What a Rat Race

By Ande Jacobson

Robert was restless. He looked around quickly and then took off running through the lab, climbing over various apparatus, leaping from landing to landing, until finally stopping atop a bookcase in the corner. It was late, the lights were dimmed, and he wanted to play. This was not an unusual occurrence after the scientists left for the day. Continue reading

Too many people

By Ande Jacobson

To welcome the New Year, 60 Minutes presented a sobering look at the negative impact humankind has had on our planet. Humankind has been too successful as a species. The objective measure of that “success” is that we have grown beyond the bounds of what the earth can support. There are too many people, and according to Dr. Paul Ehrlich, the problem was well in sight many decades ago. In his 1968 book The Population Bomb he put the crisis on food, forecasting that humanity would be unable to feed itself. Instead of working to control our population, we found ways to substantially increase the food supply. Now, while we may be able to produce enough food to feed our ever increasing world population, we cannot create space that doesn’t exist or provide enough fresh water. Through our exponential population growth we’ve encroached on natural habitats worldwide and exacerbated climate change. This combination has created the sixth mass extinction crisis where species the world over are disappearing destroying the ecological balance needed to sustain life, all wrought by too many humans roaming the planet. Continue reading

Renewing college friendships

By Ande Jacobson

At the beginning of a new year I sometimes think about years past, especially when a year starts off with as much chaos as 2023. Between watching the antics in the U.S. House of Representatives and the series of once-in-a-century storms in California, events can be a little overwhelming sometimes. Rather than dwelling on things that I cannot control or change, I instead ponder where I’ve been, and where I’m going. Sometimes I look a long way back. While I’m not sure what triggered the memory, I recently thought about a few oddly connected occurrences from many years ago stemming from my undergraduate years. Continue reading

Cleaning House

By Ande Jacobson

2023 completed its first week. We passed the second anniversary of an insurrection ending the U.S. tradition of the peaceful transition of power for the first time in our history, and we watched the U.S. House of Representatives put on a chaotic spectacle taking just over four days and 15 votes before finally electing Rep. Kevin McCarthy Speaker of the House. To get there, McCarthy made several concessions to the extremist faction that has taken over his party, a faction that supported the insurrection and the insurrectionists. Those concessions have been covered extensively in the media and could have dire consequences for the country as the year progresses if they come to pass. Continue reading

The end of the King and Maxwell series

By Ande Jacobson

King and Maxwell is the sixth and final book in David Baldacci’s King & Maxwell series, and it doesn’t disappoint. The last three books of the series, First Family, The Sixth Man, and King and Maxwell are closely coupled, each picking up where the last one leaves off. Sean King and Michelle Maxwell are looking to get back to a more normal, less life-threatening routine when they come upon a teenager running through the woods with a gun in a vicious storm. The boy, Tyler Wingo, is frantic. He’s been informed that his father, Sam Wingo, was killed in combat in Afghanistan. The trouble is that Sam Wingo is very much alive, and he’s a hunted man though it takes a while to determine that this is the case. After some negotiation and being threatened by various government and government adjacent thugs, King, Maxwell, their client Tyler Wingo, his father Sam, and a couple of innocent bystanders are in grave danger. No matter the risks, they aren’t deterred from their quest to clear Sam’s name and get him and Tyler to safety. Continue reading

2022 is almost over

By Ande Jacobson

Every night (or first thing in the morning) I read Heather Cox Richardson’s latest Letter from an American. She writes her observations of the day’s events from the perspective of an historian focused on what she thinks will be important 100 years from now. Her letters often pull together disparate threads to provide a read on current events that might not always be obvious to someone not-so-well-versed in history and in which events seemingly have historical significance. One thing that she’s said many times in her various live sessions is that as an historian, she often focuses on what people say and do. This includes reading newspapers, and in her deep dives into the past, those news reports provide a fascinating view into the important events of the day. Continue reading

The 28th Annual San Jose SaxMas happened

By Ande Jacobson

The 28th Annual San Jose Saxophone Christmas (or SaxMas to the initiated) took place on 17 December 2022. It was a tad smaller than it had been a few years ago, but it was energetic and festive nonetheless. There’s something special about so many saxophone enthusiasts coming together to make holiday music just for the fun of it.

The players came together in the morning to run through the charts, and then they gave two concerts in the afternoon. The first one was held at San Jose’s Christmas in the Park. The second concert was held at San Jose’s Eastridge Mall. Continue reading

‘The Daughters of Kobani’ shows just what motivated women can do

By Ande Jacobson

In February 2021, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon’s groundbreaking book, The Daughters of Kobani, became available. This is an important book telling the story of the women of the Kurdish Militia, an all-female fighting force (the YPJ) that pushed back and took revenge on the men of ISIS to free Kobani and other Kurdish towns in northeastern Syria. They faced long odds and opposition from their families, the oppressive regime in their native Syria, and hostile neighboring nations. They showed that women are not only equal to men, they are a force to be taken seriously. Lemmon spent hundreds of hours on trips and interviews between 2017 and 2020. She spoke with a broad swath of militia members as well as with civilians just trying to survive in Syria and Iraq. She also talked with the American military advisors in country and with military and political functionaries in the U.S. about the challenges surrounding U.S. involvement. The U.S. was keenly aware of the dangers posed by ISIS to the region and to the world, so there was a vested interest in making this work. Continue reading

Is Mastodon the solution?

By Ande Jacobson

I’ve written about social media before, most recently as the Twitter turmoil was ramping up. I originally joined Twitter back in 2011 mostly to help bolster my fledgling A Good Reed Review website. Originally, that’s all I used it for. Every time I’d publish a piece on the site, I’d have it appear on the site’s Facebook page and on what I considered its Twitter account. Then I got involved in politics in a more substantial way in 2020 volunteering for the Biden text team during the general election. At that point, I started using my Twitter account for more than just the music and theater related content on my website, and I started to recognize much of the good that Twitter could do. News agencies had long used it to get important information out quickly, particularly in times of crisis. The same was true for various public figures. Continue reading

What happened to Edgar Roy?

By Ande Jacobson

David Baldacci’s fifth book in the King & Maxwell series came out in 2011. The story in The Sixth Man picks up where First Family left off. Sean King and Michelle Maxwell have again taken on more than they expected when they venture up to Maine to help out King’s old mentor on a case. A brilliant but troubled genius has been accused of mass murder. The man is Edgar Roy who theoretically worked for the IRS. In reality though, his job was far more complex than that. He was recruited to help the intelligence community in ways that are completely unimaginable. He was the only person in the country, and probably the world, who could do the job for which he was hired. He was part of something known as the E-Program, and he was the only E-Six ever discovered after a few E-Fives went down in flames. Continue reading