Saturday Reads: Remembering the Soundtrack to the ’60s, and Other News

Husband and wife singer songwriting team Goffin and King rehearse during a recording session in a New York studio in 1959. (h/t NY Daily News)

Husband and wife singer songwriting team Goffin and King rehearse during a recording session in a New York studio in 1959. (h/t NY Daily News)

Good Morning

On Thursday we lost another 1960s music great; Gerry Goffin, who wrote lyrics to Carole King’s music died at 75. The talented couple wrote the songs that accompanied my teenage years–so much great music associated with so many memories.

From the Guardian Gerry Goffin: the poet laureate of teenage pop:

Gerry Goffin, a trainee chemist who became the poet laureate of teenage pop, specialised in coming up with a great opening line to grab the audience’s attention. Plenty of people will remember the first time they heard “Tonight you’re mine completely/ You give your love so sweetly,” from Will You Love Me Tomorrow, or “Looking out on the morning rain/ I used to feel so uninspired,” from (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman. But he didn’t stop there.

Buried a little deeper in those wonderful songs are the lines that really touched his young listeners’ hearts. The words to the bridge, or middle section, of that first Shirelles hit from 1960 were almost like poetry: “Tonight with words unspoken/ You say that I’m the only one/ But will my heart be broken/ When the night meets the morning sun?” And when Goffin presented Aretha Franklin with the second verse of A Natural Woman – “When my soul was in the Lost and Found, you came along to claim it” – he gave countless ordinary lovers a way to express their deepest feelings.

Misleadingly, they are often called “Carole King songs”. She wrote the tunes, and later on she would sing them when, after Goffin and King divorced, she embarked on a hugely successful solo career. But whenever King sang her own, gentler versions of the Chiffons’ One Fine Day or the Drifters’ Up on the Roof, she was still singing Goffin’s words. They were written by the man she had met when she was 17 and he was 20, and with whom she had two daughters while they lived in an apartment in the Queens housing project LeFrak City – and with whom she travelled to work in Manhattan every day at their cubicle in the offices of Aldon Music at 1650 Broadway, where they pumped out hit after hit after hit.

Goffin King

From The New York Times: Gerry Goffin, Hitmaking Songwriter With Carole King, Dies at 75:

Mr. Goffin and Ms. King were students at Queens College when they met in 1958. Over the next decade they fell in love, married, had two children, divorced and moved their writing sessions into and out of 1650 Broadway, across the street from the Brill Building. (The Brill Building pop music of the late 1950s and ‘60s was mostly written in both buildings.)

Together they composed a catalog of pop standards so diverse and irresistible that they were recorded by performers as unalike as the Drifters, Steve Lawrence, Aretha Franklin and the Beatles. They were inducted together into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1987 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. In 2004 the Recording Academy presented them jointly with a Trustees Award for lifetime achievement.

The couple’s writing duties were clearly delineated: Ms. King composed the music, Mr. Goffin wrote the lyrics — among them some of the most memorable words in the history of popular music.

“His words expressed what so many people were feeling but didn’t know how to say,” Ms. King said in a statement on Thursday.

A bit more about Goffin:

Gerald Goffin was born on Feb. 11, 1939, in Brooklyn and grew up in Jamaica, Queens. He began writing lyrics as a boy — “like some kind of game in my head,” he recalled once — but found he was unable to come up with satisfying music to accompany them.

He graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School before enrolling at Queens College. He was three years older than Ms. King, studying chemistry, when they met in the spring of her freshman year.

He asked her to help him write a musical. She was interested in rock ‘n’ roll. They hit it off anyway, and she was pregnant with their first child when they married on Aug. 30, 1959.

Gerry Goffin

Gerry Goffin

After the couple divorced in 1968, King went on to become a singer and songwriter in her own right, although the two continued to collaborate and maintained a friendship. Goffin married again and and the couple had five children.

In addition to his wife, [Michelle] Mr. Goffin’s survivors include four daughters, Louise Goffin, Sherry Goffin Kondor, Dawn Reavis and Lauren Goffin; a son, Jesse Goffin; six grandchildren; and a brother, Al.

Goffin and King’s first hit was “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” which they wrote in 1960 for the girl group the Shirelles. After the song hit #1 on the charts in 1961, Goffin quit his job as a chemist and began working full-time as a lyricist.

Goffin’s lyrics deftly touch on the doubt that lurks behind all new romances. As sung by Shirelles’ leader Shirley Owens in unflappable manner, the song doesn’t skimp on the wonder inherent in any fresh coupling. But it’s also unflinchingly realistic about the possibility that the fairy dust will dissolve at dawn.

“Can I believe the magic in your sighs?” Owens pointedly asks her paramour. In the bridge, Goffin’s words flow like champagne even as they fear the possible hangover: “Tonight with words unspoken/You’ll say that I’m the only one/But will my heart be broken/When the night meets the morning sun.” King’s melody plays a big role in the overall effect, arching high in the verses and middle eight while accompanied by strings that elegantly trip across the proceedings like moonlight dancers, before coming back down to Earth for the interrogative refrain.

In other news . . .

At Salon, Simon Malloy writes about the multiplying Republican scandals: GOP’s sudden scandal-mania: Why criminal probes and infighting are taking over the party.

It’s fashionable right now to talk about the premature end of Barack Obama’s presidency. He’s fast approaching the second half of his second term, which is historically the beginning of lame-duck season. His poll numbers aren’t what anyone would call ideal, and Republicans (in concert with some excitable members of the press) are rushing to proclaim the Obama presidency dead. “I saw a commentator today say that these polls, what they reflect, is that the Obama presidency is over,” Sen. Marco Rubio said, referring to NBC’s Chuck Todd. “And I agree with that. I think it is, in general.” Speaker John Boehner told reporters at his weekly press briefing yesterday: “You look at this presidency and you can’t help but get the sense that the wheels are coming off.” ….The funny thing is that as Republicans team up with pundits to chisel out Obama’s epitaph, the Republican Party itself is falling to pieces right before our eyes.

Yesterday’s news that Scott Walker and Chris Christie sinking deeper into their respective scandals is as good a sign as any of the GOP’s political disintegration. After Obama crushed Mitt Romney in 2012, Republicans began casting about for their 2016 redeemer, and Christie and Walker were high on the list. They won conservative hearts with their antagonism toward unions, but they had also found a way to win in reliably Democratic states. If the GOP hoped to take on candidate-in-waiting Hillary Clinton, they’d need someone who could peel away some Democratic voters. Walker had talked about the need to nominate an “outsider” like himself in 2016.

Now Christie and Walker are implicated in criminal investigations. Prosecutors in Wisconsin placed Walker at the center of a “criminal scheme” to coordinate campaign spending with outside groups. In New Jersey, the investigation stemming from the George Washington Bridge scandal is reportedly closing in on Christie himself. For both men, once considered potential saviors of the GOP, the political future looks considerably dimmer.

Read Malloy’s take on it at the link.

At FiveThirtyEightPolitics, David Wasserman has a long article on “What we can learn from Eric Cantor’s defeat.” You really need to read the whole thing, but here’s a small excerpt that deals with the contribution of public distrust of Congress:

Cantor was only the second House incumbent to lose a primary this year (the first was Texas Republican Ralph Hall), but the warning signs of discontent were abundant: Plenty of rank-and-file House incumbents had been receiving startlingly low primary vote shares against weak and under-funded opponents, including GOP Reps. Rodney Davis of Illinois, Lee Terry of Nebraska and David Joyce of Ohio. In fact, just a week before Cantor’s defeat and without much fanfare, socially moderate Rep. Leonard Lance of New Jersey received just 54 percent of the Republican primary vote against the same tea party-backed opponent he had taken 61 percent against in 2012.

Overall, 32 House incumbents have taken less than 75 percent of the vote in their primaries so far this year, up from 31 at this point in 2010 and just 12 at this point in 2006. What’s more, 27 of these 32 “underperforming” incumbents have been Republicans.1

In other words, while Congress’s unpopularity alone can’t sink any given member in a primary, it has established a higher baseline of distrust that challengers can build on when incumbents are otherwise vulnerable. And as the sitting House Majority Leader, Cantor was uniquely susceptible to voters’ frustration with Congress as an institution.

There’s much more interesting analysis at the link.

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George Will’s recent column on campus rapes is still in the news. From Talking Points Memo, George Will’s Latest: College Rape Charges Fueled By ‘Sea Of Hormones And Alcohol’.

Will explained that he took issue with the practice of adjudicating campus sexual assault cases by a “preponderance” of evidence, rather than hitting the bar of evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. That flies in the face of due process, he argued, and ultimately harms young men’s future prospects.

