Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Last Day

This month-long exercise in attempting photography has been an eye-opener for me. Specifically, while I appreciate great photography, I cannot do it.

That being said, here's the many sides of me.

Tomorrow, I start a different thirty-day challenge, because I need structure.

Lisa is the 99%. Randall is become death, and it is sad.

Facebook has a lot of stupid stuff, which I devoutly ignore. They did a "30 Day Song Challenge" a few months back, and it was fun. There have been several improvements, deviations, variations, and the one I like best, which I start tomorrow, follows:
DAY 1: A song you've seen performed live
DAY 2: A song by an artist you have a crush on
DAY 3: A song you listen to when cleaning
DAY 4: A song that's been dedicated to you
DAY 5: A song you've requested on the radio
DAY 6: A song you wish you wrote
DAY 7: A song from your favourite soundtrack
DAY 8: A love song
DAY 9: A break up song
DAY 10: A song that reminds you of Autumn
DAY 11: A song that reminds you of Winter
DAY 12: A song that reminds you of Spring
DAY 13: A song that reminds you of Summer
DAY 14: A song you've played on a jukebox
DAY 15: A song from the first album you purchased
DAY 16: A song that describes your home town
DAY 17: A song you misheard the lyrics to
DAY 18: A song from the first group you saw live
DAY 19: A song you loved as a child
DAY 20: A song you listen to when you're in a bad mood
DAY 21: Your favourite music video
DAY 22: A song that describes your world view
DAY 23: A song you listen to in transit
DAY 24: A song you have performed in public
DAY 25: A song from a local band
DAY 26: Your favourite TV theme song
DAY 27: A song you listen to on the weekend
DAY 28: A song that motivates you
DAY 29: A song that's always stuck in your head
DAY 30: A song from the year you were born

Friday, October 14, 2011

The 99 Percent And A Restatement Of Principles

The other day, I saw the following comment on a post at The Daily Howler. I linked to it on Facebook. It reads in part:
The problem with our rank and file is that they get off on being what they regard as morally and intellectually superior to THOSE OTHER PEOPLE--a superiority which they demonstrate by demeaning mainstream Americans, especially white men, while screaming about how THOSE OTHER PEOPLE are bigots. It's insane, but that's what they're doing.
Today, Somerby wrote the following. He links to two different Hullabaloo posts, one by David Adkins, the other by Digby, then writes the following:
Who on earth would ever have thought that “the entire 99 percent” was ever going to “rise up against the rest?” Who would have thought that the Occupy movement “is going to sweep the country without any substantial opposition from average Americans?” Using Atkins’ silly construction, who would have pictured “an agreement on rational, sensible policy on which we can all come to consensus?” Who would have thought that this movement’s new math amounted to such a prediction?

In her post, Digby was playing the set-upon victim, as she increasingly likes to do; she pretended it wasn’t “fashionable” to make her statement, which was in fact simply fatuous. Politics is never about getting everyone to agree, and the Occupy movement’s insightful new math doesn’t mean that we are trying to win 99 percent agreement. It means that blue tribal members might approach reds with a broader perspective—might even help some reds come to see that they're part of the 99 too.


Poor Digby! She is subjected to so much static for her daring posts. It isn’t just the billionaires who will resist—average Americans will resist too! For ourselves, we have no idea who would have doubted this obvious fact; of course, many average Americans will choose to stay with the reds. The question as one builds a movement is of course different from that.

No one tries to win everyone over. The real question turns on "how many."

How many people in the red tribe might end up seeing themselves as of the 99 percent? There’s no way to know until you approach them—and that’s what tribal tribunes, all through history, have always inveighed against. As she continued, Digby noted that the Tea Party Express was dissing the Occupy folk—and Tea Party Nation was dissing them too! We have no idea why that would be a surprise to any sentient person.


