Nice’s Enduring Pain

That’s not a carousel — it’s a living, changing memorial to the July terror attack on the French Riviera resort of Nice.  The stuffed toys appear fresh, as if more of them have marched in every day or so, clean and untouched by the elements.  They’re so raw, and real, and since they’re in a small park just by the seaside promenade, they’re impossible to miss.

There are signs, too.  Some deeply angry.

Some grief-stricken still.


Just before the 15th anniversary of 9/11, this all felt especially immediate as this tiny Statue of Liberty watched over the sea nearby.


We saw and did so much more here in Nice, but these are the images we carry with us as we leave.



Death in Orlando and What Else We Could Lose

In the room backs 1 cropped
Pre-Summit “Builders’ Day” where leaders of all races and generations share findings and innovations

Tattoos, weird clothes, tee shirts with funny pictures on them, pink hair, long hair, scruffy hair, sticker-saturated computers — and brilliance, geek humor, and deep respect for one another over generation,  gender, gender identification, religion and race: that was what I saw last week at the Internet Archive Decentralized Web Summit* — called partly to discuss the technology and ethical questions behind an increasingly centralized Web.

I kept thinking all weekend about this diverse crew of genius conference attendees as the horror of the Orlando shootings unfolded.  With it will come the inevitable racial and religious generalizations and this international crew of brainiacs included probably 20%  who, because of name or skin color or accent face a higher likelihood of reflexive suspicion,  potential online monitoring, extra security checks at airports, and frightened glances in elevators, Starbuck’s and movie lines.

Over the next weeks and months, we must decide how our country should respond to what is clearly an increasing threat, especially since mainstream security experts have implied a need for more surveillance, not only in person and through interviews but also online.

I have no answers and am barely fluent in the technologies powering these surveillance tools so there’s very little I can add either to this question or the sad jeopardy into which it may place so many of my new conference friends.  For me though, it’s another  – and very important – ripple in the pool of our outrage.

*New Connections
We are bringing together a diverse group of Web architects, activists, engineers, archivists, scholars, journalists, and other stakeholders to explore the technology required to build a Decentralized Web and its impact.

Call to action
The current Web is not private or censorship-free. It lacks a memory, a way to preserve our culture’s digital record through time. The Decentralized Web aims to make the Web open, secure and free of censorship by distributing data, processing, and hosting across millions of computers around the world, with no centralized control.


Come See the Devil Baby

                               Mark Knopfler at the Edison Awards, 2003

The freaks’ll stay together, They’re a tight old crew
You look at them, And they look at you….

Devil Baby, by Mark Knopfler

This is a song about a freak show.  And why not?

Today I turned on the TV and found not one, but two “active shooter” situations going on in California.  UPDATE: One hour after I wrote this, a news conference in San Bernardino, scene of the first of these shooting events, reported 14 people dead and 14 wounded,  by “as many as three gunmen.”  

Before that was Colorado and the viciousness and cruelty of targeting Planned Parenthood — and women.  Before that was Paris.   And the Russian plane.  And always — Isis/Isil/DAESH/BokoHaram.   And of course, Donald Trump.  SO.

This is a song about a freak show. And that’s why.

ALSO we all know I love Mark Knopfler so there’s that.

A Terrorist is a Terrorist, NOT a “Shooter,” NOT a “Gunman.” A Terrorist.

Cristina Page's photo.

So is he a crazy “shooter” or a terrorist?   Does it matter what we call him?  This is the question on all the Sunday talk shows – but yesterday . . .

Listen to Cristina Page ( Yesterday at 12:58pm)

Interesting how the media is characterizing this premeditated act of terror against Planned Parenthood as committed by a “calm and crazy” person whereas the attacks in Paris, including Charlie Hebdo (another workplace targeted for political reasons), were carried out by terrorists who were only characterized as “calm”. The media’s attempt to make the string of fatal attacks against clinics isolated attacks by insane individuals, whereas the string of fatal vigilante attacks by Muslim extremists are considered political acts of terror, is because the media fears being seen as taking sides in the abortion debate.

Then read this:

And this, from CNN – a real surprise:

Huckabee: Planned Parenthood shooting is ‘domestic terrorism‘  CNN

Here’s the first post I read about this topic – also from Christina Page.  Thank you Christina for reminding us all of the importance of words!

The media needs to change this language immediately. They are referring to him as a shooter. He is a terrorist. This language needs to be corrected from the inception (I think behind the scenes so as to not make that the issue). If they start naturally referring to him that way, that’s what we want and that’s what it will be. All of the messengers should just not sway from this language. Terror was understood right from the start in Paris, this is the very same. One officer killed, four officers shot and 4 civilians.

It’s gratifying to hear so many establishment pundits, right and left, advocating the conscious use of the word “terrorist”  but if it weren’t for the advocacy from women like Christina and others, who knows how much longer it would have taken to get them to do it?

