Good People Doing Good Things — Seniors

golfBack in May, my ‘good people’ post featured kids doing good things.  This week, I decided it might be fun to go to the other end of the spectrum and look at seniors doing good things!   Some people retire and just enjoy life, travel, visit the grandkids, play that silly game with the tiny white ball.  But others almost start their lives over again when they retire, returning to school, starting an encore career, volunteering …

Today I am sharing just short pieces about several seniors who are making a difference, some small, others big, but they are giving of themselves.  They are indeed, good people doing good things …


I Like Being 98 …

old ladyEvelyn (no last name given) was 97 when her driver’s license was taken away from her for no other reason than her age. So, at age 98, she decided to get it back in order to fulfill a promise to a neighbor to get her to the grocery store once a week after their retirement community’s bus service was discontinued. “When you make a promise, it’s important for me to keep that promise if it’s possible. I’m on the earth, I’m here. If I can contribute, I should. Shouldn’t we all? And not just think of ourselves? I don’t have money to give, but I can give myself.”


The Sandwich Man …

Allan LawFormer middle school teacher Allan Law decided to turn his attention in retirement to helping the homeless population. He first came across hunger and homelessness as a middle school teacher in the inner city schools of Minneapolis, Minnesota. In his retirement, Law has spent every day of the last 12 years on the streets of Minneapolis. His small condominium is filled with freezers, and every night he leaves home at 8pm and returns around noon the next day after distributing some 600 – 700 sandwiches to homeless people, along with other essentials. He sleeps for 2 hours in his delivery vehicle while fielding emergency calls from people who need his help. Last year, he delivered 520,000 sandwiches. When asked why he does this, Law answers: “It just spreads; it’s like a good virus. If I was homeless and hungry and someone brought me a sandwich, I’d say ‘Thank you.’”


Sharing the nest egg …

Jeane Goforth poured her entire retirement savings into Scrollworks, an organization giving kids from all different socioeconomic levels and neighborhoods free music lessons and an opportunity to play together in an orchestra. She says, “I wanted to have a positive impact on the world. I don’t care about being famous. When I go, I don’t even care if people remember me, but I want to know that I did something to lift humanity up somehow.”


Estella’s Brilliant Bus …

Estella Pyfrom.jpgRetired teacher Estella Pyfrom knew she wasn’t ready to go on the back porch and rock in her retirement. She realized that some families were choosing between putting food on the table and computers/access to the internet. She knew that the computer access was key to the children’s ability to move up in life, so she and her husband sunk their life savings into Estella’s Brilliant Bus, a fully-equipped mobile tech center that brings computers to the kids eager to learn. Asked if she will ever stop, Estella laughs and says, “Heck to the no.”

Watch the first minute or so of this video … I promise you will fall in love with Estella!


And Then Came Shai …

Shai Rashef.jpgWith decades of employment under their belts, the senior population is uniquely qualified to start businesses in their areas of expertise. For educational entrepreneur Shai Reshef, that meant taking on the daunting task of educating the world– creating the world’s first tuition-free online, accredited university. Today, his online university enrolls students from 160 countries, bringing learning to some of the most remote and impoverished areas of the globe. Says Reshef, “People are willing to take from themselves and give to the world, give to students, give to us. I knew that there were good people out there–I just didn’t know how many.”

You can read more about Reshef and his University of the People (UoPeople) here.  There is also a Ted Talk given by Mr. Reshef 


Africa Bridge …

Barry ChildsBarry Childs left Tanzania, his childhood home, as a college-bound teenager, eager to prepare for a comfortable corporate career. When he returned 35 years later, the African country was vastly different. It was 1998. AIDS had orphaned an overwhelming number of children. Villagers were desperately poor. And for many, prospects for a better life were virtually nonexistent. During that visit, Childs decided he would leave his corporate career to help. In 2000, he created Africa Bridge. “The poverty in Tanzania is of an entirely different scale from what we know here. Someone in the U.S. earning the minimum wage makes roughly $70 a day, but the average income in rural Tanzania is 70 cents a day. There are well over 2 million orphaned children in a country of just 40 million people.”

Childs’ nonprofit has set up 28 income-generating farming cooperatives for caregivers in 16 villages and built classrooms and clinics for thousands of children. In 2009 alone, Africa Bridge implemented comprehensive care plans—covering housing, clothing and food, social and legal support and schooling—for 3,557 children.


Stop Blowing Up Your Backyard …

Bo WebbBo Webb retired to his ancestral home in the West Virginia mountains for the area’s stunning beauty. But he found that the majestic landscape was being blown to bits. Using government and industry statistics, Webb estimates that 3.5 million pounds of explosives are detonated daily in West Virginia for coal. Across Appalachia, he says, mountaintop removal—blasting mountaintops to expose coal—has destroyed at least 500 mountains and buried nearly 2,000 miles of streams.

The state’s economic dependency on coal is not lost on Webb, 61, but he says the people are paying dearly for it, sacrificing their air and water quality. So in 2004, Webb co-founded Mountain Justice, which uses grassroots organizing, public education, and nonviolent civil disobedience to abolish surface mining. As Webb puts it: “People need to realize there are other ways to make a living than blowing up your backyard.” Webb has drawn such notables as actress Daryl Hannah and environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to protests. He has brokered meetings between West Virginia’s governor and coalfield residents. He was instrumental in a successful effort to move an elementary school away from a coal processing plant. Without a background in community organizing, he has helped build a movement.


