December rambling #1: Sheila E. turns big 6-0

Rebecca Jade [the niece], Ashling Cole, Sheila E., Lynn Mabry before taking the stage at the Paramount Theatre of the Arts in Oakland, CA during 60th birthday month of Sheila E., Dec 2017
How Facebook Figures Out Everyone You’ve Ever Met

“Apocalyptic” Melting Transpires in Antarctica as Earth Wraps Up a Scorching Year

The Environmental Protection Agency wipes climate change from its website

Huge Bubble of Hot Rock May Be Rising Under New England

Atheists are nicer to Christians compared to the other way around

The Jerusalem Issue, Explained

Joe Biden to Anita Hill: “I Owe Her an Apology”

Arthur voted for John Anderson

Inspirational news stories that are anything but

With 2020 Census Looming, Worries About Fairness and Accuracy

American prisons end face-to-face visits – and families suffer

Why Verizon’s insurance plan covers… nothing

Congratulations, Australia!

Racism, Fundamentalism, Fear and Propaganda

Americans receive ‘threatening’ automated calls telling them to stop criticising Trump

SATIRE! Palestinians recognize Texas as part of Mexico and World to recognize Moscow as capital of the United States

A president… unfit to clean toilets in Obama’s presidential library or to shine George W. Bush’s shoes

Former ‘Son of Sam’ at Albany Med for heart ailment

On SNL, Santa’s Tricky Moment With Savvy Kids

Derivative Sport: The Journalistic Legacy of David Foster Wallace

Colonoscopy…..is such a lonely word – as I heard a comedian say recently, life is like a colonoscopy prep

Once in a while the pessimist is wrong

Why we need art

in praise of second fiddle

Levidrome – a series of letters that yields up a word in one direction and a wholly different word in the other

Mark Evanier’s blog post #25,000

The Complicated Legacy Of A Panda Who Was Really Good At Sex

Now I Know: The Largest Man-Made Accidental Explosion and What Do You Do With 10,000 Pounds of Spoiled Mayo? and How NASA (Almost) Got Its Rock Bag Back and The Problem With Five-Cent Hot Dogs and The Surprising Way to Get Rejected

Talking about Kevin

MUSIC

Que je t’aime – Johnny Hallyday; and A million take to Paris streets for his funeral

Pat DiNizio, lead singer and songwriter of The Smithereens died at age 62

Happy Harry Chapin Day and Coverville 1196: Cover Stories for Billy Bragg and Harry Chapin

Trump vs Talking Heads – Swedemason

Coverville 1195: The Jimi Hendrix Cover Story IV

The Alan Parsons Project: If you believe in the power of magic…

More of the Whitney Avalon Show!

BBC: Perfect Day and God Only Knows

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame class of 2018 inductees. Performer Category: Bon Jovi (inevitable), The Cars (voted for), Dire Straits (would have voted for if there weren’t 19 candidates for five slots), The Moody Blues (my pick), Nina Simone (worthy but hardly rock – see Baez, Joan). Award for Early Influence: Sister Rosetta Tharpe (should never have been on the competitive ballot; just put her in!)

V is for Victory blindness (ABCW)

The battle against bigotry and inequality continues.

ANDI MACK – Disney Channel’s “Andi Mack” stars Sofia Wylie as Buffy, Joshua Rush as Cyrus, Peyton Elizabeth Lee as Andi and Asher Angel as Jonah. (Disney Channel/Craig Sjodiin)
In any civil rights struggle, it is natural to want to celebrate the victories, the accomplishments. Yet when I first heard writer Michelangelo Signorile talk about “victory blindness,” probably on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, I knew immediately that it was fundamentally true, and not just with regard to LGBTQ justice.

In this 2015 HuffPo interview, Mike says, “Victory blindness is …a term I use to describe the phenomenon in which we focus on the wins, so starved for validation, that we allow them to blind us to the continued bigotry we face. We become enthralled, intoxicated — spellbound by even a little bit. The effect is that it obscures our reality — literally our vision — and it makes us lose our gumption, not wanting to rock the boat, fearful that we’ll lose what we’ve gained and not get what little bit we think we need, when in fact we need a lot and we should be strong and confident knowing our allies will stay with us.”

