Naples in Capri

Bay of Naples with Castel dell'Ovo and Vesuvius

Bay of Naples with Castel dell’Ovo backgrounded by Vesuvius

It’s August in Naples. This fascinating city is a little too hot for my taste, but the food is delicious as always and the traffic is a little lighter, as it is also in New York, because so many have fled the hot streets.

Traffic may be lighter in the city as locals decamp, seeking respite from the urban hustle and bustle, but the traffic has merely migrated with them. In Capri, backed-up cars with impatient drivers honk their horns to little avail. They jam narrow streets and lanes meant for a quieter and slower way of life, for pedestrians, mules and the occasional horse-drawn cart.

The striking change in scenery, however, is restorative, and a dip in the water close by, exhilarating — if you’re lucky enough to find a parking spot.

I wrote the rest of this post last February, after a death in the family drew us to Naples for an unexpected sojourn. I found it languishing in the drafts pile.

It was time to go home. Elvira came to the hotel to say good-bye. We had breakfast, enjoying each other’s company for the third time in four days, We hadn’t seen each other in years, but there are bonds that distance doesn’t daunt.

Castel dell'Ovo and its little port at Santa Lucia

Castel dell’Ovo and its little port in Santa Lucia

Elvira accompanied us part way to the airport. She left us at Santa Lucia, one of the most sublime and photographed spots in Naples. It the site of a tiny port nestled in the embrace of a 15th-century castle.

The taxi driver, jovial and outgoing, joined the party when the conversation turned to soccer, the Neapolitan passion. When asked which team he roots for, the driver was somewhat taken aback.”Napoli, of course.”

The entire city was ecstatic. Naples had scored a 5-1 victory in the last game, rising to first-place standing. There wasn’t a conversation that didn’t quickly turn to that fabulous game and the possibility of winning the championship. My husband volunteered that his team is Juve, nickname for Naples’s arch rival. “And I thought you were such a good guy,” said Luigi, the driver. “I never imagined that you could be Juventino.”

A little more back-and-forth, until Sal admitted he could never be anything but a fan of Napoli.

“Good thing. I was about to drop you off right here,” said Luigi. He regaled us with tales about his adventures as a taxi driver until we reached the airport.

2 Comments

Filed under Personal, Random

Special Black Cat

Zulu

Yesterday was National Black Cat Appreciation Day. I’m a little late to the party because my life is complicated, but I don’t want the occasion to go unmarked. My Zulú is too dear.

He’s home with a crippled sitter. It wasn’t supposed to be that way, but three days before our departure, the cat sitter skyped from Norway to say that she’d suffered a bad sprain and a fracture on her ankle and was now on crutches. And what did I want to do? Well, since she doesn’t have to walk the cats as she would if I had dogs instead, and since we had to leave, I asked her to come anyway. So she requested a wheelchair from the airline, hobbled in and slept in the living room the night before we left. We found out she’s a vegetarian of the pescetarian variety and also has an extreme aversion to gluten, so feeding her was a little knotty. But she’s very good natured and we’re all good sports, so that seems to be working.

I’m writing this from the airport, filling in three unexpected hours as our plane was late and we missed the connection by minutes. Traveling today is not for the faint-hearted.

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal, Random

PM Theresa May: Cool, tough and commanding in leopard-skin heels

Theresa_May_-_Home_Secretary_and_minister_for_women_and_equalityThe first female prime minister of Great Britain was called ”The Iron Lady.” What will we be calling Theresa May, who is following Margaret Thatcher as the second woman ever to be PM? May has been likened to Thatcher, but Germany’s Angela Merkel may be a more apt comparison. Both are strong women, competent, stubborn, no–nonsense heads of state.

Not surprisingly, men have called May “A bloody difficult woman” and “Ice Maiden” with “no small talk whatsoever—none.” Yet the former prime minister, David Cameron, grudgingly admitted, “She is instinctively secretive and very rigid, but you can be tough with her and she’ll go away and think it all through again.”

May was the only major candidate in the contest for Conservative leadership who did not support Brexit, the populist push for Britain to exit the European Union. But her advocacy for remaining in the EU was very low key. That was an astute political strategy on May’s part, because though it put her on the losing side when the Stay camp lost, she was able to quietly cross over to the winners. “Brexit means Brexit, and we’re going to make a success of it,” she famously said as the newly minted PM.

Read more . . . Portrait of Theresa May, Britain’s Second Female PM

Leave a comment

Filed under Foreign Affairs, People, Politics, Women

Why are millions in thrall to Trump?

