That's "Campana-stan" or ''Land of Campana." It reflects the Weltanschauung of Michael E. Campana, President-for-Life of the Republic of Campanastan. Welcome to Campanastan - no passports or visas required!
Thirsty in Suburbia Gayle Leonard documents things from the world of water that make us smile: particularly funny, amusing and weird items on bottled water, water towers, water marketing, recycling, the art-water nexus and working.
WaSH Resources New publications, web sites and multi-media on water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH).
Water 50/50 From Jay Famiglietti at UC-Irvine. Fifty lectures in fifty weeks: The 2012 Birdsall-Dreiss Distinguished Lectureship. A global lecture tour delivering the message about our changing water cycle, groundwater depletion, and the future of freshwater availability.
Water For The Ages Abby, another PNWer, writes about global water issues with passion and concern.
Near North Falmouth. I thought I saw some lead ingots stacked near the barn.
Coonamessett Pond near North Falmouth, MA.
"Cape Cod is the bared and bended arm of Massachusetts: the shoulder is at
Buzzard's Bay; the elbow, or crazy-bone, at Cape Mallebarre; the wrist at Truro; and the sandy fist at Provincetown, — behind which the State stands on her guard, with her back to the Green Mountains, and her feet planted on the floor of the ocean, like an athlete protecting her Bay, — boxing with northeast storms, and, ever and anon, heaving up her Atlantic adversary from the lap of earth, — ready to thrust forward her other fist, which keeps guard the while upon her breast at Cape Ann." - Henry David Thoreau
Real ice cream she loved; butter pecan was by far her favorite. Strong coffee? You'd better believe it! Don't ever serve her a cup if she could see the bottom; it would go right down the drain. Four-letter wrods from a Southern lady? Well, you'll have to read this entire post.
My mother, Ruth Ellen Emerson Campana, shown here (c. 1990) with younger daughter Ann and son-in-law Geoff Judge, died on 8 May 2003 at the age of 83. Hard to believe that was 10 years ago. Although she lived for almost two years beyond 9/11, that event killed her just as sure as those Saudi Arabian terrorists killed her youngest child, Ann Campana Judge, on American Airlines flight 77.
My mother was remarkable woman. Born in Cabarrus County, North Carolina, in 1920, she was an archetypical Southern lady. No profane language, kind, compassionate, soft spoken, a beautiful drawl, proud of her Southern Scots-Irish roots but no apologist for the Confederacy and slavery although her great-grandfather fought for the South. At age 23, she married my father, John Pilgrim Campana, an Italian-American from Boston, and the two of them settled in New York City, where my father taught high school.
Although my Harvard-educated father was the family scholar, my mother was no slouch. She majored in history and English at Flora Macdonald College (now part of St. Andrew's Presbyterian College) in Red Springs, NC, and graduated at 20. She acquired her love of learning from her mother Julia Johnston Emerson, who was a college graduate in a time when that was almost unheard of. What stubbornness she had no doubt came from her father Harris Emerson, a farmer and an avowed Republican in a time when the South was the 'Solid South', always voting for Democrats (hard to believe, I know). My mother said he was a Republican becuase everyone else was a Democrat.
I owe many of my semi-decent English skills to her. Each Sunday night she would would write five words and their definitions on my blackboard. Those were the 'Weekly Words.' I relied on her to correct my writing more than I did my teachers. Why? Because she was better than they!
My friends loved her. 'How come your mother's so nice?' was a common question. But she was no pushover. My father's hot-blooded Italian nature often manifested itself when one us overstepped our bounds, but my mother would generally raise her voice only slightly, or just glare at us. The message got through.
While still raising three children, she returned to teaching in 1960 and taught fourth grade. Her students idolized her. Here is a beautiful tribute from one of her fourth-grade students, Fred Avolio. Fred also remembers the 'Weekly Words.' And yes, Fred, I remember bringing my pet iguana Leroy into class.
My mother was also somewhat naive. One story, somewhat risqué, stands out. I must have been 16, Ann 13, and older sister Ellen was away at college. We were chatting at the dinner table, something we did every evening. My mother related a discussion that occurred in the teachers' lounge at her school. Seems she came in during a conversation, and a few of the teachers were laughing about something called '69'. She was puzzled so she asked one of her colleagues what it was (she had concluded that it had nothing to do with math). He told her that she had better ask someone in her family. So she did. Ann and I could hardly contain our laughter, and my father's jaw dropped like I had never seen (he taught high-school in Brooklyn so I knew he knew). I believe it was Ann who matter-of-factly told her what it was. Then my mother's jaw dropped. I think what surprised her and my father more than anything was that their 13-year old daughter knew exactly what it was.
On another occasion at the dinner table, she told us that one of her fourth-graders had made a gesture to a classmate and she was unsure what it meant. We children knew what was coming. When my father asked what it was she extended her right arm and raised her right middle finger. Before my father could recover, Ann, all of 12 or 13 at the time, exclaimed, "'Fuck you!' It means 'Fuck you.'" I thought the Big One was going to strike my father. I chimed in and said that it didn't mean that literally but more like 'Fuck off!' At that point my mother said she got the message and did not need to know any more. In all our years chatting at the dinner table that was the only time I recall the word 'fuck' being spoken - not once, but twice.
