Dec. rambling: Fact-Resistant Humans

Lyn Lifshin was a great American poet



Prayer for America.

The real lesson of Afghanistan is that regime change does not work.

This is what Cambridge protesters said about Boris Johnson’s general election win. Roger Green, 73, convener of Stand up to Racism Cambridge, said the election result was greatly disappointing. He said: “It’s a knockback for people that we’ve ended up with a racist prime minister.”

Throwaway Kids: We are sending more foster kids to prison than college.

Living through the era of school shootings, one drill at a time.

My own private Iceland re: tourism.

Misusing ROMANS 13 to embrace theocracy.

Wars waged by ostentatiously Christian leaders in Washington have done enormous harm to their co-religionists half a world away in the Middle East.

Frankly Speaking: Child Marriage in the US.

Emotional Baggage. The Verge delivers an inside look at the working conditions at Away, every millennial’s favorite luggage brand. The picture ain’t pretty.

Borowitz satire, still true four years later: Scientists: Earth Endangered by New Strain of Fact-Resistant Humans.

3 Ways to Make A Difference: Changing The World With Political Awareness.

“Education is a human right with immense power to transform. On its foundation rest the cornerstones of freedom democracy and sustainable human development. ”
– Kofi Annan

CBS features the Baha’i Faith in “World of Worship” series.

Helping the homeless: Australian charity turns empty parking lots into safe pop-up accommodation.

Church says it wiped out over $5M in medical debt, but healthcare costs remain big-picture problem.

Answers from an actual lawyer: Can I use that music, image, or clip?

Hank Green reading the First Chapter of A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor.

Malcolm X.

Sesame Street characters do impressions of other Sesame Street characters.

Now I Know: The Postal Workers Who The Kid Who Wrote on the Walls and Didn’t Get in Trouble and Not Even Baby Yoda Knows How to Drive and The Day It Accidentally Rained Flying Whale Blubber.

#IMPOTUS

‘Not Mere Misers, But Actively Cruel’

With yet another Mar-a-Lago trip, the bill for his stays at his own resorts tops $118 million.

His Personal Pathology Is America’s Foreign Policy.

The Evangelical Deal with the Devil.

In his America “Christian” is no longer a religious faith.

Lyn Lifshin

Lyn Lifshin’s obituary. She was a great American poet who passed away on December 12th, 2019. The Albany Public Library Foundation honored her with a Literary Legend award in October 2019.

Please read an excerpt from LIPS, BLUES, BLUE LACE: ON THE OUTSIDE, an autobiographical essay. She was cremated in Virginia. There will be a memorial for her at the Unitarian Universalist Society in Schenectady in spring 2020.

EOY, EOD

The Queen’s Christmas Broadcast 2019

50 Years Ago, the First Internet Message Was Dispatched from UCLA.

What did this year mean for civil rights and liberties? Four ACLU attorneys tell us.

TCM Remembers video.

The best films of 2019 according to Wired and Vogue.

Rotten Tomatoes: The 200 Best Movies of the 2010s. I’ve seen about 80 of them, at least two of which I actively dislike.

The Decade in Content. The memes, viral videos, social media phenomenons, and TikTok zombies that defined the 2010s as much as movies, TV, or music did.

Saturday Night Live: home for the holiday.

Music

Coverville 1290 and 1291: Coverville Countdown 2019 part 1 and part 2.

When a Scandal Stinks Like a Whale on the Beach – Mangy Fetlocks

One Voice: A Holiday Presentation by The USAF Band.

How Sweet to be an Idiot – Neil Innes

Hold My Hand – THE RUTLES

Linda Ronstadt isn’t just a legendary singer. She’s also a fierce defender of migrant rights.

The true dwelling of the holy

something in the here and now

true identity of the holyThis being Advent, that period roughly between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I’m thinking a lot of theology. As it turns out, fillyjonk wrote about what I have experienced and what I believe.

“The ‘true dwelling of the holy’ – I was thinking today of how there seem to be competing ideas in Christianity that I’ve seen; where some groups within it are bent on withdrawing from the ‘”world’ as much as possible, and, I guess, waiting on either the Second Coming* or the Afterlife, because that’s the Kingdom of Heaven, and then things will be right.