Aren’t all these people simply amazing?  Quite frankly, this is only about a fourth of the ones I found just in a few hours of searching and reading.  No rocking chairs and knitting needles for these folks!  A round of applause for all those good people over a certain age who are giving of themselves, and giving us hope and inspiration.

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The Awakening Begins …

A few days ago, in one of my posts about the events in Charlottesville last weekend, I mentioned my friend Bruce, a white, conservative, Christian minister who suddenly realized that the silence he, and others like him, had engaged in was part of the problem. I have, almost since the inception of this blog, and certainly since the arrival of Donald Trump on the political landscape, called for people to wake up to the fact that racism, bigotry in all forms, is still alive and well in this nation.  If Bruce is any example, I believe that awakening is finally beginning.

Although I am not religious, I acknowledge that religion can serve a purpose, can encourage people to strive to be better, to rise above the hatred in the world.  The church, whether Christian or other, has great power, and how the church leaders use that power is important, for too many have used it to promote hatred, rather than to speak out against it.

The events last weekend were horrific, tragic, and should never have happened.  But … if it has awakened people, if it leads to a change in how ministers, rabbis and the like talk to their congregations, then perhaps those who died did not do so in vain.  Below are Bruce’s latest words.  Please read them and be encouraged, for there must surely be other church leaders who feel the same.


“Why do I suddenly feel compelled to call out racism from among all the other evils in the world? Primarily because it is screaming in my face, mocking my silence up to now, and largely because this evil is so persistent in our country and even within the church.

Our country’s history with racism is no secret, but I suppose we can find some comfort in the fact that “it’s better now than it used to be,” or at least I thought so until recently. I am disgusted by the resurgence of racism, or maybe by the boldness of once closeted racists to pull themselves out of the darkness they were hiding in. If the goal were to deal with a vile ideology, it might be a simple (though not easy) matter of voting against racists in roles of authority until their influence becomes only annoyance from the fringe of society. Honestly, this may be the best we can achieve in the “land of the free,” though we may certainly hope for more and strive for more.

However, it is unacceptable for Christians to stand by silently while other “Christians” promote racism and use Scripture to endorse their views. While our American forefathers misunderstood it (or perhaps even ignored it), the Bible is abundantly clear that racism is not Christian. It is untenable for Christians to allow brothers in Christ to go unchallenged as they sing praises to God in a church service on Sunday, knowing that they were chanting “Blood and Soil” on Saturday. As James wrote in his letter, “My brothers, this should not be” (3:10, NIV).

In the church, we must strive for more, and I will strive for more. God, forgive me for my silence and for words and actions that may represent my anger and guilt more than your love.”

Well spoken, my friend … I hope that more will follow your example.

Bruce and those like him personify what religion should be about.  One Bruce is worth a thousand Franklin Grahams, for the Franklin Grahams of this world are guilty of promoting hate rather than love.  Perhaps this is a turning point.  We can only hope.

An Update … And A New Twist …

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Joe Arpaio

On July 2nd I wrote a post about the former Sheriff of Maricopa Country, Arizona, Joe Arpaio.  You may remember that he had lost his bid for re-election in 2016, after serving for 24 years, since 1993.  At the time of my last post, Arpaio was standing trial in federal court on charges of ‘criminal contempt of court’.

In December 2011, U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow ordered Arpaio’s office to halt detentions based on nothing more than suspicion that a person might be in violation of federal immigration law. Arpaio’s response?  “I’m still gonna do what I’m doing. I’m still gonna arrest illegal aliens.” And he did keep on doing what he had been:  racial profiling and inhumane treatment of prisoners, refusing to investigate sex crimes, and closing cases without investigation, to name a few.  I meant to write an update to that story when a decision was handed down by the court, but I got sidetracked and failed to do so.  I shall do so now, with another, new interesting twist.

On July 24th, United States District Judge Susan R. Bolton found Mr. Arpaio, age 85, guilty of criminal contempt of court, a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail. In her decision, Judge Bolton wrote, “Not only did Defendant abdicate responsibility, he announced to the world and to his subordinates that he was going to continue business as usual no matter who said otherwise.”

His lawyers, of course, immediately said they would appeal the verdict.  Some supporters of stricter immigration enforcement rallied behind Mr. Arpaio. Dan Stein, the president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, said the election of President Trump had vindicated Mr. Arpaio’s policies.

“Clearly Joe Arpaio won the war, even though he lost this particular battle. Like any good American citizen, he recognized his obligation and was willing to pay the price for a form of civil disobedience.”

At this point it bears remembering that Arpaio’s tent-city jail required prisoners to wear pink underwear and sleep in tents in the brutal Arizona heat. They were served only two meatless meals per day, often consisting of moldy bread, rotten fruit and other contaminated food.  Prisoners were frequently denied care for serious medical and mental health needs.  At one point, Arpaio made the statement that even if he had a billion dollars he wouldn’t change the way he runs his jails.  Now, this is the man who Mr. Stein claims “paid the price”.  No, the prisoners – Arpaio’s victims – paid the price for his racism and inhumanity. It was precisely this that earned Arpaio my Idiot of the Week award last October.

Which brings me to the present. With all the news about last weekend’s horrors in Charlottesville, this tidbit went largely unnoticed:

“President Trump told Fox News he is “seriously considering” issuing a pardon for former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio. Trump told the news outlet during a conversation in Bedminster, N.J., that the pardon could come quickly, perhaps in a matter of days.

