Thursday, November 30, 2006

Thirteen Favorite Christmas Solos

.. a little late.

Unfamiliar with some of these? I've found a few online files of varying quality:
Some Children See Him
O Little Town of Bethlehem (English melody)
Sweet Little Jesus Boy
O Holy Night
O Come, O Come Emmanuel
I Wonder as I Wander
What Child Is This
Away in a Manger
Do You Hear What I Hear?
The Friendly Beasts
Birthday of a King
Angels We Have Heard on High
and, of course, Silent Night

Saturday Note: Tonight Sheila and attended the Christmas Concert of the Rome Symphony Orchestra. Dr. Brian Nedvin, a wonderful tenor and professor art Shorter College was the guest soloist. So now I can add three of his solos to this list: Selections from "Messiah", "Gesu Bambino", and "Ave Maria". I have sung "Gesu" several times myself -- I'm surprized I didn't think of it when I was making my list.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

The Philadelphia "School of the Future"

The School of the Present
Is Failing
And Technology Is Not The Solution

I’ve been reading about the “School of the Future,” a 9-12 public high school that opened just this fall in a brand new, especially designed $63 million structure in Philadelphia. Microsoft partnered with Philadelphia City Schools to help design and outfit the building. And it is beautiful. The school is full of the latest technology; it is a paperless, broadband island; each student is assigned his or her own laptop computer. The school is designed to be small; it will add a new freshman class each year, reaching its maximum size of 750 students within four years.

I’ve read several funny blog comments from writers who are obviously scornful of Microsoft. These comments speculate what this school might look like -- if it models the inadequacies and glitches associated with Microsoft products.

As I read it, the school will be evaluated on the basis of the same test score results used to evaluate all Philadelphia city schools. Wow. It seems safe to predict that the graduates of this new school will knock the socks off these test, and will make scores far superior to the scores made in other Philadelphia city high schools. Here are at least four reasons why high tests scores by students in this new school is a safe prediction:
  1. There is great competition to be a student in this school -- 170 freshman students were chosen by lottery from the group of 1500 students who applied.
  2. There is competition to be a teacher in this school -- teachers from all Philadelphia City Schools were encouraged to apply.
  3. The success of this school is of great importance to many individuals in power positions in Philadelphia.
  4. The school provides a safe, modern, beautiful, physical environment.
This school is certain to be praised as a success and Microsoft, I imagine, will want to take credit and will want to make the claim that, “See, the success of schools depends on making heavy investments in technology and software.” But, compared to the power of these four foundational aspects of the school listed above, the fact that this school emphasizes the use of technology is insignificant.

Usually, high scoring schools are found in prosperous and exclusive communities. Philadelphia, in creating this new high school, has created a prosperous and exclusive island in its dysfunctional city school system, and, on this island an exclusive group of teachers and students are being provided a wonderful opportunity. Of course the test scores of students in this high school will be astronomical -- compared with test scores made by students in other Philadelphia high schools. But, high test scores are not enough -- not to evaluate the school of the future. After all, there are many schools, schools of the present, where students make high test scores. This new school, it seems to me, should have a higher and better defined aim than high test scores.

The “School of the Future” is a great title -- worthy of much contemplation. What in the world should such a title mean? What will the schools of the future be? I guess what schools will become will depend on what society itself becomes. If we are all living in some version of a North Korean totalitarian nightmare, then our schools will be included in that nightmare. If we are living within a Star Trek society, along with enlightened beings like Mr. Spock, then our schools will reflect that society as well. The theory is that schools, through educating the youth, can help advance society towards its ideals and goals. For that reason, totalitarian societies have always placed great value in forming and training youth, in preparing youth to assume the jobs and responsibilities of their society. Totalitarian schools are schools that anticipate the future -- that implant values, attitudes in today’s children that the state seeks, generally, to implant in society as a whole -- because totalitarian states know that it is the youth who will build the future.

An American school of the future, it seems to me, would be one that anticipates a future where American ideals are realized: liberty, justice, personal freedom, democratic participation, civic awareness. The advocates of the Philadelphia school seem to say that school is all about preparing students for employment, all about giving students the skills and experience needed to benefit from the advantages of this technological age. But that is not enough. North Korean leaders want this from their schools as well. And they want more. Americans should want more from their schools as well. Job training has its place but, by itself, job training does not advance the ideals at the foundation of our society. When we see how the foundations of our democracy are crumbling, it is fair to hold our schools accountable, and the fact whether students are passing tests or not is beside the point.

