Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Art of the Trumpf

Frederick Trumpf, our President's Grandfather
By Madeleine Kando

Some people are lucky. They have family names that elicit respect, like names of Scottish clans or old Saxon names like Armstrong or Goodrich. But others have names that are a warning sign for those who are unlucky enough to cross their path.

One of those names is ‘Trump’. It is a surname derived from Old French ‘tromper’, which means, "to cheat". The word ‘trumpery’ first appeared in English in the mid-15th century with the meanings "deceit or fraud". To trump up means, "to concoct with the intent to deceive"

Donald Trump’s original family name was Drumpf. It is derived from the word "Dumpf", which means dull.*

The ‘Drumpf’ family originates in Kallstadt Germany, where the first known person with that surname was Hanns Drumpf. He was so dull, that his relatives advised him to go into the wine business, so that he would be acceptably entertaining, at least when he was slightly inebriated.

Dullness being a trait that is passed on to your offspring, his son Johan Philip Drumpf also remained in the winegrowing business. He was often seen in the local wine cellars, sampling his own wine and making bad jokes, trying to hide his genetic boorishness. ** Read more...

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Will the Real Bambi please Stand up?

Mirko HanĂ¡k, 1967
By Madeleine Kando

The first time I saw Bambi, I was nine years old. Ten minutes into the movie, I had to leave the theatre, unable to handle Bambi’s mother being shot. It took another 5 years before I mustered the courage to watch the movie in its entirety.

You can say a lot of things about Disney, but he was a master puppeteer at manipulating his audience’s emotions, young and old. He was also an incredibly clever businessman who plagiarized most of his stories, including Bambi.

I found this out when I recently discovered the original Bambi story. It is written by Felix Salten, a Hungarian Jew, whose original name was Sigmund Salzmann. Like many Jews in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, (including my own grandfather) he changed his name to be more accepted by the society around him.

He lived in Vienna, which was the center of European culture in those days and became quite famous as a writer and critic. His most famous work: ‘Bambi, A Life in the Woods’, is a masterpiece if you ever read one.

Contrary to Disney, Salten was a terrible businessman. He sold the movie rights to his story for a mere $1000 to MGM producer Sidney Franklin, who in turn, sold it to Disney. The rest is history.

After having read the original, part of me feels that, although Disney’s Bambi deserves a place in history for having captivated the hearts of millions of viewers, it has also overshadowed one of the most beautifully written stories I know. Read more...

Sunday, January 29, 2017

I was a Refugee

 Trump has signed an executive order banning immigration from a number of countries. This affects first and foremost refugees - for example from war-torn Syria.

So this is an opportune time for me to share with you my own past, as a refugee:

I was born in Budapest at the beginning of World War Two. My family survived the horror of the war, the Holocaust (we are Jewish), the Nazi and then the Soviet occupation. My first foray out of Hungary occurred one year after the end of the war, when I was sent to a refugee camp in Italy. I remember sleeping in an underground bunker. Then, a year later, we fled to Paris. I was seven. We became refugees in France. My only official identity paper was a United Nations document declaring me to be an “Apatride.” This means “stateless,” someone without a country. I remember this card well. It carried the familiar UN Logo.

For the next thirteen years, I grew up in Paris and in Amsterdam as an “apatride.” It was practically impossible to travel even into the country next door. Even visiting friends in Belgium, seventy miles away, required a visa, which required almost insurmountable bureaucratic endeavors. Read more...

Our Many Brains

by Madeleine Kando

It has long been known that our heart has a cluster of neurons that can influence the way we feel and think. Proof of this can be found in cases of heart transplants, whereby an inexplicable change occurs in the recipient’s personality.

After waking up with his new heart, Greg Swanson of Tulsa, Oklahoma, turned from being a fun-loving, hard drinking, skirt chasing Casanova into a shy, introverted bookworm, who suddenly needed prescription glasses and was afraid of everything except his 17-year old hamster, Jesibel. Medical staff found that the donor of the heart had been a reclusive, hamster-loving, semi-autistic genius who had blown himself up while working on an invention.

How do we explain this sudden transformation? Research has shown that the heart contains a cluster of neurons that not only functions autonomously to regulate its own rhythm, but that it also tells the brain what kind of person it wants to inhabit. Evicted against its will, a donor heart will tell its new landlord in no uncertain terms who is the boss. Read more...

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Why I Marched

By Madeleine Kando

I marched with 150 thousand others yesterday, joining the Women’s March in Boston. Why did I sacrifice my precious Saturday to stand in an over-packed subway car to take me to the heart of Boston to join an ocean of women and men wearing pink pussy hats, brandishing signs of every imaginable shape and size with slogans ranging from ‘Dicktator’ or ‘Keep your tiny hands off my equal pay’, to ‘the pussy strikes back’?

I did this because I am angry, frustrated, disappointed, but mostly because I believe that doing nothing is not an option. By marching I showed the world, you, myself, that the time has come to say ‘this has gone too far’. It felt better than standing in my kitchen, listening to the news while cooking dinner and feeling helpless, hopeless and powerless.

I marched because marching binds people together without using words. When 150 thousand pairs of feet do the talking, people listen. I marched because it gave me strength, even if it was just for one afternoon and if there is anything that can be called ‘action at a distance’, yesterday’s 600 marches throughout the entire world deserve that description. Read more...

Friday, January 13, 2017

Racism and Other Evils

 Since the presidential election, I have come to a point of mental rest and clarity: I am now convinced that the great division in our country today is simply between Good and Evil. After you weed out all the chaff and the noise, all the accidental aspects of specific issues, there remains one clear and simple fact: On one side are hatred, rage, racism, chauvinism selfishness, greed, violence, xenophobia, deliberate lies, deception and ignorance. On the other side are hope, compassion, acceptance, courage and goodwill. By and large, those who elected Donald Trump are on the bad side, and - yes, I’ll simply call a spade a spade - liberals are forever the good guys.

Flawed as we all may be, the political Right is immeasurably more evil than liberals are. The latter may often be incompetent, lazy, they may compromise their ethics and run for cover. Read more...

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


By Madeleine Kando

‘I don’t think I am drinking enough these days,’ said the rose petal to no one in particular. ‘I feel a bit dehydrated and it’s not good for my complexion.’ She looked at the petal over on her right with slight envy, noticing a marked difference in tone.

A ladybug, who was lazily crawling up the side of the rosebush overheard. ‘Don’t worry about it. Drinking is overrated, a fad if you ask me,’ he said.

‘It’s easy for you to say,’ the petal said, ‘you have legs but I am stuck here perched on a rosebush. Why they had to plant us in the sunniest spot in the garden is beyond me. Have they no compassion?’

The petal sighed which caused her to droop a little more. The brighter colored petal on her left looked at her with some disdain and said: ‘You haven’t used the treatment I recommended. Dew drops should be applied daily from left to right.’ She twisted a little to show off how rosy she still looked and started to hum with satisfaction. Read more...