I would add that engaging in victory blindness often leads to great surprise and disappointment when there is the inevitable backlash. Signorile was speaking specifically about LGBTQ rights. After the victory of marriage equality being confirmed by the Supreme Court comes a county clerk in Kentucky who refuses to issue some marriage licenses, e.g.

More recently, the US attorney general was asked if federal workers blatantly discriminate against LGBTQ people. Jeff Sessions wasn’t sure.

I think America suffered victory blindness in another arena, BIG TIME, when it elected Barack Obama. Racism is solved! We’re in a “post-racial” society! That did not quite turn out to be the case.

I suspect that the optimism following the November 2017 not-evil election results won’t lead to overconfidence. The battle against bigotry and inequality continues. Perhaps November 8 will, in someone’s words, empower and excite, not satisfy and placate.

Still, I was oddly pleased to see the so-called One Million Moms announce a Disney boycott over a gay character. My family happens to watch Andi Mack regularly, and the one boy’s feeling of jealousy that his male friend is interested in the girl who’s the title character rather than himself is just a small part of the texture of the series. The boycott seems to have had little impact on the enthusiastic fan base of the program.

For ABC Wednesday

August rambling #2: how ridiculous xenophobia is

Will Your Prescription Meds Be Covered Next Year? Better Check!

Syrian children

It’s not just Freddie Gray. The Justice Department’s new report shows how wide and deep Baltimore’s police problems are

My four months as a private prison guard, which has led to the US phasing out private prison use

US: The Real Way the 2016 Election Is Rigged

Joseph Goebbels’ 105-year-old secretary: ‘No one believes me now, but I knew nothing’ – she said, Nothing!

Germany finally apologizes for its other genocide—more than a century later

Does Henry Kissinger have a conscience?

At what point is it impossible to separate art from the artist? (Nate Parker’s The Birth of a Nation)

Tote bag proves how ridiculous xenophobia is

“Christian” groups are handing out these creepy ‘gay cure’ comics to children

If your pastor says “RACISM ISN’T A SKIN PROBLEM, IT’S A SIN PROBLEM” you need to find another church

Pew Research: Choosing a New Church or House of Worship; Americans look for good sermons, warm welcome

In today’s troubling times, where are our faith leaders? But Even Reinhold Niebuhr could not be Reinhold Niebuhr in 2016

YOU THROW, GIRL: AN OLYMPIC SHOT-PUTTER’S FEMINIST MISSION

Michael Rivest: The Wall That Heals

Cartoon: The future of climate denial

174 Heroin Overdoses in Six Days in Cincinnati

NPR is closing its comments section – can’t blame them

Flat earth Theories

When New Parents Refuse Vitamin K Shots And Their Babies Get Brain Bleeds

Race and poverty

America’s wealth gap is split along racial lines — and it’s getting dangerously wider

Affluent and Black, and Still Trapped by Segregation

The Original Underclass; Poor white Americans’ current crisis shouldn’t have caught the rest of the country as off guard as it has

‘Hillbilly Elegy’ Recalls A Childhood Where Poverty Was ‘The Family Tradition’

Michele Bachmann: “White People Have Suffered More In The Last 8 Years Than Blacks Did During Couple Years Of Slavery”

Why Poor People Stay Poor -Saving money costs money. Period.

Auto Lending: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Will Your Prescription Meds Be Covered Next Year? Better Check!

The culture of the smug white liberal

What I said when my white friend asked for my black opinion of white privilege

A C-SPAN caller asked a black guest how to stop being prejudiced; Here’s how she responded

The infamous Stop White Genocide video

Lottery of Indencency

Arthur’s Internet wading

When Elite Parents Dominate Volunteers, Children Lose

Thurgood Marshall’s interracial love: ‘I don’t care what people think. I’m marrying you.’

Dashcam Video Captures Highway Pileup, Woman Rescued from Burning Car in Binghamton, NY

Larry Wilmore on the End of The Nightly Show and the Show’s Greatest Legacy

Arthur@NZ is getting better and his hospital bill; damn Kiwis!

