Friday, February 28, 2014

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Arizona knows full well what the NFL isn't quite saying. "They're Coming For You...," on Madison Kimrey's blog. Excerpt
If the NFL's core values indeed "embrace tolerance, diversity, inclusiveness and prohibit discrimination," then it's time for the NFL to stand up and say they will impose a penalty on states that [officially] hate by not bringing the biggest event they have to those states, just like their Competition Committee is proposing a penalty for using the N-word on the field.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Thor's Day: What’s wrong with Mormonism?

Or Scientology?

By Paul Clark 
(aka motomynd)

Moristotle recently published an article on Mormonism that was so well written by an obviously devout and well-informed Mormon, that I emailed the link to several people with whom I regularly discuss various views on religion and philosophy. To my surprise, they responded with feedback that was far more strident and negative than I expected.
    When I offered what mild defense I can muster for any “official” religion, one of my friends asked “What next? Are you going to start defending Scientology?”
    Which made me stop to think: Why is Scientology any worse than any of the other religious contrivances?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Ask Wednesday: Coy Pittman on changing the world through entrepreneurship

Burning alive

Edited by Morris Dean

Some of the more interesting people on the planet live right here in my neighborhood, and I’ve interviewed a few of them – most recently Shannon Long of Beyond Measure Barbering Institute and Ministries.
    Another such person is Coy Lee Pittman. If Shannon Long is an enterpreneur – and he assuredly is – Coy Pittman is an entrepreneur’s entrepreneur. And he can build a computer from scratch and is technically very well versed generally in computer software and hardware. He has started two tech businesses, both of which he has sold to move on to what he finds more fun than running a business – starting a new one...and mentoring others who want to start a business. We’re delighted to be able to interview him.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tuesday Voice: Guilt-free shopping guides

By Paul Clark 
(aka motomynd)

People of a save-the-earth mindset may or may not win their battle, but there are now a multitude of places where people can support their idealism while buying life's essentials.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Fourth Monday Susan Speaks: Adventures in volunteering

By Susan C. Price

I always read about retirees who volunteer a great deal and love it. So I figured i should.
    A friend who knew i was “art-inclined” had a friend who was the Operations Director of a local non-profit that uses art to help abused women and children heal. So, i ventured to one of their “volunteer open house” nights.
    The Director toured me through the facility. From what i could see and the little e-research i had done...i could tell that this was a grounded, 20-year “successful” non-profit, well-run, well-organized, with lots of community (read “money”) support. So what they do must be “working.” Good to know. Impressive.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sunday Review: Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond (TV miniseries)

And already was

By Morris Dean

The Hollywood Reporter nails it when it comes to BBC America's recent TV miniseries Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond: "It's a fun romp that illustrates how desperately the dashing author wanted to live a large life – and tried his hardest." Fleming, of course, for those too young to have heard of him – even if they have seen any number of 007 James Bond movies and maybe even heard of Sean Connery – is author Ian Fleming.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Fourth Saturday's Loneliest Liberal: The things we worry about

Almost none of them will happen

By James Knudsen

Back when I was in high school, I received some of the best advice I would ever get. I think it was in Leadership class, definitely not the place for me as it was filled with student council types, and that wasn’t me. But my girlfriend was in the class, so what more reason could I need?
    One day one of the school counselors addressed us about stress. She said, “You know, 95% of the things you worry about never happen.”

Friday, February 21, 2014

Fish for Friday

By Morris Dean

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Is it any surprise that "In Black Men, Internalized Racism Speeds Up Aging"? Excerpt:
Racism is a powerful enough force that it can wear down a man’s body. Those are the findings, at once common-sense and groundbreaking, in a study led by University of Maryland epidemiologist David Chae which examines the relationship between white blood cell telomere lengths and experiences with racism.
   The study, “Discrimination, Racial Bias, and Telomere Length in African-American Men,” to be published in the February 2014 issue of the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, is the first of its kind to explicitly measure the role that racism-related factors play in the aging process.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Thor's Day: The faith that matters

It's never mentioned in religious tracts

By Morris Dean

The faith that matters to our daily acts,
is never mentioned in religious tracts,
    which only nod
    at faith in God
and never say be faithful to the facts.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

How can someone who has withdrawn from a family be drawn back into it?

By Susan C. Price

[Questions are followed by answers and then, inevitably by DID expect that...didn’t you?]

