I’m an unabashed Anglophile; from Monty Python to Masterpiece Theater.  As with most people, I’m appalled by what happened in Manchester, on Monday May 22nd, 2017.  

    I live in Tucson, Arizona, but grew up in Brooklyn, New York and lived through 9/11.  Almost sixteen years later, and with many more internet advances, I remember people looking for the missing.  In 2001, it was in Union Square Park in Manhattan.  Today, with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Snapchat, (I’ve probably left some out).  The images of the missing are everywhere.  There were many more victims of 9/11, but one is one too many.

    I remember the spirit of New York and another city close to my heart, Boston, Massachusetts, after the Boston Marathon bombing four years ago.  (I lived in Boston and married a Bostonian).  I remember the grit of the people, Boston Red Sox players visiting the injured on their sometimes long roads to recovery.  

    I won’t mention the name of the Manchester bomber. A ballroom dancer, who lost a leg in the Boston bombing put it best.  “He didn’t bother to learn my name before he blew me up, so why should I bother to learn his.”  

    I admired the speakers outside Manchester City Hall, speaking to a grieving, but gritty city.  Of course kudos to Paula Robinson, the Angel of Manchester.  Why some people run from danger and some run towards it to save others.  

    Manchester, this Yank stands with you!

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A Golden Carriage for President Trump.

Cinderella had such a carriage, but it became a pumpkin at Midnight.  Queen Elizabeth HAS such a carriage, President Trump wants to ride in it.  British security and palace staff are against this.

President Trump had a good week last week.  I was watching one of my Senators, John McCain saying Trump got the military part right, because he listened to his generals.  The comedy loving part of me could only imagine Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther movies. Chief Inspector Dreyfus’ assistant, Francois, turns to the Chief Inspector and says, “But what if Clouseau, a complete and utter idiot turns out to be right?”  How many Democratic Party strategists are having the same unnerving thought?

I read President Trump also wants to go to Balmoral.  Long ride in a carriage.  Now for more silliness.  The Queen rides with him in the carriage.  Trump violates the rule of touching Her Majesty.  The President is already angry, because the crowds are booing,  President Trump spins it as, “Look at those record crowds!”  The Queen just smiles.

The carriage takes a side street.  There it is, the Tower of London.  The President thinks it is another place for crowds, and he gets out of the carriage to be greeted by…The Yeoman of the Guard, who with some other Yeoman take him into custody.  The Tower hasn’t had “guests” for many years, but the Queen is making an exception. The Yeoman chop off the Presidents hands for touching the Queen and tweeting.  He is imprisoned, thus increasing the crowds at the Tower.  Will the President lose his head, literally?

Well you got your carriage ride.  You never specified a destination, but left it up to Her Majesty.  Be careful what you wish for and or demand.


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I’m dedicating this to Nancy Sinatra, (yes, Frank Sinatra’s daughter).  I’m a Sinatra fan, and last Saturday watched The Manchurian Candidate for the first time in years.  Nancy has been tweeting heavily about Russia and what’s going on in the Trump Administration, so the Political Science and History major in me thought to add a very basic essay about Russia, with the theme of,  “The more things change, the more they remain the same.

    Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”  That’s a quote from Winston Churchill.  I won’t be able to unravel it, but give a basic historical idea of what makes Russians tick in certain situations.

   Click on Peter Hitchens for some education.  Click on Russian Geography for learning a little more about Russia and its fears.

    The geography is basic.  For the Roman Empire, this was a region they called “The crucible of peoples.”  Ancient groups such as Scythians wandered across the wide open region.  I will start with a silly look as to why Russians as a culture are paranoid.  I’m a baseball fan and am reminded of an interview with the 1934 St. Louis Cardinals star Pepper Martin.  Some sports reporter asked, “Mr. Martin, why do you run so fast?”  The response?  “Well sir, I grew up in Oklahoma, and once you start runnin’ there ain’t nothin’ to stop you.”  Now the punchline.  Could you imagine if it was Usain Bolt?  Don’t want to give Putin any ideas.  Jamaicans don’t want to invade Russia, except for the crazies, who became the Jamaican Bobsled team.  Putin doesn’t need more people to fear, but I digress.

    Geography can be destiny and make people function a certain way.  The point is Russia is wide open and can be invaded on land.  

    When I was a kid, my father told me the two hundred fifty years of Mongol rule created a psychology in the Russian people, they never recovered from and a Russian friend confirmed much of what Dad said.  

    My Dad was a chemist and had Eastern European colleagues and friends.  I learned to dislike the Soviet Union early in life.  Two were like uncles to me.  Marek Krygowski and Piotr Tomasik.  I learned all about living in a Communist state, without having to be there.  My parents did attend professional chemists meetings in the Eastern Bloc, (Mom is a chemist too).

