Extend the James Zadroga Act permanently

“The terror attacks left in their wake a trail of financial ruin affecting many brave men and women who responded to the attacks and others who had the misfortune of living or working on the tiny piece of the United States that happened to be the target of an attack on our country.”

911more-than-a-stickerThe “remember 9/11” crowd in Congress who stalled for nearly a decade to provide compensation for individuals who suffered physical injury or death as a result of debris removal efforts in the immediate aftermath of the attacks irritate me greatly.

The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act was passed by Congress at the end of 2010 and signed into law by President Obama, in no small part because of the advocacy of Jon Stewart on the December 16, 2010 episode of The Daily Show.

But the provisions of the bill are due to expire, and needs to be renewed this fall:

Much has been written in recent years about the serious physical illnesses that have befallen over 33,000 rescue and recovery workers, survivors and residents who breathed in the poisonous dust that blanketed lower Manhattan after the September 11 terror attack and the collapse of the World Trade Center Towers. More than 3,900 cases of cancer have been diagnosed among the participants in the World Trade Center Health Program Nearly 200 FDNY and NYPD members have reportedly died of 9/11 related injuries and conditions, and these numbers are growing.

Less has been written about the effect that the terrible illnesses have had on the lives of these men and women. Many have become disabled from work and are unable to support their families on meager monthly disability payments. Family homes have fallen into foreclosure. The terror attacks left in their wake a trail of financial ruin affecting many brave men and women who responded to the attacks and others who had the misfortune of living or working on the tiny piece of the United States that happened to be the target of an attack on our country.

A renewal bill has been languishing in Congress. At least as of last May, The Speaker of the House seemed to be disinclined to support extending the coverage. This may be Jon Stewart’s next activity: supporting the new bill.

I’ve read the information, and am pleased to note that my member of the House of Representatives, and both of my US Senators are co-sponsoring the renewal bill. See where your representatives stand. Bug those who are not sponsors, and laud those who are.

August rambling #2: artificial – flowers and televangelists

A Marvin Gaye/Ramones mashup.

librarian.mug

How a ’50s-Era New York Knife Law Landed Thousands in Jail.

Jeff Sharlet interviews Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King.

No matter how sincerely we think we get it, we don’t really get it. “A personal epiphany about race and gender, to my fellow white males.” And Please Stop Being a Good White Person (TM).

Donald Trump Just Stopped Being Funny. “Win or lose, Trump’s campaign threatens to unleash the Great American Stupid.”

About Josh Duggar’s Ashley Madison Account. Am I the only person who had never HEARD of Ashley Madison until this summer?

USA network postpones ‘Mr. Robot’ finale due to parallels to Virginia murders, in which two people were murdered on live television, a reporter and cameraman. Postponed a whole week, to September 2!

Apocalypse Now – Washington state’s climate change.

How to Be Polite.

The difference between Latino and Hispanic, in one mini comic strip.

Dustbury notes men who are boobs.

Stop the Jared Fogle “footlong” jokes: Why do we still find prison rape acceptable, let alone funny?

John Oliver Exposes Shady Televangelists Fleecing Americans For Millions. Or watch here. And he sets up his OWN church Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption. So, will the IRS respond? Over 30 years ago, Frank Zappa sang about this.

Ken Burns, on the Civil War: It’s about ‘slavery slavery slavery’.

Julius Rosenwald is The Philanthropist Who Built Over 5,000 Schools for Black Students in the Jim Crow South.

Arthur wonders: expat or immigrant?

In Defense of Saggy Pants by Miriam Axel-Lute.

After first treatment, Jimmy Carter and family returned home to see the streets lined with support.

Chuck Miller’s son turns 30. Plus he links to some fine posts, plus one of mine.

The English language, we all know, is in decline. “‘The average schoolchild can hardly write’… said William Langland, author of ‘Piers Plowman’… who died in 1386.”

Banksy’s ‘Dismaland’ in England: It’s a Strange World, After All.

Amy Biancolli explains How to cross the street in Albany.

Jaquandor gets interviewed by Jon Stewart, kinda, sorta.

