CONFISCATE: to take into one’s custody without consent

israeli home

When I was in Israel a number of years ago I had a chance to have a very informative conversation with a woman who was a Palestinian living in Israel. She had mentioned in a conversation with a number of us earlier that it wasn’t all that easy.   Having this chance for a personal […]

CONTRABAND [KON-truh-band]: illegal or prohibited trade; smuggling


When I used to go in and out of prisons or lockups and had to empty my pockets, be frisked, and walked through a detection device, I was pretty sure that it was the only time this would happen to me.  Little did I know how frequently it would happen in my future. It’s impossible […]

Ally: a person, group, or nation that is associated with another or others for some common cause or purpose:


There are some words that we use regularly that just seem to be clear, but aren’t.   Ally is one of them. Ever since the two World Wars we have used the term freely, it being understood just which nations were allies of the United States, and which ones weren’t.   Having been born during WWII, it […]

CONFLAGRATION [kon-fluh-GREY-shuhn] : a fire

Having one’s house burn down can be one of the most devastating moments in a family life.   So much is lost forever.  Family photos, mementos, beloved possessions, art work, an inherited piano, a quilt made by a loved one, baseball cards, a laptop with years of records stored on it.   And who knows what else? […]

RED LINE: a point beyond which a person or group is unwilling to negotiate

Negotiation is a tricky business.   It involves bringing two or more disparate parties to a common point by whittling away at their differences and accenting their common acceptances.   Sometimes it’s successful; other times it’s not. Of late the global negotiation around nuclear armament in Iran has been a case in which negotiation is highly charged […]

BEMUSED DUDGEON: confused resentment

In a very well written NY Times op-ed piece on August 10, Ta-Nehisi Coates, editor of the Atlantic, uses the term bemused dudgeon. The piece is about former Governor Romney’s commentary on the role of culture in attaining success. Having never heard the term dudgeon before, it led me on an investigative journey.  I discovered […]