A Summer Read

Spring is here; the ice is out, and for some people, canoeing on the northern lakes is on the mind.

This very evening, Friday May 20, my sister and brother-in-law, at the doorstep of 50 years marriage, are setting up their first overnight in Ontario’s immense Quetico park.  The map of their itinerary, starting at Nym Lake, Ontario,  is at the end of this post.   They’ll be out for nine days.  I’ll report on what I hear at the end.  I wish them well.

This voyage is nothing new and different.  Flo and Carter have canoe’d in Quetico and the Boundary Waters for years.  I’ve “been there, done that” with them on a couple of occasions, in 1992 and 2001.  They are for real.  This year, their son and one of our brothers, Eric and John, make up the foursome.  In my trips there were six of us in the canoes.

But the real focus of this post is to recommend a new book for your summer reading, about an English artist, Frances Anne Hopkins, best known for her art depicting the Voyageurs and their country, based on her living in Canada in the mid-1800s.

The book is brand new.  I’ve read the book, and I do know the author, who is a retired teacher of French (link to order the book is here).

MaryEllen and I are in an organization together, French-American Heritage Foundation.  Yesterday I sent the following to our colleague Board members.

“I completed reading Mary Ellen’s new book yesterday.
 The book is magnificent – a treasure trove.  This comes from a guy who admits to having deserved and earned a “D” in required course in Art Appreciation in college….
Not only does artist Frances Anne Hopkins become three-dimensional  in Mary Ellen’s book, but so does mid-1800s Canada, her home country of England, as well as the Voyageurs and their environment for whom Hopkins became the iconic artist.
The book is the culmination of a 20 year project for MaryEllen and it shows.  The book is extensively foot-noted.
I first heard of the project when MaryEllen did a session about it at FrancoFete in 2012.  Most everyone with even the slightest interest in Voyageurs knows of Frances Anne Hopkins art.
I recommend this book with absolutely no reservations.  Order your own copy and pass along the word.”
Congratulations, Mary Ellen.  Thank you.  Merci!
Here’s the itinerary of this years Quetico jaunt, as promised.  As I experienced it, Quetico is a series of portages, interrupted by lakes!!!  Nym Lake is the red icon at the north (top) end.  Atitokan Ontario, their sign-in place, is just off the map on the far left corner.  They’re basically off the grid till they report back in about May 28.  Only rarely if at all will they see someone else along their route, which is fine by them.  Theirs is a trip to celebrate the wilderness; indeed as the indigenous people and the Voyageurs experienced it long ago.

A final note on a separate topic:

Thursday evening I attended the 10th anniversary celebration of Green Card Voices, “A Decade of Storytelling”.

The Landmark was filled with supporters of the organization, and it occurred to me that I probably had been at one of the first, if not the first, program of the organization in 2013.  I wrote about it at this space then.

Green Card Voices is doing great work representing immigrants as valued parts of our state and nation.  They are finding their niche nationwide, and if you’re interested, be in contact with them.

Buffalo et al

There is nothing much to add to the two posts in my in-box today relating to the latest killing spree  in Buffalo.

Heather Cox Richardson,  May 15: here.

The Weekly Sift: White replacement is MAGA’s unified field theory.

A totally different slant, which I don’t think was coincidental programming, was  last nights 60 Minutes presentations,  one about the Virginia Plantation;  and the other about Bellingcat.


I hesitate to overload on the blog front, but these are times to not only reflect, but to get in action, as individuals, wherever we live.   I am one, so are you.  Each of us are the proverbial grains of sand, for good or ill.

Maybe I’ll see you tonight at the St. Anthony Main theater, Minneapolis, 7:15 for the inspirational film about Desmond Tutu and Dalai Lama, Mission Joy: Finding Hope in Troubled Times.  Details here.   It can also be seen on-line till May 19.

There have been a few comments to the previous blog about Ukraine.  Comments are invited, always.

Check back every now and then for new posts.  Usually these are one or two a week, and they are potluck – about whatever happens to speak to me on any particular day.  The next couple will probably be entitled 50, and Communication, and for sure politics will enter the menu as well.


PRENOTE: The film Mission: Joy still on through May 19. Details.

This weekend is the annual Garage Sale in Woodbury.  A good neighbor and friend, Jim, is having such a sale and passed along an idea he and his wife are pursuing as their contribution to the Ukraine Crisis.  This is just a single idea from a single person.  If you’re wondering how to engage as an individual, take a look at this single idea from two citizens.  You can read the e-mail here: World Central Kitchen


The May 12, St. Paul Pioneer Press front-page headline asked: “Is Ukraine an unwinnable war?”

Of course the war is unwinnable.  There has never been a winnable war.  However small, a war once declared in the long term is lost.  That fact certainly won’t end war: today somebody will kill somebody else somewhere, and feel totally justified: “he (or she) deserved to die”.  But murder tends to have consequences in the short or the long term in the social structure that is called humanity..

This reality won’t stop the latest or the next mis-adventure.  But the rest of us can open our eyes.

Back on February 25, right before the invasion of Ukraine began, I remembered my first ‘contact’ with Vladimir Putin in June, 2003.  You can read what I said then, here.   More detail is at the end of this post.  Summary: completely inadvertently I had a ‘close call’ with Putin and George W. Bush on Putin’s home turf, St. Petersburg, Russia, on June 3, 2003.