Our high schools in general -- and this new Philadelphia high school seems no exception -- are hierarchical, authoritarian, coercive and bureaucratic. It is the school itself, through its practices and ethos, that teaches, and, structured as they are, this “hidden curriculum” of our high schools teaches values inimical to the ideals at the foundation of our society. The operation of our high schools, in general, would not contradict the operating principles of North Korean society. Our schools at present fail to anticipate or prepare a future, through their operations and practice, that honors American ideals and values. And this failure, though seldom acknowledged, is the central failure of American schools -- not the failure indicated on tests.

It appears to me that Philadelphia’s new school, rather than finding a fresh view of what a school is, rather than finding more effective ways to inspire and prepare students for democratic participation, has stuck with a very conventional view of school and school purpose -- one that emphasizes test scores and college entrance. I want to do more research to see if this impression is correct and to see exactly what happens, over time, in this school. But it appears that in Philadelphia the take on the school of the future is that the school of the future is basically the school of the present with better technology. And the problem is that the school of the present is failing -- yes, even those schools that are islands of privilege with tons of technology -- and this failure, as stated above, has little to do with grades or college admissions.

So, in my judgement, what Philadelphia is offering as a school of the future is not enough. A school of the future is one that will give hope that those beings of the future, today's children, will sustain, refresh and enliven those core values upon which our democracy depends. So far as I can tell, fulfilling such a school purpose has not been part of the Philadelphia school design.

There is a huge need for American public education to be redesigned; there is a huge need for a school design that would implement, through its practices and ethos, American ideals, a school that would anticipate a flowering of democracy. Such a school would not be designed based on technology, but would be designed based on sound theory and profound insight into school purpose, human purpose, and human potential -- and based on profound understandings of the ideals we hold as a democratic society, and how these ideals can be modeled and celebrated in our schools.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Specialization is for insects.

The meme I completed a couple of days ago reminded me of one of my favorite quotes:
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
- Robert Heinlein (his character Lazarus Long in Time Enough For Love)
I've always wanted to be a "Renaissance" man. Let's see how I rate on Heinlein's Humanity Test.

change a diaper - yep.
plan an invasion
- only on board games and with my friends capturimg a series of overthrow mound "forts" in the woods at about age 10-12.
butcher a hog - I watched it done, that's challenge enough. My little friend thought it was great sport to press the bladder with his foot to watch the resulting spray! Yuk!
conn a ship - several canoes and rafts and a fishimg boat with a 5hp outboard are my largest ships.
design a building - I spent a portion of my childhood doing this - I was going to be an architect up until I hit algebra. And I've done a little of it as a grown-up.
write a sonnet - my favorite may be the one I wrote as a plea to be transferred from a certain teachers English class in high school.
balance accounts - yep.
build a wall - several, I wrote about one such project here. (The first poem on the page.)
set a bone - nope.
comfort the dying - yes
take orders - sometimes reluctantly
give orders - yep.
cooperate - yep.
act alone - yep.
solve equations - yep.
analyze a new problem - yep.
pitch manure - yep, several truckloads, literally and figuratively.
program a computer - yep.
cook a tasty meal - yep, if I do say so myself.
fight efficiently - I'm not sure about the efficiency, and never literally in my adult life.
die gallantly - only on stage, so far. Come to think of it my most notable death on stage was a figurative one and anything but gallant. But then to think again, I gallantly resisted cursing and running from the stage.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Tom Daschle for President?

Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle was asked recently about the Bush fall from grace. He responded:
Someone told me early in my career: ‘If you want to get elected, learn to speak. If you want to stay elected, learn to listen.’ ”

Cold Flute is keeping a close watch on prospective Democratic Presidential candidates. Tom Daschle, an articulate, thoughtful, soft-spoken Midwesterner defeated Senator, would be an unusual choice for the nomination. But then a fellow named Lincoln once got the Republican nod with a much less successful Washington career.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

What in the World have you done?