“I might do it right away, maybe early this week. I am seriously thinking about it,” Trump said, according to Fox News. He said Arpaio was a “great American patriot” who had “done a lot in the fight against illegal immigration.”

“Is there anyone in local law enforcement who has done more to crack down on illegal immigration than Sheriff Joe?” Trump said, according to Fox News. “He has protected people from crimes and saved lives. He doesn’t deserve to be treated this way.” – Matt Zapotosky, The Washington Post, 14 August 2017

Arpaio told Fox News, “I would accept the pardon because I am 100 percent not guilty.”

I predicted in my last post about Arpaio that he would never serve a single day of prison time, even if found guilty.  My main reason for believing so at that time was primarily his age.  He is 85 years old, and I thought an appeal was likely, which could drag on for another year or two, and at that point I expected his attorneys to plead for leniency based on Arpaio’s age.  Never in my wildest dreams did I even consider a presidential pardon.

There can be no denying that Arpaio is a racist.  That much is obvious and he doesn’t even bother to deny it.  So … if Trump pardons Arpaio, what message do you think that sends to the very white supremacist groups who perpetuated the violence and death in Charlottesville last weekend?

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Walter Shaub

Remember Walter Shaub, former head of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) about whom I wrote last month  ?  He resigned his position because the Trump administration was making a sham of the word ‘ethics’ and Shaub felt that he was no longer able to do his job.  Today, Shaub posted a single tweet about Trump’s proposal to pardon Joe Arpaio …

“Scrambling to reassure the white supremacists and nazis that he didn’t really mean what he said to the “normies” today…”

Can anybody disagree?  I said to another fellow blogger earlier that I could picture Trump on the phone with Richard Spencer or David Duke after his speech, saying, “Don’t worry … I didn’t mean a word I said, but you know … my staff told me I had to say all that stuff or else we might have riots here in Washington … but I am in your court, so … no worries.”

Ladies and Gentlemen … the man who is occupying the White House, the man who refers to himself as “president”, is in bed with the worst bunch of people to be found in the United States.  Expect many more weekends like the past one.

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Where Were They???

In truth, I had no intention of writing again about Saturday’s horrific events for a few days yet.  I wanted to step back for a day or two … needed to step back for just a breather.  But, every news site I visit, international or domestic, Charlottesville IS the news.  And as I perused, almost against my will, page after page, two things drilled so heavily into my mind that … well, here I am again.

The first thing that is bothering me is, with all the violence, the hatred, the threats, injuries and deaths, why were so few of the white supremacists arrested?  Why are they not running their tin cups along the bars and dressed in prison orange tonight?  In addition to the driver of the car that crashed into a crowd of counter protestors, three of the white supremacists were arrested.  THREE!  Three whole people out of a crowd that numbered well into the hundreds, if not thousands!

James Alex Fields Jr., 20 years old, the driver of the car that plowed into the crowd, killing one and injuring 19 others, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder.  In addition to Fields, the other three arrests were:

  • Troy Dunigan, 21, of Chattanooga, Tennessee, was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.
  • Jacob L. Smith, 21, of Louisa, Virginia, was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault & battery.
  • James M. O’Brien, 44, of Gainesville, Florida, was arrested and charged with carrying a concealed handgun.

Last month, the KKK held a rally in Charlottesville where 23 people were arrested.  There were no injuries or deaths related to that event, yet 23 people were arrested.  Compared to three this past weekend.  What the Sam Heck were the police doing???

According to an article in The Washington Post …

“Anger over how the police responded came from all directions and intensified after the death of a woman struck by a car that plowed into a group of counterprotesters. Experts said police appeared outnumbered, ill-prepared and inexperienced.

At one point, police appeared to retreat and then watch the beatings before eventually moving in to end the free-for-all, make arrests and tend to the injured. Complicating the dynamics was the fact that several dozen groups of armed militias — men in full camouflage toting assault-style weapons — were in the middle of the crowds.

Cornel West, the Princeton professor and writer who attended a morning church service at First Baptist Church in Charlottesville with a large group of clergy members, said “the police didn’t do anything in terms of protecting the people of the community, the clergy.””

Another report said that when violence first broke out, police stood on side streets behind barricades, but made no attempt to stop the melee. Charlottesville Mayor Michael Signor spoke out, justifiably, against Donald Trump for his inadequate, milquetoast response to the tragic events on Saturday.  I support Mayor Signer 100% in this.  But, I would like to see the mayor looking into the question of why men toting assault rifles in the middle of the city, threatening and browbeating others, and beating people with sticks and shields, were not arrested.  I expected to awaken on Sunday morning to the news that the jail in Charlottesville was filled to overflowing.  WHAT HAPPENED??? We have a right to know why those who threaten our very lives are not in jail!

Enter the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and its head, Attorney General Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions.  Sessions talked the talk: “The violence and deaths in Charlottesville strike at the heart of American law and justice. When such actions arise from racial bigotry and hatred, they betray our core values and cannot be tolerated.” But will he walk the walk? I have doubts, as at this time, the investigation by the DOJ is limited to the homicide caused by James Fields.  A much broader investigation is needed, one that includes the white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups that caused the chaos of the weekend.

Granted it is early days yet, and the investigation could certainly be expanded in the coming days, but frankly I do not trust Mr. Sessions to do so, for it is a known fact that he, himself, was denied a judgeship during the Reagan administration based on his racist remarks and attitudes.