Donald_Trump_(2016)Much more appalling, in my view, than Donald Trump’s bigotry, ignorance, and contempt for truth is his proven ability to persuade others with his toxic vision. He dominates even those who don’t admire him, bullying lily-livered GOP politicos to shred their principles and endorse him. Trump’s appeal is greatest among lower-income, not highly educated white men, but it can also transcend gender, education, income and religion. Pundits have expressed various theories to explain Trump’s popularity.

John Marshall, for example, believes that Trump used the Republican primary debates “with some skill to enact a series of dominance rituals at the expense of his opponents.” Trump “refashions” every experience “into a dominance ritual or at least will not engage before performing one…. It’s primal. He needs to dominate before he will engage.”

That sounds like the authoritarianism now being studied by academics. Matthew MacWilliams, a graduate student at U Mass, found in a survey of 358 likely voters that “A voter’s gender, education, age, ideology, party identification, income, and race simply had no statistical bearing on whether someone supported Trump.”

Instead, writes MacWilliams,

People who score high on the authoritarian scale value conformity and order, protect social norms, and are wary of outsiders. And when authoritarians feel threatened, they support aggressive leaders and policies.

Amanda Taub explores “The rise of American authoritarianism,” what it is, how it works and how it is changing American politics. If you are wary of Trump and fear for American democracy if he should become president, read her article because the phenomenon has implications that go well beyond 2016.

Read more at Vox.com …

 

Leave a comment

Filed under American Society, Politics

Dropped from Fox News, Roger Ailes makes news

ex-CEO Fox News Roger Ailes

ex-CEO Fox News
Roger Ailes

Roger Ailes plummeted from the heights of political and media power in only 15 days, brought down by a star he had created and tried to destroy. CEO of Fox News since its inception in 1996, Ailes built the news organization into a right-wing juggernaut whose influence and profitability is the envy of every other network. Ailes’s fall is mythical: he fell precipitously, brought down by one of the many women he allegedly exploited and intimidated during his entire tenure at Fox News.

Former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson fit into Ailes’s—and consequently, Fox’s—desired mold: she is blonde and beautiful, a former Miss America. But she is no bimbo, despite her on-air persona. She is a classical violinist and an honors graduate of Stanford University who studied at Oxford University as well. Carlson showed her mettle when—tiring of what she alleges were Ailes’s continuing demands for sexual favors and his retaliation when she refused to accede—she worked with a lawyer to prepare a lawsuit against the Fox CEO, charging sexual harassment and retaliation. Ailes has denied the charges.

Read more …

Leave a comment

Filed under Journalism, People, Politics, Women

Notorious RBG speaks her mind

RBG

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Supreme Court justices are human beings and as such they have biases. The difference between them and everybody else is that they don’t express their opinions publicly.

Except when they do.

Justice Samuel Alito mouthed “not true” on national television in defiance of President Obama at the 2010 State of the Union. The President had just criticized the 10-day-old Citizens United decision. In the last week, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg denounced presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, calling him “a faker” who “really has an ego.”

“I can’t imagine what this place would be — I can’t imagine what the country would be — with Donald Trump as our president,” she said, articulating what many, including Republicans, believe. “For the country, it could be four years. For the court, it could be — I don’t even want to contemplate that.”

Expressing these sentiments publicly landed her in hot water. Trump called for her resignation and Republicans deplored her action. No surprise. But so did just about everyone else, including liberals and progressives. What was shocking was where she said it, not what she said. No one doubts that she is a liberal Democrat. No one could expect her to back Trump and his unconstitutional proposals that jeopardize the freedom of the press and the rights of free speech and religion, due process and equal protection.

Perhaps RBG believes the prospect of a Trump presidency is so dangerous that she was willing to scrap protocol and jeopardize her legacy to cry out from her bully pulpit.

To preserve the appearance of impartiality and foster faith in Supreme Court and its ruling, the justices don’t take sides in public. The fear now is that RBG might be forced to recuse herself in any case involving Donald Trump. But that is unlikely. In the history of SCOTUS no justice has been compelled to recuse him or herself.

No, Justice Ginsburg dreads Trump’s disregard for the law and willingness to trash the Constitution. I believe that she may well have gone out on a limb in a valiant, though reckless, effort to preserve American democracy.

Leave a comment

Filed under People, Politics, Women

One of life’s great joys

Today I spent a wonderful afternoon with the daughter of a close friend.AmyFishing

I lost Rona 10 years ago to cancer. She was generous, creative, loving — a truly special person. The pain of losing her is still acute. But when I see Amy flourishing — how beautiful she is, inside and out, how wise and warm, I think of how proud her mother would be.

I also feel a great loss: Rona didn’t watch Amy evolve from an insecure young girl to a confident, successful professional. Amy’s loss is of course even greater than mine, a vacuum that can’t ever be filled.

 

I’m thankful that Amy and I are friends and that we can laugh and cry together over our shared memories.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal, Random