Rebecca Jade sings the National Anthem at Petco Park on August 8, 2015. Also featuring #1 niece: Under New Management from Tom Antl and Team Groovy, MATURE audience, Winner Best Film – San Diego 48 Hour Film Project 2015.

Born to Run and the Decline of the American Dream.

A Marvin Gaye/Ramones mashup.

Artificial Flowers by Bobby Darin, an unlikely hit, given its subject matter. An interpretation by New York stage performer Ciro Barbaro more in keeping with the lyrics.

The Rolling Stones for Rice Krispies.

This actually came up in conversation at church last week: I Love To Singa- Owl.

Dean Martin Knocks the Beatles out of the #1 Spot on the Charts.

One Toke Over The Line – The Lawrence Welk Show (1971).

Fillyjonk: Lorde have mercy.

Now I Know: Making Sense of Dollar Signs.

The Spiedie Is A Perfect And Important Sandwich: It is high time this nation recognized Binghamton, New York’s beloved culinary mascot as the God-Level Foodstuff that it truly is.

GOOGLE ALERT (me)

Chuck Miller and I had an idea for some Times Union bloggers to get together. I jokingly suggested having it at Ken Screven’s place. Chuck actually pursued it, and it was so.

Absurd Flag Flapping, New Zealand style, and When the ‘good guys’ are wrong.

TWCQT #4: The Nine-Panel Grid.

GOOGLE ALERT (not me)

Lubbock (TX) ISD baseball field home to district’s llamas. “Tina has been here the longest,” Monterey Agriculture teacher Roger Green said.

August rambling #1: Jon Stewart, and Roz Chast

the root of all evil
Nuclear arsenals.

Thanks to Reliance on “Signature” Drone Strikes, US Military Doesn’t Know Who It’s Killing.

John Oliver: Subpar Sex Education in U.S. Schools. Plus: DC Statehood; stay for the song at the end.

Here are 7 things people who say they’re ‘fiscally conservative but socially liberal’ don’t understand.

Senator Elizabeth Warren to the GOP: This is 2015! Also, Jeb Bush’s Grandfather Was A Founding Member Of Today’s Planned Parenthood.

FactChecking the GOP Debate.

What If Everything You Knew About Disciplining Kids Was Wrong?

Children’s illustrator Mary Engelbreit is losing fans because of her anti-racist art. “There are no words to express how little I care if I lose every bigoted, racist, homophobic and/or sexist follower I have.”

Key & Peele: What if we were as crazy for teaching as we are for sports?

The Cop: Darren Wilson was not indicted for shooting Michael Brown. Many people question whether justice was done.

Is this true? 2015 is the year the old internet finally died.

Michael Moore talks about his new movie.

Dealing with Diversity: Awesome Kid Graphic Novels.

David Brickman reviews Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs at Norman Rockwell Museum.

Dan the Man writes about Her Eighth Triathlon. The Wife competes in what might be the last Pine Bush Triathlon, but she did not compete barefooted like some.
dailyshowfinale01
Jaquandor’s tools of the writing trade.

1000 Candles, 1000 Cranes by Small Potatoes.

Jon Stewart Started Small, Became Voice Of A Generation, and Exit, Stage Left. Also, from the last episode: Uncensored – Three Different Kinds of Bulls**t, and Our Moment of Zen.

Bob Crane, radio legend.

Cannabis discovered in tobacco pipes found in William Shakespeare’s garden

After Frank Gifford died last weekend, someone wrote, “Many happy memories sitting on the couch with my dad watching Gifford and the New York Giants on a Sunday afternoon.” True of my dad and me as well. Later, I watched him co-host Monday Night Football.

SamuraiFrog’s Weird Al rankings 20-16. I missed this: Weird Al gets Whiplashed.

From Bill Wyman, (correction) NOT the bassist for the Rolling Stones, All 74 Led Zeppelin Songs, Ranked From Worst to Best. And The ESQ&A: Keith Richards Explains Why Sgt. Pepper Was Rubbish.

One of the very first CDs I ever bought was Brothers in Arms by Dire Straits, but this commercial for Farxiga, a Type 2 diabetes medicine, is wrecking my enjoyment of the song Walk of Life.