“What’s going to result is a lot of young men and young women in this sea of hormones and alcohol, that gets into so much trouble on campuses, you’re going to have charges of sexual assault,” he said. “And you’re going to have young men disciplined, their lives often permanently and seriously blighted by this — don’t get into medical school, don’t get to law school, all the rest.”

Four Democratic senators reached out to Will after his column was published to torch the conservative columnist’s “ancient beliefs.” Will said he wrote a letter back to the senators and laid out his rebuttal in the C-SPAN interview.

“What I say is that: A) I take sexual assault more seriously than I think they do, because I agree that society has correctly said that rape is second only to murder as a serious felony,” Will said. “And therefore, when someone is accused of rape, it should be reported to the criminal justice system that knows how to deal with this, not jerry-built, improvised campus processes.”

“Second, I take, I think, sexual assault somewhat more seriously than the senators do because I think there’s a danger now of defining sexual assault so broadly, so capaciously, that it begins to trivialize the seriousness of it,” he added. “When remarks become sexual assault, improper touching — bad, shouldn’t be done, but it’s not sexual assault.”

Well, we can’t have young men’s lives “blighted” by rape charges. Much better for young women to just suck it up and deal with a years of post-traumatic stress on their own and keep their complaints to themselves.

Whatever you do, don’t miss this TBogg post at Raw Story: Gentleman George Will is getting damned tired of having to explain rape to you guttersnipes.

Victorian gas-pipe and Her Majesty’s Curator of Rape To The Colonies, George Will, has just about had it up to here with you people — YES, YOU PEOPLE.

And especially you. Don’t think by closing your laptop he can’t see you, because he can.

Oh yes, he most certainly can, you loathsome wastrel.

t seems that, after explaining the ins and out of rape to you ungrateful curs, he was shocked and dismayed to discover that you promiscuous info-trollops on the intertubes are unable to comprehend the pearls of wisdom that he dispenses to the riff-raff gratis, courtesy of Ye Olde Washminster Poste.

Hush now, let Gentleman George condescend to speak down to you and try, fruitlessly no doubt, to explain once again that rape is what George Will says rape is

Now go read the rest at the link. You won’t be sorry.

This sounds like it could do some good: Google commits $50M to encouraging girls to code (CNet)

Google wants to see more women in technology, and it’s funding a $50 million initiative to encourage girls to learn how to code in an effort to close the gender gap.

Thursday night the company kicked off the Made with Code initiative here with celebrities former first daughter Chelsea Clinton and actress and comedienne Mindy Kaling.

Kaling, who emceed the event, said she has tons of ideas for apps but no idea to how make them work. She said she’d like to create a “What’s his deal?” app that takes a picture of guy and tells you whether he’s single, married, a weirdo, or what his car is like. Another idea is a Shazaam-like app for perfume.

“People my age have a million ideas for apps,” she said. “But we have no idea how to build them. Last week in the movies, I didn’t even know how to turn off the flashlight on my phone.”

Kaling isn’t alone. Women are woefully under-represented in the technology industry. Only about 20 percent of software developers in the US are women, according to the Labor Department. Last month, even Google admitted only 17 percent of its tech workers are women.

A bit more possible good news from the BBC: US sets up honey bee loss task force.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the agriculture department will lead the effort, which includes $8m (£4.7m) for new honey bee habitats.

Bee populations saw a 23% decline last winter, a trend blamed on the loss of genetic diversity, exposure to certain pesticides and other factors.

A quarter of the food Americans eat, including apples, carrots and avocados, relies on pollination.

Honey bees add more than $15bn in value to US agricultural crops, according to the White House.

The decline in bee populations is also blamed on the loss of natural forage and inadequate diets, mite infestations and diseases.

There has also been an increase in a condition called colony collapse disorder (CCD) in which there is a rapid, unexpected and catastrophic loss of bees in a hive.

So . . . what stories are you following today? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread.


Sunday Reads: One Sad Goat Makes A Happy Ass

We sailed with the reading by the sea of ​​literature  Navegamos con la lectura por el mar de la literatura (ilustración de Deena Pagliarello)

We sailed with the reading by the sea of ​​literature Navegamos con la lectura por el mar de la literatura (ilustración de Deena Pagliarello)

Good Morning

Summer is here for my kiddies…at least it is the second week of vacation for them. One thing though, change is coming. Today we are switching bedrooms, moving my brother up to the main floor and bringing my son down to the basement bedroom. Ya, the transformation to adult son living in basement just got all that much closer to reality.

My son will have his own entrance, his own fridge and his own little game room. He will even have a little intercom for those times when he needs a little nourishment.

Longer clip here.

Anyway, to make this switcheroo happen we have to take my brother out for the entire day, and let all hell brake loose when he comes home to find his desk, complete with all Dukes of Hazard paraphernalia has been moved upstairs.

So if you are near the vicinity of Banjoville, and hear the wrath of Uncle Gordy (my kids nickname for my brother) as he cusses us out but good….you will know that we have gotten back from our long drive to Atlanta, and that Denny has realized there was more to that fancy lunch at The Cheesecake Factory than just a huge hunk of cheesecake.

Alright.

Now for the links. Which are all over the place today.

I guess the shit is meeting the fan? At least it looks like it from this headline at the New York Times After Deadly Rampage, Sheriff’s Office Faces Concerns About Conduct

A week after Elliot O. Rodger’s violent rampage in Isla Vista, Calif., that left six college students dead and 13 other people wounded, state lawmakers are now calling for an investigation of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office’s previous contact with Mr. Rodger. Some are calling for wholesale changes to how law enforcement officers respond to calls that someone could be a threat to himself or to others.

Sheriff’s deputies visited Mr. Rodger on April 30, just three weeks before his rampage, after receiving a call from his mother, who had been concerned by videos he posted online.

At the time, Mr. Rodger had already bought at least two firearms, which were both registered in his name. But sheriff’s deputies were unaware of that when they visited Mr. Rodger, because they had not checked the statewide gun ownership database. They also had not watched the videos Mr. Rodger had posted.

You go check out some dude who is a “threat” and you don’t even watch the damn video? They did not even do a quick check to see if he had any guns. That is some shitty police work if you ask me. But, I will let you read more about this here:

Kelly Hoover, a spokeswoman for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, would not elaborate on why no weapons check was done, and declined to confirm whether there would be an internal investigation of the visit.

But Hannah-Beth Jackson, the state senator who represents Santa Barbara, said a comprehensive investigation of the deputies’ visit to Mr. Rodger’s apartment was needed to give the public a full accounting of the events leading up to the massacre. “The community will not tolerate any half-baked approach to dealing with this,” Ms. Jackson said.

Law enforcement agencies across California have said that it is not necessarily standard practice to check the state gun registry before any check by officers on someone’s well-being. And the sheriff’s office has defended the six deputies who visited Mr. Rodger in April.

“Based on the information reviewed thus far, the sheriff’s office has determined that the deputies who responded handled the call in a professional manner consistent with state law and department policy,” Ms. Hoover said in an email on Saturday.

After Mr. Rodger’s rampage in Isla Vista, Ms. Jackson co-wrote legislation that would create a “gun-violence restraining order.” If family members or friends alert law enforcement that someone poses a threat to themselves or to others, law enforcement would then be able to petition a judge to prohibit the person from purchasing firearms.

But if you really want a freak out, read this: Lessons From a Day Spent With the UCSB Shooter’s Awful Friends

Tuesday morning, I logged into a chat room full of refugees of the since shuttered PUAHate forum once frequented by University of California-Santa Barbara shooter Elliott Rodger. And I stayed there, silently watching them, for 8 hours. Here’s what I learned.

PUAHate, as other outlets have discussed, is an offshoot of the Pick Up Artist community populated by men (and, allegedly, women) who believe Pick Up Artistry to be a sham waste of money not because women are more than “targets” and “prey,” but because women are fucking hopeless cunts who can’t be convinced to give nice guys a chance. Women, argue PUAHaters, will only go out with good looking alpha males and would never look twice at anyone who isn’t a musclebound dreamboat with a six-figure income, and most men will never be those things, and so the world is against them and life is unfair. From an observer’s perspective, PUAHate is a group of self-pitying babies who believe they’re entitled to women who are much more attractive than they are.

Big news this day however:

Bowe Bergdahl, American Soldier, Freed by Taliban in Prisoner Trade – NYTimes.com

Hagel: U.S. acted fast to save Bowe Bergdahl’s life – CNN.com

Official: Freed US soldier on Way to Military Hospital in Germany

Republicans attack Obama over soldier swap – The Times of India

There is video of Bergdahl eating in freedom at the CNN link. Of course the GOP would be pissed…can you imagine the shit storm if they had known?

