Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Reflections on the News About Dogs, Tigers, Blackface, Socialism, Messy Desks, the Autobahn

Oh so much news to digest. Racism in Virginia. Anti-semitism from a Democrat from Minnesota. Wall financing or not. Government shutdown or not. Venezuela. North Korea. Iran. Isis. China. 

Where to begin? How about a few of the stories that touched my life. 

A Dog’s Life: One of my regrets in life is never having a pet dog during my adulthood. Gilda and I had three cats at one time, but as anyone who is a dog lover will tell you, a cat is no substitute for a dog. 

Not just any dog. For me a dog cannot be small enough to pick up with one hand. It cannot have a pug snout. It cannot have a yappy bark. 

So why didn’t we have a dog? I could say it was because Gilda didn’t want one, or that Dan’s asthma would not tolerate a dog. Truth is, I’m picky and lazy. Which translates into, I don’t mind walking a dog (when it isn’t too early or too late and definitely when it is not raining, snowing or brrrrr-cold outside). And, most tellingly, I am not the type of dog lover who is OK cleaning up after them. 

That said, the day after the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show picked a wire fox terrier as its Best in Show, here are vintage photos of dogs in New York accompanied by a roundtable discussion of why we obsess about dogs in general, followed by an adorable video of golden retrievers making themselves indispensable to human pleasure:

From my own dog experience, here’s a link to a post from eight years ago:

Sticking with an animal theme, were you aware of a Hangover-like incident in Houston involving a tiger?

Clairvoyant: In the wake of the Virginia blackface scandal swirling around the governor and state attorney general, three days ago in my last block I suggested yearbooks would be a new source of background checks of prospective hires. Well, it didn’t take long for yearbook checking to hit the mainstream news media. 

Consider this report from Wednesday’s CBS News (caution: some of the images are disturbing): 

Socialism Bad, Right? Not necessarily. At least that’s one of the takeaways from Donald Trump’s support of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Gerardo Guaidó Márquez. Guaidó is seeking to displace Nicolas Maduro as the country’s president. 

Maduro has a well-deserved reputation as a socialist dictator who currently is denying humanitarian aid to his countrymen because it is from the United States. But as Ozy points out, the contest between Guaidó and Maduro is not capitalism vs. socialism. Read on:

For another viewpoint on the duplicity in Trump’s antipathy toward socialism, consider former Labor Secretary Robert Reich’s analysis:

Don’t Mess With Me: Enter Gilda’s and my shared home office and you would immediately be able to identify which is her desk and which is mine. My desk is so cluttered that I do not compose these blogs there—too messy. 

During my decades as an editor and publisher my desk was, shall we say, a repository of facts and figures, large and small. To anyone who would ask I would aver that I knew exactly where any specific paper could be found. 

The company president was not convinced. During one of my business trips he ordered one of our assistants to clean my desk. Naturally, when I returned to the office I was aghast. Livid. I threatened to fire the assistant if she ever touched my desk again. A toothless threat—I promoted her to copy editor shortly thereafter. 

I don’t have that option with Gilda so every so often, when the papers start slipping off my desk onto the floor I clean up, mostly by stacking them neatly but sometimes throwing some out. But I am comforted by a recent article in Ozy supporting the argument that a messy desk if a sign of a creative mind:

Speeding Along: Last week The New York Times reported  Germans were incensed that some politicians were advocating a speed limit on their cherished autobahn ( 

If you’ve never driven on the autobahn let me assure you it is a thrill-a-second. Here’s how I described my one and only time as a frightened passenger: 

“During my first trip to Germany, in 1996, to attend the EuroShop conference in Dusseldorf, I was invited by the team from Boston Retail to tour some stores. They had rented a car, a large Mercedes sedan, with a driver. I sat in the middle of the rear seat with an unobstructed view of the speedometer. German cars measure speed in kilometers per hour. It’s a simple computation to convert the number into miles per hour. Simply multiply it by 60%. 

“When the speedometer needled its way toward 160, I could barely contain my anxiety as I also had an unobstructed view of the traffic in front of us, which at that moment was no more than two car lengths ahead. It wasn’t that our driver was a tailgating daredevil. Every driver on the autobahn was spaced the same one to two car lengths behind the car he was trailing. To travel less than 96 miles per hour would endanger all. 

“Of course, that means when a car slows down, because of snow, fog or some other reason, there is a chain reaction should any one vehicle not brake to the precise slower speed. Large pile-ups are common in Germany.”

Much to my relief we did not encounter any trouble. But I do not look forward to my next trip on the autobahn.