my ego as a web site (a repository for my life, thoughts and writing)

Essays on miscellaneous topics
Short stories 
Academic writing and teaching

Social & political comments
Theater-acting-teaching kids 
Entertainment reviews 
My family & its history  
Other personal autobiography

My blog
e-mail me

Madison, CT senior tennis

Henry James's The Ambassadors (4/29/08)
Family trauma and silence (added 3/21/08)
Language and Personality (updated 3/16/08)
How I lost a UK teaching job, 1970 (updated July, 2012)
Mississippi Freedom Summer (1964)
Avoiding the Vietnam draft (added 11/22/08)
3:10 to Yuma (2007; critique)
Cimarron (1931
; critique) 
Me and my prostate (updated 11/18/08)
Touring in Egypt (updated April 28, 2009)
Taimour Wa Shafi'aa (Egyptian film, 2007)
My 1958 summer in Germany (added July, 2012)
Teaching about ancient Egypt (2013)
Agrarian societies (Fall, 2015)

Richard and BRB, Brooklyn Botanical Garden 2011
                  Barbara and me Brooklyn Botanical Garden 2011                             

HORRIBLE HUMAN BEINGS (homage to Donald Trump, September 24, 2015)


Barbara's son, Rick, 47, died in Dallas,  from a massive heart attack after biking in the midday heat.  He felt faint, was driven to nearby Doctors Hospital, and died in the ER.

This link takes you to related materials, including contents of a memorial/celebration of Rick's life on September 14, 2012.


After what seemed like thousands of hours of preparation, we had an open house on Saturday (June 2: about 50 attendees) and a wedding on Sunday.  Honeymoon: June 5-26 in southern France, Paris and London.  This link takes you to  photos, videos and documents from the wedding day and honeymoon.


A few weeks back, Barbara and I decided to marry.  The date is June 3, 2012.  Here is Barbara's take on the decision (from a message to a friend of hers):

I think [Richard] would have been content to live together with me forever, not married.  But that is not my style or my history.  Remember that Irwin [Barbara's late husband] and I had a 47-year marriage that was fulfilling and happy.  THAT is my model.  Moreover, my model has always included the idea that people live together to "try out" their relationship; if it seems to be working, then they get married--the final commitment.  Understanding how important marriage is to me, Richard quickly got with the program.

One of these days I will beef up this web site, especially with accounts of my life with Barbara.  For the moment, let me just note that we are having great fun sitting in together on a Yale course on climate change and human evolution, topics that interest both of us greatly (Barbara with a Ph.D. in biology and me with extensive reading in human and cultural evolution).

SIDE NOTE: For those who knew Maxine and me, it may be of interest to know that she and I occasionally communicate (and less occasionally have lunch together) in a most friendly and supportive manner.  We agree that despite its demise, we had a relationship that was largely good for us and in which we both grew.  Changes I made with her have contributed to my success in developing a strong, loving relationship with Barbara; indeed, I have built on those earlier changes and progressed even farther with Barbara.  My hope for Maxine and me is that we both end up better and happier people, with new partners, than we managed to be together.


Last August I met Barbara, and in early March we moved in together in a lovely new house in Hamden, CT. We have committed to spending the rest of our lives together.  More will follow, including photos.

April 24, 2010, in response to Arizona's enactment of an anti-immigrant law:

In the spirit of such traditions as Danes wearing the yellow star, "I am Spartacus," "We are all murderers,"  Freedom Rides, Rosa Parks, multi-racial entry into segregated areas, and other deliberate violation of immoral (by my lights) laws--and (if I understand the law correctly) since cops would HAVE to respond--I offer the following.

If I lived in AZ, I would encourage a campaign in which all of us "legal" immigrants/aliens approach cops (and maybe flag them down in cruisers) and say something like: "I may be an illegal immigrant," "I am an immigrant," "I'm descended from immigrants," followed by, "I expect/demand/challenge you to check my identification."  (My personal favorite would be, "I suspect myself of being an immigrant," a kind of Yippie locution.) 

Since there may be cops who resent the law, too, it would be judicious to do this in as non-personal a way as possible.  I think of anti-Vietnam war demonstrators putting flowers into the gun barrels of soldiers mustered to "protect" against the protesters.

Or maybe such protesters could walk the streets with large signs saying something of similar ilk.  (I picture them walking near but not next to each other, as if being ordinary pedestrians out for a stroll.)  Or mass with such signs outside or inside a police station or legislative offices or sports stadium or other public place.  It would take a large movement, but enough people (probably most likely in cities and campus towns) doing this might actually make a ripple that gets wider attention. 

