September Rambling

Roger and Patricia Green were married 50 years ago on August 19, 1961.

But before I get to that, the baseball playoffs begin today and Scott wants to know:
How do you think the MLB playoffs will go?

I expect that Boston will beat Atlanta in the World Series.

Wait, are you telling me NEITHER of them even made the playoffs after MASSIVE leads in the wild card race on Labor Day? I got a haircut yesterday, and a Red Sox fan walked into the shop and immediately, before anyone could even say a word, noted that the Yankees’ collapse in the 2004 playoffs (up 3-0, lost in 7 games to the Red Sox) was worse than the Bosox slide this year. Maybe. This year was certainly worse than the 1951 Dodgers’ collapse.

OK. Yankees over the Tigers, though with Verlander pitching for Detroit, anything’s possible. The Rangers over Tampa Bay. Texas over NYY.

Phillies over Cardinals. Brewers over Diamondbacks, though I know almost nothing about that Arizona team. Philadelphia over Milwaukee.

Phillies over Rangers.

Rooting interests, in order: NYY, Milwaukee, Detroit, Tampa Bay, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Arizona, Texas.


I remember reading earlier this month that actor Cliff Robertson, “who starred as John F. Kennedy in a 1963 World War II drama and later won an Academy Award for his portrayal of a mentally disabled bakery janitor in the movie ‘Charly,” had turned 88. Then, I discovered, he died the very next day. Some fans will recall that he was the “very first man ever to enter ‘The Outer Limits’, in addition to…his two trips to Rod Serling’s original ‘Twilight Zone’.” And yes, he was Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben. (NO relation to the rice of the same name.)
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Eleanor Mondale died. She was the hallmate of my wife’s best friend in college. Yikes, she was only 51.
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Justice denied in the Troy Davis case
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I came across Linda Carmical’s blogpost about grief – she lost her daughter on 9/11/2001 – somehow through Twitter, and I made a comment on her blog. Here’s her response to my comment. (Got that?)
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Spatula Forum says goodbye to R.E.M.
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Roger Ebert falls down (and don’t we all?)
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Great customer service
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Something I can’t do (and, I suspect, neither can you). Confidential to…you know who you are…red-haired woman.
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Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s son is a minister. And apparently a good one.
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I’d definitely file an amicus curiae on Jesus’ behalf
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This is called On Black People and Homophobia, but it turned out to be very sweet.
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Wither the ampersand?
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The Economy’s Latest Casualty: America’s Baby Bottoms
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Shooting the boss with an AK-47, at his request. (No blood is spilled, thankfully, but still.)
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Cover of Toxicity-System of a Down by 2 Cellos [LISTEN]
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Pinky and the Brain meet the Beatles [WATCH]

GOOGLE ALERTS
Roger and Patricia Green were married 50 years ago on August 19, 1961.

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Roger Answers Your Questions, Amy

The earth MUST be the center of the universe, because God made the earth – or something like that. Suggesting otherwise was heresy, the Church said; science is WRONG.

Amy from Sharp Little Pencil – sometimes that instrument is VERY pointed, and my “favorite Apalachin girl who went to Vestal,” writes:

Hope all in your camp are all right, Roger. Three “hundred-year floods” in five years for Binghamton. Gee, Rick Perry, do you understand global warming NOW? It’s not a belief system; it’s not an “either, or,” it’s a fact, Jack.

My sister chides me about global climate change like it’s Darwin vs. Adam and Eve, and this thought just came to me. Part of the “religiosity” (ha ha) of Tea Bag/Fundies is that they truly blur the line between faith and fact, as though if you plug your ears and say “La la la” loud enough, it will go away; and worse, that people who don’t share your “beliefs” are somehow unworthy of citizenship in the US.

Take THAT ball and run with it, Roger!!! I’d love to hear or read your thoughts on this. Thanks, Amy

First off, I think that there are too many people who, through ignorance, some of it willful, I must say, decide that if it snows in the southern United States, or New Zealand, this somehow disproves global warming. One need only look at the two words: GLOBAL, over the whole world; WARMING, the average temperature of the planet is rising. Snow in Atlanta is the weather; the collective volume of hurricanes and tornadoes, droughts, and heavy rains is the climate, and it sure the heck seems to be altered, and not for the better. And I don’t believe that it will flip back, at least not without a radical change in our behavior. Check out the NASA Global Climate Change blog and be depressed.