Years ago I participated in an excellent workshop called the Landmark Forum.  One of the learnings from the workshop was about “winning formulas”, something we all have, with an endless variety of specifics.  Winning formulas are things that work for us: think babies crying; think bullying behavior; on and on.

We can come to rely on them – getting drunk dimmed the pain once, and it works again and again…until it doesn’t.

Despots – we’ve had and will have our own, here at home – have come on the scene over all of human history.  They all seem to have the same trajectory; the same general winning formula.  Their megalomaniac tendencies quickly outrun their common sense.  Up, up and away, they hypnotize  their victims, they take control, then comes the fall, taking their admirers and others along with them for the great fall.

Jimmy Jones, while no politician in the usual sense, was one of these, sufficiently successful that his very name became a descriptor for a particular kind of evil.  His followers “drank the koolaid”, and they died.


In our own U.S. of A. we continue our now generations long war against Fidel Castro, even though he is dead, and we have had a lot to do with the impoverished lot of present day citizens of Cuba, just off our shores.   It’s an interesting variation on the despot theme.

Castro upset the status quo applecart in Cuba in 1959, overthrowing a corrupt despot and American puppet, Fulgencio Batista.  Many years later a relative of mine, prominent in banking and politics, told me he had made a $5 bet with a friend back then “that Castro wouldn’t last six months”.  He lost the bet.  He told me about this 35 years later.

At the North Dakota farm I found an old college history book, “A History of Latin America” by Hubert Herring, c 1963.  In the chapter on Cuba, at page 422, Herring wrote a concluding paragraph, as follows: “Reflecting upon the sorry state of Cuba in 1960, the onlooker could say that two things are reasonably clear: Cuba was indeed overdue for revolution and revolutions are never mild and gentlemanly.”   Doubtless, Herring is long gone,  but I wonder what he would have to say today.


Putin probably knows he’s on course for failure, but he will never admit it, and in the process do his best to destroy the very country he is trying to dominate.  All of us will be impacted by his fantasy.   No one knows what or when the last chapter reveals:  what “mission accomplished” will mean.

For some reason, I think Putin got some early ideas from his  contemporary leader, George W. Bush, in 2003; and got more reinforcement from his American counterpart 2017-21.  Now he’s stuck in an unwinnable war.  We will all lose,


More about 2003 in St. Petersburg Russia: No, the visit to the hotel elevator wasn’t a celebrity contact.  We were on a Baltic Cruise with my cousin and her husband. Pauline and J.P. were celebrating their 40th anniversary.   In early June, 2003, our ship docked in St. Petersburg, and we signed on for two days of sightseeing in the city and area.

The June 3  itinerary included a brief stop at the hotel where the Bush’s had stayed when George Bush came to visit Vladimir Putin, native of St. Petersburg, who was then in his first term as Russian President (inaugurated May 7, 2000).  There was time to go into the hotel and see the actual elevator the Bush’s ascended to their room.  I had my camera, but didn’t take a picture (I’ve regretted that misstep ever since.). We could see, but don’t touch!  The elevator?  Average and ordinary.

Of course, we happened to be there at a significant time in American history.

The “Shock and Awe” campaign against Iraq began March 22, 2003.  On May 1, 2003, President Bush landed on an Aircraft Carrier off San Diego, and gave the speech dubbed Mission Accomplished, name based on the banner behind him as he spoke.  Then came his visit with President Putin in St. Petersburg Russia June 1, 2003, two days or so before us.

That was our little league brush with history.

We all know the outcome of Iraq, and varied interpretations of what Iraq meant..

We can’t be the change we wish to see by sitting on the sidelines and complaining about what ‘they’ aren’t or should be doing.


POSTNOTE: Related though not specifically on topic, I had the opportunity to watch an excellent on-line program related to political activism for progressives.  The YouTube presentation is here; a written summary of the hour and a half is here: Thoughts for Activists April 2022.  It is worth your time.

I titled this post “Unwinnable”.  I was going to add a question mark, but chose not to, since some of the issues raised are very much winnable IF activists and people in general are willing to make the commitment.  Putin’s war is doomed for himself, and his country, and perhaps for all of us.  But we can and should work to make a difference.

Earlier Post, May 9: Larry

COMMENTS: (more at end of post)

from Brian: Great, fascinating stuff!  Thanks for sharing.

from EO: I was intrigued by your mentioning Putin and Bush in the same blog.  As the war in Ukraine goes on, I keep thinking of the price paid by Iraq and Iran as results of the actions of the two Bush Presidents.   We paint Putin with a far different brush than our views of the Bushes, yet the hundreds of thousands of people that lost their lives because of the actions of the Bushes far outweigh the lives lost by Putin’s actions. If there is such a thing as heaven and hell, Putin will reunite with the Bushes in hell some day.

from Debbie: Thanks, Dick. That was interesting.  My thoughts go to Ukraine, though.  Many of my peacenik friends won’t touch on the choices that they have made to fight back.  The friends just consistently blame the U.S. and NATO.  I hate to see the needless suffering Putin has put on them.  I remember being a child of 5 and my Mom showed me photos of the concentration camps and I thought “why didn’t somebody try to save them”?  I still feel like that with the Ukrainians, the Rwandans, the Syrians, etc.

