Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Happiness of Halloween

My sister is disguised as a gypsy in a skirt and vest my mother made (which later came down to me). I managed to find a red, gabardine raincoat with a hood so that I could appear for the evening as Little Red Riding Hood and still wear all the warm clothing (underneath) my mother insisted on.

Halloween is still one of the best holidays going for kids. Congress hasn't been able to move it around and foul it up the way they have other holidays. It still takes place, weekday or not, on October 31. And it still means pranks and funny clothes and treats.

A good time all the way 'round.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Making the Other Guy Look Small

The final presidential debate of 2012.

From the first moments of this final presidential debate, it was clear that each candidate had come to the table with a different tactic as part of a similar strategy: President Obama continued to attack his opponent, hoping to raise Romney's ire and, by forcing a mistake, make Romney look small. Romney, for his part, went out of his way to be gracious toward the president, hoping, in comparison, to make his opponent look small, for being so critical. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Abuse of Power In a Small Town Election

A report in the independently owned Palo Alto and Mid Peninsula Daily Post. 

Things aren't just nasty in national politics these days. We're having a nasty week in my little hometown, Los Altos, California, where our mayor tried to use the power of her office to get some  campaign signs removed from the window on the private property of a local business. She supports the other candidates.

Hard to believe this would happen in a town where council members are paid about $12,000 a year plus health insurance. Could there be more at stake than that? You think?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Town Hall Debate As Reality Television

October 16. 2012

Watching the second debate between the two presidential candidates, two things stood out--well there's a third thing and I'll get to that in a minute. But two general things first:

There was a lot of talk about the deficit during this debate, which took place is a faux "town hall" format (boy was that a bunch of hokum). But anyway, about the deficit. It was a charisma deficit. A humility deficit. A charm deficit. Call it what you will. The president of the United States represents America to the world. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Nuclear War That Didn't Almost Happen

President John F. Kennedy with General Curtis LeMay and the Joint Chiefs, October 1962.

Anyone who has spent any time reading the fine print of history, has known for some time that the Cuban Missile Crisis did not bring the world to the "brink" of nuclear war. From the minute President John F. Kennedy took a stand against the installation of Soviet missiles in Cuba, both sides were doing everything they could to avoid war.

Now, more than half a century after the crisis, newly declassified documents further support these facts.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Trade, Reindeer Moss, and the Cold War

The mysterious ring from Carmel.

One of the most interesting things you can do, when you shop for goods in the United States is to check the labels to see where the item you are holding in your hand was made. By doing this, you can learn a lot about American foreign policy and American trade policy--which are almost always tied very closely together. 

I did not expect any of this to come to mind as I poked through a box of my late mother's odds and ends of jewelry. It wasn't her best stuff--that had been divided up already. And it wasn't the costume jewelry--that we sold at the garage sale. It was a box of things too valuable to get rid of, yet too quirky to have found a claimant in the family circle. It was in this shoe box I spotted the ring from Carmel.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Debate a Corker: (But Still Five Weeks to Go)


The two candidates begin their debate.

A good debate is one in which important ideas are exchanged in a reasonable format and no fisticuffs break out.

So, the first U.S. presidential debate of 2012 was a really good debate. People all over the world are blowing each other up for the right to have a free exchange of ideas like that. Something we too easily forget.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

When Marnie Met Alfred Hitchcock


Winston Graham's novel "Marnie" with a movie tie-in cover.

I've often thought that Alfred Hitchcock's film Marnie (1964) was one of his most underrated. I saw it for the first time on television and have wondered since why it has never received more attention from film buffs. 

For one thing, it stars Sean Connery during the peak of his 007 fame--his only appearance in a Hitchcock film. The power of Connery's performance dominates every frame of the movie, even though the story is about Marnie.