Sunday, December 23, 2018

Blogging as an Exercise in Writing

Non use of muscles impairs them. Causes them to atrophy. Singers who don’t practice their chords every day risk losing vocal strength. Professional athletes, be they baseball or basketball players or from any sport, rely on repetitive exercise to instill muscle memory so they can perform at a superior level even under extreme pressure. 

Writers—bloggers—are no different. Writing requires more than a haphazard dedication. I can’t believe it has been two weeks since my last posting. Lots of things have happened since then. I’ve started to write several blogs but laziness, sometimes abetted by real reasons, stifled my creative juices. So, here’s a jumble of thoughts on a variety of topics:

Evening News: Gilda and I eat most dinners while watching the evening news, usually recorded so we can fast forward through commercials. When Dan and Ellie were young we restricted their TV viewing to limit their exposure to violent shows. Yet we justified their watching the most violent broadcast of all, the evening news. 

Perhaps as a carryover from my parents’ home, CBS News was our preferred outlet. From anchors Walter Cronkite through Dan Rather, Connie Chung, Bob Schieffer, Katie Couric, Scott Pelley and Jeff Glor we remained loyal to the Tiffany Network’s newscast. Until recently. I like the CBS correspondents, but Jeff Glor as an anchor just does not measure up. So we switched, mostly to ABC World News with David Muir. 

After several months of viewing I noticed that compared to CBS and NBC, ABC has a different way of presenting female correspondents when they appear in conversation with the anchor at his glass desk. They sit across from him, closer to the camera, wearing short skirts with their legs crossed to the right, directly at the camera. Am I suggesting this is a woke moment during this #MeToo time? You betcha!

Another Genocide in the Making? Its denials of an Armenian genocide 100 years ago notwithstanding, Turkey seems poised to undertake another fateful exercise in ethnic eradication. Emboldened by Donald Trump’s capricious decision to withdraw 2,000 American troops from Syrian territory near the Turkish border where Kurdish forces have been fighting ISIS, Turkey has signaled it will launch an assault against the Kurds ( 

It is to the everlasting embarrassment, shame and dysfunction of America’s political standing in the world that Trump cares more about the wishes of foreign tyrants than the counsel of American politicians and experts. Trump ordered the troop withdrawal after conversation with Turkey’s despotic leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan despite his own advisors’ strong recommendation to maintain a military presence in Syria.

Vigilance for the Truth: I was reminded again of the need to be forever vigilant in pursuit of the truth during this era of instant mass communications. A friend sent an email suggesting the alleged disrespect for the American flag and the national anthem can be traced to Barack Obama. So I checked its veracity by googling “Snopes: Obama Explains National Anthem Stance?” Of course the claim proved to be false.

“Disinformation campaigns, whether inspired by Russia or any extremist entity, succeed only when recipients of such emails fail to research their authenticity. Any democracy demands vigilance and a healthy skepticism. John McCain provided the best (now viral) demonstration of what we all must do when confronted with salacious untruths. During a campaign town hall meeting in 2008 he respectfully disagreed with a woman who claimed Obama was a Muslim and unAmerican. He corrected her misinformation. Maybe it cost him some votes. But he stood up for the truth,” I wrote my friend.  

Is It Christmas Yet? CBS Sunday Morning reported a survey that found 51% of Americans said they have sent a letter to Santa Claus. I chuckled when I saw that, but truly snorted when I read a Facebook post shared by my sister Lee: “Before you mock children who believe in Santa Claus, remember that there are still adults who believe in Donald Trump.”

Over a picture of takeout Chinese food, my cousin Stan posted on Facebook: “Ok......Hanukkah is over, time to start planning a traditional Jewish Christmas Eve !!!!”

Why do many Jews eat Chinese food on Christmas Eve? Here’s a defining reason from an article in Tablet:

“Whether they have fully thought it through or not, Jews who eat Chinese food on Christmas are proclaiming that, for them, Jewishness is what philosophers call a second-order value. In contrast to valuing Judaism on the first order—enjoying the rituals themselves, sincerely adhering to the tenets themselves—they value the fact of their Jewishness. They go out of their way to do it. They may or may not enjoy General Tso’s Chicken, but if they are eating it on Christmas, their prime motivation is not the general’s sweet, spicy deliciousness, but rather the knowledge that they are doing something that in some adapted way reinforces their Jewishness. They are moved by their hearts, not their tastebuds.” (

Gilda and I will be eating Chinese food Christmas Eve.