Digital Diary

Moving the problem down the beach

Sandbags on beach after Hurricane Sandy, in 2012

Sandbags on beach after Hurricane Sandy, in 2012

From Robert Whitcomb’s “Digital Diary,’’ in

’“Climate change poses risks to real estate that homebuyers may not be able to predict. As sea level rises, coastal properties, for example, may be subject to increased flooding and intensifying storm surges. First-time homebuyers often lack the expertise to evaluate these new risks, and thus tend to underestimate them and overpay for increasingly exposed properties.’’

— Matthew E. Kahn, professor of economics and business and the director of the 21st Century Cities Initiative at Johns Hopkins University, and Amine Ouazad, an associate professor in the Department of Applied Economics at HEC Montreal, in a Bloomberg column. To read it, please hit this link:


The Cape Cod Times reports that for mysterious reasons, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has overruled the National Park Service and the Town of Wellfleet’s Conservation Commission and is allowing a 241-foot rock revetment to be built to protect (for a while….) a McMansion owned by James Hoeland (of Newtown, Pa., and Vero Beach, Fla.) from sliding into the sea from its current position on top of a rapidly eroding bluff. (Remember that Cape Cod is but a giant glacial moraine, which is washing away at ever faster rates because of sea-level rise linked to global warming caused by our burning fossil fuel. 

The property is within the Cape Cod National Seashore. 

The revetment will worsen erosion down the beach. And one huge storm may make it far less effective than Mr. Hoeland hopes. As coastal flooding and erosion worsen, especially along sand, gravel and boulder heaps such as on the Cape, we’ll see more demands from rich summer property owners that such rock structures be built but they won't be effective for long and will hurt the property of neighbors.

To read the story, please hit this link.


North Country beauty


Adapted From Robert Whitcomb’s “Digital Diary,’’ in

Artists love New England’s white birches. (One of my favorite pictures is an encaustic painting (which uses a wax process) of a stand of birches by Nickerson Miles, of Barrington — above). Castle Freeman Jr. pays a Yankee Magazine tribute to these trees, often associated, along with maples and elms, with our region. The further north you go in New England the more you see them. The birch, Freeman writes, is “by no means a flamboyant, show-offy tree {unlike, say, the flaming sugar maples of fall} but by its unique coloration {including pale-yellow leaves in autumn} and habit of growth, it makes its pale, slender presence very welcome. It’s not for nothing that the white birch is New Hampshire’s officially designated state tree.’’

Birches are also fun to carve words on and, as Frost famously wrote (below), to swing on. And, Freeman notes, its medicinal qualities make it “the apothecary shop of the north woods.’’ I hope that global warming doesn’t kill them off.

‘‘When I see birches bend to left and right

Across the lines of straighter darker trees,

I like to think some boy's been swinging them.

But swinging doesn't bend them down to stay

As ice-storms do. Often you must have seen them

Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning

After a rain. They click upon themselves

As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored

As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.

Soon the sun's warmth makes them shed crystal shells

Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust—

Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away

You'd think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.

They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,

And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed

So low for long, they never right themselves:

You may see their trunks arching in the woods

Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground

Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair

Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.

But I was going to say when Truth broke in

With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm

I should prefer to have some boy bend them

As he went out and in to fetch the cows—

Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,

Whose only play was what he found himself,

Summer or winter, and could play alone.

One by one he subdued his father's trees

By riding them down over and over again

Until he took the stiffness out of them,

And not one but hung limp, not one was left

For him to conquer. He learned all there was

To learn about not launching out too soon

And so not carrying the tree away

Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise

To the top branches, climbing carefully

With the same pains you use to fill a cup

Up to the brim, and even above the brim.

Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,

Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.

So was I once myself a swinger of birches.

And so I dream of going back to be.

It's when I'm weary of considerations,

And life is too much like a pathless wood

Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs

Broken across it, and one eye is weeping

From a twig's having lashed across it open.

I'd like to get away from earth awhile

And then come back to it and begin over.

May no fate willfully misunderstand me

And half grant what I wish and snatch me away

Not to return. Earth's the right place for love:

I don't know where it's likely to go better.

I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree,

And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk

Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,

But dipped its top and set me down again.

That would be good both going and coming back.

