Tag Archives: Nicholas Kristof

Bernie and Hillary spar once again in terrific Dem Debate. Nancy Reagan’s indelible impact on Gen X’ers like me, in one TV clip. And remembering the great Bud Collins, as fine a man tennis has seen


That was one heck of a newsy weekend, on a lot of fronts, in my world. Two very famous people died (more on them below), my Duke basketball boys lost to North Carolina Saturday night (not crushing because Duke is so undermanned but still, I hate losing to the Heels), Ted Cruz looks like the only person who might be able to stop Donald Trump, and Peyton Manning is going to announce his retirement today (and maybe Maria Sharapova too?)

No way to cover all that in one blog post, so let’s start with with a crucially important Democratic debate from Flint, Mich. Sunday night.

First of all, I don’t know what kind of “presidential debate” this was. Nobody made reference to their penis size, nobody called each other liars, and I don’t think in the whole two hours anyone obsessively bragged about their poll numbers. Weren’t Hillary and Bernie watching the GOP Debate last week, to see how it’s done? Geez, all we got Sunday night was a couple hours on substantive issues, policy, and real answers. Madness!

— In all seriousness, what a damn breath of fresh air this Dem debate was. Actual policy discussion, no ridiculous braggadoccio, and very few insults.  Tweeted NYT columnist Nicholas Kristof: “Listening to tonight’s debate  and the audience, it appears the Democrats and Republicans are competing to lead different countries.”

And said Yahoo!’s Matt Bai: “Watching these GOP and Dem debates isn’t like watching 2 different parties. It’s like watching 2 different political systems entirely.”

— Personally I thought it was another even debate. Hillary was outstanding on the schools question, her “blind spot” when it comes to race, and on guns. Bernie was terrific as always in pushing her about her Wall Street ties, his forcefulness about income inequality, and his fantastic line about mental health (“Either President Clinton or President Sanders is going to invest a lot of money in mental health, and when you watch these Republican debates you know why.”)

— But as a huge Bernie backer, I must admit that an “even” debate doesn’t help. He needs, in boxing parlance, some 10-8 rounds here. He had a strong weekend, winning Kansas and Nebraska and Maine caucuses, but he needs a yuge state win. He needs Michigan, or Florida, or Ohio on March 15 to really turn the tide here.

— I thought Bernie was fantastic and moving, in embracing his Jewishness really for the first time in front of a national audience. But I also think it’s completely ridiculous that in 2016, candidates still get asked about God and religion in their life, when it’s completely irrelevant and immaterial to them doing the job of President.

— Final thought: Bernie has to be careful with his hectoring and his temper and his “Excuse me, don’t interrupt me” like he did a few times tonight. Comes off looking bad.

**Next up today, Sunday brought news of the death of Nancy Reagan, who symbolized so much to so many. For a lot of people, she was a symbol of style of grace, the first lady of the 1980s and the strength behind her husband, Ronald Reagan.

For others, she was a cold, shrewish woman who consulted an astrologer on major decisions and helped her President husband do some terrible things for non-rich white people in that decade.

But for me, and my fellow Generation X’ers? Nancy Reagan will always be associated with three words: “Just Say No.” Her preaching on the drug issue to children was by far what we will remember her for, nevermind that her husband was doing absolutely nothing to help poor and inner-city people get off drugs, or give them economic opportunities besides selling on the corner.

Yep, for us and Nancy, it’ll always be about this “Diff’rent Strokes” episode…


**Finally today, the tributes have been pouring in since word came down Friday that the great Bud Collins, a wonderful sportswriter and sportscaster of my favorite sport, tennis, had died.

Everyone in tennis has a Bud Collins story, or at least, they do if they’re lucky. As good a sportswriter and broadcaster as he was, he was an even better person. There was no one he didn’t have time for, whether you were from Sports Illustrated or a two-bit weekly with a circulation of 12.

Me? I got a Christmas e-card from Bud and his wife twice, and felt honored. I had interviewed the legend a few times by phone that year for a few freelance stories I wrote for Tennis Week magazine, and thoroughly enjoyed both conversations.

You couldn’t not enjoy talking to Bud; I saw in one of the tributes to him a comparison to Dick Vitale, in that both were so passionate about their sport that you couldn’t help feeling energized.

