Memorial Day: revisionist history

Jesus taught us to give comfort to people with dying loved ones. He also gave comfort to the Centurion (Matthew 8).

Almost a year ago, Demeur sent me an article about the history of Memorial Day.

[Historian David] Blight’s award-winning Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory (2001) explained how three “overall visions of Civil War memory collided” in the decades after the war.

The first was the emancipationist vision, embodied in African Americans’ remembrances and the politics of Radical Reconstruction, in which the Civil War was understood principally as a war for the destruction of slavery and the liberation of African Americans to achieve full citizenship.

The second was the reconciliationist vision, ostensibly less political, which focused on honoring the dead on both sides, respecting their sacrifice, and the reunion of the country.

The third was the white supremacist vision, which was either openly pro-Confederate or at least despising of Reconstruction as “Black rule” in the South.

Over the late 1800s and the early 1900s, in the context of Jim Crow and the complete subordination of Black political participation, the second and third visions largely combined. The emancipationist version of the Civil War, and the heroic participation of African Americans in their own liberation, was erased from popular culture, the history books and official commemoration.

Interesting. Not surprising, but interesting to read about revisionist history.
Last year, when I bewailed what I consider the theological justification for war as anti-Christian, anti-Jesus, and utterly false glorification of war, Chris Honeycutt noted:

I’d say that Memorial Day is 100% a holiday in the real Christian spirit, just like Jesus would want.
Other people make it about celebrating the wars. But it’s really about remembering the soldiers who died.
Everyone who served lost people and had no time to stop and grieve. The war kept coming.
Jesus taught us to give comfort to people with dying loved ones. He also gave comfort to the Centurion (Matthew 8).
So… yeah. Jesus was pretty clear about the war issue. Still think he’d think Memorial Day was a great idea.

I think she might very well be right. Jesus cared for those whose hearts were heavy-laden.

So let us remember our lost ones, even as we redouble our efforts for peace.

Do you know who does really nice Memorial Day posts? Jaquandor. Here’s his post from last year. And here’s a post he did during the last Advent which feels applicable today.
The Gun Jumpers.

Bellowing about Blogger

I do understand the ire. My complaint with the new Blogger is not that it’s new. It’s the fact that it’s new and largely unimproved, with changes that were not at all intuitive.


Even though this blog is in WordPress, most of the other blogs I write or co-write are on Blogger. I stayed in Old Blogger as long as possible – when I briefly switched, about two months ago, I admit to being a tad confused, and switched back almost immediately – but now, all the blogs have the New Blogger board.

My intern at work was having fits. For everything she wrote, there were no page breaks. So I finally sat down and actually looked at the post settings, on the right of the screen. The bottom button gives one the option to either add page breaks – tiresome and tedious, and the default setting – or Press ENTER for line breaks, which is what I had always done. It was my major problem besides the Post Settings box seeming to jump to the left and right, opposite whatever direction I pointed the cursor; still annoying. But not enough to mention. But that Send Feedback button in the bottom right of the screen – is there any way to get RID OF IT?

Oh, and someone else was having difficulty I was not, which was getting to the editing page of the posts.

So I was humored by the fact that SamuraiFrog was complaining that people were complaining about Blogger; terribly meta. I was amused because I hadn’t seen any complaints at that point. THEN Ken Levine expressed his displease with Blogger (and Facebook, and rightly so); I did, though, solved one of his frustrations, and he thanked me in the comments. Dustbury cites Roberta X’s disdain. Demeur got so ticked off that he gave Blogger the middle finger and started a WordPress blog.

I do understand the ire. My complaint with the new Blogger is not that it’s new. It’s the fact that it’s new and largely unimproved, with changes that were not at all intuitive.

Something that REALLY annoys me on the Internet are those lists where you have to click on a dozen or more pages to get to “the Answer”. One of them Jaquandor pointed to, the ranking of Stephen King’s books. At least the slideshow goes five books at a time, but there seems to be no book at all in 2nd place.

Now this a good and proper thing to do. That Texts from Hillary page has hung it up.

