One of my first assignments as a cub reporter for my high school newspaper was to interview a history teacher who, my editor said, was head of the history department and someone who was interesting.  With little to go on I made the appointment and showed up in his office to find a scholarly but lively gentleman surrounded by papers, books, and shelves lined with more papers and books. He immediately assumed I knew more than I did and started talking about his government job as historian for the predecessor of the newly created CIA.  He wouldn’t let me use the term CIA or Central Intelligence Agency because the existence of that agency was supposed to be a secret.   He said he was writing a history of our intelligence service during WWII, the age of Wild Bill Donovan, and that was it.  I recall reporting that he was writing a history for an agency of the US government whose very existence was supposed to be a secret, even though by that time its name was already being circulated in the national press. 

The Cary Institute lecture inspired an attendee to write the following that might have a bearing on man's ability to evolve and perhaps thereby survive.  So, we might survive despite our tendency to self-destruct.

As I drove away after Michael Tennesen’s talk at the Cary Institute on the future of evolution, my brain spun into hyperdrive.  I began thinking about environment, evolution, genetics and religion, how environment affects behavior (which includes religious practices), and how that behavior then affects the epigenetic mechanisms, which then cause changes in gene function. This led me to ponder that with environmental changes (either outer climate or inner behavior) there need to be changes within people (including their religious practices.) For to stay the same is to maintain non-adaptive forms of behavior/epigentic expression,etc. And then I had to search for facts. 

Foreign entanglements? Who, us? We have them? I thought we weren't supposed to.


War, death, destruction, rape, refugees, bombings, assassinations, violence, uprootings, fear, terror—these are the words we daily see and hear in the media with such frequency we now consider them commonplace. They are the result of state actions and state actors acting on a world stage before a numbed, subdued audience of helpless victims, with us as witless witnesses. Our own country is one of those states. 

Armies attack civilians. Bombs are dropped, rockets launched and villages and cities destroyed. Streams of refugees flee across continents, morgues fill, hospitals cope, people perish and we watch, dumbfounded. 

What should arouse each and every one of us is our own mistaken bombing of the doctors of Doctors without Borders and their patients in a hospital in Afghanistan.

Black muzzle, south sea dog,

How lucky I am to be your master!

On scraps growing plump as a gourd

Never grumbling for fancier food.

Gentle by day, you learn to tell my friends;

Ferocious by night, you guard the gate.


From a poem by Su Tung-P’o written in the year 1100 

Translated from the Chinese by Burton Watson


October 5, 2015-

Economists complain about inequality, or, as Orwell put it in Animal Farm,  how some people are more equal than others.  In Animal Farm the inequality was about political power.  There’s that too, in our time: rich people are more likely to get political access than not rich people and very rich people are likely to get immediate access. When Alfy Fanjul had a problem with a government agency he called his friend in the White House, Bill Clinton, who took time out from dealing with the Monika Lewinsky crisis to deal with the crisis of a very large donor having problems with an agency that wanted to protect the water in the Everglades from being used to irrigate Fanjul’s sugar plantations.  

October 5, 2015

I like humor. I like to laugh at something really funny.  I used to think PJ O’Rourke was funny. Occasionally he is. The crisis in the humor business is that the politicians have stolen all the jokes.  It’s not that they tell funny jokes; it’s that they are such jokes it is impossible to portray them as funny.  It’s like trying to tell a joke about a clown. In the end, it’s pathetic. 

Take that Trump chap.  He’s always been something of a clown. The media likes a clown.  But overexposed, he ceases to be funny or of interest.  Just pathetic.  One can visualize him in a wheelchair chasing after a fellow retiree at the home for retired clowns saying, “I’ve got a new one, you’ll love it.”  And the retired clown thinking “who let him in here?” 

September 24, 2015-

While we have neglected to voice our opinion on the many subjects that daily barrage our readers, our silence is not related to our failure to have opinions but rather the failure of our primitive communications equipment that we selected for its lightness to transmit those opinions.  We have some catching up to do, so here goes:


National and international

We think it swell that Congress did not have sufficient votes to make a fool of itself over the Iran agreement. We think it inevitable that the Republicans did make fools of themselves when they attempt to debate.   The surge of refugees in Europe leaves us speechless but, as we are one of the responsible parties, we owe a huge debt to people displaced by our war-making.  How we can pay that debt is far from clear, but some kind of Marshal Plan might seem in order.


Kelsey and the primaries

I love airports. People always assume I’m being sarcastic when I say it—as if I’m saying that I love filing taxes, or spending time at the DMV. Here’s the thing: I really do love airports. Sure, I could do without the tedious TSA screenings or the stress-inducing delays. I would gladly avoid the will-my-bag-be-overweight anxiety of the check-in counter. I could even give up the piercing shrieks of unhappy babies. But even if (in some alternate universe) I had a private jet, I don’t think I would use it. For me, the airport is a thrilling and necessary in-between—the bookends on a shelf, holding together a row of travel stories.

August 23, 2015

Eric Petersen looks into the allegations discrediting the nuclear agreement with Iran (JCPOA)  that were made by Congressman Mike Pompeo and Senator Tom Cotton and reported in the press last week.  Like statements made by Sen. Schumer and Rep. Chris Gibson and others who respond to pressure by AIPAC, the allegations do not hold up when examined.  Rather, they appear to be propaganda spread by a small but determined group of Israeli supporters for whom truth is but a minor inconvenience.    Editor’s comment. 

by Eric Petersen 

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