Killing Children

There are so many horrors on my radar right now that it is literally jammed.  Where to start?  Okay, let’s begin somewhere …

I had seen a snippet or two, here and there, but usually while I was deep into research for another post, and I bookmarked a couple of them to look at later, then promptly forgot … predictable, when I have so many different things on such a small mind, yes?  Anyway, earlier today I received an email from my dear friend Cheryl, and in it she mentioned her frustration that her church had put together many kits containing toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, and other personal care items to be donated to the migrant children being held in captivity, but that Customs and Border “Protection” would not accept them!  This triggered the memory of those articles I had bookmarked, so I went back and did a bit of digging (one needs a long-handled shovel to dig through the memory banks in my head or in the file labeled ‘notes’ on my laptop!)

On June 24th, the Texas Tribune reported …

On Sunday, Austin Savage and five of his friends huddled into an SUV and went to an El Paso Target, loading up on diapers, wipes, soaps and toys.

About $340 later, the group headed to a Border Patrol facility holding migrant children in nearby Clint with the goal of donating their goods. Savage said he and his friends had read an article from The New York Times detailing chaos, sickness and filth in the overcrowded facility, and they wanted to help.

But when they arrived, they found that the lobby was closed. The few Border Patrol agents — Savage said there were between eight and 10 of them — moving in and out of a parking facility ignored them.

For a while, the group stood there dumbfounded about what to do next. Ultimately, they decided to pack up and head home. Savage said he wasn’t completely surprised by the rejection; before he left, the group spotted a discarded plastic bag near the lobby door holding toothpaste and soap that had a note attached to it: “I heard y’all need soap + toothpaste for kids.”

04 Diapers Toys Donations Detention Center Clint AM TT.jpgA slew of other sympathetic people, advocacy groups and lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle have expressed a desire to lend a hand to the kids housed in the facilities. But after purchasing items like toys, soap, toothbrushes, diapers and medicine — especially as news reports circulate of facilities having drinking water that tastes like bleach and sick children without enough clothing — they’ve been met with a common message: No donations are being accepted.

Say WHAT???

Last week, I wrote a post titled Cruel and Inhumane  about the conditions these poor children … CHILDREN … are living in.  Washington Post writer Eugene Robinson wrote an opinion piece that went into even greater detail  .  These children are given a piece of f**king tin foil for a blanket, have no toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo, and in some cases no diapers.  They are suffering from illness, cold, and malnutrition.  They are CHILDREN, and they are being treated worse than prisoners of war would be treated under the Geneva Convention!!!

Our government cannot be bothered to spend a few thousand dollars for the comfort and health of these children, but they can spend millions or more on an ego trip for Damnold Trump to “honour himself” on the Fourth of July???  And on top of it all, they will not allow those of us who have a conscience, those of us who feel compassion toward these children, who understand that they are every bit as valuable as our own children … we are not allowed to donate such necessities of life as soap to these poor children???

The friend I mentioned above writes a blog, Impromptu Promptlings, and she did an excellent rant about this last evening.  Please take a minute to read it, to let her add her voice to the fury of my own.

When you go to bed tonight, ponder on something.  Ask yourself what kind of country you are living in.  You get up each morning, proceed through your daily routine … the view outside your window likely looks much the same as it did three years ago.  But it isn’t the same.  This isn’t the same country.  This is a country that respects an over-bloated megalomaniac far more than it respects the lives of children.  This is a nation that supports an agency of the federal government that is murdering children … yes, I said murdering.  They are sick, they are not given proper hygiene, they are not given proper nutrition, and they are lacking the love of their parents that is so essential to the health and well-being, to the development of children.

Ask yourself, as you lie awake pondering this, what can we do?  How can we stop this madness?  Oh sure, there is an election in 16 months, and we can vote the madman out of office … maybe … but how many more children will die before then?  Six children that we know of have already died of abuse or neglect in the concentration camps … and yes, they ARE concentration camps by any definition of the word.  How many more must die?  How can we stop this utter insanity?  Think about it.  Get mad.  Let’s figure this out, folks, for those little kids are counting on somebody to help them.

Grounded

Those of you who have followed Filosofa’s Word for more than a year may remember a series of posts that I re-blogged by justascottishgirl, a young woman from Scotland who, in late 2015 to mid-2016 took time from her own life to volunteer helping refugees on the Greek Isle of Kos. Her tales were often heartbreaking, but I was so impressed with what she and others were doing – giving of themselves for the cause of humanity – that I shared her story a few times in March 2016. She eventually returned to Scotland, but has now moved to the Greek Isle of Kos. She has started a new blog, titled From Greece With Love, and shares her very astute thoughts on not just the refugee crisis, but the terrible inhumane incidents taking place around the globe. I am sharing, with her permission, the first post on her new blog where she starts with a question: How does one stay grounded with all the terrible things happening around the world? She concludes with: “Stand together, show love where you find hate and don’t let fear win.” Just A Scottish Girl is an excellent writer, thinker, and humanitarian extraordinaire, and this post is well worth the read. Please take a few moments to read her words, for they reflect what most of us are thinking in these troubled times. Thank you, Scottish Girl, for all you do, for your beautiful heart, and for permission to share your thoughts and words.

From Greece With Love

All through life when times get tough, when things start to run away with us or when things start to get too much we often hear the advice “stay grounded.” We are told to “keep our feet on the ground” to balance us, to remind of something solid, something steady that can help bring us down from those dizzying heights that challenging times can take us to. But what happens when that safety net fails, when you can no longer trust the earth to keep you steady?

