WHO’S NEXT?


Titillating news these days. Makes one almost eager to turn on the morning news to see who of our male counterparts has been outed on a given day. Media icons are falling by the wayside in heaps of blushing shame while the King of Inappropriate behavior smugly defends an Alabama judge accused of molesting teenagers.

Where is the fairness of it all? Numerous women were happy to condemn the King, but where are they now? Are they afraid to step forward, or have they somehow been coerced into silence. We were warned by the release of a tape of his own voice that his interpretation of Family Values fell short, but enough people Didn’t Care. Perhpas this is what is wrong with our country. Not enough people care.

The commonality of it all is that we have a tendency to chuckle as another poor fellow struggles in the throes of lost career, marriage and reputation. We are shocked beyond words to hear of extreme behavior on the part of beloved media icons accused of action befitting a grade school hopeful. I say this advisedly as I remember a fifth grade boy offering to show me His if I showed him Mine. Perhaps I should come forward to claim sexual harassment?

My husband, otherwise known as Dr. Advice, claims the example of the rooster, or the bull moose, or the male of all species, is unavoidably drawn to the female of his kind. This of course is an obvious truth, enabling the fauna of the world to exist. However, we might all assume that human males have evolved from the Caveman mentality. Apparently not, or—-is some of it FAKE NEWS?

Trump’s aggravation with the media is well known and his daily rants often become personal. Is it a coincidence that most of the abject rejects are media personnel?

Aside from the entertainment value of the Daily White House Chaos, what is happening to tax reform, health care, the Mexican wall, immegration? Is at least some of this Trump’s famous DISTRACTION trick? I look forward to tomorrow’s news.

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PREJUDICE


It’s a big subject. Too big for a simple blog, but we encounter it in some way each day in our private and public lives, so it needs to be addressed.

Conducting an interview with myself, I wondered when I first became aware of the mean spirited effect of prejudice. The strong Yankee-bred women in my family were ardent Republicans who thought the last best hope for the country had been Herbert Hoover. They gladly overlooked the Depression which was consuming the country; possibly as a result of Mr. Hoovers’ miscalculations.

Without knowing or caring who Franklin D. Roosevelt was, it was apparent from their conversation that he was the devil incarnate, and his busy body wife was a disgrace. My father, away at sea most of the time, did not participate in the conversations, so I had no idea on which side he dwelt.

Somehow, listening at dinner tables and eavesdropping in nearby rooms, I felt uncomfortable with the negative conversations. Surely this man was not as bad as they thought. I often differed from authority, and this gave me one more reason to determine my own path. When my father returned from a voyage, I found that he had voted for this same Franklin D. Roosevelt, which made me feel validated.

Prejudice touches so many facets of our lives. Politics and religion always draw the most heat, making them the most interesting of subjects. Due to my Grandmother’s dynamic leadership, we attended the Christian Science church, at least my Grandmother and I did. My mother and aunt, though believers, were usually busy on Sunday mornings. My father, needless to say, had no interest in the study of Christian Science. Auntie and Uncle Phil, with whom I lived occasionally, followed no religion, and we usually spent Sunday at the movies.

I never determined why, but overheard conversation told me that the Catholics, and possibly a few other religions, were not appropriate friends. I knew no blacks, though there were a few Japanese living in Long Beach in those days. We were a strong Masonic family, with various relatives holding office in the organization. We were a proud flag waving, Anglo-Saxon Protestant family. Not that any of these things were talked about; they were simply there, and you knew.

I had exhibited a few minor talents from an early age. I had a pleasant voice, I could dance, and I could draw a straight line. Grandma was convinced that I was a winner, yet I knew many other girls who surpassed my efforts, so it seemed uncomfortable to take any credit for anything I produced.

My feelings of being at odds with the accepted beliefs sent me on solo trips around town exploring various churches and the lone synagogue in Torrance where we were currently living. It was a marvelous education in the various views people held in the acceptance or non-acceptance of Jesus as the Savior. I realized that I had no opinion either way, which was no surprise. In fact, I took offense to the words of the entrance hymn which entreated the Christian soldiers to keep marching on to war.

