Oct. rambling: idealism, cynicism

coming to the aid


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.


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


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


Do What’s Right – chockablock with links

He serves nobody except himself


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


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

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

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


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.


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


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.

Preachers, politics, and the Christian Left

“This need not be our normal.”

Love thy neighborPeople of faith have been, and ought to be involved with small-p politics, in terms of feeding the hungry, but also pointing out injustice, opposing immoral wars, and the like.

I’m fascinated that the Washington National Cathedral, the closest thing the US has to a national house of worship, issued a strong statement about the White House resident. “The racial overtones are clear, and they are building,” says Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde. “This need not be our normal.”:

The new DC Archbishop, Wilton Gregory, and the only black archbishop in the nation, said 45 is “diminishing our national life,” by attacking non-white members of Congress. “I have stressed that I am a pastor and fellow disciple of Jesus, not a political leader,” Gregory, the former archbishop of Atlanta, said in a statement to the Catholic Standard. “There are, however, sometimes, when a pastor and a disciple of Jesus is called to speak out to defend the dignity of all God’s children.

“Our faith teaches us that respect for people of every race, religion, gender, ethnicity and background are requirements of fundamental human dignity and basic decency,” Gregory said. “This include newcomers to our country, people who have differing political views and people who may be different from us. Comments which dismiss, demean or demonize any of God’s children are destructive of the common good and a denial of our national pledge of ‘liberty and justice for all.'”

You can tell these comments were made reluctantly, lest their intentions be misunderstood, their parishioners offended, their sincerity attacked.

Someone, I wish I remembered who, noted recently that Paul Tillich, one of the most important theologians of the 20th century, said c. 1960 that we should declare a 100-year moratorium on the use of the word “God.” “He’d simply grown weary of people dropping the name to support their utterly non-scriptural, usually bigoted, fundamentalist agenda, and wanted time for the air to clear, and to let real theologians set the record straight.”

I’m not crazy about the term Christian left, because it seems to suggest a primarily electoral agenda. Still, John Pavlovitz lays it out correctly. “The loudest people get to write the story that everyone hears, the one they come to believe is the only story. In this way, they get to define what is true for those looking on, who may not hear anything else.

“Right now there is a story being written about Christians in America; a story saturated with cruelty and absent of compassion, and because the authors’ volume is so great and their profile so high and their political position so unrivaled—that is becoming the singular story. It is becoming true for all of us.

“But that is not our story.” And he goes into great deal about what IS an alternative narrative. This important to me personally, because those louder, more Politically connected, but less spiritually compassionate have been a stain on my faith for WAY too long.

Finally, an old IRL friend of mine said recently, “You know, Roger, so many ‘good’ people who claim to follow Jesus Christ also support racism in this country. Do they really think they won’t burn in hell for their greed and bigotry?!” To which I can safely answer, these things are WAY above my pay grade.

Criminalizing compassion

criminalizing compassionI recently came across this Common Dreams article, ‘Criminalizing Compassion’: Trial Begins for Humanitarian Facing 20 Years in Prison for Giving Water to Migrants in Arizona Desert.

Human rights advocates accused the U.S. Justice Department of “criminalizing compassion” as a federal trial began in Arizona Wednesday for activist Scott Warren, who faces up to 20 years in prison for providing humanitarian aid to migrants in the desert.

I think the prosecution is terrible, of course. But it DOES reassure me that we’re not a Christian nation, despite protestations to the contrary. A Christian nation would follow these familiar tenets of Matthew 25:

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

Or the Good Samaritan story in Luke 10:

But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

This regime targets trans health care protections, has IRS audit poor taxpayers at the same rate as richest One Percent and other things too numerous to mention here.

Rev. Franklin Graham, among other “Christian leaders”, is asking “followers of Christ across our nation to set aside June 2 as a special day of national prayer” for the regime. He said, “In the history of our country, no president has been attacked as he has. The lies and the deceptions rage on.” The irony is striking.

I do agree with part of Graham’s call, that the regime “will know and understand the power of God in a new way.” But for me, it is different than what we’ve experienced the past 28 months.