Recently I experienced a rather nasty earthquake which has left this question playing on my mind. When we live in a world of such uncertainty, how exactly do we stay grounded when we can’t even trust the ground we walk on?

But this idea of losing trust in your surroundings goes further than a shift in tectonic plates, for me personally anyway. Over…

View original post 972 more words

The Question Is … WHY?

It’s a sad state of affairs that I will believe literally anybody over Trump.  The latest?  Trump claimed on Thursday that the U.S. military downed an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz.  Why would he lie about that?  But, I think he did lie, for Iran denies that it happened, and has even released video they say proves that it was a lie.  If this had happened three years ago, under President Obama, I would never have questioned it, but whatever Trump says, I find there is usually at least a partial lie.

Why would Iran lie?  Tensions are high between the U.S. and Iran, and Iran would almost certainly be hopping mad and making threats if we had shot down one of their little boys’ toys.  (Needless to say, I have little respect for the use of drones). But I question the reason behind Trump’s lie, for undoubtedly there is an underlying, likely malicious reason.  You may recall that Iran did shoot down one of our drones last month.  Trump claimed it was in international airspace, but it turned out it was, in fact, in Iranian airspace and was spying on Iran.

Iranian leadership have frequently mocked Trump, and we all know that is the one thing that he cannot stand.  Back in May 2018, the speaker of the Iranian parliament, Ali Larijani, said Trump “does not have the mental capacity to deal with issues,” and added that he “only understands the language of force.”  All of which is true, but surely got under Trump’s thin skin.

Ever since, there has been a back-and-forth poking by both parties, and Trump has at times seemed determined to plunge the U.S. into a war with Iran that nobody … nobody in this nation wants.  For the most part, Trump is filled with bluster and a sense that he is the all-important player in this game-that-is-not-a-game, while Iran’s leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, taunts back, but seems to be finding humour in it all.

So, why is Trump trying so hard to provoke Iran, and why did he lie about shooting down the drone?  I don’t know the answers but have a few thoughts on the topic.

First, at the beginning of his term, Trump unconscionably withdrew the U.S. from the Iran nuclear agreement with no reason, for even our own intelligence community agreed that Iran was upholding their end of the deal.  But … it was a deal that had been signed by President Obama, and that was the only reason Trump was so insistent on withdrawing.  He demanded that our European allies also withdraw, and when they didn’t, when they worked collectively to try to salvage the deal even without the help of the U.S., Trump made threats, as he is wont to do.  When our allies didn’t give in to his threats, but largely ignored him and continued trying to preserve the deal for the sake of world peace, he got even angrier and imposed sanctions on Iran.

Last month, then, two oil tankers, one of Japanese registry, the other Norwegian, were attacked in the Gulf of Oman.  Trump & Co. claimed to have video footage showing that Iran was behind the attacks, but the footage was fuzzy and really showed nothing of value.  Plus, the crew of one of the tankers stated emphatically that it was not Iran.  More lies on the part of Trump, Bolton, and Pompeo.  Iran denied culpability and said that Trump was spreading disinformation and warmongering.

Then they shot down our spy drone that was in their airspace, and now Trump claims, sans evidence, to have shot down their drone.  WHY???

A few possibilities come to mind …

First, the red herring theory.  Trump is coming under a great deal of fire from the public lately … not his base, of course, but the majority of us … for a number of things:

  • Conditions at the detention camps where children are being held in captivity, separated from their parents, denied such essentials as medical care, soap, toothbrushes, beds, blankets
  • His outrageously expensive and pointless, not to mention tasteless and insulting parade and “celebration” on July 4th that nearly bankrupted the city of Washington, D.C., and cost the taxpayers a bundle that we couldn’t afford
  • His heinous racist denigration of four members of Congress, all U.S. citizens, whom he told to get out of the country and go back where they came from

No doubt, Trump is eager to stop the bleeding that is a result of all these things (and more).  So … what better way than a red herring … something to distract attention from his domestic screw-ups … than an international “incident”?  Wouldn’t be the first time.

And second … there is a proven theory that when a nation is so divided that it is literally eating itself from within, as the U.S. is doing today, an external threat will bring the two sides together, if only temporarily, to fight the external threat.  If that is the thinking … and it would have come from either Pompeo or Bolton, for Trump hasn’t the intelligence to think of it on his own … then he has two choices:  North Korea or Iran.  Since he still seems to hold tight to the idea that his snow job on Kim Jong-un worked and that they now love each other, despite the fact that his summit failed to produce any tangible results, that leaves Iran.  National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have both had itchy fingers for a long time … decades, in fact … to bomb Iran, to affect a regime change.  They are a well-matched pair of warmongers.

And a third possibility is financial.  War is profitable for arms manufacturers, and some of Trump’s best buddies manufacture arms.  Why do you think he’s trying so hard to sell arms to Saudi Arabia?  He has proposed often enough that we need to build up our supply of arms, but the proposal is not, overall, met with cheers of approval, for we have the largest national debt in our history, and more tanks just doesn’t seem as important to most of us as healthcare and feeding the poor.  But, if we enter a war …

Again, I don’t know what is behind Trump’s taunts, mockery and lies, but these are just the result of my sleepless nights spent thinking, spent pondering on the “why” of it all, and I think there is some thread of logic to these thoughts.  And now, I return you to your Sunday evening activities.

