Saturday, March 28, 2015

Holy Week Schedule

Palm Sunday:  Holy Eucharist at 8am; Eucharist with the Great Procession at 10am

Maundy Thursday: 7:30pm Proper Liturgy including the Stripping of the Altar.

Good Friday: The Proper Liturgy at 7:00pm. 

Holy Saturday: 7:00 pm The Great Vigil of Easter.

Easter Sunday: Music and Celebration at both 8am and 10:00am.

[In recognition of the devotional week ahead, there will be no updates to The Coracle until Easter Sunday afternoon.]

Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday and Fields

Lenten Wave #38

"There is no one so uncivilized, and of such a crude disposition, that, raising his eyes to heaven, he does not understand from the very magnitude of the objects, from their motion, arrangement, constancy, usefulness, beauty, and temperament, that there is some providence — though he does not know by what god’s providence all the visible universe is governed." —Lactantius

Dorothy Fields

"A rhyme doesn't make a song."

I confess to having eclectic taste in music.  A quick look at my downloaded collection will reveal that I have recently played an opera by Wagner, selections from jazz saxophonist Art Pepper, something from Brooks and Dunn's greatest hits, Beethoven's 2nd, guitarist Link Wray, Miles Davis, Iggy Pop [particularly good for the gym], and the collected cadences of the United States Marine Corps [ditto on that gym thing].

Once upon a time I could think of no better way of spending an evening than sitting in a dark and [in those days] smoky club and listening to some group that I had never heard of and would never hear of again playing music that was independent of the brutal realities of the music industry.  In the late 1970's and early 80's, that music was usually loud and raucous; by the 21st century, I would much more likely find solace in places like the Rose Room at the Algonquin Hotel or even The Embers Lounge at the Cleveland Airport Holiday Inn, listening to someone's interpretation of American classics.  Still dark, just no longer smoky.

Among my favorites are "Pick Yourself Up", "Exactly Like You", "I Can't Give You Anything But Love", "I'm In The Mood For Love", "On The Sunny Side Of The Street", and, of course, "The Way You Look Tonight".  Since their original composition, these songs are still performed multiple times a day around the world by a rich variety of artists, if not in shopping malls and elevators.  The other thing they have in common is that they, and many others, had their lyrics penned by Dorothy Fields, one of the most successful and least known lyricists of the golden age of American music.

Although born in New Jersey in 1905, Fields grew up in New York City where her father mostly worked as a comedian on the vaudeville circuit.  When that medium began to subside, he shifted to musical productions, meaning that his daughter was exposed from an early age to theatrical life behind the curtain.  This became her world and would remain so until her death in 1974.

While originally a performer, with her greatest success realized in the 1920's as part of a comedy duo on the London stage, Fields started noodling around with lyrics during her idle hours backstage until she came to the attention of the composer Jimmy McHugh, with whom she collaborated on producing the music for an otherwise forgotten production known as The Blackbirds of 1928, a popular pairing of musicians and singers both black and white.  As was common with musicals in those days, it began its trial period as a nightclub revue and floor show, in this case at Les Ambassaduers Club on New York's 57th Street.  When it moved to Broadway, it was one of the most successful shows of that decade and Fields found herself much in demand from that point forward.

Many of her lyrics would be heard for the remainder of that decade at The Cotton Club, as Duke Ellington, then its music director, became a fan of the McHugh-Fields collaborations.  The fact that they didn't mind composing for black performers expanded their potential fan base so that their songs found a broader audience than most, especially when radio transmitted their oeuvre far and wide.

As was the case with novelists like F. Scott Fitzgerald and William Faulkner, songwriters, too, were lured to Hollywood in the 1930's with the advent of "talkies".  Being no different, Fields went west and found herself teamed with Jerome Kern to provide the soundtrack for the Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers film, Swing Time.  From that film, "The Way You Look Tonight" won the Oscar for Best Original Song in 1936.

Not to be limited solely to providing lyrics for stage and film scores, relying on her familiarity the theater world she teamed with her brother as a librettist, that is, the person who writes the play, or "book", around which the musical numbers are organized.  Fields warmed up for this by writing three musicals for Cole Porter and then, at the high point of American stage music, worked with Irving Berlin when he provided the music and lyrics for her script for Annie, Get Your Gun.  It would become the most popular musical of the late 1940's.

She would continue to write, sometimes as a lyricist, as in Sweet Charity in the 1960's, sometimes as both the lyricist and librettist, as in 1959's Redhead, a popular vehicle for Gwen Verdon and Bob Fosse that won five Tony Awards, including that of Best Musical, and earned an historical footnote for being the first musical murder mystery. 

Dorothy Fields is remarkable to me for two reasons.  The first, which harks to a pet peeve of mine about musicals in general, is that her songs never seem to be forced into the structure of the libretto, but are a natural part of the plot structure.  The second, and greater, is that while her lyrics ranged over the course of forty years, from Jazz Age jive to the hipster slang of the mid-1960's, they never strike an odd or discordant note.  For her words to suit both the differing times and the style of singers as disparate as Adelaide Hall and Ethel Merman, and dancer/choreographers like Astaire and Fosse, is remarkable.  That's what translates her lyrics from talented composition into art.