Response from Dick: Thanks for comment. Just to be clear, given the circumstances I personally can see no alternative for Ukraine other than to fight back, and indeed for the west to respond unequivocally.  At the beginning, I didn’t think that Putin would actually become the aggressor.  I was wrong.

Some weeks ago in an unrelated conversation about anti-war I recalled a conversation at a Nobel Peace Prize Festival at Augsburg University in Minneapolis.  Dr. Joseph Schwartzberg. well known in the twin cities peace and justice community, and I, were in booths adjacent to that of the official representative of the Gandhi organization in Minnesota.  The conversation got around to the topic of non-violence and anti-war.   The representative posed a question to both of us: what should our response be if we were protecting our property and an invader was about to assault us?  This question was from an advocate of non-violence.  Long and short, as I interpreted it, there are times when non-violence is not the appropriate response.  In my opinion, Ukraine is one of those times.

POSTNOTE May 16: Last night Fareed Zakaria had an excellent program on CNN about Vladimir Putin’s rise to power.  Check to see if/when/how to watch the program.  I especially noted the story of the lesson taught Putin by the common rat who changed the conversation about attacker and attacked, and apparently influenced Putin’s later life, not in a good way.  You’ll have to watch the film for details.


Last week my friend, Bob, called to let me know that Larry Woiwode had died.   Here’s another obit from the Minot Daily News.

Larry was probably not a household name, but he certainly was not average either.  At the North Dakota State Capitol, he is one of those few whose photo is on the wall as a recipient of the North Dakota Rough Rider Award.  You can see him described there.

I write about him not only because he’s earned a place on the wall of the state capitol, or that he and I shared space in Sykeston North Dakota between 1946 and 1951.  I was two years older, which makes a difference when one is 6 and the other 4, but nonetheless we grew up together.  Nor do I write because our Dads were teachers, and so were our Moms, though in the fashion of those days, Esther and Audrey were both “homemakers” with kids underfoot.  Nor is it because, I think, all four of our parents attended Valley City State Teachers College in the 1930s. (“STC” later became my own alma mater. Larry ended up at U of Illinois.)

I write about Larry because his second book, which I first learned of in 1976, was – in my reading – basically a documentary of our growing up on the few, hardly mean, streets of Sykeston, North Dakota, in the 1940s.   “Beyond the Bedroom Wall” is very likely still in print or available, and I thought it a very good read, more than simply about the five years we shared the Sykeston streets as little kids.

Larry and I were not in regular contact, but we never really lost contact.  Best I can calculate he spent most of his life as a North Dakotan, and was truly a son of the prairie.

A few years ago he autographed the books of his which I had, and they reside in the bookshelf here at home.

Look him up.   Here’s the list of books he’s authored. Larry well represents the richness and the complexity of North Dakota.




POSTNOTE May 17:  I saw the film in person last night.  Very worthwhile.  It will probably be one of the Festival favorites and thus have a special showing in a week or two.  At the end of the film was a link to a special website to carry on the message.  You can visit it here.


A suggestion, give yourself a gift:

Mission: Joy – Finding Happiness in Troubled Times, is a film featuring Dalai Lama and Bishop Desmond Tutu, accessible on-line as part of the 2022 Minneapolis St Paul International Film Festival.  It is available till May 19.

A preview and all details are here.  The film will also be shown at three venues May 10, 15&16.

See the entire schedule of this years film festival at the link at upper right hand corner of the preview panel.

Mom’s Day and “Victory Day”

All best wishes to all Mom’s on this Mother’s Day, Sunday May 8, especially those whose lives are severely impacted by war and division, especially, but not only, in Ukraine.

I did a related post on May 4.  You can read it here.  It has already had several comments.  It is titled, “Yesterday”, and about the Supreme Court draft opinion seen this week.


Monday, May 9, Victory Day in Russia, has been considered to be an important day in the attempted conquest of Ukraine by Putin.  The story was that it might be the day that Putin could announce that Ukraine had been returned fulfilling part of his dream of restoration of the Russian empire.  Some way will be found to paint the disaster into a victory, temporarily.

Thus far this dream has failed, and if it succeeds it quite certainly will be a protracted and extremely destructive war with no victor at the end: a pyrrhic victory.  To “win” Putin has to kill a proud country with a very long history, long pre-dating Russia.  There is no happy ending that I can see.  Like a long string of despots before him, Putin will ultimately end up dead, his power and wealth worthless; if he “wins”, he and Russia will have a country full of people who hate the very idea of Russia, and Putin and Russia will be a pariah in the world at large….


Like most others, I have had to learn about Ukraine by personal inquiry.  I always knew that there was a Ukraine, but not much about it.  By no means am I an “expert” by  even the loosest definition.  But I am interested.

I’ve always liked geography – that was my college major. Had union work not captured me in the 60s I could well have ended up an academic somewhere.

So, I note that Moscow is about 500 miles northeast of Kiev, more or less situated as Minneapolis is to Chicago.  All of the cities are significant.

Kiev is said to have been founded in 482 CE, Moscow 1147 CE.     The United States became a country in 1787 CE; the oldest city in the United States, St. Augustine FL was founded in 1565 CE.  The U.S. is still an infant in terms of recorded history.  “Just a kid”, albeit a very lucky one.  (Yes, indigenous people preceded us all – that’s a separate story.)

