Tuesday, April 23, 2013


by Madeleine Kando

One of the many reasons I wanted to visit Israel was that I am Jewish on my mother's side and have always had many unanswered questions about my Jewish roots. I was born in Hungary in the Second World War and our family had to hide from the Germans on a farm. I don't remember any of this, but I have been told the stories many times as I was growing up. So, finally this spring, my husband and I cut the Gordian knot and bought tickets to spend a brief ten days in this small, enigmatic country.

We were looking forward to find relief from the freezing weather in Boston, but as soon as we landed in Tel Aviv, a strong wind blowing in from the desert greeted us. Like two jet-lagged zombies, we made our way to the Hertz desk on auto-pilot and only after we had driven off in an ashtray smelling, banged up rental car, did we discover that the outlet for the GPS was broken. Hoping that we were following the road signs to Jerusalem, where, according to the picture on the internet, we had booked a room on a quaint little road winding up a hill, we tried to cope with the typical disorientation of being in a foreign country, one where even the writing looks like elegant graffiti.

Upon entering Jerusalem, we learned right away that traffic lights take half a day to turn green, which gave us ample time to notice that half the city is populated by Hasidic Jews. Women in black tights pushing prams, men in long black coats and fur hats, children with long tresses and shaved foreheads.. Entering Jerusalem is like stepping into one of those faded photographs in a Jewish history book. Read more...

Monday, April 22, 2013

Overreacting to Terrorism

by Tom Kando

After the Boston Marathon bombing  I suggested - sacrilegiously - that terrorism is LESS important than we are generally made to believe. Let me  add to my argument.

(By the way, I am a criminologist and I taught the Violence and Terrorism class at Cal State for about a decade. While this does not make me  infallible, it does mean that I am at least as well informed as the next guy).

Here is my main thesis again: Terrorism has come to loom very large in modern life NOT only  because of the heinous acts that are perpetrated by heinous individuals from time to time, but also  because of our OVERREACTION to those acts.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Boston: How Important is Terrorism?

 By Tom Kando

Since April 15, I have been wondering whether to add my voice to the cacophony about the Boston Marathon  bombing on Patriots’ Day, and if so, do I have anything original to add? Well, I have found my angle. Taking  a big risk,  I am going to argue that this terrorist attack  was less important than we are made to believe...

How dare you, Kando! You callous idiot! What if YOUR 8-year old son had died? Etc. My Dutch friends might ask, ‘Jees,  Kando do you always have to be ‘in the contramine’? (do you always have to be the devil’s advocate?) You are right. I am a terribly  insensitive person for saying this. Nevertheless, I will now plough through with my argument: You see, I am worried that once again we are going to draw  the wrong lesson from this heinous act. Heinous it was, indeed. I hope that we catch the culprits and that we punish them harshly. I also support vigorous efforts to maximize security and to fight crime and terrorism.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Interesting Notes about Europe

By Tom Kando

I did some TV channel surfing while in Holland recently. The news showed the massive anti-gay marriage demonstrations in Paris. French President Francois Hollande had just proposed legalizing gay marriage. A few days later, hundreds of thousands of Frenchmen marched down the Champs Elysées AGAINST this. Isn’t this interesting? In the US, 10 states have legalized gay marriage. In Europe, 8 out of 50 countries have done so. As to the pending US Supreme Court decisions regarding California’s Proposition 8 and DOMA, who knows...For now, it appears that the US and Europe are just about tied for bigotry. Read more...

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Surprises of Flying

By Tom Kando

I recently returned from Holland. I do a lot of long-distance flying. It may sound like fun and glamorous, but at my age, it’s becoming less so. Let me suggest the following variant of Murphy’s Law:

Only one thing is sure, when you fly long-distance: There will be “surprises.” Put differently: The greatest surprise of any long-distance trip is if there are no surprises. For example: This time, the “surprise” happened upon my arrival at Amsterdam international airport. When I get there, I usually take the train straight from the airport to my final destination, Alkmaar, a city about an hour north of Amsterdam.

As usual, I retrieved my baggage and cleared customs and passport control rapidly, and I immediately walked up to the train ticket booth inside the great arrival hall to buy my ticket to Alkmaar. There, the clerk tells me (and  dozens of other passengers) that all train traffic from the airport has been halted. Why? Because someone has just committed suicide by jumping in front of a train between the airport and Amsterdam. The clerk informs us nonchalantly that this happens frequently. He advises me to take the bus instead.