BREAKING NEWS : : NATIONAL CALL TO SHABBAT WORSHIP in memory of shooting victims in Pittsburgh synagogue, “censored/politicized” (buried) by npr?

Photo by Lawrie Cate, flickr; illustration selected by MeridaGOround

THIS IS NEWS. I think it is rare, and historic.  But it has already mostly been censored, pulled from view, (correction: my report originally said “less than an hour after appearing at npr” but that was based on a timestamp of 5:33pm,Nov.2 which may have been the audio version of a visible story which first posted online at 5:20pm, Nov.1 — but that does not excuse removal of a major invitation on the eve of such a solemn memorial.).  The link below is still working, as of now. The buried article (below) invites people of faith across America to attend Jewish services Saturday, in memory of the shooting in a synagogue in Pittsburgh:

Here is a peek at the headline of npr’s article, posted as fair use, considering journalistic practices:  <being paste of audio intro to above article>

Americans Of All Faiths Plan To Attend Shabbat Services In Solidarity With Jews

There is a call for non-Jews to join Jewish congregations this weekend in a show of solidarity. A rabbi and a pastor in St. Louis talks about the event, labeled #ShowUpForShabbat.

<end paste>

ADDED BY MeridaGOround :
Here, I believe, is the normal Jewish lectionary for the week, being read tomorrow (Sat Nov.3) :  1Kings1:1-31   (It reports on a change of leadership.)
The text, from the Complete Jewish Bible: —
1 King David grew old, the years took their toll, and he couldn’t get warm even when they covered him with bedclothes.
2 His servants said to him, “Let us try to find a young virgin for my lord the king. She can wait on the king and be a companion for him, and she can lie next to you, so that my lord the king will get some heat.”
3 After looking through all of Isra’el’s territory for a beautiful girl, they found Avishag the Shunamit and brought her to the king.
4 The girl was very beautiful and became a companion for the king. She took care of him, but the king did not have sexual relations with her.
5 Adoniyah the son of Haggit was beginning to claim that he would be king; to this end he organized chariots and horsemen, with fifty men to run ahead of him.
6 (His father had never in his life confronted him by asking, “Why are you behaving this way?” Moreover, he was a very handsome man; he was born next after Avshalom.)
7 He conferred with Yo’av the son of Tz’ruyah and Evyatar the cohen; and they both supported Adoniyah.
8 But Tzadok the cohen, B’nayah the son of Y’hoyada, Natan the prophet, Shim’i, Re’i and David’s elite guard were not on Adoniyah’s side.
9 One day Adoniyah killed sheep, oxen and fattened calves at the Stone of Zochelet, by ‘Ein-Rogel. He summoned all his brothers the king’s sons, and all the men of Y’hudah the king’s servants;
10 but he did not summon Natan the prophet, B’nayah, the elite guard or Shlomo his brother.
11 Natan went to Bat-Sheva the mother of Shlomo and said, “Haven’t you heard that Adoniyah the son of Haggit has become king without the knowledge of David our lord?
12 Now, come, please let me give you advice, so that you can save both your own life and that of your son Shlomo.
13 Go, get in to see King David, and say to him, ‘My lord, king, didn’t you swear to your servant, “Your son Shlomo will be king after me; he will sit on my throne”? So why is Adoniyah king?’
14 Right then, while you are still talking with the king, I will also come in after you and confirm what you are saying.”
15 Bat-Sheva went in to the king in his room. (The king was very old; Avishag the Shunamit was in attendance on the king.)
16 Bat-Sheva bowed, prostrating herself to the king. The king asked, “What do you want?”
17 She answered him, “My lord, you swore by ADONAI your God to your servant, ‘Your son Shlomo will be king after me; he will sit on my throne.’
18 But now, here is Adoniyah ruling as king; and you, my lord the king, don’t know anything about it.
19 He has killed oxen, fattened calves and sheep in great numbers; and he has summoned all the sons of the king, Evyatar the cohen and Yo’av the commander of the army; but he didn’t summon Shlomo your servant.
20 As for you, my lord the king, all Isra’el is watching you; they are waiting for you to tell them who is to sit on the throne of my lord the king after him.
21 If you don’t, then, when my lord the king sleeps with his ancestors, I and my son Shlomo will be considered criminals.”
22 Right then, while she was still talking with the king, Natan the prophet entered.
23They told the king, “Natan the prophet is here.” After coming into the king’s presence, he prostrated himself before the king with his face to the ground.
24 Natan said, “My lord king, did you say, ‘Adoniyah is to be king after me; he will sit on my throne’?
25 For he has gone down today and killed oxen, fattened calves and sheep in great numbers; and he has summoned all the king’s sons, the commanders of the army and Evyatar the cohen; right now they are eating and drinking in his presence and proclaiming, ‘Long live King Adoniyah!’
26 But he didn’t summon me your servant, or Tzadok the cohen, or B’nayah the son of Y’hoyada or your servant Shlomo.
27Is this authorized by my lord the king without your having told your servant who would sit on the throne of my lord the king after him?”
28 King David answered by saying, “Summon Bat-Sheva to me.” She entered the king’s presence and stood before the king.
29 Then the king swore an oath: “As ADONAI lives, who has delivered me from all adversity,
30 as I swore to you by ADONAI the God of Isra’el, ‘Your son Shlomo will be king after me; he will sit on my throne in my place,’ so will I do today.”
31Bat-Sheva bowed with her face to the ground, prostrating herself to the king, and said, “Let my lord King David live forever.”