As is noted in Michael Feinstein's appreciation of Fields' contributions to theater and performance music:
Of all the Broadway lyricists, Dorothy Fields was the most able to keep up with her times, using contemporary idiomatic phrases without sounding forced or trendy. Her more poetic lyrics never become cloying and her imagery remains sharp, fresh, and hip. It’s to her credit that she could collaborate with composers as wildly diverse in style as Arthur Schwartz, Jerome Kern, and Cy Coleman. And, perhaps most noteworthy of all, in a field largely dominated by men, she always held her own and defied categorization as a “female” songwriter.
Words such as these can only partially represent Fields' gifts, however.  It's much better to simply enjoy the songs, don't you think?

See what I mean about different artists still finding commonality through Fields' work?

The Return of Neo-Puritanism

Hartford Courant: Teacher Faces Termination After Sharing Allen Ginsberg Poem

Key quote: "Carter also wrote that several students reported being emotionally upset after hearing the poem."

Poor darlings, to be emotionally upset by a...poem.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Yes. Next Question, Please.

Is contemporary education destroying boyhood?
Unlike teachers, mothers are not required to pound their boys into a cultural and political mold.  Rather than being appreciated for the future explorers, warriors and leaders they were designed to be, boys are viewed as defective little girls. Teachers want them to love reading and play nice, and no one wants to know where their hands have been. What is the real trouble with boys? Well, simply put, they are not girls.
Boys are no longer judged by their developmental standards. We have lost sight of a very basic tenet of humanity, one that our ancestors understood since the beginning of time: girls are very different from boys. Boys with uniquely masculine strengths, once prized, are no longer valued. In fact, these traits of boyhood are considered dangerous, even pathological.
Related:  Boy forced to shave haircut honoring brother in the military at a school named after veteran

When an educational institution begins to resemble less a place of learning and more a place of wanton emotional abuse, it's time to give it some scrutiny.

This is the principal.  I've searched their entire website and cannot find any regulations regarding haircuts.  [Update: Now no one may search for this as the website for the entire school district has been pulled offline.  So much for bravely standing by one's decisions.  It was inadvertent, but I suspect the students have learned an object lesson from this.]

You Mean the Science isn't Settled?

Earth has a layer that no one knew about

It was Inevitable

Political correctness is eating itself. It is abandoning its children, and declaring them illegitimate. It is shouting down activists who once subscribed to its doctrines and turning its guns on its own. Women are suffering the most, as they always do. “Radical feminist” is now an insult on many campuses. Fall into that pariah category, and your opponents will ban you if they can and scream you down if they cannot.

Some College Kids Managed to Get this Blocked on Facebook, So...

...I deliver it in its untamed glory:
I don't want to hear your whining about 'microaggressions' and 'trigger warnings.' Those aren't trauma. Besides, coming to terms with pain is part of growing up.

Lenten Wave #37

"If you believe what you like in the Gospel and reject what you do not like, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself." —St. Augustine

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Heard About Houston? Heard About Dee-troit? Heard About Pittsburgh, PA?

Headline of the Week

Pig banned from drinking in a pub for headbutting customers

10 Reasons Scientific Studies Can Be Surprisingly Innacurate

Speaking of science, "science", and studies:

Our society celebrates science for its accuracy and objectivity, and the general public usually considers evidence published in scientific journals to be unquestionably true. However, there have been a number of alarming studies, particularly focusing on life science research, that suggest scientific publishing might not be as reliable as we’d like to think.

Help Me Understand This

Climate denial is immoral, says head of US Episcopal church

So, according to the presiding bishop, to whom I have publicly vowed obedience and from whom seek guidance and direction, if I were to question [aka "deny", I guess] the contentious and sometimes dubious "science" that directs too much of the conversation about climate, weather, and the environment, I am figuratively blind, immoral, and rejecting of what sounds like a private knowledge of God.

Additionally, I am akin to those who resisted the civil rights movement and am threatening to the livelihood and survival of people in the developing world.

Clearly, I don't deserve to be an Episcopalian, as so, so many have also come to realize during the past fifteen years.

I wish the PB had been as interested in addressing less-than-abstract concerns about clergy alcohol use, but to do so is perhaps hasty and unfair and I regret it even crossed my mind.  After all, that isn't my role in the church.

Related:  $40 million bucks?

Also related: Americans’ concern over environmental issues such as water and air pollution and extinction of species is down from last year, and the data show that of all green issues, Americans worry the least about global warming (or climate change), according to Gallup.

By all means, let's make the church's primary concern that which is of least importance to those whom we would evangelize.  We can call it reverse evangelism.

Lenten Wave #36

The Windhover
by Gerard Manley Hopkins

To Christ our Lord
I caught this morning morning’s minion, king-
dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird,—the achieve of; the mastery of the thing!
Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
Buckle! and the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!
No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Wrong Time to Coddle

Between the infantilizing of campus culture and the growing global harshness, something has to give and—hint, hint—it won’t be the real world. The worst thing about the current climate of PC stupidity and mandatory cocooning on campus isn’t the ugly repression it entails. The destruction of free speech and free debate in the institutions that ought to be the citadels of intellectual liberty is a terrible thing and a horrible betrayal of everything universities are supposed to be about. But there is yet a worse consequence: the catastrophic dumbing down and weakening of a younger generation that is becoming too fragile and precious to exist in the current world—much less to fight the real evils and dangers that are growing.

