For most of my adult life I’ve been an educator, as well as a freelance journalist and an author, an international expert on the psychology of personality, and since the age of thirteen an anti-apartheid activist in my motherland, South Africa.

Let’s start there—the racist ideological madmen whom we opposed in South Africa at least believed in something, albeit a despicable racist ideology.

Drumpf believes in nothing except himself and his brand…and that’s it. He is non-empathic and unaware of the damage his lies do to other Americans and his country. He’s a racist. He’s a psychologically impaired ego- and megalomaniac. He is in the same league as all the most infamous villains of history. That alone should disqualify him for President.

Drumpf is the most pervasive negative role model for our children and grandchildren.

I’ve written a book on parenting, I’ve taught hundreds, if not into the low thousands of highly intelligent, young people, about moral responsibility, human rights, reality and illusion, and perhaps, most importantly, how to think and write critically.

* Drumpf models that it’s perfectly acceptable to be an ill-prepared, foul-mouthed, morally blind ignoramus. As long as you can lie and lie again, and bully and browbeat, you can be President.

*Drumpf models to them that bluster and bullying, screaming obscenities at individuals and groups is acceptable —after all he’s running for President; he’s the standard-bearer of the Republican Party, he must be okay.

* Drumpf lies and double downs, contradicts himself, lies again. He is a national embarrassment. He is a vaudeville villain, a clown, a con man, a cheat, a liar, a liar, and a liar.

HE IS A PATHOLOGICAL LIAR. He models to America and the world’s children that it’s okay to lie. And lie, and lie.

* He signals to America’s allies and enemies that his word is NEVER TO BE TRUSTED.

* He signals to Americans not only that can WE NEVER TRUST HIM but the sure road ahead if he becomes President will be to upend 240 years of progress, of tearing up the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.

*He is the greatest danger to America’s future and that means the international order too.

Can you imagine Drumpf trying to deal with a major catastrophe; he’ll blame the victims.

He’ll shirk responsibility. He won’t spend time in the White House; he’ll go back to his shyster business dealings. He and his wife will visit occasionally. Pence will be our president except in name…. and on and on.

My heartfelt appeal is directed to Republican leaders TO DITCH DRUMPF. Let’s put our country back on a path of sanity. He is America’s greatest failure.



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Reviewed by:

“Relativity is a wonderful read . . . well written, sometimes lyrically so, well plotted and not afraid to enter some of the grittier territory of complex human relationships.”

Relativity by Antonia Hayes is a wonderful read. Hayes deserves a wide audience for this book. Relativity is Hayes debut novel, well written, sometimes lyrically so, well plotted and not afraid to enter some of the grittier territory of complex human relationships. One of Hayes’ singular achievements in this work is her non-judgmental stance and balanced voice.

For protagonists, 12-year-old Ethan, his biological father, Mark, and his single mom, Claire, sometimes explosive, sometimes tender, often hard-to-read shifting points of view have the ring of truth. Indeed they should, for as author Hayes says in interviews the novel’s impetus is largely based on autobiographical fact but the characters and evolving plot are fictional. The novel is set in Sydney Australia, Hayes’ hometown although she now lives in San Francisco.

Another character omnipresent in the novel is ideas created from theoretical physics and cosmology. Hayes’ writing of complex abstraction is masterful. By having, albeit a remarkable 12 year old articulate his understanding of these ideas, she makes them accessible to a wide audience.

A tattoo on Mark’s arm illustrates the interaction between science and this troubled family, ‘E=mc2’: Ethan equals Mark and Claire. Ethan, a brilliant and precocious boy fascinated by physics, Mark, a mysterious figure in Ethan’s life until he is 12, and Claire, a professional ballerina, who ends her performance career to care for her son.

No other spoilers in this review for that would mar your reading of this compulsive, compassionate, and intelligent novel. It grabs you from the jarring opening page and on the last page you gasp at the fitting paean of appreciation for the force of gravity and how Hayes links the implications of physics to the plot.

“Gravitation shapes our universe. Forms tides, heats planetary cores. It’s why fragments of gravitational matter clump together into planets and moons, why stars cluster into vast, rippling galaxies. Earth isn’t going to crash into the sun, the moon won’t collide with Earth—gravity keeps them safe in orbit. It always attracts and never repels; it brings the planets back.

Gravity is insistent. It firmly stands its ground. We never stop accelerating toward the center of the Earth at 9.8/s2. That curvature in the fabric of space-time is a phenomenon we experience every day, an invisible experience we all have in common.”

Light years from the rarified conceptual realm of scientific ideas, Ethan’s family is mired in hurt, excrutiating guilt, and a combination of hate and love not yet understood or clarified. Microcosmic and macrocosmic perceptions of human experience do not align—yet.

“Claire got dressed. Her head was full of contradictions, as though each hemisphere of her own brain were battling some civil war. Confusion left her with a strong desire for solitude, to be left alone with her conflicting thoughts. She felt completely disorientated, questioning her entire life. What if her heart had reshaped itself around a lie? Part of her was angry . . . another part of her utterly distraught.”