Hagel: Congress Kept in Dark on Swap Because Bergdahl’s Life in Danger – NBC News.com

Here is an interesting bit of Snowden news, Russian Web Journalism Award to be named after Snowden – Little Green Footballs

This takes the cake. From the country at the forefront of institutionalized oppression of journalists, featuring a massive surveillance apparatus, comes the Snowden Award for Journalistic Excellence. Not a peep from Snowden about his new host country’s behavior. And no word on when this Russian media outlet plans on an expose on Putin’s marginalization and oppression of his countryman’s journalists and media owners.

Moving on, I told you this post was all over the place…Canadian Bar Sells Cups with Lids to Curb Roofied Drinks

 

A bar in Saskatchewan right across the border from North Dakota has taken it upon itself to keep an eye out for it’s female patrons by offering drinking cups with screw-on lids. The hard plastic cup is selling for five dollars, and is being sold as a way to prevent spiked drinks. CBC reports that the bar’s management simply wants so keep things safe for their women customers:

“I want girls to be able to come into our bar in groups of two or three, or if they don’t have dates, they can still come in here and have fun and dance and not have to worry about somebody drugging them,” Regina Rooks, manager of the Derrick Motor Hotel bar, told CBC News. “There has been a couple incidents.”

“We are now a boomtown and undesirables do come to town,” she said

Rooks very clearly means well. She obviously wants to protect her customers, and she’s showing a resourcefulness and inclination to try and solve a serious problem.

At the same time, it’s still just a bandaid solution to a much bigger issue. It reinforces the idea that potential victims are responsible for their own sexual safety. And charging for the cup adds a whole other layer to that idea. Putting a lid on a beverage isn’t telling rapists they shouldn’t rape, which is, you know, the main problem. It’s not really deterring rape.

Hey, at least it is something. I mean…it tells the rapist who plan to drug women that they should move on to the bar next door, which is not a solution I know. But I will take what ever extra protection is offered, wouldn’t you?

On Wednesday, I brought up the subject of women who are pulling the victim blaming bullshit on the Calhoun rape victim here in North Georgia. I even went so far as to put a label on them…the C-word…you know that one which rhymes with bunt.

Check this out: Men Aren’t the Only Ones Slut Shaming Women | Care2 Causes

Thousands of women have rallied around the hashtag #YesAllWomen on Twitter sharing personal stories of the everyday harassment they face. The response has been overwhelming and put a spotlight on the sexist culture we live in where a young man resorted to murder for being rejected by women.

Sure, not all men are like Elliot Rodger (there’s even a hashtag to prove it: #NotAllMen), but there is no denying that we live in a society where women are targets of violence and shamed for their sexuality. Women are called sluts for having sex and, like Rodger angrily proclaimed, sluts for not having sex, at least with him. Either way we’re sluts. But as the two studies below prove, men aren’t the only ones responsible for slut-shaming women. Sometimes we women are just as guilty.

The first study published in the Social Psychology Quarterly tracked the lives of 53 women attending college at a Midwestern university and found that women often participated in slut shaming one another as a means of maintaining their social status. The findings suggest that high-status women, those women who participated in Greek life on campus and often came from upper-middle class backgrounds, used slut shaming as a means of bullying lower-status girls and keeping them from climbing the social ladder.

On the flip side, high-status women were also far less likely to be slut shamed by their lower-status peers despite engaging in more sexual relationships. It stands to reason then that lower status girls were targets of slut shaming regardless of whether or not they had sexual experience. Lastly, while high-status women with more sexual experience defined their lifestyle as “classy,” their low-status peers who tried to mimic this behavior to fit it were immediately called “trashy.”

This study illustrates that the ladies are also guilty of creating a culture where women are stigmatized and defined by their sexuality. If women are calling each other sluts as a means of pulling social rank, what are their sexual partners saying about them behind closed doors? Does the fact that women are calling each other sluts make it OK for the men (or women) they are sleeping with to do so? If the Mean Girls assembly taught us anything, then yes.

“You’ve got to stop calling each other sluts and whores,” says Tina Fey’s character. “It just makes it OK for guys to call you sluts and whores.”

It may not make it OK, but it does create a culture where slut shaming women is acceptable.

Another study from a think tank in the UK has found that women are also guilty of slut shaming one another online. The study tracked the use of the words “rape,” “whore” and “slut” on Twitter for about a year and found that 12 percent of the tweets containing these words were intended as a direct threat or insult. What was more alarming, however, was the finding that women were almost as likely as men to send tweets with these words both casually or offensively.

For some sense to all this,

Time magazine looks to Kate Farrar, the vice president of campus leadership programs at AAUW, a non-profit focusing on women’s empowerment, who argues gender based insults have become s0 ingrained in our culture that it’s the norm:

Words like “slut” and “whore” are thrown around so frequently they “become a part of our cultural conversation [about women] from the time we’re very young…there often aren’t instances that we’re told that it’s not okay or that there’s accountability for that.”

And thanks to our culture’s paradoxical attitudes towards female sexuality, where women are expected to be sexy, but not overtly sexual, one of the most effective ways for men and women to bully, judge and degrade a woman is to brand her a “slut” or “whore.”

…that while women are often victims of a sexist culture, we are sometimes part of the problem. I for one will admit that as a college, and even high school, student I used the word “slut” very casually and as a means to put down other women, even if they weren’t actually promiscuous. I wish I could say I hadn’t, but like Farrar points out it was so ingrained in how we spoke that I didn’t think twice, and I was never told it was wrong. Well, here I am now, saying that it is wrong. Defining a woman by her sexuality, or worse demeaning her for it, is wrong whether you are a woman or a man. It’s high time we speak up when someone calls a woman a slut and analyze our own reasons for using this language.

I have done that as well…and perhaps the c-word was also along that line…but I still have to defend my use of that word. It is true, in my opinion, these women who blame rape victims are the most vulgar of women and deserve the most vulgar of titles.

The rest of this post in dump fashion…

Look who graduated: Rachel Jeantel, the close friend who was on the phone with Travon Martin moments before he was shot and killed by George Zimmerman has graduated from high school.

A football player who was taking clomid for low sperm count has been suspended: Robert Mathis of Indianapolis Colts suspended four games for PEDs – ESPN

I looked it up, they do use clomid for this condition on men…go figure.

Did y’all see this?

Ledge cracks at the Willis Tower, closed for inspection – chicagotribune.com

 

 

 

And it is scary considering less than a month ago my daughter was just doing this in that exact Ledge:

chicago trip 183

Yeah, they are jumping up and down in there.

This Graph From The CDC On Measles Infections Should Scare You – Forbes

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From Addicting Info– Virginia Court Official Tells Atheist Couple They Have No Right To Get Married Because They Don’t Believe In God

Also from Addicting Info, btw Dan says this store is full of bullshit, something is not right at that store: – Walmart Employee Picks Up Stray Coins On The Floor Of Her Store And Gets Fired For Theft

You’re fired! The bad news came to Ashley Johnson, former Walmart employee, as a surprise. She had been working in Store #5440 in Oregon in security for more than a year and a half when the Asset Protection Manager requested an interview with her. Another man attended. The man asked her if she had ever retrieved change from the store floor when she was working.

The question stunned Ashley, but she decided honesty was her best answer. “Yes,” she admitted. The man demanded how much, and Ashley said to him, “Maybe a quarter”.

No. It was much more than that. We’ve been watching you for a long time. I estimate that you’ve stolen about 45 dollars from us.

The company fired her on the spot and given one month to repay the coins or face a lawsuit. This was rather extreme to say the least. Before the incident Ashley had asked the store’s manager, Ben Carlson, for financial aid from Walmart’s controversial Critical Need Fund. Ashley wonders if this the real reason they fired her?

The Walton’s 4759 stores earn a revenue of $469 billion, which is more money than that of nearly 50% of all Americans combined. As America’s richest family, they exploit a variety of legal loopholes in order to make certain they perpetuate the dynasty’s wealth rather than contribute their government share, according public-records requests for court documents and the Internal Revenue Service filings. Yet the company still feels the need to pocket even the loose change on their store floors.

Joan Lorring, Oscar-Nominated Supporting Actress, Dead at 88

Joan LorringJoan Lorring, who was Oscar nominated for best supporting actress in the 1945 film The Corn Is Green, died Friday in the New York City suburb of Sleepy Hollow.  She was 88.  Born Mary Magdalene Ellis in Hong Kong on April 17, 1926, Lorring fled with her mother from the Japanese invasion in 1939 to San Francisco.  Her showbiz career began in radio, and her first American film at 18 was the 1944 MGM romantic war drama Song of Russia. She signed with Warner Bros. for the role of the scheming, trampish Bessie Watty, playing opposite Bette Davis, in The Corn Is Green.