I’ve read the Bible a few times, at least thrice all the way through, and I am at a loss to figure out just how a largely human-made climate change is a threat to a belief in a loving Saviour. Of course, I feel the same way about evolution or gay marriage re faith, so I’m a heretic to some anyway.

The issue I might compare it to is heliocentrism. The earth MUST be the center of the universe because God made the earth – or something like that, right? Suggesting otherwise was heresy, the Church said; science was WRONG. Most of us, except the flat earthers, know how THAT debate turned out. God can’t love us if we’re on the third rock from a second-class star? Huh?

Oh, and my last point: I’ve said this recently, but I’ll repeat it – the blurring of the line between American patriotism and Christianity I find rather disturbing. OK, very disturbing.

My reading of Jesus is that he spoke truth to power, not one to embrace the position and power of the status quo. There is a fundamental [intentionally used] belief out there that the United States is uniquely and singularly endowed by the Creator with powers and abilities far beyond those of “normal” countries. And I think that is hubris. Though, to be fair, I myself have wanted the United States to BE more that shining light it says it wants to be, which means taking care of our planet, no torture, no extraordinary rendition, more equitable distribution of income, no executions – especially of likely innocent people; talking to you, Rick Perry, as well as the state of Georgia. You will recall that those folks in the Bible who decided to build a tower to heaven were thwarted in their plans. Hubris, plain and simple.

What were your favorite and least favorite moments, growing up in the Binghamton area?

My favorite, I suppose, was meeting Rod Serling, when I kinda/sorta got to introduce him at a high school assembly.

My least favorite? The first that came to mind is when Curtis E. LeMay came to town. I don’t know if it was the time he came to the American Legion in Johnson City (right next to Binghamton, for the non-locals) when he was running as George Wallace’s Vice Presidential candidate on October 23, 1968, or some subsequent visit. There were about 200 demonstrators outside that first Legion event, according to the AP report, equal to the number of Legionnaires inside listening to the general, infamous for his statement about bombing North Vietnam “back to the Stone Age,” a quote he thought had been misconstrued. What bugged me at the event I attended was the vague scent of tear gas, unwarranted given the peaceful (though loud) nature of the protest.

PS I left a reply for you (finally) that asks you to email me regarding your thoughts on the Pledge…)

This is in reference to a comment I made on her blog – that I can’t immediately find – about how annoyed I was that “under God” was inserted into the Pledge of Allegiance, and just in time for me to go to grade school.

I don’t have a problem pledging fealty to country, though that “liberty and justice for all” part has bugged me periodically. And I don’t mind pledging fealty to God. But when they get mixed together, then I have difficulty. The United States is NOT a theocracy; see my comment above. Moreover, the addition of “under God” to the Pledge just seemed a silly overreaction to the Red scare; it wasn’t in the original, composed by Francis Bellamy in 1892, for a good reason, I’m guessing.

The friend who sent me the visual above said, “I’m forward this picture,” entitled One Nation Under God by Jon McNaughton, “which I find blasphemous in so many ways, even though I’m not at all religious…” Well, I AM religious, for lack of a better word, and I find it just as blasphemous. (But to really “appreciate” it more fully, you must see it on his website, complete with narrative.) Sometimes I think the Jehovah’s Witnesses got it right; in the section regarding nationalism:
“Jehovah’s Witnesses are not allowed to salute the flag of any nation, recite the pledge of allegiance, stand for or sing the national anthem, run for public office, vote, or serve in the armed forces.” You know, render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. And/or separation of church and state. And would I REALLY miss voting, given the system’s brokenness?

The Health Report

St. Peter’s Hospital had a free prostate cancer screening Thursday night, and I participated.

Albany County, NY has had the first confirmed case of West Nile virus in a human this month. It is not shocking, given the number of mosquitos I’ve seen lately, due in large part to all the rain we’ve had. There have been mosquitos in our home office, and Thursday night, the biggest mosquito I’ve seen in a while sitting on a choir member’s arm. I have bites on my arms and legs, even with long sleeves, and even on the top of my head.

I don’t think that’s what made me so sick on Friday morning while I was at work. My stomach was audibly growling, as though I hadn’t eaten, though I had. Then about 11 a.m. – well, let’s just say I spent about an hour out of the next three in the loo. I would have gone home except that I wasn’t well enough to take two buses home; I did leave a little early.