One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.’’

— “Birches,’’ by Robert Frost

Getting New Hampshire more on track

The old train station in Woonsocket, R.I., that's the headquarters of Boston Surface Railroad Co.

The old train station in Woonsocket, R.I., that's the headquarters of Boston Surface Railroad Co.


Adapted from Robert Whitcomb's "Digital Diary,'' in

In further acceptance that southern New Hampshire is part of Greater Boston (as is northern  the rather new Boston Surface Railroad Co. to provide commuter service from Nashua and Bedford, N.H., to Lowell, Mass., where passengers could link up with the MBTA. The only passenger rail service that the Granite State has now is Amtrak’s Downeaster, which connects Boston and Brunswick, Maine (via Portland), with stops at Dover, Durham and Exeter.

Mayor Donchess says the service would be a public-private partnership.

Some readers of past columns might remember that Boston Surface Railroad plans to open  a commuter rail line connecting Providence and  Worcester,  with service now expected to start in the summer of 2019.


Great stuff!

More leaf-chomping on the way for this spring in New England

Hillsides in a gypsy-moth infestation.

Hillsides in a gypsy-moth infestation.

Adapted from an item in Robert Whitcomb's "Digital Diary'' in

Scientists say that the gypsy moths will be back in force this spring to continue the devastation of the southern New England woods we saw last year. The ecological changes wrought by New England’s long drought are blamed.  The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation reported:

“Recent drought conditions have limited the effectiveness of a soil-borne fungus, Entomophaga maimaiga, which has helped keep gypsy moth populations in check since the last large outbreak during the 1980s.”

 I remember driving through vast swathes of virtually leafless trees early last summer around Worcester. In a way, the openness, combined with the ground-level greenery, was exhilarating -- until you considered it a bit more. I wonder how many trees would die if this infestation occurs more frequently, with, say, global warming.

Let's hope that conservation folks don't obey a public outcry to aerial-spray the hell out of these creatures, and in so doing kill many other creatures. 


Coastal welfare for the rich

Excerpted from Robert Whitcomb's Nov. 24 "Digital Diary'' in GoLocal24.

Contrary to the usual rhetoric, much “government welfare’’ in America,  be it through tax policy or direct federal spending, goes to the affluent. A good example is the federal flood insurance program, in which vast sums of taxpayer money are spent to protect the investment of the well off (including some very rich) folks who can afford to have a seaside house,  which is in many cases a second home.

This insurance, of course, encourages people to build and/or keep expensive houses in flood zones. Thus over and over the taxpayers have to keep bailing them out (sometimes literally).

We got a reminder of this the other week with word that the Army Corps of Engineers said it wants to spend $58.6 million to lift up 341 private structures in southern Rhode Island to make them less vulnerable to storm surges as the ocean continues to rise with global warming. This would be in addition to continuing to subsidize the owners’ flood insurance. Many of the owners are from New York, Connecticut and elsewhere from outside the Ocean State.

This would be a raid on the U.S. Treasury to further comfort the comfortable but will almost inevitably happen, encouraged by the seaside towns because most of these people do pay hefty property taxes. But inland-town folks paying federal taxes might not find this pleasing.

Save this jewel of a landscape

Excerpted and revised from an item in Robert Whitcomb's  Aug. 11 Digital Diary column in GoLocal24. 

Many readers may know the exquisite landscape around Allens Pond, in South Dartmouth, Mass. The mix of very fertile farmland, marsh, river, pond,  beautiful beaches on Buzzards Bay and lovely modest old houses is one of the treasures of our region, There are vineyards nearby that recall the Bordeaux region of France. But, as in any such areas close to cities, there are always intense development pressures.  In this case, challenges include a proposal for a 38-lot subdivision.

A coalition of groups, led by the Buzzards  Bay Coalition ( and the Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust (, are trying to raise money and jump through a complicated series of legal and financial hoops to preserve one of the few stretches ofrural coastal landscape in the Northeast megalopolis. Good luck to them!

-- Robert Whitcomb

Robert Whitcomb: Coastal conflicts; uniting on infrastructure; urban wildlife

This column of diverse ruminations originated as Robert Whitcomb’s GoLocalProv Digital Diary column,  a fresh version of which goes on that site ever Thursday,

New England coastal communities have long  hosted heated shoreline-access disputes made more complex by state laws, some going back to colonial times, that favor property owners’ rights to tightly limit the public’s access  to the shore.

