QUEST — Risk, Adventure and the Search for Meaning
To me as a young man, adventure was everything, and each brush with death only pushed me to up the ante—and to bury ever deeper the emotional life needed to make me whole. Then it changed, sometimes dramatically, including a desperate fight to survive in a lifeboat in a typhoon in the North Pacific. More of the story here.
Pub date: March 2022
In 1972, I was US Advisor to the City of Hué, South Vietnam. Some evenings, especially if the day had been difficult and dangerous, I would drive a few miles outside the City to an ancient pagoda called Linh Mu. There I would sit at this very spot on a wall overlooking the Perfume River where I would try to absorb some of the calmness of the river, the temple bells, and the monks sweeping the courtyard with straw brooms. But the war was never very far away. more
SELECTED BLOG POSTS
Frances Haugen, the Facebook whistleblower, has leaked thousands of pages of internal company documents showing that Facebook, in order to increase its profits, has continually operated against the public interest. It has spread disinformation on crucial subjects like Covid and election integrity, undermined the self-images of vulnerable teens, further polarized the American electorate and supported violent extremists like the ones who...more
375 people have now been arrested, charged and intensively interviewed about their participation in the attack on the US Capitol January 6. A reliable picture is emerging of who they are and what motivated them.
It’s no surprise that they were overwhelmingly white and male and strongly influenced by Donald Trump’s campaign to overturn the November election
But it came as a bit of a surprise, at least to some, that only about 10%...more
In the summer of 1964, on a year-long global journey by bus and hitchhiking, I found myself in the middle of one of the worst famines in history. I was on the Ethiopian plateau, 10,000 feet above sea level, and it would be the most godforsaken place I would ever see. Hidden from the world in this barely accessible place,peasants wrapped in rags or even old newspapers huddled in the bone-numbing rain and cold. At everystop, crowds of them...more
A few days ago, my daughter and I carried out her wild idea of re-creating the Last Dinner on the Titanic. It was a daft way of celebrating our own rescue from another sinking passenger ship exactly 41 years ago.
She made cocktails, an elaborate appetizer, and an extravagant dessert. I did salad and meat, both of us following the recipes used on the Titanic. We had to assemble truffles,...more
It was inevitable that rightwing loonies would cry “fraud” in the California election that kept Governor Gavin Newsom in office. Never mind that Newsom won by two and a half million votes, or roughly 2/3 of those cast. Even before the polls opened on election day, Newsom’s opponent, Trump wanna-be Larry Elder, contended, without a shred of proof, that there were already “millions” of...more
I’m going to say something about Afghanistan that doesn’t jibe with what you’re hearing in the media, something that may even sound callous. Here goes—When the snap judgments and finger-pointing die down, I think history’s judgement will be that the long-term damage to American interests was less than we now think it is.
As a former US diplomat, one who witnessed the awful endgame in Vietnam, I don’t underestimate the loss of lives and...more
Why Not Knowing, or Refusing to Know, Can Kill You
The pandemic is resurging. The US is now averaging more than 100,000 new Covid-19 cases a day, the highest in nearly six months. The resurgence is driven in part by a deadly new strain of the disease, the Delta variant.
I want to focus on the other reason for the resurgence—the reluctance of tens of millions of Americans to get vaccinated, even though contracting the...more
Two new books suggest that on January 6 we came far closer to losing democracy than we thought.
Landslide, by Michael Wolff, describes Donald Trump’s increasingly unhinged behavior after his election loss. In I Alone Can Fix It, Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker detail how the top US military officer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley, was so shaken that then-President Donald Trump...more
Memorial Day 2021
President Biden’s withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan will be completed before the deadline he set—September 11, exactly 20 years after the attacks on the US that were our reason for starting that long, unwinnable war.
As you know, the United States went into Afghanistan in December of 2001 to find and destroy the Taliban (the ultraconservative political and religious faction that ruled Afghanistan...more
As you know, the former Minneapolis police officer who killed George Floyd was convicted on two counts of murder and one count of manslaughter.
Since then there’s been nonstop coverage and analysis of the trial. Many people feared that the killer would get off because history shows it’s extremely difficult to get a murder conviction of a police officer.
Juries give cops enormous latitude and, if that wasn’t enough, in too many...more
Take a step behind the discussions on guns, misogyny, and the anger and loneliness that are driving men’s addictions and suicides. Time after time, in that dark place, I see men struggling to communicate or even acknowledge their emotions, men wanting but failing to form positive relationships with other men, men whose fathers were emotionally AWOL, men who grew up without good role models for what it means to be a brave, caring and...more
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