A New Cultural Experience

White Castle Last week, in writing about a couple of brushes I had with George H.W. Bush before he was president, I mentioned that while I was working at the U.S. Mission to the UN for a couple of months in the fall of 1971, I’d usually have lunch at one of mid-town Manhattan’s many […]

My Brushes With Bush

The death, several days ago, of George H.W. Bush, brings to mind a couple of brushes I had with the man who would later serve as the 41st president of the United States. The first of these “brushes,” in 1971, was entirely impersonal. He and I were both serving at the U.S. Mission to the […]

Нет, Моя! No, It’s Mine!

Under Lenin’s gaze, Naomi, age 4, in blue dress at left foreground, participating in her Leningrad preschool’s celebration of the Bolshevik Revolution’s 60th anniversary, November 1977. One year ago, calling it a “somber centenary,” I wrote about the 100th anniversary of Russia’s Bolshevik Revolution (October Revolution). Now, on the revolution’s 101st anniversary (actually last Wednesday), a […]

Anti-Semitism, Both Right- and Left-Wing

This is what anti-Semitism can lead to The horrific murders last Saturday in Pittsburgh, driven by anti-Semitism, prompt me to share some thoughts and perspectives. This will be a lengthy piece, so let me begin with the three thoughts uppermost in my mind. First, although the murderer appears to fit within the stereotype of classic fringe-right-wing, […]

Wanna Learn Japanese in 10 Hours?

Gaijin (Japanese for “foreigner”) Back in 1984, I mentioned to a friend, Don Jones, a U.S. Information Agency colleague, that I’d just been assigned to the staff of the U.S. Pavilion at Tsukuba Expo ’85.1 Don was, I’d guess, about two decades older than me. I’d first met him a few years earlier when we were […]

Pride Goeth Before a Fall

Eiffel Tower (Photo: ©Howard E. Daniel, 1965-2018) Have you ever been too embarrassed to dust off your high school French or Spanish when you’re in a country where you’re actually immersed in that linguistic environment? It can be pretty uncomfortable, as I can attest from witnessing any number of such situations. Some people — even […]

Cuneiform and Clay Tablets — the Only Thing More Cumbersome Than 3 x 5 Cards for Taking Notes

Cuneiform tablet This month marks the 70th anniversary of what, when I was studying there from 1966 to 1968, used to be called the Russian Research Center. Today, this modest corner of scholarship at Harvard University is known as the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, and it is housed in a much newer, […]

Climbing Fuji

Fuji-san in summer, free of snow Scrolling through my Facebook feed yesterday morning, I spotted a post by my cousin Ken Kelley, who, with several friends in the Anthem Ranch Hike Club, recently climbed Colorado’s highest peak, Mt. Elbert (14,433 ft./4,399 m). Ken reported that it took them not quite five hours to ascend 5,000 […]

Another Bombshell for Pearl Harbor?

Emperor Hirohito and Prime Minister Tojo (right) Wow! I’d always believed that the attack on Pearl Harbor, the event that brought the United States into World War II, was the responsibility of the aggressive military clique behind Hideki Tojo, Japan’s wartime prime minister. However, after recently reading an article that describes a meeting between Tojo […]

One of the World’s Great Museums Is Also the Czar’s Attic

Winter Palace, home of much of the Hermitage’s collection Two recent events — one mundane, the other calamitous — came together in my mind and prompted me to write this short piece about one of the world’s greatest museums, the Hermitage, in St. Petersburg, Russia. The mundane event is my recently begun exploration of the […]