“And others – and this is more traditionally the congregations I’ve been a part of – have tried to do what they can to bring a little bit of the Kingdom of Heaven here and now. And I admit, with all the loss in my life lately, and some sad old doubts reawakening….well, if maybe the here and now is all we have, shouldn’t we strive to make it as good for everyone around us, and ourselves as well? All we know we have is this day, and so it probably behooves us to be both happy and kind in it.”

The Dustbury connection

I should note that fillyjonk lost her father this year. She was a friend and follower of the late blogger Dustbury. In fact, I became aware of her blog from him.

“(*At one point in my childhood, we briefly attended a church where a lot of the members were really hot on the “End Times” ideas, where the faithful would be raptured and the rest of us would be left to wait out the horrible things that were to come… I admit as an anxious child, that thing scared me a lot – what if I was one of the people who realized one day ‘Hey where is this person? And that person?’ and then realized with dawning horror that they had been raptured away and I hadn’t been ‘good enough.'”

I had received that Rapture message, which ultimately drove me AWAY from the church, ironically.

“And based on my Bible reading as an adult, that doesn’t seem a terribly Biblical thing, or at least, it’s a stretch of stuff John of Patmos wrote, but….I remember being uncomfortable with it as a child. And I would so much rather be the person working in a food bank or welcoming a newcomer or doing something in the here and now to try to make someone’s life here and now better, and not to build up Good Place points for myself so much as….well, because I would like other people to do the same for me.)”

That Matthew 25 message of feeding the hungry, et al., is what helped draw me back to the church. That is, for me, the “true dwelling of the holy.”

Oct. rambling: idealism, cynicism

coming to the aid

CELL PHONE FUNCTIONS

cell phone functions
XKCD is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.
Pew Research: In U.S., Decline of Christianity Continues at Rapid Pace

Obituary: Megan Angelina Webbley, 1988-2019

How corporations are addressing guns

John Oliver: National Weather Service

The Best Places to Live in a Future Troubled by Climate Change – Upstate New York state gets an honorable mention.

Vehicle recycling: AN ECO-FRIENDLY ALTERNATIVE

The Apartment Shortage Controversy

Today’s Environmental Crisis Was Created in 1919

Arkansas’ Phillips County Remembers the Racial Massacre the US Forgot

An entire Manhattan village owned by black people was destroyed to build Central Park

Bill Clinton and Barack Obama spoke at the funeral of Congressman Elijah Cummings

Why The Normalization of Stan Culture is Unhealthy

Tips you need to know to help you spot fake news

D.C.’s Newseum Is Closing Its Doors at the End of the Year

What Happens Right Before Your Best Employee Quits

The Best Home Protection: Home Security Systems

Eeyore is named onomatopoeically, after the braying call of a donkey; he’s the most depressing character in the Pooh universe

Idealism

Students at Albany Medical College are coming to the aid of sanctuary seekers in the US; victims of persecution, torture, and other abuses are three times more likely to be granted asylum if they are evaluated by medical professionals and can provide an affidavit in court

Goodbye DARE — More Schools Are Embracing Realistic Drug Education

A good reason to brush your teeth – from the American Dental Association

How Long Do Average U.S. Marriages Last?

Was Bruce Springsteen born to be a filmmaker?

Greg Burgas: Idealism and cynicism in art

Albany Library Foundation gala photos by DTrae Carter (I’m in there somewhere)

Now I Know: When Playing a Doctor on TV is Good Enough and How a Cute Cartoon Created a Catastrophe of Raccoons and The Secret Life of Supermarket Apples and The Lifesaving Powers of Being an NFL Superfan and The Bird That Set The Record Straight and Why You Can’t Perform Hamlet at the Bar and What’s So French About the F-Word?

Canned Pumpkin Isn’t Pumpkin At All

Mad as a Hatter

INDIVIDUAL 1

Do What’s Right – chockablock with links

He serves nobody except himself

Fact-checking

The un-American president: he hugs the flag every chance he gets, but the truth is very dark indeed

The Daily Show: Kurds edition; John Oliver: Syria

AIER: Presidential Harassment Is a Public Good and Five Wrong Claims about Trade

Rob Dreher in The American Conservative: Is he mentally unstable?