Some states, most famously California, heavily favor the public when it comes to beach access – but not in New England!

With the explosion of new and immense wealth in a  sliver of the population in the past 30 years and the love of being on the   summer shore, the tensions have gotten worse. The increasing arrogance and separation from their fellow Americans of many very rich coastal-mansion owners have poured more cyanide in the surf. Some of these people are much tougher than their more modest summer-place predecessors in dealing with the Great Unwashed trying to get close to the water.

Fast-moving sand and (related) rising sea levels linked to global warming will pour on more legal gasoline.

A case in point is a controversy about a beach near Oyster Pond on Martha’s Vineyard involving Boston real-estate mogul  and Vineyard summer resident Richard Friedman. The Boston Globe reported, “The section of the beach that Friedman’s  deed gave him rights to was a small sliver that, by the mid-20th Century, had moved into Oyster Pond itself.’’

“Friedman and a handful of {friendly} neighbors … believed that they could claim ownership of a bit of the beach’’ on the basis of old deeds and custom.

But some other landowners in the area objected,  arguing, reports The Globe, that “Friedman’s property was legally underwater, 200 feet offshore. And the rest of the beach, they said, belonged to them’’ under assorted legal documents.

But Mr. Friedman decided to becomea man of the people. His legal advisers came up with new approach: As The Globe put it:  “Oyster Pond, they note, is legally {under state law dating to colonial times} a ‘great pond’ – at least 10 acres – which Massachusetts law considers public property’’ and thus, they argued, the whole beach, part of which, again, had moved into the pond, is open to public use.

So Mr. Friedman got legislation filed on Beacon Hill declaring that barrier beaches that move into great ponds are thereby public property!

Some of the other rich landowners in the neighborhood don’t like this one bit. They assert that Mr. Friedman’s public-access argument would involve taking private land and  thus require the state to reimburse the owners.

Anyway, as the sea rises and coastline erosion speeds up, especially of the low, sandy glacial debris  that makes up such places as Cape Cod, the Vineyard, Nantucket and southern Rhode Island, then what?

Prepare for a lot of new law to be written in the next couple of decades. As for the Oyster Pond case, the law is so murky that the lawsuits could last as long as Jarndyce vs. Jarndyce, in Dickens’s novel Bleak House.  With beaches ever faster becoming sandbars and vice versa, oceanside bluffs falling ever more rapidly into the sea and summer people forced to put their (usually too big) houses on stilts, the land-law circus is coming to town.  Maybe ahuge hurricane will clarify things.


In other, perhaps happier, environmental news, zoologists are telling us about how many  wild animals normally associated with the countryside are adapting to life in cities.

The East Side of Providence provides examples of this opportunism. Coyotes are thriving, raccoons are into everything,  rabbits are proliferating and birds are learning new tricks to find food on rooftops and parking lots.  There have even been some deer sightings by the mighty Seekonk River.  (A moose wandered through  inner Boston suburb Belmont, a few weeks ago;  sadly, a car killed it soon thereafter in Weston.}

Why the rabbits (which we saw very few of when we moved to the East Side the first time 26 years ago)? My guess is that they thrive because more dogs are leashed in the area than years ago, there are fewer loose cats and there’s always lots of water being used in backyards and thus lots of green grass and clover and other edible plants. And those automatic irrigation systems (which deposit far too much of their water onto nearby sidewalks and streets)  provide lots of reliable drinking water for creatures large and small.

But sadly, because of too much insecticide use, you don’t see many fireflies in our neighborhood.


One thing that hasn’t changed is the crickets, which started their chirping last week in a melancholy reminder that we’re heading into late summer. The hot dry weather may have started the chirping a bit earlier than normal this year. Retailers ravaged by the Internet seem to have started their back-to-schools ads earlier than usual, too.


I fear that this will be one of the most vicious and unpleasant presidential campaigns in history. Still, there’s one area inwhich Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton should be able to come together: Fixing America’s infrastructure.

