Tribal troubles

Ever since a few years ago when a reader informed me that the reason for racism in the U.S. … or anywhere, for that matter … was ‘tribalism’, I have despised that term. I consider myself to be a part of NO tribe, but rather an individual thinker who agrees with some things, disagrees with others. But, I am not a part of any tribe that seeks to put their own religion, ethnicity, skin colour, gender or gender identity, above others. To me, that is the height of stupidity and arrogance. Anyway, I found fellow blogger and author Kevin Brennan’s views on Amy Chua’s book about political tribes to be thought-provoking and interesting. You might, too!

WHAT THE HELL

By now it’s pretty obvious that our politics are marked in this era by rampant tribalism. That’s why I wanted to read Amy Chua’s important book, Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations.

Chua aptly identifies the tribalism that’s currently ripping America to shreds, though her conclusion that all we need to do is really talk to each other and really, like, listen, isn’t a viable option to my mind. When you have half the country denying that the ocean is full of saltwater, it’s hard to listen to those people and not break down in tears. They believe conspiracy theories that have zero chance of being true, but the bottom line is that believing these theories is the signal (to one another) that you’re in the Trump Tribe. It’s like a hand stamp that lets you back inside the disco.

Where this book comes through most…

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Snarky Snippets Are Baaaaack!

It’s been a while since I’ve done a snarky snippets post, though in truth almost all of my posts contain an element of snark!  Anyway … I have just a couple of short ones for you this afternoon …


Killing us softly with …

The big news yesterday was that the U.S. has seen a significant drop in life expectancy … the biggest decrease since WWII.  My first thought was … “Well duh.  625,000+ people dead in the U.S. from the pandemic – what do you expect?”  And certainly, the pandemic has played a role in the decline in life expectancy, but it isn’t the only culprit.  Turns out that the ever-expanding income disparity is one of the biggest culprits, and it has been bringing down life expectancy rates for a few years now, even before the pandemic.

During the second half of the 2010s, life expectancy fell on a sustained basis for the first time since the fighting of World War II killed several hundred thousand Americans.

It’s hard to imagine a more alarming sign of a society’s well-being than an inability to keep its citizens alive. While some of the reasons are mysterious, others are fairly clear. American society has become far more unequal than it used to be, and the recent increases in mortality are concentrated among working-class Americans, especially those without a four-year college degree.

For many, daily life lacks the structure, status and meaning that it once had, as the Princeton University economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton have explained. Many people feel less of a connection to an employer, a labor union, a church or community groups. They are less likely to be married. They are more likely to endure chronic pain and to report being unhappy.

These trends have led to a surge of “deaths of despair” (a phrase that Case and Deaton coined), from drugs, alcohol and suicide. Other health problems, including diabetes and strokes, have also surged among the working class. Notably, the class gaps in life expectancy seem to be starker in the U.S. than in most other rich countries.

Covid has also caused sharp increases in racial inequality. As a Times article on the new report explains:

From 2019 to 2020, Hispanic people experienced the greatest drop in life expectancy — three years — and Black Americans saw a decrease of 2.9 years. White Americans experienced the smallest decline, of 1.2 years.

Covid has also killed more men than women, Case and Deaton pointed out, increasing the mortality gap between the sexes, after years in which it had mostly been shrinking. Life expectancy was 5.7 years longer for women last year, up from 5.1 years in 2019. The gap had fallen to a low of 4.8 years in the early 2010s.

The bottom line: Covid has both worsened and exposed a crisis in health inequality. But that crisis existed before Covid and will continue to exist when the pandemic is over – if it ever is.


Spot on!!!

You all know my feelings on rich bastards wasting their money on not-so-cheap thrills like building a rocket ship and flying to the edge of space for no other reason that they can afford to do it.  The latest was Jeff Bezos, and frankly I’m so disgusted with this ‘man’ and his lack of compassion, lack of humility, that I am seriously considering canceling my Amazon account permanently.  Anyway … talk show host Gayle King got the best of him in my view yesterday when she spoke with Bezos on CBS This Morning and she asked him …

“All of you keep saying this is not a competition, and I find that so hard to believe because you’re all type A personalities. Don’t you want to be first? It really to you isn’t a game of whose is bigger? Honestly, it really isn’t?”

I nearly choked with laughter!  Penis-envy run amok!


Filiwhat?  Filiwho?  Filihow?

President Biden made an appearance here in Cincinnati, Ohio yesterday and at the end of the day he participated in a CNN Town Hall along with Don Lemon.  When asked about the filibuster and whether it should be killed off in the Senate, he was far less forceful than I would have liked.

“There’s no reason to protect it other than you’re going to throw the entire Congress into chaos and nothing will get done. Nothing at all will get done.”