♫ Don’t Lie To Me ♫

It was just a couple of days ago that I played You Don’t Send Me Flowers, by Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond.  I typically try to put a few weeks’ distance between songs by the same artist, but just yesterday, a dear friend sent me information about a new song by Ms. Streisand, and I didn’t want to put it aside for any length of time, knowing I would likely forget it.  Now, I don’t intend these music posts to be political, necessarily, but sometimes they are, for the music is … well, not so much political as a statement against social injustice, or sometimes even revolutionary.

This song, Don’t Lie to Me, is Barbra Streisand’s first new original music since 2005, and was the first new single off her upcoming album Walls, due out November 2nd.   In a recent interview with Time magazine, Streisand explains what motivated her to write this song, along with John Shanks, Jonas Myrin, and Jay Landers …

“My problem is what’s been happening to America. Even basic human decency seems to be melting away faster than the polar ice caps. An artist – at least – has a form of expression, which I’m grateful for. It gives me a way to let off a little steam.  It’s easy to feel powerless, but we’re not.

They’re very troubling times. The leader of the free world doesn’t seem to care much about truth, and he’s chipping away at the pillars of democracy, like freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press. I believe in the power of the truth, and I can’t stand being lied to. I don’t think the country should be lied to either. So that started me thinking about how to put down my thoughts in music and lyrics about what was on my mind.”

When asked about the title of her upcoming album, Walls, she explained …

“Well, we have a president who wants to build walls, and that got me thinking—walls can be structural, and walls can be emotional; walls between people. So I asked my dear friends Marilyn and Alan Bergman to write a song for this album, and it came out as “Walls,” which says we would have that better day if all those walls came tumbling down. I hope we find a way to tear down walls and build more bridges instead. There’s also a very hopeful song on this, “Better Angels,” that was inspired by Lincoln’s first inaugural address. It reminds us of who we have the potential to be when we listen to the better angels of our nature.”

The interview is quite interesting, if you feel inclined to take a look.  But for now, without further ado …

Don’t Lie to Me
Barbra Streisand

Why can’t you just tell me the truth?
Hard to believe the things you say
Why can’t you feel the tears I cried today, cried today, cried today
How do you win if we all lose?
You change the facts to justify
Your lips move but your words get in the way, in the way, in the way

Kings and Queens, crooks and thieves
You don’t see the forest for the trees
Head and heart on our knees
You can’t see what we all see

How do you sleep when the world keeps turning?
All that we built has come undone
How do you sleep when the world is burning?
Everyone answers to someone

Don’t lie to me, don’t lie to me, you lie to me
Don’t lie to me, don’t lie to me, you lie to me

You can build towers of bronze and gold
You can build castles in the sky
You can use smoke and mirrors, old clichés
Not today, not today

Kings and Queens, crooks and thieves
You don’t see the forest for the trees
Hand on heart, down our knees
You can’t see what everyone sees

How do you sleep when the world keeps turning?
All that we built has come undone
How do you sleep when the world is burning?
Everyone answers to someone

Don’t lie to me, don’t lie to me, you lie to me
Don’t lie to me, don’t lie to me, you lie to me

Can’t you see I’m crying?
Can’t you see we’re crying?
Where’s the new horizon?
Where’s the new horizon?

How do you sleep?
How do you sleep?
How do you sleep?
(How do you sleep when the world is turning?)
How do you sleep?
(All that we built has come undone)
Enough is enough
(How do you sleep when the world is burning?)
How do you sleep?
(Everyone answers to someone)

Don’t lie to me, don’t lie to me, you lie to me
Don’t lie to me, don’t lie to me, you lie to me

Can’t you see I’m crying?
(Can’t you see we’re crying?)
Can’t you see we’re crying?
Everyone answers to someone

Songwriters: Barbra Streisand / John Shanks / Jonas Myrin / Jay Landers
Don’t Lie to Me lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Snarky Snippets From The Bouncing Mind

Good Sunday morning, my friends!  I haven’t unleashed my snarky side for several days now, and it’s bubbling over.  So, what better way to start Sunday than with a few snarky snippets?


Election security?

While Mitch McConnell continues to refuse to even allow the Senate to consider election security bills that have passed the House already for fear it would upset the tender feelings of Trump, there are some positive things happening in the area of election security.  Tentatively.

The intelligence community (IC) is picking up slack where the Senate is falling down on the job.  Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats has installed a new czar to oversee election security efforts on a large-scale basis.  His choice is Shelby Pierson, an intelligence veteran.  According to Coats …

“Election security is an enduring challenge and a top priority for the IC. In order to build on our successful approach to the 2018 elections, the IC must properly align its resources to bring the strongest level of support to this critical issue. There is no one more qualified to serve as the very first election threats executive than Shelby Pierson, whose knowledge and experience make her the right person to lead this critical mission.”

It’s good to know that somebody in our federal government ‘has our back’… but wait.  You will note that in the first paragraph, I added “tentatively”.  There’s a reason for that.  See, Donald Trump doesn’t want to talk about election security, doesn’t want to hear about it.  Why?  Because, it was the very lack of adequate election security that enabled him to be placed, albeit not elected, into office.  The proven Russian interference, without which it is highly unlikely he would be sitting in the Oval Office today, is a sore spot, a blow to his ego.

