April rambling: Silent Scream

It is brutal, damaging and untrue

Condolences to Dustbury on the loss of his brother James, his last sibling

Thousands of internal documents that help explain how the Islamic State stayed in power so long

The root of all cruelty?

Travel is fatal to prejudice

Why does the Right hate victims?

50 years after the Wahine Disaster (New Zealand)

Corruption, Not Russia, Is His Greatest Political Liability

His long-term effect on American democracy: How worried should we be?

The Crime-Fraud Exception in the Michael Cohen Case

What Will Our Society Look Like When Artificial Intelligence is Everywhere?

Ten Things That Have Zero Effect on What the Truth Is

Daniel Van Riper’s Albany Weblog: They Want To Fill In The Ravine In Lincoln Park

The Real Story of the Hawaiian Missile Crisis

The REAL Consumer Price Index?

Congress, Not Amazon, Messed Up the Post Office

the beautiful human gumbo

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF COLOUR

Steven Bochco, RIP; a retrospective – I loved many of these shows

Remembering Winnie Mandela

Living the beam onstage with William Shatner

Lin-Manuel Miranda and Oprah’s Full Chat from SUPER SOUL SUNDAY

From the nifty historical fiction Silent Scream #1
Kickstarter: THE TRUST BOOK ONE: SILENT SCREAM ISSUE 2 – Dennis Webster, Bill Anderson, Gabriel Rearte and Laurie E. Smith

Mark Waid tells a new Captain America story with original artwork from Jack Kirby!

Top 37 Parks To Visit Before You Die

After 40 years, Wendy and Richard Pini finish ‘Elfquest,’ the ‘first American manga,’ and go on fanquest

SNL: Black Jeopardy with Chadwick Boseman

Seth Meyers’ great “desk story”

A Weird and Beautiful Sports Story

150th anniversary of Little Women

vlogbrothers: On Punctuality (John) v. How to Stop Being Late Forever (Hank)

Now I Know: How Overdue Parking Tickets Took Over an Innocent Person’s Life and The Therapeutic Value of a Not-Quite-Flying Pig and The Race to Determine the Fastest Man Alive and Why You Can’t Steal First Base and Why You Shouldn’t Eat Those “Do Not Eat” Packets and The Elevator Light That’s a Total Gas

How he is transforming himself into the greatest president ever

MUSIC

Found Tonight – Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ben Platt

Listen to the Music – Playing for Change

Catch Me If You Can -John Williams score

She’s A Rockin’ Machine – Archie and the Bunkers

Coverville 1212: Cover Stories for Jimmy Cliff and Pharrell Williams

Oriental Rhapsody – Alexander Glazunov

Stephen Hawking Picks the Music (and One Novel) He’d Spend Eternity With: Stream the Playlist Online

‘The Weakness in Me’: Notes on Joan Armatrading

Can’t Take My Eyes Off You – Sonny Vande Putte

Never tell someone they can’t sing – it is brutal, damaging and untrue

What is patriotism?

Hyperpartisanship, which is rampant in America, often paints people like me as unpatriotic; this, perhaps unsurprisingly, really ticks me off.

American flag background - shot and lit in studioRight before Independence Day, PARADE magazine ran this poll of the “most patriotic cities” in the United States, which was actually based on Amazon.com’s “comparison of America-themed flag sales between Jan. 1. and June 24 on a per capita basis among cities with more than 400,000 residents.” I don’t find literal flag-waving to necessarily equate with patriotism.

Indeed, I was taken by this piece by Daniel Nester in the Albany Times Union, A flag stirs feelings of uncertainty, which is also about human relationships.

Flag-waving, depending on whom you talk to, is either something one overthinks or doesn’t think about at all…

I’ve never owned any flag, unless Phillies pennants or rainbow Gay Pride banners count.I’m not what you would call a flag-waver. Now that I had one, I felt more puzzled than partisan. What if I spilled something on it? Burnt it in the fireplace by accident?

This debate turned into an allegory for my relationship with my country. Right wingers like my father revere flags and distrust government; lefties like me find flag-waving an empty gesture and place more importance on public trusts. I was of the same mind as Samuel Johnson, who wrote that patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.

I’m rather of the same mind as Nester, who I have met in real life, though, in fact, I do have some little US flags in our house, almost all of them secured by The Daughter

Rex Smith, the editor of that same publication, what my friend Dan Van Riper calls the local Hearst rag, wrote on July 4:

Real patriotism demands accommodation of our vast differences. American democracy is fueled by disagreement: Losers and winners are equally entitled to express and hold their conflicting beliefs. You’ve got to love a country that really delivers on that promise.