An escalator for a Slinky.

Muppets: Sesame Street on HBO. Plus Harvey Kneeslapper and Jungle Boogie and Cookie Monster in “Jurassic Cookie.” 1974: Jim Henson and Kermit the Frog visit Johnny Carson’s show. The new Muppet TV show is a top pick for the fall, even though Kermit and Miss Piggy have split up. Not to mention a PBS special, An overview of the highlights of Muppet creator Jim Henson’s life and career, which premieres Tuesday, September 15, 2015 at 8 p.m. ET. Check local listings.

K-Chuck Radio: Tony Burrows versus Joey Levine versus Ron Dante.

Dancing with the Renaissance Geek.

Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck are being chased by Elmer Fudd and escape into paintings in a museum, from the 2003 movie Looney Tunes Back in Action.

GOOGLE ALERT (me)

Arthur answers my questions about seeings things from the other side of the political and philosophical spectrum.

The near-twin is taking questions for Ask Gordon Anything through August 24.

I made Jacquandor’s brief trip ’round Blogistan, along with some other interesting pieces.

Dustbury notes The bigot on the front line.

Last Week at Trouble With Comics, plus this week’s edition.

Dustbury: Our fits grow ever hissier.

Cilla Black; and writing about comic books

So THAT’S what I am, a comics industry observer.

cillaPriscilla Maria Veronica White OBE, the singer and, later, UK television personality, better known as Cilla Black, died this past weekend at the age of 72.

I was waiting impatiently for Dustbury’s take. And he did not disappoint: “Perhaps the very definition of ironic: the first I heard about the death of an iconic Liverpool star was from two girls trying to make it big in Liverpool fifty years later.”

I always associated Cilla with the Beatles, of course. Lennon-McCartney wrote a few songs for her, including Love of the Loved and It’s for You [LISTEN], and she covered Beatles tunes such as Yesterday, For No One, Across the Universe, and The Long and Winding Road.

Moreover, I bought LP The Big Hits From England & U.S.A. back in 1965, featuring songs by the Beatles, the Beach Boys, plus two L&M songs by Peter & Gordon. On Side 2 were songs for the “grownups” by Al Martino, Nat Cole, and two from Cilla, Suffer Now I Must [LISTEN], which was just OK, and the last song on the album You’re My World [LISTEN], which I really loved.

She was introduced to [Beatles manager Brian] Epstein by John Lennon, who persuaded him to audition her. Epstein had a portfolio of local artists but initially showed little interest in her. Her first audition was a failure, partly because of nerves, and partly because the Beatles (who supported her) played the songs in their usual vocal key rather than re-pitching them for Black’s voice. In her autobiography What’s It All About? she wrote:

I’d chosen to do “Summertime”, but at the very last moment I wished I hadn’t. I adored this song, and had sung it when I came to Birkenhead with the Big Three, but I hadn’t rehearsed it with the Beatles and it had just occurred to me that they would play it in the wrong key. It was too late for second thoughts, though. With one last wicked wink at me, John set the group off playing. I’d been right to worry. The music was not in my key and any adjustments that the boys were now trying to make were too late to save me. My voice sounded awful. Destroyed—and wanting to die—I struggled on to the end.

Check out Cilla Recording Alfie in Abbey Road Studios with Burt Bacharach, and Beatles producer George Martin.

Now that Jon Stewart is leaving the Daily Show, and there is a slew of articles about him, I’m fascinated by the program’s evolution, best covered by the New York Times in Jon Stewart and ‘The Daily Show’: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at 9 Essential Moments. I watched the program occasionally by 2004 but recorded and viewed it regularly for only the last seven or eight years.

Thanks to that rascal Alan David Doane, I’m in Trouble with Comics, again, trying to do some writing about the four-color phenomenon as I did most recently with the late, lamented Flashmob Fridays.

So far:
Comics Industry Observers Respond to Black Lightning News; so THAT’S what I am, a comics industry observer.
The TWC group answer the question, “What single comics creator has had the greatest influence over how you perceive the comics artform, and why? Can’t believe someone else selected MY pick.
*I review Archie & Friends Wacky Wild West

The Comics Beat touted the TWC return, and Tom Spurgeon of the Comics Reporter has taken notice as well.