Because this next link is a picture of my idol Jonathan Frid:

Miss American Vampire, 1970 – Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money

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A blog post about film: moviemorlocks.com – Cassavetes vs. Ottinger – Arthouse Grudge Match

A few articles on The Rose Tattoo…the play.  Left overs from Wednesday’s post:

“The Rose Tattoo as Comedy of the Grotesque”–Brian Parker

Where I Live: Selected Essays – Tennessee Williams – Google Books

A Life in the Wings: THE LADY AND TENNESSEE : The New Yorker

A LIFE IN THE WINGS about Lady Maria St. Just, the playwright Tennessee Williams’ long-time friend, who after his death became executor of his estate and exercised tyrannical control over his literary legacy. She died in England on February 15, 1994; and was said to be the model for Maggie in Williams’ “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” Lady Maria was born Maria Britneva on July 6, 1921 in St. Petersburg, Russia. Her mother, Mary, and brother left their father Dr. Alexander Britnev and went to England in 1922. Maria’s biography “Five O’Clock Angel” tells about her life and is quoted throughout article.

Tom and Lorezo’s review of Maleficent | Tom & Lorenzo Fabulous & Opinionated

“Let us tell an old tale anew,” the ever-present and somewhat talkative narrator intones at the start of Disney’s Maleficent. But by the time we got to the story’s end, we wondered if it was really worth the bother. Like 2012′s Snow White and The Huntsman, Maleficent attempts to take a more nuanced look at an old and (by design,) simplistic tale, in that “everything you know is wrong”manner. Like Broadway’s “Wicked,” it attempts to turn a classic villain into a hero – or at least, a villain that cries and has motivations beyond the acquisition of power or the destroying of annoyingly perfect little girls.

It’s an apparently irresistible thing to modern audiences; this retelling of fairy tales and childhood stories by layering them with darkness and angst; meaning and themes. The Tolkienization of Disney. And we’re not sure it’s to the story’s benefit. Fairy tales are supposed to be relatively simple stories populated by characters with the kind of motivations that children can understand. They evolved over time, but they always served the same purpose (outside of entertainment): to teach the very young about difficult concepts like evil and anger and jealousy and to reinforce a basic moral code about goodness and love and family – and also to not trust strangers or go wandering through the woods. Purely universal childhood themes that still resonate centuries after the original stories were devised. Classic old fairy tales were shockingly dark, so the basic idea behind the darkening and deepening concept of this film might’ve worked  – except we’re talking specifically about Disney characters. And we’re not sure adding paper-thin rape metaphors is something that needed to be done to the Disney version of Sleeping Beauty.

Read the rest of that at the link…love TLo!

Can you believe it is 70 years? Operation Mincemeat: One of the biggest hoaxes in history | Stephen Liddell

With the 70th Anniversary of D-Day around the corner I thought that I might write a short series of posts about this historic event.  The first of which might be one which you’re unfamiliar with but in its own way was one of the key points of WW2.

After a long series of battles in North Africa had seen the Italians defeated and Monty’s Desert Rats routed Rommel’s dreaded Afrika Corps at El Alamein which set the scene for the Axis retreat from North Africa all together.

More history:

‘Sadly and with a Bitter Heart’: What the Caesarean Section Meant in the Middle Ages

Caesarean Section

 

One sunny spring day, a Resurrectionist priest sips tea and speaks of his time as a Bolivian missionary in the 1960s and ’70s. His recollection of the local ‘Indians’ is obscured by more than three decades’ distance. China cup in hand, he recalls vaguely their mud huts, flocks of sheep, herds of llamas, and the beautiful, rugged terrain of the altiplano. With greater precision, he speaks about the local belief system, especially attitudes towards stillbirths. This left a strong impression upon him. The priest emphasizes how deeply fearful the locals were of stillborn babies, and he flavours his recollections with two sad anecdotes. One day, he says, some villagers brought him a small blue corpse. The baby’s father insisted that the missionary baptize it. Since this was canonically impossible, the priest performed an impromptu blessing. It effectively banished the evil spirit conjured by the unfortunate birth. Satisfied with the blessing, the villagers relaxed and returned to their normal lives. On another occasion, one of the priest’s confrères was less delicate. A mother presented him with her dead baby, pleading for a postmortem baptism. At last the cleric told her, “The Church will only permit me to baptize your child if it draws milk from your breast.” Since this was impossible, the mother went away frustrated and ill at ease, having been unsuccessful in her bid to exorcise the unlucky spirit.

Click here to read this article from Florilegium

Also from Medieval.net: Richard III had severe scoliosis but was not a hunchback, researchers find

 Scientists and researchers have completed their study on the spinal column of Richard III, revealing that his scoliosis caused these bones to curve to the right, a well as a degree of twisting, resulting in a “spiral” shape. However, he would not have been hunchbacked as he was depicted by later writers.

Richard III spine - Spinal Curvature - Credit- University of Leicester

This research has been published this week in the journal The Lancet. It was carried out by experts from the University of Leicester, University of Cambridge, Loughborough University and University Hospitals of Leicester

The kind of scoliosis Richard suffered from a form of adolescent onset idiopathic scoliosis, which would have not started until he had almost finished growing. By the time he was an adult, Richard’s right shoulder would have been higher than his left, and his torso would have been relatively short compared to his arms and legs. The scoliosis also caused him to be several inches shorter than his normal height, which would have been about 5 feet 8 inches tall otherwise. This matches a contemporary description of Richard, by the chronicler John Rous who described the king as “small of stature, with a short face and unequal shoulders, the right higher and the left lower.”

Science up: This New “Super-Hydrophobic” Material Is So Waterproof That Water Bounces Off It Like A Ball | Geekosystem

Foodie stuff: Yogurts With More Sugar Than A Twinkie

Since I am dealing with my kids a lot in this post, and since they are named after Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley in Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises: 10 Incredible Facts About Ernest Hemingway – Listverse

And since Hemingway was a “cat person” we have this next link: Study Shows the Personality Differences Between Cat and Dog Lovers | Geekosystem

New research presented this month at the annual Association for Psychological Science shows the contrasting personality traits associated with cat and dog owners–or in other words, people who would rather scoop a creature’s poop up from the street vs. those who prefer it buried under litter.

Denise Guastello of Carroll University conducted the study using a group of 600 college students. Participants were asked whether they were cat or dog lovers, what attribute they most admired in their pets, and then given a series of questions as part of a personality assessment. 60% of those polled claimed to be dog lovers, 11% copped to a cat fancy, and 29% said they had no preference, i.e., they were scared their cat would find out if they answered truthfully.

Based off trends found in the personality assessments, “dog people” were shown to typically be outgoing and rule-abiding, whereas cat fans appeared introverted, open minded, sensitive , innovative, and more intelligent than dog devotees. But pet owners shouldn’t take the study’s findings too seriously–the research was obviously conducted on a specific segment of the population, so it’s impossible to say how allegiance to one kind of animal over another might manifest in the personality traits of different age groups or demographics.

Guastello suggests the trends in personality associated with cat or dog owners might be related to the kind of care the animal requires:

It makes sense that a dog person is going to be more lively, because they’re going to want to be out there, outside, talking to people, bringing their dog [...] Whereas, if you’re more introverted, and sensitive, maybe you’re more at home reading a book, and your cat doesn’t need to go outside for a walk.

Maybe… or maybe cat owners are just too weakened by allergies to do anything but lie on the couch and hope the neighbor’s dog won’t smell their fear.

And one last fun link, the source for this morning’s title: Depressed Goat Is Reunited With His Burro Best Friend

Mr. G, a goat, and Jellybean, a burro, were both rescued from the squalor of a hoarder’s home earlier this year and were, for the first time in their lives, separated to live in different animal sanctuaries. The separation left Mr. G depressed and he didn’t move or eat for six days. Until he was reunited with his best friend.

After Mr. G and Jellybean were rescued, each was taken in by different animal sanctuaries 14 hours apart. Mr G. became depressed in his new home without his lifelong friend, refusing to leave his stall or eat.

That’s when the staff of Animal Place in Grass Valley, Ca. decided that the two needed to be together again. They arranged to have Jellybean transported and from the moment Mr. G heard his burro buddy being unloaded, he immediately perked up.

Watch that video and have a wonderful lovely day!


Wednesday Reads: But we are Sicilians, and we are not cold-blooded.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGood Morning

Oh, as I write this I am watching the 1955 film, The Rose Tattoo, starring Anna Magnani.

