June Rambling

Democracy is not freedom. Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to eat for lunch. –LA Times editorial 1/12/92

Here I am with my good buddy Walter, who works at one of the SBDC centers. Shortly after this picture was taken, I started having trouble with my knee. Walter’s been having trouble with HIS leg, and I called him to tell him that, whatever he has, it’s contagious!

An ad hominem argument is any that attempts to counter another’s claims or conclusions by attacking the person, rather than addressing the argument itself.

Why Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas Must Go, which, as a couple of commenters note, does not go far enough. And another article re Thomas.

Japan Earthquake Swarm Google Earth Animation. And the controversy over Surviving an Earthquake.

The Pink Triangle: Never forget.

I used Twitter more often last week than in the previous six months combined, mostly keeping track of our state legislature. Here’s my favorite tweet: “Democracy is not freedom. Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to eat for lunch. –LA Times editorial 1/12/92”

My niece Rebecca is having her debut CD Release Party with her band, “The Jade Element”, Friday, July 8th, 2011 at Anthology ~ 1337 India St, San Diego, CA 92105 (in Little Italy). Doors open at 9:30 pm.
You can purchase tickets at www.AnthologySD.com or at the door. You can check out a couple of their songs on the website, www.TheJadeElement.com.

Another Kickstarter project that caught my eye: the Winsor McCay Resurrection Project.

How Books Were Made in 1947: Interesting ten-minute film on YouTube. Warning–for print lovers only.

I’m not much of a hockey fan, but I am a hockey traditionalist, I guess. Score One for the Ghosts of History: As Another ‘Original Six’ Team Vies for a Stanley Cup, Classic Franchises Are Flexing Their Muscles.

The Green with Envy movie trailer. And the REAL Muppet Movie trailer.

Schoolhouse Rock: The Next Generation? Renaissance Man.

Music video by “Weird Al” Yankovic performing Perform This Way, a parody of “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga, which in turn was a ripoff of Madonna’s Express Yourself. Also from Weird Al: Stop Forwarding That Crap To Me.

Star Trek KFC.

From the pages of LIFE magazine: MAD Magazine: A Semi-Secret History. And check out the MAD Magazine blog!

From the New York Times: Marvel Superheroes and the Fathers of Invention re “the battle now being waged between Marvel and the heirs of the legendary comic artist Jack Kirby, who breathed life into such pop culture icons as the X-Men, the Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Thor and the Silver Surfer.”

Great comic book artist Gene Colan, R.I.P.

Actor Peter Falk died. He’s remembered for his role in The Princess Bride, and of course, as Columbo (I remember this!)

Actor James Arness obit.

Something from someone’s Facebook page:

The GOOGLE ALERT section

la.donna.pietra, woodendreams: (by Roger C Green Photography)

Ryan Page and Christopher Pomerenke, the writing and directing team… have signed to William Morris Endeavor for exclusive representation with agents Mike Esola and Roger Green heading up Team Page/Pomerenke.

Roger Green, chairman of the Friends of St Peter, said: “I had my doubts about what the effect of the new lighting might be but I must admit I am impressed.”

I’ve stopped following Roger Green Racing bets at the beginning of May. This was after what’s been a poor year for me following this service.

Roger Green, R.I.P.

Freedom Riders: An Appreciation

President John Kennedy, and his brother Robert, the Attorney General, needed to be prodded into action, just as President Barack Obama needs political pressure applied to continue on the right path.

While praising New York state lawmakers as they debated legalizing gay marriage, President Barack Obama stopped short of embracing it. Instead, he asked gay and lesbian donors for patience. “I believe that gay couples deserve the same legal rights as every other couple in this country,” the president said at a Manhattan fundraiser [last Thursday], his first geared specifically to the gay community.

Last week, my Internet buddy Arthur posited the question: Has President Obama done enough for gay rights? He included a news video. “Let me be clear: President Obama is dead wrong on marriage equality: Civil unions are not a substitute for real marriage. It’s time for the president to stop “evolving” and get there and support full equality for GLBT people.

“However, Dan Choi is also wrong, possibly because he doesn’t know history. As Brian Ellner of the Human Rights Campaign says, this president has done more than any other president for GLBT equality than any other president in history.”

And this reminded me of a program I watched on PBS last month called Freedom Riders.

FREEDOM RIDERS is the powerful harrowing and ultimately inspirational story of six months in 1961 that changed America forever. Harrowing is right; it took me at least four sittings to get through the whole thing, not because it was boring, but because it was so intense. Just watch the two-minute Freedom Riders trailer.