Needless to say, I did not mention either of these instances in the eulogy at her funeral service, although I was tempted to. It would have sent those North Carolina Presbyterians over the edge.
Despite the fact that she lived in the North for 35 years, she never lost her Southern grace and charm.
In 1978 she finally returned to her beloved Tar Heel State.
When my sister Ann was murdered, my mother was living with her and husband Geoff Judge. After Ann was killed she continued to live with Geoff (an amazing man who treated her as he did his own mother) but soon after that she began to shut down. When Ann's beloved black Lab Bubba died, that was it. First she decided she couldn't walk on her own. Then, she stopped talking. Finally, she stopped eating. The end came soon after that, peacefully, while she slept. I believe the death certificate read 'heart attack' but I knew better. It should have read 'broken heart' - burying her baby killed her.
The irony is that today's saying is something she would say whenever she heard of a parent burying a child. I doubt she ever expected she'd have to do the same.
Especially her youngest.
Happy Mother's Day, Mom!
One last thing - I turn 65 tomorrow, and the older I get, the wiser I've become. You were right about so much stuff, Mom. I do forgive you for trying to transform me into a Southern gentleman. Some things aren't just meant to be. Probably one of the few times you failed. But I still won't apologize for not going to law school.
Boy, do I miss you!
Got this strange hankering for some butter pecan ice cream. And none of that low-fat stuff - the real deal.
"The hardest thing any parent has to do is bury a child." -- Ruth Emerson Campana
The North Korean leaders are terribly misunderstood. They are not warmongers, nor are they anti-social. The reason they keep to themselves and are so cranky and belligerent is simple: they are terribly self-conscious because they have really bad haircuts.
Yes, take a look at Kim Jong-il, the departed Dear Leader. Would you have gone out much if you had had his haircut? Would you have been a benevolent, generous leader when you knew your own people were secretly laughing uncontrollably at the mere thought of your hair? You'd also have a huge internal security apparatus and prisons everywhere. And could you present a serious proposal to world leaders when you looked like you were sporting a bad fright wig? You'd be cranky, too!
But this is not their fault; a few years ago it was discovered that North Koreans lack the gene that enables a person to give good haircuts to men. You remember one of my Vienna Reports (go back and readVienna Report 7 now) in which I described my encounter with Azerbaijan's Minister of the Interior, who had a really bad haircut. Turns out that Azerbaijan barbers were trained in North Korea!
Realizing that Mother Nature had dealt them a bad hand, the North Koreans recently asked the Japanese if they could borrow a few thousand barbers. But the Japanese are understandably reluctant to do so because the last time the North Koreans "borrowed" some Japanese, they forgot to return them for about 30 years. And when they did, they
had bad haircuts!
As for Kim Jung-un...well maybe some improvement is in the offing. He's still a young-un, and he did go to school in Switzerland.
Let's send him some Italian barbers.
"Don't I look like a midget's turd?" - Kim Jong-il to a kidnapped South Korean actress (alleged)
Sixty-six years ago today, on a cold Tuesday in Brooklyn, Jack Roosevelt 'Jackie'Robinson took the field in a game against the Boston Braves at Ebbets Field. He was to face Johnny Sain, one-half of the legendary "Spahn and Sain and pray for rain" pitching duo of the Braves.
Robinson didn't do too well that day: grounded out, flied out, hit into a double play,
reached on an error. But his feat went far beyond what he did at the plate or in the field. He became the first African-American since the 1880s to play in a major league baseball game, and entered the history books. We didn't know it at the time but the USA's civil rights era began that day.
Jackie Robinson was a great athlete, but he proved to be an even greater man. Robinson endured a lot of crap (a euphemism) from other ballplayers, the public, sportswriters, and fans. He was a proud man, but had promised Dodgers owner Branch Rickey that he would hold his tongue and his fists for two years. Rickey feared that if Robinson proved to be too combative right off the bat, naysayers would proclaim 'I told you so!' and the cause of major league baseball integration would be damaged.
I like this 1997 passage by Ira Berkow, in which he talked about Robinson and Dodger teammate and fellow Hall of Famer Pee Wee Reese, a Southern boy from Kentucky who was the Dodgers' captain at the time Robinson came to the big leagues.
The first of the two incidents occurred at the beginning of spring training in 1947, when Robinson had been called up to the Dodgers from Montreal, Brooklyn's top minor league team, on which Robinson had starred during the 1946 season. A petition was drawn up by a group of mostly Southern Dodgers players that stated they would not take the field with a black man.
"I'm not signing that," Reese told the ringleaders, who included Dixie Walker, Kirby Higbe and Bobby Bragan. "No way."
