Monday, October 12, 2015

Searching for a Silver Lining!

Death and destruction in Turkey, Nigeria, Iraq, Syria, Israel, Libya, Afghanistan, Gaza, ++ . . .

U.S. admits Syrian strategy is a failure.

Political dysfunction deepens in Washington.

Violence at 2nd base when Mets play Dodgers and Tejada’s leg is broken.

Dictator Lukashenko in Belarus is elected for the fifth time.

In Texas another black man is killed by an off-duty policeman.

“Experts” admit there is no sure way to predict when the nice boy next door will become a mass killer.

The latest miracle drug is too expensive for most people to use.

Etc., etc., et cetera.

Good news?  The sun is shining.  Our loved ones are close by.  Feeling good.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

The Daily Show!

I’d say the first week of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah was “OK.”  I’d give him a B.

The pundits have their usual range of opinions – from “He was terrible,” to “He’s getting better every day.”  If I were being hypercritical I’d lower my grade to a C.  But at this point I’m willing to cut him some slack.

Noah is at his best when talking about what he can directly relate to.  The best segment of the week was the riff on Donald Trump as an African dictator.  The worst segments were his interviews.  He wasn’t comfortable and it showed.  It didn’t help that the guests themselves were mediocre.

His relationship with the correspondents is a little awkward and tentative.  I expect this to improve with time.

Overall, the shows were bland.  He needs to bring some edginess to it.  He needs to not be afraid to offend.  He needs to be himself and make it his own.  If that happens the show’s future is bright.  If it doesn’t, I’m not likely to be a regular viewer

Thursday, October 01, 2015


I just watched Charlie Rose’s long interview with Vladimir Putin.  At the risk of being politically incorrect, I have to say I was impressed.

As I began watching I was conscious of how much baggage I was carrying with me – opinions, presuppositions and conclusions – mostly negative, about Putin and Russia.  So I was surprised when I found myself responding positively to the persona, if not the views, of this guy.

I thought he was very well informed, articulate, thoughtful and on occasion likeable.  I thought about the two dozen or so people currently running for president and wondered if any of them would have been able to handle the breadth and substance of such an interview as effectively.  Not a chance.

I haven’t all of a sudden become head of the Putin fan club.  But I do have a level of respect for him that I didn’t have before.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

In Japan!

I’ve just returned from three weeks in Japan.  In the past I’ve lived and worked in Japan, so I’m very familiar with the people and culture, but this was my first visit in 17 years.  I found that what I’ve enjoyed about the country hasn’t changed – cleanliness, an orderly approach to life, individual courtesy (not so evident in crowds), trains and buses that run on time, and great food.

Being away from home and a set, predictable routine is always a useful experience.  I am more attuned to what is new and unfamiliar.  I see with fresh eyes.  As in San Francisco, local issues and share the stage with global concerns.  Interestingly, while the local specifics are different, the contexts are similar.  Corruption and government incompetence grab headlines.  So do the woes of local sports teams.  And weather abnormalities are always of interest.

On my first morning in Tokyo I was greeted by an earthquake.  I guess the local gods wanted to make sure I felt at home.  They did a good job of it, that day and all the others.  I had a good trip, but as always I’m very glad to be home.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Crime Rules the News!

Today’s National Briefing in the NY Times has the following items:

Kansas:  Death Penalty Backed for Bias Killings
Michigan:  New Sentencing for Teenager in Sex Crime
California:  Deputies Charged in Prisoner’s Killing
Virginia:  No Charges for Deputies in Stun-Gun Death
Virginia:  Shooting Victim Leaves Hospital
Maryland:  Ex-Bishop Enters Plea Deal in Death

I guess nothing else was worth talking about.  Why am I not surprised?

Friday, September 04, 2015

Good News!

The Kentucky clerk who refuses to issue marriage licenses to gay couples is in jail.

Liberia is declared Ebola-free.

The corrupt president of Guatemala is in jail.

Results are promising for a drug that can block HIV infections.

The Obama administration is taking steps to ban health care discrimination against transgender people.

The Justice Department will require federal agents to seek warrants before using secretive equipment to track and capture data from cellphones.

Two British journalists arrested in Turkey on trumped up charges have been released.

The U.S. unemployment rate is down to 5.1%, lowest in more than 7 years.

In Sri Lanka, for the first time in more than three decades a Tamil lawmaker will lead the opposition in Parliament.

Trailing the Dodgers by 6½ games with 28 to play, it won’t be long before my Giants are eliminated from playoff contention, and the suffering will be over.