Let’s see how the 3 Owls on the Bedspread are doing.

Those three friends are still there. Here is how we may find them today. Yes, these guys are nocturnal: this picture taken around 3:30 in the afternoon, so they are at rest, napping or standing on each other.
3 vertical owls
Vertical Owls












But tomorrow they may find another way to catch the eye.








Me and the Grandmas of Baghdad

Me and the Grandmas
Martha Stephens’ New Book

Martha Stephens has presented us a gift: Me and the Grandmas of Baghdad. March 2015 from Peace Works Publishing. I am conflicted when approaching Amazon.com due to their treatment of workers, but I patronize Amazon for their community rewards, and I like their look inside feature. After looking inside you can learn about Martha’s other trail-blazing books and read reviews. The Grandmas includes “a garden of hope and repose.” Here you meet fellow denizens of an old golf path, sapiens and otherwise as the memoir taps wars of the writer’s childhood past and shows her compassion for victims of perpetual war. She gives the victims a voice. We are all complicit in this business, and yes it is a business. Then Martha returns to a regard for magnificent teachers who sustain us.

Kindle tells me that I have now read 40%: 60% remain to read, so I jump back in…”Shelley was returning the next day to Cold Spring, Kentucky, so we caught just that one glimpse…” Part II when Kindle tells me 0% remaining.

(Edited June 27 17:00)



Jewish Voice for Peace

Full disclosure: I am a card-carrying member of Jewish Voice for Peace and a soft-spoken person. I aspire to stand on the side of peace and social justice.  I am also not antisemitic. To repeat, Jewish Voice for Peace consists of Jewish people and their friends and relations. It also does not imply that I question Israel’s right to exist.

Criticism of Israel is an exercise in free speech, it is not antisemitism.

Israel and Palestine: an animated Introduction

I’ve just read an appeal by Rabbi Margaret Holub on behalf of Jewish Voice for Peace: “The Wisdom To Love Well.”

When she talks about JVP she is often countered with questions: What about China in Tibet? Minorities in other Arab countries? Congo?

Rabbi Holub:

“Of course I want justice everywhere. And, also, I care personally and heartfully about Israel and Palestine because I love Judaism and I love Jews. I care about what is being done in our names…Love is not always easy, and the love JVP calls for is a difficult love. I wish it weren’t necessary. But since it is, I am so grateful that there is a Jewish Voice for Peace to provide community, the structure and the wisdom to love well.”

Updated 17 July 2015

German Grammar: Strong and Weak

Why is German easier to read than English? And why am I writing this post in English? Those are the questions for today’s class. First, let’s take a break and read about the Mann family residences during the Exile Period. This time in Manhattan: 1938. Read the text and then watch the video at the end of the web page.




Thomas Manns zweites Zuhause im Exil

You can mark, highlight, underline and pronounce strong and weak endings as you encounter them.

Again, you might want to grab some discarded envelopes from the waste basket and jot down the strong and weak endings you hear. If there is room on the back of the envelope you could note the occurence of weak endings as follows, since they can only be ‘e’ or ‘en’


e – IIII

en – III

Of course, an adverb is distinguished from an adjective by its lack of an ending, an adjective is distinguished from an adverb by the presence of an ending.

Now back to our first question: Why is German easier to read than English?

Since case is a signal for function the first or second word in a German sentence often signals that function. Try doing that with ‘the’. So, Let us say that a sentence begins with ‘dem’. It has to be dative and it could be either masculine or neuter. We also know that it signals an indirect object or a prepositional object that takes dative only or a preposition that indicates all action occuring within a bounded area for those prepositions of relative position. All that by reading only one or two words.

Now, on to the second question: And why am I writing this post in English? By seeing ‘dem’ we immediately know all those things discussed in the previous paragraph. I first really learned German in 1971. Reading ‘the’ in English conveys nothing of that panoply of information conveyed by ‘dem’. Unless you are a young person learning German from a parent or a playmate you are unlikely to determine the meaning of ‘dem’ on your first encounter with the language.

The bell is about to ring, ending this class. Let me end with a metaphor. A German noun looks to its left for a strong ending that signals a function. By seeing that strong ending it knows its function or at least it narrows the number of functions. The adjective to the right of the strong ending sees that strength and relaxes, knowing that it can now become weak (e or en). If that same adjective does not see strength it cannot relax: it has to take on the strength itself. No chance for weakness. If that noun sees an ein word to the left without an ending (ein, mein, dein, sein, unser, euer, etc.) it says to itself “An ein is certainly not an einem or an eines or an einen, so it looks like I am on my own, so the adjective to the right of ‘ein’ will just have to take on the strong ending.

For homework grab any German text and think about nervous nouns looking to the left for support.


Palestine and the state of State Journalism

Many innocent and guilty bystanders in the US now know: wide availability of videos taken with electronic devices has changed the face of modern news reporting. Consider this graphic:




No. It’s not.

Corporate ownership of media threatens dependable, independent, dispassionate and nonpartisan journalism . Fortunately the internet allows each of us to see cracks in conventional wisdom. An increasingly militarized police does not soothe the downtrodden. Everyone should feel at ease when expressing deeply held beliefs, particularly when those beliefs speak truth to power . Lucas Koerner is an American from Philadelphia who has a close personal stake in Israel and he wanted to express his beliefs when visiting Jerusalem. Then, the unexpected.

Lucas Koerner

I hope to bring such voices into this blog.

Our planet can never have too many eloquent persons. I miss the voice of Edward Said as a thinking person and Palestinian who believed in a one-state solution. Listen to the oppressed. They have tragic tales to relate.

Your Middle East


Lucas Koerner in Jerusalem on Parade Day

From Haaretz. June 13, 2011:

“Lucas,” a 19 year-old from Philadelphia, cut a rather different figure in the Jerusalem Day flag parade in the capital. Like many participants in the event, he wore a skullcap on his head; unlike the others, however, a Palestinian flag and a keffiyeh were also part of his outfit.

Here is a link to video: Lucas



Alan and Cup

Also known by the nickname Blackie. She extends a welcoming paw to sapiens always. Blackie is a bit older now, but when very young she existed among fellow homeless creatures (sapiens as well) in the former Newport projects near the Ohio River. Her bodice was home to the ten-thousand fleas. Halloween was rapidly approaching: a dangerous time for a black cat. Always a dangerous time for her fellow sapiens.
Cup aka Blackie wrapping herself around Alan’s palm and arm.

Lisa extended her a home here and anchored Blackie’s story through words and sketches. Perfect perfect strangers are yet offered Cup’s gentle paw.






Kalief Browder is Dead. Cause of Death: Rikers

Kalief Browder’s short life ended Saturday.

1993 to 2015
1993 – 2015

Continue reading “Kalief Browder is Dead. Cause of Death: Rikers”

3 Owls on a Bedspread

Lisa crocheted these three guys with yarn offered to the first taker. As you can see they are only comfortable upon a newly made bed and tower with each other at the apex of the pillow. Loki, the cat from Reading Road at Tennessee, owns the bed and is nervous at the very real likelihood of a soundless predation upon her person, so she bats each and three of them from their acme before she might enjoy a safe and predator-free resting spot. Unfortunately, the bedroom window is north-facing and so precludes coincidence of nap space and sun spot.