Former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said she was told to keep any efforts at election security “below his level”.  Never mind that when it comes to the security of the nation, his personal feelings ought not to matter … everyone in his administration is so scared shitless of him that they will go to great lengths to hide things from him. trump tantrum

Consider this … earlier this month, it was reported that no less than five people in Trump’s administration said (anonymously, of course) that he is eager to tell Dan Coats to “hit the road, Jack!”  If that should happen, then all bets on election security are off.  This wouldn’t be the first time Coats has butted heads with Trump.  He has been critical of Trump’s relationship (bromance?) with Russia’s Vladimir Putin (who hasn’t?) and he told a Senate panel that North Korea is unlikely to be willing to give up their nuclear weapons, contrary to Trump’s claims and his relationship (another bromance?) with Kim Jong-un.  We now know that Coats was right, Trump was wrong, but that does put Coats in an awkward position.

Speculation is that Trump is considering replacing Coats with Fred Fleitz, former chief of staff to National Security Advisor John Bolton.  Fleitz met with Trump recently, and has made no secret that he would like to scale back the Office of the Director of National Security significantly.  If that happens … there can be no doubt that election security will become the lowest of all priorities, if it doesn’t fall off the bottom of the priority list altogether.


Partisan … straws???

You’ve heard, unless you’ve been living on a desert island without communication for the last few years, about the effort among environmentalists to reduce and eventually cease the use of single-use plastics, right?  Plastic straws are one of the worst culprits, for they are so numerous, they do not decompose or biodegrade, therefore they stay in landfills, or worse yet end up in oceans, and unlike some other plastics, there is a relatively simple solution … good old-fashioned paper straws!  But guess what, folks?

Paper straws are ‘liberal’, read democratic, and therefore plastic straws are republicans!  Who decided this?  Well, none other than Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale.

Parscale

Brad Parscale

“I’m so over paper straws, and I’m sure you are too. Much like most liberal ideas, paper straws don’t work and they fall apart instantly. That’s why we just launched our latest product – Official Trump Straws. Now you can finally be free from liberal paper straws that fall apart within minutes and ruin your drink.”

Um … I remember the 1950s, before the advent of plastic straws, when all we had were paper straws and they worked very well, thank you.  However, if there is anyone reading this who really wants to make sure they are getting bona fide republican straws, you can head on over to the Donald Trump campaign store (yes, there really is such a thing … where do you think people get all those ugly red hats?) and pick up a 10-pack of reusable plastic straws, which are red and emblazoned with “TRUMP” in silver, for a mere $15. trump-straw-2What a deal, eh … $1.50 for one lousy straw that … who could put something in their mouth with that word on it???  Oh, and shipping takes two weeks.  Meanwhile, try explaining to your grandchildren why your use of a plastic straw was more important than their life.  Oh, and one other thing … there is yet a third option … you can pick the cup up, bring it to your lips, tilt it a little bit, and drink without any straw!  What a novel idea, yes?


“We will do our best to go on without him …”

Trump was scheduled to attend the 110th annual national convention of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People) this weekend.  Historically, presidents of both parties have spoken and attended a Q&A session at the annual meeting of the oldest civil rights organization in the United States.  As a candidate in 2016, he declined an invitation to attend.  Trump declined to attend the convention in 2017 … no reason given.  But this year, he had accepted the invitation … until he found out about the Q&A session.

“I very much wanted to go, but we had a date. The date got changed and unfortunately they wanted to do it in the form of a question and answer.”

The date was set far in advance and did not change.  Nor did the format, but he thought he would just give a speech and leave.  In light of his recent racist tirade that is largely dominating the media these days, he was apparently afraid to face questions by a civil rights group.

Wendell Anthony, the NAACP Detroit Branch President, said …

“He blew an opportunity quite frankly, but we will do our best to go on without him.”

Dripping sarcasm … I love it!  He continued …

“There is a format; every candidate has said that he or she would be glad to participate in. It’s beyond us as to why that would be of some discomfort for the president. We are American citizens. We have a right to question our presidents and ask the leader of the free world what our future will be.”

Absolutely.  If Trump wishes to continue playing ‘president’, then he must play by the rules of the game … oh wait … for him, there are no rules, right?  Take heart, however, for intelligent people who know how to speak and have something of importance to say will be there:  Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Cory Booker, Stacey Abrams, Rashida Talib and Bernie Sanders, to name a few.  Who needs Trump anyway?

The interesting thing is that this wasn’t widely published in the media.  I only saw it on BET’s website and a local Detroit station.  Puzzling.  Muzzled?  Chicken?


Well, that’s your daily dose of snark for this Sunday … now go have some fun, enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Dorothy Thompson, the Journalist Who Warned the World About Adolf Hitler

Have you ever heard of Dorothy Thompson? I hadn’t either until our blogging-buddy Mary posted a link to another blog that she thought relevant to my topic-of-the-moment, Trump’s racism. Turns out that Ms. Thompson was a quite notable journalist during WWII, and had the distinction of being the first U.S. journalist to be expelled from Germany by Hitler! This post is noteworthy for three reasons: 1) it is fascinating and I learned much that I didn’t already know; 2) it is very well-written; 3) parts of it are chilling, as you will see, when compared to the situation in the U.S. today. Please take a minute to read and think about this post. Thank you, Peter, for permission to share this with my readers!