My head’s also stuffed up. It’s so bad that if I sleep on one side, my own wheezing wakes me up. I’m sure it’s allergies, though I don’t know what, specifically; the grass pollen was moderate last Friday, while the mold and weed were low, according to Weather.com, which tracks it for the contiguous United States.

I was still feeling tired on Saturday, so between vacuuming the first floor and mowing the lawn between rainstorms, I took a nap for over an hour; I just don’t nap, so this was significant.

St. Peter’s Hospital had a free prostate cancer screening Thursday night, and I participated. The urologist said I was fine, but they’ll still analyze the blood work. Since my father died of prostate cancer, and because I’m a black male pushing 60, living north of 40 degrees latitude – yes, those are all risk factors – I need to get tested every year. One of the other guys getting checked pondered, “Does EVERY disease have its own colored ribbon?”

Anyway, I’m still dragging a bit, so I’ll sign off until tomorrow when I start answering your questions; you may still submit.

K is for Kennedys

Caroline Kennedy released a new book, Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy, that was published on September 14, with a two-hour ABC News preview the night before.

Like a lot of Americans, I was most fascinated by the lives of the children and some of the grandchildren of Joseph Kennedy and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was the first President I REALLY remember, though I was born shortly after Dwight Eisenhower was inaugurated. Naturally, I recall the assassination all too well.

I’ve expressed my ambivalence about Bobby Kennedy.

And I was terrified when Teddy Kennedy decided to challenge Jimmy Carter for the 1980 Democratic nomination for President; I was convinced if he won the general election, he would die, not just because his brothers all died violently, including his eldest brother Joe, in World War II. It was also the 20-year curse that every President elected or re-elected in a year ending in zero since 1840 had died in office (WH Harrison, Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, Harding, FD Roosevelt, JFK), which Ronald Reagan finally broke.

Both Teddy, who became the “Lion of the Senate” for working effectively with both Republicans and Democrats; and Eunice Shriver, a strong advocate of the Special Olympics, died in August 2009. Ted’s daughter Kara, who spoke at his funeral, died in September 2011 at the age of 51.

The public interest in the Kennedys continues. Perhaps it’s because 2011 is the 50th anniversary of JFK’s inauguration as President of the United States, with us trying to decipher what that means today.

Programs continue to be made about them, including The Kennedy Detail, a 2010 documentary about the JFK assassination, and The Kennedys, an eight-hour 2011 miniseries that was dropped by The History Channel as historically inaccurate but run by the little-known ReelzChannel, which garnered 10 Emmy nominations, and a win for Barry Pepper, who played Bobby Kennedy.

And this month, the transcripts of historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.’s more than eight hours of interviews with JFK’s widow, Jacqueline from 1964 are being released by daughter Caroline in a new book, Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy, that was published on September 14, with a two-hour ABC News preview the night before.
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Fred Hembeck’s essay about Tom Clay’s version of Abraham, Martin and John, features me.

ABC Wednesday – Round 9

The Lydster, Part 90: Talking about Tragedy

There’s the broader question of explaining the news when there is so much distortion of the facts by some outlets.

It’s been relatively easy to talk to my daughter about individual deaths, such as my mother’s earlier this year. She understands that my father, and my wife’s older brother, died before she was born, and has only photos by which to identify them, and that was helpful in the discussion.

But how does one explain the assassination attempt of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, a shooting in which six people were killed, including the pictured nine-year-old girl – not that much older than she is – whose last name was Green, no less? The natural desire is to protect her from such news, and I don’t think she caught the initial story. But there have been plenty of follow-ups, and I know she’s heard at least bits and pieces of those. What does one say? That there are bad people out there? Crazy people out there?

Then there’s the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Of course, the event took place before she was born, but all of the recollections are hard to miss. And those guys are even more difficult to explain. Does this show up in the school curriculum yet? And if so, what does IT say about those events of a decade ago?

(And there’s the broader question of explaining the news when there is so much distortion of the facts by some outlets.)

I went to lunch with a friend of mine who’s around 30 who has decided not to have any children because the world’s just too scary. If the maternal instinct strikes, she’ll adopt, taking care of someone who’s already on the planet anyway. I must admit that I understand her wariness. The environmental and economic troubles alone are sources of concern.

Ultimately, as it turned out, we watched the evening news – the three of us – on September 11 this year. Not sure how much of it she got. Still, my girl is rather resilient; I’ll keep trying to figure out a way to explain the world to her, somehow. Even when the question is “Why”? Why did people fly planes into buildings? Why do we need to remember?