Face-to-face conversation is a basic human need. It’s how we learn to speak and think — how we form and maintain relationships. When practiced by consenting adults with courtesy and curiosity, it is one of life’s great pleasures. Conversation has been practiced and refined for centuries: from salon, to coffee house, to cocktail party, to…

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Recently, I read a story about a young woman in rural Nepal who burned to death because she was having her period. Partabi Bogati was following the ancient Hindu practice of chhaupadi (from a word that means “impurity”), which sees menstruating women as bearers of disease, disaster and bad luck; they are barred from handling…

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I can’t stop looking at the New York Times special feature, “Redefining Representation: The Women of the 116th Congress.” This gallery of 130 — of the 131 — female senators and representatives is a celebration of racial, ethnic, religious and geographical diversity. It’s full of firsts: first Native American women (plural!), first Muslim women (plural!),…

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I am outside and the app on my phone tells me it’s only 20 degrees. I haven’t had any coffee yet and I forgot one of my gloves, or maybe it’s lost; I lose a lot of gloves. The commuters sprint by, hoping to make it to the streetcar before it pulls away, lest they…

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Reading The New Yorkeris a weekly pleasure – not just the cartoons, though they are reliably wonderful. A few weeks ago, (12/17/18) I came across an article about artificial facial recognition, “Here’s Looking at You” by staff writer David Owens. It begins in an Irish cow barn where cameras record the actions of Bossy and…

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The week before the vote, I said good morning to my neighbor, who answered, “He’s not going to be confirmed is he? I said, “Yes, he is.” She looked horrified. I was equally horrified, but I didn’t doubt the outcome. The old bulls (as Dan Rather called the old white men who defend power and…

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The sidewalk in my Brookline neighborhood is a free-for-all – literally. The students are coming and more to the point, the students are going and leaving behind mountains of stuff: cat-shredded couches, chairs missing legs or seats, and a million giant garbage bags stuffed with the flotsam of student life: clothes, pillows, half empty jars…

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After reading The New York Times rave about The Taming of the Shrew at the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, I got cranky. And I mean cranky like a five-year-old in the supermarket who wants Sugar Smacks  (which are now called “Honey” Smacks, for obvious reasons.) But I can’t go to Garrison in upstate New York to see…

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Maybe I should stop calling it a crush. Last spring, I signed up for the Shakespeare Workout (an all-level, no-prior-experience-necessary acting class offered by Actor’s Shakespeare Project in Boston.) Since then, I’ve been to as many live performances of as many Shakespeare plays as I could get to, watched several more on video, lurked at…

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