The “national conversation”: guns, flags, race

Our “national discussion” is coming out of both sides of our collective mouth.

guns.AmericaTackling more Ask Roger Anything questions, where a theme seemed to emerge:

New York Erratic wants to know:

What is the #1 thing that annoys you on social media?

Mostly that so much of it is so banal. I post these blog posts to my Facebook and Twitter and get a few comments. I write, in response to an Esquire clickbait article, “If you think I’m going to click on this 80 times, you’re crazy;” it’s gotten over 120 likes, many of them in recent days.

Sometimes, though, it does some good. Which nicely segues to…
***
Jaquandor muses:

I often hear calls for “a national conversation” to deal with Big Issues. What would a “national conversation” look like?

Since we can’t seem to agree on simple concepts, such as facts about science, I think the “national conversations” bubble up in ways that I don’t think can possibly be entirely controlled.

The Ice Bucket challenge last summer was one of those events. WE decided, via social media, to triple the amount of money for research for a disease most of us had been either unaware of or wasn’t of interest.

The sudden rush to remove Confederate battle flags from Wal-Mart, Amazon, and other retailers in recent days clearly was a conversation WE had. That emblem was obviously not a significant issue to most folk the day before the Charleston shootings. But when those people died, and their loved ones showed such grace in mourning, WE decided, or most of us, that the “stars and bars” that the presumed killer embraced were suddenly toxic.

Now if you WANT to have a “national discussion,” such as the ones President Obama has periodically attempted to instigate about race, it’s usually a flop. “He’s a race baiter.” “Ooo, he used the N-word,” without any understanding of the context of what he was trying to express. “There’s just one race, the human race,” which is both true and irrelevant.

In this age of increasing partisan division, I am finding it harder and harder to even empathize with the “other side” (in my case, the political right in this country). I used to at least understand how they arrived at their worldview, if not share it, but now I increasingly can’t fathom how or why they would look at the world that way at all. Does this make sense to you, and if so, what can be done about it?

For me, this is less of a problem of left/right, and more an issue of “Do they really mean what they say, are they just trying to be provocateurs, or are they just intellectually lazy?”

I get the sense that some of them just SAY things because it’s sensational. Ann Coulter attacked Governor Nikki Haley (R-SC) as “an immigrant” who “does not understand America’s history” because she changed her mind about having the Confederate battle flag on state grounds. Let’s ignore the fact that Nikki Haley was BORN IN SOUTH CAROLINA to immigrant parents. Facts need not get in the way of a convenient narrative.

My own defense mechanism is to declare that certain parties – Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Congressman Louis Gohmert (R-TX), and certain others – as unreliable reporters. I don’t mean “reporters” in a news sense, but that what they say, what they report, is, based on a great deal of observation, not worthy of my consideration.

This is actually useful because it minimizes my outrage. I don’t spew in anger ranting, “How can Hannity say such a stupid thing?” Instead, I can calmly note, “Oh, there’s Hannity saying something inane again. Ho-hum.” It’s SO much better for my blood pressure.

George Carlin said, over ten years ago on an album (closer to fifteen): “Wanna know what’s comin’ next? Guns in church! That’ll happen, you’ll see.” Nervous tittering laughter from the audience, and yet… here we are. How inevitable was this, and how do you see future historians looking back on our incredible resistance to the mere idea of giving up our guns?

Sure, Australia has a mass shooting in 1996, and the people decide to limit their guns. In 2012, 20 children and six adults were murdered at a school in Connecticut, and since then, nationally, there have been about as many laws expanding gun use as there have been restrictions. In other words, our “national discussion” is coming out of both sides of our collective mouth.

To be fair, history will also laugh at us for being one of the wealthiest countries in the world, and yet:
has massive income inequality
is the only industrialized nation without paid maternity leave
is ranked only 12th in freedom
is 14th in education
*is a whopping 33rd in Internet download speed
plus relatively lousy scores in children’s health, and a bunch of issues about which we might consider having a “national discussion”, but can’t.