It is fantastic…they do not play it very often on TCM, I’d forgotten how good it was.

You can see the entire film at the link below.

 

What dialogue there is in this play written by Tennessee Williams.

Take these couple of lines:

MP-marisapavan-rosetattoo-kneeling

The Rose Tattoo - Tennessee Williams - Google Books 2014-05-28 03-30-13

tumblr_ljznitdFUA1qi97xgo1_500Yes…that is so true. There is so many other lines that are spot on in the play/film. Check out this review from the New York Times published December 13, 1955.  Movie Review – The Rose Tattoo – Anna Magnani Triumphs in ‘Rose Tattoo'; Film Version of Play by Williams Opens Italian Star and Burt Lancaster Superb

THAT fine Italian actress Anna Magnani, whom American audiences know best from such fine Italian films as “Open City” and “The Miracle,” has a triumphant field day in her first Hollywood and English-speaking film. It is “The Rose Tatoo,” from the play of Tennessee Williams. It opened at the Astor last night.

14065963_galThey say that Mr. Williams wrote the play with Miss Magnani in mind. Her performance would indicate it, for she fits the role—or it fits her—like skin. As the robust Italian-born widow of a truck driver in an American Gulf Coast town, where she baffles her friends with her endless mourning and her Spartan watchfulness over her teen-age daughter who is ripe for love, she splays on the screen a warm, full-bodied, tragi-comic character. And she is grandly assisted by Burt Lancaster in the second lead—and the second half—of the film.

13646707_galNote well that Mr. Lancaster does not appear until the tale is nigh half told. This has particular significance in the pattern of the film. For the first half of it is a somber and sometimes even morbid account of a woman’s idolization of a dead husband who, everyone but she seems to know was unfaithful to her. And because Miss Magnani is so ardent and intense in conveying the bleakness of this grief, this whole segment of the picture has a curious oppressiveness, which is barely lightened by the squawling and brawling that she either excites or engineers.

The review continues,

3700872387_16f24d5fd4Let us be candid about it: there is a great deal more happening inside the widow’s psychological frame than either she understands or Mr. Williams has bothered to analyze in the play or film. It is clear that she has a strong sex complex which stems from a lot of possible things, including her deep religious training. This is not discussed and barely hinted on the screen. Thus one must make one’s own decision about the character’s complete validity and the logic of her eventual conversion to a natural life and the acceptance of her daughter’s love affair.

rose1But, logical or not, Miss Magnani makes the change from dismal grief to booming joy such a spectrum of emotional alterations and personality eccentricities that—well, who cares! She overwhelms all objectivity with the rush of her subjective force. From the moment she and her new acquaintance get together for a good old-fashioned weep (for no particular reason except that they are both emotional), and then go on to obvious courting in a clumsy, explosive, guarded way. Miss Magnani sweeps most everything before her. And what she misses Mr. Lancaster picks up.

the-rose-tattooThe exquisiteness of these two as sheer performers—just for instance, the authority with which she claps her hand to her ample bosom or he snags a runaway goat—would dominate the picture, if the rest of the cast were not so good and Daniel Mann as the director did not hold them under tingling, taut control. Marisa Pavan as the sensitive, nubile daughter; Ben Cooper as the decent sailor whom she craves; Virginia Grey as a tawdry ex-mistress and Sandro Giglio as a gentle priest head a group of supporting players that gives this picture—much of which was shot in Key West—a quality of utter authenticity. Producer Hal Wallis has afforded it the best.

It almost makes me want to get a rose tattoo on my chest. ;)

So today the post will feature pictures from the film…enjoy them.

First up, this link that I posted in the comments the other day. It is a “most excellent” op/ed written by Lauren Jones on the ongoing rape investigation of a Calhoun High School student. GUEST COLUMN: On the R-word

I’ve heard my share of information regarding the alleged perpetrators in this case, and I don’t care to repeat it here. But I will say this: No means no, and wrong is wrong. I don’t think any sexual act that ended up with a young lady going to the hospital was consensual.

MVST1010,-Rose-Tattoo,-MothAnd I don’t care whether the alleged perpetrator or perpetrators are star athletes, straight A students, or even carry little old ladies’ grocery bags for them; they deserve justice. They deserve a fair trial. And if the allegations are true, every single person involved needs counseling and support. In order for any kind of abuser to change, he or she must recognize that within themselves is someone who did something wrong and needs help.

I can’t imagine the gravity of what this young lady will have to go through in the years to come. But as a survivor of sexual assault, I know a little about the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I know what it is like to be at the mall or grocery store and see the back of someone’s head and think “Oh God, it’s him,” and suffer a panic attack, even if the person I saw is a complete stranger. I know the anxiety, the humiliation, the fear. The self-blaming reinforced by the blaming of others. It takes years of counseling, and you never get over it. Like the loss of a loved one, you learn to manage it.

burt-lancaster-rose-tattooI’m angry. I’m sad. I know I’m not alone in that. This young woman did not ask for what happened to her. And but for the choices of a handful of young men, this lady could have gone home that night, breathless from dancing, slightly buzzed and excited about her upcoming graduation. She could have taken a few aspirin and downed a glass of water to cut the hangover in two. Instead, she got pain medicine from an IV that night.

As a community we have to stand behind her and support her, and not sweep this under the rug. RAINN reports that 60 percent of sexual assaults are never reported and 97 percent of rapists never spend a day in jail. So I challenge this community to raise their voices, and educate themselves and their children about sexual violence.

This has to stop.

What a challenge…

It needed to be front paged, so if you missed it, please go and take a look at it now.

Funny that Lauren Jones ends her article very much like another article I will quote from below. But more on that connection later. Just put that little tidbit in the back of your mind.

**Update**

Okay, there is new Calhoun High School Post Prom Rape Case news!

Gilmer County to hold press conference to discuss suspects and charges concerning alleged rape after Calhoun High School prom – : Police/Fire

The Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office will host a press conference today at 2 p.m. to talk about the suspects in the alleged rape that occurred at a cabin in Elijay after the Calhoun High School Prom. The sheriff’s office will discuss the charges that will be received, according to Gilmer County Captain Copeland.

**Update 2**

Finally, you have no idea how relieved I am:

Three Calhoun High School students charged in alleged after-prom rape | Times Free Press

Three Calhoun High School students will turn themselves in today for their roles in an alleged rape that occurred at a post-prom party two weeks ago.

The Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office has issued warrants for Fields Chapman, Andrew Haynes and Avery Johnson, charging the three men with aggravated sexual battery and underage consumption.

Lawyers for the three men did not return calls seeking comment this morning.

Recent Southeast Whitfield High graduate not charged in rape investigation » Local News »

A recent Southeast Whitfield High School graduate is not among three men charged with the sexual assault of a woman at an alcohol-fueled post-prom party in Ellijay earlier this month.

Fields Chapman, 609 Shenandoah Drive, Andrew Haynes, 263 Thornwood Drive, and Damon Avery Johnson, 321 Doubletree Drive, all 18 and 2014 graduates of Calhoun High School, were each charged by the Gilmer County’s Sheriff’s Office with one count of aggravated sexual assault and one count of possession of alcohol by a minor.

Rhett Harper, the former Southeast Whitfield student who was at the party, was not charged.

Sam Sanders, Harper’s Dalton-based attorney, told The Daily Citizen last week that Harper was only a witness in the case and was no longer a suspect.

The Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office incident report from May 11 lists 16 Calhoun High students — including the three charged — and Harper. Chapman, Haynes, Johnson and Harper were listed as suspects in the rape investigation. Sanders said Harper was at the party, but “did not participate in any sexual assault whatsoever.”

My guess is that Harper gave some up some information in return for not being charged. But that is pure speculation on my part, as nothing has been confirmed from the sheriff office…

News conference later today. Will update you at that time.

004_anna_magnani_theredlistYes, I’ve become obsessed with this case. And like a moth to the flame, the comments at various fora threads or local Calhoun websites suck me in…one thing is certain, these remarks are perfect examples of that hashtag that has made the twitterverse buzz lately. From Will Bunch at Philly.com:

#YesAllWomen: Feminism has its ‘Birmingham moment’

One of the most positive and uplifting characteristics of humans is our ability to take an unspeakable tragedy and not wallow in the despair that it creates, but channel that anger and sadness into something positive that benefits all of us, going forward.

6d6af30e5c5651050493dcb0b667e14eFor example, it happened in America in 1963. For years, the moral arc of the struggle for civil rights across the Deep South was bending toward justice…in slow motion. Anger over the Emmett Till case, the resilience of Dr. Martin Luther King and the Montgomery bus boycott, the courage of the Freedom Riders and marchers who faced fire hoses in Birmingham did put government-sanctioned racism on the front burner, and there were some impressive wins. But America — especially on the federal level — was still falling woefully short in ending segregation and other forms of sanctioned discrimination.

