Oct. rambling: How I See Humanity

Autumnal music and about Brian Wilson

blackbird
per Uthaclena

John Fugelsang on Christianity

Hank Green: This Math Test Changed How I See Humanity

A History of Nuclear War with Peter Kuznick

American democracy has been in trouble before

Trump’s letter to the House Jan. 6 Select Committee

Inside the S–tshow That Was the Trump-Biden Transition

Understanding History in the Age of the Big Lie

The Odd Pathology of the Politician’s Mind

‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’: A Conversation With Co-Directors Ken Burns and Lynn Novick On Authoritarian Parallels

Weekly Sift Closing Arguments on abortiondemocracy, and Biden’s accomplishments 

What the failure of Liz Truss’s economic agenda in the UK can teach the U.S.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Transgender Rights II and Museums and Crime Reporting; Frank S. Robinson: Crime and Policing 

Plan to Save New York City from Rising Sea Level

It’s Time to Retire BMI as a Clinical Metric

Never Enough? Why ADHD Brains Crave Stimulation

This past week in healthcare investigations: Fentanyl Hidden in Cocaine; Missed Breast Cancer Diagnoses; Calling Out Racism

Upstate NY Habitat plans 25-unit condo; thought to be a world first

The Rev. Calvin Butts left behind a legacy of prayer and political activism

How Audley Moore Created a Blueprint for Black Reparations

Jules Bass, Producer Behind the ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ and ‘Frosty the Snowman’ TV Specials, Dies at 87; Remembering the Rankin-Bass Catalogue

Marvel, DC Among Last Bastion for Supersized Movie Paydays

Even Superheroes Have Moments Of Mediocracy As This Funny Comic Strip Shows

Now I Know: The Marketing Stunt That Vacuumed Up a Whole Company and The Lady Who Made a Living By Smashing Booze and The Unheard Words of the Star Trek Theme Song and The Odd History (Perhaps?) of the Malaysian National Anthem and The 21-Year-Old Irish Woman That Saved D-Day and The First Curfews and Why Is This Panda Rowing a Giant Pumpkin?

WORDS

NYT: In praise of y’all, the most inclusive pronoun, which I supported 11 years ago

EA Poe, Nature Writer

We have to get rid of “ums” and “uhs” when speaking, right? Not necessarily.

The Birth of the Semicolon

A.Word.A.Day– Overton window – noun: The range of beliefs, attitudes, etc., considered acceptable at any given time.

Twenty Years of Sheila O’Malley

Researchers “Translate” Bat Talk. Turns Out, They Argue—A Lot

Happy Birthday, Jeff Goldblum!

MUSIC

Jerry Lee Lewis, Piano-Bashing Pioneer of Rock ‘N’ Roll, Dies at 87NYT obit. Rock hall

November Steps by Toru Takemitsu

Coverville:  1417 – Red Hot Chili Peppers Cover Story II and 1418 – Cover Stories for The Waterboys and World Party

In Autumn by Edvard Grieg

Toward the Unknown Region – Ralph Vaughan Williams

Alan Menken performed a ten-minute medley of songs to which he contributed the music.

The Isle of the Dead by Sergei Rachmaninoff

Lucy Simon, Tony-Nominated Composer, and Sister of Carly Simon, Dies at 82; Winkin’ Blinkin’ and Nod – the Simon Sisters

Top 15 annoying pianists

The Greatest Adventure from the animated The Hobbit

Ken Levine with author/filmmaker David Leaf, talking about musical genius Brian Wilson:  Part 1 and Part 2

2022 Pride Parade: more important than ever

cardboard jesus

2017
2017

The 2022 Pride Parade occurred in Albany, NY, on June 12. When I came to church, I could see Molly, the youth coordinator, and others decorating a car. I’ve participated, off and on, at least since 2007. (COVID put the kibosh on the event in 2020, e.g.)

By 2010, I dragged along my daughter, but by 2017, and surely long before, she was participating independently.

In my 2013 post, I worried about an antigay backlash that I thought was always around the corner. I felt that there was a certain unfortunate “We made it to the mountaintop” thinking in conversations. And after the SCOTUS affirmed marriage equality in 2016, it would be reasonable to assume that the battle had been won, or at least nearly so.

