hitler would have sacrificed a lot of pieces that he couldn’t afford to lose.”  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/wp/2017/04/11/hitler-refused-to-use-sarin-gas-during-wwii-the-mystery-is-why/?utm_term=.9dc38985fc9d

The Nazis constantly searched for more efficient means of extermination. At the Auschwitz camp in Poland, they conducted experiments with Zyklon B (previously used for fumigation) by gassing some 600 Soviet prisoners of war and 250 ill prisoners in September 1941. Zyklon B pellets, converted to lethal gas when exposed to air. They proved the quickest gassing method and were chosen as the means of mass murder at Auschwitz.

At the height of the deportations, up to 6,000 Jews were gassed each day at Auschwitz. http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005220

6 Thousand a day, 6 Million in WWII. Holocaust centers, killing camps. Sarin gas vs Zyklon B vs chemical weapons. A gaffe is a gaffe is a gaffe. And this whole Trump administration is one big gaffe.

Today we rode along Skyline Drive to get the long view, the balcony shot. I wish we humans could just decide not to play chess with our lives on this planet.  IMG_0305

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