WTF???  Nothing at all is getting done now!!!  The Senate Republicans have all but killed the For the People Act, the infrastructure bill, and anything else that might be on the table with their damned filibuster!  Joe did say he wouldn’t mind seeing it altered to the ways of yore, when senators actually had to stand on the floor of the Senate and expound for hours, but let’s face it … the Republicans have enough hot air in them to ramble and rant for days without coming up for air!


Moscow Mitch said WHAT???

You may have noticed that a number of Republicans have been urging people in this country to get the Covid vaccine this week … people like Mitch McConnell, Steve Scalise, and even Fox’ Sean Hannity.  I note we haven’t heard the positive take from the absolutely disgusting Tucker Carlson, but then he marches to the beat of a different drummer, so don’t hold your breath.

I’m not sure what triggered the Republicans’ sudden faux concern for people, but hopefully their constituents listen to them, for as long as we continue to have some 30% of the nation refusing to be vaccinated, we are NOT going to end the pandemic.  Period.  One of my favourite late-night comedians has a humorous take on the newly-discovered consciences that I think will give you a chuckle or two. This is, in my opinion, one of the best Colbert has done!

A Republican voter sent the following letter to the editor

We often make the mistake of categorizing people by their religion or political affiliation, and I’m as guilty as the next person. But our friend Keith has posted a letter to the editor that appeared in his local paper by a lifelong Republican, that makes so much sense, that shows us not every Republican is willing to follow their leaders off of a steep cliff. It is my hope that there are many more Republicans who feel this way and aren’t afraid to say so! Thank you, Keith, for sharing this!

musingsofanoldfart

The following letter by a “lifelong registered Republican voter” appeared in my newspaper’s Letters to the Editors. I agree with what is said by someone who is as disillusioned and concerned as I am about the direction of the Republican party. It was under a banner of “GOP Censorship.”

“I’m a lifelong registered Republican voter disturbed by the GOP’s elitist push for censorship. From the manufactured outrage over Critical Race Theory to tortured justifications for unconstitutional voter suppression legislation, Republican conservatives are showing themselves to be thin-skinned, intolerant and frankly ignorant about the basic ideas of what makes America great.

This reflexive obedience to elite authoritarianism by millions of Christian Republican conservatives didn’t start with the Trump administration. Sadly, it doesn’t look as it will end with it, either. The majority of patriotic Americans must stand vigil against this tide or repression and fear.”

I will leave his name off…

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Random Thoughts From A Bouncy Mind

Just a few thoughts from the bouncing mind inside my head …

I had to laugh when I read in a news aggregator that with both Senate and House back in chambers, we should prepare for what “… could be a frantic couple weeks of legislative action.”  Legislative action???  In today’s inert Senate???  Who do they think they’re kidding?  The most action we are likely to see from the United States Senate in the coming weeks are them posturing on various news shows and faux news shows to trash talk the other side.  If any meaningful legislation comes out of the Senate anytime soon, I will be in shock.

The Senate has been discussing the infrastructure bill for months now.  It is allegedly now a bi-partisan bill that the Republicans insisted be pared down from its original status, but even then, it doesn’t have enough Republican support to overcome the damn filibuster.  Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is trying to move things along and asking for a cloture vote on Wednesday, and the Republicans want to know what his big hurry is!  As I said, they’ve been playing tiddly winks with it for months … meanwhile, roadways, bridges, water and sewage facilities and more continue to deteriorate.  WHAT THE SAM HELL do the Republicans think they’re doing?  Nothing … that’s what they’re doing.  Not one damn thing.  Oh wait … they ARE still collecting their paychecks, so I suppose that qualifies as doing something.  That amounts to a minimum, by the way, of $6,692 twice monthly.  Do any of you make that kind of money for sitting on your patooties all day?  No, I didn’t think so, but you ARE paying these jerks!

Meanwhile, the For the People Act seems to have been all but forgotten … I haven’t heard mention of it from any member of Congress recently.  FOR THE PEOPLE!  Even its name should stir some tiny shred of conscience among our elected officials, but what are they doing?  Playing games … with our lives!  How many of them have appeared on Fox News in the past month?  They have time to go preen their ugly mugs, but not time to give serious consideration to a bill that would protect this nation from autocratic bigots!

I read last night about some of the arguments that lawyers are using to attempt to keep their clients who infiltrated the Capitol on January 6th out of prison.  Leave it to high-paid lawyers to twist words and infer motives.  One guy’s lawyer says he shouldn’t be found guilty because his mother says he has “an amazing work ethic” and that he bought clothes and shoes for the residents of a nursing home where he worked as a nurse’s aide.  Never mind, I guess, that he is a member of the radical militia group the Three Percenters, and never mind that he entered the Capitol on January 6th wielding a baseball bat and a noxious chemical spray.