I found this meme on my third sister's (The Median Sib) site. She got it from my fifth sister's (Blue Star Chronicles) site. (I wonder if there are two other sisters who write separate blogs that rank in the top 100 on Truth Laid Bear's blog-ranking system?)

Copy and paste the list below. Highlight the things you have done. And delete my green comments, of course.

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain (Nothing to rival Rudi Matt or Sir Hillary, but I've done some rock-climbing and some hiking in the Appallachians and in Montana.)
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said “I love you” and meant it. (I've never said it when I didn't mean it.)
09. Hugged a tree (Yep, I'm a self-confessed treehugger.)
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea (Ok, I was on shore: the storm was at sea.)
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise. (I have pics of my favorite sunrise - August 9, 1971. Another favorite was August 4, 1983 when Cotton Franklin helped me ready, at dawn, the upstairs I had been preparing for the carpet guys when Sheila called me down to time contractions.)
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game (The hugest were soccer games my girls were involved in.)
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables (Not often enough.)
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars (In Kentucky, West Virginia, and Georgia.)
20. Changed a baby’s diaper (And it was never a chore when the baby in question was mine.)
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower (With my kids lying on our backs on the levee.)
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity (On the other hand, could I afford not to?)
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope (Fourth Grade Star Night is one of my favorite nights of the school year.)
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment (When I was 12 or so and the other preacher's kid hit sour notes in her solo. My Dad was very angry with me.)
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger (It did not work out well.)
30. Had a snowball fight (I can feel the frostbite in my memory, now!)
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse (The circular dapples under the oaks on Cedar Avenue gradually became crescents!)
34. Ridden a roller coaster (Only once did I upchuck afterward.)
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking (On a river cruise in Chattanooga with Sheila.)
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day (You didn't say consecutive 24 hours. When I played Tevye in Fiddler I adopted a Russian accent for probably a full day altogether - rehearsals & performances.)
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment (Actually most of the time.)
39. Had two hard drives for your computer (Almost always.)
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk (Yuk!)
42. Had amazing friends (You know who you are!)
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign (The "Flush It" sign from the bathroom at church camp. Pretty rotten, huh?!!)
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road-trip (Most of my trips have been on roads?)
48. Gone rock climbing (I can feel the vertigo that shook my legs and terrorized my heart.)
49. Midnight walk on the beach (Especially August 8/9, 1971.)
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow (I've also been squirted with milk directly from the source.)
56. Alphabetized your CDs (We called them LPs.)
57. Pretended to be a superhero (Is there anyone who hasn't?)
58. Sung karaoke (I've done whole karaoke concerts.)
59. Lounged around in bed all day (Or practically, anyway.)
60. Played touch football (It's been a few decades.)
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain (... and other atmospheric conditions.)
63. Played in the mud (Is there anyone who hasn't?)
64. Played in the rain (I remember running around in the pouring rain under the trees of the Semicircle at Asbury Collge with some close friends. We paused to "make a memory" as we closed out our careers there. )
65. Gone to a drive-in theater (I am ashamed to admit that one time I arrived in the trunk of the car!)
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business (Twice. Ouch! Ouch!)
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken (The girl is nuts, thank goodness.)
69. Toured ancient sites (The Snake Mound in Ohio, Fort Mountain and Etowah Mounds and Ocmulgee Mounds and lots of Mississippian fish weirs in Georgia.)
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie (Working on a short now.)
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an “expert” (Interviewed about a play on local cable TV is the best I can do.)
83. Got flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage My second favorite place to be.
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Kissed on the first date (More than once!)
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently (I know a little Ameslan. I sing songs in Swahili, Italian, Spanish, German, and French: does that count? Pig Latin?)
95. Performed in Rocky Horror
96. Raised children (The two greatest of all time.)
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour (On a few hours notice, caught a train with Sheila to see Arlo and Pete in a Smithsonian tribute to Woody.
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication ("Large" is such a subjective term.)
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Touched a stingray
110. Broken someone’s heart (Bruised two or three a little, at least.)
111. Helped an animal give birth (If spoken encouragement and petting counts.)
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery (Any surgery is "major" in the first person.)