On my first trip to the Southwest with my Indian friend Georgia Oliver, I immediately tried to fit in with the locals by identifying which village someone came from by the way they wore their hair. I whipped off a small sculpture of a woman’s head with something which looked like a Dutch cut, Georgia just smiled and said that I missed the back style. I smugly identified a man riding by on his horse as a Navajo. With a curled lip and a sharp retort, Georgia shot back “He’s a Mexican.” Clearly here lived prejudice, even in a country comprised of people who lived rather low on the totem pole.

Yes, there is prejudice wherever we look. It lives in small children and in the very old who should know better. Give it a chance, recognize it when you see it, and speak up to make a change.

IT CAN HAPPEN HERE


I am intrigued that throughout history characters like the fictional Benzelius “Buzz” Windrip and the very real Adolph Hitler arise to disrupt and distract.

My post today is an excerpt from Richard Rorty”s book Achieving Our Country; Leftist Thought in Twentieth Century America

In 1998 Richard Rorty, American philosopher and academic wrote of the emerging political and social divisions in America and predicted the emergence of a “strongman” in American politics. Whether readers agree or disagree with Rorty’s writings the fact that he wrote so directly about this phenomenon almost 20 years ago is intriguing and merits reflection.

“Sometime in the 70’s American middle class idealism went into a stall, under Presidents Carter and Clinton, the Democratic Party has survived by distancing itself from the unions and from any mention of redistribution and moving into a sterile vacuum called the ‘center’. The party no longer has a visible noisy left wing–a wing with which the intellectuals can identify and on which the unions can rely for support.

” Union members in the United States have watched factory after factory close, only to reopen in Slovenia, Thailand, or Mexico. It is no wonder that they see the result of international free trade as prosperity for managers and stockholders, a better standard of living for workers in developing countries and a very much worse standard of living for American workers. To make things worse, we often seem more interested in the workers of the developing world than in the fate of our fellow citizens.

“Social scientist Edward Luttwak, suggested that members of labor unions, and unorganized unskilled workers, will sooner or later realize that their government is not even trying to prevent wages from sinking or to prevent jobs from being exported. Around the same time, they will realize that suburban white-collar workers, themselves desperately afraid of being downsized–are not going to let themselves be taxed to provide social benefits for anyone else.

At that point, something will crack. The nonsuburban electorate will decide that the system has failed and start looking around for a strongman to vote for–someone willing to assure them that, once he is elected, the smug bureaucrats, tricky lawyers, overpaid bond salesmen, and postmodernistic professors will no longer be calling the shots. A scenario like that of Sinclair Lewis’ novel ‘It Can’t Happen Here” may then be played out. For once such a strongman takes office, nobody can predict what will happen.

“One thing that is very likely to happen is that the gains made in the past forty years by black and brown Americans, and by homosexuals, will be wiped out. Jocular contempt for women will come back into fashion. All the sadism which the academic Left has tried to make unacceptable to its students will come flooding back. All the resentment which badly educated Americans feel about having their manners dictated to them by college graduates will find an outlet.

“After my imagined strongman takes charge, he will quickly betray the expectations of his supporters, make his peace with the international super-rich. People will wonder why there was so little resistance to his evitable rise. Where, they will ask, was the American Left? Why was it only rightists like Pat Buchanan who spoke to the workers about the consequences of globalization? Why would not the Left channel the mounting rage of the newly dispossessed?”

Why is History committed to repeating itself?

A TIME TO PONDER


November 9, 2016. America awakened to a new day and a new president. It couldn’t happen, but it did. The improbably result sent shock waves throughout the world. The stock market took a tumble, every country in the world had watched along with us throughout the night, with varying opinions of whether this would be a good thing for us and for them.

Hillary supporters went dutifully door to door handing our literature and pleading her case. “America didn’t need to become great again; it never stopped being great.” If we simply worked together the good times would only become better.

She had the best sophisticated technology wonks could deliver, the best experts that money could buy. She had history on her side. She had more knowledge of what goes on in government than any other nominee in history. What did she miss?

He had his hair, fake tan and his ego. But he tapped into a demographic which had been passed over. The forgotten man, the disenfranchised, groups who no longer trusted America and the government. The black man who came into the office eight years ago in a blaze of hope, had not delivered the goods.

How could this bumptious bully with a terminal case of narcissism recognize that somewhere out in the vast hills and valleys of this disillusioned country a revolution of sorts was building?

It is impossible to predict what Trump’s impulse will be as president, because it will have to become in so many ways, everything he has not been; a healer, a truth teller, someone who studies the issues; and a healer who tells people what they need to hear, not what they want to hear.