On September 15, 1963, in Birmingham, Ala., four monsters associated with the racist Ku Klux Klan placed a dynamite bomb against the 16th Street Baptist Church — a staging area for civil rights protests. Four adolescent girls — Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley — were murdered in the bomb blast. The shock of losing four innocent young girls to adult hatred caused many Americans to see the civil rights struggle in a new light, to truly focus on the broader injustice perpetrated against citizens because of the color of their skin. Within two years, Congress moved swiftly to pass both the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, ending an ugly chapter in our history.

vlcsnap-9685884I thought about Birmingham this weekend as I heard the grim, sickening news out of Southern California, about how a young man filled with misogynistic rage and inhuman hatred went on a murder spree that claimed six lives…and also as I watched the remarkable reaction that unfolded over the next four days. The news that the killer had posted anti-women rants on YouTube and in a lengthy manifesto, that he’d sworn to slaughter women for spurning his sexual advances and that he subscribed to something called the Men’s Rights Movement caused thousands of women to come out in the open and declare to anyone who will listen that enough is enough.

Oh, but then we here at the blog have had enough of this shit years ago, eh? Attytood goes on to say,

…the sad thing is that the misogyny and sexual objectification of women that motivated him was just extreme manifestation of something far too common. The uncomfortable truth is that we live In a nation where one out of five women are raped or sexually assaulted, millions more are beaten or roughed up by a man, and ALL WOMEN experience various forms of sexual harassment, frequently to the point of fearing for their own safety.

13ebe074dc55f624d0b1f6a2b8d032fdYes, all women.

On Twitter, the hashtag #YesAllWomen was born as a response to some who were eager to point that the killer (I try to not to glorify mass murderers here by mentioning their names, if possible) does not represent all men (in Twitterese, #NotAllMen.) Of course, not all men are killers, not all men are chauvinist pigs…but that’s not the point. All women in America experience misogyny, harassment, sexual objectification, or forms of abuse that are far worse.

Yes, all women. Say what you will about “hashtag activism” — I understand the quibbles — but you can’t start a national conversation without the first 140 characters. The truths that flew across cyberspace this weekend were both revealing and profoundly depressing. Women openly sharing their breakups in a public coffee shop because of fears over violence, the times they were threatened with physical assault, the non-stop harassment from men who were drunk, or worse.

Did you know that over a million #yesALLwomen tags had been posted in just two days? But here is the disgusting part of this news, the women who started this twitter hashtag activism had to shut down their twitter accounts because of harassment.

6335439_f520Read more about this at the link.

All I can say is those “men’s rights” dickwads post hateful kind of remarks on those Calhoun commentaries. (I can’t really say “dickwads” because there are women who do that shit too. Is cunt to harsh a word? Yes, I am that mad. And if you are offended by that, I direct you to  the title of this post and remind you that I am a Sicilian.)

It pisses me off.  What the hell is wrong with these people? Young adults committed a crime and they must be charged and arrested and tried. They should not be allowed to get away with this horrible act. It is both disgusting and disturbing to see the many comments blaming the victim, making pathetic excuses for the ones who raped her, and passing the whole incident off as something that got out of control.

So of the folks talk about the fact that Calhoun high school has a “wealthy” student body. That the football team is an elite group. That may be but after thinking about all the crap that has happened lately, especially when you see the comments from the sheriffs office…I don’t think the word “elite” is the correct one to use.  I say the word should be Entitled. It is an attitude we see all around us, these “suspects” felt entitled to abuse their victim in the vicious manner they did. Just as they feel entitled to get away with it. The same way the sheriff felt entitled to cast the evening the rape happened as only a party with alcohol that got a “little out of hand.”  Seriously, he said that remember?

anna-magnani-in-the-rose-001If you have time, or the stomach for it, read this shit: These commentators feel entitled to post derogatory things about the victim, because she is a woman and they have misogynistic issues from the get go…but also it goes along the line that women are subservient to men, period.

When you take a look at the situation in California, with the mass shooting at Isla Vista just this weekend and Google the pick up artist culture, it is disturbing as hell.(PAU Hate, PAU lingo) These men are f*cked up. Their views are exactly like some of the ones expressed in those threads.

The community needs to support the victim, they need to press the authorities for arrests. Instead many of these assholes are spending their time spreading the hate against women that Attytood ended his piece with:

 

Friday’s senselessness in Santa Barbara took things to a a new level. It was — sadly, yet of necessity — a “Birmingham moment” for female empowerment in America. What’s less clear, though, is what comes next, of how to translate anger and emotion into social change. The strong chance of electing a female president in 2016 is a positive — but remember that electing a black president in 2008 seems to have done more to provoke racism than to end it.

There are certainly areas — equal pay, sick leave — where government can play a greater role, but the deeper issues cut not just across the media — yes, the media — business and universities, but also the human spirit. Ending hate against women will require real work from all of us.

#YesAllPeople.

Much like the challenge that Lauren puts up in her op/ed isn’t it?

You know, when up against the kind of hate like this…that human spirit gets trampled down powerfully low.  I am willing to do the work but dammit, sometimes all I feel is defeated and that there is no chance in hell anything will change for the better.

rose-tatouee-1955-01-gNow the rest of the links in dump fashion because I went on a rant:

 

Separatists remain resolute in Ukraine after elections and bombardments | Al Jazeera America

 

ISLA VISTA, Calif.: Isla Vista returning to normal as painful questions linger | MCT National News | McClatchy DC

 

Did the SEC just drop a big hint about pay-to-play prosecutions? | PandoDaily

 

Burt-Lancaster-tattooThe EPA, The Fate of the Planet, and the Neoconfederate Judiciary – Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money

 

Take a look at the picture on this link: Indigenous people, Brazilia police clash | Al Jazeera America

 

CANNED HEAT | Gin and Tacos

 

Christian woman on Sudanese death row gives birth | Al Jazeera America

 

Robert De Niro Opens Up About His Gay Father – Hollywood ReporterBurt-Lancaster-Anna-Magnani-fun-Rose-Tattoo

 

The World’s Most Content (and Miserable) Countries – 24/7 Wall St.

 

And that is all I got. It is 5:27 in the morning…I’ve got to get the soup started, making Ropa Veja today.

It is a Spanish dish that takes hours and hours. The soup alone will not be done until 3 or 4 pm…Anyway, y’all have a good day.

Leave some links in the comments, and tell us how you are feeling today.

Ciao!

 


Memorial Day Reads

first memorial day

Good Morning!!

A few days ago, I read an article about the “true meaning of Memorial Day.” I can’t find it now, but it was in the Chicago Tribune. The author wrote that Memorial Day began as “Decoration Day,” when Southern women decorated the graves of Confederate soldiers. I Googled some more and found other writers making the same claim. Here’s a piece by a Civil War historian from Purdue University Caroline Janney:

Many may not know the holiday weekend that marks the start of summer by paying respects to veterans and remembering loved ones began when white Southern women took a leadership role in honoring their Civil War veterans, says a Purdue University historian.

“After the Civil War, southern men would have appeared treasonous if they had organized memorials to honor their fallen, so women – perceived as apolitical – instead organized tributes and events that set the tone for how the country celebrates Memorial Day today,” says Caroline E. Janney, professor of historyand president-elect of the Society of Civil War Historians. “In 1866, the men were figuratively hiding behind the skirts of these women who worked together as part of Ladies’ Memorial Associations.”

The women organized dozens of memorials during the spring of 1866 and the following years, Janney says. Historically these memorials were scheduled throughout the spring as a sign of renewal and rebirth, and each community chose its own date to celebrate.

The date usually reflected a key date in the Civil War, such as the May 10 death of Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, or a battle close to the association’s individual area. Memorial Day became more unified when larger associations, such as the United Confederate Veterans and United Daughters of the Confederacy, began organizing memorials in the 1890s. And memorial days also were observed in the North, but they were organized by Union veterans beginning in 1868, two years after the ex-Confederate women had established the practice.

I was surprised, because I had read years ago that the practice was begun by former slaves who wanted to honor Union soldiers. I found the above photo on Facebook–with the suggestion that it was taken on that first Decoration Day May 1, 1865; but I can’t be absolutely certain that’s accurate. Note that that dates is a year earlier than the one Janney writes about. It turns out that a number of places and people claim to have started the practice of decorating Union and Confederate Graves. Southerners designated “Confederate Memorial Days.” Kingston, Georgia claims to have held the first one.

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Yale historian David Blight wrote about the disputed origins of Memorial Day in the New York Times in 2011.