Life Unscripted

I write for fun, but not everyone has that luxury. A great many people in the world write to earn their living and I have always thought that to be a tough way to go: deadlines are a pain, and I can attest to that after publishing a small journal for a few years. There is this challenge to stay relevant and also inspired enough to write every day are the fabric of nightmares and sleepless nights, but some people excel at it.temerity

I was struck over this past weekend by the brazen cowardice of the U.S. Congress. It astounded me that a sitting president would tell elected members of Congress that they should go back to some country they “came from” and that

seehearspeakThe U.S. Congress

Congress would sit by silent as brass monkeys. Yet… that is what happened.

One word that has largely disappeared from our vocabulary is…

View original post 1,758 more words

♫ She’s Always A Woman ♫

It’s Saturday, and I had a brilliant inspiration while I was working on my Saturday Surprise post … Sam Cooke’s Another Saturday Night!!!  Oopsie … played it twice last year, including once in another Saturday Surprise post.  Bummer.  Well, I had this one earmarked to play sometime soon, and I’m too tired tonight to go in search of something more Saturday-ish.

Billy Joel wrote this song about his first wife, Elizabeth, whom he was married to from 1973-1982. When they first got together, she was still married to Joel’s drummer Jon Small. Billy was so tormented by his affair that he made a halfhearted attempt to kill himself by drinking furniture polish. Ironically, the rocker was saved by the very man he was betraying when Jon Small rushed him to hospital.

Joel’s then-wife Elizabeth was also his manager and worked in the music industry at a time when very few women did. Billy saw her take a lot of gruff in the working world and get called a lot of names, which led to him writing this song to defend her, in a way. He explained: “If you look at the structure of the song, it says, ‘she can do this to you, she can do that to you, but she’s always a woman to me.’ That was the point of the song: they’re bitching about her, and I’m saying, you can bitch all you want, she’s great at business and she comes home and she’s a woman with me.”

When the American singer-songwriter Pink married motocross racer Carey Hart in Costa Rica, she walked down the aisle barefoot accompanied by this song.  She was always a huge Billy Joel fan, and she got the chance to perform this song with her idol in 2014 at a Billy Joel town hall event hosted by Howard Stern. “I got to see my dad become happy when your songs came on, and we sang them together,” she told him. “It’s changed my life. When I sit down to write a song, my first thought is, ‘this is going to suck, and I’m never going to be Billy Joel.'”

She’s Always a Woman
Billy Joel
She can kill with a smile, she can wound with her eyes
She can ruin your faith with her casual lies
And she only reveals what she wants you to see
She hides like a child but she’s always a woman to me
She can lead you to love, she can take you or leave you
She can ask for the truth but she’ll never believe you
And she’ll take what you give her as long as it’s free

Yeah she steals like a thief but she’s always a woman to me
Oh, she takes care of herself, she can wait if she wants
She’s ahead of her time
Oh, she never gives out and she never gives in
She just changes her mind

And she’ll promise you more than the garden of Eden
Then she’ll carelessly cut you and laugh while you’re bleeding
But she brings out the best and the worst you can be

Blame it all on yourself ’cause she’s always a woman to me
Oh, she takes care of herself, she can wait if she wants
She’s ahead of her time
Oh, she never gives out and she never gives in
She just changes her mind

She is frequently kind and she’s suddenly cruel
She can do as she pleases, she’s nobody’s fool
But she can’t be convicted, she’s earned her degree
And the most she will do is throw shadows at you
But she’s always a woman to me

Songwriters: Billy Joel
She’s Always a Woman lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Saturday Surprise — Just A Little Of This ‘N That

In the wake of a truly rotten day yesterday, I am once again suffering from a severe case of mind bounce, so I make no promises about how today’s Saturday Surprise will work out, but I’m gonna try, okay?  My initial thought was, in honour of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, to fire up the Filomobile and take you on a return journey to the moon.  But, with mind bounce, it could be dangerous and we could end up somewhere totally unexpected, like Tahiti!  So, we shall keep our feet firmly planted for today.Saturday-2


I liked this story from New Zealand via The Guardian

penguins-sign

“Waddling vagrants” in the form of two little blue penguins have been released by police after they were detained for setting up home under a Wellington sushi outlet.

Their cover was blown after a shop worker heard them making a cooing, humming sound. It is understood that the penguins were hiding near the grills beneath the sushi shop, where it was warm.

penguins-1Constable John Zhu responded, “after sensing something fishy,” Wellington police confirmed on their Facebook page. The penguins were described as “little and blue”.

“This was not the first report police received about the fishy birds.”

They were spotted on Monday at dawn outside the Wellington railway station before taking shelter under the nearby Sushi Bi.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) had been monitoring the site as it was thought that they were likely to return.

Wini Morris, who works at the sushi shop, told Radio NZthat she heard the birds making a “cooing, humming sound”.

“It’s pretty insane the idea that some penguins are camping out under your shop,” he said. “But it’s adorable I think – they’re probably terrified but it’s adorable.”

penguins-2The little blue penguins conservation status is considered to be “at risk” to “declining”.

Constable Zhu removed the penguins and with some help from the public. DOC and Wellington Zoo were then contacted.

“With some inter-agency cooperation the adventurous pair were released back into Wellington Harbour,” police said.


