Brock Turner, Oscar Pistorius: how white privilege works.

I sometimes examine white privilege in my crim justice writings, and I'm doing so in a memoir I'm currently working on.  What's interesting about Brock Turner, Oscar Pistorius is that they may've been given light sentences because they were white and outstanding athletes. They are athletes in cultures (America and South Africa) where athleticism is prized. In such cultures super athletes, for sure, are treated leniently by their justice systems because of it. I've written about Pistorius … [Read more...]

How US states rank regarding cyberbullying.

 Out of 46 states in the U.S., including the District of Columbia, Michigan ranks number one for having the biggest bullying problems in 2016. The study conducted by Wallethub measured, among other things, bullying and cyberbullying prevalence and the impact of anti-bullying laws in states.Michigan had total score of 60.18 percent, followed by Louisiana with 59.43 percent. The state with the least bullying problems is Massachusetts, with a total score of 23.33 percent. According to the study, … [Read more...]

Hitchhiking revisited

In Cleft Heart, hitchhiking’s an avenue to self-renewal as much as the usual self-discovery. A piece about hitching in the New York Times by an Alaskan journalist caught my eye  recently. Roy Hoffman, who has written several books, captures much of what I’ve believed to be true about hitching. Excerpts from Hoffman’s reflections while reading his journal (he hitched across Alaska, through the Yukon, down to California and then to New York in the 1960s): "The exotic perfume of 1967’s Summer of … [Read more...]

Remembering Ira Sandperl—mentor to Joan Baez and a big influence in my life.

When I first met Ira in Palo Alto, California in the fifties, he had a fondness for Brooks Brothers clothes, Black Russian cocktails, and beautiful art---especially Tolstoy's writings. Not surprising for the son of a wealthy St. Louis surgeon! Ira had come west to study at Stanford over a decade earlier and had lived a playboy’s life the first couple of years until, as he said, "he left school to continue his education." At one point Ira saw a book about Gandhi in a bookstore window, and from … [Read more...]

Saying Goodbye to Ira Sandperl, a Hero who was not always a Saint.

Last week, I attended Ira's memorial service in his adopted, long-time home town of Menlo Park, California. A few people flew in from across the country, which may be par for the course in an age when airplanes ply the sky like buses. . . and the deceased often reach the ripe age of 90 allowing them to influence many lives. Ira influenced more people than most, however. But therein lies the "unsaintly" rub. His influence came at the expense of his two children and other loved ones who often … [Read more...]

If anyone you know has a broken heart, especially a child . . .

Each year 35,000 babies come into the world with congenital heart defects (CHD). The National Institutes of Health reports CHDs are responsible for more deaths in the first year of life than any other birth defects. Over a million Americans alive today were born with heart defects. If immediate family members are counted, that means five million people have been affected by CHDs. Also, each year 1.3 million people suffer heart attacks. About 30 million Americans have had heart attacks at one … [Read more...]

Heroes on the Front Lines in the Classroom–Violence in Taft & Newtown

  Less than a month after a disturbed  20 year-old gunman killed 20 children and six adults in Newtown, Connecticut, authorities hailed California science teacher Ryan Heber and campus supervisor Kim Fields as heroes for talking a 16-year-old shooter into putting down his shotgun. The school personnel  thus averted further carnage at Taft High School 30 miles southwest of Bakersfield, California where the shooter with a hit list had opened fire and critically wounded a student he … [Read more...]