Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward







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Recent Posts

Why the Pilgrims were actually able to survive

‘Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor’ by William Halsall (1882). Pilgrim Hall Museum By Peter C. Mancall, University of Southern California – Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences Sometime in the autumn of 1621, a group of English Pilgrims who had crossed the Atlantic Ocean and created a colony called New Plymouth celebrated their first harvest. They hosted a group of about 90 Wampanoags, their Algonquian-speaking neighbors. Together, migrants and Natives

Music: Esbjörn Svensson Trio — ‘Dolores In a Shoestand’


Saboteur in Chief

Fintan O’Toole writes: We all know that people in power deploy distraction as a professional skill, much as magicians do. We are used to it. In every act of political communication, “Look at this” is always the explicit obverse of an implicit “Don’t look at that.” But Trump confounds us by using as distractions the very things that other politicians want to distract us from. In democracy as we think

Trump launches an unprecedented attack on the American system of government

Politico reports: Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and President Donald Trump took swipes at each other Wednesday in an extraordinary exchange over just how partisan federal courts really are. Roberts said Wednesday morning there are no “Obama judges or Trump judges” after the president attacked the judge who ruled against his attempt to restrict asylum seekers at the border earlier this week. “We do not have Obama judges or

Washington’s stubborn support for Saudi Arabia is increasingly indefensible

Mark Hannah writes: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared last week that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman should “hold all of those involved in the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi accountable.” Over the weekend the CIA concluded the crown prince had himself ordered the murder. Yet earlier this afternoon, President Donald Trump issued a remarkable statement siding with the kingdom over his own intelligence agencies, speculating

Democrats won House popular vote by largest midterm margin since Watergate

NBC News reports: Not since the Watergate scandal have Democrats run up such a large margin of victory in midterm House races, NBC News data showed. With votes continuing to be tallied more than two weeks after Election Day, Democrats hold a lead over Republicans in the House popular vote by more than 8.6 million votes. That’s the largest total victory in a midterm House election since Democrats defeated Republicans

Is cyclical time the cure to technology’s ills?

Stephen E. Nash writes: The world changed dramatically on June 29, 2007. That’s the day when the iPhone first became available to the public. In the 11 years since, more than 8.5 billion smartphones of all makes and models have been sold worldwide. Smartphone technology has allowed billions of people to enter and participate in a new, cybernetic, and ever more complex and rapid relationship with the world. Humans have

Music: Esbjörn Svensson Trio — ‘Eighthundred Streets By Feet’


Trump demonstrates his unswerving loyalty to Saudi rulers

The New York Times reports: President Trump defied his intelligence agencies and ample circumstantial evidence to declare his unswerving loyalty to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, asserting that the crown prince’s culpability for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi might never be known. In a remarkable statement that appeared calculated to end the debate over the American response to the murder of Mr. Khashoggi, Mr. Trump said, “It could very well be

Pompeo handed Riyadh a plan to shield MBS from Khashoggi fallout, says source

Middle East Eye reports: Saudi Arabia’s king and crown prince are shielding themselves from the Jamal Khashoggi murder scandal by using a roadmap drawn up by the US secretary of state, a senior Saudi source has told Middle East Eye. Mike Pompeo delivered the plan in person during a meeting with Saudi King Salman and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, last month in Riyadh, said the source, who

After Khashoggi murder, some Saudi royals turn against king’s favorite son

Reuters reports: Amid international uproar over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, some members of Saudi Arabia’s ruling family are agitating to prevent Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman from becoming king, three sources close to the royal court said. Dozens of princes and cousins from powerful branches of the Al Saud family want to see a change in the line of succession but would not act while King Salman –

Trump wanted to order Justice Dept. to prosecute Comey and Clinton

The New York Times reports: President Trump told the White House counsel in the spring that he wanted to order the Justice Department to prosecute two of his political adversaries: his 2016 challenger, Hillary Clinton, and the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey, according to two people familiar with the conversation. The lawyer, Donald F. McGahn II, rebuffed the president, saying that he had no authority to order a prosecution.

One in four Europeans vote populist

The Guardian reports: Populist parties have more than tripled their support in Europe in the last 20 years, securing enough votes to put their leaders into government posts in 11 countries and challenging the established political order across the continent. The steady growth in support for European populist parties, particularly on the right, is revealed in a groundbreaking analysis of their performance in national elections in 31 European countries over

In Bosnia, entrenched ethnic divisions are a warning to the world

The New York Times reports: When a fire breaks out in the Bosnian city of Mostar, Sabit Golos, a veteran firefighter, knows that he does not have to worry unless the flames take hold on the Muslim side of what, from 1992 until 1994, was the front line in a vicious ethnic conflict. That is because Mostar, though long at peace, has two separate fire brigades, one made up mostly

You can’t characterize human nature if studies overlook 85 percent of people on Earth

By only working in their own backyards, what do psychology researchers miss about human behavior? Arthimedes/ By Daniel Hruschka, Arizona State University Over the last century, behavioral researchers have revealed the biases and prejudices that shape how people see the world and the carrots and sticks that influence our daily actions. Their discoveries have filled psychology textbooks and inspired generations of students. They’ve also informed how businesses manage their employees,

Music: Dhafer Youssef Quartet — ‘Les Ondes Orientales’