Why I Learned French

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Nineteen sixty-four, and I was flunking French. I don’t mean “doing badly,” but as in, getting straight Fs. The first assignment that freshman year was to read 70 pages of Le Rouge et le Noir of Stendhal, and to do it within 48 hours. They might as well have put me in an advanced Indonesian, for the preparation I had.

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“Well-Behaved Women Rarely Make History”

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Houston’s superlative Gilbert and Sullivan Society will give six performances of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Princess Ida between July 22 and July 31. If the preview I saw at McGonigel’s Mucky Duck Pub is any indication of what is to come, audiences can look forward to performances that combine fine singing with nimble comic turns.

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Our Moment in Cuba?

Last month I had the privilege of joining a study tour to Cuba with former members of Congress — sponsored by the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress (FMC). We met with government and Communist Party officials, members of the National Assembly and Foreign Ministry, artists, scholars, academics, economists, entrepreneurs, even cigar workers. Cubans feel genuine optimism that the recent normalization of relations with the United States may usher in a new era of cooperation. Continue reading Our Moment in Cuba?

Keeping the Memory

Bibliotheque Alexandria With digitization and other crazy and almost daily technological advances in information sharing, libraries become exponentially more valuable, not less. The process is in full bloom of course, but on the use and application of more information for more people than we ever, the jury is still out. As Mark Twain said when telecommunications crossed North America, “Maine can now talk to California, but Maine has nothing to say.” Continue reading Keeping the Memory

Professor, You’re Fired! Or, the Education of a Trump Voter

8566717881_4cd237e309_o“If data made a difference, graphs of rising atmospheric carbon dioxide and earth surface temperatures would melt a climate-change-denier’s denial like greenhouse gases are melting Greenland. If facts had standing, no sane person could maintain that the slaughtered children of Sandy Hook Elementary were actors. If reality had a vote, no radio host could persuade his listeners that Operation Jade Helm, a Navy Seal/Green Beret training exercise, was a false flag operation – a cover for imposing federal martial law, seizing citizens’ guns and transporting political prisoners to FEMA camps secretly set up in West Texas Wal-Marts Continue reading Professor, You’re Fired! Or, the Education of a Trump Voter