Thursday, March 24, 2022

Too Much Information Can be Dangerous

Just finished reading an article in The New York Times quoting Russians in Venezuela forced to cut short their idyllic Caribbean vacations to return to a frozen country at war and under severe economic sanctions.

Time after time the reporter cited their first names, occupations and home towns, as if leaving out their last names would protect them from government reprisals.

Really? Are The Times and its reporter so naive to believe Russia’s intrusive, thought-stifling government lacks the wherewithal to uncover their identities?

Take this example: “During the last days of their vacation, some guests said they put their faith in Mr. Putin, who governed Russia for 22 years with the support of many Russians.

“‘We trust our president,’ said a tourist from Moscow, also named Yulia. ‘I don’t think he will lead us to collapse.’ Her husband Oleg quietly interjected, ‘Well, it’s already collapsed’” (

Oleg’s honest interjection no doubt will play loud and clear in Moscow’s secret police headquarters. How difficult do you think it will be for the FSB, Russia’s Federal Security Service (a successor of the KGB) to find a Yulia and Oleg of Moscow who travelled by plane to Venezuela and back in February and early March. 

From Venezuela’s sunny Margarita Island to the possible, perhaps probable, winter wonderland of a gulag in Siberia, all because Times journalists somehow thought the article would be more realistic and accurate if they did not fully conceal the identities of those interviewed. 

A journalist’s obligation is to objectively report the news. But like physicians who take the Hippocratic oath, journalists should adhere to one of the oath’s central tenets—“do no harm.” If that means obscuring details of a person interviewed, so be it, as long as the underlying facts of the story are not misrepresented.

I’m sensitive to this issue because of an incident when I was a bureau chief in West Haven, Conn., for The New Haven Register back in 1976. As per the paper’s policy I included the address of a man I profiled who used a metal detector to uncover lost treasures—jewelry and coins—buried in parks and beaches. 

Sure enough, his anonymity compromised, within a few days his house was burglarized. Sometimes, too much information can lead to unintended consequences. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Spring Signals and Walking Wounded

With Monday temperatures around New York hovering near 70 degrees, it’s natural thoughts turned to spring. The balmy climate, however, has been replaced by more normal thirties and forties degrees, with lower wind chills, but a question lingers, “What’s your signal spring is about to be sprung?”

Is it, the first robin you see bobbing across your not yet green lawn?

Crocuses popping through the ground, stretching their way into the sun?

Silverfish and ants invading your home? Wasps and bees circling your airspace?

When McDonald’s rolls out its Shamrock green mint flavored milkshakes?

Is the start of outdoor pickleball up north the definitive harbinger of spring?

Or is it when pitchers and catchers report for spring training?


My telltale sign is the generally early morning appearance of twigs and garden debris in the recesses of our patio awning frame where sparrows valiantly try to construct a home.

Their nesting instincts bring them back each year despite my determined efforts to thwart their homesteading intentions. Even faced with sharp metal spikes they are trying to invoke squatter rights in the corner of the frame directly over the door from the patio to and from our kitchen. 

For the last five years I’ve chronicled my annual bouts with the birds. For those interested in a sample of our combat, here’s a link:

Just know, the battle has been joined. 

Walking Wounded: My devotion to a newfound pleasure—Pickleball—has been sidelined. I’m part of the walking wounded, having strained my left achilles tendon. 

It’s my fault for not sufficiently limbering up before playing, or for that matter, hardly ever exercising. 

Doc says it will be weeks before I can play again. Meanwhile, he fitted me with a walking boot.  

I’ve got nice legs. Long, thin, shapely without being muscular. Legs most any woman would die for. On a man, however, they have been a constant source of debasement and amusement at my expense.

“Chicken legs” would be a mild description of what extends from my torso.

All the years I played on my temple softball team I wore shorts while the rest of the gang were decked out in baseball pants. Oh, I had received pants like everyone else, but as the team pitcher I just couldn’t wear them in the heat of competition.

On cool spring or early fall mornings I’d wear shorts under my pants during warmups. Once a game started, off came the pants.

The boot is not uncomfortable to wear but it leaves me imbalanced because it raises my left side by several inches over my right side. Back or hip pain is possible if I am not careful. Considering not being careful is what got me into this walking wounded predicament in the first place I am not too optimistic. Will I ever learn from my mistakes?