July Rambling: Weird Al, and the moon walk

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Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. – George Orwell. To that end, Bible Stories for Newly Formed and Young Corporations and Congratulations: It’s a corporation.

An answer to the child immigrant problem at the US-Mexican border? I note that the Biblical Jesus was a refugee, his parents fleeing Herod’s wrath. Yet so many people who profess to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ “are so uncaring and hateful about hungry children trying to get to a better, safer place to live.”

In the non-surprise category: Stand Your Ground Laws Lead To More Homicides, Don’t Deter Crime.

Misleading on Marriage: how gay marriage opponents twist history to suit their agenda.

Yiddish Professor Miriam Isaacs has dug in a previously unknown treasure of over a thousand unknowns Yiddish songs recorded of Holocaust survivors; text is in Swedish, but can be translated. Miriam was my old racquetball buddy decades ago.

The Creation Myth of 20th Century Fundamentalism by Jeff Sharlet, who I also knew long ago.

Australian swimming great Ian Thorpe came out as gay. Arthur explains why it STILL matters. Also: I Can Be Christian, and Gay, and Live in Alabama.

Portraits of people in 7 days’ worth of their own garbage.
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Post-Hobby Lobby, expect these cases in the courts

personhoodThe Supreme Court agreed that some companies can refuse to cover contraception. Bestowing more personhood on entities devised to mitigate personal liability than on actual women baffles me, but there it is.

The next challenges to Obamacare coverage on religious grounds are listed right in the dissent by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg:
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April Rambling: Buy the niece’s new album, and end Daylight Saving Time

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New album from Rebecca Jade & The Cold Fact the debut release from San Diego-based eclectic soul/funk band. RJ is my niece, my sister Leslie’s daughter.
From NBC San Diego: “Not everything on April Fool’s Day was a joke. Rebecca Jade & the Cold Fact released their self-titled debut and it’s no laughing matter. Channeling everyone from Candi Staton and Betty Davis to Morcheeba and Brightback Morning Light, these 12 tracks of soul and funk are stunners. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy.”

After watching this video, I’m even more convinced than I was before: Daylight Saving Time is a waste of time. Having tried to schedule a phone call from the UK at a point when the US is in DST and the UK has NOT yet moved to British Summer Time, I know of which the speaker is talking about.
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#latepass

On Christmas Eve, I’m reading the Facebook feed of someone I sorta know – she interviewed me by phone and e-mail for an article about education – and I come to this story You Don’t Have the Right to Remain Silent, a story about the Supreme Court’s “terrible—and dangerous—ruling” on the Fifth Amendment, a decision I hate. The presumption is that a “person of interest” need be versed in the nuances of law. Here’s the ruling in Salinas v. Texas in which “you remain silent at your peril,” as the SCOTUS blog recaps this.

But it couldn’t have been decided on THAT Monday Continue reading

The value of the humanities

Last month, I attended a lecture by former US Supreme Court Justice David Souter about the importance of the humanities. There was a article in the Times Union that was factually accurate. Still, I’m going to muse on what I got out of the talk.

Justice Souter assumed everyone in the room was his ally in the fight to save the arts, music, civics and the like, so it was not his intention to persuade those of us who were already convinced of its efficacy. Instead, he spoke of poetry and its fundamental importance. Noting the famous poem, The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost, Souter said he got to see the poet recite without reading it; Souter did the same with this audience. The justice said that the cursory reading of the poem would suggest that we ought to take “the road less traveled by.” Yet, a study of the poem, its context, its history, would reveal Continue reading

M is for Monsanto, modified foods and mischief

Monsanto, a large agricultural entity in the US, apparently needs protection, for the US Congress has passed, back in the spring of 2013, what has been dubbed the Monsanto Protection Act, which, critics claim, “effectively bars federal courts from being able to halt the sale or planting of controversial genetically modified (aka GMO) or genetically engineered (GE) seeds, no matter what health issues may arise concerning GMOs in the future”. The bill has been recently reauthorized in the House, but not the Senate. (Meanwhile, while supporting corporate welfare, the House GOP axes food assistance for millions of Americans.)

So what’s the issue with GMOs? It is believed that GMOs are not safe. “They have been linked to thousands of toxic and allergenic reactions, thousands of sick, sterile, and dead livestock, and damage to virtually every organ and system studied in lab animals.” Continue reading

Constitutional allies

It’s Constitution Day!

Earlier in the year, I was inclined to agree with Jon Stewart of The Daily Show that most of the Constitution seems to be under attack, except that the Second Amendment right to bear arms seemed to be sacrosanct. For instance, the Supreme Court has chipped away at the Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.

Worse, it felt that only a relative handful of people were concerned. That has visibly changed, and the opposition to governmental overreach is bipartisan.

Item from Newsmax:

“The American Civil Liberties Union is joining tea party activists in opposing the use of armed drones and other counterterrorism operations to kill suspected terrorists, even American citizens.
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March on Washington, a half century later

It’s likely you’ll see a LOT of stories about the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. Every single one will marvel about how much progress has been made in America in the area of race, since 1963. Almost all will point to a black President, the current Attorney General, and two recent Secretaries of State as examples. The divergence in opinions come on this point: some will claim that we have “reached the promised land,” making sure to paraphrase Martin Luther King, Jr. from that day a half century ago – as though he were the only speaker there – while others will suggest that we haven’t quite gotten there yet.

When President Obama suggested that we look at race again in light of the Trayvon Martin case, that Obama could have been Trayvon 35 years ago, some, such as Touré at TIME, thought it was a brave personal observation. He wrote: “The assertion that blacks are hallucinating or excuse-making or lying when we talk about the many very real ways white privilege and racial bias and the lingering impact of history impact our lives is painful. It adds insult to injury to attack all assertions of racism and deny its continued impact or existence.”

Others labelled Obama “racist-in-chief”, playing the “race card” and worse. Continue reading

ARA: The way my mind works

CHRIS: Ooo, what does the infinity symbol symbolize?

Gee, I thought it was a sidewards eight.

Good on your with the presidents thing. The three presidents in one year has happened twice and three in two years but more than one year happened once (by my count using http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Presidents_of_the_United_States), none of which I knew before the discussion came up.

Three in one year was 1841 and 1881, that’s correct. Hadn’t thought about three in two years, but that would be 1849-1850, with Polk, Taylor and Fillmore.

Which brings me to my next question: how do you learn so many random things? Did you, for example, set out to memorize all the presidents and the years? Or does your brain do that “naturally”?

After minutes of self-psychoanalysis, this is what I’ve concluded Continue reading

Hyperplastic polyps, and other things

This is a picture of my mother’s class (kindergarten or first grade, from the 1933 date). Can you find her? My, they all look so sullen. I mean, I know it’s the Depression and all, but dang.
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In that TMI category, there were a couple polyps removed from my colon in late June. They were hyperplastic, a term I had never heard/seen before. This means Continue reading