Saturday-1I came across this on Bored Panda and thought it was pretty cool …

Artist and photographer Christian Spencer was spending the day on his verandah in Rio de Janeiro when he noticed something wonderful. The sun striking the wings of a Jacobin hummingbird, producing a beautiful prism effect. At that moment, it looked as if the tiny birdy was a tiny flying rainbow.  Naturally, he had a camera at hand …hummingbird-1hummingbird-2hummingbird-3hummingbird-4hummingbird-5hummingbird-6hummingbird-7hummingbird-8hummingbird-9


And I thought you guys might enjoy seeing a few adorable baby pandas in action …


And that, my friends, is the best I’ve got for this hot Saturday morn.  I hope you all have a great weekend!!!Saturday-5

Dying For The Fiction – a poem by Paul Vincent Cannon

The single most important thing that should be on everyone’s mind today is the environment, for if we don’t take steps to stop the bleeding, none of the other issues will matter before long. Blogger-friend Paul lives in Western Australia and he writes poetry. Most times, I can even understand his poems, which is saying something, for I am often find it difficult to understand the subtle, hidden messages in most poetry. Last night, I visited Paul’s blog, as I try to do a few times a week, and was stunned by his poem of the day. Please take a minute to read it … it’s short but says an awful lot in a few words. Thank you, Paul, for your generous permission to re-blog “Dying for the Fiction”.

parallax

dVerse Poets – Poetics – Climate Crisis

cartoon20091118.jpg

Cartoon found at sites.duke.edu

“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.”  Rachel Carson

Dying For The Fiction

They filled in the wetlands and gave me a house
of dreams filled with death,
and we cut down the trees that gave us life
that we might see the views of the city lights,
in a panic we scorched everything in the
belief that we must perpetuate production,
the very poison that kills all,
while giving happiness in spades of plastic that
smothers reality and makes us long for more
fictions that soothe and inspire
how self murder is so healthy for us,
I awoke this morning to find
my limbs removed,
my lungs cut down
and plastic in my gut,
I am Eco,
I…

View original post 10 more words

♫ Happy Together ♫

The “Check Engine” light keeps coming on in my van.  I keep checking, and the engine is still there, so I’m puzzled.  Perhaps the light has a short.  This is completely apropos of nothing except that this morning, as I headed out to the grocery hoping to beat the heat, I once again checked to ensure that the engine was right where it was supposed to be, and I had a little chat with the van … whose name is Gonzo … and I said, “Look, Gonzo … if you would just settle down, stop that stupid thumping noise every time you shift gears, and turn off that little light, we could be so Happy Together.”  And that, naturally, put this song into my head.

Despite what the title implies, this is not a song about a couple in love. According to Gary Bonner, who wrote the song with Alan Gordon, the song is about unrequited love. Our desperate singer wants the girl to “imagine how the world could be so very fine,” proposing what would happen “if I should call you up.” The line in the fadeout, “How is the weather?” is when he realizes they will never be more than passing acquaintances, as he resorts to small talk to keep from bursting into tears.  Who knew?

The song’s composers Gary Bonner and Alan Gordon were the bass player and drummer of the Boston area group The Magicians. Bonner became a regular member of Kenny Vance and the Planotones. Gordon, who died in 2008 at the age of 64, had songs recorded by Alice Cooper, Frank Zappa and The Lovin’ Spoonful.

Talking about how the song came together, Alan Gordon said …

“I had nearly half a song already written, mostly lyric ideas, but couldn’t find the right melodic concept. The Magicians were in the middle of a week-long engagement at the Unicorn Club in Boston, and one early morning I was visiting my divorced father in nearby Ayer, Massachusetts after being up all night. I had stopped to have breakfast at the Park Street Diner in the town and was miserable with no sleep, the endless dumb gigs we were playing and having a songwriter’s block. About the only melody that was throbbing in my tired, fried brain at that hour was the time-immemorial repeated open string pattern that Allen (Jake) Jacobs, the Magician’s lead guitarist, would use as he incessantly tuned and retuned after, before, and frequently during each piece we played. Suddenly, some words began to fit and literally minutes later music and lyrics started to take shape. I excitedly and in fairness asked Jake to complete the song with me as co-writer, but he refused, saying it was all ‘too simple’ for him to be involved, so my regular partner Gary then helped me with the finishing touches. When Gary Klein at the Koppleman/Rubin office heard the result, he immediately knew the song would be perfect for the new and upbeat image being created for The Turtles, and it was his continued enthusiasm that convinced the group to record it.”

In the three years after The Turtles recorded this, they had several other hits, but disbanded in 1970. Volman and Kaylan joined Frank Zappa And The Mothers Of Invention as “Phlorescent Leech and Eddie.” Seriously??? After a few years with Zappa, they started recording as Flo And Eddie. They wrote music for the animated movies Dirty Duck, Strawberry Shortcake and The Care Bears, and hosted their own nationally syndicated radio show. They also played on many famous songs by John Lennon, Roger McGuinn, Hoyt Axton, Alice Cooper, Blondie, Bruce Springsteen, The Psychedelic Furs (Again … seriously???), Sammy Hagar, Duran Duran, and The Ramones. In 1984, they went on their “Happy Together Tour” as The Turtles Featuring Flo And Eddie.

