Great news from a headline: “US troops go one year without combat death in Afghanistan.”

The Everglades have had a snake problem for years. They have bred and kill the other wildlife at such a frightening clip that bounties have been enacted on them. Some have migrated as far north as Tampa, as this picture from attests. My guess is some have gotten as far as DC. 100 eggs were found inside this python:

Sign of the times headline from NYP: “Mark Cuban’s Mavericks won’t play national anthem anymore.” I’m not sure how I feel about it. I’ve always felt that it was forced tribute, but not playing it seems like surrender to those who believe America is evil… That was this morning. Here’s a headline I just spotted at FN: “Mavs owner now will play anthem at home after backlash.”

Here’s a sad one: “Terrifying week includes 5 NYC subway slashings and bus driver assault.”

There are douchebags, and then there are douchebags. Here’s how a woman reacted in an op-ed piece when her Trump-supporter neighbor plowed her driveway: “What do you do with one kind act after years of support for a man who showed near-murderous contempt toward most Americans?” Just when it seemed stupid could no longer be dumbed down.

My reading preference is novels that focus on the human condition. Ladies Coupe by Anita Nair had been sitting on a shelf for perhaps a decade. I finished it this morning. Set in India in the late ‘90’s, it is the story of a woman who sacrificed everything when her dad died. The eldest child, it fell on her to care for her siblings and mom. This put her life on hold until the passing of her mother. Now 45, she wants to live alone, to be free, not easy in the area in which she lives. I don’t know if the country’s larger cities had modernized by then in terms of women’s roles, but in her sphere gender expectation is strict. Trying to find the courage to break from her family and fly solo, she takes a leave from her job in a tax office and boards a train. She meets several other women in a compartment strictly for females, to which the title refers (since eliminated). She gives an account of their lives, largely in her own words. I found it absorbing. Fortunately, the narrative transcends feminism. These are portraits of the trials and tribulations of humans, all of it interesting. The writing is solid. It has far less of the discrepancies between the styles of east and west than I expected. The 276 pages flow smoothly for the most part. The biggest problem is keeping track of names, and the pronunciation of the many Indian terms, although the latter lend flavor. 120 users at Amazon have rated Ladies Coupe, forging to a consensus of 4.2 on a scale of five. Published in 2001, it is still selling modestly in Kindle form. There are 19 titles listed on Nair’s Wiki profile page, including a volume of poetry, short stories, plays and non-fiction. Although she received her degree in her homeland, she spent time in the USA on a fellowship. Ladies Coupe has been translated into 21 languages. Born in 1966, Nair writes in English. She has received several literary awards. Here she is:

I hadn’t expected such a spectacular day weather-wise. I must have heard the wrong forecast. I soaked up a lot of vitamin D, and little else. My thanks to the gentleman who bought a YA novel and one of the many books by Reverend Billy Graham.

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I was born in Brooklyn in 1950 to Sicilian immigrants. I’ve had more than 50 short stories published world wide. I have ten books in print.