They, and virtually all Americans, agree that our transportation system – roads, bridges, rail lines, airports, etc. recalls  the Third World. That also goes for much of the rest of our infrastructure, too – e.g., public school buildings and libraries. That’s in large part because of the anti-tax mania (maintained by lobbyists for the very rich) that has produced such inanities as no rise in the federal gasoline tax since 1993. In Rhode Island, with the truckers, and elsewhere we have seen how hard special transportation interests fight to avoid paying for the damage  that they do to roads and bridges.

A massive federal infrastructure-repair and expansion campaign would train and employpeople, make business more globally competitive and, all in all, the country stronger. It shouldn’t be a Democrat-vs.-Republican thing.

Part of the answer, of course, is mass transit, which has helped make such cities as Boston and New York rich. It still gets far too little money and marketing, although more of it would save a lot of wear and tear on our roads and bridges, improve the environment,  discourage sprawl, strengthen downtowns, and ease the lives of the elderly and the millions of people (many of them working young people) who can’t afford cars.

But it takes patience to make it work.  Many complain, for example, that the newish Wickford, R.I., MBTA station is an under-used boondoggle. But they ignore that the Providence train station’s MBTA business took a while to get cooking but is now thriving.


Maybe the big public-works project could provide jobs for some of those despairing, druggy, tattooed and chain-smoking people who hang around places like gritty/beautiful downtown Pawtucket with nothing to do but await assistance from social-welfare agencies there. You get a vivid look at America’s social dysfunction and decline driving through old mill towns like Pawtucket on a summer weekend.


There’sa weird glamour about New England diners, which show up in movies from time to time. The latest:  Scenes for a Jack Black movie, TheMan Who Would Be Polka King, will be shot at the Modern Diner, in Pawtucket. As of this writing it’s scheduled for Aug. 12. The intimacy and chattiness you find in dinersmake them great places for close-conversation shots, and that they were inspired by late 19th Century lunch wagons and railroad dining cars evokes a kind of  (pre-natal?) nostalgia.


The Modern is one of two surviving Sterling Streamliner diners still open, with the other in Salem, Mass.

The Pawtucket diner has a heroic side: In the early ‘90s, Walt Disney Co. sold thousands of shirts featuring Mickey and Minnie Mouse standing before the Modern Diner and its iconic neon sign. In doing so, the behemoth Disney broke copyright laws. The Modern’s owners, represented by Providence lawyer Michael Feldhuhn, who died recently, sued Disney and won.


The oafish Fox News’s Roger Ailes’s well-paid exit from GOP house organ Fox News is a reminder that sexual harassment  is still going strong in some companies. Now that he’s gone will Fox’s on-air bombshells dim their blinding lipstick?

Another example of women being taken advantage of comes in a new book, The Lady With the Borzoi: Blanche Knopf, Literary Tastemaker Extraordinaire, by Laura Claridge.

The heroic Blanche Knopf was a brilliant publishing executive and literary lion finder and cultivator who, more than her husband, Alfred, was responsible for the success ofAlfred A. Knopf Inc.,   which in its 20th Century heyday was probably America’s most prestigious publisher,  including of Nobel laureates. But her often cruel husband took most of the credit. This book provides a global panorama of book culture over the last century and ends up being very moving.


You might be interested in a nonprofit public-affairs organization called the Providence Committee on Foreign Relations (;, which hosts speakers at monthly dinners September to June.  Our 2015-2016 season speakers included:

Evan Matthews, director of the Port of Davisville, on international shipping changes, particularly in the context of the expansion of the Panama Canal.

Greg Lindsay, writer, futurist and  expert on cities around the world and their relationship to airports.

Hedrick Smith, PBS documentary maker, former star foreign correspondent.

David Alward,  Canadian general consul.

Allan Cytryn, international cybersecurity expert.

Andrew Michta, U.S, Naval War College expert on Russia and NATO.

Rima Salah, High U.N. humanitarian-relief official.

Eduardo Mestre, Cuban-American civic leader and international  banker.

Our new season will open Sept. 14.

Mark Blyth, the first speaker of the new season and whom some of you have heard on NPR commenting on Brexit, will speak on Wednesday, Sept. 14, on Europe after Brexit.

Mark Blyth is Eastman Professor of Political Economy andProfessor of Political Science and International and Public Affairs at Brown.