More geographic data is at the end of this post.


Then there’s the matter of relationships within places.

Not long ago, Joyce provided me with a very interesting history of the Jews in Ukraine, which appears as a link in the April 17 blog in the section on Ukraine.  Within that article was a descriptor of Ukraine as being in something called the “Pale of Settlement”.  The word, Pale, made no sense to me.  Here is a pertinent definition of “Pale”.  Note its definition as a Noun.

Here is my personal notion of the Ukraine area called the Pale, as I am coming to understand it.  I welcome correction and clarification.  I’ll add it as a comment.

Recently, I revisited my book of maps from the Smithsonian, which helped visually define the term, Pale, and also helped flesh out the Ukraine history a bit more  Below is a portion of a map from the book, History of the World in Maps, Smithsonian, (2018).  Note the area in light green, and Kiev within it.

From other reading, the Pale seems related to this area, and to have been considered a less desirable area than Russia to the east.  It became a place to resettle Jews.  Later, beginning in 1700s, it provided land to invited German migrants – who we call the Germans from Russia, who by the early 1900s were no longer welcome there and left, thousands to the midwest.  Ukraine was a deadly place for the Jews in WWII.  By then, the Germans in Russia were long gone.

“The Pale of Settlement” reminds me of a gigantic Indian reservation of our own country – a convenient place to park ‘others’, reserved for them, until it was useful to the dominant society, and the treaty was broken.  Unfair?  Let me know your thoughts.

from History of the World, Map by Map, Smithsonian, 2018, p 99

Like everyone else, including the “experts” we hear pontificate every day, I have no idea how or when this will all end.

I think the engagement of the Biden administration has been very wise.  Of course, everything and anything is open to criticism – this is an immense problem not amenable to simple solutions.  No one knows anything for certain.

Over all, we are in a war between authoritarianism and democracy, and we in the U.S. will be the big loser if authoritarianism wins, including in our own country.

Frankly, I think more of the fragility of our sacred Internet as the nuclear bomb of 2022.  No ‘side’ so far has wanted to take the risk of tripping the switch on this one, for fear of the response from the other – just my opinion.

We are a global society.  Everything we value and everything we do now has a global aspect.  What we have thought of as a ‘winning formula’ for our entire history as a nation – that we are best – is no longer current.

Putin feels he can dominate.  He cannot.  Neither will he nor the west permanently win.

We are stuck together in the same house called planet earth, and the sooner we figure this out the more likely we can at least keep our place habitable.

Happy Mother’s Day.


Shared in another form, earlier: Re Ukraine I have been thinking about the relative comparison of Russia and the United States in a geographic sense: 

Source of data: https://www.worlddata.info

The three largest countries in the world are Russia, Canada and the U.S.

In land area, Russia is nearly twice as large as the U.S.  They’re first, we’re third.  Canada and U.S. separately are nearly identical in size and together, together larger than Russia.

The U.S. is more than double Russia’s population, 330 million vs 144 million..

75% of Russia’s population is urban; 83% of the U.S.; 82% of Canada’s.

The U.S. is four times as densely populated as Russia, 11 times more densely populated than Canada.

Geographically, overall Russia is more similar to Canada than it is to the U.S.

The Ukraine is quite similar to the Dakotas and Saskatchewan in geographic position, etc..

The United States and Canada are isolated, small and young compared to the countries of the immense land mass that is Europe and Asia.  Eurasia is encrusted with lots of not always pleasant history, going back centuries.

The U.S. remains extraordinary in its wealth, with about 5% of the people, over 20% of the total wealth.

I have spent more or less half of my life in both very rural and big city environments.  There is a difference; but in both we are all people who must figure out how to work together.  Alone or fragmented we are condemned to mediocrity, at best.  

Rural people cannot live in a world without Big City and vice versa.  This is true in a national sense and in an international sense as well.  We figure out how to live together or we die. 



Overnight, I woke up thinking of the Beatle’s and their song “Yesterday”.  Here’s the 1965 version.

Of course, yesterday everything was about the infamous Supreme Court draft killing Roe v. Wade.  More below on that.

But there was more, yesterday, as there is, every day….  My friend, Jim, long-time resident of the beautiful but purposely sparsely populated Molokai, Hawaii, wrote “We just got over Covid-19’s. I had all my shots plus two boosters and was sick for 2 weeks. I hate to think what might have happened without those shots. It just seems to me that most everyone will end up with Covid at some time.   Aloha.”  Say it ain’t so, Jim.  At the same time, “yesterday” the one millionth Covid-19 death in the United States since the Pandemic began…

My list about yesterday is much longer, but so is everyone else’s.  Ukraine, etc.  Life is more than one thing.  Tomorrow, today will be yesterday.  History continues on, and we’re part of it.  All we have is today….


Now the issue du jour yesterday at the Supreme Court, likely continuing in the news today.  Abortion.  We don’t know by who, nor why, the draft was leaked.  In this day of false flags and shameless lies, passed on as “truth”, most any reality is possible.