The other thing that struck me as I perused the news on Sunday was that the White House was busily making excuses for Trump’s lame, ineffectual response. Never before in my memory has a president and his entire administration been so out of tune with what the majority of the people in this country think, want and need.

The White House … and for the life of me, I wish they would stop with that, for I would like to know precisely who is saying what, and I am smart enough to realize that the White House itself cannot speak, so it was a person within the administration, but WHO???  The “White House” official defense was …

“The president said very strongly in his statement yesterday that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred. Of course that includes white supremacists, KKK, neo-Nazi and all extremist groups.”

I don’t want to hear the “White House” defend, justify or explain Trump’s remarks.  I want to hear from Trump exactly what he meant.  I want to hear Trump come out and call a spade a bloody shovel, call this act by its rightful names:  terrorism, racism, anti-Semitism and white supremacy.  I want to hear him say that he will do everything in his power to put down white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups.  I don’t care what Kellyanne Conway or Sarah Huckabee Sanders or some anonymous “White House spokesperson” has to say … I want it out of the horse’s mouth, and if the horse is too damn cowardly to speak out against the racists that put him into office, then I want an apology from him and I want him to admit that he is not capable of doing the job and step down.  Period.

Saturday’s events were horrific in and of themselves.  But they were compounded by a lack of law enforcement on the scene, and an almost uninterested response from the man who the white supremacists put into office last November. As I have said many times of late, I thought we were better than this.  Today, I realize that, while some of us ARE better than this, and it is unfair to judge all by the actions of a few … still, as a nation, the way we will be judged by other nations … we are not better than this.  Can we be someday?  I don’t know … that depends on the path the leadership and the people take.  I am encouraged by the voices, previously silent, that are speaking out against white supremacy, against hate.  But is it enough, when we do not have humanitarian and compassionate leadership?  I do not know.

The Bright Red Line

Fellow-blogger Erik Hare, writing as Barataria, has written a thoughtful, honest post about the lessons of history as they relate to last Saturday’s tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia. Please take a minute to read, as he has made his point far better than I could have. Thank you, Erik, for this post and permission to share.

Barataria - The work of Erik Hare

This weekend a line was crossed, a bright red line painted in the blood of over 400 thousand Americans who died to end the scourge of Nazism forever. Chanting “Blut und Broden”, or its easy translation, children with far more energy than sense attempted to define Americanism by what has been demonstrated and defined to be its exact opposite.

Like their apparent heroes, they are losers. But they having chosen the losing side of history for predictably bad reasons beyond a simple moral failure. Their inability to learn from history is a feature of a nation incapable of learning from history and thus in need to constantly redefine itself.

As much power as there is in constant redefinition, there is also a need for constant vigilance. History is calling us today. Millions of ghosts are watching us waiting for us to make the right decision.

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We Wish You A Jolly Monday …

yawn-3.jpgYAWN … sorry ‘bout that, folks … must have been all that wild partying over the weekend!  (Note that I may define ‘wild partying’ differently than most!)

Glad to see you all survived the weekend and are ready to tackle another week, starting with this bright, cheery Jolly Monday morning!  I think this Monday it may be even more important that we find some things to laugh about to start off the work-week on the right foot, so I tried extra hard to set the dial on my mind to “funny”.  So, grab a cuppa coffee, tea, or whatever you can find, and let us have a laugh, a chuckle, or at least a smile!


A great deal …

The single biggest monthly expense for most of us is housing – whether you own or rent.  Rental housing is particularly volatile in some areas.  For example, in the city of Amsterdam, there is a housing shortage which has driven rental prices sky high.  But consider this one …

Amsterday-apt.jpgThis one is a 35 sq metre (377 sq. ft.) apartment, boasting its own “private kitchen”, for a mere €1,100 ($1,300 USD) per month!  To put it into perspective, I have three times as much space and pay only $1,040 per month.  But that is not even the kicker here.  For there are just a couple of caveats:  cooking is strictly prohibited and no more than two people are allowed into the flat at any one time!  Now, I ask you … would you pay $1,300 per month for a home that is so tiny you have to step outside to turn around, and then not even be able to cook a meal?  And … what if you wish to invite your good friends Tom & Gina over for … well, you can’t invite them for a meal, but perhaps for drinks?  Nope.  Either Tom or Gina, but if they both come, then you must step outside, where at least you can turn around!  Perhaps you could talk to them through an open window?


An ancient jewel thief …

Doris Payne is 86 years old. Last month, poor Doris was arrested at a Wal-Mart in Chamblee, Georgia, for shoplifting.  Awwww …. poor Doris probably needed a bit of food, right? Well, perhaps so, but … when Doris was arrested, it was found that she was wearing an ankle monitor from a previous arrest for shoplifting. In fact, ‘poor’ Doris is known as a ‘serial shoplifter’, with crimes dating back to the 1950s when she was only in her 20s!

Doris-Payne.jpgPayne has served multiple jail terms for her crimes. She is thought to have stolen $2m in jewellery and was even profiled in a 2013 documentary titled The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne   .  She even has her own Wikipedia page. She is most noted as an international jewel thief and she had a winning tactic.  She would enter a jewelry store, posing as a well-to-do woman, typically looking for a diamond ring. Using her charm, she would engage the clerk, asking to see an assortment of items. Eventually, she would “cause the clerk to forget” just how many items were outside the case; and, at some point, she would leave with one or two pieces.