    I got to stay with these gentlemen after the collapse of Communism.  They don’t think highly of Russians.  Members of their families were murdered by Russian soldiers.  They had me looking East toward Russia, with a wary eye.

    My ancestors are originally from what is now Ukraine.  There is a reason Ukraine is in the news.  It was always a borderland.  What Uncles Marek and Piotr kept out of the story was the fact that before Ivan The Terrible was Czar, Poland was stronger than Russia.  Russia had just sent the Mongols packing across the Steppe.

    The Steppe is six thousand miles long, from Budapest to Manchuria.  Different people came and went.  Scythians, Huns, Mongols, Poles, Swedes, Napoleon, Hitler.  The point?  If you have to defend your territory, it’s a heck of a place.

    It’s the old joke about, you may not be paranoid, they really are out to get you.  

    Historically, Russia wanted to reach out to the West, just enough to compete, but didn’t want to have Western Europe “corrupt” them.  A good book to read is Peter the Great, by Robert K. Massie.  Peter dragged Russia kicking and screaming to change in certain modern ways.  His real goal was to protect his empire with that knowledge.  

    What saved Russia from Napoleon and Hitler?  Well they did make it to Moscow, but then miscalculations and something called Winter took over.  I suspect an ancestor of my Dad was a Napoleonic soldier, who got tired of hiking with Napoleon.  A friend reminded me of the Napoleonic quote, “An army marches on its stomach.”  Maybe, my ancestor smelled hot food and seeing as his stomach was dragging in the snow, he fell out of line.

    OK, what does this have to do with Donald Trump?  To start, I need to explain Vladimir Putin.

    Putin grew up hard in St. Petersburg, (called Leningrad in the Soviet era).  He lost an older brother during the German siege of the city.  He joined the KGB, and rose through the ranks, then ending up unemployed in Germany, when his employer, the Soviet Union went out of business.

    What drives Putin is the humiliation he and many Russians feel the West heaped on them with the collapse and loss of many of the old Soviet Republics.  He doesn’t want to rebuild the Soviet model of trying to force an ideology on the world, but rebuild the traditional Russian involvement they feel they need for their protection.

    OK, why would Vladimir Putin interfere in our election?  Well he will interfere in other elections, where he feels he needs to, with tools, he wishes he had in the KGB.  It begins with an intense dislike of Hillary Clinton, from when her husband was President and more so from her term and Secretary of State.  I don’t think he cared at first which Republican won, but I suspect Donald Trump fits the bill the best.  

     Putin has been feeling especially threatened lately by European Union and NATO expansion.  The NATO expansion is knocking on the door, and many other troops from other countries are in Poland and the Baltic States.  This tends to make Russians nervous.  

    In a perfect world, HA HA, Putin would dearly love to reconquer Poland.  Why?  Not out of any ideology, but the easiest defensible place in the North European Plain, the narrowest gap between the Baltic Sea and Tatra Mountains is in Poland.  It’s another way not cure Russian fears, more keep them in check.

    Putin likes what he hears from Trump about the European Union and NATO.  If those two go down, you can fill in the rest.  

    Are Trump and his friends been taking money from the Russians?  It wouldn’t shock me.  Are Trump and company being paid to undercut NATO and the EU?  Maybe, but with Trump admiring Putin, may not have to pay him.  Putin probably sees Trump as a useful idiot neither here nor there.

    Did Putin fix the election?  Not the voting itself, because he would have had to have many operatives all over the country.  He certainly hacked various candidates.

     Russia is now the most open it has ever been, and that’s not saying much.  .  Why I need my Russian friends to explain it to me.

I hope this helps.  I wanted to make it general for now, but will cheerfully answer questions and try to fill in blanks.  Much of Russia will always be a riddle, wrapped in an enigma.  


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European Union, You Need a New Business Model.

One Saturday morning routine, is to go to the Wilmot Branch of the Pima County Library to read magazines.  One of my favourite magazines is The Economist.  Yes Virginia, just to be different, I used the British spelling.  I enjoy their articles, especially reading about the United States from a different perspective.

Today, there was a series of articles about the European Union.

This is the basic history as I’m interpreting it, as an American, interested in things European.   The basic reason for founding the European Union was to prevent another war between France and Germany.  It was getting to be a bad habit.  It would be French technology for German industry, (actually then West Germany, as East Germany was rather occupied at the moment.  No one wanted a united Germany at that time).

I’m calling this a business model.  Starting in 1957, there were six countries; (France, West Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Italy).    All could agree to the same rules.

When I read Boris Johnson’s Dream of Rome, he spoke about the United States backing a larger EU of Western European nations to oppose the Eastern Bloc.