Overall, the lawyers are blaming everyone except their clients, the people who perpetrated the crimes.  Among those they blame are the media, naivete, trauma, unemployment, the pandemic, Washington elites, and their clients’ childhoods.  Sorry, fellas, it doesn’t pass the smell test.  These were people old enough to know better, so forget all the excuses.  They did what they did despite knowing that it was illegal, that it was likely to result in injuries or death … as in fact it did.  In my book, every single person who entered the Capitol without just cause that day should serve a minimum of five years in prison, no exceptions.  Those whose violence ended in property destruction or injury to others should serve 20 years in prison, no quarter given.  End of story.  Make an example of them so that next time, people will think long and hard before participating in an insurrection.

Nicholas Kristof is one of my favourite New York Times columnists, and I have shared his work more than once here on Filosofa’s Word.  A Pulitzer Prize winner, Kristof has written an op-ed column about international human rights and the disenfranchised for the New York Times for two decades.  Rumour has it that Kristof is now considering running for governor of Oregon, his home state, to replace the current governor, Kate Brown, who will reach her term limit in 2022.  So far, it’s just a rumour, but rumours have a way of becoming reality.  Kristof has the right sentiments, but I’m not sure he has the right temperament for the job.  Politics is dirty business, but … hey, it would be good to see a man of conscience, a man with an actual functioning brain and heart, in a position of power.

Thumbs up to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for rejecting two of the five Republicans chosen by Kevin McCarthy to participate on the committee that will be investigating the events of, and those leading up to, the January 6th attack on Congress and the Capitol.  The two she rejected are Jim (aka Gym) Jordan from Ohio and Jim Banks from Indiana.  Both voted against certifying the election on January 6th, which in my mind is reason enough to keep them off of this committee.  I know more about Jordan than I do Banks, but Jordan is a real piece of work that I wouldn’t trust to clean up the dog poop from my yard, let alone trust with something this important.  There is no doubt in my mind that McCarthy’s purpose in selecting these two Jims was obstruction.  Personally, I’d like to see him choose Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney … republicans that have shown they have a conscience, that they put country before party.

Well, I think I’ve shared enough of the thoughts from my bouncy mind for now.  Have a great afternoon!

♫ Operator (That’s Not The Way It Feels)♫

I was beginning to think I would have to settle for a redux tonight, for every song that popped into my head was one I had already played here.  So, I pulled up a Jim Croce song I hadn’t played since 2018 and, as I typically do, went back through the comments on that post.  In the comments, our friend Keith had mentioned a couple of songs by Croce that … lo and behold … I hadn’t yet played!  This is one of them …

The story behind the song was inspired during Jim Croce’s military service, during which time he saw lines of soldiers waiting to use the outdoor phone on base, many of them calling their wives or girlfriends to see if their Dear John letter was true.  According to Jim’s wife, Ingrid …

Jim and I had gotten married in 1966, and we had been waiting for him to go in the service. He was a National Guard, which he had joined with the hope that he would not be sent over, and he would be able to continue his education and his music career. So he signed up for the National Guard, and just as soon as we decided to get married – in August of 1966, the week before our little wedding – he got a letter that said that he would be leaving within two weeks for his National Guard duty down in South or North Carolina, so he was leaving with a very heavy heart.

My dad had been very ill and shortly after that passed away. And we had just waited… wanted to get married and have some time to be together after all those years of waiting. All of the sudden here he is the National Guard, and Jim is not very good with authority. And he’s in the South, and they were not very good with making pasta. He was missing good food, he was missing me, he was missing life in general.

He’s one of the few guys I think who went through basic training twice… he really couldn’t follow the system. He’d always find things that were funny, like a handbook that he put together in dealing with the service with a whole bunch of quotes of how to deal with people in the Army.

But anyway, he was standing there in the rain at a payphone. And he was listening to these stories of all these guys, the ‘Dear John’ stories, that were standing in line waiting their turn in the rain with these green rain jackets over their heads – I can just picture it, all of them in line waiting for their 3-minute phone call. Most of them were getting on the phone and they were okay, but some of them were getting these ‘Dear John’ letters, or phone calls. I think that was the most important aspect of the song, because it was just so desperate. You know, ‘I only have a dime’ and ‘You can keep the dime’ because money was very scarce and very precious, and I think if you look at the words to the song there are so many aspects of our generation that are in it.

Jim Croce died in 1973, the year after this song was released, when the chartered plane in which he was a passenger crashed into a tree during takeoff from the Natchitoches Regional Airport in Natchitoches, Louisiana. In 2000, the Martin guitar company produced 73 guitars in honor of Jim Croce. In each of these guitars, an uncirculated 1973 dime was inserted in the third fret fingerboard in honor of this song and the final line, “You can keep the dime.”

This song only charted in Canada (#11) and the U.S. (#17) at the time of its release in 1972.  I found in some of my other Jim Croce postings that he wasn’t widely known outside of North America.  Still … I like this song.

