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She is Winter      by William Hecht Deep December night and she is spent. She is consumed–like the fields after a greedy harvest. She slumbers—as does the world. Only her essence is sentient, aware. It is a spell: cast in the light of the great moon, it will break with the first rays of the equinox sun. Her hair is black. It is a wave of boreal night that flowed through the glass, swept down her  cheek, and spilled on a pale shoulder.  Things made of night are smooth–and softer by far than anything made from day. She dreams—as does the world–of light and warmth, of aromas and twitching roots, the vibration of launching sprouts: calls to life. If I could dream with her, I would

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About 30 months ago, I left Arizona after having lived there more than half my life. I had grown up in Racine, Wisconsin, and when I left for Arizona to go to graduate school, I had just turned 26.  A marriage, a divorce, and a couple careers later I was 55; my work-life was changing and my father’s health was failing. The decision to move back to Racine was made easier through a series of ever-longer visits back “home,” to the same house I grew up in, the nearby Great Lake, the change of seasons, the mix of industry and farming, and the community that somehow still knew me. Twenty years ago, in conversation with  Karen P______, an AA friend, I heard some words that

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  NOT BECAUSE I JUST EMERGED from long hours indoors during the Wisconsin winter, but rather because of the self-quarantine brought on by the Digital Age and social media, I find it ironic that many people today will easily adopt to their new lives under government-ordered quarantine: after decades of mass human migration toward self-confinement inside the virtual world, a decree, for many, would be a mere formality. Meanwhile, in the same fashion that a virus in your computer can completely disrupt a computer network, the novel coronavirus shut down society. But that’s not the point. The point is whether or not the virus can be removed and the network and data saved relatively quickly, or whether the equipment is useless and the data lost.

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IN EVERY introductory economics class, it becomes clear from early on that specialization is the source of greater efficiency or productivity; in the division of labor and in free trade, the secret sauce is “specialize.” In other words, everyone should stop doing what they used to do and begin to do only the things they do best. It even works if they only do the things they do least poorly. This sounds great and all the textbooks have nice charts, pictures, and examples of how much we all benefit from this miracle. The books almost insult us for thinking that we might do things any other way. As a result of the consistent application of these principles over time, a country or an integrated global

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IMPORTANT SPIRITS FROM OUR PAST summoned their experiences, perspectives, and talents to deliver blessings and admonitions—invaluable gifts–to posterity. Homer, Shakespeare, Dickens, Hugo, Sappho, Simone De Beauvoir, Ursula Le Guin are just a few that come to mind. They used books, plays, and poems to craft messages and warnings that would be relevant for millennia. After all, the human drama is nothing if not a series of remakes and sequels. Because human group behavior is so repetitive, many such messages and warnings have the clarity of a premonition or a revelation. I just finished reading the George Orwell (his real name was Eric Blair) classic 1984 for about the seventh time. I have read it every four or five years since I was in college and

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AS WITH THE ELECTION PRIMARIES, with the Academy Awards a lot of people pay attention to who has been “hot” with the earlier voters. Unfortunately, that can make for a boring show. For example, Best film, actress, actor, supporting actor and actress, and Best director are already strong favorites. With that in mind, for the major categories at least, identifying possible upsets will make the awards more exciting or give you a chance at winning the pool. So, here goes. Best Film 1917 but Parasite a serious upset chance. Best Actress Renee Z in Judy has won and won and won. Maybe Charlize Theron of Bombshell a longshot to play spoiler? Best Actor Joaquin Phoenix has been scooping up the awards for Joker. A shock

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    WITH THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION less than nine months away, the plot couldn’t get much thicker. Trump’s approval hit a new high of 49%, and the Dems seem to be struggling to identify a candidate and agree on a platform. The pundits mostly focus on two things, namely a) who can get the Democratic nomination, and b) will that person be able to beat Trump. Little of this is new information. But really, the spoiler in the whole business may not be a candidate at all. As I pointed out in an earlier post, the economy has to hold for Trump to win;  without the economy, he would lose 20-30% of his current supporters. The candidate best suited to unseat the president might be the

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[Author’s Note: this year marks my 26th anniversary] Until I saw the date, February 2, it hadn’t occurred to me that it was my “birthday” again. This birthday–which is more of an anniversary–marks for me the first day of uninterrupted sobriety 22 years ago. It hadn’t seemed like a very important day at the time; in fact, if anyone had asked then, I would have said it was the worst day of my life.  I was bloated and quaking. My eyes were yellow like a cat’s–from jaundice. And my store of courage was so low I had to be led around like a child. There’s no question that on that day, my second life began. It would help to note here that I am not

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SOMETIMES, THE BEST WAY to tell one story is by telling a different story. That’s what happens in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. In 1998, the editor of Esquire asked a particularly cynical reporter to do a short piece on Fred Rogers, aka “Mr. Rogers” for a segment on heroes. The interviews with Mr. Rogers changed the writer. The short piece changed into a full-length cover story and one of the most popular magazine pieces of the year (https://www.esquire.com/entertainment/tv/a27134/can-you-say-hero-esq1198/).  Tom Hanks “became” Fred Rogers, and Jonathan Rhys (from The Americans) killed it playing Lloyd Vogel, the angry, edgy journalist. This movie made me want a “do-over” of at least a decade in my life. A lot of people are kind, but there are special

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  Bombshell is going to win movie industry awards. It would be more fitting if it won a Pulitzer. The performances were exceptional, and the story had all the ingredients of a mystery thriller. My eyes (and sometimes my mouth) were wide open as I watched Charlize Theron act herself into an Oscar nod. She played Megyn Kelly, star anchor who faced the top-down machinery of power, misogyny, and fear at Fox News—which informs the culture of many large companies and which dovetails with the male, tyrannical culture of the Trump administration. The movie is the real bombshell; it explodes the veneer and exposes the ruthlessness of power and influence inside the Western world’s most powerful media empire (and as the movie reveals, a powerful

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The Rise of Skywalker had a lot to live up to and mostly delivered. It had a powerful plot and an assuring conclusion, but it might be better appreciated for the relevant cultural themes than for the credulity; like its predecessors (and like the Marvel/DC franchises), each new episode has to ratchet-up the limits of the imagination in order to impress. For example, this one went farther with the concept of deus-ex machina (from Greek theatre when gods were brought down on stage) to resolve plot barriers: people are reincarnated, resurrected, or move between worlds more on a par with the Harry Potter series. I don’t wish to disparage the experience, however.  In a post four years ago about “The Force Awakens,” http://www.moviesmarketsandmore.com/not-long-ago-and-not-far-away/, I celebrated the

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