February Rambling: Military Draft, Muppets and Graceland

“’Soul Train’ was the first and only television show to showcase and put a spotlight on black artists at a time when there were few African-Americans on television at all, and that was the great vision of Don.”

When I mentioned the military draft earlier in the month, I may not have been very clear. Think of a large goldfish bowl with 365 or 366 balls with every date for the year represented. The first date for a particular year pulled would be the first selected for military service, the second date pulled the second selected, etc. There would be a cutoff number, based on need for the war effort. Check out this article and then this one.

The food stamp President; note that Arthur had this BEFORE MoveOn.com helped propel it viral. He also remembers the first anniversary of the Christchurch, New Zealand earthquake, the 50th anniversary of John Glenn’s flight aboard Friendship 7, and the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens.

Rosa Parks Did Much More than Sit on a Bus

The Stories I Tell: “Like most of us I was raised to tell the truth and be honest. This can present a minor dilemma for resellers.”

How a mom used Star Wars to answer life’s questions

Marvel/Disney wages petty, vicious war against Ghost Rider creator. Continue reading “February Rambling: Military Draft, Muppets and Graceland”

G is for Gerrymander

The US Supreme Court ruled that Congressional and state legislative districts had to be roughly equal in population, consistent with the “one man (later, one person), one vote” doctrine.

Gerrymandering is a word which means “a practice that attempts to establish [in the process of setting electoral districts] a political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating geographic boundaries to create partisan, incumbent-protected districts. Gerrymandering may be used to achieve desired electoral results for a particular party, or may be used to help or hinder a particular demographic, such as a political, racial, linguistic, religious or class group.”

The term was created way back in the early 19th century concerning the redrawing of the “Massachusetts state senate election districts under the then-governor Elbridge Gerry…to benefit his Democratic-Republican Party. When mapped, one of the contorted districts in the Boston area was said to resemble the shape of a salamander.” Continue reading “G is for Gerrymander”

Black History Month and Segregation Denialism

“America struggles with ‘denialism,’ i.e., a refusal to face its grim past of racial crimes and human rights violations. ‘Other countries that have tried to recover from severe human rights problems that have lasted for decades…have always recognized that you have to commit yourself to truth and reconciliation: South Africa, Rwanda. In the United States we never did that. We had legal reforms that were imposed on some populations against their will and then we just carried on.’…

Every year for the past several, I have become the point person for the Black History Month celebration at my church. It is not a position I’ve ever sought, but it has obviously sought me. I had called a meeting of potentially interested parties in early December, so that I might offload some of the responsibility. But I was so sick, not only did I not go to church, I had forgotten that I had called the meeting until after the fact. Opportunity missed; so it goes.

At the end of the first adult education hour, which featured a guest speaker, I recommended that people view Slavery by Another Name, a new PBS documentary based on Douglas A. Blackmon’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, narrated by Laurence Fishburne (pictured) before the following session. Some folks did watch, and it is interesting to note that it was a piece of American history that most in the room were oblivious to. My wife and I had seen the film at an advanced showing at UAlbany a couple weeks earlier.

From a description of the book: Continue reading “Black History Month and Segregation Denialism”

The Lydster, Part 95: A Good Heart, for Jamaica

Donations to the project came from all different sources including a generous, heartfelt gift from Lydia who had saved several months of her spending money because she felt ‘all children should have a safe school’

The Moses Baker Basic School in Golden Grove, Jamaica is in one of the poorest communities in a poor country. My mother-in-law writes: “The previous building was a wooden structure which was in bad condition, made even worse each time it was blown apart by hurricanes.” Her church in Oneonta, NY “had been sending teams down each summer [since 2000] to do projects in the community,” first working on getting the health center up to snuff, then repairing the preschool for about 80 kids. “No sooner were the repairs completed each year a storm were blow through more than undoing all of the work. The residents picked up the pieces and put them back on as best they could.

Finally, the church decided to postpone the annual trips to save up some money to build a school strong enough to withstand severe storms, made of “rebar reinforced concrete… The old ‘building’ was torn down as soon as school ended in June, 2011.
Continue reading “The Lydster, Part 95: A Good Heart, for Jamaica”

The “experiment in retaliatory manners” QUESTION

This way-too-cheerful guy walking up the street says, “Good morning!”

I was reading this review of a new book on manners, when I stopped short:

“Would It Kill You to Stop Doing That?” is that rare consideration of courtesy that admits you can carry the crusade too far. Take, for instance, Alford’s one-man “experiment in retaliatory manners,” a period during which he apologized elaborately to people who had failed to say they were sorry for such minor transgressions as bumping into him on the street. “I’m saying what you should be saying,” he’d then invariably have to explain to these oblivious souls. Eventually, and ruefully, he realized that “reverse apologizing is usually as rude if not ruder than the incident that inspires it.”

I recognized that, in all likelihood, I might have done this at some point in my life. Moreover, I have a very specific recollection of this happening to me, Continue reading “The “experiment in retaliatory manners” QUESTION”