“As far as memes go – it has gone as far as it can go. Is it really possible to top a submission from the Secretary herself? No. But then when you get to text with her in real life – it’s just over. At least for us. But we have no doubt it will live on with all of you on the Internet.”


Roger Answers Your Questions, Gordon, Tom, Demeur, and Uthaclena

When I’ve just written something difficult, the meme serves as a sort of intellectual “palate cleaners”, as it were.

Gordon of Blog This, Pal!, who had a birthday this month, the day before mine actually, asks:
With all the rampant de-funding that seems to be happening (NPR, Americorps), do you think it’s being done out of partisan motivations? Or simply (as I like to think of it) a case of relatively new legislators playing hack and slash without really considering the consequences?

Gordon, you attribute to these legislators a level of naivete that I just don’t find at all convincing. An opportunity to get rid of Planned Parenthood funding, for instance, is like a dream come true for the GOP, at least since 1994; maybe since 1973. Never mind the facts that 1) the funding, per the Hyde Amendment, cannot be used for abortions and 2) the services that are provided are often the only medical treatment some women get. I find it incredibly cynical that they want to, symbolically at least, support the unborn, while at the same time, imperil the born by cutting programs such as WIC (Women, Infants, Children.)

Getting rid of those damn liberals at NPR will be saving, at a cost, especially in some rural communities, of having any local radio at all. And speaking of NPR, it distresses me that a faux journalist with a microphone and video camera can help besmirch the network by clever editing, the same way Shirley Sherrod can be forced out of the Department of Agriculture based on the same clever manipulation.

Let’s be realistic, though: if cuts are to be made to the federal budget, it’ll have to come from somewhere. A good 88% of the budget has been deemed by pundits as non-discretionary. As much as I hate agreeing with columnist George Will, that’s nonsense. Most of the budget, save for payment on the debt, is discretionary; it may require Congressional action, but it’s not untouchable. But which jobs program is one to cut: a factory making weapons that the Department of Defense doesn’t even want, which employs a number of folks in the district of a powerful member of Congress, or Americorps, whose only native constituency are not-for-profits and some smaller governments?

There are choices as to what to “hack and slash”, and they seem to be quite targeted, while other programs, even within the 12% of the budget that everyone considers discretionary, have been considered off-limits by House GOP leaders.
Tom the Mayor, with whom I worked at FantaCo, wonders:
Do you think State budget cuts will affect your librarian job? How about your wife’s job? I know Medicaid cuts have already cost me one job and might cost me my present one.

Well, indirectly, yes. My job gets some state money, so that’s a possibility. But if the US Small Business Administration gets a 45% cut, as proposed in the Obama budget, that’d be even worse for the Small Business Development Centers, which do the hands-on counseling, and therefore, that’s not great for my colleagues and me if there are fewer centers and counselors. So it’s the federal budget I’m more worried about.

My wife’s job is with BOCES. If the district she works in decides to hire their own ESL teacher, my wife has been with BOCES longer, and with good evaluations, than any other ESL teacher in the area. So probably not.
Demeur, who I read regularly, relates:
Thomas, I feel for you I’m in the same boat that might sink any time now. I retrained for a different job only to have funding cut. I was lucky enough to get tied into a temp job with a government agency. I now hear that this program may be cut…

My question: Have you considered what you’d do if you had to change careers?

It’s difficult to think of my life as having a “career”. Besides being a librarian, the kind of jobs I’d like and for which I could make the case for which I’m currently qualified are writing, editing, customer service, retail sales, and some sort of instruction.
My good friend Uthaclena asked me – well it was more that he indicated that he didn’t understand me doing those meme things such as Sunday Stealing.

Well, here’s why I do them.

1. The process of answering predetermined questions I find as an interesting exercise for me. Moreover, I often find out things about me that I didn’t know before. It’s a controlled reveal.
2. Sometimes, when I need to write something that is difficult and/or time-consuming, it starts the writing juices going.
3. Related: when I’ve just written something difficult, the meme serves as a sort of intellectual “palate cleaners”, as it were.