As one immigrant observed: You Americans treat your country like a football. You toss it around secure in the knowledge that you deserve and will get a touchdown. America isn’t a football; it is a delicate Faberge egg; it could break.

WHEREIN LIES THE TRUTH?


It’s amazing that we get along as well as we do. I recently read “A Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari, in which he points out the truly unique thing about human beings–the thing that distinguishes us from the family pet and other animals–is our ability to have a commonly held belief about things that do not exist or cannot be empirically demonstrated at all. At a given time of day, you cannot convince a dog it is not time to eat or go for a walk.

Dr. Harari says “The truly unique feature of Homo Sapiens language is the ability to transmit information about things that do not exist at all. As far as we know, only Sapiens can talk about entire kinds of entities that they have never seen, touched or smelled.”

Before the Cognitive Revolution, many animal and human species could say “Careful! A lion!” Later they acquired the ability to say “The lion is the guardian spirit of our tribe.” This is about the time that legends, myths gods and religions appeared for the first time.

carnarvon imageThe Carnarvon cave paintings at Queensland, Australia

Aboriginal cave paintings whether in Australia, France or the United States, depict the common beliefs of the people living there at that time.

It’s relatively easy to agree that only Homo sapiens can speak about things that don’t really exist. You could never convince a monkey to give you a banana by promising him limitless bananas after death in monkey heaven. Why is it important? Because fiction can be dangerously misleading or distracting.

Any large-scale human cooperation is rooted in common myths that exist only in people’s collective imagination. Churches are rooted in common religious myths. States are rooted in common national myths.

We seem to gather into ‘silos’ of common belief, clearly demonstrated in the presidential performances here in the United States. One of the most interesting beliefs is that of Donald Trump, who has convinced himself, though not any of the people who supposedly would know, that ‘thousands and thousands of people danced and cheered in the streets of New Jersey, as the World Trade Centers were blown down.

This is reminiscent of the aliens landing in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947, or the Loch Ness monster in Scotland who pops up for air every few years. Bigfoot I could believe—maybe.

But the truth is our own, and thank whoever or whatever, that we can cherish our own beliefs.

V-J DAY 1945


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The stories have become priceless, because those who lived them are fading into the lost memory of time. The smell of death, gunfire and blood are part of a life gone from a generation of people all over the world who can never forget.

My father, who stood on the deck of his ship amid the unimaginable horror during the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941; Dr. Advice, who was merely nineteen year old Sam Rasmussen then, watching the first kamikazi dive over Okinawa, became part of the generation of men who didn’t want to talk about it.

This day marks the 70th anniversary of V-J Day, the day the Japanese surrendered to the Allies and the war came to a merciful end. It is a stark reminder of what some call the most momentous event in human history.

According to the World War 11 Museum in New Orleans, 16.1 million Americans fought in the war. An estimated 855,000 are still alive. Nearly 500 die each day, and fewer than 100,000 will survive to celebrate the 75th anniversary of V-J Day.

It’s hard to think of a comparable event that affected so many people in so many parts of the world. Victor Davis Hanson, a senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institute reminds us that it was the most lethal event in human history. with seventy million people killed—greater than the Black Plague, World War 1 and the Napoleonic wars. It entered every ocean, every continent.

A young Japanese woman asked a 92 year old Marine friend who had made landings in every major Pacific Island, why we bombed Nagasaki. She knew nothing of Pearl Harbor. “Because you would never have given up”, he told her.

Without the bomb, as terrible as it was, our own casualties would have been over one million in the invasion.

In the silence of devastation Emperor Hiro Hito said “I swallow my own tears and give my sanction to accept the Allies proclamation.”

As the news of the surrender spread around the world, a collective breath was taken, sucking up air which had been filled with the waste of the youth of a generation. The world had been changed, and we were changed as well.

Those who had left as boys returned as hardened men, but in the meantime all Hell broke loose. Wherever we were, we celebrated–loud and long. At sea, aboard Sam’s ship, they brilliantly fired a 5 inch gun—straight up in the air. Fortunately it landed right beside the ship and not in the middle of the cheering men; the captain, the oldest man aboard, was only 28 years old.

The offices in San Francisco, where I was working in my first job at Matson Line at the age of 18, exploded at the seams as we all plunged down the middle of Market Street shouting and laughing. I don’t remember how I got home across the Bay.

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