After Nice, it’s not just assault weapons we ought to ban, but trucks.

It’s tempting to declare it official: the world’s going to hell in a handbasket. I doubt that would hold up statistically—see Pinker’s “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined.” But it sure seems like it.

Seems like every morning there’s a new story about terrorists or other disgruntled people acting out, some with more legit gripes than others, with a gun. Or a truck.

The world’s in terrible shape, we all seem to agree on that anyway. What we need is a summit, not just on climate change (lot of good those have done) but on the broader topic of healing this troubled world.

70 years or so ago, right after the Second World War the UN was founded with something of that sort of idealism to prevent more world wars by getting everybody together at the same table. Trouble is that in inviting just nations it left out most of the concerned parties. What if instead of just governments, we were to invite to the table constituencies such as the poor, the hungry, the fearful. The “wretched of the earth.” The “what have we got to lose” crowd. Instead of limiting it to nations with armies able to fight “legitimate” wars, include those who, lacking other means, resort to terrorism.

How about a summit, in other words, that includes the losers (that is, the great majority of fellow humans).

But of course the winners would need to be there as well, the corporate movers and shakers who would ordinarily be just as happy to avoid the high profile. Those whose work it is to organize the world for the purpose of accumulating wealth?

Once gathered around the table, what would these strange bedfellows have to say to each other about how to heal the world?

The appeal of the sheepdog option.

I find myself (as Commander-in-Chief of this space every two weeks) trying to come up with something useful to say about the gun issue. Ever since reading the statistics showing that countries with low per capita gun ownership have much lower rates of homicides by guns, my take on guns, like that of most people […]


The recent uproar over the Dave Granlund cartoon and the paper’s decision to run it reminds me of the old Saturday Night Live skit featuring Miss Emily Litella (played by Gilda Radner) as a commentator on TV news. She rants on: “What is all this fuss I hear about the Supreme Court decision on a […]

Our essential regional terminology–is it shifting?

Last year I saw a map showing the “Lower Cape” stopping with Eastham, the “Outer Cape” as a separate region consisting of Wellfleet, Truro, and P’town. In a recent issue of “Cape Life” magazine, a list of restaurants makes the same distinction. Hey, wait a minute, I thought, that’s gotta be wrong. Lower and Outer […]


As Trump has risen to power (insofar as media attention is power) over recent months, one hears a lot the Hitler analogy. The comparison is made seriously and fearfully in these very pages in letters to editors and op-ed columns: Trump is a dangerous demagogue, playing to racism and other fears of disaffected white workers, […]

Wellfleet: historians needed

The Wellfleet Historical Society, a venerable artifact itself, has new, enlarged space on Main Street and a new burst of energy and vision. The new slogans are “taking history to the streets” and “not just objects”–the old stuff that has been collecting dust for decades–”but stories.” “Stories” sounds good, but perhaps easier said than done. […]

Ali: Transcendent athlete transcendent of his sport

Not sure just why I am so moved by the not untimely death of Ali. It might have something to do with how he used his fame in that dangerous and exploitative sport to transcend the sport– even while being exploited, to refuse to be exploited. This from a “New Yorker” blog by David Remnick: […]


It’s one of those acts for which history will honor the Obama’s presidency that, for a moment at least, he made Hiroshima the focus of the world’s attention. It was an appropriately solemn speech.. But, while dramatizing the horror of that bomb descending on a whole city, the president did not,, as been widely emphasized, […]

Walking with an added dimension

I took a walk the other day. I take a walk a lot of days, but this was different. I was walking with a couple of thousand of others in a fundraiser for Alzheimers research. It wasn’t an especially nice day for walking–the wind was blowing too hard for comfort. But it was a good […]


In a recent “New Yorker,” Clive James owned up to binge-watching “Game of Thrones,” a most un-”New Yorker”ish thing to do, one would think. But binge-watching is where it’s at, our new favorite thing. Suddenly a respectable thing. Everybody you meet has a new fav they are touting. Those who might have turned up their […]