Operator (That’s Not the Way It Feels)
Jim Croce

Operator, O could ya help me place this call?
See, the number on the matchbook is old and faded
She’s living in L.A.
With my best old ex-friend, Ray
Guy, she said she knew well and sometimes hated

But isn’t that the way they say it goes?
Well, let’s forget all that
And give me the number if you can find it
So I can call just to tell ’em I’m fine
And to show
I’ve overcome the blow
I’ve learned to take it well
I only wish my words could just convince myself
That it just wasn’t real
But that’s not the way it feels

Operator, O could ya help me place this call?
‘Cause I can’t read the number that you just gave me
There’s something in my eyes
You know it happens every time
I think about a love that I thought would save me

But isn’t that the way they say it goes?
Well, let’s forget all that
And give me the number if you can find it
So I can call just to tell ’em I’m fine
And to show
I’ve overcome the blow
I’ve learned to take it well
I only wish my words could just convince myself
That it just wasn’t real
But that’s not the way it feels
No, no, no, no
That’s not the way it feels

Operator, O let’s forget about this call
There’s no one there I really wanted to talk to
Thank you for your time
Ah, you’ve been so much more than kind
You can keep the dime

But isn’t that the way they say it goes?
Well, let’s forget all that
And give me the number if you can find it
So I can call just to tell ’em I’m fine
And to show
I’ve overcome the blow
I’ve learned to take it well
I only wish my words could just convince myself
That it just wasn’t real
But that’s not the way it feels

Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Croce James J
Operator (That’s Not the Way It Feels) lyrics © H&r Lastrada Music, R2m Publishing, Wingate-music Corp.

Good People Doing Good Things — Giving

If it’s Wednesday … wait … it is Wednesday, right?  Then it must be time for us to switch gears and focus on good people instead of the other kind I usually report on!  And, as luck would have it, I found some without having to turn over too many rocks!  Some times it isn’t about giving money or ‘things’, but about giving the most precious thing you have … yourself, your time.


One cool restauranteur

Josh Elchert is the owner/operator of Heavenly Pizza in Findlay, Ohio.  On July 5th, the crew at Heavenly Pizza filled 220 orders, nearly double its usual for a Monday, but at the end of the day, the restaurant had zero take.  Why?  Because Josh Elchert declared it to be Employee Appreciation Day and he divvied the entire take, every last penny, to his staff!  All $6,300, plus $1,200 in tips, went directly to employees.  Damn … I just want to hug this man!

He says people tend to think of pizza for the sauce, crust or cheese. But the most important ingredient is sometimes lost on people.

“You can have the best pizza in the world, if you have no one here to make it, it doesn’t matter.”

Elchert posted his plan on Facebook in hopes that his customers would get the message and come out to “show the love” … and they did!  Says one assistant manager …

“No, nope, nah, I’ve never experienced anything like this before. It’s a big gift. That kind of giving nature is why this place runs so well, works so well.”

My hat is off to Josh Elchert and since Findlay is only about a 2 hour drive from where I live, I might just venture up that way and visit Heavenly Pizza some Saturday and see if I can give Mr. Elchert that big hug!


And yet another restauranteur …

Eliot Middleton owns a restaurant in McClellanville, South Carolina – Village BBQ – an outdoor dining restaurant he started in response to the pandemic.  Now, Eliot is always looking around his community for ways to help others. He donated meals to essential workers and those affected by natural disasters, fed students and teachers for free, and handed out Thanksgiving groceries to the hungry.

“It’s all about sharing what you have. That’s what the world should be about. Helping people, that’s just what I like doing.”

But even that isn’t what earned him a spot here on this week’s good people post.  Eliot goes even further in his altruism.  After work and on his days off, Eliot repairs old cars … but not to drive or to sell … he repairs them to give away to struggling families in his community!

He learned how to fix cars as a teenager when his dad gave him two that needed major repairs as soon as he got his driver’s license. He was tasked with taking the good parts from both vehicles and creating one safe, reliable ride. He did it, and the project left him with a lifelong appreciation for auto repair. Eliot studied and worked as an auto mechanic for years after high school and knows his way around under the hood (bonnet).

He has collected about 90 donated cars, which he keeps at his home and at friends’ properties nearby. He has already refurbished 28 of them.  Eliot saw results from his labor of love right away. He donated the first car he fixed up to the mother of a child with a disability, as she needed a vehicle to go to the hospital regularly. The freedom that comes with transportation enabled her to finally get a job and make positive changes in her family’s life!

Since then, Eliot has started a nonprofit called Middleton’s Village To Village. Its mission is simple: “We repair donated cars to donate to families in need!”

A GoFundMe established to help him with the costs of the program has collected over $112,000 so far, and the initiative continues to gain momentum.


And then there’s Olga Murray …

More than thirty years ago, after retiring from her 37-year career as a lawyer with the California State Supreme Court, Olga Murray treated herself to a trip to Nepal in South Asia.  Little did she know that this would be a lifelong journey.

“The minute I landed I fell in love with the country. The children, they held my hand, they laughed. They were just so delightful, and they wanted to go to school. Most kids didn’t go to school then.”