Digby’s favorite word is “they.” It’s a word which denies that even one of “those people” could have the human qualities which define our own wonderful tribe. Yes, we know—she doesn't say “all.” But as as you read, where is the emphasis?

Projection is also a mark of such tribals. Those people “have a deep need to see themselves as better than somebody. It’s just who they are,” Digby explains. But that’s pretty much the feeling we get from the headstrong strivers at Hullabaloo, who tell us, in sweeping terms, that those people are “morally repulsive,” “disgusting and shameful,” unable to “feel basic empathy” on the basis of the fact that they saw they've seen a lot of kids squandering student loan money.

As always, the haters have been Where the Wild Things Are. On the basis of their travels, they want you to know that “those people” won't be on your side!
All of which leads to a simple observation - the biggest hurdle the the OWS folks face isn't ignorance, or ridicule from the mainstream press, or detractors on the right. It's potential ideological allies who will dismiss, deride, and defame potential allies for one simple reason - they don't think like "us"! The Hullabaloo posts make that pretty clear.

I've been blogging for five years, and have yet to make clear I am not the least bit interested in arguing. With anyone. Nor do I make any claim to superior insight, or wisdom, or understanding. I will most certainly call out blatant bigotry when it rears its ugly head; as my policy regarding Holocaust deniers, creationists, and global-warming deniers should make clear, I don't waste time dealing with nonsense, either. Factual error is just that, and I have no real need or inclination to waste time or space with folks who insist on the rough equivalent that 2+2=5.

I am interested, and have always been interested, in how folks view the world. How those views effect the way they live their lives. Even if the choices are such that I could never make them. That was the reason I first attempted, so many years ago, to converse with Neil Simpson. I couldn't care less that he believes I am some kind of non-Christian; I am interested in what he believes and why. He couldn't seem to understand that. It was far more important to him to criticize what I was saying than to take the time to actually read and understand it.

Political, religious, and other differences are important. They are not personal. I have disagreed with folks I respect a great deal, and here's the thing - I still respect them! As I wrote on Facebook, I have friends who are supporting Newt Gingrich for President. I have friends who are Marxists. I have friends who are clergy. I have friends who are atheists. And I think it's wonderful! I read their links and posts and marvel at the differences, and celebrate it.

The Occupy Wall Street movement, with its chant of "We Are The 99%" is an opening to really talk about the real problems we all face. Some of the folks I've seen interviewed sound an awful lot like libertarians. Others sound like, and probably are, various shades of socialists, communists, and anarchists. Rather than label them, or set up some ridiculous notion that even a majority of people will identify with the movement, it might be wise to shut up, listen, and think about the message. Even if we differ in how we understand how we got here, and what to do about it, it might be nice to sit and talk, together, about the simple reality that we all seem to share something in common - we're all, equally - red state and blue state, conservative and liberal, Republican and Democrat - screwed.

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 29

I was scanning some old photos this summer and discovered, much to my chagrin, that several of them had scanned black and white. Then, I found that there's a button on our three-in-one scanner/copier/printer that, when pushed, rendered the pictures in b&w. I went back and looked and some of them actually turned out . . . interesting.

Gretchen was particularly photogenic in b&w, being a Harlequin.

This photo of Lisa with then-presiding Bishop Joe Sprague burning the mortgage on the parsonage for Community UMC in LaMoille, IL looks like a newspaper photo. Actually, I took it on a disposable camera. Such is what happens when pictures are rendered b&w.

Lisa and her mother, the day Lisa graduated from Wesley Theological Seminary.

In the category of real b&w photos, at my the recent party celebrating my father's 90th birthday, my cousin put together a small memory book. In it was something I, nearing 46 years old, had never seen - a wedding photo of my parents. March 31, 1954.

Hint: For the last day, expect the unexpected.

Lisa makes hay while the sun shines. Randall captures Cleveland's cheery side.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 28

From Genesis' "Supper's Ready" (I'm not sure which member of the band wrote the lyrics:
How Dare I Be So Beautiful?