Why Should a Jew Care Whether Christianity Lives or Dies?

Some people asked in response: Why should a Jew care whether Europe is Christian? Rod Dreher in the American Conservative: “I am grateful for Gelernter’s encouragement, but would love to know why it matters so much to a believing Jew that Europe should be re-Christianized.” Good question, but one that is easy for me to answer. The key goes far beyond the opinions of one Jewish writer in Connecticut. It touches the heart of a fundamental change in relations between Judaism and Christianity.

Lenten Wave #35

"Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime." - Martin Luther

[Welcome, Spring.  So good to see you.  It's about dang time.  Now, how about some leaves?]

Every Archaeologist's Dream Discovery

Argentine archaeologists find secret Nazi lair in jungle

Monday, March 23, 2015

I Don't Get It; We Have Strict Gun Control in this State

Hartford police investigating third weekend shooting

It's almost as if outlaws don't follow the laws.  How can that be?

Meanwhile, I have to get fingerprinted and pay $35 for a special license to shotgun shell.

Environmentalism as Religion [and from 2003, too]

"Today, one of the most powerful religions in the Western World is environmentalism.  Environmentalism seems to be the religion of choice for urban atheists.  Why do I say it’s a religion?  Well, just look at the beliefs.  If you look carefully, you see that environmentalism is in fact a perfect 21st century remapping of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and myths.

In Some Circles, He's The Beatles

Photo courtesy of the UK Telegraph

Lenten Wave #34

"Not only in faith, but also in works, God has given man freedom of the will." —St. Irenaeus

Christian Soldiers

CBS' 60 Minutes:

"I'm not here serving my country -- I'm here serving Christians," says former U.S. soldier Brett Felton, who returned to Iraq to train Christians how to defend themselves from ISIS

The Broader Problem with Starbucks’ Racialism

So when I have guests to my home, I think immediately of our similarities. They’re the couple from church, not the twice-married Hispanics from Jersey. She’s the cool graphic designer, not the sexually ambiguous Green Party delegate who lives in a yurt outside of Montpelier. He’s the dad at my daughter’s birthday party, not the Muslim who only watches Premier League soccer.

Since I favor commonalities, I can’t even answer the Starbucks questionnaire. I have no idea the races of my parents’ or kids’ friends and even if I did, why would it matter? I suppose I could categorize my friends by ethnicity, but the thought makes my skin crawl. They’re friends, not racial statistics.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Lenten Wave #33

"Take almost any path you please, and ten to one it carries you down in a dale, and leaves you there by a pool in the stream. There is magic in it. Let the most absent-minded of men be plunged in his deepest reveries--stand that man on his legs, set his feet a-going, and he will infallibly lead you to water, if water there be in all that region. Should you ever be athirst in the great American desert, try this experiment, if your caravan happen to be supplied with a metaphysical professor. Yes, as every one knows, meditation and water are wedded forever."  -Herman Melville

Saturday, March 21, 2015

As The Coracle Has Been Saying for Some Time

In College and Hiding From Scary Ideas

Quote: “I was feeling bombarded by a lot of viewpoints that really go against my dearly and closely held beliefs,” Ms. Hall said.

If I were asked, during my years within the ivy-covered walls, to define college, that's almost exactly what I would have said.  Pity that what was once an intellectually stimulating forum has become a place of refuge from having to listen and to think.  Then again, it's only Brown.

Lenten Wave #32

"I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in." – George Washington Carver

Quote of the Week

Now, I've encountered these graduates of Harvard, Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, and Princeton, I've encountered them in the media, and people in their 30s now, some of them, their minds are like Jell-O. They know nothing! They've not been trained in history. They have absolutely no structure to their minds. Their emotions are unfixed. The banality of contemporary cultural criticism, of academe, the absolute collapse of any kind of intellectual discourse in the U.S. is the result of these colleges, which should have been the best, have produced the finest minds, instead having retracted into caretaking. The whole thing is about approved social positions in a kind of misty, love of humanity without any direct knowledge of history or economics or anthropology.

As I learned 43 years ago, if you wish to be educated rather than trained or inculcated, go to Europe.

Here's the Real Conversation That Should Be Happening at Starbuck's

The most popular cafe chain, whose name decent people do not pronounce, burns its coffee beans to produce what Americans mistakenly believe is an authentic European taste. Proper coffee, by which of course I mean Italian coffee, is bittersweet, not burned. Americans evidently hate the wretched stuff because they drown its flavor in a flood of milk, in the so-called "latte", something I never have observed an Italian request during many years of travel in that country. By contrast, Italians drink cappuccino, mixing a small amount of milk into the coffee and leaving a cap of foam. If Americans do not like it, why do they buy it at exorbitant prices? They do so precisely because the high price makes it a luxury, but an affordable one for secretaries and shopgirls. 