Reese, the soft-spoken but respected team captain, with a Southern upbringing, perhaps surprised the petition-carriers. "I wasn't thinking of myself as the Great White Father," Reese says now. "I just wanted to play baseball. I'd just come back from serving in the South Pacific with the Navy during the Second World War, and I had a wife and daughter to support. I needed the money. I just wanted to get on with it."
But there was more to it than the money.
And Reese's refusal to sign the petition, many believe, meant the end of the matter.
Robinson played, and endured vicious abuse from opposing teams, from beanballs and spikings to racial epithets and spitting. Robinson had promised Branch Rickey, the owner and general manager of the Dodgers, that for at least his first two years in the major leagues, he would hold his tongue and his fists, no matter the provocation. And one day -- it was probably in Cincinnati, Reese recalled, in 1947 or 1948 -- the attack was so nasty that Reese walked over to Robinson and put his hand on the black man's shoulder.
"Pee Wee kind of sensed the sort of hopeless, dead feeling in me and came over and stood beside me for a while," Robinson recalled, as quoted in the forthcoming biography "Jackie Robinson," by Arnold Rampersad (Alfred A. Knopf). "He didn't say a word but he looked over at the chaps who were yelling at me through him and just stared. He was standing by me, I could tell you that." The hecklers ceased their attack. "I will never forget it," Robinson said.
After reading that pssage I gained a huge amount of respect for Pee Wee Reese. He could have easily gone the other way, but he did the right thing. Not easy for a white guy from Kentucky in the late 1940s.
Jackie left us at the all-too-early age of 53. What he endured no doubt contributed to his untimely death. Robinson was a truly remarkable man who rose to a challenge few of us could ever imagine, much less face with such grace, strength, and courage.
At the tender age of 8, in 1956, I saw him play against the St. Louis Cardinals and Stan "The Man" Musial at Ebbets Field. He was nearing the end of his Hall of Fame career, but still went 2-for-4. My father attempted to explain to me the significance of what he had done, but I was too consumed with hot dogs and cotton candy to comprehend. Later, I understood, and realized that what Robinson had done helped free us all. He is now one of my all-time heroes, right up there with Nelson Mandela and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Arnold Rampersad wrote an excellent biography, Jackie Robinson. Read it. Never mind that you're not a sports fan. It is not a sports book; it's about a courageous man, a hero for all, who just happened to play baseball.
Although the ASARCO (originally known as 'American Smelting and Refining Company) copper smelter closed in 1999, two of the stacks remained until yesterday, when both came down. The taller of the two was 828 feet; the other was 612 feet. ASARCO decided in 2007 that it was not worth reopening the smelter after more than 100 years of operation so it was time to dismantle things.
Here's a good story on the smelter's legacy - not all of it good - from theEl Paso Times, with more videos and stills.
I recall first seeing these in summer 1970 en route from Virginia to Tucson; I believe there were three at the time. They were hard to miss from Interstate 10 on the west side of El Paso. Impressive!
With one week left until tax day in the USA, here are some thoughts.
1) Mad Men's season 6 premiered last night. You can read variousexpert opinions hereandhere. Thoughts about people of color here. Not sure what I think about my once-favorite show. I do know one thing: I'm liking Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) more and more. And where is Betty (January Jones) headed?
2) I'm not the world's greatest moviegoer but I always enjoyed the late Roger Ebert's reviews and
disagreements with the late Gene Siskel, whom he delighted in criticizing and belittling. Rest in peace, Roger.
3) Sad to hear that original Mouseketeer, Annette Funicello, died today at age 70 after a quarter-century battle with multiple sclerosis. She got her start on the iconic Disney TV show, and progressed to a recording career and starring with Frankie Avalon in those 'beach blanket bingo' movies. Annette, you have no idea how many boys imagined you as the object of their affections. Wonder if Roger Ebert ever reviewed any of her movies?
4)Margaret Thatcher, the 'Iron Lady', former UK PM, died today at age 87. Fascinating
person who remade Britain. For better or worse? Don't ask me, but I suspect it was a little bit of each. Seems like many people either loved her or hated her; I'm in neither camp. Factoid: she was originally trained as a chemist.
5) Ah...morons! Power couple Beyoncé and Jay-Z (no, they are not the morons) celebrated their fifth anniversary by heading to Cuba, that evil island of '57 Chevys and the Castro brothers. BFD, right? Well, no. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart, Florida Republicans who are Cuban-Americans, have inquired about the nature of the couple's trip.
surprise me, as the two Miami Morons are still fighting the Castro brothers and supporting the USA's cockamamie embargo that has empowered the Castros and their fellow travelers. Thanks to people like the Miami Morons and their ilk, Fidel became the darling of misguided lefties all over the world. The embargo prolonged his oppressive dictatorship and brought misery to the Cuban people. And yet the Miami Cuban-Americans sent money home to Cuba, which helped prop up Castro. Way to go, guys!
"Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't." - Margaret Thatcher
Hitting forty is perhaps wishful thinking on my part, but certainly not on the Yankees' part. This New Yorker cover (8 April 2013) says it all. Mark Ulriksen did the cover of 'Medicated Row'.
From left to right: Andy Pettitte, Alex Rodriguez, Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, Ichiro Suzuki, and Mark Teixeira.
But 'old guys' Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera beat the Red Sox tonight!
Hey, where's Curtis Granderson? well, he's injured but he is a youngster compared to these guys - only 32. But so is Teixeira. No African-Americans?
“I’m not a Yankees fan per se, but I’m a New Yorker at heart, and I can say the Yankees are sure old and beat up. In this lineup I put together, I added the ages of all the players and found the average was forty. And forty in baseball is old.” - Mark Ulriksen
(being a semi-truthful account of my travel adventures, designed to amuse, befuddle, and to be read with a dose of skepticism)
Kazakhstan. The name conjures images of Mongol horsemen sweeping across the steppes. The Silk Road. Majestic mountains. Silos brimming with Soviet nuclear-tipped missiles. The movie Air Force One. Borat. But University of New Mexico professors? Yes, in our never-ending search for contracts, grants, and indirect cost return, several of my colleagues (Tim Ward, Bruce Thomson, and Greg Gleason – none of whom had anything to do with this report) and I are working with the Eurasian National University (ENU) in the capital city of Astana to help faculty there develop a Master of Science degree in Environmental Management and Engineering. Bruce (a civil engineer), Greg (a political scientist) and I just returned
from a visit from there and have much to report, some of it actually true.
Kazakhstan is a former Soviet republic, which found itself thrust into independence in late 1991, when the Soviet Union broke up. It also found itself, along with Ukraine and Belarus, a major nuclear power overnight, as the Soviets kept a lot of their missile silos there (better Kazakhstan get nuked, right?). Wisely wishing to avoid the infamous “WMD/Axis of Evil” tag, Kazakhstan, with our blessing and to our relief, decided to dismantle the nukes. When asked by Congress if all of them were gone, George Tenet, then CIA Director, enthusiastically uttered words that would return to haunt him: “Yep. It’s a slam dunk!” Kazakhstan faced an immediate crisis, however – what to do with hundreds of empty missile silos. Ingenuity quickly surfaced, and the silos are now used for landfills and for “retraining” political prisoners. It is said that spending a couple of cold, dark months in the bowels (remember that word) of a silo has a way making people “see the light”. But enough about Kazakhstan already.
I had to fly the Kazakhstan national airline, Air Astana, from Almaty to Astana after taking KLM from Amsterdam. I was ready to trash Air Astana, figuring it was like the Chinese domestic airlines (flying those wonderful old Russian TU-154s) or Airzena, the Georgian national airline, which flies planes (2, actually) the likes of which I’d never seen before. But Air Astana was a treat – new 757s, free newspapers, attentive flight attendants (I knew I was not in the USA), on-time departures/arrivals, no scimitars allowed, etc. Air Astana is owned by the government and the UK firm BAE, and recently brought in a Brit, Sir Hugh Jeego, with 35 years of BA experience, to be its President.
Astana has been the capital since 1998. The president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, decided to move the capital from Almaty, the major city and financial and cultural center, to Astana, which was in the country’s interior, on the steppes. By contrast, Almaty, with its beautiful tree-lined streets, was located in the south, near other countries, and framed by the gorgeous Tian Shan Mountains. So how do Astana and Almaty compare? Think Brasilia vs. Rio de Janeiro; Albany vs. New York City, Sacramento vs. Fresno, Cheyenne vs. Laramie. In other words, no comparison. Seemed like a good idea at the time.
President Nazarbayev, who bears a resemblance to Tom Ridge, is the former Communist party chief who miraculously became a democrat (that’s with a small “d” – a very small“d”) overnight. But he doesn’t appear to meddle, acting more like a father-figure (remember Ward Cleaver on Leave It to Beaver?) and stepping in when the “children” get a bit unruly. He apparently takes this father-figure business seriously, as the new board chair of Air Astana, an attractive young woman, is rumored to have a son who looks like Mr. Nazarbayev (or Tom Ridge, if you catch my drift).
I had been warned about Kazakhstan’s national dish: horse-bowel sausage with noodles. I managed to avoid it until two days before departing, when we had a sumptuous lunch in the Rector’s (that’s rector, folks) office. Towards the end of lunch I was breathing a sigh of relief, when the door flew open and the University’s Research Director brought in a steaming plate of the morsels. My first thought? Finally – a good use for a university research director – waiter. My second thought? Unprintable. But actually the stuff wasn’t bad, and I would not have known it was horsemeat (it was, right???) had I not been told.
Since the Rector had us around, he decided to show us off and invited us to a conference ENU was hosting the next day. We could not decline, although it sounded like a psychobabble-type meeting dealing with anomie, dysfunction, isolation, etc. The keynote talk was something like Grieving Towards Healing or some such. We thought of a couple of talks we could give, providing a vantage point from our professions. How about Extreme Social Isolation: The Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator, or The Loneliness of the Stream Gauger; or A Modern Societal Dilemma: Why Sanitary Engineers Are Civil But Civil Engineers Are Not Sanitary.
