Postcard from the West

ULYSSES, Kansas:  How good it is to occasionally be away from the nation’s capital and out in the open spaces of western Kansas. It’s a different world. The terrain is flat, mile after mile of pencil-straight highways, fence rows and power lines, fields of corn yet to be harvested, stubbled wheat fields, grazing cattle, few people. To an easterner unused to the great plains it’s … Continue reading Postcard from the West

Cycling the Neckar in Southern Germany

When Mark Twain explored the Neckar in the summer of 1879, he extolled its soft, peaceful beauty. The Neckar, he wrote, was “gentle, gliding, smooth and noiseless.”  One hundred 40 summers later the Neckar remains serene, a refuge from a chaotic world. We were nine cyclists, all in our 70s, from Germany, France and America. We began in Mannheim close to where the Neckar dissolves … Continue reading Cycling the Neckar in Southern Germany

Letter from a Relaxed England

GLOUCESTERSHIRE, England: During the German blitz in the Battle of Britain, correspondent Edward R. Murrow marveled at how Londoners stoically carried on amid the nightly horrors of aerial bombing. In an obviously different context, I find a similar mentality in England as the summer of 2019 ends. The message I take away from London and the countryside is, ‘we’ve had three years of continuous inconclusive … Continue reading Letter from a Relaxed England

Two Chinas: Hong Kong and Shanghai

WASHINGTON: People in mainland China don’t have a clue as to what is really happening in Hong Kong. State television lacks any semblance of balance. Its reporting emphasizes violence while downplaying the magnitude of what until recently were non-violent demonstrations against the steady erosion of democratic freedoms.  CCTV gives huge play to the defacing of the government insignia on a prominent building. As is well … Continue reading Two Chinas: Hong Kong and Shanghai

Letter from Shanghai: A Reflection on China Rising

SHANGHAI: As long as your visa is in order, it’s a fast passage through immigrations and customs in Shanghai. This sprawling city of 23 million has a modern, efficient international airport and it’s only a short walk to the world’s fastest train. The Siemens built maglev costs only $7 for the eight-minute, 200 mph journey to Shanghai’s outskirts. Connected to hotel Wifi, your laptop’s home … Continue reading Letter from Shanghai: A Reflection on China Rising

Remembering the Genius of IM Pei

HONG KONG: From the moment I first laid eyes upon it, I was captivated by the east wing of the National Gallery of Art in Washington. When it opened in 1978 from my work place across the National Mall I marveled at its sharp angles and irregular shapes so strikingly different from the main gallery’s neo-classical style. It was apparent that not only was IM … Continue reading Remembering the Genius of IM Pei