And this was written in 2003.

There are Few Things More Sublime Than Japanese Pop Culture

Friday, March 20, 2015

Friday Surf Music Weirdness

Lenten Wave #31

"No one should be so active as not to seek the contemplation of God." —St. Augustine

Dick Dale

"Every song is like a painting."

"You surf, right?"

"Yeah.  Well, usually."

"You must like The Beach Boys."

"No, not really.  It's not really surf music."

"It isn't?  I thought surf music was just The Beach Boys."

I have had this conversation and variations of it whenever some well-meaning individual tries to understand my eccentric hobby.  It's natural since most normal people understand surfing through either the music of The Beach Boys [only one of whom, the drummer, actually surfed] and the Frankie Avalon/Annette Funicello movies of the mid-1960's.  [Frankie and Annette didn't surf, either.]

Also, the "surf lifestyle" has been mainstreamed in fashion and graphic arts to the point of parody.  Even those of us who engage in the sport/hobby, and thus are more familiar with its reality, can fall victim to it.  We sometimes bleach our hair, we use obscure slang when describing waves and technical maneuvers, we see the invisible line that exists between those who surf and those who don't, and we have a hierarchy of achievement, the highest level being that of "Waterman". 

Just for fun, if one enters the term "surf lifestyle" with a popular Internet search engine, one will receive almost 37 million references [what the puzzlewitted call "hits"] in less than one second.  In fact, so pervasive has the "lifestyle" become that I've dropped my long-standing subscriptions to both Surfer and Surfing magazines, as both now seem nothing other than bound, glossy, and colorful adverts with little reference to the hard science of hydrodynamics and its adherents.

I have noted elements of surf culture before, especially with the art and car customization of Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, and their influence on mainstream culture, but I wonder how many realize that a sound that we commonly associate with the electric guitar as used in rock and other forms of pop music actually is from the true and original surf music.  Its originator is Richard Anthony Monsour, known by the stage name of Dick Dale, who, despite rapidly approaching his 78th birthday and having twice survived cancer, is still displaying in live performances the technique that made the surf sound popular and evocative.

Oh, yes, unlike those mentioned above, he actually is a surfer.

Dale was born in Boston to a working class family that, in the great Western migration of the post-WWII period, moved to southern California when he was a teenager.  Personally, I can't imagine how great it would be to transfer from the snow, ice, and grime of Massachusetts to the sunny climes of L.A. County in one's formative years, but it clearly made a difference to Dale.  Already a self-taught musician, proficient in ukulele, tarabaki, oud, and drums [Dale was of Lebanese descent, which explains both some of the instruments in his repertoire and also the Arabic rhythms in his own compositions], once in California he became both a surfer and, naturally, a guitarist.

I could describe his technique, but it's much easier to display it:

Sharp-eyed viewers will note the the strings on Dale's guitar are, in effect, upside down with the higher strings on top.  This was because Dale was left-handed and, as guitars favoring lefties were rare in the 1950's, simply re-strung a right-handed guitar to favor his style.  Even after left-handed guitars became more available, he was set in his technique.

The rapid pick work and lighting fast scales that were his hallmark were in evidence from the very beginning.  However, in addition to what was required in the actual playing of the instrument, another, previously passive, element was necessary for the sound.  While electrically amplified guitars had been in use for over a decade, the guitar was making its pilgrimage from an ensemble to a lead instrument and the amplification equipment was becoming more and more important.  Dale realized that it was not just his fingers that could shape the sound, but changes in the flow of electricity from instrument to amplifier, especially when using absurdly thick guitar strings.

When played in ensemble with an orchestra or combo, the guitar amplifier is generally set to #3 or #4 on the volume dial.  Dale would turn his amp all the way to the right to the #10.  While this produced the volume and some of the sound quality for which he was looking, it also ensured that the amplifier, or at least its speaker cone, would not survive too long without becoming a casualty to culture.  In short, they blew up.

This was such a predicament, especially as Dale had gone from performing in small venues to being the weekly headliner at the 3000 seat Rendezvous Ballroom in Newport Beach, that it was Leo Fender himself who came to the rescue by developing what is now known as the Single Showman Amp.  Thanks to this deus ex machina provided by the inventor of the guitar pickup [that's the device that translates sound into electric impulse], no one had ever played louder than Dale, to the delight of the teenagers who gathered at the Rendezvous and the horror of their parents and audiologists.  Between the two of them, Dale and Fender created the "heavy metal" sound.

Thus it was here that the first, true "surf" song was heard, complete with all of the elements of style that have since become the convention of the genre.

By 1963, Dick Dale could safely label his second album The King of the Surf Guitar.  That same year, the first in the series of "beach movies" made by American International Film studios, and starring the previously-mentioned Avalon and Funicello [and Donna Michelle...sorry, I got lost in thought for a moment], would be made and naturally featured some brief performances by Dale, hinting at the energy that he brought to his live shows.

Unfortunately, that same year The Beatles would arrive in the United States and behind them a vast collection of other English bands in what is known to musicologists as The British Invasion.  Suddenly, instrumental based music was no longer popular and, save for The Beach Boys and their harmony-driven songs [and massive Capitol Records publicity machine], surf music was relegated to a niche within the very broad world of pop.