120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school
131. Parasailed
132. Touched a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey
135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (Only fish.)
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office (I ran for the state legislature and lost. But I was elected to the state committee several times in the Democratic primary. I'm gonna count that.)
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream (On the stage several times... and of course there's August 8, 1971 (and January 1, 1971, and January 23, 1971), and also August 4, 1983 and July 27, 1988, among innumerable others.)
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident (At least twice!! Ouch, ouch, again!!)
150. Saved someone’s life (I won't count saving my Median Sib from a vicious Black Widow spider when I was 6 -- though I took that very seriously at the time!)

I promise I'll write a serious post again soon!

Friday Feast!

My Median Sib had this little meme on her site, so, what the heck, here goes:

Have you ever changed a flat tire by yourself?
Yes, more often than I like to remember.
Soup: Do you have an “innie” or an “outie” belly button?

Innie (Minnie, miny moe).
Salad: Name a new paint color and describe it.
Katydid - a cheerful spring green
Main Course: What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Standing in our church's Nativity Scene on Christmas Eve. I have done that for the last 23 years in a row and several times between 1962 and 1983. It is great after the commercial hubbub of the "Xmas season" of the world to spend thirty minutes standing in awe as wonderful music fills my soul and I contemplate a young mother and father in a stable with their child and appreciate the Love the world at large virtually ignores.
Dessert: If you were a cookie, what kind of cookie would you be, and why?
Something with chunks of nuts, caramel, and chocolate and hot Snickerdoodle coffee to sip as I eat it on Christmas Eve.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanks, But Sweet Potato Soufflé Is Not My Favorite

Of course my Thankfulness is boundless this fourth Thursday of November, and my list of official Thanks is very similar to a thousand others posted today:

The Official List

  1. For Sheila
  2. For Brannon
  3. For Lillian
  4. For Mama
  5. For Daddy and the others who have gone before us.
  6. For my brother and my five sisters
  7. For a job I love and that pays the bills
  8. For a warm bed and a comfortable home
  9. For my country and its Bill of Rights
  10. For a warm, affirming, church family
  11. For the fourth chapter of First John
  12. For loyal friends
  13. For song
But a more interesting list might be:

The Other List

  1. For toilet paper (What percentage of humans in history have had such a luxury?)
  2. And while we're at it, for indoor flush toilets. (I have walked a path at night, indoor flush is preferable.)
  3. For opposable thumbs (Without them, no Lord of the Rings or 23rd Psalm... or Sweet Potato Soufflé, for that matter.)
  4. For persistence of vision (OK, this theory has been debunked, but I'm thankful for persistence of conciousness or whatever it is about us that allows us to perceive the present and connect it to the past and even envision a future.)
  5. For iPod (All my music in a package smaller than a cigarette pack, for heavens sake!)
  6. For ice cream (Only we twentieth and twenty-first century folks get to eat this delicacy regularly, though Dolley Madison served it at James' inauguration. I'll bet James never had a dish of Jamocha Almond Fudge or Moose Tracks.)
  7. For the world's most elegant computer, the iMac.
  8. For all of the events major and minor, incidental and purposeful, of history from the beginning of time that resulted in the coincidence of sperm and egg that produced me. (Selfish, I know, but basic.)
  9. For sex. (Where did the Lord come up with that idea?!)
  10. For Thomas Edison (and Henry Ford, Steve Wozniak, and all those other guys) who came up with ways to make me more enlightened (after a fashion) than the great Kings, Philosophers, Heroes, and Conquerors of the past.
  11. For the wonderful interaction of a mixture of gases with the flora and fauna and soil and copious amounts of liquid water and sunlight on our beautiful blue marble that allows this grand but isolated oasis to support me and mine.
  12. For family days and dinners with Mama's Yeast Rolls, spiral-sliced ham and a huge turkey, mashed potatoes and Mama's Wonderful Dressing, Carol's Famous Apple Pie, Mama's Marinated Carrots, and, yes my friends, Sweet Potato Soufflé. Yes, I said, Sweet Potato Soufflé. That's Sweet Potato Soufflé. And Southern Pecan Pie. And delicious Banana Pudding. (Do think Mary Winkler would like Sweet Potato Souffle? Or Crawford Loritts? Do Sunnis, Shites, and Kurds eat Sweet Potato Souffle? Is this dish the attraction to all those illegal Mexican immigrants? Will a huge fence from the mouth of the Rio Grande to the Pacific keep out those determined to have Sweet Potato Souffle? Can I sink any lower in my quest for Sitemeter hits? As I've said, I don't even like Sweet Potato Souffle, and I'm tired of reading about Mary Winkler, bless her heart! And what, after all, does the best Scrabble play ever recorded add up to? Scrabble's "Don Larsen" is Michael Cresta, a carpenter.)
  13. For the wonderful laughter that follows lines like these:
"...cows have many."
"...there goes a chicken!'
"...boom, boom!"