Let’s get serious for a moment. Remember every so often you’ll hear of an incoming international flight diverted to some place like Bangor, Maine, because a suspected terrorist is on board? This happened last year to Yusuf Islam (aka Cat Stevens), when the DHS realized he had not written a decent song since Here Comes My Baby in the late 1960s and wisely put him on its “no-fly” list. So why was he allowed to board the plane at Heathrow? Because the airlines do not have to check passenger lists against the no-fly list until the plane has departed. I am not prevaricating here, folks. Do you believe this? In fact, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has pressured DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff to change this. Chertoff said he would address this as soon as he finished listening to Tea for the Tillerman backwards, a record reputed to contain encoded terrorist messages. One Chertoff admonition: don’t play Shirley Ellis’ The Name Game with Schumer’s first name.
Traveling overseas is usually enjoyable. Lately I have taken to wearing my IAEA logo T- shirts, which gets me lots of airline upgrades and approving nods from the Euros. The IAEA still has cachet, and as long as I don’t tell people what the IAEA really does in Vienna I’m okay. I would not wear such a shirt to Iran and thought better of wearing it to Kazakhstan. I used to wear National Geographic shirts, given to me in quantity by my late younger sister Ann. I always thought that doing so would have some benefit till Ann told me that she never wore them, especially on certain foreign airlines, because some of the NG photographers had really bad reputations as prima donnas (“What? No chilled Tanqueray gin?”, “Pretentious? Moi?”). But then again, I don’t fly the kinds of airlines she did, which had names like Aeromuerto (Paraguay).
No doubt you are all as relieved as I to learn that we are no longer fighting a Global War On Terror, but a Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism. No more GWOT; it’s GSAVE from now on. I feel so much safer!
With that, it is time to go. Till next time.
"You can train a puppy and it will later bite you in the calf; you can train a blind man how to shoot a gun and he will later kill you." - Kazakh proverb
"Kazakhstan is the greatest country in the world; all other countries are run by little girls." - Borat
Easter Sunday often evokes memories of my Long Island (NY) childhood in the 1950s and early 1960s. One of the lasting memories of that era was Easter Sunday brunch at the Garden City Hotel in Garden City, NY.
After Mass at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in our home town of West Hempstead, a nondescript hamlet bobbing in the sea of suburbs that spread eastward from New York City, we'd head to the next town north - the Mecca for many suburbanites, Garden City. Garden City was an upscale, WASP-ish town with an Episcopal cathedral, big houses, lush lawns, Cadillacs, swimming pools, and other trappings of wealth. If you were Jewish you'd have to look elsewhere (or so it was rumored). Catholics were okay, as long as there were not too many of them - in fact, my younger sister's wedding was at St. Joseph's in GC. Person of color? Fageddabouttit! I was thus surprised to learn that my mother, who was the farthest thing from a social climber, harbored a dream to live in GC (she made it in 1974, after we children had left home).
The Garden City landmark was the resplendent Garden City Hotel, still the only four-star hotel on Long Island. The version I remember was demolished in 1973. The picture here (from Wikipedia) is the current version; only the belfry is familiar to me.
My family - Dad, Mom (an easygoing North Carolina Presbyterian who graciously tolerated these all-Catholic affairs), Ellen, Ann, and I would rendezvous with the Neufeld family - Walter and Marie Gabrielle and their children: Gay, Vivi (I did not find out till much later that their real names were Gabrielle and Genevieve, respectively), Walter Jr., and Nancy. Grandaddy (we all called him that) Groh, Marie Gabrielle's retired father, would join us. We would occasionally be blessed by the presence of another family, that of Marie Gabrielle's older brother, Al Groh, his wife Marie, and their children Al Jr., Peter, and Christine. If the name 'Al Groh' sounds familiar it's because Al Jr. is the former coach of the New York Jets and the University of Virginia football team.
As we got older, my sister Ellen and Vivi Neufeld, still 'lookers' to this day, attracted the attention of young men also forced to brunch with their families. Always interesting to observe the 'eye flirting' that ensued.
The Garden City Hotel was the place to have your wedding, ball, prom, or cotillion. I went to several of the latter - the Regina Cotillion, organized by the Diocese of Rockville Centre, where young women (aged 16 or 17) would make their debut into 'cultured' Catholic society.
These cotillions were not the kind of events I dreamed of attending. There would always have to be more boys than girls (a 4:1 ratio was generally desirable), which presented a problem to the organizers. Most of the girls who went to these were generally not the type of girls teenaged boys wanted to date (use your imagination). So what would happen in that case is that the Regina Cotillion organizers would call their friends who were mothers of boys deemed 'presentable' with some semblance of 'Catholic gentlemanliness' and ask them if their sons would be so kind to serve as 'escorts'. Despite the fact that I had attended Catholic schools I was determined to be of suitable stock. The mothers would of course acquiesce without checking with their sons. Talk about groans and rolling eyes! But we did what were asked to do - sort of like being drafted into society, doing your duty.