I know of several members of families who have isolated themselves from the rest of the family and seemed to become cold and hard toward other family members. I don’t know why the individuals withdrew, as no one seems to want to talk about whatever is at the root of their problems. (I am not one to pry.) But how do other members of a family deal with someone who has withdrawn? Of course, they can just let the person be. But if they’d like to try to draw him or her back “into the fold,” how might they go about it? –Jan

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tuesday Voice: Another red herring of the healthcare biz


By Jim Rix

The healthcare biz does little to correct the common misperception that “sugar makes you fat” and identify the real culprit because it’s not profitable to do so. While sugar is not a health food and should not be the bulk of caloric intake, a little bit of sugar on oatmeal to make it more enjoyable does little harm, while a Diet Coke with a greasy cheeseburger does little good.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Third Monday Musing: Mashrabiyah


By Eric Meub

1. I’m writing this in Mecca. Let me clarify: I am sitting at a conference table in a university whose grounds lie within the metropolitan limits of Mecca. I am not, however, within the precinct of the Holy Capital, the spiritual center of Islam and the most important city in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where entrance is forbidden to non-Muslims. On all sides of the university campus, I can see the infrastructure and venues for the yearly hajj, the act of devotion each Muslim must make once in a lifetime, when over a million pilgrims flood the region for a week of fastidious following in the footsteps of the Prophet (‘alayhi s-salaam – or “Peace be upon him” – should be uttered after any mention of his name).

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sunday Review: Questioning Darwin (TV documentary)

Charles Darwin at about the age of
his voyage on The Beagle
Thinking they've answered Darwin, rather

By Morris Dean

The fact that Charles Darwin's birthday was this week (he was born on February 12, 1809) sparked HBO's airing of 73-year-old British filmmaker Antony Thomas's one-hour documentary Questioning Darwin, which adroitly gives about equal coverage (1) to scientists and biographers appreciating Darwin's discovery of biological evolution's mechanism of natural selection and (2) to folks like Ken Ham, a founder of the "Answers in Genesis Creation Museum" in Kentucky, who are questioning Darwin. Of course, the creationists aren’t just questioning Darwin; they think they have definitively answered him by opposing the established, proven science of evolution with something they like to call “creation science*.”

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Third Saturday Fiction

Excerpt from the novel This Sweet Intercourse: Raymond in the dark

By Michael Hanson

[Editor's note: Another excerpt from the same novel appeared on December 30. Raymond is still in the 4th grade.]

Though he’d forget the fact, the springboards of change were situated all around, one of which slid beneath him on a Wednesday afternoon while he rummaged the dirtyclothes hamper in search of socks: the closet door accidentally closed behind him, and after the brief initial panic passed he decided to stick it out in the dark, see what it was like.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Limerick for Valentine's Day:
For this special day, will you be our Valentine?
Come on over; we'll have Paul's vegan galantine1,
    give thanks we're not geriatric,
    wassail our footnote hat-trick2,
and gift the girls their very own ballantine3.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Thor's Day: Are Mormons Christians?

Yes, we are

By Mandy Al-Bjaly

I remember like it was yesterday sitting in my 9th grade history class. We were studying different Christian religions and my teacher brought up Mormons.
    A boy in class, one I happened to have a crush on at the time, shook his head and said, “Mormons aren’t Christians. They wrote their own book.”
    I, a 14-year-old Mormon girl, was too afraid to raise my hand and correct him. I will never forget that day.
    To make up for it now, I would like to write about how Mormons are truly Christian people.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

I'm too busy to help an old friend; what should I do?

By Susan C. Price

[Questions are followed by answers and then, inevitably by DID expect that...didn’t you?]

An old friend asked me to compose a few “Dear Abby”-type questions for you, but I’m kind of buried under with work. I’m coaching five students through their dissertations and theses in addition to my regular teaching responsibilities. What should I do? –Saul

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tuesday Voice: Los Angeles crime

Some good news, and some really bad news

By Paul Clark 
(aka motomynd)

Being a lifelong LA Laker fan, I was pondering the idea of attempting to talk my wife into taking in a game on our next trip to California, instead of landing at LAX, renting a car, and immediately driving north, as we usually do. Not having spent much time in LA since the ’90s, when I had some peripheral involvement with the Baywatch crew and did paparazzi gigs at a few star-studded events, I thought it best to do a little online research to see what risk factors I might need to be aware of in modern-day LA. Back then, despite gang violence and the general edginess that was eroding the famed West Coast “laid back” atmosphere, LA was crime kindergarten compared to what I saw in NYC in the ’70s and Miami in the ’80s.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Second Monday Music: Sound