I’m sure I got the card because I had first emailed Bud through his wife, Anita, who took care of him in all ways, and that thousands of other people got the same card.

Still, I was excited. I felt, somehow, part of the big, beautiful world of Bud Collins. He made everyone feel that way, and he will be sorely missed.

I hope he’s got a great seat for this year’s French Open up there in heaven.

Here’s the best Bud tribute I’ve read, by the great S.L. Price on SI.com.


Good News Friday: A doctor in Nepal cures blind people with a $50 operation. A 94-year-old man plays ice hockey, really well. And the “Finding Dory” trailer looks fabulous


And a Happy Friday to you all; mine would be a lot happier if the Jets hadn’t played so godawful last night, playing like dogs for a few quarters, making a furious comeback, getting in a position to steal a win, and then blowing it with horrific play-calling straight out of the Paul Hackett era. And then having to watch a celebratory Rex bleepin’ Ryan curse up a blue streak in celebration was delightful. I hate the Jets, I really hate them.

OK, rant over. No time to feel glum; too much good stuff to share. First up, one of the reasons I love the New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof so much is because he shows you how even a little bit of money, in the right place, can have a huge impact on lives.

Kristof this week brought us the story of a remarkable doctor in Nepal named Sanduk Ruit, who has, and this is not a typo, given blind people the power of sight 100,000 times.

That’s right: The man has done more than 100,000 eye surgeries on blind people. That’s believed to be the record for one single person.

In this story, Kristof goes to Nepal and watches Ruit perform cataract surgery, using a technique that is now being learned in the United States. The best part is that this surgery costs $25 per patient, and takes five minutes. Five minutes!

“If we can do it in Nepal,” Ruit said, “we can do it anywhere.”

Look at the face of that woman above, who’s just been the power sight. of sight. That is as true and pure a look of joy as you will ever see.

**Next up today, a story I couldn’t believe the first time I saw it, and still can’t. This is from a few weeks back on “CBS Sunday Morning,” and it’s a Steve Hartman special if I ever saw one.

Steve found a 94-year-old hockey player named Mark Sertich, still playing while just six years short of a century. Mark plays all the time, has the coolest handlebar mustache this side of Rollie Fingers, and sounds like a wonderful guy.

This man plays ice hockey, full pads and all, 3-4 days per week. At 94! Sertich has been playing for 85 years. You know how many slapshots, bodychecks and goalie saves he’s seen in his life? Me neither, but it’s higher than I can count.

If this man doesn’t inspire you to go run a lap or two, nothing will. What an awesome outlook on life.

**Finally today, “Finding Nemo” might be my favorite animated movie ever. “Shrek” is amazing, and so is “Up,” but “Finding Nemo” gets me in the heart every single time I’ve seen it (and I’ve seen it at least a dozen times.)

For reasons I can’t quite fathom, it’s taken Pixar more than a decade to come up with a sequel to the fabulous flick. But finally at long last, “Finding Dory” is almost here.

It’s out next summer, but the trailer was released Wednesday, and I couldn’t stop smiling while watching it.

As a bonus, here’s an Ellen DeGeneres clip (she’s the voice of Dory, remember!) from this week that definitely qualifies as Good News. Ms. Beasley, I’m coming to New Orleans to eat at that truck…

Good News Friday: An NBA star gives a car to a woman in need. The best Vine ever stars a dog and a White Stripes song. And the Wall Street trader who donates half his salary


And a Happy Friday to you all! For my fellow Hebrews, hope your Passover has gone well, and for the rest of you, you can now stop staring at matzoh containers in your local supermarket.

We start Good News Friday today with a sweet tale from one of the NBA’s best players this season. Russell Westbrook is kind of amazing, in that he’s almost single-handedly dragging the injury-riddled Oklahoma City Thunder (always loved that term, “injury-riddled.” Sounds way better than “injury-plagued.” But I digress) into the NBA playoffs.

On the court, Westbrook is amazing to watch, sometimes out of control, sometimes awe-inspiring, always intense and scowling and looking like he’s ready to bore a hole through you just with his stare.

But off the court, turns out he’s a hell of a nice kid. Lee Jenkins, the enormously-talented Sports Illustrated writer, wrote this fabulous story in SI about Westbrook last week, and I highly recommend it.