Nobel Prize in Consumer Electronics

Electrtonic mosquito racquet

Yeah, yeah, there is no such prize category.  But there should be!  And the iPhone doesn’t need a prize, as it has already won the market.  

So, here’s the first nomination.  This little gem will help you tame the turf inside your house — and it gives such satisfaction to hear it bark and see it spark, when you connect with one of those evil bloodsuckers, mid-air.  There are numerous brands and styles.  I prefer the plug-in variety, as batteries seem wasteful.  I always leave mine plugged into the wall so I know where to find it — it doesn’t hold much of a charge, fading after about a half-dozen kills.  (Of course the best control is good screening of windows and doors.)  But mosquitos get in when people enter or depart, so I sweep the area immediately.  

You can buy such racquets in larger grocery stores, from Amazon MX, and often at major intersections.  They really work.  In Spanish: raqueta de mata moscos. Good hunting!  

(NB:  swing gently – otherwise you will whack furniture, ruining the delicate device, which consists of three layers of metal mesh.)

R G B : : Film of a Life of Justice Ginsburg

screenshot from official trailer, via youtube

This film is uplifting, while also deeply saddening — that such an angry intemperate partisan corporatist has just been appointed to the highest court.  (During his job interview he blasted Democratic Senators — making it apparent that petitioners from the left were unlikely to get a fair hearing.) The court has now lost all credibility and impartiality. Justice is not 5:4.  Below I’ve saved some balanced insights from highly qualified authors from right and left. < < <  begin pastes > > >

As for “conservatism” these days, the term seems to have lost all meaning. It repudiates not only free markets and immigration, international leadership, science and the rule of law, but also the habits of mind and the norms of civil behavior that a democratic republic requires. It’s not so much that the GOP has collapsed but that anything resembling an intellectually solid conservative movement has disintegrated. These people are all about power. Kavanaugh is not an umpire but an operative able to select facts, shade truth and evade troubling data to reach a conclusion that his side wants. That’s the image of the left that conservatives used to hold. They’ve become what they loathed.”   

 Jesuits withdraw Kavanaugh nomination (K had gone to a Jesuit prep school)

Dean of Yale Law says Kavanaugh unfit to serve on court ;  says “there will be hell to pay.”

Conservative Max Boot says “Before Donald Trump, the Republican Party was a majority conservative party with a white nationalist fringe. Now it’s a white nationalist party with a conservative fringe.”  Boot’s views on Kavanaugh are revealing about this trend – excerpt from interview mentioning his new book.

An excellent book describing the high crimes of the court, by a former clerk to a federal judge.  (I’ve donated this book to the collection at Merida English Library.)  NB: there are many one-star reviews. One commenter observers that ” The statistical probability that this review was written by a troll is extremely high.”  (There was a spate of short, one-star reviews within a three day period.)





Approaching Xkokoh

I’ve been to Uxmal several times.  I’ve visited Aké, Calakmul, Chichen Itzá, Mayapan, and more.  I’m fascinated by ancient “lost” cities.  Recently I was honored to be invited by a friend and neighbor to hike into some of the more remote sites.  It was especially delightful, due to his expertise, as he has been exploring ruins of the Puuc region (meaning: hills) for over thirty years, and knows of ruins that are remote from tourism in Yucatan.

 Stephan Merk, that neighbor in Merida, is serious about these ruins, and has written about them (see two books at top of linked page).  He organized our overnight visit chronologically, so that another friend and I would notice the evolution of the architectural styles, starting with the proto-Puuc, and transitioning all the way to the “squatters” after the population collapse, encompassing more than 500 years of masonry building practices.

Here’s a photo of our intrepid instructor, seated at a spot he has chosen as a time-study for capturing the aging of a ruin, and its observer, having collected these images seated upon this same block, at Canacruz/Chuncatzim 1, over the years :

Ruina Canacruz / Chuncatzim 1.



Above is the oldest site we visited — on the grounds of the eco-lodge where we stayed.  Just imagine exploring a smallish temple/house in the jungle that was likely built around the year 550, of the common era!  (The person in straw sombrero at top of rise is Umberto, a Mayan guide who is often available at the lodge.) 


