Wattree on Mandela: Homeward Bound
Richard Day: Cold in Minnesota, and in the Hearts of Men
Ramona On Martin Bashir
We live in interesting times, but everyone seems to be watching TV. Actors Andy Griffith and Ernest Borgnine recently died. Each man proved himself in serious roles, Griffith in A Face in the Crowd and Borgnine in Marty, but they were far better known for long-running comedic roles on television. Don Grady died, too. He was only 68, and was known for playing Robbie on My Three Sons, but apparently he was a serious and devoted musician.
I wonder how many of us will be better-known for our long-running comedic lives?
With bike share programs blooming, and so many people biking to work and even enjoying it, articles about automobiles vs cyclists vs pedestrians abound right now. The basic problem is that people are just about as law-abiding on bikes as they are in cars or on foot, and the foolhardy ones get all the attention. In the comment sections are the usual crude threats against cyclists by territorial drivers. I just defriended someone after reading that sort of comment on Facebook. [Read more]
Anderson Cooper’s sexual preference has never been much of a secret, but his coming out to Andrew Sullivan and the world in a touching e-mail truly resonates. Everyone's experience on this planet is different, and no where is that more true than in the LGBT community. Just because “Ellen” and “Will & Grace” were on television doesn’t mean it is easy for many to come out of the closet, and it doesn’t mean that people are rushing to assure that the LGBT community has the same rights as straight people. And it doesn’t mean that violence against the LGBT community has abated. [Read more]
I spent most of Memorial Day weekend, all but the day itself, at my spouse's college reunion. It was a lovely weekend among pleasant people on a delightful campus. My spouse went to an extremely famous college very much like the one I went to. In fact, our old schools are traditional rivals, which means that they resemble each other so deeply and thoroughly that they need football to create the illusion that there's any difference.
While the Trayvon Martin case slowly unfolds in Florida, supporters of shooter George Zimmerman feel compelled to play up any sort of black-on-white violence to prove that it's all good. On local Baltimore TV, over the last month or so, we've seen endless replays of a white man getting punched to the ground by a group of black people at supposedly safe Inner Harbor.
Last week, Republican Delegate Patrick McDonough, whose district includes parts of Baltimore County and Harford County, but not Baltimore City, issued a press release, "Black Youth Mobs Terrorize Baltimore on Holidays." Claiming that state investments were at risk, he called for Gov. Martin O'Malley to declare the Inner Harbor a "no-travel zone." Despite accusations of racism, McDonough now has called for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to resign because she is soft on black-on-white street violence. It's all red meat for his district.
For conservative website WorldNetDaily, Colin Flaherty author of “White Girl Bleed a Lot: The Return of Racial Violence to America and How The Media Ignore It,” writes Call for crackdown on black-on-white terror. Yeah, terror. [Read more]
As I watched that hideous video showing Pastor Charles Worley's recent headline-grabbing rants about penning gays and lesbians inside miles-long electrified corrals until they die, I couldn't help but notice his surroundings. (Okay, go and watch it if you haven't seen it. But then come back and we'll talk.)
He preaches his particular style of self-righteous, good ol' boy hate from the pulpit of the Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, NC. This is not a store-front or a rustic, backwoods building, it's a beautiful traditional church, obviously designed and built with the prospect of honoring the Christian God. [Read more]
Based on an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll (right), the Guardian announces, Occupy Wall Street's people power loses popularity:
... the public's backing of Occupy has taken a hit. Nationally, most pollsters have not even bothered to survey Americans on their views of Occupy since the end of the Zuccotti Park sit-in. The only pollster who has reasonably consistently asked about Occupy has seen a decline in its support. The NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that the percentage of Americans who consider themselves a "supporter" of the Occupy movement has dropped by half since November.