It refused to go away, however, much like Dick Dale himself.  Surviving both cancer and an infection caused by polluted waters off of the southern California beaches, Dale would become an environmental activist and would return to the stage in the late 1970's to perform for environmental and cancer charities, revivals, and fans of his particular sound; the one created all those years ago in a grubby and under-used facility on Balboa Harbor.

Nowadays, one may hear evocations of the Dale sound offered by contemporary groups too numerous to mention, although a complete, and rather massive, list may be found at the Surf Rock Music website.  [I'm partial to Los Straitjackets, myself.]  Dick Dale has been and is regarded as a legend by some of the most impressive guitarists in history, including the late Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn.  [Dale may be found playing with the latter in the video below.  While I can't explain his hair, other than to note it was the 1980's, one can see how much of pop culture found its soundtrack through his musical style].

Oh, and just to reiterate an earlier point, Dale is also a surfer.  In 2011, he was given his own position on the Surfing Walk of Fame in Huntington Beach, California.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Lenten Wave #30

"Not only do we not know God except through Jesus Christ; We do not even know ourselves except through Jesus Christ." – Pascal

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Alex, I'll Take "Episcopal Church" for $40 Million

The cost of 12 years of diocese vs. parish law suits.

In other words, our shrinking denomination decided we needed to spend over $3 million a year in self-punishment.

Teach Yourself German

Witzbeharrsamkeit - unashamedly repeating a bon mot until it is heard by everyone present

Abgrundsanziehung - toying with the non-suicidal idea of jumping from a height

Frohsinnsfascismus - the awful mediocrity of organized fun

Fetanlaushangriff - tuning in and out of a number of conversations at a party

and, my fav:

Clashsyndrom - moments of etiquette perplexity when there is no polite way of behaving
[In English - the Jerry Lewis Syndrome.]

Once Again, I'm Beginning to Sense a Pattern, and It Seems to Involve Women Educators

We noted this earlier this month.

Here are some more recent examples.

She pleaded guilty Friday to 16 sex-related crimes involving five underage boys when they were students at Centennial High School. 

Teacher in sex case awaits word on criminal charges

Ex-teacher indicted for sex with student

Indictment: Mendham teacher had sex with 1 student, 'improper' relationships with 3

Naperville coach accused of sexually abusing player at sleepover

Pinson Valley teacher charged with sexual contact with student

Again, the common denominator is that these are all women teachers.  When will someone address the power inequity that exists in education that permits women to feel they have some sort of entitlement to abuse those in their care?  If only Title IX worked for both genders.  What?  It's supposed to?  Really?

Lenten Wave #29

“The wave is the signature of every experience of life. By understanding the nature of waves and their characteristics, and applying that understanding to our lives, we can navigate life with a little more grace.”
― Jeffrey R. Anderson, The Nature of Things - Navigating Everyday Life with Grace

A Story as Old as the United States

As Tecumseh said, the day will come when we will sing the death song of our tormentors.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Are University Faculty Stuffed with Wild Gooseberry Muffins? [That's the Nice Way of Saying It; This is a Family Weblog, After All.]

If you’re a man who smiles at women and makes an effort to be kind to them, you’re probably an “insidious” and “treacherous” sexist, according to a study conducted by researchers from Northeastern University in Boston.

Plus this:
“Sexism can appear very friendly and very welcoming, so in the paper we said that sexism can act like a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” Goh said, according to an article in the Washington Post. “We add that sexism can consciously or unconsciously cloak itself in friendliness, so in a way it’s more insidious and treacherous than hostile sexism.”

She Subjected a Collection of People Trapped in a Room with Her to an Ideological Rant and Odd Behavior.

I wonder how different this experience is from sitting in her classroom.

Penn State professor arrested for ranting, smoking on Nicaragua-Miami flight

Key quote: “I know that might sound somewhat esoteric to other people, but I’m an intellectual, so that’s what I intended,” she said."

Not esoteric.

I Remember Some Commentators Noting This at the Time

They were called some rather foul names for noticing.

Washington Post: ‘Hands up, don’t shoot’ was built on a lie

I wish that those in power who call for an "honest national conversation about race" really meant that they wanted to have an honest national conversation about race, rather than stoke tragic circumstances to gain votes, sell newspapers, encourage cable news viewers, increase their public speaking fees, and enable their "charitable" foundations.  I really wish some of my ordained colleagues weren't so compliant in promoting this nonsense, but they sometimes need to burnish their own credentials as social justice warriors and this is the easiest way to do so.

Meanwhile, in the reality that is Ferguson, there are burned and destroyed businesses, toxically angry people, continued violence, and social disruption.  In other words, all of the benefits of the secularized society.

[I'm also noting the irony involved with some actions by the author of this piece.  Back when this story was news, he was blocking people on Twitter, including prominent and legitimate public thinkers, for even suggesting the same thing he now realizes himself.]

NYT: Lent's Not Just for Catholics

No kidding [says this Episcopal priest in the midst of the violet season].