Sabacche 5.


Chuncatzim 1.


Descending into a dry well (“chultun”) near Sta.Elena, Yucatan (two images).


Window in my very comfortable room at the lodge.



Expats living in Merida may be in a dither regarding what appears to be an absence of cheddar cheese at Costco.  (There is some history to such shortages there, being the major source of gratifying a taste for this northern staple, as absence of supply has happened before — often resulting in panic buying when a delivery finally arrives.)   The two major brands of cheddar that they have carried in the past :  Cabot, and Tillamook, appear to be discontinued.  Instead we now have the ersatz product depicted above.  And it has been relocated in the store to a closed chiller case, away from the open cases where genuine cheddar used to be stocked.

This block of cheese does not deserve to be called cheddar.  It is flabby, greasy, and is neither toothsome nor crumbly.  It tastes like Monterrey Jack :  bland.   I doubt it has been aged  adequately – a requirement for true cheddar.  The term “sharp” (fuerte/strong) seems deceptive.  

There may be an economic basis for the current situation :  according to a recent segment from NPR, Trump’s tariff war has earned retaliation against US dairy products from the Mexican government, assessing a 25% tariff.  (¿And who can blame this on anyone but Trump, who started the conflict?)

But it would seem that instead of passing the increased cost along to customers, Costco has decided to cheapen the product with an inferior store-branded block that is barely recognizable as cheddar.  ¿ Can’t there be room for two price levels — one based on a high-quality cheddar such as Cabot or Tillamook, and the other on an economic imitation ?  Please bring back the good stuff, Costco!  (“The second mouse gets the cheese”.)

¿How Long Can an iPhone Hold its Breath ?


I can’t believe that I forgot that my phone was in my pocket when I went for a swim at the beach on Saturday!  But what is more incredible is that my iPhone 7+ did not drown.  I had waded out to a sandbar where friends were standing in water just above knee-high.  To get there, I had gone thru light surf that was above my waist.  The phone was submerged, perhaps for two or three minutes.  One friend noticed the rectangle in my pocket.  Horrified, I immediately pulled out my phone, surprised to notice that it was showing me the time.  But I feared it would fry any moment.  I shut it down and retreated back to the sand, where I dried it off.

When I got home, I plugged it in and noticed there was an update, which I downloaded.  That went well ; but, oddly, the phone was not charging.  I tried a different charge cable.  Nope.  Both cables kept trying to pop out, and would give me neither the lightning icon, nor the battery-charging icon, which indicate the phone is charging.  The battery was showing about 67% of charge.

Next morning I called AppleCare, and Jackie, from Memphis walked me thru various diagnostic paces.  We decided there might be something lodged in the cable socket.  So she made an appointment for me at the iStore in Altabrisa.  Yep.  Pocket fuzz had apparently become swollen and was resisting full contact between cable and battery.  The Tech’ plucked out the fuzz, and plugged it in, demonstrating that the phone was back to normal.  Wow!  Great product.  Great service.  


“Other side of the wall”?     Photo by

    Excerpted below is a portion of an interview with a Mexican-American author hosted by Krista Tippett, of who does a weekly podcast.  Here they discuss the border wall.  (*Liminal* means a transitional stage ; both sides of a boundary.)

MS. TIPPETT:  I feel like one thing you do — as much in your fiction as in your nonfiction, and certainly in Into the Beautiful North — is, you work with the idea of a border or a wall, not, in fact, as a hard and fast thing: as a liminal space, as a liminal zone.

MR. URREA: It is a liminal space, absolutely.

MS. TIPPETT: Right, but just to think about it that way opens up a lot of imagination.

MR. URREA: I think liminal space is where all writers go. That place of crossing, that place of pressure, of two things meeting, that’s a rich — that’s where the plankton wells up and the currents meet. And you can choose to see it in different ways. And either the border is a hideous, festering scar of oppression, horror, and violence, or it’s a fraternal space where two cultures meet and can exchange. And honestly, particularly before the narco wars, there was and there still are bastions of friendship along the border. And all you have to do is go to places near Nogales or Yuma, where kids on the Mexican side and kids on the American side play volleyball over the wall with each other.

MS. TIPPETT: Yeah, and see, we don’t hear these stories.

MR. URREA: No, you don’t. And I recently did a ballet — I didn’t. I read poems while they danced.

MS. TIPPETT: I’m imagining it.

MR. URREA: No. Me in a tutu — nah.


But I narrated this ballet. It was the 100th anniversary of a Stravinsky piece, which included a Faustian journey through a wasteland, where the man trying to get to safety has to make a deal with the devil, essentially. That was 100 years ago; this time, it’s people dying in the desert, making that terrible deal to survive. But when he did his other piece — his name is Steven Schick.

