Commentaries

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A female cardinal.
Eric Kilby / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/ekilby

Birds in winter may be drab, like us, but they're there.

Arming Jewish Public Spaces? We Must

Feb 22, 2019
A star of David as an element of architecture.
zeevveez / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/zeevveez

Among the numerous worrisome aspects of Donald Trump’s ascendance to the presidency is the resurgence of anti-Semitism.

The Necco factory, which manufactured Sweethearts, closed its doors in 2018.
Brent Moore / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/brent_nashville

 


This Valentine's Day, I am heartless, a condition that also describes New England Confectionery Company, or Necco — the maker of Sweetheart candy, those small, chalky, heart-shaped confections that flood candy counters this time of year.

A still from the 1923 movie "The Ten Commandments" by Cecil B. DeMille.
Public Domain

Happy (belated) Public Domain Day!  Welcome, public, to 1923! Welcome, 1923, to the public domain!  

Scales of justice.
Michael Coghlan / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/mikecogh

 

While I’m not a fan of most of Betsy DeVos’s reforms, when it comes to Title IX, I’m in full support.

A scaled model of Wynn's planned casino in Everett, Massachusetts.
Jesse Costa / WBUR

Maybe I’m just a rube.

Making Massachusetts Schools Fairer

Dec 20, 2018
A student works on math.
Masslive / masslive.com/photos

We in Massachusetts need to address an issue that for decades has compromised our standing as an educational leader. Despite the strides we’ve made, our education system is not properly serving all our students.

A view from Mt. Greylock in western Massachusetts.
Charlie Kellogg / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/papa_charliegeorge

Standing on top of Mt. Holyoke, I can see Mt. Greylock to the west, and Mt. Monadnock to the north.

Western New England University in Springfield, Massachusetts. Commentator Robert Chipkin recently noticed that students, staff and faculty there often hold doors open for each other.
Bpayne4001 / Creative Commons


Early in the morning or late at night, even in the most crowded times between classes, it is nearly impossible to approach an entranceway without someone holding the door open to let a nearby someone in.

Springfield Cemetery
Michael Carolan / Courtesy Michael Carolan

A household name across the country, Josiah Gilbert Holland sold over a half-million copies of his books in his lifetime.

Poppies.
Andy Powell / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/andypowe11

The Armistice ended what was called the Great War, or the War to End All Wars. The latter name didn’t stick. The war was eventually renamed World War I.

Solitary standing cornstalks in a field in Deerfield, Massachusetts. Martha Ackmann noticed many fields had a handful of stalks that hadn't been cut down, and wondered why.
Martha Ackmann / Courtesy Martha Ackmann

 


You’ve seen them, no doubt.  Those solitary corn stalks standing alone in a field. 

Reclaiming The American Flag

Oct 12, 2018
Bruce Watson in his Montague Center attic.
Paul Franz / The Greenfield Recorder / recorder.com

Shortly after the Fourth of July, I began flying the American flag from my front porch. Ever since, a 3-by-5 foot flag has waved on my street in Montague, Massachusetts. 

In A Year Of Reckoning, The Skies Are Full of Us

Oct 10, 2018
The Milky Way.
Abdul Rahman / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/yunir

“A woman in the shape of a monster / A monster in the shape of a woman / The skies are full of them.”

A beer sampler.
Quinn Dombrowski / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/quinndombrowski

I show my classes a picture of a bottle of Budweiser, and in the way they respond to it -- Budweiser, ugh! -- it strikes me that the landscape of American beer has changed a lot in the 20-odd years since I reached legal drinking age. 

A mountainside hemlock forest.
Nicholas A. Tonelli / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/nicholas_t

A search-and-rescue team carried me down on a stretcher. They hoisted me high up into the trail’s hemlock and spruce so I was surrounded by their needles and resin. 

A Moon Festival celebration.
Roberta / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/yuk1k0


The Lunar New Year, with its myriad of superstitions, can stress an American-born Asian like me. 

Juliet Corwin.
Joyce Skowyra / NEPR

I'm proud to be among those who live with deafness. Yet I often feel rejected by some of these same people.

A mobile phone on a sandy beach.
TheHilaryClark / Creative Commons

At the risk of violating technology's prime directive -- "Thou shalt not look backwards" -- I found a way, if only briefly, to get my mobile phone to just stay put.

A view of State House Square in Hartford, Connecticut.
Heather Brandon / NEPR

When I talk to people about Hartford's ongoing redesign, I often hear disbelief and dismissiveness. Not from residents who live in Hartford, especially young people invested in the fabric of the city, but from the ones on the periphery -- people in the city's inner-ring suburbs. 

Andrew Lam.
Todd Lavoie / Courtesy Andrew Lam

It’s becoming clear that Asian-Americans have been significantly disadvantaged in elite college admissions for decades.

Mattes / Creative Commons

When I was a girl, for some inexplicable reason, my brothers and I always had to sit in birth order in the back seat of the Pontiac. That meant that on hot days, I was uncomfortably sandwiched between my two brothers.  

Cat with rodent.
David Merrigan / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/daveograve

When I first met my future husband, he asked me to go for a walk.

"Sure," I said.

"I’ll go get the kittens," he said.

'We're All In Lockdown': Lessons From Northampton, Mass.

Jun 15, 2018
Anabel Rosero, left, walks with her daughter Anaisha Feliciano, 12, after Anaisha had been released from a lockdown at JFK Middle School in Northampton, Thursday.
Carol Lollis / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

When a man with two guns was spotted on a Northampton, Massachusetts, middle school campus, the police responded perfectly. No one was hurt. Best-case scenario, right?

What Philip Roth Has To Tell Us About Anti-Semitism

Jun 13, 2018
South Carolina passed a law to counter anti-Semitism on college campuses, following a violent white supremacist rally last year in Charlottesville. Pictured, rally participants prepare to enter Emancipation Park on August 12, 2017.
Anthony Crider / Creative Commons / flickr.com/people/16086041@N00

I know it might seem confusing. Why wouldn’t Jews support a law that combats anti-Semitism? Wouldn’t that be like gay people opposing a law against homophobia, or people of color rejecting a law against racism?

Oakland Raiders teammates kneel during the national anthem before a game against the Washington Redskins at FedExField on September 24, 2017 in Landover, Maryland.
Keith Allison / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/keithallison

Add “being seen to have an opinion” to the things black people are no longer entitled to do.

Which Kanye Is It That Thinks Slavery Was A Choice?

May 23, 2018
Kanye West performing in 2011.
Rodrigo Ferrari / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/rodrigoferrari

“That’s just Kanye being Kanye.”

That’s what we said when he ran up on stage to interrupt Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech to say Beyoncé deserved it.

Jamil Ragland tutors writing at Capitol Community College in Hartford.
Chion Wolf / WNPR

I was helping a student recently with a paper she was writing. It was on the poem "Ballad of Birmingham," about the 1963 church bombing. 

Tools for repair.
falconp4 / Creative Commons

I recently retired, and have done what many new old fogeys do: I finished a long-term project, renewed my gym membership and — yes — cleaned closets. I also did something I never expected. I reached out to an estranged friend.

Susan Johnson in Camden,  Maine on top of Mt. Megunticook.
Thomas Thompson / Courtesy of Susan Johnson

I began hiking regularly with a friend and her chubby dog eight years ago. The friend worked a 9-to-5 job, so neither she nor her dog got much exercise. But on Saturday afternoons we would hike.

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