Magda Denes’ “Castles Burning” and Marian Piotrowski’s “Adventures of a Polish Prisoner” – two aspects of living through World War II (10 cents)

Two World War II victim books – each with a twist.  Each worth reading.

First, “Adventures of a Polish Prisoner” by Marian Piotrowski, published in 1943.  Piotrowski was a Polish journalist living in Paris when Poland was invaded by Germany in September 1939.  Along with many other Poles in France, wanting to join his fellow countrymen in their defense against the Nazis, he joined the Polish Army’s units created in France.  Not able to get to Poland, they allied themselves with the French Army fighting the Germans in Alsace and trying to protect the Maginot line.  They weren’t placed in the  most favorable situations by the French (surprise, surprise) and were left defending an indefensible spot, escaping only for a while before they, inevitably, were caught.

Once caught, he was placed in a two POW camps.  The first camp was more like a holding pen (no one knew what would happen to them), and the second one a work camp (as one of the few Polish speakers in the camp, he was able to wangle administrative work at the camp and not be sent out to help power Germany industry.  Eventually, the Germans started to release some prisoners, including French POWs, once France seemed clearly in Nazi controlS.  Piotrowski was able to pass himself off as a Frenchman (using altered papers) and get out of the camp, fooling guards as he went through the French and then Spanish countryside, until he crossed into Portugal and Lisbon, knowing that would take him to England, where he wife was living.

So, the German POW work camp was no paradise.  Food and sleep both were in very short supply. Work varied, but was generally very hard, and didn’t want to slough off.  You certainly couldn’t talk back.  But you weren’t on your way to a certain death.  And you did have free time, and were able to talk to and mix with your fellow prisoners.

Jews did not play a big part of Piotrowski’s book.  There were a few Jewish prisoners who seemed to be treated with excessive harshness, but he didn’t write about anti-Jewish legislation or violence, and certainly no one knew of the death camps in Poland.

The book is interesting because it gives you a different perspective of the German military machine during the war.

The other book is a Holocaust narrative, “Castles Burning”, the story of young Magda Denes, born into a wealthy Budapest family in pre-war days.  She was 5 when the war started, and 10 when the Germans finally entered Budapest.  Her journalist father had escaped Hungary and traveled to America, promising to bring the rest of his family (wife and two children) over – but he didn’t, and in fact abandoned his family, apparently not giving much attention to them at all.

Her father’s departure made it hard for the family to survive economically, especially as the war surrounded Hungary, and antisemitism grew within the country.  But while people knew that the Germans could come in at any time, it was somewhat of a surprise when they did in 1944.  For the next year and a half, although they survived the war, Magda and her mother were in hiding, sometimes together, sometimes separated.  Magda was sent to live with a number of families, where she could be neither seen nor heard.  Eventually, the family lived together in what started out as a Swiss owned (incorporated into the Swiss embassy) building that housed hundreds of Jews, largely in terrible conditions in the large, damp, cold basement of the building, which was taken from the Swiss by the Nazi government, but for some reason continued to be the home of hundreds of old, young, ill, impoverished Jews.

Magda’s brother Ivan, some years older joined the underground resistance.  He, and a cousin of about the same age (maybe they were 16) were captured by the Germans and joined the group that were shot and killed on the bank of the Danube.

The war ended and the Russians entered Budapest.  The Russians were welcome as liberators, but proved pretty bad as overseers, and Magda’s mother was not interested in rebuilding her life with the Hungarians who were recently her enemies.  So, they stole out of the country aided by a Jewish underground refugee organization, went through Vienna and Munich and Paris, eventually obtaining Cuban visas.  They traveled on a ship that stopped in New York and stayed long enough for her father to come on board, where they had a brief and unpleasant conversation.  Whether they ever spoke again, I do not know.

Magda Denes did get to the United States, where she went to City College and Boston University and became a psychoanalyst.  Unfortunately, she died at the relatively young age of 62.  Her mother survived her.


Our Five Shows at the Capital Fringe (37 cents)

So we saw five shows at this year’s Capital Fringe festival, and – truth be told – with one exception, we thought them pretty good.

1. We started with an abridged version of the 17th century play by John Webster, “The Duchess of Malfi”, which I had never seen before and knew little about.  Apparently loosely based on a true occurrence, it is a sad, sad story.  The widowed young Duchess decides to marry one of her employees (apparently, her chief financial adviser), something that displeases her two brothers, the Duke of Calabria, and a Cardinal of the church.  OK, you can’t pick your family, and the Duchess had very bad luck in the two scoundrels that were picked to be her brothers.  As you can imagine, by the end, everyone dies.