While in Nepal, Murray realized that she needed to be there, with the children who touched her heart. She made a plan to help educate the children of Nepal, losing sight of her retirement.

She started the Nepal Youth Foundation, a nonprofit that combats poverty, builds schools, and rescues young girls who were forced into servitude.

“We were going to not be the great white saviors coming in and saving them from this destructive practice. But we would train them to save their sisters, to liberate their sisters.”

The Nepal Youth Foundation has built 72 hospitals. Over the past 30 years, 50,000 children have been a part of the service.  Today, Olga Murray is 96 years old and hasn’t slowed down one bit … nor does she intend to!

“I don’t think about stopping and, you know, as long as I have my marbles and I’m healthy, I’ll just continue to do that.”


And finally, I came across a couple of things last week over at Phil’s Phun that I thought would make a nice addition to our ‘good people’ …

Tears Of Shame … Yet Again

Over the past few weeks, we have read with horror about the discovery of unmarked graves at Canada’s boarding schools that housed indigenous children a century ago.  But guess what, folks?  We may well find the same here.  The U.S. does NOT have clean hands when it comes to the treatment of the original settlers in this land, the Native Americans.  The New York Times has presented a moving article that frankly brought tears to my eyes when I read it last night, so I have decided to share it with you, my friends.


Lost Lives, Lost Culture: The Forgotten History of Indigenous Boarding Schools

Thousands of Native American children attended U.S. boarding schools designed to “civilize the savage.” Many died. Many who lived are reclaiming their identity.

The last day Dzabahe remembers praying in the way of her ancestors was on the morning in the 1950s when she was taken to the boarding school.

At first light, she grabbed a small pouch and ran out into the desert to a spot facing the rising sun to sprinkle the taa dih’deen — or corn pollen — to the four directions, offering honor for the new day.

Within hours of arriving at the school, she was told not to speak her own Navajo language. The leather skirt her mother had sewn for her and the beaded moccasins were taken away and bundled in plastic, like garbage.

She was given a dress to wear and her long hair was cut — something that is taboo in Navajo culture. Before she was sent to the dormitory, one more thing was taken: her name.

“You have a belief system. You have a way of life you have already embraced,” said Bessie Smith, now 79, who continues to use the name given to her at the former boarding school in Arizona.

“And then it’s so casually taken away,” she said. “It’s like you are violated.”

Bessie Smith, 79, was forbidden from speaking her Navajo language once she began attending a federal boarding school and nearly forgot her native tongue. “It’s so casually taken away,” she said. “It’s like you are violated.”Credit…Sharon Chischilly for The New York Times

A memorial set up after the discovery of 215 unmarked graves at a former boarding school in British Columbia.Credit…Amber Bracken for The New York Times

The recent discoveries of unmarked graves at government-run schools for Indigenous children in Canada — 215 graves in British Columbia, 750 more in Saskatchewan — surfaced like a long-forgotten nightmare.

But for many Indigenous people in Canada and the United States, the nightmare was never forgotten. Instead the discoveries are a reminder of how many living Native Americans were products of an experiment in forcibly removing children from their families and culture.

Many of them are still struggling to make sense of who they were and who they are.

In the century and a half that the U.S. government ran boarding schools for Native Americans, hundreds of thousands of children were housed and educated in a network of institutions, created to “civilize the savage.” By the 1920s, one group estimates, nearly 83 percent of Native American school-age children were attending such schools.

Tolani Lake School children and staff in an undated photograph.Credit…National Archives

“When people do things to you when you’re growing up, it affects you spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally,” said Russell Box Sr., a member of the Southern Ute tribe who was 6 when he was sent to a boarding school in southwestern Colorado.

“We couldn’t speak our language, we couldn’t sing our prayer songs,” he said. “To this day, maybe that’s why I can’t sing.”

The discovery of the bodies in Canada led Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, the first Native American to head the department that once ran the boarding schools in the United States — and herself the granddaughter of people forced to attend them — to announce that the government would search the grounds of former facilities to identify the remains of children.

That many children died in the schools on this side of the border is not in question. Just last week, nine Lakota children who perished at the federal boarding school in Carlisle, Pa., were disinterred and buried in buffalo robes in a ceremony on a tribal reservation in South Dakota.

Many of the deaths of former students have been recorded in federal archives and newspaper death notices. Based on what those records indicate, the search for bodies of other students is already underway at two former schools in Colorado: Grand Junction Indian School in central Colorado, which closed in 1911, and the Fort Lewis Indian School, which closed in 1910 and reopened in Durango as Fort Lewis College.

“There were horrific things that happened at boarding schools,” said Tom Stritikus, the president of Fort Lewis College. “It’s important that we daylight that.”

A committee at Fort Lewis College in Colorado has begun investigating the institution’s past and is studying how to search its former campus for the possibility of the remains of children who died there.Credit…Sharon Chischilly for The New York Times

Fort Lewis Indian School, which closed 111 years ago, was dedicated to eradicating Native American culture. Now, on its former grounds, student are planting Native American crops.Credit…Sharon Chischilly for The New York Times

The idea of assimilating Native Americans through education dates back to the earliest history of the colonies.