Her biggest heist ever is believed to have been stealing a 10-carat diamond ring, valued at $500,000, from Monte Carlo in the 1970s. But this latest was quite a comedown, as she stole only $86 worth of food and medical supplies.  Police say that in her sixty years as a jewel thief she has likely gotten away with more than she has been convicted of, so one might expect she would have sufficient funds for food, but perhaps she spent her ill-gotten gains on lawyers and bail!

Somehow, though, despite it all, I look at her picture and I cannot help feeling a little bit sorry for ol’ Doris.


Or was he pushed …

He was just doing his job – patrolling the streets of Washington, D.C., doing his part to ensure the public safety in a city that sees millions of tourists every year.  And then … he was no more … a step-accident left him drowned in a fountain.

robot.jpgThe article on the BBC’s website did not tell his name, so I am calling him “Steve” for the purpose of this article (after my friend Steve B.) because nobody should die alone, in a fountain, with no name.  Oh, did I happen to mention that Steve is a … robot?  You may have surmised that from the photo.  He is … was … one of several patrolling robots produced by Knightscope, a company that produces fully autonomous robots, used to monitor crimes in schools, businesses, and neighborhoods.

Steve’s cohorts have had accidents also, though not quite as deadly.  Last year, a 16-month-old toddler was run over by one of the autonomous devices in a Silicon Valley shopping center, and earlier this year, a Californian man was arrested after attacking a Knightscope robot. The man, who was drunk at the time of the incident, later said he wanted to “test” the machine. (The child, by the way, was running toward the robot and received only minor injuries, though she may grow up with a mistrust of robots!)

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Steve’s brothers and sister — awaiting the final word from the doc

I have to wonder, though … surely Steve had built-in safeguards to keep him from tumbling down the steps and into the fountain … it makes one wonder if, perhaps, foul play was involved?  R.I.P. Steve … you will be missed.


How many???

Any of my readers wear contact lenses?  I wanted to when I was in my 20s, but was told my eyes were “not round” and that they would not work well.  It’s probably just as well, as I tend to be careless and forgetful, so it likely would not have worked out well.  In fact, perhaps I would have ended up like the woman who went to Solihull Hospital in the UK for cataract surgery.  The opthamologist had previously noted a ‘bluish mass’ which turned out to be some 27 contact lenses fused together.  I will spare you the gory details, but once they were removed, the woman said her eyes felt much more comfortable.

eye.jpgNow, this leaves some things unanswered for me, like how the sam heck does one forget to take out the old before putting in the new … 27 times!!!  And … think about it … if I get a teesy-weensy speck of dust or makeup in my eye, it drives me crazy!  Wouldn’t one think that having 27 contact lenses in one eye would be well beyond “uncomfortable”?  I think perhaps this woman’s problems go deeper than her eyes …


A Smurf Village no more …

blue-village.jpgJúzcar, Spain, a bright blue cluster of buildings high in the Andalusian mountains. Delightful, yes?  Not only are the houses all Smurf-blue, but there are mushroom-capped public kiosks, and Smurf-impersonators meander through the streets.  You can even have a Smurf-themed wedding!  But sadly, every Smurf village must have its Gargamel, and Júzcar is no exception.

In 2011, as the movie The Smurfs was about to make its debut, Sony Pictures marketers approached the people of Júzcar and offered the village a deal.  The village could increase their tourism and put themselves on the map if they would allow Sony to paint all their houses, including churches and gravestones, Smurf-blue.  After a bit of thought, the villagers agreed, and after 4,200 liters of blue paint, the village looked like this …

But now, Gargamel … er, rather Pierre Culliford, the Smurf’s original creator, has ordered the village to remove all Smurf-related items and cease Smurfie activities, such as the weddings.  The village, which had 35% unemployment prior to 2011, had seen a surge of tourism … about 500%!  No word on what bee got into Mr. Culliford’s bonnet, as the village was already paying him 12% of their profits on Smurf-related revenue.  The village will remain blue, at least for the time being.

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And so, sadly, concludes our time … oh wait … I think I have something else … a short joke …

Judge: “Why did you steal the car?”

Man: “I had to get to work.”

Judge: “Why didn’t you take the bus?”

Man: “I don’t have a driver’s license for the bus.”

Just one more …

The Judge asks the defendant, “When is your birthday Mr McKenzie?“

-“February 20th, Your Honor.”

-“And what year?”

“Every year, Your Honor.”

Okay … now we really need to get busy … just look at the time!  Please, dear friends, keep safe this week and remember to smile and share your smile.  We all need to remember to care for one another these days and a smile is the simplest, most basic way of saying “I care”.  Love and hugs from me to you all!

*Note to readers:  In light of Saturday’s horrific tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia, I debated the appropriateness of doing my regular Jolly Monday post, but decided that we all needed a reason to step back and breathe for a minute.  I hope that humour at this time is not inappropriate or offensive.  In no way do I intend to diminish the seriousness of the event.  Please forgive me if I have offended anyone.

Monday-smiles

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This one is for Hugh and David!!!

Your Tax Dollars At Work …

It has been good enough for more than sixty years, since 1948.  It was good enough for the Bushes, Senior and Junior, it was good enough for Presidents Obama, Clinton, Ford, Nixon, Carter, Johnson, Reagan.  But it is not good enough for Donald Trump, who is used to his accommodations in Trump Towers where he has gold bathroom fixtures!

