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A Moment of Silence – a poem by Emmanuel Ortiz

Guntown (Rogue Kite video)

I’m a US military vet, and I feel afraid in my own country

Joe Arpaio: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Reverend Barber on White Supremacy

Tired are the peacemakers

Increasingly, foreign students are choosing Canada over the US

What Your Phone Knows. Is your phone watching you?

What Does an Innocent Man Have to Do to Go Free? Plead Guilty

Here’s why right-wing Christians think they are America’s most persecuted

Single Payer Joins the Debate

So, you hate unions because …

The Great Flood and What Comes After

Spotting a viral hoax: Debunking the fakes from Hurricane Irma

Congress’ most unapologetic feminist, Kirsten Gillibrand, the junior senator from my state of New York

How English Was Made – the introduction of the printing press had a profound and revolutionary effect on the language

Newly-coined portmanteaux:
“It took me a long time to get to sleep after the whole shebacle.” From shebang and debacle (per the wife of a friend)
“Vomment” is a comment, usually on social media, someone makes that’s so full of bile and bitterness than it’s the verbal equivalent of vomit (per AmeriNZ).

Why Science-Fiction Writers Couldn’t Imagine the Internet

Scientists Say That Being Forgetful Is Actually A Sign You Are Unusually Intelligent – gee, I HOPE this is true

RIP Lt. Col. Stanislav Petrov – Thanks for Saving The World

When I heard Len Wein, the legendary comics writer-editor, passed away at the age of 69, I was surprisingly sad. I had never met him, but he started writing comics professionally almost simultaneously to when I started reading them. Mark Evanier, his long-time friend wrote “Len Wein died… and it feels so odd to type those words even though I’ve known for a long time I would have to.” I also know people IRL who knew him IRL, and I experience their sadness as well. Condolences to his wife Christine Valada

No, I don’t understand Len Wein’s teddy bear thing

How Bullwinkle Taught Kids Sophisticated Political Satire

Condolences to my old FantaCo boss Tom Skulan, and his brothers Dan and Joe, on the loss of their mother Ruth. I remember her fondly, though I haven’t seen her since the 1990s. Tom said that she really liked me too, and that she had asked about me as recently as a year ago. She was suffering from Sjogren’s syndrome, which I had been unfamiliar with.

Once the kings of Hollywood, directors are now increasingly interchangeable

22 Broadway Musicals That Closed on Opening Night

How are diamonds made?

Helpful Home Remedies for Sunburn

Now I Know: The Fake Illness Which Saved Lives and The Power of Being Bored and What Happens When a Monkey Takes an Awesome Selfie and The Million Pound Cough

MUSIC

Papa, Can you hear me – Nina Simone

Mozart. Symphony no. 29 in A major

Composer Alan Menken plays his greatest hits in ten minutes

Dee Dee Sharp – Mashed Potato Time and other tunes

Coverville 1185: Cover Stories for Fiona Apple and Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics

I don’t want to work

They Dance to a Popular Song from 2016

Why Brian Wilson Is A Genius

The family was going to the movies. I got out of the car and walked a little bit ahead, hoping unsuccessfully to to exchange an old Spectrum Theatre card to get into the entity run by Landmark. They stopped taking them at the end of 2016, alas!

But the Daughter said that I had to wait. She asked, “And do you know why?”

“No”

“Because” – and then she sang “We are family.”

I asked her how she knew it; she’d heard it from some school mates. Did she know who sang it? “Sly and the Family Stone?”

“Sister Sledge. But a good guess, actually.”

I’m reminded of the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team, who used the song as the team’s theme song that season. It went to #2 pop and #1 r&b on the Billboard charts. It also went to #1 in Canada, and it was Top 6 in the UK, Italy, New Zealand, and Switzerland.

The Pirates had stars such as Willie Stargell, Dave Parker and Bill Madlock. They got to the World Series but were down three games to one in a seven-game series. Then I did something uncharacteristic: I bet a couple dollars on the Pirates in Game 5, which they won. I did likewise for Game 6, in which they were likewise successful. But I chickened out on Game 7, when they won the Series.

From the Wikipedia:

“We Are Family” was the first song that Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards wrote for any other act than their own band Chic… Atlantic Records President Jerry L. Greenberg wanted the pair to write and produce for other acts on the label, which Rodgers and Edwards considered far too big and established, e.g., The Rolling Stones, Bette Midler… The pair suggested that they write and produce a song for the label’s least established act, and that if they got them a hit record, then they could take the challenge of writing for a bigger act.

There’s a We Are Family Foundation, which “amplifies the world’s most influential, creative young people who are positively affecting our planet to power their work and ideas forward.”

Listen to We Are Family here or here or here (12″ version)

My late mother had a fairly simple theology, which she said was to follow the Ten Commandments. Sometime in the last decade of life, I asked her what did that mean in this world. What is meant by graven images, e.g.?

Also, I asked what does Thou Shalt Not Kill mean? How does it apply to war, self-defense, defense of others, capital punishment, abortion, suicide, euthanasia, even eating meat?

It is evidently true that in biblical Hebrew… “killing (harag) and murder (ratzah) are two different words with two very different moral connotations, and the commandment uses the Hebrew word ratzah.”

