July Rambling: privilege, and 12-tone music

Roger Green was told that he cannot greet pupils from Sandy Lane Primary School in Bracknell, Berkshire, with the gesture because a driver said it slowed down traffic.

Watch the important documentary, Two American Families, online at Bill Moyers’ website. In the same vein, To Rescue Local Economies, Cities Seize Underwater Mortgages Through Eminent Domain.

From Meryl, the graphic novel expert: The Armageddon Letters and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Also, Zahra – from Paradise to President. Published in 2011, its story takes place in Iran, June 2009.

Brief Thoughts on Shelby County v. Holder by Mark S. Mishler. (But the actual title is TOO long!)

Daniel Nester writes about privilege. I found it interesting, in part, because it reminded me of certain white sociology students, in undergraduate school and subsequently, who insisted on informing me about the sources of my oppression. They also insisted I spell “black people” as “Black people.” Meh. Dan also gives cheeky advice for aspiring writers.

Thom’s apology to the GLBT people he knows, and the ones he doesn’t.

6 Things That Will Happen Now That The Sanctity Of Marriage Is Destroyed, presented by George Takei.

Eddie and Keith do a road trip.

Dustbury found this video, which is about Arnold Schoenberg and 12-tone music but is as much about the stifling US copyright law, the creative mind, the boundaries of art, and how we communicate with each other. He “learned more from this half-hour of unconventional pedagogy than from a whole semester of theory.”

It was the first line in Jaquandor’s novel, it was a reflection of first lines of novels generally.

Mark Evanier writes: “My father was a very honest man. Absolutely, utterly honest. Once, he found a wallet in the street with a few hundred dollars in it. He took it home, looked up the number of the person it belonged to and arranged to return it to them…with every buck still in it. He did things like that all the time. All the time.”

Melanie deals with the death of a close family member. “With it comes a closure of sorts. Unfortunately, this is one of those deaths that bring feelings of sadness, but also of relief- a lengthy ordeal over at last.”

Daniel Nester’s dad died, and those “pesky abandonment issues” pop up. He is processing his Notes on Grief, parts I and II and III and IV and V.

Related: 936 opportunities, which made me melancholy thinking about MY dad.

Chris quits smoking! YAY!, despite duress. And she has a new blog! BTW, she also made and sent me yummy cookies!

‘Friendly atheist’ speaks to thousands at megachurch.

How do we pray for a friend in need or a stranger who might be sick or lonely in the hospital or at home?

NOT a Get Out Of Hell Free card.

Arthur answers my questions about music and identity and the roots of his political self and political philosophy & friends and boycotts and some other stuff. He also responded to my slow audience post.

Simplified blogging.

The Mom From ‘The Cat in the Hat’ Finally Speaks.

The secret of the Floating Cork.

I’m egotistical enough to be pleased that Chuck Miller put me in his Best of our Times Union Community Blogs for July 25 and July 18 I also appreciate that he’s trying to promote the TU bloggers the way he wishes the TU would. As noted before, I never know what to write for that audience, until I do, such as when I wrote: The Census site with Congressional district data is cool. Really.

I noted that my friend Lynne tried to walk from Albany to Binghamton, but I didn’t mention that walking on the side of the road is NOT like sidewalk walking.

GOOGLE ALERTS (not me)

Daily Mail: Lollipop man banned from high-fiving children because it ‘confuses drivers. “Roger Green was told that he cannot greet pupils from Sandy Lane Primary School in Bracknell, Berkshire, with the gesture because a driver said it slowed down traffic. Hundreds of parents have reacted angrily to the ban by Bracknell Forest Council.”
Followup: “High-five” lollipop man given the green light to give “thumbs up” instead.

The Guardian: Notes from Overground by Tiresias (the pen name of Roger Green) was published in 1984. It became a minor cult, and though it never sold very well, it still gets into the occasional blog today. We admirers occasionally meet and share favourite moments.

Is Stand Your Ground bad law?

I could have sworn I had written about my concerns about the Stand Your Ground laws after Florida passed it, long before the shooting and killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. Can’t find it. So I’ll cheat, and expand on this document from the government of the state of Connecticut.


The Castle Doctrine and “stand-your-ground” laws are affirmative defenses for individuals charged with criminal homicide. The Castle Doctrine is a common law doctrine [going back to English common law] stating that an individual has no duty to retreat when in his or her home, or “castle,” and may use reasonable force, including deadly force, to defend his or her property, person, or another. [There was a case a few years ago where some drunk guy wandered into someone’s home in western New York at 1 a.m. The intruder was shot and killed, and no charges were filled.] Outside of the “castle,” however, an individual has a duty to retreat, if able to do so, before using reasonable force.

