Category Archives: Cross-Generational Issues

Dog Days Diversions — Nursery Rhymes: A Scholarly Sampler

Washington Post — archive

Humpty Dumpty. Jack Horner. Miss Muffet. You knew them as a child, and if you have youngsters of your own, chances are they know them, too. Mother Goose and her nursery rhymes are old friends. Seems as if they’ve been around forever, and with the tenacity of Golden Oldies, they’ll stick with you for life.
But where, you might wonder, did the fragile Humpty and the arachnophobic Miss Muffet come from?
Like many nursery rhymes, they are centuries old.

Continue reading Dog Days Diversions — Nursery Rhymes: A Scholarly Sampler

The Embarrassed ChatGPT Attorney


New York Times, June 9, 2023:

The ChatGPT Lawyer Explains Himself (Sort of)

[Excerpts; blogger Comments in bold red italics]

By Benjamin Weiser and Nate Schweber

In a cringe-inducing court hearing, a [New York City] lawyer who relied on A.I. to craft a motion full of made-up case law said he “did not comprehend” that the chat bot could lead him astray.

Steven A. Schwartz told a judge considering sanctions that the episode had been “deeply embarrassing.”

Continue reading The Embarrassed ChatGPT Attorney

Say Hello to The New “Antiwar” Movement: It’s Already Winning

Back in the day, the Vietnam years, resisters against the military draft could muster an occasional bit of whimsy. A favorite button was about beer.

But if truth is the first casualty of war, for many of us whimsy and a sense of humor were soon missing in action too. Draft resistance became a mass movement: marches, sit-ins, draft files turned into bonfires, show trials of high profile protesters. It was a gripping, sometimes heroic, often grim time, and as the war dragged on, not a lot of laughs. In 1970, a movie was released called Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Came?” Billed as a comedy-drama; it was a total flop. Continue reading Say Hello to The New “Antiwar” Movement: It’s Already Winning

Here’s One I Missed: “Why Do Russians Still Want to Fight?”

NOTE: I recognize a lot in this article, though I’m no Russian expert. What’s familiar are the parallels with my own generational experience, and one of its central traumas: the Vietnam war.

Yes, I was an antiwar protester. There were lots of us; we repeatedly filled Washington’s main streets with our anger. I have friends who went to Canada, and considered it myself.

But while noisy and self-important, we peaceniks were always a minority. Most of our peers who were summoned to war complied; some relished the chance.

Their motivations, like ours, ran the gamut from noble to cynical. But among the compliant, for many, war and veteran status offered steps up the class ladder — assuming you survived — or at least into honorable public memory — your name on the stunning Vietnam Memorial, if you didn’t.

The costs, personal and generational, were high. But the ladder worked for many, particularly those who weren’t finishing college, as I was. And the cultural fissures thus highlighted are with us still, even as the last of our contingents straggle toward the exits.

I searched for an appropriate gesture of regret, respect and remembrance, for those of us here in the Vietnam years, and the many facing their fate in Ukraine and Russia. Then I remember these lines from Carl Sandburg; maybe they’ll suffice:

Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.   
Shovel them under and let me work—   
            I am the grass; I cover all.   
And pile them high at Gettysburg   
And pile them high at Kherson and Kyiv
Shovel them under and let me work.   
Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:   
            What place is this?   
            Where are we now?   
            I am the grass. 
            Let me work.
A Russian war cemetery

Why Do Russians Still Want to Fight?

Marlene Laruelle and

Ms. Laruelle is a professor at George Washington University, where Mr. Grek is the deputy director of the Russia program.

From the perspective of a Russian soldier, the war in Ukraine must look nightmarish. In over a year of combat, nearly 200,000 Russian troops have been killed or wounded, according to American officials, in a military operation that has proved both incompetent and ill equipped. Morale is reportedly low and complaintscommon. And yet a significant number of Russian men are still keen to fight — more, in fact, than at the war’s outset. What explains the disconnect?

Continue reading Here’s One I Missed: “Why Do Russians Still Want to Fight?”

Exclusive: A Quaker Was Noticed By the Florida Klan in 1951. It Didn’t Go Well. (But It Could Have Been Much Worse.)

Florida, 1949: Where Woke Went And Didn’t Die

By Stephen W. Angell

We don’t know the exact date, or the place, when Richard Bradshaw (“Brad”) Angell (1918-2010) had his encounter with the Klan.  All the participants are dead, and the story has been passed on orally.

But we know the time and season: 1951, likely early spring. And the place, if not the exact location: Tallahassee, in northwest Florida.  Continue reading Exclusive: A Quaker Was Noticed By the Florida Klan in 1951. It Didn’t Go Well. (But It Could Have Been Much Worse.)