Ethan, a child on the cusp of adolescence, is the perfect vehicle through which the story unfolds. We learn at the same time he does the mysterious twists of family history, burial and reframing of tortured memories, a family constellation torn apart.

Gravity does not operate the same way in this family constellation as it does on a universal scale; the stars do not align, at least not on the surface. But at the quantum level gravity and relativity are present although to the untrained eye particles heave and bubble like chaos itself.

Hayes invites us to look deeper into the quantum level of her characters’ psyches. Our clue to this interpretation is Ethan’s pet rabbit named, Quark. As Hayes explains, quarks are elementary particles and fundamental constituents of matter. Quarks combine to form particles called hadrons, the components of atomic nuclei.

The matter that constitutes stars is the same matter firing neurons in our brains. At some level Ethan is already the space-time traveler he strives to be. After all, the title of the novel is Relativity.

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Whatever it is we are waiting for let’s call it “the next step.” The next step to the high school of our dreams, the college we know is exactly right, the graduate school that will crown our academic life, the position we have prepared for years to enter…and on and on like a hamster on a wheel. Unfortunately, the next step, while not always, most often leads to heart break and the crushing of hope. Or does it? How do we handle disappointment? Maybe the more appropriate question is how do we handle our expectations? I work with many adolescents on the cusp of entering college and this time of year is stressful and poignant. A fortunate few are admitted “early” to their dream college, while so many wait for April for news. Recently one usually upbeat student  came to class pale and so despondent it was sad to watch her. Urgently she held a friend’s hand through class, she was the personification of someone who had, as we say in our cliched but accurate way,  been “kicked in the gut” by her rejection from college. All the air had disappeared from her enlivening buoyancy.

I am a writer, you cannot continue to write if you do not find a way to handle rejection. All writers know this and the history of literature is replete with stories of what writers do with rejection letters. Some turn them into lamp shades or wall paper. Others burn them, file them, flush them down the toilet. Some keep them in a folder, and send out yet another query letter. Keep the dream alive. Some frame the one acceptance letter that comes amongst all rejections. Somehow you have to separate the rejection letter from yourself. The same truth applies to the college process or any “next step”. Colleges build a class, they want musicians and mathematicians, athletes and astronomers, political science majors and painters. They have expectations for that class and maybe you do  not quite fit the profile, but you will at another school or job, agency or publisher.

Try to separate the essential you from your “next step” application. Whatever happens to the application, you are still the remarkable, shining you that you were before the rejection.

Practice thinking  in “a middle way” process; expectation not too high, disappointment not too low. Keep your balance and harmony.

Don’t indulge in a dichotomous success/failure paradigm. These are the frames you put on events. Events themselves are void, they simply are.

Allow yourself some mourning of your dream, but don’t get mired in the drama you create.

Be resilient. Create mindfulness techniques that allow you to bounce back; rationalize, talk to others about your feelings, go for a walk, meditate.

Breathe, breathe often and deeply. Then let the sap of life rise and surprise you as it is wont to do.


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Stress is pervasive in our lives. Therefore it is not a question of how to avoid stress, but rather how to deal with stress. Stress does not lessen as you grow older, it simply takes different forms. Here are two examples. The high school juniors I teach are stressed because academically this is the year that will decide which college they will enter in 2011. So many students apply early action or early decision to college that junior year grades largely become the arbiter of their acceptance letters. They also need to bolster their school resume and try to maintain and juggle impossible schedules of sport, music, drama, publications and extra curricula clubs and activities with at least one having a community service component. Stress cuts into sleep, and down time is fast becoming an endangered species if it is not already one.

At the other end of the spectrum are the elderly. Some like my mother, who three years ago, in her mid-eighties, suffered a stroke, has been fortunate to receive excellent medical care and now lives in an assisted living facility where she is well looked after. Her stress is caused by her inability to communicate, as she would like, due to her stroke-induced brain damage, her frailty (she is in a wheel chair), the loss of control of every aspect of her life, as well as her sense of impending death. The vast majority of elderly people are not so fortunate and spend their last years in poverty, deprivation and with a frustrated acceptance of their reduced quality of life. This causes them and their loved ones enormous stress.

We live in stressful times. Recent college graduates struggle to find jobs, middle-aged workers who have been laid off struggle to find jobs and some way to fulfill their responsibilities to their families. We are stressed about war in Iraq and Afghanistan, climate change, and how and when will the struggling world economy recover. And the list goes on.

Some strategies to deal with stress:

Physical – eat right, exercise, try to get enough sleep, build in recreation and down time. Maybe take a yoga class, and learn how to meditate. Breathe deeply.

Emotional – make the effort to stay connected with family and friends. If you live alone think about acquiring a pet. Prioritize a list of what satisfies you emotionally—music, movies, bowling, carpentry—and make the time to treat yourself and indulge in what gives you pleasure.

Psychological—don’t try to push through the commitments you have regardless of your health. Take a day off when you feel sick, learn that tomorrow is another day and you will have time to complete your tasks. Seek a balance between home life, work or school life, and your time for your private self, life.

Remind yourself that this is the one life you have to live. Be passionate. Your life is happening now, this is not a rehearsal.


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