Stand-your-ground laws, by comparison, remove the common law requirement to retreat outside of one’s “castle,” allowing an individual to use force in self-defense when there is reasonable belief of a threat. [Note this important distinction; one does not have to walk away from the conflict.] Deadly force is reasonable under stand-your-ground laws in certain circumstances, such as imminent great bodily harm or death.

Forty-six states… have incorporated the Castle Doctrine into law. Connecticut law justifies the use of reasonable physical force, including deadly force, in defense of premises. Connecticut courts have recognized the common law privilege to challenge an unlawful entry into one’s home, to the extent that a person’s conduct does not rise to the level of a crime. Deadly force is justified in defense of one’s property by a person who is privileged to be on the premises and who reasonably believes such force is necessary to prevent an attempt by the criminal trespasser to commit any crime of violence.

Twenty states have stand-your-ground laws. Generally, these laws allow an individual to use force in self-defense when there is reasonable belief of a threat, without an obligation to retreat first if the individual (1) has a legal right to be at the location and (2) is not engaged in an unlawful activity. Connecticut does not have a stand-your-ground law. Connecticut law specifically requires an individual to retreat, if able to do so, before using reasonable force.
***
The idea that one should be able to defend oneself, or another, in case of a reasonable threat is always true. The question in Stand Your Ground is how much effort one needs to use to try to extract oneself from the situation.

My concern is not people with guns, but rather short-tempered people with guns who take advantage of the notion of a perceived threat. At the absurdist end of the spectrum, I’m thinking of that Tennessee woman who shot at a car full of kids for turning in her driveway; fortunately, no one was hurt.

Is there a racial component in the perception of a “reasonable threat”? [Research John Roman] “found that Stand Your Ground laws tend to track the existing racial disparities in homicide convictions across the U.S. — with one significant exception: Whites who kill blacks in Stand Your Ground states are far more likely to be found justified in their killings.”

I’m uncomfortable with Stand Your Ground because I believe it has led to avoidable deaths and will continue to do so.

C is for Cover songs

For arcane reasons, I listen to a lot of Beatles covers in the month of July, in honor of Ringo Starr’s birthday.

A cover song is a version of a recording released subsequent to the original one. Sometimes the most popular version is a cover: Good Lovin’ by the Young Rascals [LISTEN] was initially recorded by someone dubbed Lemme B. Good, then was a minor hit by The Olympics [LISTEN], which I own. I Heard It Through the Grapevine was a massive hit for Marvin Gaye [LISTEN], though the original by Gladys Knight and the Pips [LISTEN] (my preferred version, actually) went to #2 on the US charts a year earlier.

What makes a good cover song is that it is not merely a slavish imitation of the original. Otherwise, what’s the point? The version of You Keep Me Hanging On by Vanilla Fudge [LISTEN] had been criticized as excessive, but it’s sure different than what the original Supremes [LISTEN] put out.

Sometimes a cover is SO good that even the originator will bow to the successor. Otis Redding [LISTEN] acknowledged that Aretha Franklin [LISTEN] had “stole” Respect from him, meaning it was now hers, though he wrote it and sang it first. Likewise, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails realized that Hurt has become a Johnny Cash [LISTEN], not a NIN [LISTEN], song.

For arcane reasons, I listen to Beatles covers in the month of July, in honor of Ringo Starr’s birthday. There are a LOT of them; by the time the Beatles broke up, there were over 2500 versions of Yesterday alone, most of them boring.

I have about three dozen Beatles’ cover albums. There are classical, Latin, bluegrass, country, soul collections. I have whole albums covered by various artists, some compiled by MOJO magazine, plus whole albums by the Smithereens, Big Daddy, and others. My friend Fred Hembeck put together some compilations; the worse version among them, Hey Jude by an uninspired, off-key Elvis Presley. I made a few collections myself, from CD that have Beatles-inspired cuts.

Arguably the best Beatles interpreter is Joe Cocker. He came to fame at Woodstock singing A Little Help From My Friends [LISTEN to the studio version]. He’s made a whole song out of the Abbey Road-segued She Came Into The Bathroom Window [LISTEN]. But my favorite of his takes is You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away [LISTEN].

I should mention again my favorite music podcast, Coverville, which comes out twice a week. One episode is a cover story of a particular artist, while the other might be a request show, some independent artist hodgepodge, or based on a theme.

Its name is Bond: Savings Bond

The $25.00 outlay has gained $6.96 in interest, currently at 0.63%, and is now worth a whopping $31.96.

Your name here
Our family – mostly I – is cleaning out our attic, and that fact MAY become the source of several blog posts. I have noted that it has become a bit of a sore point. We all have stuff up there, but I have items that are relegated there because there’s no room on floors one and two, according to the powers that be. So I have two bookcases, with books, that I would be inclined to access, e.g.

