Before the war, Magda was a kindergarten teacher. After she was transported to Auschwitz, she made the bold (or stupid, depending on your pov) to speak up for her fellow prisoners. Instead of sending her to the gas chambers, she was put in charge of the camp’s female “inhabitants”. Magda was forced to walk the daily line of keeping as many alive as she could while making sure that their captors looked the other way. By honing her intelligence and survival skills, she was able to save her life and the lives of many others.
This book is amazing. It speaks to the inner strength that allows us to live with situations that would otherwise kill us. The images from the Holocaust often show my co-religionists meekly going to their deaths. It is stories like Magda’s that prove that there was still a fight to be fought, even under the most difficult of circumstances.
It also proves once more that women can do anything.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
The Nazis Knew My Name: A Remarkable Story of Survival and Courage in Auschwitz is available where books are sold.
The purpose of law enforcement is to serve and protect, not to attack community members who are just going about their business.
Last Friday in Memphis, Tyre Nichols was on the way home when he was stopped by police. Instead of just being ticketed or taken in for questioning, he was beaten by five officers. By the time Sunday night rolled around, he was dead.
Now there is another son without a father, another mother without her child, and another town struggling to understand how and why another black man was killed by law enforcement.
After the murder of George Floyd, I would have hoped that logic would have dictated that everything would have been done to make sure that it never happened again. But I have been proved wrong too many times.
The only upshot is that the police officers who stopped him have been fired and charged with his murder. What makes it more complicated is that the men accused of his murder are also black.
I don’t know what it will take to get the message across on how to treat a potential suspect. But I do know that an innocent man is dead and there are too many unanswered questions hanging in the air.
It has often been said that we can learn from history to prevent future mistakes. The caveat is that we have to be willing to understand what went wrong in order to make sure that it won’t happen again.
Subjugation and persecution of minorities, perceived enemies, the LGBTQ community, and those with opposing political views.
Degrading women down to the traditional roles of wives and mothers (with the exception of the females in their personal orbit).
Proclaim that they are the one person who can save their country.
They claim to protect “democracy” and ensure law and order while doing the very opposite.
I think this book is a must-read for everyone who believes in a democratic government and what it stands for. As the last few years have shown us, complacency opens the door to a form of government that manipulates and destroys. It is only when we respect and fight for the constitutional way of life can we truly be free.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
Strongmen: From Mussolini to the Present is available wherever books are sold.
It is a sad truth universally acknowledged that women are only allowed to step when their men are called away to war.
The first season of the French television series Woman at War was recently released on Netflix. As World War I rages on, four women step up to save their country. Marguerite (Audrey Fleurot) is running from her past. Agnes (Julie De Bona) is a Mother Superior whose convent has been turned into a military hospital. Suzanne (Camille Lou) has the law on her tail. Caroline (Sofia Essaïdi) has been tasked with running the family business while her husband is on the front lines.
Blending personal drama with the compounding effects of a military conflict made for one heck of a story. The writing was fantastic, the actors were pitch-perfect and I was thoroughly drawn into the narrative.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
Women at War is available for streaming on Netflix with English subtitles.
When I think of what has been happening in the past few years, I see scary signs of what could happen again. I think it goes without saying that we don’t want to make the alarm bells ring all of the time. But, given recent events (Kanye, for one), I can’t help but make connections to the recent past.
One of the things that I wish was more well-known was the persecution of the LGBTQ community. Before the war, Berlin was known for its openness to those who were not heteronormative. The ended in 1933. Thousands were murdered and many more were persecuted.
The problem is that many continue to turn a blind eye to this hatred, even those of my faith. Ben Shapiro (whom I dislike with every bone in my body), has been open about his association with the right and their hatred of everyone who is not them. What he conveniently forgets is that at the day, he is still Jewish. The antisemites would still slap a yellow star on his chest and send him to his death.
It has been said that we die twice. The first time is when shuffle off this mortal coil. The second is when we are forgotten. Many of those who were killed have died twice.
May the memories of the millions who were murdered always be a blessing. Z”l.
I think that it’s pretty safe to say that reality television has spread its tentacles into every sort of competition.
Making It aired on NBC from 2018 to 2021. Hosted by Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman, a group of craftspeople faces off in hopes of winning $100k and being named “Master Maker”. Each episode contains two challenges. As with every program within this sub-genre, one contestant is sent home every week until the winner is crowned.
Though it is a reality show, it is not as mind-numbing and brain cell-killing as other shows. Though I am sure it is not 100% “real”, the participants have a genuine talent and seem to love what they do.
Once the details hit the presses, Lewinsky became a punchline. Clinton would eventually weather the storm and end his time in office with a mostly solid reputation.
One of the things that struck me was a comment made by one of the guests. If it had happened today, the #MeToo movement would have vindicated Lewinsky. Clinton would be in the same league as Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer.
If nothing else, this shows that change does happen. It just sometimes takes a quarter of a century for it to be accepted as the norm.
The antihero is an interesting character type. Though this person does eventually save the day, their motives and actions do not match what is expected of a heroic protagonist.
In the 2018 film Venom (based on the comic book character of the same name), Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is a former reporter whose career is in shambles after an interview does not go as planned. Six months later, he discovers a symbiote from outer space named Venom and becomes bonded with it. Among the things that are ruined by this new “relationship” is his attempt to get back with his ex-fiance, Anne Weying (Michelle Williams). Anne was employed as a lawyer before Eddie’s mishap ended her employment and their engagement.
Before this movie, I was vaguely aware that Venom existed within the world of Spider-Man. I tried to watch it, mainly because of the lead actors. Hardy and Williams are two of the finest actors of their generation. The problem is that I was quickly bored and lost interest in the narrative.
Though they never knew each other in life (MW died soon after MS was born), the similarities are inescapable. MW wrote The Vindication of the Rights of Women. MS wrote Frankenstein. Both books were earth-shattering in their own right. The men (William Godwin and Percy Bysshe Shelley respectively) who they made their lives with were far from conventional. By the standards of their time, MW and MS broke all of the rules of what it was to be a female. In doing so, they paved the way for future generations of writers (female especially) to fulfill their dreams.
I loved this book. Gordon introduces her subjects to the audience in such a way that they feel modern. While reading, I was inspired to give the proverbial middle finger to what is “normal” and not care what others think. If nothing else, I think that is the legacy of this extraordinary pair of women.
The only thing I will warn is that Gordon’s narrative is not linear. She alternates each chapter between MW and MS. I took a minute to understand where Gordon was going. After that, I had no problem with the story.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter Mary Shelley is available wherever books are sold.
The new year, regardless of whether is secular, religious, or cultural, is supposed to represent the opportunity to turn the figurative page. Our future is supposed to be bright and filled with possibilities.
Over the past few weeks, millions of people celebrated the Lunar New Year. On Sunday, at least 10 people were killed and many others were injured when a gunman fired into a dance studio in a Los Angeles suburb. As of this writing, his motives are a mystery.
So far, we are 24 days into 2023. There have been 38 mass shootings since January 1st. I would love for someone to explain why we don’t need gun control laws given that there have been nearly twice as many mass murders in less than a month?
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