Sunday, May 18, 2014

Are We Becoming a Sordid, Racist Country? Is this Germany in the 1930's all over Again?

On May 15, there was an article on the Yahoo homepage about another racist incident. Robert Copeland, a New Hampshire police commissioner, called President Obama a nigger.
See Police Officer used N-word for Obama.

Such incidents seem to happen more and more frequently. No sooner are we done with Cliven Bundy than comes Donald Sterling. Bundy, if you recall, felt that blacks were better off under slavery. Armed militias rallied around him, as did Sean Hannity and others at Fox News. Shortly before that, Ted Nugent called President Obama a subhuman mongrel - taking words right out of Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Earlier, we were treated to Paula Deen’s uncouth utterances, and of course there are the murders of Trayvon Martin and of innumerable others. In sum, there can be little doubt that white racism is making a strong come-back in America. Read more...

Saturday, May 17, 2014

A Thank You Note

A bird, lying on his back, is showing his soft, white underbelly. His heart is heaving. He is dying. He is dying in my backyard. Maybe he flew against our large bay windows; maybe the giant red tailed hawk tried to catch him but missed and injured him. He is lying with his little feet stuck in the air. His breathing is slowing down; soon he will stop and lay still forever.

I am overwhelmed with the intensity of life and death that is playing out every second in this little corner of New England. The three emaciated deer licking my bird feeder, barely able to stand, barely having survived the harsh winter, their ribs showing under their dull colored hide. The hawk has caught a squirrel, but he has dropped it and the squealing tells me that he is hurt.

He will crawl into a hollow tree trunk, lick his wounds and survive, or die a painful death. His little body will add to the fertility of the soil in which my seedlings will be born. Tiny specks of green amongst the dead leaves and twigs left behind by the retreating winter. It is such hard work to die. It is even harder work to be born.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Benghazi ad Nauseam

They are at it again. This being an election year, the Republicans have to invent new fabrications. They are now resuscitating “Benghazi”. It’s the same old gang doing it: Fox News, Congressman Darrell Issa (a.k.a. Joe McCarthy), now joined by House Speaker John Boner himself, who is forming a “select committee” to investigate. These lunatics claim to have found the “smoking gun.”

I pretty much said all that needs to be said about this pseudo-issue over a year and a half ago. See my October 20, 2012 post, The Benghazi Pseudo-Issue.  But since they are doing mischief again, I have to come to the rescue once more:

Do you, dear reader, even KNOW what “Benghazi” is about? I bet you don’t. I bet you that nine out of ten Americans don’t. Nine out of ten Obama-haters will probably just say something like, “well, the President lied about Benghazi,” not even knowing what he allegedly lied about...

So let me give you the FACTS:
On or about 9/11/12, three things happened:
#1. A blasphemous anti-Muslim video came out. (The Innocence of Muslims).
#2. In response to that, anti-American riots broke out in Cairo and elsewhere in the Middle East.
#3. There was a terrorist attack on our Benghazi consulate which killed four Americans, including the ambassador.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Is Ambivalence Good or Bad? I am not sure...

"I love my man, I'm a liar if I say I don't.
But I'll quit my man, I'm a liar if I say I won't."
Billie Holiday, 'My Man,' Billie's Blues (1936) 

The official definition of ambivalence is ‘having conflicting feelings toward something or someone.’ It means "sitting on the fence", not knowing which side to choose. It usually has a negative connotation but in my opinion, ambivalence has gotten a bad rap over the course of human history. It has become the whipping boy in the arsenal of our emotions. I am not sure why, because ambivalence has a lot going for it. In a fair fight, it would win over certainty any time. After all, it has to fight on two fronts in an argument. Like an immigrant worker, it toils away; doing the dirty work that certainty feels too superior to take on.

Here comes certainty strolling down the street, briefcase in hand, stuffed with opinions whose ink is barely dry, immune to all the ugly stares from opposing views, so full of itself, so overconfident. That’s what I hate about it, it’s just too damn sure of itself.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Time Famine: The Lethal Combination of High Tech and Bureaucracy

I have been retired for a few years, but I find myself hurrying more and having less time to do all the things I want to do. Maybe it’s my age. I am slowing down. I can obviously no longer work as hard as I used to. But judging from what I hear from others, even from some relatively young people, there is more to it than that:

It seems to me that life is getting increasingly time-consuming, not less so. Technology schmecknology! Many years ago I published a pretty successful book called Leisure and Popular Culture in Transition.  Like many other utopian fools tainted by the sixties’ Counterculture, I predicted that technology would soon enable humankind to enter the Age of Aquarius. The workweek would decline to 20 hours. Machines would do the work. People would devote themselves to poetry and philosophy. The Maslowian hierarchy of needs would be fulfilled.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Five Ways We Can Reform Young Offenders

by Daphne Holmes

While instances of crimes committed by young (under 21) offenders seem to be in slight decline, the violent nature of those crimes is on the rise, and the age of the offenders seems to be getting lower, according to a report by the Australian Jesuit Social Services, titled Thinking Outside: Alternatives to remand for children. The response on the part of most countries’ governments and school districts has increasingly been to handle these young offenders’ crimes by means of the criminal justice system. While such a response is indeed understandable, it has not to date proven particularly effective, so we must look beyond the immediate knee-jerk reaction to youth crime if we hope to see the trend reversed.

Who are the young offenders?
In the above mentioned report, it is noted that a significant majority of youths who are processed by the criminal justice system "have been victims of abuse, trauma, and neglect, with high rates of drug and alcohol abuse, child protection involvement and school exclusion. Mental health issues and intellectual disability are also prominent.” It is also noted that minority children constitute a much higher percentage of offenders than their ratio within the overall population. While the report was based in and focused upon the situation in Australia, it documents a trend that is consistent with findings in other countries, as well. Read more...