In 1775, the Continental Congress passed a bill appropriating $500 for the education of Native American youth. By the late 1800s, the number of students in boarding schools had risen from a handful to 24,000, and the amount appropriated had soared to $2.6 million.

Throughout the decades that they were in existence, the schools were seen as both a cheaper and a more expedient way of dealing with the “Indian problem.”

Carl Schurz, the secretary of the interior in the late 1800s, argued that it cost close to $1 million to kill a Native American in warfare, versus just $1,200 to give his child eight years of schooling, according to the account of the historian David Wallace Adams in “Education for Extinction.” “A great general has said that the only good Indian is a dead one,” Capt. Richard H. Pratt, the founder of one of the first boarding schools, wrote in 1892. “In a sense I agree with the sentiment, but only in this: That all the Indian there is in the race should be dead. Kill the Indian in him and save the man.”

Students and staff at Fort Lewis Indian School circa 1900.Credit…Courtesy of the Center of Southwest Studies, Fort Lewis College

Those who survived the schools described violence as routine. As punishment, Norman Lopez was made to sit in the corner for hours at the Ute Vocational School in southwestern Colorado where he was sent around age 6. When he tried to get up, a teacher picked him up and slammed him against the wall, he said. Then the teacher picked him up a second time and threw him headfirst to the ground, he said.

“I thought that it was part of school,” said Mr. Lopez, now 78. “I didn’t think of it as abusive.”

A less violent incident marked him more, he said.

His grandfather taught him how to carve a flute out of the branch of a cedar. When the boy brought the flute to school, his teacher smashed it and threw it in the trash.

He grasped even then how special the cedar flute and his native music were. “That’s what God is. God speaks through air,” he said, of the music his grandfather taught him.

He said the lesson was clear, both in the need to comply and the need to resist.

“I had to keep quiet. There’s plenty where it came from. Tree’s not going to give up,” he said of the cedar. “I’m not going to give up.”

Decades later, Mr. Lopez has returned to the flute. He carves them and records in a homemade studio, set up in his home on the Ute Mountain Ute reservation in Towaoc, Colo.

Norman Lopez, 78, playing a flute outside of his home. He said a boarding school teacher in Colorado smashed his hand-carved flute and threw it in the trash.Credit…Sharon Chischilly for The New York Times

Russell Box Sr. spends his days at his home in Ignacio, Colo., painting images of Native American symbols and ceremonies he was told to forget at the boarding school he attended as a child.Credit…Sharon Chischilly for The New York Times

In the same boarding school, Mr. Box was punished so severely for speaking Ute that he refused to teach his children the language, in an effort to shield them the pain he endured, his ex-wife, Pearl E. Casias, said.

Years of alcoholism followed, he said. His marriage fell apart. It was not until middle age that he reached a fork in the road.

“I had been yearning in here,” he said, pointing to his heart. “My spirit had been yearning in here to stand in the lodge,” he said, referring to the medicine lodge that dancers enter during the annual Sundance, one of the most important ceremonies of the Ute people. “Then one day I said to myself, ‘Now I’m going to stand.’ And when I said that inside of me, there was a little flame.”

He went to the Sundance for the first time. He stopped drinking. This year, one of his daughters reached out to her mother, asking if she could teach her how to make beaded moccasins.

But for many, the wounds just do not heal.

Students and staff at Grand Junction Indian School in central Colorado in an undated photograph.Credit…Museums of Western Colorado

Jacqueline Frost, 60, was raised by her Ute aunt, a matron at the boarding school who embraced the system and became its enforcer.

Ms. Frost said she remembered the beatings. “I don’t know if it was a broom or a mop, I just remember the stick part, and my aunt swung it at me,” she said, adding: “There was belts. There was hangers. There was shoes. There was sticks, branches, wire.”

She, too, turned to alcohol. “Even though I’ve gone to so much counseling,” she said, “I still would always say, ‘Why am I like this? Why do I have this ugly feeling inside me?’”

By the turn of the century, a debate had erupted on whether it was better to “carry civilization to the Indian” by building schools on tribal land. In 1902, the government completed the construction of a boarding school on the Southern Ute reservation in Ignacio, Colo. — the school that Mr. Box and Mr. Lopez both attended.

The impact of the school, which was shuttered decades ago, can be summed up in two statistics: In the 1800s, when federal agents were trawling the reservation for children, they complained that there were almost no adults who spoke English. Today, about 30 people out of a tribe of fewer than 1,500 people — only 2 percent — speak the Ute language fluently, said Lindsay J. Box, a tribal spokeswoman. (Mr. Box is her uncle.)