Happy Together
The Turtles

Imagine me and you, I do
I think about you day and night, it’s only right
To think about the girl you love and hold her tight
So happy together

If I should call you up, invest a dime
And you say you belong to me and ease my mind
Imagine how the world could be, so very fine
So happy together

I can’t see me lovin’ nobody but you
For all my life
When you’re with me, baby the skies’ll be blue
For all my life

Me and you and you and me
No matter how they toss the dice, it had to be
The only one for me is you, and you for me
So happy together

I can’t see me lovin’ nobody but you
For all my life
When you’re with me, baby the skies’ll be blue
For all my life

Me and you and you and me
No matter how they toss the dice, it had to be
The only one for me is you, and you for me
So happy together

Ba-ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba-ba
Ba-ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba-ba

Me and you and you and me
No matter how they toss the dice, it had to be
The only one for me is you, and you for me
So happy together

So happy together
How is the weather
So happy together
We’re happy together
So happy together
Happy together
So happy together
So happy together (ba-ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba-ba)

Songwriters: Alan Gordon / Garry Bonner
Happy Together lyrics © Round Hill Music Big Loud Songs, BMG Rights Management, Carlin America Inc

Call A Spade A … Bloody Shovel?

I had no intention of addressing this issue again, thought it was a no-brainer, thought everyone got the memo a few days ago and we could move on.  But, I keep hearing people either deny or defend the fact that Donald Trump is a racist.  As my friend Mary from the UK says, “Call a spade a bloody shovel!”  I’ve heard the “yeah, well, whadabout ___________________?” (fill in the blank with any of the 20 or so republican stock excuses).  I’ve heard that the democrats are just trying to discredit him, making a mountain out of a molehill.  I’m tired of having to re-visit this, but … it is important that everyone understand that this ‘man’ is a racist, since he is in a position of so much unchecked power.  He believes that he, because of his pale skin, because of his Caucasian ethnicity, is better than the rest of us who do not match him.  Largely because of this, he represents less than half of the people in this country, and as he recently said, the rest of us, if we don’t like it, can leave!

Okay, so in my inbox today was an OpEd in the New York Times by one of my favourite journalists, Nicholas Kristof, on this very topic, and I would like to share his words with you.

Trump Is Racist to the Bone

Trump’s hate is evident from his jawbones down to his thumbs and little toes.

nicholas-kristof-thumblargeBy Nicholas Kristof
Opinion Columnist

July 17, 2019

After instructing four women of color in the House of Representatives to “go back” where they came from, President Trump now claims, “I don’t have a Racist bone in my body!”

That appears incorrect. I have identified the following racist bones in Trump’s body:

Phalanges and metacarpals: These are bones of the fingers and hands that Trump has used to tweet tirades against black and brown people and to retweet Nazi sympathizers, including, twice, an account called @WhiteGenocideTM with a photo of the founder of the American Nazi Party.

Mandible and maxilla: These are the jawbones that Trump has used to denounce Mexican immigrants as “criminals, drug dealers, rapists,” not to mention to refuse to criticize the Ku Klux Klan.

Femurs, fibulas, tibias, metatarsals: These foot and leg bones carried Trump into his casinos, where black staff members would be rushed off the floor so he couldn’t see them, according to a former employee, Kip Brown.

Virtually every remaining bone was implicated in Trump’s early refusal to rent apartments in his buildings to blacks, leading the Nixon administration Justice Department (not exactly a pillar of liberalism) to sue him for housing discrimination in the 1970s. A former building superintendent working for Trump explained that any rent application from a black person was coded “C,” for “colored,” apparently so that the office would know to reject it.

“Racist” is an explosive term that should never be lightly flung as an epithet, and it is more likely to end a conversation than clarify it. For a single tweet or action there is a possibility of misunderstanding or ambiguity.

Yet for more than 45 years, since that housing discrimination, Trump has engaged in a consistent pattern of racist behavior and speech. His latest controversial tweets are not an aberration but a culmination. This isn’t a matter of a single tweet; it’s a lifetime with a narrative arc of bigotry.

America’s history is a tapestry of innumerable threads, many of them triumphant and inspiring that we should be deeply proud of, but Trump goes out of his way to weave together two of the most shameful strands.

One is the racism and nativism that go back to the 18th and 19th centuries, to the Philadelphia speaker who in 1844 denounced Irish immigrants as “scum unloaded on American wharves” and helped provoke anti-Catholic riots, to the waves of hysteria against African-Americans, Italians, Chinese, Jews, Japanese-Americans, Latinos and other immigrants. There is another strain of American hospitality highlighted by the Statue of Liberty and the admission of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese refugees beginning in the 1970s, but the nativism is real — it’s why Trump’s family, alarmed by anti-German bigotry, pretended to be Swedish.

The other thread that Trump pulls is more political: what we now call McCarthyism, although it, too, goes back to our nation’s earliest days. It vilifies opponents as enemies of the state.

More than two centuries ago, opponents of Thomas Jefferson warned that he was a Jacobin who if elected would unleash a French-style reign of terror upon America. As one commentator put it, “The Bible would be cast into a bonfire, our holy worship changed into a dance of Jacobin phrensy, our wives and daughters dishonored.” Senator Joseph McCarthy updated that in the 20th century with reckless accusations that leftists were Communists — and now Trump picks up that mantle by suggesting that his four progressive targets in Congress “might be” Communists, not to mention that they “hate our Country” and are “pro Al-Qaeda.”

I’m not sure whether this new McCarthyism is instinctive and unthinking, or these bilious rants represent a shrewd effort to manipulate voters into seeing the 2020 presidential campaign through the prism not of issues but of racial identity, in hopes of winning Trump an edge with white voters.