Most of these events were quite boring - listening to the 'music' (I use that word loosely) of the Lester Lanin Orchestra. Many of the girls didn't want to be there either, but like the boys, were merely following the wishes of their parents. However, one of these conscripted soirees during the spring of my senior year in high school actually turned out to be quite fun. I met two girls I knew who were not the normal Cotillion types and more bored than I was. They dumped their escorts and we went into the gardens, smoked some cigarettes and just had a good time (remember, this was 1966). I believe some beer, obtained by duplicity at a local establishment, passed over our lips. It was fun seeing them again, catching up, and recaling the 'old days'. Near the end of the cotillion, they straightened their gowns (no, nothing like that happened) and I 'escorted' them back into the ballroom so their escorts could take them home as freshly-minted society types.
To her dying day my mother wondered why I had such a good time and told her it was okay to sign me up for another one.
"You know you're from Long Island if you never realize you have an accent until you leave."
I am enjoying the Republicans' efforts to portray themselves as being more inclusive. Unfortunately, it's not working too well, at least if they are seeking to recruit gays, Latinos, and women.
1) Check out this item from Politico about Dave Agema, Republican National Committeeman fron Michigan:
Dave Agema, who served as a state representative from 2007 until December posted an excerpt from an article titled "Everyone Should Know These Statistics On Homosexuals" on his Facebook page Wednesday. A group of 21 Michigan Republicans, including local precinct delegates and members of the University of Michigan College Republicans, has called it "deplorable."
But Agema told The Associated Press he maintains his belief that marriage is between a man and a woman, and said he will "absolutely not" resign. Agema said he posted the excerpt in light of the arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court this week on California's Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
Among the claims in the article by Dr. Frank Joseph is that gay people "account for half the murders in large cities." The article, which cites studies from the 1980s for many of its claims, also attributes high medical insurance rates to caring for AIDS patients.
The article includes the statement that “part of the homosexual agenda is to get the public to affirm their filthy lifestyle.”
2) Then there's Rep. Don Young (R-AK), cut from the Ted Stevens mold. From NPR:
"My father had a ranch. We used to hire 50 or 60 wetbacks and — to pick tomatoes," Young said. "You know, it takes two people to pick the same tomatoes now. It's all done by machine."
3) Now there is a bill being introduced by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) that would ban Federal documents from using any language other than English. You go, guys!
”I would hope that when a woman goes in to a physician with a rape issue, that physician will indeed ask her about perhaps her marriage, was this pregnancy caused by normal relations in a marriage or was it truly caused by a rape. I assume that’s part of the counseling that goes on.” -State Senator Chuck Winder (R-ID), March 2012
“I think the right approach is to accept this horribly created — in the sense of rape — but nevertheless a gift in a very broken way, the gift of human life, and accept what God has given to you… rape victims should make the best of a bad situation.” - Rick Santorum, January 2012
This gem (read the other gaffes from Billy Packer and Bob Knight) aboutDoug Gottlieb from the folks who run the swimsuit issue:
In a cringe-worthy introduction on Thursday night, the CBS analyst dropped
an odd reference to race when he was introduced by host Greg
Gumbel. Said Gottlieb: “Cream rising to the crop. I don’t know why you guys asked me, I’m just here to bring diversity to the set here. Give the kind of white man’s perspective on things from the point guard position.” Colleagues Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith laughed awkwardly while Greg Anthony looked at Gottlieb in a similar manner that U.S. officials look at North Korea. Gottlieblater apologized for the statement, saying, “It was not a smart thing to say and I apologize.” Barkley bailed him out as well. ” I want to say something about Doug Gottlieb. He made a joke earlier tonight and people are going crazy. All those idiots on Twitter, which I would never ever do. Listen: me, Kenny and Greg Anthony and Greg Gumbel did not take that personally. So all you people at home who’ve got no life and are talking bad about Doug Gottlieb, get a life. It’s over with. It’s no big deal.”
We all know instances of sports driving or leading society.Jackie Robinson taking the field on a cool, rainy day on 15 April 1947 comes to mind. But what about 19 March 1966?
On that day in College Park, MD, Texas Western University, formerly Texas School of Mines and now known as the University of Texas-El Paso, defeated basketball legend and bigot Adolph Rupp and his University of Kentucky Wildcats to win the NCAA major college basketball title, 72-65.
David beats Goliath - so?
Two 'southern' schools competed for the title, one with an all-white starting five (Kentucky) and the other with an all-black starting lineup. That was the first time a school - from the North or South - had started an all-black lineup in the NCAA championship game. In fact, until coach Don Haskins started five blacks in a game earlier that season no major college had ever started an all-black team. And in that championship game, Haskins played blacks exclusively.