From May until November 1961, more than 400 black and white Americans risked their lives—and many endured savage beatings and imprisonment—for simply traveling together on buses and trains as they journeyed through the Deep South. Deliberately violating Jim Crow laws, the Freedom Riders met with bitter racism and mob violence along the way, sorely testing their belief in nonviolent activism.

From award-winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson (Wounded Knee, Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple, The Murder of Emmett Till) FREEDOM RIDERS features testimony from a fascinating cast of central characters: the Riders themselves, state and federal government officials, and journalists who witnessed the Rides firsthand. The two-hour documentary is based on Raymond Arsenault’s book Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice…

Despite two earlier Supreme Court decisions that mandated the desegregation of interstate travel facilities, black Americans in 1961 continued to endure hostility and racism while traveling through the South. The newly inaugurated Kennedy administration, embroiled in the Cold War and worried about the nuclear threat, did little to address domestic civil rights.

“It became clear that the civil rights leaders had to do something desperate, something dramatic to get Kennedy’s attention. That was the idea behind the Freedom Rides—to dare the federal government to do what it was supposed to do, and see if their constitutional rights would be protected by the Kennedy administration,” explains Arsenault.

Organized by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the self-proclaimed “Freedom Riders” came from all strata of American society—black and white, young and old, male and female, Northern and Southern. They embarked on the Rides knowing the danger but firmly committed to the ideals of non-violent protest, aware that their actions could provoke a savage response but willing to put their lives on the line for the cause of justice.

President John Kennedy, and his brother Robert, the Attorney General, needed to be prodded into action, just as President Barack Obama needs political pressure applied to continue on the right path.

Watch the Freedom Riders film, and/or read the transcript, and/or buy the video from PBS.

Ordinary People Making Great Changes: An Interview With “Freedom Riders” Director Stanley Nelson.


X is for…

We all have at least one X chromosome.

I marvel at the versatility of the letter X.

It can be used as a signature that is printed in lieu of an individual’s signature…”Typically, individuals sign their full names when executing legal documents. Sometimes, however, individuals use only their initials or other identifying marks. For illiterate, incompetent, or disabled people, this mark is often the letter X. Documents signed with an X sometimes raise questions as to their validity and enforceability.”

Related, the X refers to a kiss. “The first mention in the literature of XXX for kisses at the bottom of a letter was in 1901, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. The X itself is very old.

“The custom goes back to the early Christian era when a cross mark or ‘X’ was the same as a sworn oath. The cross-referred to the cross of Calvary and the first letter of the Greek word for Christ, Xristos.” (Which is why Xmas does not bother me in the slightest; it actually has sacred roots.)

“Even as little as a hundred and fifty years ago, not many people could read or write. The ‘X’ at the bottom of a document took the place of a signature. They would kiss the ‘X’ as a crucifix or bible was kissed to emphasize the importance of the mark. It was this practice that led to the ‘X’ representing a kiss.”

Yet, X-rated is “vulgar, obscene, or explicit in the treatment of sex: an X-rated novel; X-rated graffiti.”

X is an algebraic meaning ‘unknown quantity’ (1660 in English). Yet X also means the specific, known location of the buried treasure; “X marks the spot.”

Finally, HISTORIANS of mathematics attribute the first use of the cross x as a symbol for multiplication to William Oughtred (…London, 1631).

And since we all have at least one X chromosome, one could argue that we all are unknown AND knowable, sacred AND profane.
ABC Wednesday – Round 8

Roger Answers Your Questions, Tom the Mayor and Jaquandor

Presbyterians are much more deliberative than Methodists.

Jaquandor, the Buffalo area’s finest blogger, asks:

1. Are there any words you dislike, just because of the sound of them and not necessarily the meaning?

Used to be that German words I tended to dislike as too guttural. The K sound would get stuck on the roof of my mouth. But I’ve mellowed, and nothing immediately comes to mind.

2. Are there any subjects you really want to know more about and yet never seem to get around to learning about?

Oh, yeah, dozens, everything from various sciences, such as astronomy and botany; to languages, which I do not seem to have a talent for, starting with Spanish and Latin. But I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I probably won’t do anything about it unless I give up something else, and evidently, I’m not willing to do that.