Then, the Berlin Wall fell.  Well, there was no more Eastern Bloc.  Did the EU lose some purpose at that point?  It’s nice to say you cover all Europe, but does the 1957 business model fit from 1990 to 2017?  Former Communist nations in Eastern Europe are behind Western Europe.  The Germans learn this lesson with a United Germany, where the West is way ahead of the East when the two Germanys become one.  Countries, such as Portugal  and Bulgaria are now members.  None of these countries are equal economically.  Greece keeps having to be bailed out.

Then came the refugee crisis.  Much of the European Union is based on free travel.  Now, refugees from outside Europe were passing through all these European countries.  Suddenly free range between countries wasn’t looking so good.  Not everyone is fortress Switzerland, which has no intention of being an EU member.  Angela Merkel allowed one million refugees in Germany, but not necessarily because she has such a good heart, but because Germany needs workers, since Germans aren’t making enough babies.

The refugees are not trying to stay in Hungary.  Hungarian is a tough language and Germany is wealthier.  Again, a case of “Show me the money.”

Reading the articles, one EU bureaucrat stated they are harder on applicants, than members.  Then, the EU was greeted by something they weren’t expecting…


It never occurred to EU officials that anyone would want to leave the EU.  The United States is more like the Mafia that way.  Once in, you’re in.  In the 1860’s, eleven states tried to leave.  the United States.  Some guy named Abraham Lincoln thought it was a bad idea.  You know the rest.  The EU isn’t going to send troops to stop the UK from leaving the EU.

The United Kingdom is going to negotiate their divorce proceedings, but the answer comes down to one thing.  The European Union needs a better business model.



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by New Brunswick Tourism on Flickr.Saint John River Valley in New Brunswick, Canada.

Source: by New Brunswick Tourism on Flickr.Saint John River Valley in New Brunswick, Canada.

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Step Right Up to the Ship!

Many of you have read what Dr. Ben Carson, now the United Secretary of Health and Human Services said about slaves being immigrants.  Sorry the sarcasm meter is having a fit.

I will be as serious as I can possibly be with this, though my warped sense of humor will find its way in.  Yes, Monty Python’s Life of Brian is useful to steer this.

Picture this as a story.  A twelve year old boy, I’ll call him Kofi, is working the land in what is now Sierra Leone.  It’s hard work hoeing the land in the hot sun.  His already hard day was made harder, when two twenty somethings grabbed Kofi and held him down.  A third man buckled shackles on his wrists and ankles.

Kofi looked at them as though they were crazy.  “If this is a joke, it’s not funny, take this off!”

The man who set the shackles, lifted him up roughly and marched him into a line with other people.  They were yoked together and pointed on trails heading toward the setting sun.

Kofi, was always warned about venturing away from the safety of the village.  Here, he didn’t even disobey and he was in trouble.

For several days, they marched, until they came to Bunce Island, and the large fort built by Europeans.

Another black man, dressed differently, stood in front, with a whip.  He called out to the crowd,  “We are taking you as immigrants, to a new land, where your dreams can come true.”

Most just stared.  Kofi may only be twelve years old, but he has more common sense then many, including and possibly especially the man speaking.  He called out, “Oh really?  If we are going to a land where dreams come true, why the chains?  Why did you have to knock me down and drag me for days to this place?”

Several men knocked him down.  Kofi got up and just glared.  The man continued.  “My name is Dr. Ben Carson, I am the United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and after a medical exam, those ships will take you to the Promised Land.”

Kofi muttered, “The only promised land is letting me go home.”

He met the first white men, he’d ever seen.  They grabbed him and felt him over to see how healthy he was.  “Do I fascinate you?”  Kofi snarled at one.

Dr. Carson went up to Kofi.  “You don’t yet realize the opportunity you’re being given to go to a land of dreams.”

“Yeah, well you didn’t answer my question the first time, if it is such a dream place, why am I wearing iron?”

“Insolent boy!”  Dr. Carson smacked Kofi across his face.  “Throw this brat in the hold!”

After a miserable voyage across water, Kofi could not fathom, he was landed in Charleston, South Carolina and brought to a nearby plantation.

At night, Kofi had plenty of time to think about home and the similar landscape and heat to where he was now.  Now let me get this straight, he thought.  I keep hoping to wake up from this so called dream.  The only immigrant dream here, is I am working for some people who have no blood, I am doing the same work as I would at home, except I’m not benefiting.  Some immigrant dream this turned out to be.  Dr. Carson says he covers Housing and Urban Development.  I had to build my own housing, and what is urban?  I would love to see him again to see what I can do to him.  Immigrant dream?  You have to wonder about some people.


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Recipe: Strawberry Cheesecake Streusel Muffins

Jade Mays

Recipe: Strawberry Cheesecake Streusel Muffins

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