Archive for Work and Adventure

Commander-in-Thief

There’s no other way to say it… I’m worn down and disheartened by what’s happening in Washington. I still believe that fairness, goodness, generosity, cooperation, and compassion are core values to most Americans, but when the President and his surrogates lie to us, when reporters are jailed (W. VA), body slammed (MT), or referred to as “enemies of the state” (POTUS) for simply asking questions, when Russia is praised and courted and NATO snubbed and denigrated, when legislation is crafted to harm the poor and enrich the wealthy it’s obvious that our core values are under siege. But keep reading… I have a theory.

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Venus is Retrograde and Other Chaos Theories…

It’s often easier to see the flaws in others than to see our own, so I shouldn’t have been surprised to find I had given myself a pass on one of my own. I realize, despite the lip service I had paid it, that I had never really given gender equality the consideration it deserved. I didn’t have to. As an older white male, I had a regular seat at the table.

So, last week when President Trump was shown in the rose garden of the White House with a group of grinning, back-slapping, white men and a case of Bud Light to celebrate passage of the House of Representative’s newest Obamacare replacement it was a gut check and stunning throwback to an earlier time. That picture was worth a thousand words.

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Trump and Turkey…

There’s a lot to like about Turkey. It’s exotic, mysterious, and diverse – beautiful blue water sailing on the southwestern coast where the Aegean and Mediterranean meet, ancient rock dwellings at Cappadocia, the broad expanse of the Anatolian plateau, and a blending of cultures where Europe and Asia meet at the Bosporus. (above).

Long before the Orient Express, Istanbul felt mysterious and unpredictable, as if a camel driver might be blocking the path of a Mercedes consular car around the next corner. I spent time there on my own and on layovers as a Pan Am pilot. I had a favorite smoke-filled café near the Golden Horn that served doner kebab for a couple of bucks and a tiny shop nearby where I bought pistachios and squishy dried figs carefully wrapped in brown paper by the owner. I loved Istanbul, the crowds and excitement, even the diesel fumes, a Eurasian jumble of mosques, churches, narrow winding streets, designer shops, shared taxis, noisy ferries, and hard bargaining rug merchants in the Grand Bazaar.

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Let’s Update Civics 101…

As a college student I thought of political science as an adjunct of philosophy. I didn’t appreciate its practical value. Later, in law school, I recognized its value in creating the infrastructure for our American institutions but only insofar as its organizing principles provided for the efficient operation of government. Today, with more experience in the world and having lived on three continents, I have a full appreciation for the complexity and genius of American democratic institutions, but lately I’ve wondered if America hasn’t become too complacent with a system that’s been durable and adaptable for more than 200 years?

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Zipless in Nevada

In  Erica Jong’s 1973 novel, Fear of Flying, we were introduced to the “zipless fuck,” a sexual encounter involving two previously unacquainted persons with no emotional commitment.

In Grounded, a play by George Brant, a young woman in an Air Force flight suit tracks a terrorist on the ground 8000 miles away. She’s “flying” a missile-armed drone from her air-conditioned trailer in the Nevada desert. She is prosecuting America’s zipless war.

As an ex-Marine fighter pilot, I resist the conflation of jet pilot and drone operator. Real fighter pilots strap in, light the fire, pull G’s, land on aircraft carriers, and swap sea stories in the Ready Room. In Grounded, the unnamed pilot feels the same way. She’s a hard charging, adrenaline-fueled F-16 driver, but following maternity leave she finds herself assigned as a UAV (unmanned air vehicle) “pilot” in a windowless trailer in the Nevada desert. She is not happy with the assignment. She misses the excitement. She misses “the blue,” but war is changing and she has to deal with it.

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