I read this last week, and wondered, who of course, could be more impartial about Occupy Wall Street than the WSJ's pollsters? And who, I wonder are they asking? [Read more]
So, I started blogging about Thomas Friedman's rah-rah piece about how Online. Education. Is about! To Change!!! EVERYTHING!1!!! But I've been slowed down by designing an actual online class, and by various things that tend not to slow Tom Friedman down, such as complexity, plausibility, and actual knowledge of the topic. I don't think online education is a glorious revolution in the making, as Friedman does, and I don't think it's a hopeless case either. I can't tell you the simple, clear story that Friedman can, because I know too much to actually believe one.
The big news yesterday -- no, the HUGE news -- was President Obama's interview with ABC's Robin Roberts, set up specifically so that he could air his own personal views about gay people being able to marry their same-sex partners: After much soul-searching and a couple of decades of "evolving", he was finally ready to say out loud that he's all for it.
He did go on to say that it should be left to the states to decide their own policies concerning the legalities of such unions, but the die was cast; the mold was formed: A sitting president took a positive public stand, albeit a personal one, on the issue of gay marriage.
So, Naomi Schaefer Riley has been fired from blogging at The Chronicle of Higher Education. Since I recently called the blog post that got her fired stupid and racist, I'm not sorry about her firing. I also pointed out that the kind of "anti-reverse-racism" racism that her post traffics in has become the refuge of losers and whiners making excuses for their failure.
I found these three posts interesting, and rather than fill up the news section, I decided to put them here:
Since the Civil War, the American South has mostly been a one-party region. However, by the turn of the 21st century, its political affiliation had actually swung from the Democrats to the Republicans. Here’s how it happened.
It is not an oversimplification to say that slavery was the single most important issue leading to the Civil War. For not only was slavery the most important on its own merits, but none of the other relevant issues, such as expansion into the western territories or states’ rights, would have mattered much at all if not for their indelible connection to slavery.
Initially, Northerners rallied around the issue of Free Soil: opposition to slavery on economic grounds. Small farmers and new industrial workers did not want to compete with large slave plantations and unpaid slave labor. This was the philosophy that bound together the new Republican Party.
So, on Monday, the conservative journalist Naomi Schaefer Riley, who specializes in attacking academics, wrote a Chronicle of Higher Education blog post which she titled: [Read more]
Today is May First, or May Day. It's the day when workers around the world traditionally rally to show solidarity and support for one another. It's the real Labor Day. While our own Labor Day has become a holiday, a day of picnics and celebration, May Day is and always will be an international day of protest--a reminder of worker rights and worker dignity in a world gone mad with greed.
Labor in America is under siege, like nothing we've seen in this country since the 1930s. Whatever wage scales and rights and protections had been fought for and won over the years have slowly eroded away in this new bizarre and reckless version of take-over capitalism.
Yesterday there was a rally in front of the 22nd District Court in Inkster, Michigan, where foreclosure proceedings were being held. The protesters were there to help save the home of Jerome Jackson, a paraplegic who moved into his wheelchair-accessible home in 2004 with the assistance of Community Living Services, a county-funded program that provided help with his mortgage payments. When CLS dropped Jackson's funding in 2009, he fell behind on his payments and Fannie Mae eventually bought his mortgage at a foreclosure auction. He was a man without a home, but he stayed put, hoping they could work it out and the house might someday be his again.
George Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder in the killing of Trayvon Martin. Since everyone agrees that Zimmerman shot an unarmed seventeen-year-old dead, this seems like a pretty reasonable move. If you kill someone with a handgun, especially someone who didn't have a weapon, you should probably expect to be arrested and tried.
Of course, Zimmerman may have a defense, and his lawyers will now have a chance to mount that defense. So it's good news all the way around. Those who complain that Zimmerman is "being tried in the media" should be happy that he will now be tried in court, and we can be done with all the hearsay and speculation. If Zimmerman was genuinely in reasonable fear for his life, he has a chance to establish the facts and end the argument. But I suspect that getting a day in court will not suffice for Zimmerman's supporters. [Read more]
We were driving past the new location of East Coast Gun Sales a few weeks ago, and I told my wife I had been planning to check out the new store. They had been advertising their move to a larger location, with added facilities like a gun range, for over a year. I was thinking it would be interesting to fire off a few rounds with different caliber weapons and see what it felt like. "They went out of business," she said. She didn't know why.