“There were horrific things that happened at boarding schools,” said Tom Stritikus, the president of Fort Lewis College. “It’s important that we daylight that.”Credit…Sharon Chischilly for The New York Times

Jacqueline Frost, 60, holds a photo showing how she was forced to adopt the look and attire of a white girl. She said she was beaten by a Ute aunt who served as a matron at a federal boarding school designed to assimilate Native children.Credit…Sharon Chischilly for The New York Times

For decades, Ms. Smith barely spoke Navajo. She thought she had forgotten it, until years later at the hospital in Denver where she worked as director of patient admissions, a Navajo couple came in with their dying baby and the language came tumbling back, she said.

It marked a turn for her. She realized that the vocabulary she thought had been beaten out of her was still there. As she looked back, she recognized the small but meaningful ways in which she had resisted.

From her first day in the dormitory, she never again practiced the morning prayer to the four directions.

Unable to do it in physical form, she learned instead to do it internally: “I did it in my heart,” she said.

In her old age, she now makes jewelry using traditional elements, like “ghost beads” made from the dried berries of the juniper tree. When she started selling online, she chose the domain: www.dzabahe.com.

It is her birth name, the one that was taken from her at the boarding school, the one whose Navajo meaning endured: “woman who fights back.”

♫ Mr. Bojangles ♫ (Redux)

I realize that I only played this one in May of last year, so about 14 months ago, and I typically try not to redux a song I have played within the past year, but I’ll offer no apologies for this one tonight.  I am admittedly feeling low, feeling that not only the U.S., but much of the world is on a destructive trajectory and that humans are too self-focused to do anything about it.  My last shred of hope for the world seems to be turning to ash.  All evening, I have had this song in my head, and when I listened, watched Sammy Davis Jr., the man who I consider the ultimate entertainer …

At any rate … enough of my dourness!  When I played this song last year, my friend Jack from the UK informed me that Neil Diamond had also covered it, so in addition to my two original covers, I have added a third!  My favourite was and remains Sammy Davis Jr.’s though.

As a child, I was a fan of such musicians as Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis, Jr.  Because of my father’s work and contacts, I met people who most kids growing up in the 50s and 60s didn’t get to meet, and Sammy Davis was one such.  Having met him ‘up close and personal’ at around age 8 or 9, he was one of my favourites of the time.

Mr. Bojangles was the nickname used by Bill Robinson, a black tap dancer who appeared in many movies in the 1930s, including with Shirley Temple in Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. After Robinson’s success, many black street dancers became known as “Bojangles.”

This was written and originally released by the singer/songwriter Jerry Jeff Walker, who wrote the song in the mid-’60s and recorded it in 1968. Walker left his home in upstate New York and traveled the country playing music. He spent some time in New Orleans, where one day he was a bit tipsy and made a public display trying to convince a young lady that love at first sight was real. This landed him in jail, where his cell mate was an older black man who made a living as a street dancer and told Walker all about his life.

According to Walker …

“One of the guys in the cell jumped up and said, ‘Come on, Bojangles. Give us a little dance.’ ‘Bojangles’ wasn’t so much a name as a category of itinerant street entertainer known back as far as the previous century. The old man said, ‘Yes, Hell yes.’ He jumped up, and started clapping a rhythm, and he began to dance. I spent much of that long holiday weekend talking to the old man, hearing about the tough blows life had dealt him, telling him my own dreams.

And here it came, just sort of tumbling out, one straight shot down the length of that yellow pad. On a night when the rest of the country was listening to The Beatles, I was writing a 6/8 waltz about an old man and hope. It was a love song. In a lot of ways, Mr. Bojangles is a composite. He’s a little bit of several people I met for only moments of a passing life. He’s all those I met once and will never see again and will never forget.”

Sammy Davis, Jr. made this song a part of his stage shows and live performances for nearly two decades.  Mr. Davis’ version is not the one that hit the charts, but I include it here because … Mr. Davis is an entertainer in every sense of the word, and because … I like it, it brings back memories.

The version that charted, reaching #9 in the U.S. and #2 in Canada is the one by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, released in 1970, and I include that one as well. Listen to one, listen to both … whatever makes you smile today.  The lyrics are slightly different between versions, so I am including the lyrics only for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band version.

Mr. Bojangles
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

I knew a man Bojangles and he danced for you
In worn out shoes
Silver hair, a ragged shirt and baggy pants
The old soft shoe

He jumped so high
He jumped so high
Then he’d lightly touched down

Mr Bojangles
Mr Bojangles
Mr Bojangles
Dance

I met him in a cell in New Orleans I was
Down and out
He looked to me to be the eyes of age
As he spoke right out

He talked of life
He talked of life
He lightly slapped his leg instead

He said the name Bojangles and he danced a lick
Across the cell
He grabbed his pants for a better stance
He jumped so high
He clicked his heels

He let go a laugh
He let go a laugh
Shook back his clothes all around

Mr Bojangles
Mr Bojangles
Mr Bojangles
Dance

We danced for those at minstrel shows and county fairs
Throughout the south
We spoke in tears of fifteen years
How his dog and him
They travelled about

His dog up and died
He up and died
After twenty years he still grieves

They said I dance now at every chance and honky tonks
For drinks and tips
But most the time I spend behind these county bars
Cause I drinks a bit

He shook his head and as he shook his head
I heard someone ask please

Mr Bojangles
Mr Bojangles
Mr Bojangles
Dance

Mr Bojangles
Mr Bojangles
Mr Bojangles

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Jerry Jeff Walker
Mr. Bojangles lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner Chappell Music, Inc

What A Tragic Waste!!!

