Monthly Archives: March 2022

The Other side of the Couch – Ukraine



I sit here today, safe, in my own warm house with my own possessions around me.  I can use my cell phone to call anyone I want to call.  I can walk outside without worrying.  I can speak my mind to my neighbors, and while we may disagree, I am not afraid that I will be turned in to the police for something I have said or done. I have money to buy food, and if I need cash I can go to the bank and access my checking account to get more cash.  My family is safe, and I know that I can see them whenever I want to do so.

And as I sit here, safe, warm, with choices and a future, I am thinking of the people of Ukraine, who have none of these certainties.  I am thinking of the women and children who are saying goodbye to their husbands and fathers; I am thinking of the young men and women who are choosing to fight for their country at the risk of losing everything, because if they do not they have already lost everything worth living for.  I am thinking of the maternity hospital, bombed by the Russians.  I am thinking of the waves of refugees pouring across the borders into the West.

And I am thinking of the soldiers from both countries, soldiers who are fighting in a war that they neither chose nor believed would happen.  These young men – and women – will die because of the twisted mind of a man whose greed and vanity and ego have released the scourge of war once again on an innocent people.

The Russian people are suffering as well – pulled into a war they, too, did not choose and blinded by the limited access to other perspectives than that which is fed to them by the state-run media.

Here in Fortress America, far away from the realities of war on the European continent, it may be too easy to say to ourselves that this war has nothing to do with us – it is over there, far away.  I know that there are some who are saying exactly that, although their voices have been muted by the extraordinary courage and resilience of the Ukranian people’s fight against Putin.  This is exactly what was said in the 30s and 40s in the runup to WWII by many – until we were attacked at Pearl Harbor.  Let it not come to that – let it not be that our political will to fight Putin and his war machine has to depend on our own country being attacked in order to muster the will to crush him.

I am grateful that the leaders of the European Union have stepped up and that the careful diplomacy of the Biden administration has created a unified response to an unprovoked attack on all democracies.  May it hold firm in the difficult days ahead.

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP
Communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, proud native Nashvillian – in private practice for 35+ years. I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts. Contact me at
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A Digital Library of All Knowledge

In 2012, Islamist militants attacked Timbuktu, Mali and destroyed 14 of the 16 mausoleums that are part of the World Heritage site.  Timbuktu was a center of Islamic learning from 1100 – 1600 AD, rivalling the universities in Cairo and Baghdad.  Militants didn’t just rip down buildings, they burned books. Books that contained historical accounts and Islamic teachings to which the militants objected.  Because they didn’t like what the books said, they decided that no one should be able to read them.

But before the Islamist militants drove into Timbuktu to destroy it, residents rescued some of the books.  Priceless manuscripts were crated up, loaded on rickety boats and sailed down the Niger River to safety.  In the Malian capital of Bamako, an international team immediately began photographing and scanning the books to save digital versions.

Saving the books of Timbuktu is just one example of what some are calling the second Renaissance.  Every major library in the world, from universities to the Library of Congress to the British Museum are creating digital copies of their collections and making them available to anyone with an internet connection. Many of these efforts are done in partnership with Google, IBM and Microsoft who have the money and technical expertise in digitizing collections.

Digitizing books and priceless manuscripts is often done using multispectral imaging which uses different wavelengths of light to see details invisible to the naked eye. It was developed by NASA to take satellite images through cloud cover but is excellent at capturing high resolution images of manuscripts.  It can detect layers of images.

In medieval times, it was common to reuse parchment.  A scribe or monk would scrape off the old ink, the medieval equivalent of erasing, and write a new text. The original images can now be seen with multispectral imaging, which is how the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore discovered two treatises by Archimedes underneath the prayers in a 13th century prayerbook.

X-rays and CAT scans are also being used to digitally unroll scrolls that were turned into charcoal at Pompeii in 79 AD.  Scholars are beginning to read the same texts once read by the rich and famous Romans who owned vacation homes by the bay.  What once seemed lost, isn’t.

Which brings us back to the Islamist militants who tried to destroy Timbuktu’s books because the texts contradicted their narrow, bigoted view of the world.  Someday soon, an archaeologist will recover the burned manuscripts of Timbuktu and technology will help us read the texts.  Ideas can’t be killed.

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps employers (with up to 50 employees) to create human resources policies and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy.  To read my musings on the wacky world of human resources, see the HR Compliance Jungle ( which alternates on Wednesday mornings with my history blog, History By Norma, (available at To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts on Her Savvy (

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Censorship, Integrity, and Standing up for Myself

Photo by Markus Winkler on

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the Editor of The Jewish Observer of Nashville, and a former small business owner.  Barbara loves writing, telling stories of real people and real events and most of all, talking to people all over the world.  The Jewish Observer newspaper can be read online at . and follow her on Instagram @barbdab58

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