But Westbrook is making GNF this week because of this gesture: He donated the Kia Sorrento car he won for being the MVP of February’s NBA All-Star Game to 19-year-old Kerstin Gonzales, a single mother of two who lives in Oklahoma City.

According to the story, Westbrook surprised Gonzales with the keys Monday, with the help of Sunbeam Family Services, an organization that works with low-income people in central Oklahoma. The star is also paying for her registration and insurance for a year.

Awesome. Good job, Russell. He seems like he really gets it.

**Next up, the Twitter user who posted this said it’s maybe the best Vine ever, and I was dubious until I watched it. And now I’m totally in agreement.

I present to you the most fabulous six seconds of your day: A dog, a guitar, and the song heard round the world, “Seven Nation Army.” (Turn the volume up and enjoy)

**And finally today, Nicholas Kristof is an amazing, fearless journalist who goes to parts of the world no one else wants to, and writes about people who never get any attention.

I’m in the middle of reading his book “A Path Appears” and it’s terrific and inspiring, partly because it brings to light wonderful, charitable people and organizations.

This week in his column in the New York Times Kristof wrote about the unusual Wall Street trader Matt Wage, who took a high-paying job after graduation simply so he could donate half his salary to charity.

A very unusual man, and well worth applauding. Read Kristof’s column on Wage here.


Searching for answers in the Woody Allen case. A commercial the NFL doesn’t want you to see. And a powerful ad about learning to read


So maybe you’ve heard about this whole recent mess regarding Woody Allen and the molestation charges by Dylan Farrow, Mia’s daughter, once again making news 20 years after they were first investigated.

This has all started up again because Dylan Farrow wrote an op-ed piece with Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times on Feb.1, describing in excruciating detail her recollections of Woody Allen taking her into a small, dark room and sexually assaulting her when she was 7 years old.

The charges were investigated by police at the time, and no charges or arrests were made of Allen, but there has always been some controversy about that.

Years later, of course, Allen married Mia’s adopted daughter Soon-Yi, who was about 40 years younger than him, and lost millions of fans and a ton of respect from many for that, shall we say, bizarre life choice.

But these Dylan Farrow allegations re-surfacing have really riled a lot of people up, especially after Woody was given a lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes a few weeks ago.

There were denunciations of Allen from so many corners of the Internet this week, and many of them were spot-on. Then there was this full-throated, fairly clear-eyed defense of Allen, contradicting much of Farrow’s story, by Robert Weide in The Daily Beast. (Weide is a longtime admirer of the director and recently made a documentary for PBS about Woody).

But then there was this equally compelling article I read by Natalie Shure in The Atlantic, herself a victim of molestation as a young child, explaining why inconsistencies in 7-year-old Dylan’s story at the time is not unusual, or surprising.

Honestly, after reading so much about this the last few days, I don’t know what I think the “right” side of this is. Of course I sympathize with any sexual assault victim, and it’s twice as heinous when that victim is too young to even attempt to fend for themselves, or speak up. If what Dylan Farrow said really happened, Woody Allen should be locked up and imprisoned forever.

But we also have innocent until proven guilty in this country, and Weide makes some excellent points about Mia Farrow’s “pushing” her daughter toward certain details, among other things. I think this has hung over Allen’s head for 20 years, and if he really did not commit this act, it’s wildly unfair that it has trailed him for two decades.

There doesn’t appear to be any clarity of the truth here, just a whole lot of muddled mess. I’ve thought about this a lot and I truly don’t know what to think.

**Next up today, here’s a pretty powerful ad that would’ve been great to run during the Super Bowl, except you just know the NFL and FOX never would’ve approved it.

The National Congress of American Indians released a two-minute video on its YouTube channel, targeting a team name it says is racist, the Washington Redskins.

Will it have an impact on the debate? Who knows. What I do know is that the longer this issue stays in the public consciousness, the more pressure Dan Snyder and the NFL will feel to change the ‘Skins’ name.

**Finally, once again a commercial from a foreign country blew me away, and makes me wonder how U.S. advertisements don’t seem nearly as good. This is an ad from a liquor company, shown in South Africa, but it has nothing to do with alcohol. It’s about … well, I don’t want to say too much. Just watch it. I found it very moving.