Officially, in the North, Memorial Day emerged in 1868 when the Grand Army of the Republic, the Union veterans’ organization, called on communities to conduct grave-decorating ceremonies. On May 30, funereal events attracted thousands of people at hundreds of cemeteries in countless towns, cities and mere crossroads. By the 1870s, one could not live in an American town, North or South, and be unaware of the spring ritual.

But the practice of decorating graves — which gave rise to an alternative name, Decoration Day — didn’t start with the 1868 events, nor was it an exclusively Northern practice. In 1866 the Ladies’ Memorial Association of Columbus, Ga., chose April 26, the anniversary of Gen. Joseph Johnston’s final surrender to Gen. William T. Sherman, to commemorate fallen Confederate soldiers. Later, both May 10, the anniversary of Gen. Stonewall Jackson’s death, and June 3, the birthday of Jefferson Davis, were designated Confederate Memorial Day in different states.

Soon the yearly practice became partisan:

In the South, Memorial Day was a means of confronting the Confederacy’s defeat but without repudiating its cause. Some Southern orators stressed Christian notions of noble sacrifice. Others, however, used the ritual for Confederate vindication and renewed assertions of white supremacy. Blacks had a place in this Confederate narrative, but only as time-warped loyal slaves who were supposed to remain frozen in the past.

The Lost Cause tradition thrived in Confederate Memorial Day rhetoric; the Southern dead were honored as the true “patriots,” defenders of their homeland, sovereign rights, a natural racial order and a “cause” that had been overwhelmed by “numbers and resources” but never defeated on battlefields.

Yankee Memorial Day orations often righteously claimed the high ground of blood sacrifice to save the Union and destroy slavery. It was not uncommon for a speaker to honor the fallen of both sides, but still lay the war guilt on the “rebel dead.”

But Blight discovered in a historical archive at Harvard University that the earliest celebration of “Decoration Day” was organized by freed slaves in Charleston, South Carolina in 1865.

During the final year of the war, the Confederates had converted the city’s Washington Race Course and Jockey Club into an outdoor prison. Union captives were kept in horrible conditions in the interior of the track; at least 257 died of disease and were hastily buried in a mass grave behind the grandstand.

After the Confederate evacuation of Charleston black workmen went to the site, reburied the Union dead properly, and built a high fence around the cemetery. They whitewashed the fence and built an archway over an entrance on which they inscribed the words, “Martyrs of the Race Course.” ….

The procession was led by 3,000 black schoolchildren carrying armloads of roses and singing the Union marching song “John Brown’s Body.” Several hundred black women followed with baskets of flowers, wreaths and crosses. Then came black men marching in cadence, followed by contingents of Union infantrymen. Within the cemetery enclosure a black children’s choir sang “We’ll Rally Around the Flag,” the “Star-Spangled Banner” and spirituals before a series of black ministers read from the Bible.

After the dedication the crowd dispersed into the infield and did what many of us do on Memorial Day: enjoyed picnics, listened to speeches and watched soldiers drill. Among the full brigade of Union infantrymen participating were the famous 54th Massachusetts and the 34th and 104th United States Colored Troops, who performed a special double-columned march around the gravesite.

Nearly 150 years later, it’s apparently very difficult for some Americans to credit African Americans with the first Memorial Day (or with much of anything else for that matter). As Ta-Nehisi Coates showed in The Atlantic recently, it’s apparently difficult for Americans to remember much of anything about African American history–before or after the Civil War. Why would anyone feel comfortable mourning the “lost cause” of a society built on the enslavement of other human beings? I can understand mourning the dead Confederate soldiers, but shouldn’t there be recognition that they died for something shameful? We can look around us today and still see the aftereffects of the slavery and the war that ended it. Will we ever get over it? One more quote from Blight’s article:

The war was over, and Memorial Day had been founded by African-Americans in a ritual of remembrance and consecration. The war, they had boldly announced, had been about the triumph of their emancipation over a slaveholders’ republic. They were themselves the true patriots.

Homeless01

On Memorial Day in 2014, we honor the dead of all wars, but we treat our living war veteran with disrespect. From CNN, ‘Thanks for your service’ not enough, by Sebastian Junger, Jim McDermott and Karl Marlantes.

According to current Veterans Administration estimates, 22 American veterans take their lives every single day.

High rates of unemployment, homelessness, alcoholism, substance abuse and post-traumatic stress are decimating our community of veterans. With the wars of the past 13 years in Iraq and Afghanistan coming to a close, we are seeing too many casualties among American soldiers in this transition to peace.

In light of this crisis, we need a new kind of Memorial Day.

Many veterans are desperate to talk about their experiences with fellow Americans who accept shared responsibility for what is done in war, particularly the killing. Yet these conversations rarely happen today. How can a veteran truly come home unless we acknowledge that our nation’s wars are something we all chose and paid for?

Returning Vietnam veterans were treated shamefully. That, thankfully, is behind America. We’ve moved from outright hostility to awkward, if well-meant, expressions of “thank you for your service” and the creation of a number of new veterans services organizations.

However, there remains an abiding sense of national indifference, or worse, a sense that somehow veterans are victims. This must change.

A great deal needs to change for the United States to be “one nation indivisible.”

news3

In the News

 

Isla Vista Mass Murder:

The horrible murders in Santa Barbara are still at the top of the Google News page today. A few links:

NBC News: What Do We Know About Elliot Rodger’s Rampage?

Little Green Footballs: Echoes of Montreal – Isla Vista shows us 25 years doesn’t change much.

NY Daily News: Social media strikes back with #YesAllWomen after deadly Isla Vista rampage.

Slate: The Pick-Up Artist Community’s Predictable, Horrible Response to a Mass Murder

CBS Los Angeles: Rodger’s Family Friend says Killer’s Parents Tried to Get Son Mental Help.

Village Voice: Rightbloggers: Santa Barbara Killer Elliot Rodger’s Sexist Rants Have Nothing To Do With Sexism (Or Guns).

Fox News: Sheriffs never saw menacing videos before California rampage.

NY Daily News: Santa Barbara killer’s parents raced to stop him after receiving disturbing emails

 

news

Other News:

The Washington Post: White House mistakenly identifies CIA chief in Afghanistan.

The New York Times: Pro-European Businessman Claims Victory in Ukraine Presidential Vote.

Reuters: French far right in ‘earthquake’ win as Europe votes.

Raw Story: It’s all in your head: Scientist now believes his pioneering work on gluten allergy was wrong.

Raw Story: SC pastor accused of turning Bible college into forced labor camp for foreign students.

The Hollywood Reporter: Walt Disney Family Feud: Inside His Grandkids’ Weird, Sad Battle Over a $400 Million Fortune.

Politico: The ‘Wary of Hillary’ Democrats

What else is happening? Please post your links in the comment thread, and enjoy the holiday!


Tuesday Reads

Henri Matisse, Woman Reading with Tea

Henri Matisse, Woman Reading with Tea

 Good Morning!!

 I need to begin with some local Massachusetts stories that may have national repercussions.

First there is an update to the story of Ibragim Todashev, who was allegedly a friend of accused Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Both men are deceased. As you may recall, Todashev was shot and killed in his home in Orlando by an agent from the Boston FBI office on May 22, 2013.

The agent, along with an agent from the Orlando FBI office and two Massachusetts state troopers, had been questioning Todashev about his possible involvement with Tamerlan in the murders of three men in Waltham, MA on September 11, 2011.

According to the agent and the trooper who was there with him, Todashev attacked the agent with a table and the agent had shot him in self defense. Todashev had supposedly been writing a confession to his involvement in the murders when he suddenly attacked. The agent who shot Todashev was later absolved of any wrongdoing by reports by the Florida State Attorney’s office, the DOJ, and the FBI. The FBI report has not been released; and in the other two reports, much information, include the names of the agents and troopers, some portions of photos of the crime scene were redacted.

Now to the latest news (which so far has gone unnoticed by the corporate media). A couple of days ago, a blogger named B. Blake revealed that he/she had succeeded in downloading a version of the Florida Attorney’s report that was not properly redacted. The unredacted photos and the names of the agent who shot Todashev along with the two Mass. state troopers have been published on B. Blake’s blog “The Boston Marathon Bombings:What Happened?” The post includes an explanation of how the unredacted materials were obtained and authenticated. I’m not going to post the photos or names of law enforcement personnel; but you can see them at the above link. In another blog post, B. Blake reports some background information on the FBI agent involved.

So far I’ve seen nothing reported about this in the mainstream press, but it is all over Twitter. I don’t know if this will get out into the mainstream, but the FBI must have noticed it by now. I don’t know what will happen next, but when Twitter gets hold of a story, it generally gets noticed by the media eventually. I hope no harm will come to the three men whose names have been kept quiet until now. Stay tuned . . .