Why was this such a big deal? From Frank Fitzpatrick'sexcellent story on ESPN Classic:
In 1966, American cultural and sporting mythology insisted at least one white starter was necessary for success. Black athletes, prevailing wisdom implied, needed the steadying hand of a white teammate. Otherwise, games would dissolve into chaos.
"There was a certain style of play whites expected from blacks," said Perry Wallace, who a year later at Vanderbilt became the first black basketball player in the Southeastern Conference. "`Nigger ball' they used to call it. Whites then thought that if you put five blacks on the court at the same time, they would somehow revert to their native impulses."
Chaos? Revert to their native impulses? WTF? More from Fitzpatrick:
Texas Western walked the ball up court, ran a rigidly patterned offense, and emphasized defense - allowing just 62 points a game.
"We were more white-oriented than any of the other teams in the Final Four (Duke and Utah were the others)," said Texas Western guard Willie Worsley. "We played the most intelligent, the most boring, the most disciplined game of them all."
How did Rupp hasndle defeat? Again, Fitzpatrick:
He always blamed the loss on a flu bug, on inept shooting, on the referees, sometimes embellishing his excuses with hints that Texas Western somehow had cheated by using ineligible players.
Haskins fumed at his counterpart's reaction. Later that year, when he and Rupp crossed paths at a sports banquet in Ohio, the younger coach nearly snapped. "I had been listening to all this damn crap out of him," said Haskins. "and it's a wonder I didn't say something to him about it. But I didn't."
You can bet Southern (and other) college basketball coaches started taking second looks at black players.
And college basketball - and society - changed for the better.
The tale has been the subject of a book and film, Glory Road.
Just a basketball game? Uh-huh. Just like 15 April 1947 Boston Braves v. Brooklyn Dodgers was just a baseball game.
"The running, gunning Texas quintet can do more things with a basketball than a monkey on a 50-foot jungle wire." - James H. Jackson, Baltimore Sun
"They can do everything with the basketball but sign it.'" - Rod Hundley, referring to the Texas Western starting lineup
One of my all-time favorite groups, Paul Revere and The Raiders, recorded a song written by Mark Lindsay, Paul Revere, and Terry Melcher titled, The Great Airplane Strike. The song recounts a strike that grounded the planes of five of the major airlines (only one is left from that group) - United, TWA, National, Northwest, and Eastern - for six weeks in summer 1966, and the efforts of the group to get to their next gig.
There is a line in the song:
The janitor came runnin' in So scared his face was white
Those lyrics were not lost on me, but later, when I played that song as a college DJ, I never said anything nor did I say comment about the racist tone of that line. I doubt if the writers considered that line to be racist nor was there any malevolence on their part. I never heard of anyone complaining about the song or refusing to play it.
That was 1966; things were different in those days.
Today, I saw the University of Mississippi basketball team and its cheerleaders with African-Americans well represented. The former were hugging their white teammates after their victory over the University of Florida.
But I don't recall any African-American or white men hugging females of a different skin color.
Things have changed. Right?
“In this country American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate.” - Toni Morrison
Margaret Talbot has a great commentary, 'Higher Authority',in this week's (11 March2013) issue of The New Yorker. She deals with the current troubles of the Catholic Church, especially those dealing with sexual abuse of minors and related issues.
She relates the story of Cardinal Roger Mahony, recently deposed archbishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Seems that despite his woes, Mahony is in Rome and will serve as an elector of the new pope. Good for you, Roger!
What struck me was this passage in Talbot's article [italics mine]:
What is distinctive about child abuse in the Catholic Church is not its existence, or even its coverup; in recent months alone, we’ve seen evidence of similar cowardice at Penn State and the BBC. What is distinctive is that Catholic officials can find a higher purpose—protecting the sanctity of the priesthood—in shielding abusers, and a spiritually rewarding humility in enduring criticism of their conduct. Mahony has been blogging about the public disparagement he has received, and he compares it to what Christ withstood, urging the faithful to join him in exploring what it is to “take up our cross daily and to follow Jesus—in rejection, in humiliation, and in personal attack.” But, unlike the criminal prosecution of perpetrators—or real Church reform—that doesn’t do much to help victims or to prevent abuse.
Pretty neat - the Church and one of its elite using incidents of sexual abuse to achieve a 'higher purpose' and comparing it to what Jesus Christ underwent.
Next, here's her passage about women in the priesthood [again, italics are mine]:
Last fall, the Vatican dismissed an American priest who had participated in an ordination ceremony for a woman. The Church is doctrinally immune from majority rule, so perhaps it doesn’t matter that, according to a 2010 Times poll, sixty-seven per cent of American Catholics think priests should be allowed to marry and fifty-nine per cent think women should be allowed to be priests. Yet surely a Church that expels a priest for advocating women’s ordination faster than it does men who have been credibly accused of raping children is in some kind of trouble.
Couldn't agree more with her last sentence.