It was well acted, and well staged.  My only objection would be that, in cutting the play by half, things sometimes seemed to move a little too fast. On the other hand, by cutting it in half, we didn’t have to sit through a 3 hour play.

2. We then went to see “The Interrogation”, a bizarre show that started with little promise, and ended worse.  So, our host gets on the stage and welcomes us, telling us that we are not a random audience, but in fact, this is a sting, and we are suspects in something that we don’t quite understand.  He calls up a couple of people from the audience (I think they were plants, but it was hard to say), and asks them some dumb questions like “Are you a terrorist?”, while things appear on the wall screen that you can’t quite figure out.

Who is this guy?  Hard to say.  He works for some private company but used to work for the CIA or something like that, and he is a good questioner, in his opinion, and he’s out to find who the traitor is.

The third person that he calls up begins to answer the questions with questions of his own, eventually showing that our host is not who he seems to be, and that he is the bad guy.  And then it turns out that this third person works for the government, and he apologizes to the audience for our having been fooled by our original, now disgraced, host.

Not fun.

3.  Then, “The Goddess Diaries”, the type of show that you would think I would roll my eyes at, but – surprise, surprise – I thought it was very good.  A series of monologues, derived from interviews that the author had with real women, with women telling their important life stories – the preteen trying to figure out life, the teen who can’t live with her parents any more, the older woman whose husband left her thirty years ago, the mother who mistakenly sends her kids to a fundamentalist bible camp, etc., interspersed by a narrator and a song.  I thought that it was well written and well acted, and that each story did have something to teach.

4.  “The Dish”, a parody on the Food Network.  I wondered if this would go over my head, because I have never watched anything on the Food Network.  But not to worry.

A show with four hosts – a gay man (who wants to talk about his husband, Raul), an African-American woman and food blogger with a chip on her shoulder, a Paula Dean act-alike (who was absolutely terrific), and a Chinese-American (from Little Rock).  They spar with each other (and with the show’s director), there is a contest between the two women, and they have a chef-guest, a different one for each performance.  The guest chef the night we saw the show was Teddy Folkman of Granville Moore’s (H Street NE, a favorite) – he was an absolute delight in his mostly impromptu role, his demeanor, he quick wit, his smile.  This show was an absolute treat.

5.  “Districtland”, which apparently may one day become a hit TV show, is based on the life of several young professionals in DC, who live in a group house, and their contacts with the outside world.  The large cast did a very good job with a script that most people seem to like a lot.  I have to admit that it bored me, in spite of the good production.  Maybe if I were a 28 year old single, just moving to DC, living in a group house……….

At any rate, I think we did pretty well this year……..Next year, Capital Fringe will be in their new headquarters on Florida Ave NE.  We will see how that changes things.

When to visit the Hirshhorn – now or later? (8 cents)

The bad news about visiting Washington’s Hirshhorn Museum now is that the entire third floor of the museum is closed for renovation.  I am not sure when the floor is expected to reopen. I would bet it will not be in 2014.  The third floor comprises about 1/3 of this four story museum – the ground floor has no exhibit space. In addition, at least half of the second floor is also closed, being prepared for an exhibit not scheduled to open until mid-October.  Thus, a visit to the museum seems to have less to offer than usual.

But look at it another way.  You can concentrate more on what remains behind, or in the alternative have a shorter visit.  Neither, is necessarily a bad thing.

I spent about an hour in the museum this afternoon.

Today was the opening day of a fascinating and very unusual exhibit of the work of Salvatore Scarpitta (1919-2007). Scarpitta, New York born of Italian and Russian parentage, served in the Army during World War II as a “monuments man”, a member of that group tasked with locating art work stolen by the Nazis (you may have seen the – not too good – film).  He stayed in Rome after the war, returning to New York in 1958.

His work is unusual, and runs in a number of different directions.  One of his interests was sleds..and skis.  And he constructed both out of “found materials”.  Not modern constructions, they were the kind of sleds you might find in the mountains of Europe a hundred years ago.  One of the descriptions said that they were to memorialize the year that Scarpitta spent in the Apennine Mountains hiding from the Fascists with his Italian-Jewish wife.  They are very evocative.  They are very sad.  And at the same time, artistically appealing.

