Monthly Archives March 2016

A First Take on India: The Road From Delhi

So I have made my way to India with my 17-year-old daughter and a traveling companion who knows the technical ins and outs of the Internet in order to help smooth the way for a Telemedicine project to be initiated in the low mountain town (3,000-foot elevation) of Nahan, which, if you kept going east up the mountain and could fly, would land you in a few hours in Nepal and the Himalayas.

It’s about six hours northeast by car from Delhi, which we negotiated yesterday courtesy of our ever amiable driver, Mr. Singh, and our host, Dr. Suresh Sablok of Nahan, whose rural hospital and clinic has signed on for a Rotary-sponsored, do-good-in-the-world project of connecting via computer modem a Sebastopol, California doctor to rural health centers around the world.

Four Sonoma County Rotary clubs provide the computer, modem and enough technical assistance to get the operation running, so far in Uganda, Nigeria, Z...

Read More

Intrusion From Time Past: A Review of “45 Years”

We spend perhaps unconscionable amounts of our adult lives marveling at the passage of time, continually shocked at the zip line that seems to have transported us from our 20s to 50s and beyond in a long breathless moment when our eyes were apparently closed.

“Last time I saw you…” we begin, lowering our hand to toddler height as we come upon the suddenly grown children of friends and relatives we see only sporadically. And the kids smile politely, despite having heard the identical prattle a thousand times before.

British director and screenwriter Andrew Haigh gives this and other aspects of time a provocative, novel twist in his current (third) movie, 45 Years, starring Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay as a long married couple living out their retirement years in apparent contentment.

The film appears to be a slow-moving art house talkie but actually presents a rapid series of psychological and...

Read More

Here Then Gone: The Short Half-Life of Ecstatic Moments

 It was one of those Moments. The daylight waning, the sky a magnificent stew of cirrus wisps both vertical and horizontal to the west and south, stratus puff balls north and east, the trending-toward-full moon already up and peeking from behind the latter.

At that still-point dusky moment transitioning from day to early eve, with the world perfectly poised between its in- and out-breath, the color palette of pale oranges, golds, purples, pinks, magentas and more seemed both fathomless and intoxicating.

And then came the geese.

They were in their classic extended V formation, winging southwest towards their home in the Laguna de Santa Rosa after their usual daytrip to the cozy confines of Spring Lake Park, where I assume they came across plentiful tasty creatures to slide down their impressive gullets. (“Oh, to have a neck like that,” I hear every model and ballerina in the world sighing…)

And mere ...

Read More

Done With Dogma: The Trend Toward No-Religion, No-Political-Party

Quick: What’s the fastest growing religious group in the United States?

And the fastest growing (political) party preference of the voting population in California?

Well, it’s not the Methodists and it’s not the Republicans, and you probably knew that much already. But would it surprise you at all that the answers are “no-religion” to the first and “no-party-preference” to the second?

If you figured as much, you’ve got your finger on the pulse of an important development in our cultural and civic life. One that helps explain, at least to some degree, the continuing and somewhat confounding relevance of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump in the current presidential primaries. (More on that below.)

The no-religion “nones” have been noted for some years now in the Pew Research Center’s regular surveys of religious life in the U.S., but even the authors of the latest snapshot in May, 2015 se...

Read More

Five Things I’ve Come to Understand About the Trump Phenomenon

Has there ever been a more spectacular misreading of the political climate by people like, uh, me, who laughed merrily when Donald Trump announced for the Republican presidential race last year?


He of course had no chance to draw more than a smattering of support from the far fringes of the voting public, but his entry at least ensured that we would enjoy some ongoing buffoonery from America’s most unabashed and ridiculous celebrity.

We could look to him to provide a kind of comic ballast for the sheer awfulness of Ted Cruz, the blandness of Jeb Bush, the snarls of Carly Fiorina, and the varied, almost-never-acknowledged flaws that every candidate brings, with all due bravado, to the table of electoral politics.

All of which leads me to realize yet again that I’m a lot less insightful than I’d like to be. (The one consolation is I have a lot of company in the Trump Under-Estimator Corps.)


Read More