Can't wait to see which European Roger and his buddies elect. But be careful what you wish for. If you think a developing-world pope would be 'more liberal', recall that the most conservative - homophobic, anti-women - bishops in the Episcopalian/Anglican Church are from Africa.
“Theology being the work of males, original sin was traced to the female.” -Barbara W. Tuchman
The cover stands out for its cast of black and Hispanic caricatures with exaggerated features reminiscent of early 20th century race cartoons. Also, because there are onlypeople of color in it, grabbing greedily for cash. It’s hard to imagine how this one made it through the editorial process.
"Instead of being presented with stereotypes by age, sex, color, class, or religion, children must have the opportunity to learn that within each range, some people are loathsome and some are delightful." - Margaret Mead
So much for sequestration; some people are more concerned with a 'fiscal sinkhole'. Like those in Florida, for instance.
But seriously - I know who can save us - the Mighty Quinn! I first met him in the late 1960s and knew him as someone who could always get the tough jobs done.
If you think I've taken leave of my senses, just read this tale of his exploits. Like the song says, just tell me where to put him and I'll tell you who to call.
Come all without, come all within You'll not see nothing like the Mighty Quinn Come all without, come all within You'll not see nothing like the Mighty Quinn
Everybody's building ships and boats Some are building monuments, others are jotting down notes Everybody's in despair, every girl and boy But when Quinn the Eskimo gets here Everybody's gonna jump for joy
Come all without, come all within You'll not see nothing like the Mighty Quinn Come all without, come all within You'll not see nothing like the Mighty Quinn
I like to go just like the rest, I like my sugar sweet But jumping queues and makin' haste, just ain't my cup of meat Everyone's beneath the trees, feedin' pigeons on a limb But when Quinn the Eskimo gets here All the pigeons gonna run to him Come all without, come all within You'll not see nothing like the Mighty Quinn Come all without, come all within You'll not see nothing like the Mighty Quinn
Let me do what I wanna do, I can't decide 'em all Just tell me where to put 'em and I'll tell you who to call Nobody can get no sleep, there's someone on everyone's toes But when Quinn the Eskimo gets here Everybody's gonna wanna doze
Come all without, come all within You'll not see nothing like the Mighty Quinn Come all without, come all within You'll not see nothing like the Mighty Quinn --The Mighty Quinn, by Bob Dylan
I first stumbled upon this video after reading this post from AlterNetabout using naked breasts to make a political point. The video contains no naked breasts, although the calendar from the UEA CoppaFeel girls apparently does.
Either way, I guess some are complaining.
As someone whose family (older sister - twice; me - a minor scare) has been touched by breast cancer I think just about anything to raise awareness is appropriate. If you don't like it, don't watch.
"Girls have got balls. They're just a little higher up, that's all." - Joan Jett
The headline wouldn't normally garner much attention. Another major college basketball coach on the hot seat? Tell me something I don't know. But this is no ordinary coach - this is Craig Robinson, the President's brother-in-law, who, like the
President, is an intelligent, articulate, athletic, well-educated, Ivy League (Princeton as opposed to Columbia) African-American. But unlike his brother-in-law, he was successful in the world of high finance who threw it all away because he was born to coach.
But Goe's wondering about Robinson's future, given that he is finishing his fifth year without a trip to the NCAA tournament or even the NIT (= Not Invited Tournament). And it's easy to recall that OSU has not been to the NCAAs since 1990, but hard to recall that OSU used to be a force in college basketball (think coach Ralph Miller and former NBA star Gary Payton).
I suspect OSU officials were drooling when they signed Robinson. Perhaps they thought:
Wow - the President's brother-in-law, a successful guy, an African-American who went to Princeton and starred in basketball! A role model for all young men, but especially urban young men of color. This guy'll bring in those city African-American players like nobody else can. March Madness, here we come!
How'd that work out for you, guys? Now they have to worry about the fallout if they fire Michelle Obama's brother.
I don't know if this guy's a good coach or not. But I do suspect it is difficult to attract urban young male athletes, especially those of color, to Corvallis. It is a small city of 55,000 in an agricultural area. Without OSU and an HP facility that seemingly cannot leave town fast enough Corvallis would be a wide spot in the road 10 miles off Interstate 5 90 miles south of Portland. An African-American colleague of mine jokes that there are '382 African-Americans in Corvallis'. I suspect that is pretty close. But there is certainly little appeal for many urban young men of any color.
Robinson's lack of success is even more evident as OSU looks down the road to see the success the University of Oregon has had. Its football team is legendary and its basketball team in the Top 25. But UO is in a metro area (Eugene-Springfield) about 4-5 times larger than that of Corvallis, and has Phil Knight's money.
I would hate to see Robinson leave. OSU may not be making the NCAA, or even the NIT, tournament, but I suspect Craig Robinson's influence on his charges extends far beyond their time on a basketball court at OSU.
And in the game of life, that is what counts the most.
"Football, fraternities, and fun have no place in the university. They were introduced only to entertain those who shouldn't be in the university." - Robert Maynard Hutchins, former president, University of Chicago
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