Thanksgiving Edition

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Daddy's Roses: Back in Bloom!

My sister, Joan of Daddy's Roses, has been offline since September 11. Today she posts a thoughtful Thanksgiving for thirteen blessings of her life. Check it out.

While you are at it:

My sister, Carol of The Median Sib, writes about our wonderful shared Thanksgiving of 1986.

My sister, Beth of Blue Star Chronicles, writes about our Uncle (and Jane Ann's Daddy) Tom.
(You can check out Cousin Jane Ann's own post about her daddy here.)

Unfortunately, my brother and two other sisters do not post their lives on blogs.

Our mother, Ruth of Ruthlace, has written several posts of reminiscences and sermons lately. Here is one called "What Do You Say? Say 'Thank You'"

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A Year on The Limb

November 23rd will mark my first anniversary out on this limb. To celebrate I append the first few lines of the post nearest the 23rd of each month since then. If you would like to read more of any of these check to the right for the archive of that month.

November 23, 2005

Odd Man Out

What I write below is very serious and important to me. I promise that all my blogs will not be political in nature, but I love my country and cannot ignore issues like those I discuss below. If this bothers you, my blog may not be for you....

December 23, 2005

Christmas Memories
A preliminary Top Ten
-- until the one's I'm stupidly forgetting come to mind.

10. Receiving (or giving) the girdle from the Phantom in Milstead.

9. The first Christmas that I got to stay up with the big folks to prepare Christmas for the little folks....

January 23, 2006

35 Years Ago Today

On January 23, 1971, beside a tiny stream splashing down the side of
Fort Mountain through huge pines, I asked Sheila Ann Matthews to marry me.

February 23, 2006

Thirteen Great Posts

A hodgepodge of blogs and other web posts that I have found interesting, inspiring, enlightening, or otherwise extraordinary. Check 'em out.

1. The Questing Parson Visits A Pianist.

2. Leonard Pitts On The Frightened Right

3. Ben Witherington On Trading Rights For Security

March 22, 2006

Welcome to the Limb, Mike Bock!

The Limb is a little less lonely today: Mike Bock, a kindred spirit and friend since our college days, has agreed to be a regular guest writer.

April 22, 2006

A Disastrous Presidency

S.W. Anderson of
Oh!pinion, responding to Donkey Path and John Dean, remembers George W. Bush from 2002 as I do:

"I remember so well, in 2002 when Bush was out day after day hard-selling his plan to invade Iraq. ...”

May 20, 2006

Graduation Day!

June 25, 2006

Potential Democratic Presidents

Let's Pick a Good'un!!

Cold Flute has occasionally blogged about our prospective Presidential candidates. We should all be paying close attention to these folks and beginning the process of choosing the one who can best lead our nation out of the wilderness. I lean toward Gore or Edwards, but I would fight for any of them against any Bush Enabler.

July 22, 2006

Deeper Into Hell

I'm Baaaaaccccckkkk! and War is Still Hell

This morning's Rome News Tribune has a guest editorial from the Minneapolis Star Tribune that is sobering. Basically the editorial decries the lowering of military standards necessitated by Bush's policies:

August 24, 2006


The former planet, Pluto, patron saint of children, has been officially kicked out of the heavenly pantheon of planets and downgraded to "dwarf planet" along with the former asteroid, Ceres, and Pluto's slightly larger and much more distant Kuiper Belt fellow, 2003UB313

September 25, 2006

Had Enough?

I have a bumper sticker on my car:

Had Enough? Vote Democratic.

In looking online for more stickers I found
Tim Roemer's Op Ed from the New York Times:

"The administration said Iraqis would greet us with roses as liberators, yet our soldiers are attacked with homemade bombs and rocket-propelled grenades. Had Enough? Vote Democratic.