Paris to Strawberry Fields to City Hall: Needing Each Other

January 11, 2015

It was impossible to watch Sunday’s enormous march through traumatized Paris with any detachment; events that touch us all invariably drive us to gather, so we felt it too.  Stating the obvious, certainly, but, as I grow older and my inventory of remembered public sadness grows — JFK, Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy, Oklahoma City, 9/11 — it remains remarkable.

charie john lenno9n crowd

I am somewhere in this crowd, gathered for a vigil and moment of silence six days after the assassination of John Lennon.  Imagine all the people, living life in peace he wrote.  Grief and anger at his loss drew us then, as, so many years later, grief and anger summoned the people of Paris.

CHARLIE CROWD TO LEFTI am somewhere in this crowd, too: another Sunday, in 2014, 34 years later.  We’re in San Francisco, not Paris, but once more have come together, a continent and an ocean away from the millions in France.  We too mourn, and rage, and join together for comfort — but look.  Thirty four years later, John Lennon is still present, asking the same questions, demanding, even as we mourn, that we do better.

CHARLIE UP PENCILScharlie ahmen juif crop


Soldiers_lunch_with_guns_2We had four hours of class this morning and two of Hebrew this afternoon so I’m making this short.  Just know that the Pardes classes were once again remarkable.  It’s hard to explain spending two hours over a Torah concept but today our great teacher, Rabbi Reuben Grodner, brought us a eulogy that a revered rabbi and teacher Joseph B. Soloveitchik gave for the wife of the Talne Rabbi, another major force in his community.  The purpose for reading it, Rabbi Grodner said, was to demonstrate this pioneering rabbi’s understanding of the value of the moral and intellectual leadership of women, as well as men.  He also founded Maimonides School, the first school where girls and boys could learn Talmud together  – and for women, learn it at all.

Anyway it was very exciting as was the rest of the day.   I took the photo you see here on a tony Jerusalem street called Emek Rafaim -a combination of Soho and Columbus Avenue.  These young soldiers were doing security patrols and stopped for lunch – so their ever-present semi-automatics were in their laps (look just below the table edge.) 

What I’m trying to demonstrate with these daily security photos is NOT that Israel is dangerous because it really isn’t, unless you go to disputed areas, but that this is what life is like here – that people make their way and raise their kids and go to the movies and jog along the Old City walls, and these folks protect them as they do.  When I think about what we complain about at home — well — ever since 911 people have complained that the president never asked us to make sacrifices and we subsequently don’t have the same investment in the outcome.  If you want to see the kinds of quiet courage that emerge from shared responsibility, this is one place to look.


Flowers_and_city_wall_2_9This is the Jerusalem we all love to imagine, and there’s plenty of it that’s just like that.  Usually, that’s where we spend most of our time — biblical Jerusalem.  It’s thrilling.

This time, though, we’re here to study, and for the first time, instead of staying in a hotel, we’re in an apartment in a real neighborhood (Bak’ah for those of you who know it).  We arrived this afternoon after flying from 5 PM Monday DC time through to 2:30 PM Tuesday Jerusalem time.  That’s a total of 14.5 hours with the layover in Frankfurt.  So, exhausted and eager to get to bed, we spent the evening wandering around the neighborhood instead of going immediately to the Old City as we have in the past.

Supermarket_securityWe needed coffee, milk and some other things so we stopped first at the supermarket just blocks from our "house."  But guess what?  Before we could get inside, we were stopped at the door, my bag was searched and we were sort of assessed before entering.  Nicely, matter-of-factly, but for real.  I took this photo of the security guys on the sly, that’s why it’s so blurry.  But there you are.  Need apple juice?  Prepare to have the diaper bag searched.

SaladsRestaurantBags in tow, we went on to dinner at a wonderful grill/salad place.  There are photos of both the salads and the place on the left, but guess what?  Before we could go in we had to check in with the guard at the entrance.  He asked me not to take his picture, but he was there.  Hungry?  Meeting friends for coffee?  Prepare to be checked out not by the cuties at the next table, but by the guard at the door.

Mall_securityWandering around after dinner, we found a sweet coffee place.  Everyone was sitting outside; the traffic was buzzing by beyond the sidewalk, the coffee was great and we were in a great place – living a neighborhood life in another country — one of particular importance to us.  But guess what?  The coffee place is part of a local mall, along with a drugstore and some not-very-expensive (almost cheap) apparel stores.  And guess who were sitting outside the doors, on stools, on the sidewalk?  Yup – security guards.  A quick check of our bags of coffee and bottled water, and of my back pack, and we were good to go.  But there you are.  Going for diapers or hand lotion?  Prepare to be searched at the door.

I’m not writing this to complain.  Today I just felt, in a different way, what it’s like to live here.  Whatever your politics, the idea of a people so under siege that no grocery store or bowling alley or retail mall can exist without security guards checking everyone who enters, is creepy and sad.  I know, I know, a grave portion of our globe is at some kind of risk. And I’d probably react the same way witnessing their struggles.  But this is where I am, this is where I’ve come to study, this is where I look into the eyes of mothers in the baby food aisle and old ladies squeezing tomatoes and crews of students buying up unthinkable quantities of fast food.  And as they move through their lives, relief from their sense of danger, of vulnerability, is possible, sustainable, only until the next time they walk out the front door.  And that’s a hell of a way to live.