Wandering in the chaos the battle has left,
We climb up the mountain of human flesh,
To a plateau of green grass, and green trees full of life.
A young figure sits still by a pool,
He's been stamped "Human Bacon" by some butchery tool.
(He is you)
Social Security took care of this lad.
We watch in reverence, as Narcissus is turned to a flower.
A flower?

Late summer flowers are no less beautiful than those that burst forth in spring, you know, Lisa. Sometimes, the pictures are so beautiful you just want the world to stop.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

There's Always Something New Under The Sun, Even If It's A Bad Copy

Sometimes ramming around YouTube, randomly clicking this or that leads to the most interesting finds. For example, I had never heard of a band called Rishloo, and almost immediately I discovered a band taking Tool's approach to tonality, songwriting, arranging. They don't really add much to that general way of creating music, but it does have its moments.

Another Tool-like band is Isis. I think the sonic resemblance is pretty clear here.

Then there is Antithesis. Not sure what to call this other than melodic . . . what? Not quite metal, harder than hard rock, though. Lead singer sounds like a cross between Russell Allen of Symphony X and Steve Walsh of Kansas.

Also, too, I got a release by the unknown band Under the Sun. If the lead singer had sung instead of talked the lyrics, it would vastly improve the record. Maybe a bit more keyboard in the mix, too - it's there, just muffled, not quite muddy, but not clear, either. Mr. Record Reviewer, that's me!

Sargasso Sea - Scale the Summit
Manhunt - Shadow Gallery
Gonna Get Ya - Pete Townshend
ETI: Extra Terrestrial Intelligence - Blue Oyster Cult
Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream - King Crimson
Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion) - The Dead, Allstate Arena, May 5, 2009
Wish You Were Here (Live) - Pink Floyd
Day Eight: School - Ayreon
The Joke's On You - Porcupine Tree
Duke's Travels (Live, Archive #2) - Genesis

Because they are too often over-looked these days, or thought of as a band that just did weird, hard-rock novelty songs, it Blue Oyster Cult showing the world how it's done.

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 27

In May, 1994, Lisa and I spent a week in the Bay Area of California. We traveled down to Monterrey and Carmel-By-The-Sea. We went to a state park, driving up a mile-high mountain and wandering amongst the tarantula holes. We went to Berkeley, where we drove by People's Park. We also spent a day in the People's Republic of San Francisco. At the Marina, one jetty at Pier 19 have been taken over by California Sea Lions. This being San Francisco, it was turned over to them. From a distance folks stood around, snapping pictures, and wished they had the life of those sea lions.

We went to Alcatraz, and while we waited for the ferry, I took a picture of the island with a really hot foreground image.

It is only from Alcatraz that you get an idea of just how beautiful the city of San Francisco really is. The next shot tried to capture it, failed pretty miserably because I didn't bully my way through all the people, but you can see the city, hazy in the distance.

Lisa tries and fails to distance herself from our madness. It's the image that's lonely, not the photographer.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 26

Close-up, you say?

An SEM photo of a stack of silicon about one angstrom tall. It's dust from an etching process that just happened to stack up that way, according to the website where I found the photo.

And you were expecting . . . what? A picture of my finger?

Lisa is all buggy. A picture is worth a run-on sentence, I think.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Concocted Outrage

A tempest was erupting over the weekend after FOXNews started running a story claiming that Rep. John Lewis was denied the opportunity to address a gathering of Occupy Atlanta.
A lengthy video posted online over the weekend showed what happened when the Democratic congressman tried to address an "assembly" of protesters in his home state. Instead of giving the floor to a man who is not just a longtime U.S. representative but a revered civil rights icon, the protesters employed a tangle of parliamentary procedures to ultimately prevent him from speaking.