Dustbury goes grocery shopping 2.0

At my alma mater at SUNY New Paltz, College mourns death of emeritus biology professor Heinz Meng, known for recovery of peregrine falcon – he was very cool

The only movies I’ve seen with Gene Wilder are The Producers, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask, Silver Streak, Stir Crazy, and one of my favorite movies ever, Young Frankenstein, which he co-wrote. They were all released between 1967 and 1980. But he was always excellent then and in a couple of episodes of Will and Grace early this century. Gene Wilder on The Truth | Blank on Blank | PBS Digital Studios, plus Evanier and Tom Straw remember.

Steven Hill, D.A. Adam Schiff on ‘Law & Order,’ Dies at 94

A Marvin Kaplan story

Jack Riley, RIP

‘I’ve had a good life’: Donna Wold, the ex-flame who inspired the Little Red-Haired Girl in ‘Peanuts,’ dies

Your Guide to the Fall Broadway Season

50 things about comics, featuring ME

The 10 most Influential Poets in History

Art is about surrender – Stop asking for it to be custom-tailored

Chuck Miller at the State Fair and Don Rittner at the county fair, and Jaquandor at the county fair

Now I Know: David’s Garden and Horse, Off-Course

Ken Levine HATES Robert Hall

The Casual Sex Project

Music

Harmonica legend Toots Thielemans, Known for ‘Sesame Street’ Theme, Dies at 94 and The Getaway – End credits – Quincy Jones – Toots; more Quincy and Toots; John Barry, Toots – Theme from “Midnight Cowboy” (mostly stolen from Steve Bissette’s Facebook)

U2 Live Albany New York – 13 November 1981

John Denver, Glen Campbell, Johnny Cash & Roger Miller – Rocky Top

Herb Alpert Foundation to donate $10.1 million to Los Angeles City College — making studies for music majors tuition-free

It’s only rock ‘n’ roll – and sometimes it’s better in mono

35 Years Ago: Violent Femmes Discovered by the Pretenders While Busking in Milwaukee

Polly ticks, again

“Domestic terrorism” means activities with three characteristics.

mamas-768x385It’s been a very newsworthy period, and I haven’t been able to write about any of the polly ticks of it. I was mourning my friend. I’ve been ill.

So here is a potpourri of stories, some of which I think are interrelated.

I have been told to my face, “Racism will go away if we would only stop talking about race!” Exhibit #666 to the contrary is Rick Tyler For Congress, a third-party candidate from Tennessee, who has an unapologetic racist campaign. He has borrowed Donald Trump’s slogan and “improved” on it. There’s been outrage over the candidate’s “Make America White Again” billboard, which he has, reluctantly, taken down.

But it DOES point out the obvious: Not everyone enjoyed the past ‘greatness’ in America.

SCOTUS got one correct

Abigail Fisher’s Supreme Court loss: A massive blow to mediocre white people coasting on their racial privilege. Here’s the relevant piece of information:

“In 2008, 47 such students were admitted who had lower grades or test scores than Fisher. Forty-two of them were white. Only five were people of color.

“Fisher and her lawyer Blum were not challenging the admission of the 42 white students.

“Instead, Fisher’s argument was narrowly that she should have been admitted instead of one of those students of color. It was the case that collapsed any distinction between opposing affirmative action and demanding that white people be given preference.”

BREXIT

Now that UK has left the UN EU, we discover that people are surprised that the position they voted for – as a protest – actually is coming to pass.

There were huge Google spikes in search inquiries for “What is the EU?” in the UK, after the polling closed but before the results were announced. Of course, this doesn’t mean it was just the folks who voted for the annoying portmanteau Brexit who were looking it up; it may also been the 28% who didn’t bother voting at all. The fervent nationalism, anti-immigrant and anti-elite drove the anti-EU agenda.

The vote means a second Scottish independence vote ‘highly likely’. I was opposed to the first vote when Scotland stayed (barely); not so sure about the next one. And will Ireland unite?

The lesson of the Brexit: Take Donald Trump very seriously.

The House of Representatives sit-in

After the massacre in Orlando, there was a boring conversation about whether the events constituted terrorism. Naturallymit does. From the FBI:

“Domestic terrorism” means activities with the following three characteristics:
Involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law;
Appear intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination. or kidnapping; and
Occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.

