In the late 1950s, my family went to a film festival in Damascus. We were in Beirut, and I was too young to remember. Difficult to imagine, but Syria and Lebanon were progressive, open and comfortable, made up of diverse Christian communities dating back to the time of Jesus, a thriving Jewish community, Sunni and […]
The Theremin, an electronic musical instrument invented in 1920, became the foundation for synthesized music. Much of the music we hear today—in movies, commercials, stores—is synthesized, which is cheaper to produce than hiring musicians to play instruments. The electronic music revolution took off in the 1950s and 60s, but right after the Soviet Revolution, Lev […]
I recommend visiting Ellis Island in New York for anyone interested in seeing what America is made of. Of the twelve million who walked up the stairs of the immigration building, there are many more times the number of descendants in the US today. Those people had many children. Catholics and Protestants and Jews. Single […]
I celebrate bicycle touring. Cyclists don’t see the world—they experience it. Biking is quiet, scenic, physically active but not necessarily strenuous, non-polluting, and it can afford a stimulating social experience with friends, family, and the local people. You get a feeling of the place, integrate with people when you stop to ask for directions and […]
“DEMOCRACY” is specifically not mentioned in the US Constitution. Madison and the other writers feared that such a system would degenerate. Madison took his idea of government such as two houses of congress from the Presbyterian Church, even though he wasn’t a religious fellow. The Greek philosophers derided democracy, likening it to mob rule. It […]
I had a terrific “Local Authors with Kameel Nasr” interview with Marian Stanley. Her debut novel The Immaculate was captivating and interesting. Set right here in the Boston area, actually in a make-believe suburb called Malford, which is a combination of Malden or Medford. Marian tackles the thorny subject of the Catholic Church and power, […]
On the TV show “Local Authors with Kameel Nasr,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Susan Oliskew, a tall, dignified blond who fell in love with India in her youth and writes mysteries based in India. I had met Susan on a couple of occasions, and I bought her first book in the India cozy […]
JUST A THOUGHT Christians in the Middle Ages may have lived in a prolonged state of inebriation because they mixed alcohol with water to kill the bacteria in their polluted water. The Romans were famous for building a complex aqueduct system which brought pristine water from the mountains to the cities, but when their empire […]
When my nephew Ethan sent me a wedding announcement, I was so happy. Weddings are automatically a source of rejoicing. The couple picked late September for the celebration.
Then I read the wedding venue: Kerala, the long thin state at the bottom of India. He and his fiancée Meghana live in the Bay Area. Meghana was born in Hyderabad but is as American as any Bay Area Millennial. So I immediately started making plans. By a stroke of luck, my girl Kathe had scheduled to take off the entire month of September. She’s a doctor and had made those plans long in advance. She was going with a girlfriend of hers to bicycle the Camino de Santiago de Compostela the early part of September, so we made plans to spend the second half of the month first at the wedding and then traveling around Kerala a bit.
Invaluable art, including a Picasso, Monet, Matisse, and Gauguin, were stolen from the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam in 2012. It was one of the largest art thefts in Europe. The police got a grip on the case and hauled in suspects, including the Romanian Radu Dogaru. His mother, Olga Dogaru, not wanting her son to go to prison, confessed to burning the pilfered paintings, reasoning that the police couldn’t indict him if they didn’t have the evidence.
She withdrew her confession, probably on advice from an attorney, but Bucharest’s National Science Museum had their lab analyze the ashes in Olga’s stove. They concluded that oil paintings indeed met their end there.