So it’s hard not to view the rise of hyperpartisanship as an unpatriotic development. It’s not enough nowadays to argue passionately over issues. Now the path to victory usually includes character assassination and vows not to have anything to do with the other side. Instead of viewing issues pragmatically, and resolving conflicts with a solution that works best for the most people, politicians and thought leaders now pitch arguments as moral conflicts and demand dogmatic allegiance.

Hyperpartisanship, which I noted a few days ago is rampant in America, often paints people like me as unpatriotic; this, perhaps unsurprisingly, really ticks me off. I mean What IS American culture? I may spend the rest of my life figuring that out.

I’d probably be categorized as a liberal – though I wouldn’t necessarily write that in my Times Union blog, like Ken Screven did – I find it useful to read other points of view. That doesn’t mean that I need to read/listen to Rush Limbaugh, because I’ve deemed him an unreliable reporter, let’s say. Still, I find no need to sign online petitions to have his show canceled.

Wish I had written this: glorifying war is a sin.

I see myself as a patriot. I vote, ALWAYS. I do really well on those online citizenship tests, such as this one (50/50, thank you very much) and this one and even this one, as an old political science major should.

Blind allegiance, though, is not my thing. Which reminds me, I know the fourth verse of the Star-Spangled Banner, from memory, and more songs deemed patriotic than most – did you know Hail, Columbia [LISTEN] was essentially the national anthem before 1931? – a function of learning them in fourth and fifth grade.

Speaking of music, here’s Only in America, performed by Jay & the Americans from 1963, which was controversial in its creation. It was banned by some stations for the shocking suggestion that Only in America can a kid without a cent get a break and maybe grow up to be President, though it was embraced by the nascent Cuban refugee community.
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“Bad politicians are sent to Washington by good people who don’t vote.” – William E. Simon (63rd U.S. Secretary of Treasury, Philanthropist)

On the “importance” scale, net neutrality ranks rather high

The FCC is scheduled to vote on a notice of proposed rule making on May 15, addressing a new net neutrality plan.

NetNeutrality_615pxAfter David Kalish’s book reading at Stuyvesant Plaza near Albany a few nights ago, I was talking to Michael Huber, the Times Union blogs’ cat herder, complaining about the latest threat to net neutrality. This nice lady, standing in line to get PlotnickKalish to sign her copy of his book, had the most puzzled look, and asked, “But aren’t there more important things to worry about?” I sighed and handed her the current Metroland with intellectual property lawyer/drummer Paul Rapp’s article about the issue.

I had been arguing this issue on the grounds of basic fairness of freedom and speech. After reading the FCC’s own statement on the value of an open Internet -“This design has made it possible for anyone, anywhere to easily launch innovative applications and services, revolutionizing the way people communicate, participate, create, and do business – think of email, blogs, streaming video, and online shopping” – I realize that was too limiting an observation.

One might suggest that fighting cancer (the disease the main character in Nester’s book has) or climate change or war are more significant than net neutrality; after all, they are issues of life and death. But Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said recently:

We don’t know who is going to have the next big idea in this country, but we’re pretty sure they’re going to need to get online to do it. Reports that the FCC may gut net neutrality are disturbing, and would be just one more way the playing field is tilted for the rich and powerful who have already made it. Our regulators already have all the tools they need to protect a free and open Internet—where a handful of companies cannot block or filter or charge access fees for what we do online. They should stand up and use them.

Maybe those innovators will create cleaner technologies, or develop devices to absorb some of the pollutants or invent a better cancer detector. Just maybe those creative folks will make our lives better and safer and smarter.

Is net neutrality less important than other issues? Maybe. But I cannot do anything about cancer or climate change or war in the next ten days, and beyond. The FCC is scheduled to vote on a notice of proposed rule making on May 15, addressing the new net neutrality plan after an appeals court struck down FCC’s net neutrality rule. “The commission will release a set of proposals and asks for public comment on them. It’s the first step in a long process for the FCC to pass new regulations.

And while defenders of the FCC on this topic point out that the new rules haven’t even been announced yet, it hasn’t stopped them from allowing Netflix to bring its concerns about Internet neutrality directly to the FCC. For their own good reasons, they also support the open Internet.

There’s reason to fear a bad outcome: too often, inefficiency is monetarily rewarded.

Broadband providers insist they need to do things like prioritize some traffic in order to deal with network congestion, but that’s bogus. It’s only the non-technical management who makes those claims. Ask the technology guys, and they will quickly say that basic upgrades can easily accommodate all traffic. But the broadband providers are now like the airlines. They could very easily offer a better overall service, but they’re quickly recognizing that by offering a crappy service, they can charge more to get a select few to pay up for a “fast lane” approach. So the incentives are totally screwed up. There’s little incentive for airlines to improve the boarding process, so long as having such a crappy process leads people to pay extra fees to avoid the crappy process.