I’ve followed the abortion issue personally for over 50 years largely because of a single direct personal experience.  If you wish, here is my most recent writing about the issue, from 2019, which links to an earlier blog I wrote in 2009, reflecting back to what happened in 1965.  I am outspokenly pro-choice for women.  I have never been anything else.  I have reasons.

This is the 50th year of the Roe v. Wade decision.  Cynically, what better way, what better time to slay, the “babykiller” dragon (an epithet Ive heard more than once from “Christians” who think they’re doing the Lord’s work of attempting to kill abortion).  They have been subject of a lot of, shall we say, “grooming”, going on for a long time by leaders of the Evangelical right wing, including, especially, the hierarchy of my own Roman Catholic Church in the United States.


“Right to Life” has such a nice ring to it.  “Abortion” even sounds evil…as does “babykiller”.  Some of the “Christian Soldiers” I experience are modern day Crusaders, slaying others rights in the name of Jesus.  In their telling, there is no other side of the story…no room for different opinions.

Absurdity abounds.  I don’t think someone can provide any proof that there has ever been, anywhere, an actual law enacted, declaring abortion to be murder or similar.  If there is such, I’d like to see the evidence.  The dodge is to prohibit the act, not the act itself.

Neither is there any evidence that an unborn baby is a person in a temporal sense.  One example, in my own case: in 1940 I was born about two months after the census taker came around to enumerate my parents in  North Dakota.  So I’m not listed in the 1940 census (which has been public for some years.)  I looked.  Mom and Dad were there; not the pending me, who by then would have been very obvious.

The day of my birth I was baptized.

Being baptized the day of or shortly after birth was not uncommon.  For most of my churches history, church teaching said that unbaptized babies could not go to heaven, nor to hell.  Baptism was not put off. Unbaptized babies who died were stuck in a place called Limbo, by church policy.  This changed, apparently about 2007.  This is how ridiculous this becomes.

Neither is abortion a legitimate theological issue.  It is strictly a power and control issue.  Different denominations, Christian and otherwise, have different beliefs about this issue, including among their own members.

My own church, in the person of a Pope, even came out against birth control when it came available in the 1960s.  Being the Pope, his pronouncement was in effect Church Law.  “Thou shalt not…”

You ask “Why? And why do you stay Catholic?”  Let’s talk abut that, sometime.


The final Supreme Court judgement on abortion (the actual final words) is not likely until this summer.  It may be different, slightly or a great deal, from what was leaked tonight, but it is a seismic event, particularly given the absolutely ham-handed approach of the radical right to seize power in the United States. I’m glad the leak happened, and light was shown on the thought process in progress.

50 years of precedent appears on the doorstep of being discarded.

Beware.  Be on the Court.

POSTNOTE: When I woke up I wanted to include a recording of “Yesterday” within this post.  Much to my surprise, the song was first published about a week after my wife’s funeral in 1965.  In the same month, the Beatle’s were in Minneapolis for a concert.

POSTNOTE 2 May 5:  A reader sent a link to Heather Cox Richardsons commentary in her blog about the situation.  Heathers “Letters from an American” are always well informed.  

COMMENTS (more at end of post as well):

from Jeff: I see it as 150 years of precedent based on the passage of the 14th Amendment. in striking down Roe, the court is enshrined states rights over federal guarantees of civil rights granted by the 14th Amendment. The parade of horrible extends toward racism and authoritarianism state by state.

from Carol: I don’t even know what to say about this.  As some have said, the dog that chased the car has finally caught it.  And I have a feeling that car is going to run right over that dog.  I predict this will make a big difference in November.  Maybe Congress will finally pass that law they’ve been talking about for – how long?

I’ve had friends/acquaintances who’ve had abortions for serious medical reasons which wouldn’t be covered under many of those pending state laws.  We all have examples.  I really hope this will discourage companies from locating in those states in the future.  (In the meantime, Canada has said it welcomes our abortion business…)
I also have some cousins who I know are rejoicing today.  They’re blindered, one-issue voters who are doing God’s work, ya know…
Here is a comment in The Washington Post, so if you use it, please give credit: My former husband is an ob-gyn. Anti-abortion church people picketed his women and children’s hospital and all the offices of the doctors next to the hospital. After five months of picketing against abortion, my ex did four abortions on women who had been picketing. One woman had gotten pregnant by one of the picketers, and the other three with varying other people. They were still all-in on opposing abortion for other women, but each justified it as necessary in her own case.

from Norm:  Thanks for sharing your comments with me and a few others, Dick.

I sent around my bully pulpit commentary on the pending overturning of Roe v. Wade to many folks including yourself the other day although I am sure that is was not something that you would want to include as a comment to your pending blog.  It is mainly an expression of my extreme disgust with so many of my fellow DFLers, liberals and progressives who did everything that they could just out be to assure the election of the an-child who would be king!

Elections have consequences as those dumb-bottoms supposedly on our side of the aisle who assured the election of the man-child who would be king are finally realizing with the release of that draft.

They will continue to be reminded of the stupidity of what they did every time the current SCOTUS overturns or overrules a public policy that we think is an important part of a civilized society!

The SCOTUS will repeatedly be used to make “those people” behave, act, speak and worship in the “right way”, that is, how that group of paranoic narrow minded self-righteous holier than thou dumb-nuts think that everyone should behave, act, speak and worship…and to sue the SCOTUS to make sure that they do!

