February Rambling: Military Draft, Muppets and Graceland

When I mentioned the military draft earlier in the month, I may not have been very clear. Think of a large goldfish bowl with 365 or 366 balls with every date for the year represented. The first date for a particular year pulled would be the first selected for military service, the second date pulled the second selected, etc. There would be a cutoff number, based on need for the war effort. Check out this article and then this one.

The food stamp President; note that Arthur had this BEFORE MoveOn.com helped propel it viral. He also remembers the first anniversary of the Christchurch, New Zealand earthquake, the 50th anniversary of John Glenn’s flight aboard Friendship 7, and the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens.

Rosa Parks Did Much More than Sit on a Bus

The Stories I Tell: “Like most of us I was raised to tell the truth and be honest. This can present a minor dilemma for resellers.”

How a mom used Star Wars to answer life’s questions

Marvel/Disney wages petty, vicious war against Ghost Rider creator. Continue reading

G is for Gerrymander

Gerrymandering is a word which means “a practice that attempts to establish [in the process of setting electoral districts] a political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating geographic boundaries to create partisan, incumbent-protected districts. Gerrymandering may be used to achieve desired electoral results for a particular party, or may be used to help or hinder a particular demographic, such as a political, racial, linguistic, religious or class group.”

The term was created way back in the early 19th century concerning the redrawing of the “Massachusetts state senate election districts under the then-governor Elbridge Gerry…to benefit his Democratic-Republican Party. When mapped, one of the contorted districts in the Boston area was said to resemble the shape of a salamander.” Continue reading

Black History Month and Segregation Denialism

Every year for the past several, I have become the point person for the Black History Month celebration at my church. It is not a position I’ve ever sought, but it has obviously sought me. I had called a meeting of potentially interested parties in early December, so that I might offload some of the responsibility. But I was so sick, not only did I not go to church, I had forgotten that I had called the meeting until after the fact. Opportunity missed; so it goes.

At the end of the first adult education hour, which featured a guest speaker, I recommended that people view Slavery by Another Name, a new PBS documentary based on Douglas A. Blackmon’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, narrated by Laurence Fishburne (pictured) before the following session. Some folks did watch, and it is interesting to note that it was a piece of American history that most in the room were oblivious to. My wife and I had seen the film at an advanced showing at UAlbany a couple weeks earlier.

From a description of the book: Continue reading

The Lydster, Part 95: A Good Heart, for Jamaica

The Moses Baker Basic School in Golden Grove, Jamaica is in one of the poorest communities in a poor country. My mother-in-law writes: “The previous building was a wooden structure which was in bad condition, made even worse each time it was blown apart by hurricanes.” Her church in Oneonta, NY “had been sending teams down each summer [since 2000] to do projects in the community,” first working on getting the health center up to snuff, then repairing the preschool for about 80 kids. “No sooner were the repairs completed each year a storm were blow through more than undoing all of the work. The residents picked up the pieces and put them back on as best they could.

Finally, the church decided to postpone the annual trips to save up some money to build a school strong enough to withstand severe storms, made of “rebar reinforced concrete… The old ‘building’ was torn down as soon as school ended in June, 2011.
Continue reading

The “experiment in retaliatory manners” QUESTION

I was reading this review of a new book on manners, when I stopped short:

“Would It Kill You to Stop Doing That?” is that rare consideration of courtesy that admits you can carry the crusade too far. Take, for instance, Alford’s one-man “experiment in retaliatory manners,” a period during which he apologized elaborately to people who had failed to say they were sorry for such minor transgressions as bumping into him on the street. “I’m saying what you should be saying,” he’d then invariably have to explain to these oblivious souls. Eventually, and ruefully, he realized that “reverse apologizing is usually as rude if not ruder than the incident that inspires it.”

I recognized that, in all likelihood, I might have done this at some point in my life. Moreover, I have a very specific recollection of this happening to me, Continue reading

Requiem of the Week – Brahms German

Nothing gets me in the Lenten mood like a bunch of Requiems (Requia?). I have sung several of them over the years. One I haven’t sung is Brahms’ A German Requiem, though I do have a recording of it. However, I have sung the 4th movement, in English, and it is known as How Lovely is thy dwelling place.

From the Wikipedia: A German Requiem, To Words of the Holy Scriptures, Op. 45 Continue reading

MOVIE REVIEWS: 2012 Academy Award Nominated Animated Shorts

It was a Monday holiday. The daughter was at a friend’s house. But the Wife and I had a narrow window if we wanted to see a movie. In the time frame we had, we could really only go to the Spectrum and see the Oscar-nominated short animation films. My wife was wary because she had heard that a couple of these films were quite violent. In fact, only one was.

Dimanche/Sunday (Canada – 9 minutes)
Every Sunday, it’s the same old routine! The train clatters through the village and almost shakes the pictures off the wall. In the church, Dad dreams about his toolbox. And of course later Grandma will get a visit and the animals will meet their fate.
And the train is HUGE! But I didn’t see the point. I suppose there was violence in this story, but it was rendered so banally that it wasn’t particularly affecting.

A Morning Stroll (UK-7 minutes)
When a New Yorker walks past a chicken on his morning stroll, we are left to wonder which one is the real city slicker.
The winner of the BAFTA, the British equivalent to the Oscars, this shows the changes of people over time. THIS film is the one with quite violent images. Great last joke, though.

Wild Life (Canada – 14 minutes)
Calgary, 1909. An Englishman moves to the Canadian frontier, but is singularly unsuited to it. His letters home are much sunnier than the reality. Intertitles compare his fate to that of a comet. Continue reading

F is for Fame

I was reading some news aggregator one morning late last year, probably MSNBC, when there was a tease about “pre-fame Courtney Stodden pictures.” Naturally, I said to myself, “Self, I have no idea what a Courtney Stodden is.” As it turned out, though, I had heard in passing about the event that provided her greatest notoriety. She is the now 17-year-old would-be singer/model who married actor Doug Hutchison, best known for his appearance on the X-Files, who was 50 at the time of their marriage in May 2011.

So Courtney Stodden is “famous”? Continue reading

Presidents Day – coins and candidates

They blew it. The US Mint is dropping the $1 US Presidential coin. Well, not entirely. Those entities that sell them to collectors will receive some, but I can’t, in good conscience, BUY a $1 coin for $3 or more. Lost history, plus a chance to drop the dollar bill missed. Plus they ended the public run with an assassinated President, James Garfield, and dissed poor Chester A. Arthur, who would have been released this month. Hey, if you happen across any of them, post-Garfield, please let me know.
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I was looking at the 2012 Republican field for President and realized that I should be supporting Ron Paul! Continue reading