A stunned Lewis could be seen watching the whole thing unfold before ambling away.
Asked about the incident Monday, a Lewis spokeswoman told "the only comment that we're going to give is the comments already made." In a prior interview about the matter with the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Lewis said, "It's okay," and that "they didn't really deny me."
The end result, though, was that Lewis did not get to speak to the protesters.
The procedures they used -- rather, invented -- would make the Senate blush. Imagine some combination of Model U.N., Lord of the Flies and a Phish concert.
If all one did was read the FOXNews account, I can understand some outrage.

Things are not always as FOXNews would have us believe they appear to be.

A story in Atlanta's Creative Loafing on-line draws a slightly different picture of the events.
Congressman John Lewis visited the Occupy Atlanta rally at Woodruff Park last night approximately 45 minutes after its planning session, or General Assembly, started. Despite saying he did not want to speak, the civil rights icon was invited to address to the crowd. When the topic of allowing Lewis to speak was presented to the group, "Joe" (pictured in red) held up his arms to "block" Lewis from speaking.

"Joe" said he was against Lewis speaking because the movement is "not about one individual" and that it has been built on the idea of "no hierarchy." The crowd decided the congressman could speak after the General Assembly, but Lewis had to leave for a previous engagement.
No Phish concert references here.

I was led to this site from Joan Walsh's Salon piece on this same incident.
A YouTube video made its way around Twitter Saturday, showing the Atlanta offshoot of Occupy Wall Street in the middle of a General Assembly meeting, debating whether to ask Rep. John Lewis speak to the group. The answer was no, and the reaction on Twitter was almost unanimously negative: How could these people insult a civil rights hero that way?

I had the same reaction – until I understood what exactly occurred. It turns out Lewis came by, on his own, during a General Assembly meeting, to observe the group, and didn’t ask to speak. One of the activists suggested that he be invited to say a few words, and most of the assembly seemed fine with that – until one of them, a guy identified as Joe, stood up and disagreed. While expressing respect for Lewis’s work, he said the movement was “not about one individual” and it supported “no hierarchy.” Because the group was in a planning session, someone suggested that Lewis speak at the end of their agenda, but the congressman had another event and couldn’t stay.

I watched the video with growing frustration at what I perceived to be an insult to Lewis. But if you watched the whole thing, Occupy Atlanta has a process, like it or not, and the activists stayed true to their process. Everyone who spoke expressed respect for Lewis and a desire to hear him speak, but not in the middle of their planning meeting. By the time I finished the video, I could understand that.

Most important, John Lewis himself understood that. He noted he hadn’t asked to speak, and he was happy to observe. “I support the protesters in New York and here,” Lewis told Atlanta’s Creative Loafing before leaving the park. “It is the right time and the right place to be… It is the will of the people. When I was young we did similar actions. It is grassroots democracy at its best. I think something good will come of the moment.”

As he was leaving the area where the protest was occurring, Lewis stopped for a quick interview. This is after the events that everyone is all in a huff about.

A friend of mine sent me the link to the original FOXNews story, and even reading that I came to the same general conclusion Walsh did - the group had a process, and Lewis, respecting it, went on with his day. Even so, the framing of this whole event, and the way FOXNews and the various channels that funnel information like this, set off my bullshit detector. It didn't take any time at all to discover a host of sources on the event in question that, in sum, clearly show a fundamental truth when dealing with FOXNews stories: It didn't happen that way.

There has been just a bit too much offense taken by African-Americans and others at a series of movements, grass-roots and going viral, that are working to draw attention to various injustices. Nothing wrong with that. We all need our consciences pricked, our perspectives expanded. All the same, it's just a little too neat, a little too interesting that all this outrage at the alleged insensitivity of these movements is occurring. I do not doubt the very real concerns some folks have, say, of the SlutWalk movement. I do not doubt the worries that a movement concerned with increasing disparities in wealth would ignore very real concerns of race and gender inequality, as has too often happened in the past. What I do doubt is that the expressed concerns are somehow as spontaneous as they appear.