As you know, that is a theme that I have hammered on ever since the 6-3 margin in the SCOTUS was confirmed by the US Senate and everyone who was somewhat cognitive of his/her surroundings knew that meant the end of Roe v. Wade and the potential effort to make abortions illegal all across the land.

Per your comment as a Catholic regarding this important issue, I am aware of several Catholics who feel similarly about the issue as do you.

It is just amazing the self-anointed protectors of women in the legislatures and governors offices in the US…mainly white guys…are hell bent on making abortions illegal in their states and even across the land for any reason including rape.  The latter really shows one hell of a lot of disrespect for women who under their view of the world should carry the result of that rape to full-term and???  More importantly, the “trigger laws” that have been adopted in so many red states regarding the matter in anticipation of the repeal of Roe v. Wade show one hell of a lot of disrespect for women in general and their own personal right to make their own decisions regarding their bodies.

Interestingly, most of these “pro-life” legislators/governors have no interest at all in providing support for the children that their actions have been bought into the world.

Just pathetic, Dick!

from Joyce:  This is an excellent essay, Dick, and of course you may include my comments in your blog.

As a L&D nurse I assisted with therapeutic abortions, abortions that were necessary to protect the health and/or the life of the mother. Many of these abortions were performed because the membranes ruptured too early; in the absence of amniotic fluid, the fetal lungs will not develop, rendering the pregnancy non-viable. At the same time, the ruptured membranes leave the woman vulnerable to life threatening infection and sepsis, so the safest, the only reasonable option, is to terminate the pregnancy before an infection starts. Catholic doctrine, Catholic hospitals, do not permit the termination, even of a non-viable pregnancy, until the woman’s life is at risk; that’s why Savita Halappanavar died of sepsis, in Ireland, in 2012. It was outrage over her needless death that spurred a change in Irish abortion laws. Catholic hospitals in this country still do not permit termination in those circumstances; in some parts of the country, the only hospitals are Catholic ones.
I’ve seen pregnant women die needlessly from complications of pregnancy because of personal opposition to abortion. That was their choice, a choice that the right wing would deny others. I remember taking care of a deeply religious couple, back in the early ’90s; the woman very nearly died during her 5th Caesarean delivery. When the OB told the couple that another pregnancy would almost certainly result in death, the husband, and only the husband, answered, “it’s in God’s hands.”
When I was a college student in Massachusetts in the late ’60s, contraception was still illegal for unmarried women in the state. I remember a huge uproar when every copy of Glamour magazine had to be removed from stores all over the state because it contained a one-page ad for Delfen Foam; is this what we are headed toward? One of my classmates was raped; what would she have been able to do if the rape had resulted in pregnancy? She didn’t even report the rape to the authorities because she knew that she would be blamed and shamed.
So many rights are at risk, so many lives are at risk, but apparently, women’s rights and women’s lives don’t count.
Abortion bans trample on the religious freedom of Jewish women, who are required to have abortions if the pregnancy threatens their health or well being, including their emotional well being. Abortion is legal in Israel.
from Florence: Can only say “AMEN!”. Protecting the right to choose is protecting the one who is having to make that choice.


from Fred:  As usual I take the long view on almost everything. The early 20th Century produced an abundance of reformers driven to make better the lives of those, particularly new immigrants living in the slums of our largest metropolitan areas. These “do-gooders,” as they were sometimes called, worked to establish child labor laws, pure food and drugs, equal rights for Black citizens, elimination of corrupt local governments, slums and slumlords, corrupt political party bosses, monopolies that crushed competition and wage levels, the existing six-day work week, the little guy (farmers in particular, who suffered from price fixing and extortionate shipping rates), etc.

Among the overlooked reformers was the estimable Margaret Sanger, who worked with poverty-stricken in the slums of New York City. She discovered the trials of the women who cherished their children but were overwhelmed by giving birth to so many. Couples struggled to feed their often hungry and poorly dressed off-spring. Having children that they could not adequately provide for tormented them. And then the mother might learn that she is pregnant again. The health of impoverished women was also compromised and giving birth without proper care markedly increased the death rates of females. Escape routes from poverty were mostly non-existent.
Sanger worked for contraception and family planning education and was jailed in NYC for publicly advocating birth control.
It is interesting to note that the first word out GOP leaders, including Mitch McConnell, was in relationship to the “leaker.” It was all over Fox, too. They don’t want to look “too anti-woman.”
The Far, Far Righters have achieved the goal that, for a half-century folks have been screaming for. No mention of that issue instead it was, “Hey did you hear about the leaker.” McConnell should have returned to the biggest military disaster in US history, Benghazi.
from Mary Ellen: I really have nothing to add to the excellent comments already posted.

Perhaps just this: pity the poor father who knows he cannot afford more children. His life must be torture as he divides a small income by one more share, and especially pity the couple if the child is handicapped. Is there no mercy?
from Georgine: Thank you Dick. The decision is totally about controlling women. There is a lot of “submit to your husband” undercurrent in fundamentalist Christian life, and anger that women are achieving their personal dreams. Hope to not have to live in a culture where I am forced to be subservient. That is not one of my skills. Will continue actively participate in politics. This is the most important time in the past two centuries for thinking rational people to vote and help Democrats get elected.