He was also interesting in automobile racing – and built (using old car parts) several full size model racing cars (one is in the exhibit), as well as wall hangings made of car parts on colored canvas.  Again, very well done.  (He also sponsored his own “sprint car” team – his car, not made by him, is on display.)

The third part of the exhibit is comprised of torn canvasses and medical bandages and similar items to make textured, but colorless hangings.  Understated, but effective, they are meant to turn the flat canvas into a textured piece evocative of war and suffering.  As his cars are realistic, his canvasses are completely abstract.  Yet they fit together.

In speaking about racing, Scarpitta made an interesting comment.  He said that art creates something with form (a sculpture, a painting, etc.) and turns it into an idea or a dream.  Racing, he says, takes a dream (the dream of speed) and turns it into something real – the car, the race.  It was the opposite of the usual trajectory of art.  When I read exactly what he said (which he said much better than I just did), I was very impressed, but in fact, didn’t really understand it.

But, if you really want to see something that I didn’t understand, walk down the hall into one of the Hirshhorn’s two black box theaters, and see the two films (one in front of you and one in back) by young Austrian film maker Oliver Laric.  The films are called “collages”, and they are a bunch of photos of sculptures, pieces of art, and other items – with an “original” and “copies” or “variations”.  Well, I guess I am simplifying, but you can’t always tell which is the original and which are variations.  And this is the point.

Although the voice over sounds like a college lecture that goes over one’s head, the concept, as best I can understand it, is correct.  Nothing is really an original – everything is based on something else.  There is nothing wrong with copying, or slightly changing, or more generally modifying an object; it may be better than the original.  And whatever you do, the better it is, the more likely someone will take it and change it and make it better.  There is no design, no object, that cannot be improved.  And you can use a lot of creativity in copying, or changing, something.  And this is not only a question of art.  It is also true in writing – all writing is based on something else.  And look at translating – translating gives the translator an opportunity to start with someone’s work and improve it, improve it in a new language.  But there is, I am sure, more to it than these simplistic thoughts – I just didn’t understand them.

The other black box film, Jeremy Deller’s “English Magic” is a terrific short – beautiful scenes of rural England with large birds flying and moving in slow motion, parades in London, military, the formally garbed London Lord Mayor, all with a steel orchestra, playing Ralph Vaughn Williams and others.

Finally, there is an exhibit of a small selection of photography from the museum’s collection – including several bigger than life – a large green skyscraper in Berlin, visitors in the main exhibit room in Berlin’s Pergamon Museum, a series of photographs of buildings in Reykjavik, and more.  Fewer photos than you would like to see, and they will only be there a short time.

So, visiting the Hirshhorn is not a mistake, even with half of the museum closed.  And you can see everything in about an hour.  That’s a benefit – not a problem.


Winston Churchill’s Mother and the Atomic Bomb

No, they have little (maybe nothing) to do with each other.   But the two books I read last week were Andrew Rotter’s “Hiroshima: the World’s Bomb” and Anne Sebba’s “American Jennie”.  Each was a very interesting read.

Rotter, a professor at Colgate, published his book in 2008.  It was a good complement to another book I read earlier this year, “And What of Tomorrow” by George O. Robinson, published in 1956.  Robinson had been a publicist at Oak Ridge, and his book told the story of the mammoth and amazingly successful American program to develop the bomb – three years of enormous effort at Oak Ridge, Hanford, Los Alamos and elsewhere.  He spoke a little of the background of the scientific work which led to splitting the atom – but it was that…..background.

Rotter’s book has a different focus.  He concentrates, first on the world wide scientific effort, conducted in Germany and England and Russia and Denmark and everywhere but here, until the Nazis convinced the European scientists to head to the New World (or at least to Britain) and transferred the center of atomic research to the United States.  His thesis is that science knows no bounds, and the development of atomic energy and the atomic bomb was a world-wide collaborative effort, until politics destroyed the collaboration.  Yes, research did continue in the Soviet Union, but it was hampered by the inability of the Soviet scientists to work with their international partners, and succeeded to the extent it did in part because of espionage that created a different type of sharing pattern.  And yes, the same was true in Germany, but they lost most of their scientific talent.  And Japan was never able to really kick start its research program, although it too had some talented scientists.