When an incident occurs that doesn't smell right, it is always best to check it out. I have done so, and see no reason, as my FB friend insists, to "defend" John L. Lewis from something that didn't happen. Lewis needs no help defending himself. His demonstrated courage is a matter of the historical record. Furthermore, he needs no defense in the face of things that, simply put, didn't happen.

There may be no story here, but at the same time, there is. The story, however, is FOXNews reporting an event in a way that clearly intends to smear as racist a movement that considers itself both (small "d") democratic and inclusive. Maybe, just maybe, if some of the outrage at the folks in Atlanta were directed at the real racists here, we might be getting somewhere.

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 24


No, but closer.

When I was in high school, I discovered the writings of Anais Nin, specifically this:

Unlike other writings on sex, particularly those of Ms. Nin's lover, Henry Miller (who, for the longest time, I confused with Henry James, God knows why), Nin offered a vision of sexuality that was potent, filled with the marvelous combination of love and lust that is the best human beings can do. Not content to titillate, she took certain erotic conventions - "Artists and Models", etc. - and gave them a twist, making them her own. Not the deep blue of mid-20th century pornography, or the faux-scandalous writings of D. H. Lawrence or the sex-pulps:

Anais Nin's writings introduced me to the possibility not only of literary sex, but the romantic possibilities inherent in carnal desire. While much has changed over the decades, I still hold that when a man and a woman are in love, their physical desire can manifest itself in a kind of freedom that makes of sex something more than simple reproduction on the one hand, or animal grunting on the other. I am grateful I was schooled in the possibilities inherent in human sexual love by Ms. Nin's writings.

And thanks to my sister, Susan, for holding her copy while she was in Africa in the Peace Corps.

Lisa gets edited. Randall feels like yodeling.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 23

The first year we were married, Lisa and I lived in an apartment, so pets were out of the question. Having both grown up in homes with pets, we talked about the animals we wanted, different dog breeds, how many cats. Within a week of our move to Jarratt, VA, we were the recipients of 2 kittens from the Owen farm. Dubbed Hobbes, because she was tiger striped and Calvin and Hobbes was the best comic ever; and Patch, being a tortoise shell calico with a bright orange patch over one eye, they graced our home, Hobbes for ten years, Patch for almost 15.

In April, 1995, we were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to purchase the pick of a litter from a AKC registered Great Dane brood. Lisa and I had both agreed that large dogs were preferable, and you don't get larger than a Great Dane. When Moriah was born in 1997, we were a bit concerned she might become jealous of the attention the baby received. We brought Moriah home, set her car seat down on a coffee table, and let Gretchen come in. On a leash, we allowed her to sniff the baby. Her nose went from head to toe back to head, she seemed to consider the smelly little newcomer for a moment, then licked Moriah's head. From that moment on, Gretchen was a great protector.

We lost Hobbes in the fall of 2004, Gretchen two days after Christmas that same year. For a while, Patch was the lone non-human denizen of our house. Then, in March, 2006, Lisa and I spent a day looking and found a fluffy, forgotten St. Bernard puppy. It didn't take much convincing. So, Dreyfus joined the brood.

In the fall of 2009, a young, male, fixed, de-clawed cat wandered around our subdivision in Poplar Grove. He spent a day or two at our neighbors, including eight hours on the lap of Tom, who, having MS, is confined to a wheelchair and didn't mind at all. The next day, he ran across the street, in to our open garage, and we now had Buddy.

Last fall, three young kittens were hanging around the back door of the church. They were scrawny, hungry, and, with rain and wind, cold. I was against doing anything more than providing some kind of shelter for them at church until I saw them. Of course, the one we ended up with is loud, full of brass, and utterly entertaining as only a cat full of herself can be.

I think that's enough animals for everybody.

Lisa shows some pride. Oh, deer, Randall.

Virtual Tin Cup

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More