SO the church shootings in Charleston, SC: terrorism. But one should balk at limiting the term to those actions perpetrated by a Muslim.

Speaking of which: the National Rifle Association called civil rights icon John Lewis a terrorist “for giving a speech on gun control and staging a sit-in at the House of Representatives.” As the quote goes, “They know not of what they speak.”

This is clear when you hear the primary complaint about the sit-in, which is that it was just a publicity stunt. Obviously, they are not versed in non-violent direct action, for OF COURSE it was a publicity stunt. Most protests are.

Another complains that the Democrats didn’t have a sit-in for other issues. True enough. But sometimes things just reach a tipping point. As Lewis said, “The time to act is now. We will be silent no more. The time for silence is over.”

Forty-nine people were murdered at the Pulse nightclub primarily from a Sig Sauer (modeled in the AK-47, for the pedantic who try to negate the gun control debate with semantics.) Then a Senator from Connecticut, who filibustered for four bills to be voted on; there was a vote, and they were all defeated. The sit-in created a tipping point.

The flaws in the various bills can be discussed. But I think there’s some reasonable bill that would ban assault weapons, get background checks for those buying weapons at gun shows, have a seven-day background check for those who are on the no-fly list to ascertain if they really represent a risk – the aforementioned John Lewis was once on the roster. The NRA has essentially blocked the Centers for Disease Control from getting funding to study the issue of gun violence on communities. A bill would require what has become a dirty word; compromise.

That the Democrats used the opportunity to raise money is definitely true, as I got my fair share of solicitations. But I’m used to both parties using any opportunity to pass the hat; I wish I could be more outraged. I think is true: House Democrats Didn’t Win The Battle, But They Are Preparing To Win The War.

damien flag

This is a picture of the remains of a banner set on fire on the front lawn of the Albany (NY) Damien Center’s temporary home at the city’s First Lutheran Church this past week. As the Facebook comment read: “In the wake of the Orlando tragedy, it is very disheartening to have this happen in our local community. We appreciate all of our community’s support and love extended and stand in unity with our LGBT community during this time.”

This Broadway sings for Orlando video always makes me verklempt.

News Cliche

My current pet peeve in news articles is the use of the phrase “that no one talks about” or the variation, “that no one is talking about.” For instance, ‘Richard Burr’s the most vulnerable Republican Senator that no one’s talking about’. It seems arrogant. The words suggest that Everyone Else has missed this important angle of a larger narrative, but that writer, singularly, is sage enough to have unearthed it.

W is for WEEPING

I WATCH the usual suspects saying WORN out statements.

weepingI WAKE up Sunday morning and check my news feed. From the Los Angeles Times, 20 dead from at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, and 42 WOUNDED. But the information is sketchy, as it is WONT to be early in an incident.

WENT to church. Put this event on the prayer list. WEIRD, because most people hadn’t heard the news yet.

Go home, check the news again. Now it’s reported that 50 are dead, and 53 WOUNDED. WOW, America, WE have a WINNER! WORST mass shooting in modern American history.

I peruse Facebook and comment on nothing, even though I WEEP inside. I become WARY of early reports about terrorism. I WATCH the usual suspects saying WORN out statements, WARNING us to be WATCHFUL, and that WHAT WE need is more guns, or fewer guns.

Someone or other says, “This cannot become the new normal.” Yet, at the end of the day, I figure that nothing will change. People will offer their thoughts and prayers, and WONDER if now might be a good time to talk about gun control. But it’s never the right time; we need to WAIT.

There are always those WTF statements about how the shootings were “God’s retribution” about same-sex marriage, WHICH are trotted out with almost every tragedy that fits a certain narrative. I just can’t WASTE my outrage on this WARPED thinking.

There is a new twist, though. Will the terrorism angle WIN out over the attack on the LGBT community as the most important narrative? OMG, I have to stop WATCHING this stuff. I understand WHY people turn off the news.

I’m pretty much staying off Facebook for a bit, because it’s toxic usually, it is more so now, and it makes me WEARY. Consider this my blanket statement of appreciation for every heartfelt response of WARMTH and compassion, and sympathy for those who mourn.

(WANDERING thoughts at 4:30 a.m.)

abc18
ABC Wednesday – Round 18