The last six years have proven that to be anything but true. Antigay violence, book banning, and your basic bigotry, often in the false name of Christianity, have distressed me.

Corporate America doesn’t know what to do. State Farm was criticized after celebrating Pride and then dropping a program supporting LGBTQ books in schools. Disney’s initial response to Florida’s Don’t Say Gay distressed its employees. As the company became less cowardly, Florida governor Ron DeSantis decided, with the state legislature’s support, to punish Disney (and probably Florida taxpayers as well.)

Not according to plan

After church, my daughter and I went to find our church’s car/float, walking on the sidewalk in the opposite direction of the parade. Finally, we discovered the car stuck at its launch location. The car’s starter failed to engage. Worse, the two people waiting were stuck there because they couldn’t even close the windows.

But I was told that one of our group took our cardboard Jesus, put it on a hand cart, and walked it through the parade. (A photo appears on the Times Union website Were You Seen. It is near the end of the 2022 Albany Capital Pride Festival and Parade album.) Coincidentally, I saw photographer Jay Zhang driving behind the parade. I thought he needed help getting out of the park, but he said he needed to get a few shots of the parade; he took more than “a few.”

I briefly marched with the Albany Public Library contingent, because LIBRARY, before stopping back at my church so my wife could take me to the train station. Perhaps my daughter would come with us to see me off? Nah, she hung out with her friends at the Festival in Washington Park after the march, which, BTW, was fine with me.

March rambling: quotation marks

Support the Albany High School robotics team!

tractor_beam_2x
From https://xkcd.com/2579/

In a world-historic first, microplastics were detected in human blood

The Our World in Data COVID vaccination data

 How American conservatives turned against the vaccine

The Lancet: Paul Farmer

Cameroonians fleeing conflict are in dire need of Temporary Protected Status – cf.  Inside “the most diverse square mile in America”

What Caused the War? Ukraine and Russia in Historical Context

The Race to Archive the Ukrainian Internet

Ukrainian Actress Oksana Shvets Killed in Russian Rocket Attack

Non-war conflict

Hate and extremism

How did Christianity become so toxic?

The Interactive Theater of Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Confirmation Hearing

Addressing racial inequality in paid leave policy

Sara Jacobs, one of the youngest members of Congress, talks about sexism and ageism in politics. 

Writing Women into History

Women in medicine are running up the wrong side of the escalator

Where Does the Religious Right Go After Roe?

Sojourner Truth’s Battle to Free Her Son from Slavery

Actor Tim Reid on addressing racial issues on WKRP in Cincinnati

Texas’ New Voting Law Disenfranchised Thousands Of Otherwise Eligible Voters

The Tangled, Messy Roots of Fake News, long before it became djt’s favorite term

Ginni Thomas demanded Congressional Republicans take the fight to overturn the 2020 election to the streets

John Bolton admits that ‘it’s hard to describe how little [djt] knows’

I Know There’s An Answer

Climate Change Brings Uncontrollable Wildfires

 The Illinois town that got up and left

The 1950 Census is Coming: What You Need to Know

Timbuctoo Institute would build opportunities in the Adirondacks 

About Those Gas Prices

Concert  Tickets: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

2021 County and Economic Development Regions Population Estimates for NYS

Luka’s mural

Jobfished: the con that tricked dozens into working for a fake design agency

“They’re called ‘quotation marks’.”

Phobias. Aibohphobia is the (unofficial) fear of palindromes. Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia is used to describe the fear of very long words.

The official Girl Scout cookie power rankings

The Result of a Rabbit Hole

Audience participation

GoFundMe page for the Albany High School Robotics Team to compete at the FIRST Robotics World Championship in Houston, TX on April 20-23. They placed 2nd in the New York Tech Valley Regional Competition.

Four Open Seats on Albany Public Library Board in May 17 Election. Nominations are due to the Clerk of the City School District of Albany by Wednesday, April 27, at 5 pm.