Doral was sited for 524 health code violations from 2013 to 2018

Nate White: Why do some British people dislike him?

Taylor’s Testimony Goes Way Beyond Quid Pro Quo

William Barr’s Wild Misreading of the First Amendment

MUSIC

Guiliani – Randy Rainbow

The Fury – a suite from John Williams’s score

Coverville: 1282: Cover Stories for No Doubt and Avril Lavigne and 1283: Yes Cover Story and Yacht Rock Revue Interview

Piano Sonata No. 9 by Alexander Scriabin

Moses Supposes from Singin’ in the Rain, re-created by dancer Derek Hough and an animated Donald O’Connor

The Isle of the Dead, Sergei Rachmaninov’s epic tone poem

How’d You Like to Spoon With Me? – Angela Lansbury, from Till The Clouds Roll By (1946)

Swing You Sinners! (Fleischer Studios)

You’ve Got to Eat Your Spinach – Mae Questel

Hocus Pocus – Focus, from Disney and Pixar’s Onward, released 6 March 2020

Nippertown: IN MEMORIAM: LYRICIST ROBERT HUNTER Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a non-performing member of the Grateful Dead

October rambling: direct the whirlwind

Washington can’t be trusted

expiration_date_high_score
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.

Inside the most brutal dictatorship you’ve never heard of

America’s Forgotten Mass Lynching: When 237 People Were Murdered in Arkansas

Why Are Poor Countries Poor?

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Compounding Pharmacies

Before He Animated For Disney, Willie Ito Sketched Cartoons In An Internment Camp

Diversity, inequality and prejudice

John Fugelsang: the enemies of Christianity

Edison and Tesla’s cutthroat ‘Current War’ ushered in the electric age

The amazing feat of extreme auto engineering by Frenchman Emile Leray allowed him to escape being stranded in a Moroccan desert in 1993

Annie Lennox: Maverick sat down with MSNBC’s Ari Melber at MASS MoCA

Are Expired Pregnancy Tests Accurate?

Tim Urban: Inside the mind of a master procrastinator

‘Jeopardy!’ host Alex Trebek may leave the show over cancer battle

You’re welcome, Arthur

Robert Forster, Oscar-Nominated ‘Jackie Brown’ Actor, Dead at 78

Rip Taylor, Flamboyant Comic and Host of ‘The $1.98 Beauty Show,’ Dies at 84

Facebook cloning scam; you were not hacked

Tigger – PRONUNCIATION: TIG-uhr
MEANING: noun: Someone filled with energy, cheerfulness, and optimism.
ETYMOLOGY: After Tigger, a tiger in A.A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner (1928). Earliest documented use: 1981.

Now I Know: The Kind of Amazing Thing That Happens When You Lose $13 and How Baseball Closed Its Tiny Loophole and When Speeding Won’t Get You There Any Faster and What Canada Has In Common With Romulans and How a Cute Cartoon Created a Catastrophe of Raccoons

Serena Versus the Drones

GHWB

The family trekked to Kennebunk and Kennebunkport ME the first weekend in October 2019. We got to pass through four states – NY, MA, NH, ME – in less than five hours. Twice in three days.

We went to a nice little museum, with a historical house. When it was in danger of closing in 2011, President George H.W. Bush offered to have some of his memorabilia be collected in one large room of the museum. This saved the day. I wasn’t a huge fan of the Bushes, but this was a kind and decent offer.

djt

Everything He’s an Expert In, According to Him

Mark Evanier has decided that until djt leaves office — and maybe even after — he “will feature one story each day about what he’s doing to The World, America, The Rule of Law, The Dignity of the Executive Branch and himself. He, of course, is concerned only with the last of these.”

His capitulation to Erdogan destroys U.S. credibility; by abandoning America’s Kurdish partners in Syria, the White House has sent a message to allies everywhere that Washington can’t be trusted. It’s just him being himself.