He is an internationally celebrated political economist whose research focuses upon how uncertainty and randomness affect complex systems, particularly economic systems, and why people continue to believe stupid economic ideas despite buckets of evidence to the contrary. He is the author of several books, including Great Transformations: Economic Ideas and Institutional Change in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2002, Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea (Oxford University Press 2013, and The Future of the Euro (with Matthias Matthijs) (Oxford University Press 2015).

Coming fast after that will be:

Prof. Morris Rossabi, probably the world’s greatest expert on Central Asia and particularly Mongolia: a democracystuck between the police states of Russia and China, Sept. 21.  How does this faraway country do it? He’ll be speaking to us soon after returning from Mongolia and other points in Asia.


FormerU.S. Ambassador to Slovakia Tod Sedgwick, on the situation in Central Europe,  Oct. 5.

Meanwhile,  the World Affairs Council and the PCFR are preparing a forum for Oct. 20 at the Hope Club on the foreign-policy visions of the U.S. presidential candidates. Stay tuned

Naval War College Prof. James Holmes on the geopolitics of global warming,  Nov. 15.

German General Consul Ralf Horlemann on the role of Germany in an E.U. without the U.Kand with an aggressive Russia pressing in from the east, Dec. 14.

Internationalepidemiologist Rand Stoneburner,  M.D., on Zika and other burgeoning threats to world health, Jan. 18.

Indian Admiral Nirmal Verma, on military and geopolitical issues in South and Southeast Asia, Feb. 15.

Dr. Stephen Coen, director of the Mystic Aquarium, on the condition of the oceans, March 8.

Brazilian political economistand commentator Evodio Kaltenecker on April 5 to talk about the crises facing that huge nation.

The rest of the season’s schedule is being worked on now.  And we’re trying to keep some flexibility to respond to events.

In any event, we are working with, among others, Laura Freid, to talk about the Silk Road Project, of which she is CEO;  Michael Soussan to talk about the U.N., diplomacy, Iraq and his book Backstabbing for Beginners, now being made into a major movie;  an expert on the ocean-fishing industry, and an international travel expert.


Digital Diary talks with Bruce Newbury on WADK (15:40 A.M.) most Tuesdays at 9:30 a.m. and sometimes more frequently, depending on the news. You can also hear the show at any hour via

Robert Whitcomb is the overseer of New England Diary.

Robert Whitcomb; Time for some reinstitutionalization

A version of this first ran in, in Robert Whitcomb’s weekly Digital Diary column.

Read the June 23 Boston Globe article “The Desperate and the Dead: Families in Fear,’’ about how tough it is to treat (and keep off the streets) dangerous mentally ill people. To me, it’s part of a wider problem caused by the closing of most state mental hospitals and the decline of institutionalization. And the story shows how hard it is for many families of mentally ill adults to obtain clinical information about their sick relatives and be allowed to work closely with healthcare providers.

We obviously need to reopen many mental hospitals (whose closing was a false economy), to make it easier to institutionalize more of the most severely ill people and to enact “The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act,’’ long sponsored by Pennsylvania Congressman Tim Murphy, a clinical psychologist. The bill would amend the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to ease clinical-information sharing between providers and the families of adult mentally ill people. It can be a matter of life and death.

As Mr. Murphy notes: “More than 11 million Americans have severe schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression yet millions are going without treatment as families struggle to find care for loved ones….Sadly, patients end up in the criminal justice system or on the streets because services are not available.’’

Of course, many state mental hospitals were snake pits in the old days. New ones must be run much better. Meanwhile, people of a certain age may remember a remarkably stupid argument for closing mental hospitals: That new drugs then, such as thorazine, for schizophrenics, or lithium, for bi-polar disorder, would make almost all mental hospitals unnecessary.  But why would mentally ill people take their psychotropic drugs with the regularity, say, of someone with heart disease taking his statins? They are, after all, mentally ill.


When does police officers’ zeal for chasing people whom they suspect of nefarious acts become irresponsible, adrenaline-fueled showing off of  their well-armed power? I thought of that the other week while driving in Providence. 

