icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

WiseGuy: The Author's Blog

Governor Youngkin's Virginia RAT-LINE:


Virginia's newly inaugurated Republican governor, Glenn Youngkin is off to a great start. After issuing an executive order banning Critical Race Theory along with other "inherently divisive concepts", Youngkin has set up an email "tip-line" so local students/parents can rat out their teachers.
"We have set up a particular email address called helpeducation@governor.virginia.gov for parents to send us any instances where they feel their fundamental rights are being violated, where their children are not being respected, where there are inherently divisive practices in their schools," Youngkin said.
As if polarization was not bad enough, Virginia's Republican governor is dedicated to making it worse. What an opportunity. So, for those (not you and me, of course) who may have a secret grudge against Miss Riley, your old 8th grade history teacher? Now's your chance: RAT HER OUT!
Unhappy with your grade from Mr. Rock n' Roll's in 10th grade Civics? RAT HIM OUT! Let's make a mockery of school discipline.
Let's remember that this is the Old Dominion. When the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, Virginia's government responded with Massive Resistance against integration. When my wife, Rebekah, and I first moved to Virginia four years ago, we thought all this had changed.  We were moving to the New Virginia. The state had a Democratic governor and both houses of the state legislature were controlled by Democrats. That has now flipped with Republican's in control of the administration and the state senate and the proponents of Massive Resistance may have been in stasis for a while, but they were still out there, lying in the muck, waiting.  And, institutional racism has since slouched into Richmond and been reborn.
"Ridicule is man's most potent weapon."
                                               Saul Alinsky
Generation Z to the Rescue: Spam The Rat-line.
Recognizing Youngkin's latest for what it is, a transparent attempt to suppress free speech and intimidate educators, several Tik Tok activists immediately responded with a campaign to spam the rat line: Sofia Ongele, a 21-year-old from Santa Clarita, California, is one of those who has responded by establishing a website: https://crtmail.netlify.app The website includes a button which will generate an email direct to the Virginia Rat-line. You may customize it or replace text with your own. Another Instagram account includes a number of GenZ groups: https://www.instagram.com/p/CZSX8s3lald/
Speaking from the perspective of an old-time Alinsky-style community organizer, let me say I'm impressed by the GenZ response. It demonstrates a speed, technical savvy and tactical flexibility that is frankly lacking in much of the stodgy tactics I hear about from the old progressives with their emphasis on purity and political correctness. Let's get out there and SPAM.

Post a comment

Book Review: Emerald: Modern Gemmology by Swartz and Curti

I do regular book reviews for Gemmolgy Today and occasionally for other publications as well. For those interested in emeralds, Click the image to go to the Fall/Winter issue of Incolor Magazine and read my review of Emerald: Modern Gemmology, a study of world sources of gem emerald.

Be the first to comment

Book Review: Isle Of The Blest by Eugene Christy

With the August publication of The Isle of the Blest, Eugene Christy has completed the final volume of his American Quintet. The series traces the story of Christy's immigrant family. The Isle of The Blest also completes Christy's coming of age as an important American writer. The 600-page final novel, a fictionalized memoir, traces Christy's yearlong sojourn in Ireland (1971-72) in the midst of sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland known as "The Troubles". This book is quite simply a masterpiece. 
After a visit by the FBI, Petrovich has been fired by a Massachusetts anti-poverty program for organizing anti-war protests. Disillusioned with his country, he is on his way to the emerald isle to reunite with his native-born wife and daughter. The book begins with a view out the window of his aircraft and continues in a small village in County Mayo. Christy's portraits of the countryside, his in-laws and life in a rural Irish village are beautifully nuanced, his command of language and his memory for detail, stunning.
It is with Nick's move to Dublin in search of a job, to support his wife and daughter Aisling, that the novel really hits its stride. The gritty details—his colorful characterizations—set the reader down amidst the quotidian reality of working-class Dublin. Soon enough Nick encounters and joins Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Provisional IRA. We meet Mick, the budding revolutionary, the sultry radical Bernadette and Comrade Krishna, the Indian expatriate, all young people dedicated to the Republican cause.
 We are on the ground with the protestors during Dublin's Mountjoy Prison Riot. We see much of it from the perspective of the men wielding the petrol bombs. We experience the short-lived Northern Island "Truce" and get down and dirty with the residents of Belfast's infamous Bogside ghetto. And through it all, Christy, using masterly language, literally rubs our faces in the smells, the sights, the sounds and the desires and disappointments of the people of The Blessed Isle.
The Isle of The Blest is the story of an alienated young man—like so many— who came of age amidst the turmoil of the 1960s. It is also the story of young love and a political statement. The writing will shock, entertain and enchant you.  The story will keep you turning pages. Get it!  Read it! Don't worry if you haven't read the earlier books; The Isle Of The Bleststands on its own. It is a unique and compeling narrative. it won't disappoint you.