The other Massachusetts story will probably be blown up way out of proportion by the GOP Obamacare haters. From The Boston Globe, Mass. scrapping flawed health insurance website: Next steps have uncertainties for users, insurers.

Massachusetts plans to scrap the state’s dysfunctional online health insurance website, after deciding it would be too expensive and time-consuming to fix, and replace it with a system used by several other states to enroll residents in plans.

Simultaneously, the state is preparing to temporarily join the federal HealthCare.gov insurance marketplace in case the replacement system is not ready by the fall.

As late as March, the state had considered rebuilding the balky Health Connector site, which has left thousands of consumers frustrated and many without coverage for months. But Sarah Iselin, the insurance executive whom Governor Deval Patrick tapped to oversee repairs to the site, said that approach turned out to be far too risky.

The state’s online insurance system must be ready by Nov. 15 for consumers to enroll in new health plans for 2015, and Massachusetts is one of several states under pressure from the Obama administration to make sure it meets the deadline.

The change mostly involves adopting a new software program and getting it up to speed by the deadline, which is set by law and has no flexibility.

Another unknown is whether the transition will create disruption for consumers. Eric Linzer, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans, said some insurers may not be able to afford to remain in the program, meaning consumers could end up having to switch coverage.

“I can’t overstate the complexity and technical issues that come with not having to develop just one but two separate systems,’’ he said. “Given the time frame in which all this has to be implemented, this is going to be a significant undertaking for plans.’’

Massachusetts also provides more generous subsidies than the federal health insurance program for residents with incomes below 300 percent of the federal poverty level. Iselin said whether the state can retain those unique aspects of its program if it connects to the federal site is still under discussion with the Obama administration. According to the state’s plan, use of the federal website, if necessary, would be for no more than a year…

On the other hand, there is positive news long-term for Obamacare from a study of the effects of Massachusetts’ adopting universal health care in 2006. From the NYT: Mortality Drop Seen to Follow ’06 Health Law.

BOSTON — The death rate in Massachusetts dropped significantly after it adopted mandatory health care coverage in 2006, a study released Monday found, offering evidence that the country’s first experiment with universal coverage — and the model for crucial parts of President Obama’s health care law — has saved lives, health economists say.

The study tallied deaths in Massachusetts from 2001 to 2010 and found that the mortality rate — the number of deaths per 100,000 people — fell by about 3 percent in the four years after the law went into effect. The decline was steepest in counties with the highest proportions of poor and previously uninsured people. In contrast, the mortality rate in a control group of counties similar to Massachusetts in other states was largely unchanged.

A national 3 percent decline in mortality among adults under 65 would mean about 17,000 fewer deaths a year.

“It’s big,” said Samuel Preston, a demographer at the University of Pennsylvania and an authority on life expectancy. Professor Preston, who was not involved in the study, called the study “careful and thoughtful,” and said it added to a growing body of evidence that people with health insurance could reap the ultimate benefit — longer life.

Experts said the study, which was published online Monday in theAnnals of Internal Medicine, will not settle the long-debated question of whether being insured prolongs life, but it provides the most credible evidence yet that it might. Still, health improvements can take years to surface in mortality data, and some researchers were skeptical of the magnitude and suddenness of the decline.

Read more at the link.

In national news . . .

SCOTUS

NYT writer Adam Liptak has an interesting analysis of Supreme Court “in-group bias” in decisions involving “free speech.”

Justice Antonin Scalia is known as a consistent and principled defender of free speech rights.

It pained him, he has said, when he voted to strike down a law making flag burning a crime. “If it was up to me, if I were king,” he said, “I would take scruffy, bearded, sandal-wearing idiots who burn the flag, and I would put them in jail.” But the First Amendment stopped him.

That is a powerful example of constitutional principles overcoming personal preferences. But it turns out to be an outlier. In cases raising First Amendment claims, a new study found, Justice Scalia voted to uphold the free speech rights of conservative speakers at more than triple the rate of liberal ones. In 161 cases from 1986, when he joined the court, to 2011, he voted in favor of conservative speakers 65 percent of the time and liberal ones 21 percent.

He is not alone. “While liberal justices are over all more supportive of free speech claims than conservative justices,” the study found, “the votes of both liberal and conservative justices tend to reflect their preferences toward the ideological groupings of the speaker.”

Social science calls this kind of thing “in-group bias.” The impact of such bias on judicial behavior has not been explored in much detail, though earlierstudies have found that female appeals court judges are more likely to vote for plaintiffs in sexual harassment and sex discrimination suits.

Lee Epstein, a political scientist and law professor who conducted the new study with two colleagues, said it showed the justices to be “opportunistic free speech advocates.”

Much more–with chart–at the link.

There’s quite a bit of discussion today of Lara Logan and whether or not she will ever return to CBS’ 60 Minutes. The uproar is in reaction to a lengthy article at New York Magazine by Joe Hagen, Benghazi and the Bombshell: Is Lara Logan too Toxic to Return to 60 Minutes? I haven’t had time to read the article yet, but Talking Points Memo summarizes the main points: Lara Logan’s Return To CBS Up In The Air.

Lara-Logan

A lengthy New York magazine report published Sunday suggests that Logan’s return is far from certain. In the piece contributing editor Joe Hagan explores the tensions that simmered within CBS News, where his sources in the network described the current atmosphere as “toxic,” since Logan was forced to apologize last November for a flawed report on the Benghazi attacks.

The report that led to Logan’s suspension centered around a British security contractor, Dylan Davies, who gave a heroic first-person account of the attacks on the American consulate in Benghazi. The contractor’s credibility was called into question after the segment aired, when it was reported that Davies may not have been present on the night of the attacks at the compound.

TPM quotes some of Logan’s CBS co-workers:

“It’s not an accident that Lara Logan fucked up,” one of Logan’s colleagues told the magazine. “It was inevitable. Everybody saw this coming.”

During the fallout from the report, a founding member of “60 Minutes,” Morley Safer, reportedly marched into executive producer Jeff Fager’s office and demanded that Logan be fired, but to no avail. Another unnamed source suggested to the magazine that CBS President Les Moonves has since “soured” on Logan, whom he previously treated as a favorite.

Think Progress reports that CBS was so embarrassed by Logan’s reporting that they “asked Nexis-Lexis to delete [the] transcript.”

In international news . . .

There’s an extremely disturbing story from Nigeria. BBC News: Boko Haram ‘to sell’ Nigeria girls abducted from Chibok

Abubakar Shekau, leader  of Boko Haram

Abubakar Shekau, leader of Boko Haram

Nigerian Islamist militant group Boko Haram has threatened to “sell” the hundreds of schoolgirls it abducted three weeks ago.

Militant leader Abubakar Shekau sent a video obtained by the AFP news agency, in which he said for the first time that his group had taken the girls.

About 230 girls are still believed to be missing, prompting widespread criticism of the Nigerian government.

The Boko Haram insurgency has left thousands dead since 2009.

The girls were taken from their boarding school in Chibok, in the northern state of Borno, on the night of 14 April.

Boko Haram, which means “Western education is forbidden”, has attacked numerous educational institutions in northern Nigeria.

In the video, Abubakar Shekau said the girls should not have been in school in the first place, but rather should get married.

“God instructed me to sell them, they are his properties and I will carry out his instructions,” he said.

I wonder why it is that “God” give so many widely varying “instructions” to people of different “religions.”

More from CNN: ‘I will sell them,’ Boko Haram leader says of kidnapped Nigerian girls.

“I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah,” a man claiming to be Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said in a video first obtained by Agence France-Presse.

“There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell. I will sell women. I sell women,” he continued, according to a CNN translation from the local Hausa language….”Girls, you should go and get married,” he said.

Not surprisingly, there has been much criticism of the government’s response to the kidnappings.

Weeks after the girls’ April 14 kidnapping, Africa’s most populous country seems to be no closer to finding them, triggering complaints of ineptitude — some of which are expressed on Twitter with the globally trending hashtag #BringBackOurGirls.

Nigeria’s finance minister said Monday that her country’s government remains committed to finding the girls, but should have done a better job explaining the situation to the public.

“Have we communicated what is being done properly? The answer is no, that people did not have enough information,” Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala told CNN’s Richard Quest.

Revealing details about the investigation is tricky, she said, “because you are dealing with people that you don’t know, and you don’t know…what they might do to these girls.”

There is much more information about the Boko Haram group at the CNN link.

Those are my offerings for today. What stories are you following? Please share your links in the comment thread and have a lovely spring Tuesday!