When we decided to get the attic insulated, it took THREE years. Moving all the stuff to half of the attic, then have it insulated. Then paint it, which I would have skipped. And for a brief time – maybe six weeks, the attic was again a usable space. But then time to insulate the other half, so everything’s then in the OTHER half of the room. And this took the contractor FOREVER to do, until I got…rather grumpy about it, let’s say. Room gets insulated; floor, which was weakened, was repaired; room (again, I believe unnecessarily), was painted.

NOW, finally I could put things from one side of the attic into the other, rather than have everything packed to the ceiling on one side, where I can’t access/find anything. Some of the clutter are old bills and the like, which I WOULD have gotten to a couple years ago, if that had been possible.

One box, I quickly determine was receipts of The Wife’s, all from 2004, the year the Daughter was born. One thing I DID take out was a $50 savings bond. Hmm, I wonder what it’s worth. I go to the TreasuryDirect calculator, and discover that a $50 savings bond purchased in April 2004 doesn’t mature until April 2034. The $25.00 outlay has gained $6.96 in interest, currently at 0.63%, and is now worth a whopping $31.96.

I then remember that I have a about two dozen $100 savings bonds, purchased for $50 each, from the mid-1990s, and I should check their value.

The first one, purchased 01/1993, has gained $89.56 in interest, is still gaining at 4.00%, and is now worth $139.56, more than face value. Cool.

The first ones I got in the next two years are worth somewhat less: the one I purchased 02/1994 has $57.56 in interest, still at 4.00%, for $107.56. 01/1995 has $53.72 in interest, at 4.00%, for $103.72.

But then it drops off badly. My 01/1996 purchase $50.00 has made $50.00 in interest, but is getting only 0.59% interest now. And the last one I bought, in 08/1997 has garnered only $36.20 in interest, and is receiving only 0.63%.

So if I were to have to cash them in, I’d start with the 1996 issue, then 1997, 1995, 1994, and keep those 1993 bonds for last. Savings bonds don’t seem to be the golden value they used to be.

Royally exhausted

His royal highness Christopher Rupert Vwindemier Vlandamier Carl Alexander Francois Reginald Lancelot Herman Gregory James is giving a ball.


My personal nightmare is over, and I won’t have to listen to the incessant stories about George Cambridge, which sounds like the name of a character actor in 1970s films, but in fact is what I’ve dubbed one baby born this past Monday, along with about 350,000 others worldwide.

It’s not that I have a particular antipathy towards the royals as much as I don’t much care. The overload of coverage, though, made me cranky.

I was at my physical therapist’s earlier this week, and NBC’s TODAY show was on TV. The hosts promised a royal-free zone in their vapid What’s Trending segment but did one non-crown story before devolving. Over the previous weekend, with no baby, the news organizations were reduced to reporting on how much time and effort news organizations were spending waiting for George.

Then the baby was born. Lots of even numbers, I noticed. 8 pounds, 6 ounces, 4:24 p.m. on the 22nd of the month. I suppose I, like some others, was hoping for a girl, if only to put that new primogeniture law to the test.

What, no baby name yet?! Wait a day, people! Names of royals always remind me that Diana muffed Charles Philip Arthur George’s name at the wedding, saying Philip Charles. It also brings to mind Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, specifically, “The Prince is Giving a Ball” – LYRICS and LISTEN:
Herald: His royal highness, Christopher Rupert Vwindemier Vlandamier Carl Alexander Francois Reginald Lancelot Herman
Boy: HERMAN?
Herald: Herman Gregory James is giving a ball.

The Wife, though, is more interested in the newest heir to the British throne, maybe because she is related. Nine generations ago, back in the 1690s, John Olin married Susannah Spencer, who is an ancestor of Princess Diana. Usually, I zip through the recorded news, but this week, I have to wait for her to watch the royal news, something I might otherwise have zapped through.

I’ve heard less about the desire of skipping over Charles (who’s only been waiting most of his life to become a king; don’t expect HIS mom to abdicate), and to install William, who is, after all, a tired new dad. Also, it seems that the hatred of Camilla has waned in the years since Diana’s death.

Speaking of the royals, about six months after Charles and Diana’s wedding back in 1981, my friend Jessica Lawrence developed a parody skit of that event, a narrative accompanied by a slide show. The pictures were taken at Westminister Presbyterian Church in Albany. The presentation was the Eighth Step Coffee House when it was still located at First Presbyterian Church, and it was hilariously irreverent. That’s Jessica as Diana and me as the Archbishop of Canterbury.