Monthly Archives: August 2014


If you thought that Ferguson, the Ukraine and ISIS were enough bad news for the year, there is now the imminent possibility of an eruption of the volcano of this name in  Iceland. Most attention has been given to the results of another eruption, different volcano, in Iceland in 2010 which disrupted air travel in Europe for weeks. (We were forced to extend our visit to Florence for several days, with the additional costs paid by travel insurance.)

Others recall that yet another Icelandic volcano in 1783 opened a large fissure that released obnoxious gases for many months, causing an extreme and extended winter worldwide that may have killed six million people, mostly from famine. The Mississippi froze down to New Orleans and there was floating ice in the Gulf of Mexico.

Will the survivalists have the last laugh?

Vacation Reading

Sunset at Isle La MotteWe’ve spent the week on vacaton on Isle La Motte in the northern reaches of Lake Champlain. It’s a family get-together celebrating our sixtieth wedding anniversary next month. Lots of activity – swimming, kayaking, bicycling and eating. (We are fortunate to have several good cooks in the family, including one superb professional chef.)

I’ve been the least athletic of the lot and have been concentrating on my reading.  Early this year I read “American Nations: A History of the Eleven Regional Cultures of North America” by Colin Woodard, The author believes that each of the colonial areas in North America had a distinctive culture which they carried with them as they migrated into the nation. He also believes that important aspects of these distinctive cultures can be found in the various regions of the Continent today and that this is a useful tool for understanding our history and current politics.

I found the book fascinating  and persuaded my book club to read it this month. So I’m rereading it myself in preraration.  I recommend it to you if you want a fresh look at our history. It was published by Penguin in 2011.

Our Ukraine?

The sense of William Pfaff’s latest column is summed up in the first paragraph.

I find it very disquieting that so few among the West European and American commentators on the Ukraine crisis, private or public, seem concerned that the United States has started this affair, and that it is not inconceivable that it may end in a war.

Given the fact that the neo-conservatives were responsible for our Iraq war, one would have thought that their ilk would be banned from policy-making positions in the Obama administration. Now it turns out that our policy in Europe at the State Department with respect to the Ukraine has been in the hands of such as Victoria Nuland, a prominent neo-conservative, and that her husband, Robert Kagan, an even more prominent neo-conservative, has been a foreign policy advisor to the Secretary of State. Evidently no one felt this was newsworthy.

And who was that Secretary of State? None other than our future Democratic standard bearer, Hillary Clinton. The Republicans who have tried so hard to make an issue of Beghazi have really missed their opportunity here. But of course they are complicit in neo-conservatism and dedicated to the idea that nothing the US does can ever be criticized. Nor can too much blame ever be attributed to the Russians.

Would you like to read about the current Governor of Maryland, who is sometimes proposed as an alternative to Hillary?