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.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015


It’s like an invisible sheath shields bubbles.  They are obvious and yet not seen –or at least acknowledged.  So we had the housing bubble, the tech bubble, the hedge fund bubble and mini-bubbles, fads really, like cabbage patch dolls, toy rocks, and the like.

But what about the bubbles that surround us and have not yet burst – are not even seen as bubbles and have become part of the environment in which we live.  Like:

n  The violence bubble here at home and around the world.  Every day – shootings, bombings, kidnappings, indiscriminate slaughters.
n  The refugee bubble.  Millions of people whose lives have been disrupted and are on the move to find safety and peace.
n  The inequality bubble.  Here at home and around the world, the gap between the haves and have nots grows larger every day.
n  The American political farce bubble.  Endless conjecturing about Trump this or that or Clinton this or that, and all the others, which dominates the public debate for what – a year, a year and a half, two years?  And to what end, except to increase the power of money to dominate our political system.
n  The college football is a sport bubble.  Passions runneth over at stadia around the land.  The scoreboard tells us which team wins.  But the scoreboard that really matters is the one that tallies the billions of dollars that flow to those who win the most.

n  London’s West Ham football team has it right when their fans sing “I’m forever blowing bubbles,” before every game.  We are all blowing bubbles, whether we notice it or not.