It is reported that a few weeks ago, Trump was at his golf club in New Jersey chatting with other members when he explained his reason for coming to the New Jersey club every weekend is that “the White House is a dump”.  He later denied having said it, and since I was not privy to the conversation, I cannot say for sure, but it was reported by several people, including staff members who were present, so I am inclined to believe he said it.

So, during Trump’s 17-day vacation, while we are paying for him to play golf and eat steak every night, the White House is undergoing a renovation.  To be fair, some of the repairs are necessary, such as repair of a leak in the ceiling, HVAC repairs, etc.  And those repairs were approved before Trump took office.  Other renovations, however, seem unnecessary and a bit frivolous in these troubled times, for example new carpeting throughout the West Wing.

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Empty Oval Office – 816.2 sq. ft.

The renovations will also include fresh landscaping and a granite curb … now, who needs a granite curb?  Isn’t concrete good enough?

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Workers installing granite curb

Apparently there has been a problem with house flies in the West Wing, and last month Business Insider reported that Trump called Reince Priebus to the Oval Office to kill a fly that was buzzing about. Flies … this is what happens when you fill a space with trash.

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So, you may wonder how much all this is costing us.  The renovations will amount to $3.4 million: $1.965 million for upgrading the HVAC systems, $1.17 million for carpet replacements. and a fresh coat of paint will amount to $275,000.  I hesitate to mention that my carpet is 19 years old, and my home has not been painted since then, either.  My home needs plumbing repairs, and my 25-year-old stove/oven is on its last legs.

Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters said the cost of the renovations is less than what the past three administrations have spent.  Perhaps, but consider the past three administrations’ costs were over a period of eight years each, not 7 months!  And if the past three administrations have each spent more than $3 million, should not the White House already be in pretty damn good condition?

Since the Trumps are not quite the personification of class, grace and dignity that the Obamas were, I had concerns that Trump’s idea of “Making the White House Great Again” might involve such tackiness as gold-plated fixtures, nude paintings, or hot-pink walls.  But my research reveals that any renovations must be approved by the Office of the Curator.

WH-renovation-2“The White House Office of the Curator is charged with the conservation and study of the collection of fine art, furniture and decorative objects used to furnish both the public and private rooms of the White House as an official residence and as an accredited historic house museum.” – Wikipedia

Phew!  That is a load off my mind, for in Trump Towers, Trump has a three-level penthouse  designed to look like the interior of Versailles, complete with gold and diamond accents, and miles of marble and hand-painted ceiling murals. Can we say “hedonistic”?  “Tacky”?

trump-tower-3trump-tower-2trump-tower-1

In my opinion, and mind you this is just my opinion, the thing that most needs to be replaced in the White House are its occupants.

WH-occupants.jpg

 

The Great Divide Just Got Wider

Today the Great Divide that exists in the United States, got even wider.  Today, in Charlottesville, Virginia, home of my alma mater, the University of Virginia, at least 3 people died and countless others were injured by a gang of thugs – white supremacists and neo-Nazis.

Who, What, When, Where, Why

Charlottesville-Kessler

Jason Kessler

A ‘man’ named Jason Kessler organized a rally in Charlottesville called ‘Unite the Right’, a rally that would include white supremacists, KKK members, white nationalists, and neo-Nazis to protest the removal of the Robert E. Lee Sculpture from Emancipation Park, a public park. People on both sides of the political aisle are divided on whether confederate monuments should be removed or allowed to stay in public squares and parks, but regardless of anyone’s opinion on that, this rally was wrong.  This rally was ostensibly about protesting the removal of the statue, but in reality, this rally was about nothing so much as hate.  Hate for those of us who are not white ‘Christians’.

The cast of characters was a veritable “Who’s Who” in the field of white supremacist hate, Richard Spencer and David Duke among them.  David Duke stated that the rally was intended to fulfill the “promises of Donald Trump”.

The rally was scheduled for noon, but by 11:00 a.m. there had already been so many outbreaks of uncontrolled violence that Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency and ordered hundreds of people out of the downtown park. “I am disgusted by the hatred, bigotry and violence these protesters have brought to our state over the past 24 hours,” McAuliffe said.

Counter protestors included members of the clergy, Black Lives Matter, and prominent Princeton professor Cornel West. Men in combat gear — some wearing bicycle and motorcycle helmets and carrying clubs and sticks and makeshift shields — fought each other in the downtown streets beginning on Friday night. Both sides sprayed each other with chemical irritants and plastic bottles were hurled through the air.

After police managed to clear the park, a large group of counter-protestors was moving up Fourth Street, near the mall, when a gray sports car came down the road and accelerated, mowing down several people and hurling at least two in the air. Details are not confirmed as of this writing, but it is said that the car plowed into the crowd, backed up and rammed forwards again at least once.

Charlottesville-car-bodies.jpgAt least one person was killed in this incident, and at least 19 injured.  The driver of the car was 20-year-old James Fields from Ohio.  I do not have many more details at this time, though I am certain more will be available in the coming days.  I do know that Fields was arrested on charges of second-degree murder.

Charlottesville.jpgThe reactions

Governor McAuliffe gave a press conference in the afternoon, saying “I have a message for all the white supremacists and Nazis who came into Charlottesville today. Our message is plain and simple: Go home. You are not wanted in this great commonwealth. Shame on you. You pretend that you’re patriots, but you are anything but a patriot. You came here today to hurt people. And you did hurt people. But my message is clear: We are stronger than you.”