It's also used by us, Lutherans, some Methodists, Copts, and others; even some Congregational churches who, according to one pastor I know, regard it as a "viable marketing tool".  [I think he meant to say a "valuable devotion for evangelism", but know.]

Lenten Wave #28

The Lorica of St. Patrick

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

Looks Like the Cheek That Got Turned Was the Other Guy's

LAHORE: At least 15 people were killed and more than 70 injured when two Taliban suicide bombers attacked churches in Lahore on Sunday, sparking mob violence in which two other suspected militants died.

Ivy League Students Discover Guns! Run Away!!!

I don't think this article was supposed to make me laugh.  Too bad.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — In between completing problem sets, writing code, organizing hackathons, worrying about internships and building solar cars, a group of MIT students make their way to the athletic center, where they stand side-by-side, load their guns and fire away.

Three things that engendered a hearty guffaw from yours truly:

1.  "They are majoring in biological engineering, brain and cognitive sciences, aeronautics, mechanical engineering, computer science and nuclear science. Before arriving at MIT, nearly all of them had never touched a gun or even seen one that wasn't on TV.  “Which is strange because I’m from Texas,” said Nick McCoy, wearing a ­T-shirt advertising his dorm and getting ready to shoot."

Right, because everyone in Texas owns, keeps, and uses guns.

2.  The article's headline: "Gun industry’s helping hand triggers a surge in college shooting teams"

There has to be some logical explanation for these college students violating the carefully crafted narrative of the media.  I know!  It's the "gun industry" that's making them do it!

3.  "And they acknowledge that many in society don’t think about firearms the way they now do — that it’s less about the gun, as one student put it, and more about who is using it."

Wow!  It took the opportunity for real knowledge outside of the elite bubble, but an Ivy Leaguer actually figured out the truth behind it all.  It's "more about who is using it."

I wish Connecticut politicians, who insist on passing laws that are unenforceable and directed only at law-abiding gun-owning citizens, would figure this out.

[Disclaimer:  I'm an Ivy Leaguer who has shot guns.  Go and hide now.]

Monday, March 16, 2015

A Fair Question

In the Middle East, the Islamic State is crucifying Christians and demolishing ancient churches. Why is this being met with silence from the halls of Congress to Sunday sermons?

This is News?

[Photo courtesy of Surfer magazine]

Few moments in surfing are as unpleasant as the gut wrench that comes from sprint-paddling over a menacing set wave only to be confronted with that wave’s meaner, panic-inducing, and much bigger brother behind it, looming up from the depths of a watery hell. Doesn’t matter if you’re Shane Dorian squaring off against a 60-footer at Jaws, or a Workaday Joe having a freak out at your local maxing beachbreak. Fear in the ocean is awful and often debilitating. As it turns out, that fear can also be good for you. Not just putting-hair-on-your-chest good for you, but legitimately physiologically beneficial.

Never Heard of Delbert? He's Only Been Around for 40 Years. Here's the Best Country Song Ever.

This One's Much More Urban [And I Don't Mean "Urbane"]

Did I Mention Iris, Too? She Writes Her Own Stuff.

Y'all Can Keep Carrie and Taylor, I'll Stick with Linda

I Don't Know, I Just Felt Like Hearing It

Vietnam: Apparently It's Not Paradise on Earth

The UN expert expressed particular concern about the situation of Independent religious and belief communities – i.e. those unrecognized by the state. The autonomy and activities “remain restricted and unsafe, with the rights to freedom of religion or belief of such communities grossly violated in the face of constant surveillance, intimidation, harassment and persecution”. He stressed that the conditions of independent and unregistered religious communities was a “litmus test for the development of freedom of religion of belief in Vietnam”.

I suppose we're not to be concerned, though, as the United Nations will fix this just like they have everything else.

Everything You Know is Wrong

It turns out that for most people, the cholesterol in the food you eat has little or no connection to the cholesterol in your blood, or to heart disease either. “There’s never been a single study that showed higher egg consumption is related to higher risk of heart disease,” Walter Willett, a nutrition scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health, told New York Magazine recently.

Just about everything we thought we knew about the evils of cholesterol and fats has turned out to be wrong. The doctors, the nutritionists, the dietitians, the heart societies, the experts at Health Canada, the food pyramid that hung on the wall in school – the entire health and medical establishment, in fact, have been perpetuating a big fat fraud.

What scares the new atheists

It’s impossible to read much contemporary polemic against religion without the impression that for the “new atheists” the world would be a better place if Jewish and Christian monotheism had never existed. If only the world wasn’t plagued by these troublesome God-botherers, they are always lamenting, liberal values would be so much more secure. Awkwardly for these atheists, Nietzsche understood that modern liberalism was a secular incarnation of these religious traditions. As a classical scholar, he recognised that a mystical Greek faith in reason had shaped the cultural matrix from which modern liberalism emerged. Some ancient Stoics defended the ideal of a cosmopolitan society; but this was based in the belief that humans share in the Logos, an immortal principle of rationality that was later absorbed into the conception of God with which we are familiar. Nietzsche was clear that the chief sources of liberalism were in Jewish and Christian theism: that is why he was so bitterly hostile to these religions. He was an atheist in large part because he rejected liberal values.