Those who can pay for the “deluxe” Internet, will. But everyone else, the common citizen, small businesses, nonprofits, libraries, will get a lesser service, likely at a higher price. “Because of the controversy over the proposal, the FCC has already begun taking email comments at openinternet@fcc.gov”. Or direct a tweet to the chair of the commission: @TomWheelerFCC. I shall do so, and I invite you to do likewise.

From Bill Moyers and Michael Winship:

After the meeting, there will be a “public comment” period of 30 to perhaps 45 days before they start finalizing any new rules. Speak up. You have a chance to tell both Obama and Wheeler what you think, so that the will of the people, not the power of money and predatory interests, is heard.

Here’s a sample letter to avoid having the Internet from looking like the other media oligarchies.

And if all this verbiage has confused you, watch this three-minute video.

MLK as creationist?

For Dr. King, the value of biblical stories is not diminished by their mythological nature. Rather, the myth serves to take the reader beyond the idea or thought within the mind.

MLK-ed-quoteIn a couple of different Facebook strains around the Martin Luther King holiday, I read suggestions that Martin Luther King was a creationist. This is, as far as any evidence I’ve seen, a total fabrication.

First, a sidebar: apparently, there’s a narrative out there that suggests that philosophically – it is a Darwinian worldview that allows racism to exist, while a biblical perspective does not, evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. Implicit was the notion that King must be a creationist because he believed all people were created equal.

The problem is the only “evidence” to support this theory about King is the fact that he was a Baptist preacher, and aren’t all Baptist preachers creationists? (No.)

From HERE:

Dr. King’s understanding of the Bible is quite simple: he believed it was written in a pre-scientific world and used language that was representative of its era. He flatly rejects a literal interpretation of biblical stories, claiming such a reading would be “absurd” in a Copernican world.

For Dr. King, the value of biblical stories is not diminished by their mythological nature. Rather, the myth serves to take the reader beyond the idea or thought within the mind. In short, he accepts the standard methods for critically examining the Bible. …he explains that this modern method “sees the Bible not as a textbook written with divine hands, but as a portrayal of the experiences of men written in particular historical situations.” Textual and literary criticism, archaeology, and history revealed to King the inadequacy of a literal biblical interpretation. He claimed that this critical approach to the Bible was “the best or at least the most logical system of theology in existence.”

Also, read what he said fairly early on in his papers. No public record suggests a fundamental change from this viewpoint.

For those who have found reading the Bible confounding because it contradicts itself, or for a myriad of other reasons, King’s viewpoint may make the reading more understandable.
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Daniel Nester on why Maple Shade, NJ is important in the MLK story.

J is for Jesus

There are lots of examples how Jesus was hardly passive, thus clearly inspiring the nonviolent direct action of Martin Luther King Jr and others.

As I have noted, I’ve been reading – very slowly – a book by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw, Jesus for President. The subtitle is Politics for Ordinary Radicals. The title had concerned me what it might be promulgated, but that turned out not to be a worry. The book is coming from a Christian POV, but not a traditional one.

Jesus for President shows the political backdrop in the early first century and how subversive Jesus was. “Jesus spoke about a throne, and Herod wasn’t on it… His campaign slogan was ‘Jubilee,'” a topic I’ve addressed recently. Here is a brief video of Claiborne [LISTEN].

The book has a lot to say about war and the environment and patriotism, and I hope you read it. Certainly, in the case of the latter, it spurned my post about the American flag. But let me give you just a taste.

I had the profoundly great opportunity to see the late author Walter Wink speak about a decade ago, and his reflection about “Jesus’ creativity in his teaching” was amazing. Claiborne and Haw write about him at length.

In turning the other cheek (Matthew 38-42), “Jesus was not suggesting that we let people sadistically step all over us. When hit on the cheek, turn and look the person in the eye. In the orderly Jewish culture a person would only hit someone only with the right hand… if you hit a person with the left hand, you could be banished for ten days…”

“When someone drags you before the court to sue you for the coat off your back, take off all your clothes, exposing the sickness of their greed… ‘You can even have my undies. But you cannot have my soul or my dignity.’

“When someone makes you walk a mile with them, go with them another mile… Roman law specified that civilians had to walk none mile but that’s all…” The soldier could get in a bit of trouble if someone literally went the extra mile for them.

There are lots of examples of how Jesus was hardly passive, thus clearly inspiring the nonviolent direct action of Martin Luther King Jr and others.

I previously discussed Zealot by Reza Aslan, who is a Muslim. I find it interesting that these two books, even though they come from very different angles, are clearly saying that one has to understand the context of Jesus’ time on earth to really understand parts of the message. From what I know, it’s clear in both books that Jesus was a troublemaker, showed antipathy for the earthly authorities that oppressed people, and was most definitely not a wuss.
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Notes on Jesus II. Daniel Nester’s recollections of being an altar boy.

 


ABC Wednesday – Round 13