New York Bike Census

Now I Know

The Biggest Bread Soup in the World and Why Are My Baby Carrots Always Wet? and The First Computer Bug and The Phone Booth in the Middle of Nowhere and Beware the Ire of Caesar and Which Came First, The Algorithm or the Pi? and World War II’s Pre-Email E-Mail

MUSIC

Livinliv – Aleksandr Shymko

Irish tunes

K-Chuck Radio: The musical tree of Ida Red  and green songs

Holiday at Ferghana -Reinhold Gliere

Lullabye of Broadway from 42nd Street

Coverville: 1393 – John Cale and Velvet Underground Cover Story and 1394 – The Blink-182 Cover Story II and 1395 – The Smashing Pumpkins Cover Story II

John 14:6 – I am the way, the truth, the life

Frederick Buechner

Beyond WordsAbout a dozen years ago, a blogger buddy of mine completed a quiz about the Bible, addressing several topics. One was “A teaching from the Bible that you struggle with or don’t get?”

The response: “John 14:6. Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’

“I’d honestly hate to think that good people who aren’t Christians in life will be turned away by God for this reason. I have a very hard time with this notion.”

I remember this vividly because I didn’t have a particularly good answer. Moreover, reading it literally, as many Christians I grew up with would do, caused me to pretty much abandon the church for over a decade.

The narrative propelled the notion that we needed all of these missionaries. Otherwise, the Buddhists and Hindus, and Muslims were all going to burn in hell because they had not “accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and savior.” Though I came back to church, I never found satisfactory verbiage to respond to this mindset. Until now.

The realm of mystery

In one of my small, remote groups at church, we are reading Beyond Words by Frederick Buechner, pronounced BEEK-ner. He is an ordained Presbyterian minister who attended, among other places, Yale Divinity School and the Union Theological Seminary. Buechner is, to the best of my knowledge, still alive at the age of 94.

Beyond Words is “A word a day to keep the demons away.” It is a 2004 compilation of three of his earlier books from the 1970s and 1980s, “tweaking some of the original entries.”

For the word “Christian,” he quotes the above scripture. Buechner added, “[Jesus] didn’t say any particular ethic, doctrine or religion was the way, the truth, and the life. He said that he was.

He didn’t say it was by believing or doing anything in particular that you can ‘come to the Father.'” This is nuanced stuff. “He said it was only by him – by living, participating in, being caught up by the way of life that he embodied, that was his way.”

Here’s the crux of the matter. “Thus it is possible to be on Christ’s way and with his mark upon you without ever having heard of Christ, and for that reason to be on your way to God though maybe you don’t even believe in God.”[Emphases mine.]

Buechner’s theology would no doubt be considered blasphemy in the circles I grew up with. Oddly, I now consider their views to be the actual heresy.

What Christianity means to me

morning stars sang together

Feed The HungryI’ve been thinking a lot about what Christianity means in an increasingly non-Christian believing country. This 2019 Pew survey notes that “both Protestantism and Catholicism are experiencing losses of population share. Currently, 43% of U.S. adults identify with Protestantism, down from 51% in 2009. And one-in-five adults (20%) are Catholic, down from 23% in 2009.

“Meanwhile, all subsets of the religiously unaffiliated population – a group also known as religious ‘nones’ – have seen their numbers swell. Self-described atheists now account for 4% of U.S. adults, up modestly but significantly from 2% in 2009; agnostics make up 5% of U.S. adults, up from 3% a decade ago; and 17% of Americans now describe their religion as ‘nothing in particular,’ up from 12% in 2009. Members of non-Christian religions also have grown modestly as a share of the adult population.”

You might find it odd for me to suggest that I think it’s a rather good thing. Purported faith when everyone else is just like you is comparatively easy, perhaps even theologically lazy.

I believe should always be considering how this passage in Matthew 25:37-40 applies to our lives.

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’

Sing, sing a song

My friend and Bible Guys buddy Eric sent this out. It occurred to me that it’d be an appropriate post for Christmas.

God has prepared for Himself one great song of praise throughout eternity, and those who enter the community of God join in this song. It is the song that the ‘morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy’ at the creation of the world (Job 38:7).

It is the victory song of the children of Israel after passing through the Red Sea, the Magnificat of Mary after the annunciation, the song of Paul and Silas in the night of prison, the song of the singers on the sea of glass after their rescue, the “song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb” (Rev. 15:3). It is the song of the heavenly fellowship.

―Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

Wikipedia says: “Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran pastor, theologian, anti-Nazi dissident, and key founding member of the Confessing Church. His writings on Christianity’s role in the secular world have become widely influential, and his book The Cost of Discipleship has been described as a modern classic.”

Merry Christmas.

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