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perfume of memory
This morning as I read Linda Pastan’s poem The Months in The Writer’s Almanac, I was once again reminded to live in the moment, not to think too much about upcoming calendars or events planned days, weeks, or months from now. She begins her thoughts with an allusion to the German Romantic-era poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s haunting poem Der Erlkönig or The Elf King, an image of Death pursuing a child held by his father as they both race forward on horseback. When I first read the poem eons ago in a second-year German class…
sunday, june 1
A cable and online network called Pivot will be televising a condensed, impressionistic version of the May 19 Peabody Awards ceremony on Sunday, June 1, at 9 p.m. Less almost certainly will be more.
The Peabodys, based at UGA’s Grady journalism school, have been on TV before, broadcast by PBS and A&E respectively, most recently in 2003. But in those instances, what viewers saw on their home screens was the full event, a parade of previously announced winners making acceptance speeches.
pluff mud slinging
If it’s hard, their solution is to just not do it. Maybe it’s only Republicans in Georgia that react that way. Jack Kingston, who’s now seeking a seat in the United States Senate, the gentleman’s club, complained bitterly when the Democractic Speaker of the House decreed that that body would be in session five days a week. More recently, Kingston has been joined by Judson Turner, the Director of the state’s Environmental Protection Division, who determined that protecting the marshes from pollution and sediment intrusion was just too hard and just wrote the whole thing off.
In the past several decades, a major force has entered the American political arena under an explicitly Christian banner. I’m talking about the Christian Right, which has aligned itself with the Republican Party. Has this alliance advanced the values that Jesus taught?
Jesus advocated for the poor and the outcast, and castigated mostly the privileged and the mighty. Today’s vociferous Christian political force supports the party that cuts programs to feed the hungry and to lift up the downtrodden, while protecting the interests of the fabulously wealthy.
life in the wild
The awful thud against the window in the sunroom made Jody jump up and rush outside where she found the small Downy Woodpecker on the deck. As she has done previously, she picked him up gently and held him in her warm hands as he shivered from the collision. At first we didn’t think he was going to make it, but he was able to move his head which told us our little dive bomber had not broken his neck. Living amidst the wooded hills of far eastern West Virginia with the Shenandoah Valley just over the ridge line of the Great North Mountain, we are daily observers of life in the wild.
Following an engineering degree and a stint in the Air Force, I taught high-school mathematics for three years, before eventually becoming a university mathematics professor. Why the change of direction, and why math? Nearly four decades after that sudden tack, a young woman came to my office requesting a letter of recommendation and answered these questions better than I could have. “Why do you want to teach math?” I asked…
off season football
I haven’t exactly been an avid watcher of Super Bowls. But I did make it through some of this year’s, and thought I saw clearly one phase of football giving way to another. Maybe Denver just had a bad game, but those two teams play five times, I don’t like Denver’s chances in any of the five. Peyton Manning, in the right landscape, was a great quarterback. He hasn’t changed, but the landscape has: some new element has come into the game. The athleticism — the pace and nature of the game — have jumped to a higher level, college and pro. Football evolves like everything else.
Fact: Sherman’s middle name came from the Shawnee war chief Tecumseh.
Fun Fact: Initially, Sherman’s mother named him after the Ottawa war chief Pontiac, but then realized it made her son sound too much like an automobile.
Fact: Sherman was mentally ill shortly before the Civil War.
Fun Fact: Sherman was depressed because he didn’t know what to do with his life. The firing on Fort Sumter fixed all that.
computer blues - part II
Just like my neighbor Carlos’ ferocious, man-eating cocker spaniel — or my Sixth Grade nun — Internet password strength checkers can smell fear on a man: Gotta’ get by me first punk, before you can do anything,” each one of them barks. But again, I’m getting ahead of myself…
“What do you want first, the good news or the bad news?” The statement is made by the head of the Credit Card Fraud Department of my current bank and former longtime employer. His cramped office is located in the bowels of the bank headquarters building in midtown Atlanta…
see the evil
In today’s Washington Post, there’s an excellent op/ed about a threat to the integrity of our nation’s judicial system. That is, the piece is excellent but for one glaring omission.
Entitled “Keep politics out of the courthouse,” it is written by retired Chief Justices of two of our states’ Supreme Courts, Ruth McGregor of Arizona and Robert D. Orr of Indiana. McGregor and Orr give three examples of how altogether inappropriate kinds of political pressure have lately been brought to bear upon our “independent” judiciary.
My son has gone to England on an extended business trip. His two sons in Virginia keep in touch with him most days by Skype. Jake (8) has a tablet and Connor (11) an iPad. Jake has a 6th grade reading age. His brother Connor is similarly advanced. When we talk we never dumb down vocabulary, although I sometimes check their understanding.