The question becomes, Is the last word? I was looking at 78 biblical verses about Thou Shalt Not Kill. On a personal level, I was immediately drawn to Luke 6:31″ “And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” This is generally known as the Golden Rule.

Also, from Matthew 5: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?”

I was a Methodist for the majority of my life, and the message for me has almost always been, “Use your head! Make up your own mind! Don’t just swallow everything the religious leaders have taught you.” I’ve also been struck by what a Unitarian once told me, that we all create our own theology. I think this true: God/the universe/whatever you call it has given us discernment and intellect.

So, for example, capital punishment makes no sense to me. I’ve written in the past about how a father of a young woman killed the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 went on a spiritual journey to where he found the idea of vengeance against her murderer, Timothy McVeigh, utterly abhorrent.

But we all find different paths on this journey. What are some of yours?

From ABC Wednesday

There’s an article from the Rockefeller Institute of Government called Why New York Needs a Constitutional Convention, which notes:

“Every 20 years, New Yorkers have the chance to vote on whether to hold a constitutional convention (known as a ConCon). The next vote will be held this November. If the voters approve a convention, delegates will be elected in November 2018, and the convention will open in April 2019.”

Here’s the odd thing: I agree with almost everything the writers are saying about a need for a ConCon. Yet I disagree about actually conducting one.

On the affirmative side:
Are you satisfied with the way the state is governed? Surely not.

“New York:
“Has a persistent culture of corruption. Albany thrives on a pay-to-play culture that has seen: four temporary presidents of the Senate since 2008 charged with (and three convicted of) some form of public corruption; the convictions on corruption charges of one of those temporary presidents, Dean Skelos, and the speaker of the Assembly, Sheldon Silver, within weeks of each other.” The fact that Silver and Joe Bruno’s convictions were overturned barely mitigates this mess.

“Has close to a 90 percent incumbency rate for members of the state Assembly and Senate. More legislators leave office under indictment, conviction, retirement, or death than by losing elections! District lines are drawn in ways that not only favor one party or the other, but insulate most incumbents from primary challenges as well.

“Does anybody really believe that a legislature benefiting from the current power structure and anxious to retain that power would adopt, or even seriously consider, institutional reforms such as…
an independent redistricting commission that would end political gerrymandering…;
an independent Moreland/Ethics Commission?”

On the other hand:

“…the political insiders and lobbyists… view the convention as a great opportunity to rewrite the current Constitution to their own benefit, while making a huge profit in the process. The constitutional convention takes place over several years—while the taxpayers… are footing the bill for the delegates’ election and salary—at an estimated cost of $200 million…

“Any approved amendments will not take effect until at least 2020 and beyond. Delegates will be paid a salary of $80,000 a year (in addition to their other income). Because delegates are elected to their positions, many will be elected officials or politically savvy insiders who are familiar with the techniques and demands of the political process, such as fundraising and campaigning.” That’s what happened the last time, in 1967.

“The argument that the convention provides an opportunity for ‘fresh eyes’ and ‘outsiders’ to participate in government is not the reality. Instead, the reality is that a constitutional convention would be controlled by well-funded special interests, such as… career politicians, and it will put the ‘”foxes in the hen house.'”

There’s a BIG problem in New York, but the solution might well be worse than the disease.

I was listening to one of my Stax-Volt box sets, which I usually do in the summer, in honor of the label’s co-founder Jim Stewart’s birthday. (His sister Estelle Axton ALSO belongs in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, BTW.) I’ve written about Stax before, including its complicated relationship with Atlantic Records.

I noticed that some of the Memphis soul label artists, especially the more obscure ones – we’re not talking Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Carla Thomas – had tracks with food-related titles.

This is not to say that some of the name artists didn’t ALSO choose a musical culinary route. Booker T and the MG’s had a song about popcorn, e.g. But I picked three songs to highlight, two of which may give you tooth decay.

Candy – The Astors. Composed by Booker T & MG’s guitarist Steve Cropper and Isaac Hayes, this is the only one of the Memphis group’s songs to chart. #12 on the R&B charts, #63 on the pop charts (Billboard) in the summer of 1965.

“As ‘Candy’ moved up the charts, The Astors performed on shows at the Uptown Theater in Philly, the Howard Theater in D.C., The Regal Theater in Chicago, and The Apollo Theater in New York. The other performers on these shows included The O’Jays, The Coasters, Curtis Mayfield and The Impressions, and Redd Foxx to name a few. The Astors also spent 2 1/2 months performing on tour with The James Brown Review.”

Listen HERE or HERE
***

Sugar, Sugar – The Mad Lads (1966). The song was composed by Alvertis Isbell and Eddie Floyd, the latter a name artist, but, as far as I can tell, the song did not chart. The group is from Detroit.

Listen HERE or HERE
***

Hot Dog- The Four Shells (March 1966). “A Chicago group recording licensed to Stax, produced by Jerry Butler and Eddie Thomas.” I cannot find any chart action for this either.

Listen HERE or HERE

Despite their relative obscurity, these all sound vaguely familiar, as though they were regionally popular, even if they were not always national hits.

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