All of a sudden, in heavy, rush-hour traffic, an unmarked police car (we figured out) started moving very fast and erratically across four lanes of traffic, confusing and scaring the drivers of the other vehicles, who had no idea how to get out of the way of the seemingly crazed driver of the cop car, who wasn’t using his siren.

Then I read  a story in the June 28 Providence Journal headlined “Coventry couple accuse Providence police of excessive force following chase with unmarked vehicles’’ in 2013. Robert Gadoury and Alisa Chamberlain allege in a lawsuit that the police stopped them in their car without probable cause, made them the victims of excessive force and battery and  forced Ms. Chamberlain to undergo an inappropriately invasive search.

The couple say that plainclothes  narcotics unit officers in two unmarked Providence Police Department cars chased and cornered them, initially without flashing lights or sirens.  Mr. Gadoury said he had feared that the drivers of what he learned later were police vehicles were trying to carjack the couple, which is why he fled.

Apparently the officers (erroneously) suspected that the couple had something to do with a young man on a bicycle in the neighborhood suspected of selling drugs. And The Journal reported, Mr. Gadoury  had “faced some drug charges,’’ which may have popped out when the police checked the couple’s license plate. Eventually, the police turned on strobe lights as they moved in on the scared couple.

The lawsuit alleges that after officers pulled Mr. Gadoury from the car,  one of them, Matthew Jennette,  kicked in his teeth after Mr. Gadoury told the officers that he thought that the couple was being carjacked. Under the circumstances,  probably a rational fear.

At the very least, the case raises questions about how well the Providence police are trained to control their adrenaline rushes and power drives when they are exercising their potentially lethal authority. Law enforcement can be difficult and dangerous but that doesn’t obviate the need for self-discipline and an awareness of public safety at all times.


Crazed Army veteran Micah Johnson might have been able to murder five Dallas police officers if American law and a powerful gun culture hadn’t  made it so astonishingly easy for him to obtain military-style weapons meant to kill as many people as fast as possible…


The Obama administration’s decision not to more forcefully help the moderate foes of Syrian dictator/mass murderer Bashar Assad has let a catastrophic situation to develop that has fueled the perverts known as the Islamic State, given  Russian dictator/ Assad ally Vladimir Putin an opportunity to make his nation a major military power in the Mideast and strengthened the Shiite dictatorship of Iran, also allied with Assad.

All this has helped cause the immigration crisis in the European Union, the vote in the United Kingdom to quit the E.U. and the rise of right-wing populist movements in Europe. (The more refugees that Putin’s bombing in Syria helps send to  the West, the happier he is.)

What to do? First, the U.S. must lead much more strongly than it has a campaign to destroy ISIS at its heart. That means seizing ISIS’s “capital,’’ Raqqa, Syria, as soon as possible.  That ISIS has the structure and ambitions of a government encourages its members to carry out their outrages. Sen. John McCain was quite right when he said last weekend: “What we need to do is to go to Raqqa and kill them.’’

But there can be no peace in Syria as long as Bashar Assad remains in power.


New England students should know aboutthe New England Regional Student Program, which lets New Englanders enroll at out-of-state public colleges and universities in the region at a discount from the usual out-of-state tuitions. The New England Board of Higher Education elaborates: “Students are eligible for the RSP Tuition Break when they enroll in an approved major that is not offered by the public colleges and universities in their home-state.’’
More such collaborations among the states in our compact region, please!


I recently read a lovely novel called Emily, Alone, about an elderly widow in Pittsburgh as she goes day to day, trying to maintain her independence, with sadness, joy, humor, impatience, whimsy and fatalism in the shrinking world of the old. What particularly struck a chord was howshe found that memories of her early life in near-poverty in a small Pennsylvania town sharpened with age. Toward the end of the book, she drives there to look around and ruminate.

“In my end is my beginning,” T. S. Eliot wrote in Four Quartets.


The other day  in Newport I saw  (in the spectacular Redwood Library) part of a TV documentary being filmed about Oliver Hazard Perry, the Rhode Islander who led the U.S. victory in the Battle of Lake Erie in the War of 1812. He’s the guy who said: “We have met the enemy and they are ours.’’  

The Jane Pickens Theater, in Newport, would be the perfect place for the documentary’s premiere.

Robert Whitcomb is overseer of New England Diary.