Category Archives: Signs of the Times

Time to Close Gitmo, Says Its First Commander

[NOTE: First, a reflection: Quakers are known, in part, for a devotion to losing causes. This penchant was deftly satirized by Doug Gwyn, a renowned scholar/songwriter, in his ditty, “Yonder Stands the Quaker”:

“Yonder stands the Quaker,

Looking quaint as a box of Quaker Oats . . .
Yonder stand the Quakers,
On the far side of the back of beyond;
Misfit mystics, a boil
On the bum of Babylon. . . .
They’re standing for peace and justice . . . Continue reading Time to Close Gitmo, Says Its First Commander

Dyer: Alliances and The Big Wars Nobody Wanted, But Stumbled Into

[NOTE: This column is a followup to the post of early last week:  Lightning Strikes Three Times: Japan, Taiwan & The Emerging Big Power Arms Races.

Gwynne Dyer

It’s an improvement, in two ways: First, Gwynne Dyer knows what he’s talking about. He has a doctorate in war history and strategy; he served with the militaries of three different countries, and has traveled and studied wars past and present across much of the world. Second, he writes with rare concision and clarity, building on forty-plus years  of practice in meeting deadlines and skillfully fitting big thoughts and insights into always-small and tight Op-Ed column spaces.

And — oh wait, there’s a third: Dyer is an independent journalist/analyst, and excels most others in seeing through the thick fogbanks of propaganda and lies thrown up  around wars and rumors of war by most or all sides. Here, he does it again.]

Gwynne Dyer: More alliances could lead to wider wars:
The game is now afoot, and it will be hard to stop

Hamilton Ontario Spectator–January 19, 2023

Continue reading Dyer: Alliances and The Big Wars Nobody Wanted, But Stumbled Into

The Pills & The Post Office

[NOTE: My former employer, the USPS, is close to being the least glamorous government agency. I learned there a basic lesson of working-class life: the better we did our jobs, the more invisible & taken for granted we were by the public. I’m not complaining.

But as I watched and waded in the mail stream (we did speak of it as a river: it flowed in, it flowed out; sometimes flooded), I also learned that in its routine way, the mail also delivered many more dramatic chunks of the nation’s life and the people’s’ rights. It was once necessary for freedom of the press, and much of religion. It was Amazon before Amazon, bringing much of our stuff. It even served death: the cremated ashes of many citizens have bounced anonymously down its conveyor belts into parcel tubs; and it brought life: millions of prescriptions every day.

Even though digital now reigns and hogs the attention, the USPS still does all that. There’s no 3-D printer yet that can spit out my blood pressure pills, but the carrier slides them into my mailbox, and thereby delivers one of many important pieces of my national patrimony.

When seen from this angle, it’s no surprise that the mailbox is also a frequent scene of conflict, even battle: it has been the hammer of censorship; in the antebellum South, and again in World War One, it was sifted for seeds of abolition and terrorist anarchy.

And it is now contested again.  It may sound far-fetched, but is entirely plausible that soon, otherwise ordinary Americans will be clapped in jail for using the mail. . . . Maybe you. Maybe me. . . .]

The Next Phase of the Abortion Fight Is Happening Right Now in New York [And in Your Mailbox]

Linda Prine spends a lot of time speaking to frantic women navigating the end of Roe v. Wade.

Prine is a New York physician and co-founder of the Miscarriage and Abortion Hotline, which provides support to people using pills to end their pregnancies on their own. She started the hotline during the Trump administration in response to escalating state restrictions. At first, with abortion clinics still operating in every state, there weren’t many calls. Then Texas banned most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, and more calls started coming in.

Continue reading The Pills & The Post Office

BREAKING: David Crosby — And Another (Great) One Bites The Dust

AP News: David Crosby, rock star and CSNY co-founder, dies

BY ROBERT JABLON — January 19, 2023

David Crosby, the brash rock musician who evolved from a baby-faced harmony singer with the Byrds to a mustachioed hippie superstar and an ongoing troubadour in Crosby, Stills, Nash & (sometimes) Young, has died at 81, several media outlets reported Thursday. Continue reading BREAKING: David Crosby — And Another (Great) One Bites The Dust

Lightning Strikes Three Times: Japan, Taiwan & The Emerging Big Power Arms Races

Introduction: For me, the sudden abandonment of neutrality by Sweden and Finland after Putin’s invasion of Ukraine were like separate lightning bolts striking the same tree.

How likely was that? Sweden had been a neutral country for 200+ years. Finland for 75, since 1948. Continue reading Lightning Strikes Three Times: Japan, Taiwan & The Emerging Big Power Arms Races