More Answers to Impeachment Objections

Alexander Hamilton warned that a man “unprincipled in private life desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper, possessed of considerable talents… despotic in his ordinary demeanour — known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty” might “throw things into confusion that he may ‘ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.'” from “Founders foresaw Trump nightmare,” USA Today.com, October 7, 2019

Keeping Refugees Out Makes the United States Less Safe

MUSIC

Ginger Baker: A Jazz Drummer With a Rock Reputation

Viviane by Ernest Chausson

Beethoven: Symphony No.9 in D Minor, Op.125 – “Choral” – 4. Presto – Allegro assai · Jessye Norman · Reinhild Runkel · Robert Schunk · Hans Sotin · Chicago Symphony Chorus · Chicago Symphony Orchestra · Sir Georg Solti

Here, There And Everywhere – MonaLisa Twins

Hits from the Andrews Sisters’ songbook – Voctave

Jokerman – John Cruz

Coverville: 1280: Abbey Road 50th Anniversary Album Cover and 1281: Lindsey Buckingham Cover Story

Everybody’s Everything – Steve Winwood and Sheila E., Orianthi, honoring Carlos Santana at the Kennedy Center Honors

Once Upon a Time from The Princess Bride

Pitchfork: The 200 best songs of the 2010s; I own maybe a half dozen of them, and recognize perhaps that many more

The Unsolved Case of the Most Mysterious Song on the Internet

The church – is it even Christian?

the nature of God?

christian churchSometimes being a Christian is odd for me. Maybe because I spent over a decade away from the church, pretty much the entire 1970s, I am able to see the other side.

In Anything But Christian: Why Millennials Leave the Church, the author, Emma Cooper, notes: “Hello, friends. We’re not apes, you know. The reason we’re staring blankly back is that, frankly, we’re insulted. We don’t want coffee. We don’t want multi-colored stage lights.
“We want Jesus.
“And we can’t find Him in your churches.”

That’s a stinging indictment. It always reminds me of the description Tom Lehrer uses, “Sell the product,” in the introduction to The Vatican Rag over a half-century ago.

Another piece: Let’s Stop Pretending Christianity Is Even “Christian” Anymore. “The vast majority of Christians can’t even explain the main tenet of their faith and look very little like their founder. Why?”

Benjamin Sledge posits that people believe: “God is a cosmic genie or butler who gives you Werther’s Original candies — much like your WWII vet grandad did — as long as you’re nice.” Yeah, too often that DOES seem to be the case. Inoffensive, non-threatening pablum that talks a lot and says nothing.

I find myself surprisingly agreeing with Scott Sullivan, a conservative theologian:

“There’s something that gets under my skin… I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone object to doctrines like Divine Simplicity or even just arguments for God’s existence by saying this…

“‘I don’t need all that theology, my Bible is all I need to know my God.’

“First, that’s a theological statement. Second, it’s also pretty bad theology. Here’s the deal, and it’ll probably be pretty controversial: The Bible was not written in isolation from the Church nor is it written systematically to explain doctrine.”

This is why I tend to be mystified with literal believers in the Bible. It makes no sense to me. I’ve read the Bible at least thrice all the way through, the KJV in 1977-8, the RSV in the mid-1980s, and the NIV in 1996-7. I’m overdue for another pass, probably the NRSV.

Sullivan notes, correctly, “It’s mostly narrative, history, and written letters. Even Paul’s letters, which contain a lot of instruction, focus more on the moral implications of Christian doctrines. Where do we find a systematic break down of the nature of God?

“There aren’t any extended doctrinal explanation of essential Christian doctrines like the Trinity or the Incarnation. Rather, there are bits and pieces of these doctrines scattered throughout Scripture and received clarification with its gradual unpacking by great thinkers throughout the history of the Church.”

Sullivan is fond of St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas. His larger point is this: “We would be fools to reject 2,000 years of reflection on what natural reason and Divine Revelation tell us about the nature of God.”

For me, this verse from Jeremiah 29 speaks to me: “Thus says the Lord of hosts. Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” Even though it’s Old Testament scripture, it feels like the message of a New Testament Jesus.