October 21, 2006

"The Republican National Committee is responsible for the content of this advertisement."

You're not gonna believe this. I guess if the guys are willing to excuse torture of human beings, we can't expect them to mind torturing the public (and the truth) with ads like this. Yessiree, my Republican friends, this is your Republican National Committee at work.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Cartoons ala Matson

Click an image to review a Matson cartoon chuckle from the last few weeks.

Can Democrats Be Bold and Wise?

We Need To Go Beyond Reacting
To Symptoms
To Transforming Root Causes

I found myself checking, or trying to check, recently, the exuberance of an exuberant blogger whom I thought was greatly exaggerating the significance of the recent election. What follows is a revision of my comment to that blogger.

I like your exuberance. But someone fresh from Mars who might read your blog could conclude that you are reporting that our republic has been blessed with some sort of unanimous enlightenment. You seem to be overstretching a little. You say, “the same electorate that bestowed benefit of the doubt two years ago called it all back.” This statement, of course, is not true. A great amount of the electorate, in fact, stayed true to the Republicans -- as evidenced in the fact that there were a great many Republicans who were elected, and, evidenced in the fact the margin of victory for many Democrats was very narrow.

The polling data shows that there were a significant number of independent voters who changed their minds about the Republicans, but, the data also shows that there were many independent voters who did not change their minds.

Excuse my wet blanket, but the political situation we will find two years from now is one almost impossible to predict. I just don’t think there is sufficient reason to make your proclamation that, “Republican hegemony is dead.”

Democrats have an opportunity for hegemony -- but I have no evidence, as yet, that convinces me that Democrats will not simply fall back into their old self-destructive habits, and lose the opportunnity that has been given to them. My point is: It behooves the Democrats to use their opportunities now to prove their worth — to use whatever opportunities they can to define and show their commitment to the constitution, to justice, wisdom, liberty — to make hay while the sun shines.

It is time, well past time, to deal with the difficult questions of economy, justice and peace -- nationally, as well as globally. Terrorism is a symptom. Poverty is a symptom. Hatred is a symptom. Fanaticism is a symptom. We need to go beyond reacting to symptoms to transforming root causes. We need to extend our vision of our society and our world to a comprehensive view at least twenty-five years into the future -- rather than simply to the next elction cycle. The truth is, today’s trends portend terrible world wide disasters -- unless there is wise intervention. I can't help but make that drear conclusion, one contrary to my desire for positive thinking. And this drear realization of impending doom, I believe, more and more will impress itself on voters and will influence voters to demand that political processes produce solutions to profound questions.

Democrats need to show conviction and boldness. Our Democratic members of congress need to demonstrate that they are serious problem solvers who seek to deal with profound questions. For example, raising the minimum wage is a good start to help the working poor, but, it does not deal with the question of the working poor in a profound way and it should be advanced only as a start. Raising the minimum wage, by itself, fails by a large margin to really address or fix the root causes of the economic injustice at the heart of our economic system. To address the economic question, Democratic members of congress must find and articulate better and bolder economic solutions, to better deal with the issue of economic injustice (and also to better deal with the issue of the tremendous un-used potential in America for the production of wealth).

I believe that, as the problems of our society and our world beome more evident, that the gap between our potential as a nation and our fulfilment as a nation becomes ever more dramatic. There is a growing majority of voters who see this gap and who see the purpose of politics as finding profound understanding of root problems and as creating solutions to those problems. The growing majority, I believe, will increasingly reward those politicians who will take bold stands. Yes, Republicans have been punished in this election cycle -- most of all, it seems to me, for their incompetence. Democratic congress members have an opportunity to show that they are competent. The danger is that they will waste the opportunity by being too conservative, too reserved, too politically safe. After all, boldness in politics is seen as dangerous.

The long lasting politician traditionally is one who rejects boldness and who has found ways to not rocked the boat. But we are in an era, I believe, where those who persist in the pursuit of traditional politics will be rejected. Maintaining the optimism of this election, it seems to me, will turn on whether Democratic congress members will be bold -- in the use of wisdom, and in the exercise of competence -- in advancing the American ideals of liberty and justice, and in pursuing profound transformations at the root cause of problems.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

A Leaf Walk at Berry College

Sheila and I took a walk
at Berry College this afternoon
through the glorious foliage
of the lovliest fall I remember.
The deer at Berry are nearly tame.