But we’re tops in gun deaths per capita AND in the number of prisoners. WE’RE #1! There’s some “national discussion” around the edges about the evil of mass incarceration; we’ll see where that goes.

At least the gun thing comes from an interpretation – a faulty one, I’d contend – of the US Constitution, backed, I’m afraid, by our Supreme Court.

After Charleston, I was watching a LOT of news. One security expert said churches, and other “soft targets,” need to have “situational awareness” when someone comes in who is a DLR, “doesn’t look right.” As someone who sits in the choir loft, I have seen a number of people walk through the church doors, who, some would suggest, “don’t look right,” but who have subsequently become members of the congregation.

Padlocking to keep “them” out is a formula to kill a religious body as sure as bombs or bullets would, just more slowly.

Moreover, I listened to two sisters of one of the murdered congregants of Mother Emanuel, and they talked about a fearlessness that comes from loving God. This is why, a week to the day after the shootings, they and over 250 others were present for the Wednesday Bible study.
***
SamuraiFrog interjected:

What is your opinion on the #WeWillShootBack hashtag that popped up on Twitter?

Thanks for pointing this out, because I was unaware of it. Not surprisingly, I’m generally opposed to it on both theological and strategic grounds. Nonviolent direct action as done by Gandhi and Martin Luther King was very effective, and shows the higher moral position; of course, both of them were eventually assassinated.

Did I mention that I LOVE Bree Newsome?

Sad but often true: when enough crap happens to black people, eventually a positive outcome is generated. Use fire hoses on black children, and white people get upset enough to want to do something about the situation.

The civil rights crusade has almost always needed white supporters, and they are welcome, although making sure white people are comfortable can be a drag.

Still, forgiving white supremacy can be a real burden. Mother Emanuel’s Bible study the week after the shootings was reportedly from the New Testament book of 1 Peter. I don’t know the verses they studied, but here are some representative verses from chapter 2, verses 19-21: “For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God… if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this, you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.”

I can imagine some black folks thinking, “To hell with THAT!” So I UNDERSTAND #WeWillShootBack. I don’t endorse it, but I know where it comes from.
***
Thomas McKinnon says:

With all that is going on in the news, have you talked to your daughter about racism?

Tom, it’s post-racial America. What’s to talk about?

Actually, The Daughter and I often watch the news together and discuss what it means. When she’s seen stories from Ferguson to Charleston, from Freddie Gray, who died in Baltimore in police custody, to Tamir Rice, who died about two seconds after the Cleveland police arrived. There’s fodder for a lot of conversation.

We both found the Donald Trump piñata story terribly funny. (Here’s a better picture.)

Current events have been a great point of entry, actually. I was loath to just dump on her some of the crap I had endured over the years. As Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” I was thinking, maybe hoping, that we were getting there sooner than it’s turned out.
***
Arthur@AmeriNZ picks up on a theme from others:

Thinking of race relations in the USA, and maybe racial politics, who has surprised you the most?

Jon Stewart. I didn’t think, in his political analysis on The Daily Show, that race was particularly his thing. By his own admission, he was slow to hire correspondents of color. Larry Wilmore, who now has his own show, might get to pontificate occasionally from 2006-2014.

But Stewart started taking on the issue of race from his own voice. It may have started before this, but the pivotal program for me was the August 26, 2014 episode, where he first experiences the Ferguson Protest Challenge, then ends the Race/Off segment with, and I’m slightly paraphrasing here: “If you’re tired of hearing about racism, imagine how exhausting it is to be living with it.”

More recently, Stewart parodied the “Helper Whitey” effect… in a segment with Jessica Williams and Jordan Klepper. “First Williams [a black woman] would make a point, but Klepper [a white man] wouldn’t listen to her. When Stewart made the exact same point a few seconds later, Klepper jumped to agree.”

Who has disappointed you the most?

Bill Clinton, who got dubbed by someone as the “first black President,” for some reason, but who gutted the economic safety net, and continued the process of mass incarceration. Yeah, he did have a decent record overall on civil rights, but I guess I expected more.

Though the first person to really disappoint me was Jesse Jackson. He was running for President in 1984 when he used a slur against Jews in describing New York City, and that ended my support for him.