Be the first to comment

IGI Reviews The French Blue

Just imagine:


A humble mapmaker's son travels the ancient world, discovers fantastic treasures, rescues a damsel and rises to the highest levels of French aristocracy.


It's a true story

If you don't know it, "The French Blue" is a terrific read for true-lovers of diamonds, gemstones, travel, excitement and romance.  Based on true events, the book recounts the remarkable voyages of Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, a 17th Century trader of precious gems best known for discovering the phenomenal 115 carat blue diamond which later became the French Blue and, ultimately, the


Hope Diamond.


Author Richard W. Wise, takes factual events and blends them with plausible speculation to create a long and delightful tale; rich in history, action and romance. It could have been a far longer saga, in fact. The author states that before editing to 584 pages his book was over 1300 pages long. I find his editing prowess sustained richness and kept the pages turning. (click image for more)

Be the first to comment

Lecture: Secrets Of The Gem Trade at the Gemological Institute of America Washington DC Chapter

For those of you who missed or may be interested in a recent lecture i gave at the Washington DC, chapter of the GIA Alumni Association, here is a free link to the You Tube lecture: 

Post a comment

A Matter of Optics: Kabul Looks a lot Like 1975 Saigon, but it’s a whole lot worse.

The last helocopter to leave the American Embassy in Saigon, April 30, 1975

The optics of the U. S. pullout of Afghanistan looks a lot like Saigon in 1975. According to White House spokesman, Jake Sullivan, speaking on this Sunday's Meet the Press, we have evacuated 30,000 Afghanis since the airlift began in mid-June, 25,000 of those in the past two weeks. 
In a May 1975 article in the New York Times, President Ford discussed resettlement of 120,000 Vietnamese who had been brought to the U. S. as part of the American pullout. The images of helicopters airlifting diplomats and Vietnamese nationals off the roof of the American embassy on April 30th 1975 was dramatic, but by the following month we had taken in many more as part of Vietnamese resettlement effort.  Obviously, this all must have begun months prior.


To be fair, the optics are somewhat misleading. Many of the those desperate people crowding the Kabul airport and hanging off of planes are not the people we should be concerned with anymore than were those surrounding our Saigon embassy. 


More than 300,000 Afghan civilians have been affiliated with the American mission over its two-decade presence in the country, according to the International Rescue Committee. This doesn't count families, though not all of them qualify for resettlement, plenty do or should. About 60,000 have been resettled thus far.


Although, the buck stops with Biden, I can't imagine the chaos that would have ensued had Trump been reelected and stuck with his May timeline, but that is no excuse.  Biden, not Trump is our president. Pentagon planners knew Biden would order troops out since the day he announced his run for the presidency. Where were the planners? Why was there no contingency plan in place? How will we save these people?


Be the first to comment

Redlined: A Novel of Boston: 5 Star Review from Goodreads

Jun 29, 2021 Leila rated it:  "It was amazing"


"I was worried what this book would be like. It was written… differently. (Not bad). I found the written language and terminology to be different than the norm." I found it slightly difficult to read because of this and found myself re-reading parts to ensure I understood it, but the storyline itself is what grabbed me from the start and did not let go.