I do know that Trump has taken two of the most ignominious threads in American history — nativism and McCarthyism — and woven them together in an outburst that is an affront to democratic norms.

If anyone doubts that Trump’s statements were despicable, note that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission specifically bars employers from using “ethnic epithets, such as making fun of a person’s foreign accent or comments like, ‘Go back to where you came from.’”

Frankly, I’m even more troubled by Trump’s policies than by his tweets, and I wish the reaction to Trump focused more on practical initiatives to reduce child poverty, treat drug addiction or end mass incarceration. But the question put to Congress this week was a resolution properly condemning the presidential tirade. It was grotesque to see Republicans who had been mute at presidential bigotry suddenly protest that the backers of the resolution violated rules of decorum.

Really? We’re left again with the question: How can members of the party of Lincoln today protest the label of racism, but not the racism itself — in a man who for 45 years has shown himself to be a racist from his mandible to his metatarsals?


And lastly … another well-respected journalist speaks.  Typically, we expect a bit of humour from Don Lemon, but on this topic, he is dead serious.  If you want to skip the back-and-forth between Lemon and Chris Cuomo, fast forward to about the 5:17 mark and start there.  It is well worth watching.

And now, I hope the matter is laid to rest and that we can all agree to call a spade a bloody shovel, and to call Donald Trump by what he is: a racist extraordinaire.

Mandela Day …

I did not realize that today is Mandela Day, until I was skimming my e-mail late this afternoon and came across this one from the Obama Foundation …

Obama-foundation-logo

Hi Jill,

Ten years ago today, the world celebrated the first-ever Mandela Day, on Nelson Mandela’s 91st birthday. Mandela himself was honored, but he emphasized that the day should not be a holiday to recognize him, but a day devoted to service. “Our struggle for freedom and justice was a collective effort,” he said. “Mandela Day is no different.”

Now, ten years later, I’m asking you to take part in another collective effort—to dedicate your time toward improving your own community.Obama-MandelaNo gesture is too small; no act of service too modest. Whether you donate books to your local library, volunteer at a shelter, or commit to mentoring someone in your neighborhood, every action is a step toward building a more gracious, more generous world. That is the world Mandela himself sought to build.

Earlier this week, the Obama Foundation convened 200 of Africa’s best and brightest young leaders in Mandela’s home country of South Africa to help them sharpen their skills, share their hopes and ideas, and build a network that can help chart the future of the continent. But before they left our Leaders: Africa convening, they gathered together to volunteer at a nearby primary school.

They didn’t sign their names on murals or stand idly by, waiting for recognition—these leaders simply gave their time in service. It’s the kind of example that true leadership demands. And I can think of no one who better defines that spirit of leadership than Madiba himself.

So this Mandela Day, commit some time to making a difference in your community. But don’t do it for yourself or even just to recognize him; do it because it’ll make our world better.

Thanks,

Barack Obama

Mandela-1Nelson Mandela International Day aka Mandela Day, is an annual international day in honour of Nelson Mandela, celebrated each year on 18 July, Mandela’s birthday. The day was officially declared by the United Nations in November 2009, with the first UN Mandela Day held on 18 July 2010.

The Mandela Day campaign message, according to a statement issued on Mandela’s behalf is:

  • Nelson Mandela has fought for social justice for 67 years. We’re asking you to start with 67 minutes.
  • We would be honoured if such a day can serve to bring together people around the world to fight poverty and promote peace, reconciliation and cultural diversity.

A little bit about Nelson Mandela.

By the time of his death, within South Africa Mandela was widely considered both “the father of the nation” and “the founding father of democracy”.  Outside of South Africa, he was a global icon, with the scholar of South African studies Rita Barnard describing him as “one of the most revered figures of our time”.

When some attempted to portray Mandela as a modern-day messiah, his response was …

“I was not a messiah, but an ordinary man who had become a leader because of extraordinary circumstances.”

gandhi-king-mandelaHe is often cited alongside Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. as one of the 20th century’s exemplary anti-racist and anti-colonial leaders.  Mandela’s international fame had emerged during his incarceration in the 1980s, when he became the world’s most famous prisoner, a symbol of the anti-apartheid cause, and an icon for millions who embraced the ideal of human equality. In 1986, Mandela’s biographer characterized him as “the embodiment of the struggle for liberation” in South Africa.

Mandela generated controversy throughout his career as an activist and politician, having detractors on both the right and the radical left. During the 1980s, Mandela was widely labelled a terrorist by prominent political figures in the Western world for his embrace of political violence. According to the UK’s Margaret Thatcher, for instance, the ANC was “a typical terrorist organisation”. The US government’s State and Defense departments officially designated the African National Congress (ANC) as a terrorist organization, resulting in Mandela remaining on their terrorism watch-list until 2008.

In the words of South African historian/biographer Bill Freund …

“The significance of Mandela can be considered in two related ways. First, he has provided through his personal presence as a benign and honest conviction politician, skilled at exerting power but not obsessed with it to the point of view of excluding principles, a man who struggled to display respect to all … Second, in so doing he was able to be a hero and a symbol to an array of otherwise unlikely mates through his ability, like all brilliant nationalist politicians, to speak to very different audiences effectively at once.”

Mandela-2Like Gandhi, King, and a handful of others, Nelson Mandela left the world a little bit better place than he found it.  This is something few of us will achieve, but that we should all strive for.Mandela Day