And in writing this, I realize that I do pretty much the same thing at work.

We librarians generally take the next question in the queue. Sometimes, the query is a bear, requiring a certain learning curve before even attempting to respond to it. Occasionally, I get stuck, waiting for someone from a government agency or an association to call or write me back. While I’m waiting, I might take another question down the list that I know is answerable. Perhaps it’s Census data I know exists, or regulations for a type of business I’ve helped before, or a business list. After struggling with something difficult, I want a “win”, something I KNOW I can answer without great difficulty.

Roger Answers Your Questions, Demeur, Anthony, Gordon, Scott, ChrisJ, and Dorothy

What would I teach? The problem is that I know a little about a lot of things, but I’m too ADHD to do anything at the level of depth that I would require of myself.

I’ve managed to confound ChrisJ of Flamblogger, one of those ABC Wednesday bloggers:
My question to you is actually highly personal to me. Where did the name “The Lydster” come from for your blog? Also, is it the name of your blog? I’m confused. My maiden name was Lidster, highly unusual for over here, though as I understand it, there are plenty of Lidsters in Northumberland. But we know next to nothing about that side of the family.
Just wondering.

The Lydster is what I call my daughter Lydia in this blog, just as my family used to call my eldest niece Becky the Beckster.
No, the name of my blog, for good or ill, is Ramblin’ with Roger.
Near-twin Gordon from Blog This, Pal! wants to know:
Since I know you’re a big Rod Serling fan (like I am), wanted to ask you this question:
Are you a fan of NIGHT GALLERY? If so, is there a particular script of Serling’s from that show that you enjoy?
(Knowing what I know about NG – that Serling had no creative control – I thought his scripts were OK, but nothing to write home about. Except maybe THEY’RE TEARING DOWN TIM RILEY’S BAR)

Gordon, I may not have watched most of the episodes of Night Gallery, except perhaps the earliest ones. The second season was my freshman year in college and I didn’t have a TV. By the time I DID look in on it, in that third season, I found it wildly uneven. Moreover, I knew that Serling wasn’t happy with it, so, almost in solidarity with him, I just quit watching it altogether. In any case, I haven’t seen any shows since, and unlike episodes of the Twilight Zone that I saw but once yet still remember, no specific episode ever imprinted on me. I mean, I look at the synopses and say, “Oh, yeah, right.” But not like I would with other shows of that era.
Scott of the Scooter Chronicles, who has more in common with me than he possibly knows, inquires:
Since you mentioned the choir, and I haven’t seen you mention it, what part do you normally sing?

I normally sing baritone. This is to say that if there is a divided bass part, I sing the upper part. Occasionally, when there is a divided tenor part, and I sing the lower bits.

I am reminded of this tenor section leader we had at my old church. His name was Sandy Cohen, and he was a great guy. But he wasn’t a particularly healthy guy. He had a heart attack during service once, and he refused to leave until the service was over, because he had to “finish the gig”, his words. Well, on December 24, 1990, we were at a choir gathering prior to the midnight service, and we got a call that Sandy had had a fatal heart attack. Talk about awful. For a few months after that, I sang tenor until we got another tenor section leader.

What was the most enjoyable song you have sung with the choir?
My goodness, that would be really difficult to narrow down. That said, I’m a sucker for a good Requiem – I’ve sung Mozart, Rutter, Faure, parts of the Brahms, I’m sure there are others.

What was the toughest song you ever sung with the choir?
This is invariably true that difficult stuff I tend to block out of my mind. Not saying there hasn’t been tough stuff, but I tend to just enjoy the end product. I guess it’s sort of what women sometimes say about childbirth.

Is there a song that you are tired of singing?
Not really. But I REALLY hate singing in unison. I find it boring. I tend to hear harmony in almost everything.