According to the Altoona Mirror, back in 2007, East Coast's owner James Faith, and Michael Kurty, a police officer and firearms instructor, had been demonstrating a rebuilt mini-Gatling gun during a social event at a sportsmen's club. I'm not sure if this was before or after the chicken Kiev. The Gatling had an electrically-powered magazine, which soon jammed. So Faith unplugged the magazine, while Kurty, the firearms instructor, helpfully stood right in the path of the barrel. Because with no electricity, how could a weapon filled with bullets—which contain gunpowder—possibly fire? [Read more]
Among all the discussion of the Trayvon Martin case, at least two pundits felt compelled to remind us that how we dress does have an effect on how others perceive us. Chez Pazienza got hammered by his readers, while Scott Adams readers tended to agree with him. I'll leave you to guess between the two quotes below: [Read more]
Geraldo inadvertently created a controversy by stating the obvious: Our choice of clothes can influence how people treat us. That's a view that every living human agrees upon. Most of us act upon that belief once or twice a day. When I get dressed, the first two questions I ask myself are 1) "Who is going to see me?" and 2) "What do I want them to think of me?" You probably do the same thing.
But the way you choose to dress or otherwise adorn yourself is exactly that -- a choice. Your choice. And while in a perfect world no one would draw immediate conclusions about you based on your personal style, news flash: We don't live in a perfect world, and ignoring or defiantly thumbing your nose at the fact that there may be certain unintended consequences to the image you choose to project is both irresponsible and thick-headed.
I don't think there is anyone who hasn't been affected in some way by Florida teenager Trayvon Martin's death in February at the hands of a neighborhood watch man who thought he saw a threat in the tall black teenager wearing a dark hooded jacket. The story is almost too terrible for words.
I am white and my children are white. At the same time that I'm grieving with Trayvon's family, trying yet again to come to terms with the needless death of an innocent child, I recognize that I can't possibly grasp what it must feel like to know their precious son would likely still be alive if only he hadn't been black.
Whenever an unarmed black person gets shot to death, the way Trayvon Martin was, you'll hear some people defend the shooter by claiming that the shooting wasn't racist, and how dare you judge what's in the shooter's heart? The shooter would have killed any unarmed person for walking down the street in a sweatshirt, or walking down the street with a wallet, or performing whatever "suspicious" everyday activity prompted the homicide. The defense is that the killer is not a racist, but a universal menace to society. This is supposed to be reassuring somehow. It's a thoroughly illogical defense. It even suggests that no matter what the person making the argument says, and no matter what they tell themselves, they know in their hearts that racism was the motive for the violence. In fact, their own sense of safety is based on their rock-bottom belief that the killing was racist. [Read more]
Baltimore's rally for Trayvon Martin started with a lot of energy and promise. An enthusiastic crowd on both sides of Pratt Street was cheering for passing drivers that honked in solidarity. I'm not sure who planned the march, but the Southern Christian Leadership Council, All Peoples Congress and Occupy 4 Jobs were present. I saw two serious looking people, one black man and one white woman, with small, grey bullhorns. They initiated a few call and respond chants - "No Justice! No Peace!" - "What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!" - "A people, united, will never be defeated." [Read more]
During the week between the Indian Wells and Key Biscayne Masters tournaments, the Tennis Channel showed their Greatest 100 Players of all time show. Rankings seem to be partially based on stats and partially on perception. For example, #13 John McEnroe is ranked higher than #18 Ivan Lendl, who was more durable and has one more major title than Mac. I think Mac at his best was slightly better than Lendl, but I also think Serena Williams at her best was better than Steffi Graf or Martina Navratilova. Yet Graf and Navratilova were ranked #3 and #4, while Serena was far behind at #12.
I already knew a little something about many of the players, but I learned that #51 Doris Hart won a career Grand Slam and six majors in singles, and twenty-nine major titles in doubles with a right leg that was impaired by childhood osteomyelitis. Even one side of her face looked impaired in the videos, though I don't see it in the still photo.