Category Archives: Uncategorized

Back to blogging – From a whole new perspective…

Since I last posted here, my life has changed in some profound ways. I started a new job 15 months ago and my family and I have moved. From suburban Fairfield county Connecticut we moved to suburban Zurich, Switzerland, which is a pretty big change.

A change in place creates a change in perspective. From the heart of Europe, the US and its politics looks slightly different. In a country that ranks 4th in per capita gun ownership and has .77 per 100,000 gun homicides my perspective on guns and the second amendment may benefit from a new look. I now live next door to a house where Johannes Brahms used to summer, so my perspective on art and history has also seen an interesting shift.

In a land where the splendor of the alps is a daily sight on my morning commute and just walking the dog provides breathtaking vistas, my love of the outdoors makes it a challenge to be sure I take full advantage.

But I remain intrigued by so many new things that make me think. And ready to share in ways that I hope make readers think too.

IMG_0779Gross Münster beside the Limmat River


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George Will: Obama ignoring Constitution |

George Will: Obama ignoring Constitution |

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Where is the outrage?

Our President has unilaterally decided to suspend the implementation of a law (granted a horrible one) passed by congress (granted using the barest of procedurally minimal votes) and he has offered no constitutional justification for his actions. Additionally, the suspension only applies to corporations. Individuals will have to live with the flaws of this law without White House intervention. To further add to this brazen flouting of the separation of powers, he has granted “waivers” to members of Congress and their staffs to ensure that they do not have to suffer the consequences of this “train wreck” of progressive legislation.

Where do we live? How can this stand? Our country’s foundation of freedom is the separation of powers – devised to prevent tyranny by any branch of government. Our free press is supposed to be our diligent watch dog, ready to warn us of abuses and overreach. Where are they now?

This president loves to think of himself in grandiose comparisons with Lincoln (in a stunning exercise of hubris.) This comparison by Nicholas Quinn Rosencrantz, shows exactly how puny those comparison display him to be. But this perspective should not only be found on the editorial page of America’s most conservative paper. It should be everywhere. This is not about partisan politics, it is about the foundations and integrity of our republic.

As Benjamin Franklin left Independence Hall in Philadelphia after the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, he was asked, “Well, Doctor, what do we have — a Republic or a Monarchy?” He replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

Can we?

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I bought my first handgun…Why?

Last week I purchased my first handgun. It is a .45 caliber Heckler & Koch USP. This is a full-sized, semi-automatic pistol which means that every time you pull the trigger it fires a shot (if the chamber has a round in it.) A .45 caliber is a large and powerful load frequently propelling a bullet that weighs 230 grains or 15 grams. The specific cartridge for my gun is a .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol.) This cartridge was designed by the legendary John Browning in 1904. He designed it for use in his automatic handgun design, the M1911, so called because of its adoption by the United States army as its official sidearm in 1911. The cartridge is known to have superior “stopping power,” or the ability to do maximum damage to a human target. The gun’s magazine (legal in Connecticut) holds ten of these rounds and can also have one in its chamber for a maximum capacity of 11 cartridges. In other states it is possible to buy a twelve round magazine.


The gun is German designed and manufactured. Heckler & Koch is a high-end armorer, know for innovative, reliable and durable weapons. It was expensive, costing just about a $1,000. I purchased it after shooting several different handguns, all .45 ACPs. I test-shot a Beretta PX4-Storm, a Ruger 1911, a Glock 21, a Smith & Wesson M&P (Military & Police) and the HK USP. Each of these guns felt very different in terms of grip, recoil, weight, and sight-configuration. I felt most comfortable (and shot most accurately) with the USP so that is what I bought.

Owning this gun comes with a responsibility. It is a weapon designed to deliver deadly force – to kill another human being. Learning its proper operation and safe handling is something that I take very seriously. Storing it properly is very important. When it is in my house, I store it in a biometric gun safe which can only be opened by my fingerprint. I keep its ammunition locked up in a separate place. I try to follow basic safety rules – I always point the gun in a safe direction, never at something I do not want to harm or destroy; I always keep the gun unloaded but assume that it is loaded until I have confirmed it is not;  I do not put my finger on the trigger until I intend to fire and; I know my target and what is beyond it.

I have shot and enjoyed long-guns (rifles and shotguns) since I was twelve years old but until now I did not have an interest in handguns. When I took the Connecticut-required gun safety course at a local shooting range, I found that handguns are fun to shoot and much more challenging and exhilarating than I had ever imagined. Pistols are powerful, skillfully engineered tools and I look forward to becoming proficient in using them.

But why did I decide to buy this gun now? There are many parts to the answer. I first became interested in learning more about handguns when the national debate about gun control was re-kindled by the tragedy at Sandy Hook, CT, a mere 18 miles away from my home. As I observed the emotional and non-rational response to the tragedy and saw shameless politicians move swiftly to exploit it, I became concerned that the right to obtain a handgun was at risk of being taken away. And I believe that owning one may be a more important right than ever before.

For a number of reasons, I feel far less confident and secure about my family’s safety and my ability to protect them. We live in an affluent community that is only miles away from severe urban poverty. The national dialogue about income inequality, the vilification of capitalism, media caricatures of greed-driven, soulless corporations, our country’s confiscatory tax regime and the redistributionist rhetoric of the current administration are all of a piece. In today’s America, I have come to believe that protecting my home and family, and securing my personal property from conventional criminals or from the ones in our government are ultimately my own responsibilities.

Will I need a handgun to do this? If confronted by a home invader, would I be able and willing to use deadly force? I am not sure. I need to continue to practicing with my pistol and become expert in its use. When it comes down to protecting my family, I want to have every available tool and advantage. Though it may present me with hard choices to make, as a legally licensed handgun owner, I at least have the freedom to make those choices.


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Coffee, Beer and Civilization

I have long had a theory that civilization was greatly advanced by the introduction of caffeine into society. Great civilizations – China, India and the British Empire – were certainly fueled by regular and ritualized consumption of tea and coffee. Caffeine drives productivity and the work ethic. Other stimulants have played a strong role in other civilizations – coca in Peru fueled the Incas and quat has a long history in Arab based civilizations. Nicotine has also contributed to stimulating social interaction and tracking the spread of its use might be intriguing to discover correlations with civilization’s march.


But an article in the New York Times has made me consider the role played by depressants in  man’s ascent. I have always believed that everything is possible with beer. So I was very glad to get this more scientific take on the role of beer and wine in ancient social formation. Slainte!

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What is this all about?

What makes you think?

In a world where it is possible to gather incredible amounts of information from credible sources  — to skeptically analyze that information and share your conclusions with a virtually limitless audience — why has the world dialogue grown so insipid?

With access to so much, most of us read what we agree with, post in forums that support our preconceptions, and if we engage with an opposing view point it is generally just to insult its source and deride that opinion without considering it.

A forum where people can come to disagree in a civil dialogue not only sounds like a good idea. It sounds really interesting (at least to me.) That is what I hope to establish here.

I am interested in: politics, both domestic and international; outdoor sports – climbing, sailing, hunting and shooting; international travel, primarily for business and; good writing — fiction, poetry and history. If you are too, welcome and please join the dialogue.

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