Is there a song that you wished any choir you were a part of would sing that haven’t?
There’s this song I did in high school called The Creation that I’d actually love to do.
One of my colleagues once suggested that we do “Til I Die”, the Beach Boys song from the Surf’s Up album. A lovely song, but of dubious theology.
Dorothy Turk, a displaced librarian, asks:
Have you watched the musical Scrooge w/Albert Finney or A Tuna Christmas?
And are you a Capricorn?

I probably saw the Finney Scrooge the very year it came out, c. 1970, but not since. I saw A Tuna Christmas at Capital Rep in late 1995, almost certainly with my girlfriend at the time, Carol, who I’m now married to.

I’m reminded that Kris Kristofferson had an album called Jesus was a Capricorn, even though he probably wasn’t. And neither am I; I’m a Pisces.
Demeur, “The remover of nasty things. I deal with stuff you wouldn’t consider touching,” wants to know:
Why is it that most if not all librarians require a master’s degree?
My mom was a librarian and she only had a high school eduction, but then again that was back when high school requirements were closer to what’s taught in college.

Here’s an answer to that question that I found:
“Actually, there is a wide range of library jobs, some of which don’t require a degree and are done by paraprofessionals. But the title of librarian is usually reserved for someone who has a master’s degree in library and information science from an American Library Association (ALA) accredited institution. Many academic librarians have two master’s degrees, one in LIS and another in their speciality discipline.”
In other words, the ALA set the bar for professionalism and the states followed. I’m sure it’s true in your line of work that the associations or guilds have set standards for the profession, and the states, yielding to the greater expertise, have followed.
Librarians can have a wide range of undergraduate degrees. The graduate school provides a background in a wide range of skills, from reference and cataloging to the business of doing more with less. And in some venues, such as colleges, the librarian is equivalent to a teacher or professor, for which we require advanced degrees.

And speaking of libraries, and teaching:
Anthony of The Dark Glass asks:
When did you know you wanted to be a librarian, and what particularly interests you about this field. Is there anything you don’t like about being a librarian or the field of library science in general? And, has any other vocation ever crossed your mind? For whatever reason, I imagine you would be a good teacher. Has that ever crossed your mind, and if so, what would be your field?

It’s not that I ever wanted to be a librarian; it’s that it has always called me. From being a page at Binghamton Public Library; to organizing the tracks of my compilation albums by artists on 3 by 5 cards; to working at FantaCo and going to the library, only a block away, to track down publisher information in Books in Print, my mind always went that way. It is, I suspect, like you and theology; you didn’t choose it; it chose you.

BTW, there WAS a recent ad to be a librarian at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; if they move it from Cleveland to Albany, I’m applying. And the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown I’d definitely work at.

What I like about being a librarian: I learn new things almost every day. What I don’t like: when I am doing some rote thing one more time – not a restaurant startup AGAIN. My basic problem in life is the fear of boredom. Part of the salvation in this job, besides the varied questions, is the changing technology, from 4 or 7 of us using one CD-ROM drive to having it on a LAN to the Internet, from printing pounds of paper to doing PDFs. Oh, one other downside: we LOVE to be able to answer the question, but when we’re given incoherent or totally unanswerable questions, it gets mighty frustrating; it’s against our nature to say no.

If I weren’t a librarian, I would have to be someone training others to do customer service. I have mentioned this before, but I requested and received, a phone at my desk in my office so I can answer the main phones when the office manager is away. It’s not my job, but a regularly unanswered phone in the middle of the day is NOT good customer service.

I’d hate being a teacher, which is what my wife does, BTW. I’d hate the anxiety over prep. I’d hate the “performance” of the classroom. I’ve done occasional workshops, but those are one-off things. I LIKE one-off things. They’ve been about government and other resources for small businesses, primarily.

What would I teach? The problem is that I know a little about a lot of things, but I’m too ADHD to do anything at the level of depth that I would require of myself. What do I know that lots of others don’t know better? The history of FantaCo? The recording history of the Beatles? Well maybe, but there’s not a lot of call for that.

This is why I blog, BTW. I write about myself, and even I’m surprised by what I find. And I am singularly unable to focus this blog on one or two areas. It’s all over the place because I’M all over the place.

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