I’ve made no secret of my feelings about millionaires and billionaires who hoard their wealth rather than using it to help people in need.  I’ve also made no secret of my feelings about space travel in this, the 21st century, but in case you missed it, I think it is a complete and total waste of resources.  Combine the two, and you have a very pissed off Filosofa!  Every night, thousands of children around the world go to bed hungry.  Every day, people are dying of diseases that could have been prevented, if only they had access to affordable healthcare.  People are living in their cars, under overpasses on highways.  Some people are working 2-3 jobs just to ensure their children have enough to eat.  And this nation spends millions, billions to play Buzz Lightyear.  NASA’s budget for 2021 is $23.3 billion!  Imagine how many people could eat for a month for that amount of money.

I am equally galled, perhaps even more so, by private citizens playing Star Wars with their billions, rather than using their good fortune to help those less fortunate.  And yes, folks, it is simply good fortune.  No, hard work did not earn those billionaires their billions … most of them were born with silver spoons in their mouths, played their cards right and invested wisely, and now they … literally … own the damn world!  And even if they had slaved in the fields from sunup to sundown to earn their wealth, it is unconscionable to throw it away on ego trips when people ‘round the globe are starving.

I am referring, of course specifically to three people — Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, Richard Branson, an uber-wealthy businessman, and Elon Musk, founder of Tesla … three men whose combined wealth could raise the entire planet out of poverty and who have made their wealth from the blood, sweat and tears of the average Joe!  But rather than use their wealth for such things as helping improve the environment, helping people out of poverty, helping provide medical care in this era of the pandemic, they prefer to build toys and play with them.  What is accomplished by their trip to space?  Not. One. Damned. Thing.

Turns out, I am not alone in my disgust, as several others have similar complaints.

I also saw at least one comment claiming that these men were doing ‘great’ things and opening new frontiers for the human race.  Excuse me, folks, but humans will never life on other planets or in outer space.  Oh sure, they may waste billions more dollars developing controlled-environments in small spaces, but that’s not living.  No other planet besides Earth has the resources … little things like breathable air, potable water, arable soil … to support life as we know it, so all the space exploration is NOT going to provide us a second option when we complete the destruction of Planet Earth!  It is a waste of time, energy, and money … resources that could be used to end hunger, eradicate most diseases, and help repair the damage we have so selfishly done to our environment.  Damn Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk.  These are NOT good men, you will never see them on one of my ‘good people’ posts!

A View From North Of The Border

Last week I did a post based on Charles M. Blow’s column titled “Welcome to Jim Crow 2.0” about the history of racism in this nation and how, with the current wave of voter suppression laws targeting mainly Blacks, this nation seems to have made a U-turn and is heading back to the days of slavery, of segregation, of “separate but equal”, of “sit in the back of the bus”, of racist horror.

My post inspired our friend rawgod, a Canadian, to not only share my post, but to share his views from a Canadian perspective.  Y’know … I have often said that those who live outside the U.S. can often see our situation more clearly than we ourselves do, and … well, rawgod’s post gives voice to my claim, I think, as well of giving us some insight into racism in his own country.  Please give his words some consideration … think about it …

THE HISTORY OF SYSTEMIC RACISM — WHAT WE ARE NOT TAUGHT IN CANADIAN SCHOOLS

When I was a K-12 student in Canada in the 50s and 60s, I was taught a lot of American history, along with a lot of British history, and a good smattering of world history. Our educators told us we had one of the best history curriculums in the world. And we believed those educators. Certainly we learned more about Americans than they learned about Canadians. What we did not know, what our educators never told us, is that what we were learning was White American history, indeed, White World history. While some mention was made of slavery, and the struggle of the Negro to gain equality, it was bare basics. Everything we were taught glorified America, and was intended to make us look up to Americans. I hate to admit it, being a person of colour in Canada, red, I had no idea how badly White Americans treated Black Americans. At that time there was no mention of people of other colours. While we were told there were brown and yellow people in the world, we were never taught much about them except as they interacted with White Canada, and White America and White Europe, especially White Britain. There were Black and Asian Canadians where I grew up in Winnipeg, but we learned little about them, other than that they were now Canadians, and so worthy of our respect and acceptance. In schools we were not taught to hate. What we were taught at home will not be discussed here at this time. Suffice it to say, we were taught it did not matter what colour people were, we were all equal, at least in theory.

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