When his father was three, I was reading a book about Paddington Bear to him, his twin and his four year old brother. “ ‘And Paddington’s hat blew off and fell into the river. Paddington was upset because it was a family heirloom.’ Do you know what an heirloom is?” I asked, knowing they didn’t.
stay open, forever
When I recently stumbled onto a scene complete with cap and gown at James Madison University with students practicing for their upcoming graduation ceremony, I thought them all so young and unprepared for the world they will now become more a part of. Despite my inner congratulation to them, I was also reminded of a story from Isaac Bashevis Singer about how the Jews in the Polish shtetls he wrote of rarely admitted good fortune. And if they did, they would quickly add “kinahora”–let the evil eye not see.
I know what you’re thinking, that the Bacon Bowl is an SEC College Bowl Game that takes place on a hog farm in Arkansas … Nope, it’s the newest advance in American gastronomy.
The Bacon Bowl is a small, plastoid, hat shaped device that you wrap a wad of bacon around. Then you zap the crap out of it in the microwave and remove the remaining, crispy, bowl-shaped bowl-o-bacon. You then fill this “bowl” with a plethora of heart stopping ingredients, such as cheese drenched macaroni and sausage balls, swimmin’ in butter, topped with a fried egg…
ignoring the central battle
Usually, the President of the United States is the leader of the nation. It is a hugely important position, a single person embodying the whole of one of our three branches of government. With hundreds of congresspeople and a hundred senators, the president is the one person whose voice gets heard.It is only the president who has the “bully pulpit.” Particularly at times of national crisis, the president is the person to whom the nation turns for leadership.
computer blues - part 1
The truth was that I’d have ponied up a week’s pay to watch the guy — if it was a guy — roll those two monster truck tires on board that Jet Blue flight to California’, two week’s pay to watch him stuff both the behemoths into the overhead baggage compartment. But, I’m getting ahead of myself…
Every time me and my computer get to a place where we finally understand each other, where we get things worked out between us, something goes awry. The honeymoon does not last for long. The threat to happiness ever after often comes from the outside, in the form of a new and ‘even worse than ever before’ computer virus…
I recently got embroiled with a friend over the eternal question of why nations go to war and whether the drive to fight is so embedded in our nature that we cannot avoid war. He shrugged off the question, since he felt it was kind of a silly issue. Of course, mankind will always be at one’s throat for one reason or another. Been that way since cave man days and will go on throughout the future. This response seemed so cavalier to me, a cynic’s view of everyday news…
times are a-changin'
Bob Dylan and The Band kicked off the show like a basketball team on a fast-break. Opening their concert at the Omni with “Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I’ll Go Mine),” Dylan was, in a sense, establishing his game plan for that evening in Atlanta, just as he had in other cities on his heralded comeback tour. Dylan and The Band had the ball in their court, so to speak.
Anyone who attempts to raise funds for a good cause soon learns that you reach the same goal if many supporters give a little, as if a few people give a lot. Although it may be tempting to fundraisers, it’s a mistake to shoot for many giving a lot. And people don’t respond kindly to shame.
Every time I’m asked to support my local radio station, I respond. It’s an excellent public service broadcaster with interesting programs and good speakers; it’s informative, entertaining and of good quality. I really value our radio. How could I not support them? I send my check for twenty dollars several times a year in this good cause, knowing that others do too, for the benefit of all.
2 presidents from illinois
Lincoln was elected president of the United States, but suddenly found himself effectively president of only a part of it. Obama was elected president of the United States, but suddenly found himself president of only a part of it.
Lincoln had just recently become president when Fort Sumter was fired upon. Obama had just recently become president when the other major political party “fired” upon him, planting rumors that he was not qualified to be president, trying to make him fail regardless of what he proposed.
The two presidents faced analogous challenges. But responded to them differently.
“We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.”–The Tempest
In waking from my dreams, I try to think of what our Jungian instructor has told our class about ways to remember them and then to try to make sense of what we have gone through the previous eight hours or so. When I turn off the lights, I find myself anxiously looking forward to the host of characters, known and unknown, current and past, who will come a visiting and who will invariably entertain, hopefully illuminate, possibly frighten, but most of all baffle me.
The 40 page section covering the Reagan Years in Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick’s book, The Untold History of the United States, provides enough documentation of chicanery, hypocrisy, doublespeak and sociopathy to confirm in spades those of us who were appalled at the time and to turn around all but the most dedicated Reaganites. These will flee into ever deeper depths of denial in order to keep mythology intact. So, while they stop reading, let us consider some of the disgraceful aspects and consequences of that time.
