Panoramic view of the archaeological reconstruction at Monte Albán

Reflections on Oaxaca

Over the past ten years I have visited Oaxaca de Juárez, Mexico about forty times. During that period, I visited the city at least three times per year, and some years more. Understandably, my impressions of the city and the state of Oaxaca have evolved over the years. When I first arrived in  Oaxaca, I delighted in the Spanish colonial architecture, the cobblestone streets, the city square, … Continue reading Reflections on Oaxaca

Cartoon: Fellow is updating his facebook account while nuclear warhead explodes.

What if Facebook Were Our Only Source of News?

What if Facebook were our only source of news and information? What would we know about the United States? How would we see the world around us? I have been thinking about these important questions and offer the following observations. (Note that some of the observations contradict others, but that’s the nature of reality in Facebook.) Politics ° Hillary Clinton is the matriarch of a … Continue reading What if Facebook Were Our Only Source of News?

Cute kittens being petted by their foster parent

Wisconsin Doublethink

In his prescient political novel, 1984, George Orwell writes that “doublethink” is the “power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them . . . .” Here in Wisconsin we are in the middle of deer hunting season. On the front page of last Saturday’s Janesville Gazette, the local newspaper, two stories were featured. Above the fold was a … Continue reading Wisconsin Doublethink

Dapper lady skeleton dressed in a bonnet, feather boa, and beautiful pink gown.

Everyone Loves La Catrina

Every year during the annual celebration of the Day of the Dead in Mexico, La Calavera Catrina resumes her celebrity status. This is especially so in the state of Oaxaca, where the cultural significance of the Day of the Dead is especially strong. Usually referred to simply as La Catrina, “La Calavera Catrina” translates into English as the “elegant or dapper skeleton.” She began life … Continue reading Everyone Loves La Catrina

Bring Back the Buckaroo: Or “Shane, Shane, Come Back!”

When I was young there were heroes. They were on TV, in the comic books, and at the movies. It was the 1950’s, the heyday of the cowboy western. It was the age of the buckaroo. A man of few words, and often a loner, the buckaroo showed up whenever there was trouble. He always defended the weak in the name of justice and everything … Continue reading Bring Back the Buckaroo: Or “Shane, Shane, Come Back!”

Our Unintelligent Intelligence “Services”

Recent security breaches at the White House have focused attention on the failures of our security and intelligence services. The poor performance of these organizations is not new. And while opposition politicians act as if these failures just started under the Obama administration, I can remember a number of them from years past in my own lifetime. The examples that follow vary in importance, but … Continue reading Our Unintelligent Intelligence “Services”

A collection of crime fiction book covers displayed as a collage

Why Do We Like Crime Fiction So Much?

Take a look at the New York Times best seller list any given week and you will see that about a third of the books listed are crime mysteries. Americans, at least those who read and buy books, are in love with crime fiction. Readers of the genre will have different preferences. Some like the “cozies” in which the amateur sleuth, while getting in the … Continue reading Why Do We Like Crime Fiction So Much?

Thoughts on Photographs that Reflect Social Reality

I like photographs that tell us something about social reality, that provide insights about the human condition, or that tell a story. The Internet is full of beautiful photographs of sunsets, sunrises, children, pets, mountain landscapes, seashore landscapes, desert landscapes, and bad weather landscapes. I admire all of these, especially when well done.  But there are not so many of the kind that show us … Continue reading Thoughts on Photographs that Reflect Social Reality

Map showing roads and businesses in a small part of Janesville, Wisconsin.

National Bicycle Month vs. Reality

I just read that this is “National Bicycle Month” and that this week is “Bicycle to Work Week.” I have no idea who makes these pronouncements, but I am sure they represent a kind of wishful thinking rather than an accurate reference to everyday reality. Last week an article in the Washington Post reported new figures from the U.S. Census Bureau indicate that a mere … Continue reading National Bicycle Month vs. Reality

How to Succeed in Bureaucracy without Really Trying – Communication Skills

In an earlier post (November 14, 2012) I outlined the four basic rules of bureaucratic survival. Briefly these four rules are: Always cover your rear; Never embarrass a superior (especially your boss) in public; Never give those who report to you an opportunity to speak in public without first scripting their responses; and, When things go wrong, never admit a mistake. Either claim that what … Continue reading How to Succeed in Bureaucracy without Really Trying – Communication Skills