Lenten Wave #27

" … the world is a work of art, set before all for contemplation, so that through it the wisdom of Him who created it should be known …"
—Basil, from Exegetical Works, On the Hexameron

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Lenten Wave #26

"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." -- Albert Einstein

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Lenten Wave #25

"See how the Father attracts. He delights in teaching, and not in imposing necessity on men." —St. Augustine

Friday, March 13, 2015

It's Friday and Time for Ella

Eugenie Clark

"Sharks are beautiful animals, and if you're lucky enough to see lots of them, that means that you're in a healthy ocean. You should be afraid if you are in the ocean and don't see sharks." - Sylvia Earle

I was once jammed onto an airplane in the midst of a gaggle of well-fed corporate men and women who were highly charged after attending a week long "team-work and incentive" workshop in Las Vegas.  After the third pass of the liquor cart, my well-lubed cabin mates were dancing in the aisle to the dulcet tones of Shakira and Justin Timberlake, poorly navigating the various armrests and safety features of the Boeing 767, and chanting slogans inherited from their conference.  Chief among them was "WE SWIM WITH SHARKS.  WAHOO!!!"

Yes, it was a long flight.  One of the few things that lightened the ordeal was that I was traveling with my surf buddy, Boonie Jackson, and we had just spent the week driving up and down the Pacific Coast Highway surfing every beach that looked worthy of the stoke.  After the fourth or fifth "WAHOO!!!", we traded a bemused look.

See, we had spent seven days literally swimming with sharks, and not as a corporate metaphor, and knew that it was hardly the pinnacle of physical or moral courage.  All it meant was that we had been in the water.

Now it's true that there have been injuries and fatalities associated with shark attacks on surfers, especially with that of friend-of-The CoracleBethany Hamilton.  However, more surfers have drowned or suffered significant head trauma on submerged coral than have ever encountered a shark.  This writer has surfed for forty-six years in various world waters and, while he has seen his share of the genus Carcharodon, he has never been menaced by them.  This is also true of the sharks encountered while bonefishing in the flats of the Florida Keys, sailing off of Cape Cod, and scuba diving the Palancar Reef.  They are always there, but they tend to keep their own counsel.

However, it goes without saying that sharks have a reputation.  There was a time when it was common for ocean-going pleasure craft to carry "shark guns" on board.  These were usually salt-water resistant shotguns or rifles used for deer hunting.  Ernest Hemingway famously employed a Thompson Sub-Machine Gun on board his fishing boat, Pilar, and once, while attempting to kill a shark that had been hauled aboard while sail-fishing, shot himself in both legs with a .45 Colt.

There are also shark fishing competitions, specially designed shark spear guns and pneumatic knives, and multiple recipes for shark parts, popular in the Pacific Rim countries, that require an alarming level of slaughter.  There have been many, many movies and even a few novels that present sharks as a rapacious predator that will automatically attack any human in the water. 

A few years back, a couple of Hawaiian surfers, tired of the waves being crowded by amateurs, took some old, broken surfboards, cut what looked like shark bites out of them, and liberally distributed them about the beaches of the North Shore.  Suddenly, the surf wasn't as crowded any more.  Hence, as with my plane cabin mates, the employment of the shark as a metaphor for danger even among those who work in some of the safest jobs ever known in human history.

It would take quite a novel thinker to work against that current of common thinking about sharks to truly study them and present their much more complicated role in the aquatic eco-system.  A pioneer, of sorts.  Fortunately, a couple of New York City parents created such a pioneer when they decided in the early part of the 20th century to do something that nowadays would get them arrested and publicly shamed on a variety of news shows and on social media.  They would, on a near-daily basis, drop off their nine-year-old daughter at the New York Aquarium for her to spend the day, alone and un-escorted; a true "free-range" kid.

Instead of giving her a life's worth of trauma, as would be the case with some of the often soft, coddled children of the current age, it created in Eugenie Clark a robust curiosity about ocean life and eco-systems.  She would, because of her parents so "endangering" her, become the pre-eminent expert on sharks and a pioneer for women in the field of marine biology. 

Born in 1922, Clark's father died when she was still a toddler and her Japanese-American mother married the famous restaurateur, Nobu, which granted Clark the wherewithal necessary to pursue the considerable academic degrees necessary for her field.  These included degrees in zoology from Hunter College and New York University and considerable research work done with Scripps Institutions of Oceanography in California, its eastern counterpart, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute of Massachusetts, and the American Museum of Natural History.  Some of her most significant work was done with the U.S. Office of Naval Research, which had both an astronomical budget and the absolute best in post-WWII technology for the study of the ocean.

Most of Clark's studies would take place among the atolls and islands of the South Pacific, including Micronesia, Melanesia, and the Marshall, Palau, and Marianas Islands.  To further her research, it was necessary for her to be a proficient swimmer, certified scuba diver [I would remind the reader that this was before scuba diving was made popular by the TV show, "Sea Hunt"], cave diver, and technologically able.  Again, she did this, too, at a time when it was so rare for a woman to be involved in these particular sciences that she gained the respectful sobriquet of "The Shark Lady".