(Click on a picture to enlarge it.)

Veterans Day

My father, the Marine

Uncle Grady, the Airman

On this November 11, I'd like to honor the men and women who have fought for our republic by reprinting and maybe editing a bit a comment I posted on the Oh!pinion blog today. S.W Anderson had written about the silliness of some kids at a community college who were refusing to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

It has also seemed silly to me to pass an amendment or other special laws to require respect for our flag. Those, like the college kids above, who disrespect the pledge and our flag only bring disrespect to themselves. To paraphrase Lincoln, the brave men, living and dead, who fought for the flag and the republic for which it stands, have consecrated Old Glory, far above our poor power to add or detract.

To me, the pledge is not to a piece of cloth, but to the “republic”, and therefore to the Constitution that sets out the basic democratic principles of government and rights of people. The first three words say it all, “We the People…”. The heroes who have risked, and often given, their lives, living out that pledge, were not risking all only for purple mountains, fruited plains, or gleaming cities — though we love those things also.

The men and women we honor today risked their lives to keep ours a nation of “Liberty and Justice for All”.

Here is the link to a post on my blog that I think relates to this topic.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Poetry of Donald Rumsfeld

Donald the Bard

I had heard something about this on NPR I think. Now our friend Victoria has posted selections on her blog, Nike's Psyche

Here's a sample:

Taken from official transcripts:

The Unknown
As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know
We don't know.

—Feb. 12, 2002, Department of Defense news briefing

Bush's Mandate

I wonder if anyone has done the math to estimate how many seats in the House of "Representatatives" would be Democratic after a ten-point victory in other years of our history before the gerrymandering that has taken place in the last 12 years? As pointed out in the article excerpted below, Democrats represent 58% of the people but have only 51% of the seats in the Senate 219 years after the Great Compromise. At least our founders approved that discrepancy. I don't think they would approve our non-representative House today.

From the editors of The New Republic...

"We now clearly are not the country that was 49-49. We're now at 51-48 and may be trending to 51-47. It is incremental but small, persistent change. We saw it in 2002, and we saw it again this year. ... It tells me we may be seeing part of a rolling realignment." --Karl Rove, November 7, 2004

Two years ago, Republicans managed to spin a 51 percent victory over a weak opponent into something very big--not quite a landslide, but a mandate, a "rolling realignment," perhaps even (as Newsweek breathlessly speculated) "a political dominance that could last for decades."


Democratic voters have been endlessly told that they are nothing more than a tiny, alien coastal remnant, and many of them started to believe it.

Well, it's hokum. Bush and his vision for the country have been before the voters four times now. Twice (in 2002 and 2004) a narrow majority of voters supported him; once (in 2000) a narrow majority rejected him; and now a substantial majority has rejected him. Bush is not the incarnation of the popular will, and his critics are not anti-American freaks.
Read it all.

By the way, I don't agree with the article's characterization of Kerry. He wasn't my first choice for the 2004 nomination, but I think he would have been a strong President.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Thank You, America!

Thank You, America!

Speaker Nancy Pelosi

Senator Bob Casey

Senator Sherrod Brown

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

...Let's hope there are more new Democratic Senators and Congressmen to come, but even if these improvements are it, what a night!!
The "Decider" can no longer dictate.
That's good news for America.

Wow! We may actually take the Senate seat in Virginia!!!

And I am proud to have been a small part of the successful effort to "get out the vote". Over six million telephone calls were made and I made 572 of them for folks like Harry Mitchell who whipped JD Hayworth! Jim Webb who may have squeaked by in Virginia. For Claire McCaskill who is winning in Missouri. Sherrod Brown, Acuri, Klein, etc., etc. And another 100 calls for Bob Puckett here in Rome who is tied with the much better funded Republican. (Bob ended up losing the race by about 130 votes. His opponent, a "sweet" mother and grandmother, traded about a quarter of a million dollars, and (IMHO) her soul, for a state representative seat. It's hard to understand.)


Senator Claire McCaskill

And the two more we need are leading!!! Can we do it??

Update Again!!!

Senator Jon Tester

Senator James Webb