Welcome to Our Extreme World

September 07, 2021

Admittedly, I hadn’t been there for 46 years, but old friends of mine still live (or at least lived) in the town of Greenville, California, and now, well, it’s more or less gone, though they survived. The Dixie Fire, one of those devastating West Coast blazes, had already “blackened”...

What Planet Will Our Children and Grandchildren Inherit?

June 07, 2021

Let me start with my friend and the boat. Admittedly, they might not seem to have anything to do with each other. The boat, a guided-missile destroyer named the USS Curtis Wilbur, reportedly passed through the Straits of Taiwan and into the South China Sea, skirting the Paracel...

Has the US Always Been at War?

May 04, 2021

Here’s the strange thing in an ever-stranger world: I was born in July 1944 in the midst of a devastating world war. That war ended in August 1945 with the atomic obliteration of two Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, by the most devastating bombs in history up to that...

The Sports Pages of Death

March 24, 2021

Here’s one of the things I now do every morning. I go to the online Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center and check out the figures there — global coronavirus cases and deaths, US coronavirus cases and deaths. And I do so the way that, not so long ago, I would have opened the...

The American Century Ends Early

March 08, 2021

Like Gregor Samsa, the never-to-be-forgotten character in Franz Kafka’s story “The Metamorphosis,” we awoke on January 7 to discover that we, too, were “a giant insect” with “a domelike brown belly divided into stiff arched segments” and numerous “pitifully thin” legs that...

The Imperial Presidency Comes Home to Roost

February 04, 2021

US President Joe Biden’s got a problem — and so do I. And so, in fact, do we. At 76 years old, you’d think I’d experienced it all when it comes to this country and its presidencies. Or most of it, anyway. I’ve been around since Franklin D. Roosevelt was president. Born on July 20, 1944,...

America in the Mid-70s and 2020

November 02, 2020

It was summer almost half a century ago when I got into that Volkswagen van and began my trip across America with Peter, a photographer friend. I was officially doing so as a reporter for a small San Francisco news service, having been sent out to tap the mood of the nation in a politically...

America’s Maestro of Death and Destruction

October 12, 2020

Yes, when he was running for president, he did indeed say: "I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn't lose any voters, OK? It's, like, incredible." Then he won — and on November 3 (or thereafter), whether he wins or loses, we’re likely to find out...

American Carnage From a Pandemic President

October 01, 2020

The year was 1991 and the United States was suddenly the globe’s lone superpower, its ultimate hyperpower, the last and greatest of its kind, the soon-to-be-indispensable nation. The only one left — alone, utterly alone and triumphant atop the world. Who could have asked for more? Or...

How Osama bin Laden Got His Revenge

July 27, 2020

It’s July 2020 and I’ve just turned 76, which, as far as I’m concerned, officially makes me an old man. So, put up with my aging, wandering brain here, since (I swear) I wasn’t going to start this piece with Donald Trump, no matter his latest wild claims or bizarre statements, increasingly...

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