Without Fear or Favor

I just spent ten days marveling at Asia. But, despite the magic of travel, no trip I’ve taken has ever been tinged with such sorrow.

Every morning for the past ten days, I read an entire physical, newspaper. Could the news be sadder than it is now? Gay men shocked to death in Chechnya, one hundred thousand people detained in Turkey, another blasphemy killing in Pakistan, another Russian journalist beaten dead, millions of refugees swallowed by the muds and sands of Bangladesh, Lebanon, Jordan, Sudan, a river disappears in Canada, one hundred young recruits blown up in Afghanistan, the total collapse of Venezuela, the sixth year of holocaust in Syria.

Putin, Assad and his pretty-faced wife, Maduro, Kony. The extermination wrought by this short list of names is too much to bear.When asked by a television reporter about the reports of gay men disappearing, dying, Chechen leader Kadyrov responded that the reports were false because there were no gay men in Chechnya, no people “oriented in the wrong way.”

And then there’s Trump, whose full frontal attack on Planned Parenthood and climate change may be the greatest crime against humanity in the news today. No lush diplomatic cake with China can sweeten the smog away.

When you do the math, there is no addition, only subtraction, division. Poverty and violence swallow entire countries whole. To write, and read, “Without Fear or Favor,” as The Japan Times proudly claims to do, is a privilege of the insufficient few.

Apart from donating, voting and speaking out, staying informed is its own form of protest, of empathy. But serious newspapers are suffering as free (often fake) news gains traction. So, today, I decided to subscribe to a few major national newspapers. The New York Times, for example, is on sale. For $1.50 a week you can read every article on their site. The Washington Post gives you unlimited access for $99 a year. A small price to pay to make sure someone is watching.


Difficult by Design

Geoffrey Hill, renowned British poet, died last week and was memorialized by today’s “New York Times.”

Although I’ve never read a single poem written by Hill and do not support intentionally obscure verse, I do think Mr. Hill makes a very good point above. Difficult is as difficult does. 

Off the Cliff

From Susan Pinker’s article “Slower and Wiser: How Intelligence Shifts with Age” in today’s WSJ. 

The verdict: our mental hard drive peaks early but our emotional intelligence begins to soar from age 40 on. We might start forgetting just about everything we read, but we can read a person’s emotional state by looking at their eyes. 

Good news, right?

A Happy, and Clean, Home


According to this week’s Economist, men who help out around the house have a higher chance of not being dumped by increasingly picky and independent  women.  Also according to the magazine, a home where a close connection with one’s children and spouse can be nurtured can help keep a man happy, and out of trouble. 

The Economist said it, not me.