MS. TIPPETT: Oh, yes.

MR. URREA: He’s brilliant. I keep saying, “This guy’s…”

MS. TIPPETT: He also spent some time in Berlin, right? And that was a wall with which I had some intimacy. And I remember, still, when Michael Jackson came and did a concert right on the western side of the wall, just as things were falling apart. But the concertgoers gathered on the eastern side. It was exactly that. But one thing you point out is — so in Berlin, on the western side, the wall was painted and raucous and alive and rebellious, on the western side, where people were free. In Mexico, what do you say? In Mexico, it’s the Mexican side —

MR. URREA: It’s the reverse.

MS. TIPPETT: It’s the reverse side that’s —

MR. URREA: Well, thank God for Steven Schick. I stole it, when he was telling me it, because it was the perfect wrap-up for that piece for The Times. When you went across to the other side, he said, the Mexican side, the entire fence is an art gallery covered with paintings, sculptures, graffiti. There are ice-cream men and taco stands, and there are mariachis, and there are lovers, and there are people dancing and strolling. The American side: steel, trucks, dogs, helicopters, guns.

MS. TIPPETT: No art, no graffiti.

MR. URREA: No nothin’, and he said, “I suddenly realized that that was the Soviet side in Berlin.”


MS. TIPPETT: Yeah, it was. And I think you said, “Who was free? Who was free, and who was prisoner?”

MR. URREA: Yeah, what exactly is that wall for, then? Hmm.


I’ve spent many decades wondering why people differ so about how to live together in society, and how we pick our political and social leaders.  The current US president has me utterly perplexed — especially because conservative friends (many of whom profess to be Christian) helped elect this man who is willing to punish children for the economic crimes of their border-crossing parents, who pick our food and who empty patient bedpans.       ¶¶¶¶
The author of the first of these books gives a deeply satisfying explanation.  His is a fine volume on moral pyschology, by an awakened liberal who has grown a bit more conservative, and now sees and explains the mistakes of the left.  The book is The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt (2012).  I’ve been aware of his book for several years, and remember reading an extract prior to Trump’s election.  It is written in a very accessible fashion, using readily-grasped analogies, and he summarizes each chapter at chapter’s end.  One chapter titled “The Conservative Advantage” is especially revealing.  We simply are talking past each other, for reasons he makes very clear.  ¶¶¶¶
The second book is new, and I reviewed it for Amazon.  There is a quote in this one which may hint at a promise of a more collegial future :  “What is beautiful about the ugly Mr. Trump?  Something profoundly beautiful might emerge among those who come together to defend themselves and their nation from his malignant narcissitic machinations — something so consequential that we might one day remember Trump almost fondly, seeing him as the divisive toxin that vaccinated our social immune system, helping America emerge into a higher, healthier wholeness.”  (While this may not sound collegial, it comes near the end of the book, after lengthy discussion of how to listen, and reason together.)    ¶¶¶¶
It is best to read this one as a subsequent volume to Professor Haidt’s book.  I intend to donate a copy of Haidt’s book to Mérida English Library, in the near future.  Here’s a peek at the cover of Patten’s book, and a link to my review:

Marina’s Hands-on Textile Tour : Oaxaca y Chiapas.   Rescheduled for October 14-24.

All fotos by Marina Aguirre


Retired now, and living in Mexico, my wife and I will be going on a hands-on tour in the Mexican highlands, focusing on textile design, in mid July.  

The tour guide is someone we have toured with in the past.  Marina  has a PhD in archaeology, and grew up in Cuernavaca MX.  (Her grandfather was also an archaeologist.)  Her tour site is linked here.

This promises to be a fine educational and cultural experience for anyone who might be inclined.  (I have no interest of gain in this mention.  My motivation for sharing this event is a bit selfish: for the tour to happen, there must be a few more adventurers.)

Anyone wishing to research the general topic would do well to examine the book Maya Threads.



¿ See that little bit of screen in the upper left corner of the photo?  That’s how the home breaker will try to get in.  If you haven’t locked yourself in from the inside, that mesh will get pushed thru, or slit,  and the latch will be opened easily by an intruder, if it is not locked from within.

This has happened to several friends recently.  And the losses can be significant.  One friend had her purse stolen, and credit cards, ID’s and electronics lost — while they were listening to music in the backyard during daylight hours.  (And the intruder may even be a woman, “asking for water”.)  Don’t believe it.  Observe the face and clothing accurately.  Call the police.  Nobody let’s themself into another’s home on such false pretense. 

Merida has long been a safe and peaceful city.  But there are new folks arriving daily who do not share the local respect for others that has been so characteristic of Meridano culture.   Lock yourself in!  Hang a key near the door, but well out-of-reach, in the event that you have to exit quickly.  Then you can relax and enjoy this lovely city of peace.