“Let it only serve to unite Americans against this kind of vile bigotry.” – Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan

“The hate and bigotry witnessed in #Charlottesville does not reflect American values. I wholeheartedly oppose their actions.” – Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion… People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love… …For love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” – Nelson Mandela, quoted by President Barack Obama

“We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets [sic] come together as one! Am in Bedminster for meetings & press conference on V.A. & all that we have done, and are doing, to make it better-but Charlottesville sad!” – Donald Trump

In his later press conference, Trump said he condemned “in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence, on many sides,” repeating the last phrase twice.

Many, including this writer, felt Trump’s words were inadequate, that he should have voiced condemnation of white supremacy and its followers. Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said, “The violence, chaos, and apparent loss of life in Charlottesville is not the fault of ‘many sides.’ It is racists and white supremacists. lawmakers, including members of his own party.”

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden criticized the president’s remarks in even stronger terms, saying, “What happened in Charlottesville is domestic terrorism. The President’s words only serve to offer cover for heinous acts.”

“I would recommend you take a good look in the mirror & remember it was White Americans who put you in the presidency, not radical leftists.” – David Duke, former imperial wizard of the KKK

My take?  If the driver of the car that maliciously mowed down a crowd of people had been of Middle-Eastern descent, a Muslim, Donald Trump would have been screaming “TERRORISM!!!” at the top of his lungs, and shamelessly using this terrible tragedy to spread fear and justify his hateful Muslim ban.

I will likely address this in more depth at a later date, when more information is available, when the dust has had a chance to settle a bit, and when feelings are not so raw. In closing, I would like to share the reaction of my friend Bruce, a long time conservative republican Christian minister, and a genuine, decent human being:

“I’m a white, conservative, Christian American, and I denounce the hatred and racism demonstrated at UVA, as well as other previous expressions that I have, until this moment, been too timid to denounce. There is nothing “right” about it; it’s not Christian, nor is it conservative, and it is absolutely not American. To my Christian friends who want to “whitewash” this as simple free speech or as some kind of evidence of frustration at political correctness or the condition of our country: keep it to yourself, reread the Bible, repent, and, if necessary, unfriend me here.”

Well spoken, my friend … I am proud of you.

Tonight, our nation is more divided than it was this morning.  The causes for this will be picked apart, analyzed and reported on at great length in the coming days, but in this writer’s opinion, there is only one cause:  arrogance.  The arrogance of those who believe that somehow having pale skin, believing in the rules and rituals of the Christian doctrine, make them superior to the rest of us.

Tonight my heart breaks not only for the good people of Charlottesville, Virginia, but for each and every one of us who find ourselves living in this country that we no longer recognize.

Idiot Of The Week – Jeffrey Lord

Idiot of the Week medalAlthough idiots surround us, seem to be coming out of the woodwork and multiplying exponentially, I have not done an Idiot of the Week post since … well … since my last one!  And that was Wayne Allyn Root on 31 May.  So, I think it’s about time, don’t you?  And as often happens, one dropped right into my lap!  I became aware of Jeffrey Lord some time ago and realized he was an idiot, but did nothing to honour him for his idiocy.  But today, that all changes!  So please welcome this week’s Idiot of the Week, Jeffrey Lord.

Lord-1.jpgJeffrey Lord, 66 years old, is a political strategist in Pennsylvania, who served as an associate political director in the administration of former United States President Ronald Reagan. He has worked as a political commentator, contributing material to CNN, The Weekly Standard, The American Spectator, National Review Online, and other mostly right-wing conservative publications. He has appeared as a guest on numerous television and radio programs. He also works as a political consultant for Quantum Communications, a Harrisburg-based political strategy firm. Since 2015, he has been a regular commentator under contract to CNN.

And now let us take a brief look at just a few of the things that qualify Jeffrey for the award …

Certainly anyone who equates Donald Trump to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., deserves this award.  One Thursday in April, Lord made a remote appearance on CNN’s New Day show:

“Think of Donald Trump as the Martin Luther King of health care. When I was a kid, President Kennedy did not want to introduce the civil rights bill because he said it wasn’t popular and he didn’t have the votes for it, et cetera. Dr. King kept putting people in the streets in harm’s way to put the pressure on so the bill would be introduced.”

Democratic activist Symone Sanders was also on the program, and I loved her response:

“You do understand that Dr. King was marching for civil rights because people that looked like me were being beaten, dogs were being sicced on them, basic human rights were being withheld from these people merely because of the color of their skin. So let’s not equate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — humanitarian and Nobel Peace Prize winner—to the vagina-grabbing president, Donald Trump.”

In February 2015, Lord called upon the Republican Party to demand an apology from the Democratic Party for its role in promoting and defending slavery and creating the segregationist Jim Crow system:

“Will President Obama – the leader of the Democratic Party – formally apologize for his party’s role in slavery and Jim Crow? Will the Republicans now controlling both the House and Senate pass resolutions calling on the president to apologize for his party’s role in slavery and Jim Crow?”

In June 2015, Lord wrote an open letter to Debbie Wasserman Schultz, then-head of the U.S. Democratic Party, asking her to apologize for her party’s role in Indian removal, in promoting and defending slavery, in Confederate secession, and in creating segregationist Jim Crow regimes. (This guy wants everybody to apologize, doesn’t he?)