The American government was a Johnny-come-lately to this effort, putting federal money to work only after they became concerned that Germany might be developing a super weapon.  And, yes, when the government became involved, it really became involved, in a manner we cannot imagine today.  But this is not the focus of Rotter’s book, although he refers to it as an essential element of his story.

He goes to the decision to drop the bomb on Japan – the whys, the ethical questions, the politics.  And he talks about Hiroshima, the physical results of the bomb, and its aftermaths.

Do we learn a lesson from the book?  Not sure about that.  We should, but it is clear from this book that a decision to drop an atomic bomb can be made by “rational” people, with the strong support of virtually everyone around them.  And that remorse is limited.  And that even the victim society recovers.

Not a great lesson.

Moving on to Jennie Jerome, a/k/a Lady Randolph Churchill.  The daughter of an American millionaire (the type of gains and loses fortunes with regularity), who with her mother and two sisters spent most of their time living in Paris, where he mother’s main goal was to arrange successful marriages for her children (whether or not she did is a matter of judgment).  Her middle daughter Jennie (more of a clone of her mother than she would probably admit) fell in love with young Randolph Churchill, a young outspoken member of a very established English family (his father was the Duke of Marlborough and lived in Blenheim Palace) with political ambitions, and an inability to hold his tongue.  Their marriage was, more or less, happy it seems, until Churchill’s politics and then his health failed him, as well as his ability to stay home with his wife. and his understandable tendency to drive her batty.  Churchill died in his early 40s, leaving Jennie with two children, Winston and Jack, children whom mother and father, up until that time, pretty much ignored.

Jennie recognized Winston as the more talented son and supported his political ambitions (as she did Randolph’s), and his literary and military ambitions (all of which she, and he, believed supported his political goals).  She became a regular stage mom.  And, after ignoring Winston during his childhood and adolescent years, she became in effect his partner, helping him get appointments and publication opportunities and so much else.  They became almost abnormally close.

At the same time, she was a party girl (as party girls were in the late 19th and early 20th centuries – balls and dances and hunting parties and weekends at country estates), meeting one eligible (or not eligible, it didn’t really matter) representative of European nobility.  Rumors are that Jennie Churchill had affairs without end.  According to Sebba, Churchill biographer Roy Jenkins claims that she had 200 lovers.  Sebba doubts this number, or anything near it.  And she thinks that the rumors of Jennie’s love life were by and large just rumors.  Not that Jennie was not sought after by many and not that she did not have close relationships, physical or otherwise, with a number of them.  But precise evidence seems to be lacking.

Jennie did marry twice after the death of Randolph Churchill.  Neither were good marriages, and both seem to have been large driven by physical attraction.  Strangely, each of her second and third husbands were more than twenty years her junior.  One was Winston’s age; the other three years younger.

The last marriage only lasted three years, broken up by Jennie Churchill’s death at age 67.  And she should not have died.  She had fallen and broken a foot and for some reason it didn’t heal correctly and gangrene settled in and her leg had to be amputated above the knee, and this was not successful either, as an artery burst in her leg above the amputation, and she couldn’t be saved.  A sad and weird end.

Both books quite interesting.


The Most Unpleasant Woman in the World? Married to the Most Unpleasant Man?

This is what I get reading Lipika Pelham’s “The Unlikely Settler”, her new book describing her life in Jerusalem.  The only sadder than her life there is her determination to write about it, which, as she says, was a form of therapy.

The background.  Pelham was born in India of a mixed family – one parent a Hindu, one a Muslim.  She was born in Bengal near the Bangladesh border.  But she went to London to live and study and become a journalist, and there she met Leo, a British Jew.  So far, so good.  They were both attractive intellectuals, interested in many of the same things, attracted to each other.  Race and religion and ethnicity didn’t matter.  They fell in love; they married.

Now Leo was not a typical British Jew.  He was the grandson of a man who fought in the 1948 Israeli war of independence, and he was convinced that the Israeli Jews had done the Palestinians a great wrong.  And his goal was to right the wrongs, so he studied and became fluent in Arabic and Islamic studies, and went to work for an international NGO, spending most of his time in the West Bank and Gaza, but also traveling throughout the Middle East, hiding from everyone the fact that he was Jewish.  This is what took up most of his time.  What else did he do?  He ignored his family and argued with his wife.

