July rambling: 45 es un titere

The Privilege of Being Normal

fake presidential sealWas American politics always this weird?

Lawyers, guns, and money.

The US Gave Slavers Their Land Back. What About Black Folks’ Reparations? and Slavery is also indefensible on economic grounds.

About the Mueller testimony.

Meet the man who created the fake presidential seal; his website.

Data Show Costly Trump Tax Cut Achieved Little

Britain’s New Prime Minister Is Nationalist, Racist and Vain. Sound Familiar?

The Moon Landing Hoax Theory Started as a Joke.

The First Responders, black paramedics in Pittsburgh

The Privilege of Being Normal.

I was a fast-food worker. Let me tell you about burnout.

How to Cancel Amazon Prime.

What is Regenerative Agriculture?

What John Paul Stevens inadvertently taught conservatives about the Supreme Court.

Elijah “Pumpsie” Green, the first black player on the Boston Red Sox, has died. He was 85. Green played parts of four seasons with the Red Sox and one with the New York Mets from 1959-63, batting .246 with 13 homers and 74 RBIs. But his place in history was made when he stepped on the field as a pinch-runner against the Chicago White Sox on July 21, 1959. The Red Sox were the last team in the major leagues to field a black player.

Safe Deposit Boxes Aren’t Safe.

Binghamton, NY: Valley of Creativity.

Ken Levine interview with director Jim Burrows, Part 1 and Part 2.

Can broadcast legend Susan Zirinsky save CBS News?

Basquiat x Warhol at The School in Kinderhook.

Martha My Dear.

Why Americans Just Can’t Quit Their Microwaves.

New Coke Didn’t Fail. It Was Murdered.

Carbon Copy

Fireworks with film at Saratoga.

Enough With Hamilton, Say Fans of Other Founding Fathers; Success of Broadway show steals limelight from Jefferson, Franklin and others; ‘not a lot of demand for James Madison’

The Evolution of Harley Quinn.

Now I Know: The Elephant With Empathy? and The $91-Per-Square-Foot Very Tiny Estate and The Great Saudi Beauty Pageant Scandal of 2018 and Why Isn’t This Tennis Ball Bouncing? and The Rainbow Grandpa Who Saved His Village and The Incredible Cause of Tasmanian Crop Circles and Why Do Bats Sleep Upside Down? (for AmeriNZ)


I’m Your Puppet – James and Bobby Purify.

Music from the new Lion King movie.

Indra by Gustav Holst.

Blue Bayou – Linda Ronstadt and the Muppets, recipients of the 2019 Kennedy Center Honors.

Coverville: 1269: Cover Stories for Suzanne Vega, Simple Minds and Soft Cell and 1270: The Trevor Horn Cover Story and 1271: The Hard Day’s Night Track-by-Track Album Cover.

Windows XP Waltz

K-Chuck Radio: How to enjoy a Quentin Tarantino soundtrack

District of Columbia: Washington DC

more people than either Vermont or Wyoming

District of ColumbiaMore postal abbreviations, this time starting with the letter D.

DC District of Columbia – first letter of each primary word. Abbreviation was D.C. or occasionally, Wash. D.C.

As you all know, Washington, DC is the seat of the US federal government. Its existence was mandated in the U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 8, Clause 17: “The Congress shall have Power to… exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such Dis­trict (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Con­gress, become the Seat of the Gov­ernment of the United States…

Maryland and Virginia ceded “ten miles square” on their respective sides of the Potomac River, and the government, which had previously been housed in New York City and Philadelphia, finally moved to its permanent seat in 1800.

However, in 1846, the Virginia portion of the original territory of Columbia, encompassing Old Town Alexandria and Arlington County, was “retroceded” by Congress to the Common­wealth. The constitutionality of this act has never been determined.

The District is not a state, so the rights of its people have been contentious for decades. “The 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution specifies that all powers not granted to the federal government are reserved for the states and the people. Although the District of Columbia has its own municipal government, it receives funding from the federal government and relies on directives from Congress to approve its laws and budget.

“DC residents have only had the right to vote for the President since 1964 and for the Mayor and city council members since 1973. Unlike states who can appoint their own local judges, the President appoints judges for the District Court.”