Who should Democrats and Independents vote for in the May 20 Republican U.S. Senate Primary? Before recoiling at the seemingly inappropriate nature of this question, please consider the following. Michelle Nunn appears to have the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat locked up. Unless voters want to cast votes in contested races further down the ballot there is little reason to participate in the Democratic primary beyond the public display of civic virtue.
They were carefully clipped. All the edges neatly cut and then crisply folded along the columns. In the top margin, in that compact, neat handwriting that everyone must have been taught in the 1930s, was written in ballpoint pen “for Nancy” or “Nancy read.” I still remember how my blood would boil whenever I saw those clippings and that script. In my younger days it was stories of caution, teenagers killed in wrecks, maimed beyond recognition or perhaps that teen sex quiz from the always infuriating, holier-than-thou, Ann Landers.
a new study:
I had a laugh this morning. I was reading a newspaper on my iPad when the headline caught my eye: “Marriage can cause depression, study finds.” You think? It was a genuine belly laugh. The image of a study being funded, explored and written up on a subject I could have told about for nothing was absurd. The depression they identified in the process accounted for years of my life. Fortunately I am decades beyond tears following chuckles. It no longer hurts enough to cry.
Never mind that in the U.S. it has been become all the rage, since the supposed cradle of central planning, the U.S.S.R., crumbled. That raises suspicion about the sincerity of the opponents to begin with, but might be explained as a simple case of rivalry rearing its head. More worrisome is the realization that, in terms of man’s well being, failure may be what planning ultimately aims for.
In other words, planning on a grand scale looks to be designed to destroy the population for whom it claims to provide…
Why do so many Americans doubt the scientific consensus about Darwinian evolution and anthropogenic climate change? Although the temptation is to attribute these sentiments simply to religious indoctrination and corporate public relations, feelings of powerlessness and resentment may also be in play.
Consider the large differences in acceptance of different scientific conclusions in March 20-24 AP-GfK Poll. Where a mere 4% of respondents doubt the link between cigarette smoking and lung disease and only 6% doubt that mental illness is a medical condition affecting the brain, fully 42% doubted that life evolved through natural selection and 37% doubted that humans were responsible for global warming…
churchill enjoyed the show
Early Easter morning on the running trail, 53 degrees and windy. It’s cool and damp from the previous day’s rain and dogwood petals, leaves to be truthful, fall like snow. Elvis Presley is on my mind. Running through falling dogwood flurries makes for an odd time to be thinking of Elvis but that’s what happens when you’ve just seen an Elvis impersonator. And it’s a strange time to be thinking of Winston Churchill too, unless you’ve just been to the Wilcox Inn in Aiken.
Worthy of Comment
Also on the Dew
The birthing of several new suburban towns around Atlanta has had an impact on Gwinnett, something you might call an "unintended consequence." One of these has been the hiring by these new towns of members of the Gwinnett County police force, taking officers trained by the Gwinnett Police Academy to fill the ranks of the newly-formed police departments. Other areas big enough to have their own police academies, Atlanta, DeKalb, and Cobb counties have also been targeted as place to hire fully-trained officers. One factor in this hiring: the new cities are paying more, often significantly more, in annual pay to fill Read on →
In America right now there’s a battle that needs to be fought and won in our political arena. It’s a battle over what kind of country, and what kind of planet, our children and grandchildren will live in. Although some people like waging battle — some even insist on it — most liberals I’ve known are capable of living richer, more balanced and fulfilling lives. Most of us liberals would rather lead those better lives than focus on political combat. But over the past decade or two, while we’ve been living our fuller, more rounded lives, we with the more humane set of values h Read on →
Over the past few weeks since the shooting of Michael Brown the discussions on the various cable channels have been quite interesting. It truly illustrated that your perception of the shooting all comes from your point of view. If you are conservative, whether black or white, you find every reason you can point to Michael Brown’s past and actions on that day to justify the officer’s shooting of that young man six times. You strive for every fact to prove your point that the shooting was justified. If you are liberal, you are doing the same thing except it is too Read on →
May you always do for others And let others do for you. Words of advice, if not instruction, for the years and decades ahead, from Bob Dylan in "Forever Young," a song he wrote in 1973 and recorded twice for the next year's album, Planet Waves . The first version is slow and reverential, underscoring the serious nature of his father-to-son advise, while the second is uptempo and snappy, bringing enthusiasm to the same words on what awaits in life. Dylan, with energized backing from The Band, makes the directive, "May you grow up to be righteous" sound exhilarating. In the notes Read on →