Back in business

PLEASE NOTE: The permanent new address for this blog is here.  More below about this change….  Now, Forward!

A Political Convention:  Our local Senate District had its convention April 23.  I attended, and my thoughts afterwards can be read here: DFL District Conv Apr 23 2022  (“snip” it was very worthwhile.  Downside, somebody who was there has tested positive for Covid….)

The Blog’s Vacation:  The counter notes this blogpost is #1,795 in a series that is beginning its 14th year.  You may be one of those who have endured them all, since I began in Spring, 2009.  They are all archived, and word-searchable.

They were hosted on an old frame, and there was inadequate memory so finally it said, in the way tech says it, “I quit”.  Of course, I didn’t have a clue, except I couldn’t access the blog to edit or add.  It is sort of like saying I was living in an old house, and it needed major remodeling, and an addition, to accommodate all my junk!

[April 30 update and correction from my web adviser, Jody: Your old site did not run out of memory. It ran out of hard disc space for the database. Memory is how much energy the site uses to access. Hard disc is the literal megabyte space allocated to the site — which you outgrew and we moved it to solve the problem. (Though I am sure something else is amiss)]

So…I had to rename it (not actually, since the words have been part of the blog since the beginning, but because I needed a new Internet address).  It will take time for me to get used to this, but this may be the last change, at least for me.  Thirteen years is a pretty long run, I think, for this kind of venture.

Ukraine:  I noted a short commentary on Jews in Ukraine, and asked one of you who I thought might have some information.  Joyce came through with a very interesting article, which led in turn to curiosity about the “Pale of Settlement“, which I plan to write more about.  Judy sent a recent paper on Jewish history on Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range: project_muse_851938-4   While not about Ukraine, the paper on the Iron Range is very pertinent to the conversation.  It is forwarded with permission.

On 82:  Wednesday I’m 82.  That’s sort of a boring number, granted.  On the other hand, my 80th birthday came in 2020 when people were finally waking up to the fact that Covid-19 was a major problem.   My big event was taking a solitary drive and taking a photo of a street sign for 80th street in nearby Cottage Grove.

The last four years have been eventful, to say the least.  Within weeks of my 78th birthday came the surprise diagnosis of a major heart problem.  I came through that.  Then last Fall came the Colon Cancer, and resulting surgery in February.  I came through that, too, and the follow up appointment last Thursday continues positive.  I was Stage 2, it hadn’t spread, and the tentative analysis is that it may not be genetically related to the family.

So, on I go.  The daily schedule includes a 2 1/2 mile walk.   I think it was Satchel Paige who said, memorably, “don’t look back, something might be gaining on you.”

My first photo in this new blog is of that street sign.  A fellow saw me taking the picture, and thought I was up to no good.   I told him about the impending birthday, and that ended the conversation.

I remember my friend, Les, who 22 years ago said that the 70s were really good years, and they had been.  This was in 2000.  I was 60; four months earlier, on my 60th birthday, we had been at Auschwitz.  Les died in 2003, not quite making 80….  On the road of life, for all of us, there are ups, downs and reminders that our lives are temporary.

I still think “The Station” is the best commentary on life.  Here it is, again: The Station001

80th and Kimbro Ln Cottage Grove MN May 2, 2020

I will try not to wear out my welcome.  Have a great day.

April 17, 2022

Today is Easter in the Christian tradition.  I’m Catholic, so I plan to be in Church, the first in-person attendance at Easter services since the Pandemic.

Friday was the first day of Passover, and began the second week of Ramadan.  Kathy from the Reconciliation Project wrote on April 14:  “And we are one week into Ramadan. I am told only once in every 30 years do the three Abrahamic religions all have their major holy days overlap. Maybe some synergy of the practicing can help leverage a change In Ukraine.”

Then there’s Ukraine.

Carol, a friend like-minded to me, tried a light touch for Easter on Saturday afternoon:

I responded with a light touch of my own, from my ND farm cache of old postals from over 100 years ago:

“Over there” Putin has played the Nazi card for his own perverse reasons.

Friday evening I picked up a copy of “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich”, the 1959 blockbuster by William Shirer.  It comes via a neighbor now in a Nursing Home.

I read Shirer’s Foreword, and the last two paragraphs seem appropriate food for thought on Easter 2022, and beyond.

“Adolf Hitler is probably the last of the great adventurer -conquerors in the tradition of Alexander, Caesar and Napoleon and the Third Reich the last of the empires which set out on the path taken earlier by France, Rome and Macedonia.  The curtain was rung down on that phase of history, at least, by the sudden invention of the hydrogen bomb, of the ballistic missile and of rockets that can be aimed to hit the moon.

In our new age of terrifying, lethal gadgets, which supplanted so swiftly the old one, the first great aggressive war, if it should come, will be launched by suicidal little madmen [emphasis added] pressing an electronic button.  Such a war will not last long and none will ever follow it.  There will be no conquests, but only the charred bones of the dead on an uninhabited planet.”

Putin may not like the reference to “little madmen” though he certainly is one.

I note Shirer likely wrote his Foreword in 1959, 63 years ago, when I was in second year in College.  He’s stuck with his prediction, exactly as written.  We have the potential wisdom of hindsight; of impacting on the present; and personally we can impact towards a better future.   But it’s only potential, and we control that.