She, on the other hand, was more interested in learning about her husband’s Jewish heritage – somehow her son had a Bar Mitzvah (seeming to skip the need to convert to Judaism first – the mohel at the bris of her second son caught on though – he circumcised the child, but refused to perform any religious rituals.  Her son attended an international school where his best friends were Palestinians; he was clearly confused as to his identity – which I think he too may have kept hidden at the school.  She had given up her BBC job to move to Israel, where she became a housewife and mother of two.  Eventually, she became a freelancer and then a film maker, choosing as her subject Israeli Arabs and Palestinians and their life in Israel and the territories.  She also spent time worrying about her bad mothering, trying to understand her Jewish and Arab friends, and becoming disgusted with everything that she saw and heard.  Oh, yes, and she argued with her husband a lot, and complained to him even more.

They broke up several times, but rather than have enough sense to stay apart, they kept coming back together.  They fought, they yelled, he left the house – sometimes to a hotel, sometimes for months.  It was really awful.

And throughout this, there were health issues, and visa issues and problems with (and of) their friends, and moving to a new house each year, and on and on and on. And she had even greater problems in a country where ethnicity matters – and she was a minority of one.

The Israel she presents is carefully crafted to look like a horribly bureaucratic and ethnically divided place with no hope of redemption, but…….of course, this is where she wants to be; she can’t think of anywhere else she’d rather live.  And even at the end of the book, when her third child (she had one miscarriage, described in detail in the book, where the villain of the piece were the Israeli guards at Ben Gurion Airport) is still a baby, and she seems to have lost all ability to communicate with her teenage son, but where she and her husband are back together again (although now Leo is running around covering the Arab Spring, never home – am I the only one who sees a pattern here? This book was published this year, so probably completed in 2013 – I’d bet you they have broken up three times since the book was finally finished.).

There are a lot of portraits of Israel.  Some are beautiful.  Some are ugly.  This is an ugly one.  But an ugly one from a unique perspective.  And a perspective of someone who would find any place ugly, and make herself unhappy wherever she went.

Orioles v. Nationals – Starting Now…….

Every year, the Washington Nationals play a series against the Baltimore Orioles.  The teams’ stadiums are less than 50 miles apart (we live within the city limits of Washington, but can get to the Orioles’ Camden Yards  in Baltimore quicker that we can get to Nationals Stadium – but that’s another story for another day), and the series has been labelled “The Battle of the Beltways Series” (both cities are ringed by circular Beltways – the Beltways are less than 30 miles apart, I think).  The idea has been to create a local rivalry.  I think that’s a mistake – and I look forward to the Baltimore-Washington series less than any other.

Why?  A number of reasons.

First, the teams are in different leagues – the Nats in the National and the Orioles in the American.  I think it is difficult to have a rivalry between teams in different leagues.

Second, there are a lot of people in this area (and I assume in Baltimore) who like both teams.  Before the Nats came here from Montreal in 2005, the Orioles were the local team, and Washington was filled with Oriole fans. Most, but not all, have transferred their primary allegiance, but many, if not most, have retained a soft spot for the Orioles.  Thus, the series forces fans to take sides, when they really don’t want to.

Third, because the cities are so close to each other, the crowd at each game is pretty well divided between the two teams – a home town fan faces tens of thousands of opposing fans in their own stadium.  Never a comfortable feeling.

Rather than create a healthy rivalry between the two teams, the series upsets the equilibrium of the neighborhood.  No one is benefited.

Now, if the Orioles and Nationals ever get to the World Series…….that series will be a real rivalry, when it matters, forcing fans to look deeply within themselves to determine who they really are, and whom they are for.  But until then, I would suggest that the Battle of the Beltway Series is a big mistake.

(To make it clear, I say that as a 100% Nats fan.  I am speaking not only for myself, but for the greater good.)


Public TV (13 cents)

I decided that I would track our PBS television station (WETA-TV) during the month of July. I rarely turned this station on, so I am generally in the dark when PHD shows are mentioned.

So what have I concluded so far?

1. I knew that the PBS News Hour was an informative show, and it is.

2. Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries is a silly show. Midsomer Murders is pretty silly as well, but very well made and entertaining to watch. Doc Martin is supposed to be silly, and it is, but it’s a kick. I’d rate it over Midsomer.

3. Last night for some reason,  WETA showed Paul Newman’s Cool Hand Luke. I tried to stick with the film, made about 2/3 of it, but turned it off once I realized it was a pretty pointless movie. I know it gets good reviews.