The physical world and 
human perception

By André Duvall

An attempt to answer the well-known question “if a tree falls in the forest and no one is present, does it make a sound?” highlights one difference between physical and perceptual descriptions of sound. A falling tree will produce vibrations both within itself and against the ground it falls on. These vibrations will then send off repeated compressions and decompressions (rarefactions) of the molecules in the surrounding airspace. So, physically, yes, there are vibrations and resultant changes in pressure of air molecules, the occurrence of which is essential for sound production. However, there is no human ear, brain, and body present to perceive, process, and react to these changes in pressure, and therefore there is no experience of this sensation, at least by a human being.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Sunday Review: An Apology to Elephants (TV documentary)

An appropriate prologue

By Morris Dean

I suppose you regard inventor Thomas Edison more or less as I used to: you sort of revere him, or have a pretty favorable feeling toward him.
    But maybe you don't know, any more than I did before watching the 40-minute 2013 HBO documentary An Apology to Elephants (directed by Amy Schatz), that he used an unwanted circus elephant to demonstrate the danger of alternating-current electricity. He hooked the elephant up and promptly transformed the stately beast into a tower of toppling electrocutional light and smoke. It's a horrific segment of archival black-and-white footage shown in the documentary. Nice, Thomas E., how instructive....

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Second Saturday's Sonnet


By Eric Meub



An unexpected gust puffs flames into
the candles, blowing suns across the glow
of water. Flashes let the waves slip through
like fabric over muscles in the flow.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

One of the songs at the "Goodnite, Pete" concert tonight here in Berkeley was a Woody Guthrie song about migrant farmworkers, "Pastures of Plenty" here's Pete [Seeger]'s version:

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Thor's Day: 333.9

The one-and-a-halfth
coming of Jesus Christ

By Art Street

Edited by Morris Dean

God, yes sir-eee bob, can tell us what's what any way He chooses. The Bible isn't The Almighty's only text. (Nor the "Ala-mighty's" Qu'ran or any other "Scripture.") All of Creation is Scripture for God. Why, just this morning, here in my little town, He spoke by way of this gas-station sign!—to people whose eyes are open, anyway. Like mine. The price of unleaded this morning was 333.9. Seldom does The Lord God of All speak so clearly.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

My son says he's a girl; what do I do?

By Susan C. Price

[Questions are followed by answers and then, inevitably by DID expect that...didn’t you?]

My son (25 years old) recently told me that he was born into the wrong sex of body, and he has begun a “transgender journey.” I am having so, so much trouble accepting this. I feel as though I am being expected to forget that I have a son (I gave him a special name when he was born!)—or to pretend that he is dead or never existed—and now accept this new girl person as a replacement, even though “she” looks and acts just like my son always has. It was a SON I gave birth to, not a DAUGHTER!
    Please advise me what to do, or how to think about this. –Mom

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Tuesday Voice: A red herring of the healthcare biz


By Jim Rix

It is obvious that for a business to stay in business for any length of time it must be profitable. This fact is true for the healthcare industry, which encompasses several entities: health insurance companies vying for your or your employer’s dollars; pharmaceutical companies anxious to push pills upon you; the meat and dairy industries promoting their unhealthy products; government agencies like the USDA setting health policies influenced by the above special interest groups; and last and least the medical doctor, also a puppet of all of the above, anxious to treat you ad infinitum to make a profit rather than to cure you with the truth. To obscure this truth, red herrings abound in the healthcare biz.

Monday, February 3, 2014

First Monday with Characters

Edited by Morris Dean

Madison Kimrey, on stage
This month I'm looking forward to marching in Raleigh on February 8th and appearing in Les Miserables opening at the Paramount Theater in Burlington on February 21st. Last month I gave a speech at Girls World Expo to encourage other girls to get involved with the issues that are important to them:

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Sunday Review: League of Denial (TV documentary)

The end of football?

By Morris Dean

Sure, it's clever scheduling to review the 2013 PBS Frontline documentary League of Denial: The NFL's Concussion Crisis on Super Bowl Sunday, but what difference does it make? We're all (who are interested) going to watch and probably enjoy the game anyway, so who cares about the head butts (and the tears and twists and strains and breaks in other body parts) suffered by the highly paid men engaged in about as ferocious combat as you can find outside the military?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

First Saturday as the World Turns

It’s not about the poor, stupid—it’s about the rich!

By Ed Rogers

While debating how the Congress and your local elected representative act—or, more often, don’t act—toward the poor, I have seen idea, after opinion, after facts even when they are not facts, and a whole gambit of crap that has nothing to do with being poor.
    I was raised poor and came from what folks called land-poor people. That is to say, before WWII, my family were farmers. My father and most of the young men who grew up helping farm the land joined the WPA as soon as they could. No one had money to buy your crops and it was cheaper not to grow more than you could use. Going to work for the WPA meant there would be one fewer mouth to feed.