In March 2016, during Super Tuesday election night coverage on CNN, conservative commentator S. E. Cupp said she believed Trump had made to attract prejudiced voters because he had hesitated to disavow KKK member David Duke.  Lord responded that the KKK many decades earlier had supported Democrats and that the KKK was therefore left wing.

Lord-bookLord has also written a book published in January 2016 titled What America Needs: The Case for Trump. The plug on Amazon reads …

“In What America Needs, Lord makes a powerful case that Trump—often denigrated even by other Republicans as too outrageous for the White House—is actually exactly the president our country needs right now: one who will reverse the damages done during the Obama administration and do what it takes to make America great again.”

So, we see that Lord is not only an idiot, but one in serious need of psychiatric counseling.  But all of that simply leads up to his latest faux pas, one which has cost him his job. It happened during a back-and-forth “tweeter-sation” between Lord and Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters for America, a progressive media watchdog organization.  It took only two small words to earn him the proverbial axe:

Lord-sieg heil tweet.png

CNN’s response was swift:  “Nazi salutes are indefensible. Jeffrey Lord is no longer with the network.” *

Later, Lord defended himself, saying that he was mocking Media Matters, which he considers to be a fascist organization, and said he has ‘no regrets’ for his words. If there is any remaining doubt in your mind that Mr. Lord is an idiot, guess who came out in support of him after his firing?  None other than America’s #1 white supremacist, Steve Bannon, who called Jeffrey to cheer him up after he was fired.

Jeffrey Lord may not be the most idiotic of all the recipients of this award, but nonetheless, he is well-deserving of it.  The difference between him and past recipients such as Steve King, Ben Carson and Kellyanne Conway, is that he is an idiot whose message is more chilling, less humorous, than the others.  And although CNN has severed ties with him, he has numerous other venues for his brand of hate, as he is still a regular columnist for the American Spectator, a conservative online publication, and others.

And so, Mr. Jeffrey Lord, for your extremist views throughout the years, and your lack of filter for your mouth, and for being an overall jerk, I hereby award you the much-coveted Idiot of the Week award.  I’m sure you will find a good spot on your office wall to hang it. Congratulation!

*  The argument will be made that Lord’s words are protected by the first amendment, and that is true … he broke no law and will not suffer legal repercussions.  However CNN is within its rights to sever the relationship based on its journalistic, moral and humanitarian standards.

First Ever Saturday Surprise!

Welcome to the first Saturday Surprise, a new feature on Filosofa’s Word.  My initial intent is to make this an every Saturday feature, but quite honestly, it may begin as an every-other-Saturday feature.  Not for lack of ideas – my readers gave me bunches of great ideas.  But next Saturday, I will be on a 4-5 day hiatus to visit my friend Herb, and that may mean this gets off to a slower start than I had hoped.

In addition to all the ideas you guys submitted, I came up with a few of my own, and today’s post is a combination of one of mine, and one of yours.  Mine is a “This Day In History” and yours, as suggested by JB of Mr. Militant Negro fame, is “Music”, including video clips.  So, let us see just what I can do with this, shall we?

On This Day in History, in the year 1939, The Wizard of Oz movie musical premiered in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin.  Is there a person reading this post who has not seen The Wizard of Oz at least once?  Most of us have watched it numerous times.  The film, starring Judy Garland, was based on an American children’s novel written by author L. Frank Baum and illustrated by W. W. Denslow, first published on May 17, 1900.  The book was translated into at least 50 languages, although sometimes with modifications, such as the Indian editions where a horse replaced the Tin Woodsman.  Hmmmm …

Original book cover and title page

But lest you think it has been all smooth sailing for the wonderful wizard, the book has had its share of troubles:

  • In 1957, the director of Detroit’s libraries banned The Wonderful Wizard of Oz for having “no value” for children of his day, for supporting “negativism”, and for bringing children’s minds to a “cowardly level”. Say what???
  • In 1986, seven Fundamentalist Christian families in Tennessee opposed the novel’s inclusion in the public school syllabus and filed a lawsuit. They based their opposition to the novel on its depicting benevolent witches and promoting the belief that integral human attributes were “individually developed rather than God given”. One parent said, “I do not want my children seduced into godless supernaturalism”. Oh for Pete’s …

A few bits of movie trivia …

  • “Over the Rainbow” was nearly cut from the film; MGM felt that it made the Kansas sequence too long, as well as being too far over the heads of the children for whom it was intended. The studio also thought that it was degrading for Judy Garland to sing in a barnyard. A reprise of the song was cut: Dorothy sang it to remember Kansas while imprisoned in the Witch’s castle. Garland began to cry, along with the crew, because the song was so sad.
  • The Munchkins are portrayed by The Singer Midgets, named not for their musical abilities but for Leo Singer, their manager. The troupe came from Europe, many of them were Jewish and a number of them took advantage of the trip to stay in the US in order to escape the Nazis.
  • The Scarecrow face makeup that Ray Bolger wore consisted, in part, of a rubber prosthetic with a woven pattern to suggest burlap cloth. By the time the film was finished the prosthetic had left a pattern of lines on his face that took more than a year to vanish.
  • The horses in Emerald City palace were colored with Jell-O crystals. The relevant scenes had to be shot quickly, before the horses started to lick it off.

There is so much interesting trivia about this movie that I cannot cover even a tenth of it, but if you are interested in reading more, check out the IMDB site. 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip down memory lane, and I will be back next time with something totally different!  Have a great weekend, dear readers!