4. Watched a little of Bill Moyers today. He didn’t used to be silly, but seemed so today. The focus was on corporate power in government and society.

5. Charlie Rose is on each night at 11. He is as good as his guests. But he always looks like he’s struggling to stay awake.

More to come. And, by the way, i am going to avoid political issues. I hope.

4th of July in Washington DC – good fireworks……but the entertainment?

Well, I have to admit that we have not gone down to the Mall to see the fireworks in several years.  It used to be an annual ritual – going down early, getting a good seat on the Capitol grounds, listening to the National Symphony and watching the fireworks to the strains of Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever”.  Ah, but that was then and this is now.

Now, we stay home and turn on PBS and watch the entertainment and the fireworks on TV, the same as we would do if we lived in Ypsilanti or Tuscaloosa.

I have to say that the fireworks this year looked spectacular – it was a very long display, beautiful colors and shapes, and it looked like everything went off perfectly.

But the entertainment?  Now, most of the “stars” that entertained the audience were people I have never heard of.  I don’t know whether that makes me more or less qualified to judge them.  And I generally don’t want to judge anyone harshly in a blog post – because why should I?  I am not a qualified critic, I am not an expert on their arts, etc. But tonight I will make an exception.

The moderator of the show is, he said, the moderator of  “Dancing With the Stars”, a show I have never watched.  He is clearly a central casting moderator – good looking with a full set of graying hair and a fine voice, one who reads teleprompters expertly and who smiles a lot, and someone lacking completely in humor, spontaneity, and (at least on stage) normal human qualities.

And then there were the performers.  First, I will start with the two earned grades of, say, B or B+.  Kelli O’Hara did a more than passable job singing her medleys of patriotic songs, although she looked a little stiff and sang with what I thought was a British intonation (strange for an Oklahoman).  And Frankie Valli, although his voice has thinned, and his energy level displays his 80 years (he looks great, by the way) certainly gets a good grade for his three pieces.

But what about these others?  Patti LaBelle sang “Over the Rainbow” in a manner making it hard to recognize the tune (it does not need fancy embellishment), country singer Sarah Evans was completely nondescript, Michael McDonald was an embarrassment, Phillip Phillips and Kendall Schmidt (speaking of people I have never heard of) wouldn’t get parts in local musicals, and Jordan Sparks sounded ordinary, ordinary, ordinary.  Even John Williams’  new arrangement of “The Star Spangled Banner” simply sounded like “The Star Spangled Banner”.  Oh for the days, when the NSO led the way, with just a top star guest or two making an appearance.  Mstislav Rostropovich provided much more spirit than………sorry, already forgot the name of that guy who was conducting the orchestra.

Did the on-site audience enjoy the show?  They were tapping their feet and moving their lips, so perhaps so.  I know there’s no accounting for taste.  But for me………to show off the great talent that we have in our country, we could do a lot better.

Short Posting: Kudos to Mayron Tsong and Sergei Prokofiev

There’s nothing like Prokofiev to make good pianists sound as good as they can be.  This week’s concert at The Church of Epiphany featured Mayron Tsong, associate professor and dean of undergraduate studies at the University of Maryland’s School of Music, and a wonderfully accomplished soloist.  A spcialist in Russian keyboard music, Ms. Tsong started her 50 minute concert with Prokofiev’s Sarcasms, Op. 17, played with style, power, nuance and remarkable speed and accuracy, and ended it with his Toccata, Op. 11, which features, as she said in her short introduction to the piece, too many notes (or ‘touches’) to count.  In between the somewhat quieter Etudes Tableaux by Rachmaninov and, to provide a little geographic and temporal variety, Haydn’s Sonata in D Major and Chopin’s Barcarolle.  Could not have been more enjoyable.

Did it Again. Why Did I Read Malcolm Gladwell’s “Blink”?

So, all decisions are not made after a lot of thought, after weighing all the evidence, and using our rational facility.  Some are made instinctively, or based on years of expertise, or reading facial movements that we don’t know we are reading.  And the rational decision making is not necessarily the best.  Sometimes, you should go with your hunches.  And there are a lot of examples you can give, and a lot of sources you can cite, to demonstrate this.

This is what you learn from “Blink”.  It’s entertaining, yes, and interesting, yes, but not profound.  By instinct, I didn’t think I needed to finish it.  Should have gone with my hunch.