3. Are you surprised that gay marriage passed in New York? (I am, a little….)

Heck, yeah. It failed miserably some 600 days earlier when the State Senate was controlled by the Democrats. OK, “controlled” is probably an overstatement, since it was pretty chaotic. The last two governors supported it, and it didn’t matter. And it passes with a Republican-controlled Senate? More like shocked.
Tom the Mayor, once a mail order whiz at FantaCo, among other attributes, asks:

Are all the members of your church as Liberal as you are? could you be a good Christian, yet disagree with the beliefs of your church’s leaders?

Tom asks simple questions which I will complicate in answering.

Somehow, as a result of singing in my old church choir at my grandmother’s funeral in May 1983, it got me to decide to start attending church again, after more than a decade of mostly not going. But I couldn’t just go back to a church like the one from my childhood, which I loved then, but found that my theological development was not in tune with that church’s theological positions.

So I went church shopping.

When I first attended Trinity United Methodist Church, it was June 13, 1982. I remember this quite well because the day before, I was at an anti-nuke rally in New York City. The minister, the late Stan Moore, said something quite positive about the rally in his sermon, and this endeared him, and the church, to me. While the shopping continued for some months, I decided I wanted to be there by the end of the year, though I didn’t actually join until December 1984.

In that congregation, I did have leadership roles, first as vice-chair, then chair of the Administrative Board, which was the church’s meeting of the whole, then chair of the Council on Ministries, which was the chairs of the major service committees. I left, not because of theology, but autocracy, involving a change in church structure under a subsequent minister which made it less accountable to the congregation.

I started attending First Presbyterian in the spring of 2000 and joined in 2002. At some point, I was an elder there, but didn’t enjoy it; I think I’m all meetinged out.

So to your actual question: if by the church, you mean the congregation, most of them are as liberal as I am, though by no means all of them. I remember having a conversation with one of them at the (late) YMCA, where you used to work. He mentioned that one of the Clintons, Bill or Hillary, was having a book come out, and he, who reads the New York Post, a conservative tabloid, every day, said he was sure that I would be buying the book from that “liberal”. I surprised him by stating that I didn’t think the Clintons were liberal at all.

If you mean the Presbyterian Church USA, our congregation is definitely more liberal than some. But of course, this depends on your meaning of liberal. If feeding the hungry, clothing the needy is “liberal”, then it’s almost the whole denomination that is liberal. If it’s something such as the role of gays in the life of the church, the Albany Presbytery, which represents our church, is more progressive than others. But given the fact that the PCUSA denomination in 1997 created MORE restrictive language re participation of gays as ministers, elders, and deacons, then in May 2011 agreed to less restrictive language, not many people bolted the church when either event occurred.

Presbyterians are much more deliberative than Methodists. The fact that our Presbytery was at odds – no, too harsh, disagreed – with the PCUSA on gay ordination for over a decade was surprisingly not a big deal.

Oh, one other thing: I wanted Trinity UMC to take more of a stand on gay rights issues when I was involved there in the 1990s. It was downplayed because the church had “made a proclamation” back in 1979 or 1975, or whenever, which preceded my tenure there, and that seemed, to some, to be enough. So it’s not just a matter of beliefs; it’s acting on the beliefs, regularly. My current congregation participates in the Gay Pride parade annually, with our rainbow tapestry hanging from the bell tower as well as over the entrance, as an ongoing, living, breathing statement of faith.

Did I actually answer the question?

The Lydster, Part 87: The Book of Acts

I like that Lydia has three syllables but only five letter; very efficient.

Very early on in this blog, I laid out the rules for naming the daughter, most of which were negative:
*No name in the top 10 in the Social Security list of most popular names for the most recent year available.
*No naming after any family member, living or dead.
*No unisex names…This comes directly from the fact that my father AND my sister were both named Leslie.
*No single-syllable names; it had to have two or more syllables, to balance off the shortness of Green.
*No names that easily went to the nickname.
*It should have a recognizable spelling.
*No names beginning and ending with A.
We have nieces named Alexandria, Adrianna, and Alexa.

But I should have emphasized more how much I liked the name, Lydia. I like that it has three syllables but only five letters; very efficient. I actually didn’t notice at the time, but I like that she has the same initials as my late father.

And I like that it’s not only a Biblical name but a New Testament name.

From Acts 16 (NIV):
13 On the Sabbath we [Paul and his companions] went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. 14 One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. 15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.

So Lydia was a woman of means, she was hospitable and she had faith, something I hoped for my daughter, who seems to have the latter two, and she likes purple to boot.

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