Residents (approximately 700,000 people) of the District of Columbia “pay full federal and local taxes but lack full democratic representation in the U.S. Senate or the U.S. House of Representatives. Representation in Congress is limited to a non-voting delegate to the House of Representatives and a shadow Senator. The logo of the DC license plate is end taxation without representation.

In recent years, there have been calls for statehood, since it has more people than either Vermont or Wyoming. The move has been heavily resisted by the Republicans since the district has voted reliably Democratic.

DE Delaware – Abbreviation is first two letters. It was historically Del. It was the first state to have approved the US Constitution.
Capital: Dover; largest city: Wilmington.

For ABC Wednesday

Triennium Protection Policy Training

Two-adult rule

protectionWhen I agreed to be a chaperone for the 2019 Presbyterian Youth Triennium, I was not fully aware of the scope of the training that would be involved. “As required through approval by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), all adults who participate at the Triennium must complete the Protection Policy Training.”

I got an online link to participate in the training and take various quizzes. There are a handful of videos and several bullet pages to review before the six question test, which I aced, thank you very much.

It is, I imagine, developed as a function of the culture where people, including in faith communities, have failed youth and children. As the training document put it, “It is the call of the Church to be a life-giving entity of Christ’s healing and hope for community and individuals, not an entity that brings harm and hurt.”

As someone who doesn’t spend a great deal of time with young people save for my own child, it was brutally enlightening to see what regulations were necessarily put in place to protect children, youth (persons between the ages of 12–17), and vulnerable adults (persons “eighteen-years-old or older without the developmental or cognitive capacity to consent.”)

To that end “the sponsoring council or entity of the General Assembly shall ensure that the following measures be in place and actions are taken for each event or activity involving children and youth,” with exceptions only for true emergency situation. This goes on for 11 pages; these are only highlights.

  1. Two-adult rule: Two non-related adults must always be present in groups of children and youth.
  2. Ratios: The adult to child ratio for all child-related events/activities is 2:10. The adult to youth ratio for all youth-related events/activities is 2:17. There shall also be one adult of each gender when there are one or more minors of each gender in a group.
  3. View Windows and Open Doors: When minors and adult workers or volunteers are in a room, if
    the door is closed, the door must have a view window installed. If no view window is installed in the door, the door must remain open at all times.
  4. Adult workers/caregivers should respect the privacy of the children to whom they provide care. Responsible use of digital devices and cell phones is required in all situations.
  5. Age appropriate training to children and youth should be provided regarding behavior that
    should be reported to caregiver or leader of the event…
  6. All volunteers and employees at any General Assembly entity sponsored events must also abide by a code of conduct… Some of these prohibited behaviors include but are not restricted to:
    a. Display of sexual affection toward a child.
    b. Use of profanity or off-color jokes.
    c. Discussion of sexual encounters with or around children or in any way involving children in personal problems or issues.
    d. Dating or becoming “romantically” involved with children (under the age of eighteen).
    e. Using or being under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs in the presence of children.
    f. Possessing sexually oriented materials—including printed or online pornography—on church
    property or property being utilized for a church event.
    g. Having secrets with youth/children.
    h. Staring at or commenting on children’s bodies.
    i. Engaging in inappropriate or unapproved electronic communication with children.
    j. Working one-on-one with children in a private setting.
    k. Abusing youth/children in any way, including (but not limited to) the following:
    • Physical abuse: hit, spank, shake, slap, unnecessarily restraint.
    • Verbal abuse: degrade, threaten, or curse.
    • Sexual abuse: inappropriately touch, expose oneself, or engage in sexually oriented
    • Mental abuse: shame, humiliate, act cruelly.
    • Neglect: withhold food, water, shelter.
    • Permit children or youth to engage in the following: hazing, bullying, derogatory name-calling, ridicule, humiliation, or sexual activity.

“The staff of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Cumberland Presbyterian Churches desire to serve God among young people in all endeavors, but especially at the Presbyterian Youth Triennium with excellence, vigilance, and faithfulness. We appreciate all you do to make this happen.”

I should note that my congregation has a similar, though less detailed, policy in dealing with minors. I’m torn between feeling sad that such policies are necessary and being pleased that the powers that be are wise and sensitive enough to enact them.