Shirer, who was a journalist in Germany from 1934-40, knew of what he spoke.  In the 1950s he had no way of knowing the world we inhabit in 2022, and the new and very real threats to the very survival of our planet, such as a compromised internet, portability of pandemics, the economic connections between nations, on and on.   We can destroy ourselves now in ways Shirer and others probably couldn’t have imagined.  There are no longer borders as traditionally understood.  Covid-19 didn’t care where the border was, or who was infected….

There will always be “little madmen”.  They exist in every society including our own.  This has always been true.

It is up to the rest of us to help steer the boat which is our planet in a more positive direction.

As I said at the beginning, I’m a church guy.  We were at Basilica of St. Mary this morning.  The church was packed, masks recommended, about half with masks….  The Archbishop mentioned Ukraine in his message.  At home, I learned that Pope Francis had done the same.  The Pope’s Easter message is here.

And Thursday is Earth Day.  A good place and time to get engaged in the rest of your life.

Finally, in a few months the next American election.   Each is more important than the last.  Now the clash is between Democracy and Autocracy.  Get involved.

Ukraine reader.

Today is April 14.  Easter is Sunday April 17; Passover begins Friday April 15.  History continues each and every day, and we all are makers of that history.  Like it or not, the tragedy of Ukraine is part of our history this season of 2022.

“per aspera ad astra” There are many thorns on the race to the stars. (more at the end of this post).

Two days ago, April 11, I published a long post including many opinions about the what and why of Ukraine and the U.S. relationship to the conflict, with a look back to the past.  Of course, I think it is worth your time to at least browse it in coming days.  Most of the comments in the post come via ordinary folks like myself, rather than the talking heads we see all the time.  I especially recommend the very last entry, which includes a very clear contemporary map of the place that is Ukraine.

Personally, I am noticing analogies between our country in the 1930s-50s in relationship to WWII Europe.  I have some basis for comparison.  I was born in 1940 and every single one of my mentors in life were ordinary people who directly experienced the impact of the Great Depression and World War II, and were of German and French descent.

In those difficult times, Americans generally were first isolationist, then participants, then the U.S. participated in the recovery of our enemy through programs like the Marshall Plan.  We had a big role, but not as huge as our national imagination supposes.  We were part of the team that won WWII, not the Team….

Those at the highest levels, debating every day what to do about Ukraine know all of the history far better than I.  There is room for lots of debate, but sooner than later debate needs to be replaced by action.  Anything proposed will be right…or wrong…depending on the person making the assessment.  That’s a given.  I am just saying, I’m noticing.

Then there’s us, the population.  Today, we apparently worry about gas prices now and inflation and interference with our lives.  We seem to want what we want.  “America first”.  It didn’t work in the 1930s and it won’t work now.

For example, in WWII gas rationing became a given, part of our patriotic duty….  Sacrifice was the name of the game, then.  Are we up to this, now?


Here’s the map of Ukraine I used in my first post on the topic in February:  (At the end of the April 11 post – linked above, note  #2 – is a current map of Ukraine.)

I decided to use my 1961 Life Atlas to pinpoint Ukraine, Kiev and Moscow, because in 1961 Ukraine was part of the USSR, until the breakup about 1989. This might help define this particular time of grievance – not justifying it, but at least identifying it. The map quoted is on page 326 of this Atlas, which I bought when I was in the U.S. Army.

The caption was from the earlier post.  Note the absence of borders of places we know as Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania….  This conflict is about more than one country.

Not everyone thinks history is important or even interesting.

But every single one of us, I repeat, every single one of us, is involved in making the history others will ponder many years from now.   We cannot evade it.  How will our generation be graded 50 or 100 years from now?

Get engaged.


The art work: in 2000 we took an extended trip focused on holocaust sites.  It was memorable and extraordinarily powerful on a multitude of levels.  Roughly half of the 40 participants were Jewish, the other half Catholic, from neighboring Minneapolis church and synagogue.  Auschwitz-Birkenau was only one of many places for prayer and reflection.  The group met for some months before we traveled.

One of the colleague participants, Sandy, was Jewish, probably about my age, and an artist.  The art work above is hers.  Along the way, in conversation, she shared that her given name was Odessa.  Her parents (or was it grandparents?) left with others from Ukraine in the early 1900s, and first settled in southwest North Dakota, at the no longer existing town named Odessa, founded 1910.  Ultimately her parents, as I remember, ended up in Minneapolis, which is where she was born and raised.

There were tens of thousands of these Germans from Russia.  Search “Germans from Russia” etc for much, much more about that forced migration.

On our return, we kept in touch with Sandy, and saw her studio where she did her painting.  We purchased this one, and it’s been on our living room wall ever since.  On the back of the painting Sandy handwrote the title, which you see in the caption; She signed it “Odessa”.

She is one of several people I know in the United States who have direct connections to Ukraine.  Several are on the list who receive this post.  Many came to the Dakotas, which in many ways was similar to their home area in Ukraine.

Putin’s gambit will ultimately fail, as Hitler’s did, but this seems to be only beginning.  This is no time to pretend all is well.

Be part of the solution.


from Judy: Beautifully said.  I never dreamed in my lifetime I would see this kind of mass annihilation.