Initially, I really was wondering where this book would lead. I was worried it was going to be political and educational and boring, but then I found myself engrossed in the story, turning pages, trying to read faster (which did not work!) and did not want to put the book down! I had to read more; I had to know who and what!


In addition to the engrossing story; I was educated. I bonus, in my opinion. Who doesn't like to read a good suspense read while learning something new at the same time!?


Redlined is the first book I have read by Richard Wise, and I hope he writes more suspense and thrill because this was an excellent read. I highly recommend picking up Redlined and giving it a read!"

Be the first to comment

SOCIAL POLICY REVIEW OF REDLINED: A Novel of Boston. by Lee Staples

"Richard Wise's novel draws on an actual grassroots community organizing effort to fight redlining and disinvestment in a Boston neighborhood during the 1970's. Set in Jamaica Plain (JP), Redlining creatively combines historical fact with literary fiction, mixing a number of actual events and real people with fictitious characters and imaginary episodes. Wise certainly knows that history especially well, since he played a key role in shaping it. Hired by a federation of neighborhood churches in 1974, he organized an array of block clubs, which he subsequently brought together to form a powerful coalition. The Jamaica Plain Mortgage Committee launched an impressive campaign to defend the area, not only from redlining, but also from high-end development plans that would have displaced most low-income and working-class residents" Click to read more.

Be the first to comment

Book Review: Eugene Christy's Arriverdverci New York

I just finished reading Arrivederci, New York, the first volume of Eugene Christy's promised five volume family saga, the Twentieth Century Quintet. An ambitious undertaking by any standard.


The first volume focuses on Tony LaStoria, a ten year old Italian boy seeking to return to New York. A very young boy fleeing a brutal father. Christy renders the beginning of Tony's adventures with verve and a lyrical prose which borders the poetic. "On his cheeks he felt tears carving rivulets into his face the way the rivers of time and place chiseled rivers into the mountains.


Then Tony arrives in Manhattan and Christy's astonishing grasp of a particular time and place transports the reader back to the New York City of the early days of the 20th century. Without sacrificing the story, Christy does an excellent job of describing the exploitation and the many hardships immigrants were forced to endure in the old New York before the rise of the unions—the sweatshops, the piecework system of the garment district, structured not unlike today with work done by "independent" contractors.


Arrivederci, New York is a rich narrative. We are treated to a whole cast of characters, Italians, Polish and Jew, as well as contemporary politics and union organizing. Christy has done his homework. This is a very different sort of fictionalized memoir, an immigrant's saga which both tells a great story and informs the reader. I highly recommend it and look forward to the next book in the series.



Be the first to comment

After Redlining; Effective Organizing for Social Change

In her new book, After Redlining, The Urban Reinvestment Movement in the Era of Deregulation, Author Rebecca K. Marchiel, tells how a Alinsky style community organization discovered the economic underpinnings of urban disinvestment and developed a series of political strategies to successfully combat the forces that create urban slums. This is where the story begins, with The Organization for a Better Austin (OBA).

OBA's initial steps and mis-steps, eventually leading to effective solutions reveal a process whereby a group of neighborhood leaders, aided by professional community organizers, identified a process that had destroyed urban neighborhoods all over the country and revealed solutions that had stumped professional planners and urbanologists for decades.


Led by an Austin homemaker, Gale Cincotta and an Alinsky trained organizer named Shel Trapp, the peoples' organization expanded first to other Chicago neighborhoods. After determining that the solution required national legislation, organized a coalition of urban neighborhood groups called National People's Action (NPA) and pushed two pieces of legislation through Congress against the opposition of the Savings & Loan industry.


Meticulously researched and well written, Dr. Marachiel has told a story which badly needed telling. It is a story of ordinary people analyzing a problem, developing solutions, taking control of their shared destiny and making significant social change. For decades, experts viewing urban decay saw only what was in front of them; minorities, welfare recipients, municipal neglect, slumlords, blockbusters. They failed to detect the underlying economic conditions that permitted some of these actors to thrive. It shows the extraordinary things that ordinary people can do. I was one of the community organizers, working in Boston, who had a ringside view of this struggle. I highly recommend After Redlining.


Be the first to comment