Movie review: Late Night [Kaling]

Mindy Kaling also wrote the screenplay

Late Night - PosterBefore my wife and I saw the movie Late Night at the Spectrum 8 in Albany, I’d read a discouraging piece. Specifically, Why Romcoms are bombing, in which Ken Levine wrote:

I’ll be very honest here. I don’t like Mindy Kaling. I don’t find her funny in any way. That’s me. That said, if all I heard was buzz that this was a laugh riot and the one movie to see this summer I would race to the theatre. I’d be thrilled to change my position on Mindy Kaling. Instead, I’m hearing, “not funny,” “on the nose,” and “formula.” Pass.

Late Night is a romcom? It’s not what I viewed. The Rotten Tomatoes description: “Legendary late-night talk show host’s world is turned upside down when she hires her only female staff writer” – she had been accused of being a “woman who hates women.” “Her decision has unexpectedly hilarious consequences as the two women separated by culture and generation are united by their love of a biting punchline.”

I enjoyed Emma Thompson as the prickly perfectionist Katherine Newbury. the host would rather book the author Doris Kearns Goodwin than the latest YouTube star. Some have compared her to Meryl Streep’s character in The Devil Wears Prada. She can’t be bothered even to learn her writers’ names. But the ratings have been down for a decade, so change is necessary.

Kaling, who wrote the screenplay, plays “diversity hire” Molly Patel. At first, she’s in way over her head, but she eventually discovers how to be useful. It is the evolution of Katherine, with Molly as catalyst, that’s the driving force of the film.

The boys’ club nature of the writers’ room is also touched on, as Molly discovers why all the guys are using the women’s bathroom.

The movie’s always good when John Lithgow, as Katherine’s husband Walter Lovell, who is experiencing Parkinson’s disease, is on the screen. Perhaps the best scene in the movie involves Katerine and Walter in a theater.

I also enjoyed the performance of Kaling’s former The Office colleague Amy Ryan as Caroline, the network executive. Late Night also stars Denis O’Hare as put-upon Brad, the show runner; the writers Charlie (Hugh Dancy), Burditt (Max Casella), Tom (Reid Scott), and Mancuso (Paul Walter Hauser); and Ike Barinholtz as stand-up comedian Daniel Tennant.

I thought Late Night was a good, not great movie, the kind of film that gets 79% positive review on RT. It could have dropped a subplot or a character and still be coherent.

But I appreciated the issues it brought up and the acting. The penultimate shot was a bit “on the nose”, I suppose. There were comic moments; not a “laugh riot” but I don’t think that was the intent. It was worthwhile viewing.

Songs that make me think about life

Gloria Gaynor has a new album

gloria gaynor testimonyWith the prompt, “A song that makes you think about life.” I think, “Yowza – LOTS of songs fit into that category.” Such as these:

Until I Die – Beach Boys. It’s such a lovely song about mortality. Someone once suggested my church choir ought to sing it. The song’s theology doesn’t quite mesh for that to happen.
“I’m a cork on the ocean
Floating over the raging sea
How deep is the ocean?
I lost my way”

Cancer – Joe Jackson. It’s such a CHEERY song for such a terrible disease that has claimed the lives of several people I have known.
“No caffeine, No protein
No booze or Nicotine”

Church – Lyle Lovett. A rebellious song about Sunday morning service. And the damn thing makes me hungry to boot.
“And the preacher he kept preaching
He said now I’ll remind you if I may
You all better pay attention
Or I might decide to preach all day”

How Cruel – Joan Armatrading. I’ve referred to this song more than once on this blog.
“I heard somebody say once I was way too black
And someone answers she’s not black enough for me”

The Ostrich – Steppenwolf. From that first album.
“But there’s nothing you and I can do
You and I are only two”

Logical Song – Supertramp – I saw someone slagging it on Facebook recently; reason enough to include it.
“I said, watch what you say or they’ll be calling you a radical
Liberal, oh fanatical, criminal.”

I Will SurviveGloria Gaynor. Here’s a Rolling Stone article and a CBS News piece , both from June 2019, with her promoting her new gospel album, Testimony. She turns 70 on September 7, 2019.
“Weren’t you the one who tried to hurt me with goodbye
Do you think I’d crumble
Did you think I’d lay down and die?”

Fight the Power – Isley Brothers. Self-evident.
“Time is truly wastin’
There’s no guarantee
Smile’s in the makin’
You gotta fight the powers that be”

The Message – Grand Master Flash & the Furious Five
“It’s like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under”