Then there could be freedom riders of non-Arizona residents coming in to do the same things.  Advance publicity wouldn't hurt.

One's response to a demand for ID could be varied--civil disobedience (refusal to show it--but have the ACLU's nearest phone number in your pocket; I don't know what the law does to someone who turns out to be "legal" but refuses to cooperate), fumbling for a long time to find an ID (perhaps while apologizing profusely or sequentially presenting multiple IDs while asking, "Will this do?"), whatever.  Having someone jotting down badge numbers might be wise (though it could also raise the cop's hackles).  Other aspects of the law could be assailable in parallel ways.

Less palatable would be groups of people going up to cops and pointing to strangers, saying, "I suspect that person is an illegal alien." Better would be groups of like-minded people pointing to each other and making the accusation. 


In early May, 2009, my romantic relationship with Maxine ended.  To help myself let go of this nearly 15-year crucial part of my life, as I come across them I will be deleting most photos of her (not ones where the rest of the photo has useful content) from this web site.  I will, however, leave written references to her, since she will always be part of my history.

You can still see magazine ads today for self-publishing: a company promises you can forgo the humiliation of rejection by small-minded editors and publish a limited run of any work you want.  If you're an unpublished writer, for a moment you think something like, “What a great idea!” followed quickly by “What’s the catch?”

The catch, of course, is that you pay all the publishing costs and then some.*

When I first learned of this some decades ago, I quickly adopted the attitude that anyone who did this was pathetic, desperate, unworthy, and contemptible.  If you can’t get a legitimate publisher to handle your work, then you shouldn't be published.

In recent years I became intrigued with the rapid spread of personal web sites and blogs.  Surely this was an example of vanity publishing, but it felt benign, so I am now creating my own web site.  It represents to me:

  • A kind of autobiography

At about the age I am now, my father wrote memoirs of his youth that the family has esteemed for its candid information.  Ten years ago I interviewed his younger sister and wrote up her memories.  My son and his wife have asked me to write at least about my political past.  Some family members have been encouraged to write about their lives but have not (yet, at any rate) done so.  A personal web site offers a form of autobiography different from a chronological narrative, and that appeals to me.

  • A repository for family information

Why not include other family content like photos or accounts written for special occasions (like my parents' 60th anniversary)?

  • A place to publish my writing and random thoughts

This is more important to me.  Over my adult decades I’ve written fiction, essays, scholarly material, and virtually none of it has been published anywhere.  I have a file of rejections.  Trapped in my ego, how do I judge what I write that should be publishable, what not?  I have heard successful (i.e., published) authors recount how they sent submissions that were rejected dozens of times before acceptance, and how aspiring authors should keep submitting a manuscript regardless of rejections.  Years after he published a best seller, one successful (now deceased) novelist decided to send the manuscript out again under a different author's name and title; it was repeatedly rejected.  

I have found myself hamstrung over the years by discouragement over not meeting publication standards, never sure whether the rejections were gratuitous or justified, ultimately unable to summon the inner resources to ignore rejections and keep going.  In recent days, finally, it has struck me that I can “publish” anything I want according to my own standards, and that is a key part of my rationale for this web site.  Regardless of their reception or "objective"** value, it will purge me to place my efforts where people can publicly see them if they choose.  Having your own web site is the internet version of vanity publishing.  If nothing else, I expect my mother will at least glance over this site.

I will also use this site to record short and long musings on topics like social and political matters or TV and film.

  • Showing off to people who know me...or don't

Not unlike why I act, I can’t escape a truth that publishing, even in this way, is driven in part by wanting  friends and strangers—if they'll look at any of my content—to watch me perform.  The key to success here, however, as with acting, is not stopping there and merely being self-indulgent but, after admitting uncomfortable truths like this, to perform professionally, as if ego expression isn’t really at issue.  Only then does anyone have a shot at performing well.

* Sample contemporary warning about shady publishers:

**"Objectivity" as we normally mean itthe ability to stand outside our own perceptions and see what Kant called things in themselvesis impossible, one of the many practical lessons I gained from my undergraduate major in philosophy.  Ultimately, all our beliefs rely on unprovable axioms"faith."  I long thought this obvious to all, but have found that for many (perhaps most) people, including academics, it isn't.

This site went live in mid-December, 2007.  Some pages may be placeholders for future content.
I, Richard Yanowitz, retain copyright to all content on this site that I myself have created.  Users have my permission freely to share information from this site only if it is passed on electronically (internet, e-mail) or used for educational purposes (classroom distribution), with credit and referral to its location on my site, and with no financial consideration or other kind of remuneration.  For other uses, e-mail me.

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