While she studied a great many types of fish, it was her work with sharks that gained her most notoriety, as her research reversed many of the assumptions about sharks that were and are common.  She wrote numerous articles, both scholarly and popular, on the subject of sharks and published several books, including Lady With A Spear and The Lady With The Sharks [I always thought both sounded as if they were fiction written by John D. MacDonald or some such mid-century pulp writer], and served as a mentor to numerous women in the biological sciences.  She was also the founding director of what is now known as the Mote Marine Laboratory.

Not only did she, in the midst of researching the biology of a rather dull flatfish, indirectly discover the most effective shark repellent yet produced, made from the secretions of a Pardachirus marmoratus [or Moses sole, a Red Sea dweller], but she also highlighted what was realistic in the feeding habits of sharks.

As an editorial note, when I first compiled the list of the fifty people to be remembered on Fridays over the course of a year, Dr. Clark was included and, at the time, still alive.  My concern was that her scientific and social contributions had been forgotten and her inclusion was to be an attempt to redress that possibility.  However, three weeks ago at the age of 92, Dr. Clark died and has since been memorialized in all of the major media.  There is much about her to be read on line, so the original reason for posting is no longer as necessary as I once thought.

[Although a non-smoker, she died of lung cancer.  Many of those early scuba enthusiasts developed the disease and it is thought to be related to the gas mixtures and the equipment used in diving in those days.]

The handy thing about weblogs, though, is that they can be wonderfully personal.  As such, it might be appropriate to note one of her contributions that was left unmentioned in the canned obituaries and vague remembrances in scientific journals.  Namely, Clark taught watermen the real nature of sharks.

From the New York Times:
She insisted that “Jaws,” the 1975 Steven Spielberg film based on a Peter Benchley novel, and its sequels inspired unreasonable fears of sharks as ferocious killers. Car accidents are far more numerous and terrible than shark attacks, she said in a 1982 PBS documentary, “The Sharks.”
She said at the time that only about 50 shark attacks on humans were reported annually and that only 10 were fatal, and that the great white shark portrayed in “Jaws” would attack only if provoked, while most of the world’s 350 shark species were not dangerous to people at all.
“When you see a shark underwater,” she said, “you should say, ‘How lucky I am to see this beautiful animal in his environment.’ ”
She was never attacked in any of her nearly 75 years literally swimming with sharks, and only once suffered a wound from one when a sample of a shark's jaws fell against her arm while she was driving in her car to a lecture.

Her learned perspective and positive attitude towards even the most feared of sharks is one that injects a necessary note of reality into any experience in the water.  While care always needs to be taken in the open and untamed sea, it is a care born of common sense and a full understanding of one's surroundings.
 “Monster stories fascinate us,” she conceded, but people should not be afraid of sharks: “People want to know all the horrible details. And a shark attack can give you horrible details. People just can’t put it into perspective. We’ve learned, as most divers do, they’re not really dangerous at all. It’s no worse diving with sharks than it is driving a car down the road. The average shark, the more you swim around, scares off easily.”

Lenten Wave #24

"I look upon all the world as my parish; thus far I mean, that, in whatever part of it I am, I judge it meet, right, and my bounden duty, to declare unto all that are willing to hear, the glad tidings of salvation."  - John Wesley

Thursday, March 12, 2015

This Article is Useful, Given That the Episcopal Church is Repeating This Nonsensical Statistic

NYT: Date Rape's Other Victim
This portrait of the delicate female bears a striking resemblance to that 50's ideal my mother and other women of her generation fought so hard to leave behind. They didn't like her passivity, her wide-eyed innocence. They didn't like the fact that she was perpetually offended by sexual innuendo. They didn't like her excessive need for protection. She represented personal, social and intellectual possibilities collapsed, and they worked and marched, shouted and wrote to make her irrelevant for their daughters. But here she is again, with her pure intentions and her wide eyes. Only this time it is the feminists themselves who are breathing new life into her.

News for Asceticism Students

Next week in the Lenten Series: Gyno-centric ascetisim, as hosted by our priest associate.  In two weeks, feel free to read up on Fr. Thomas Berry, Edith Stein, Brother Roger, Dorothee Soelle, Henri Nouwen, and one or two others if we have time.

Lenten Wave #23

“You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.” ~William Faulkner

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Lenten Wave #21

"Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe."
- Saint Augustine

Sunday, March 8, 2015


Read this whole thing, please.

The Decline of the West

American Millennials fail when judged with their world counterparts.
It means that the American educational establishment and the American psychological establishment, the people who dictate how we bring up children, have failed miserably.
This is hardly news, is it?

Oh, look.  Here's more millenial highjinks:
Security detained two young California women Saturday for carving their initials into a wall of the Colosseum — and then posing for a selfie to show off their handiwork, Italian newspapers reported.

The Modern Gym is a Little Weird...

...mainly because I went to the YMCA when I was a kid and the Rocky Marciano gym when I was a young adult.  That place was no Planet Fitness, that's for sure.

Why We Sign Up For Gym Memberships But Never Go To The Gym

Lenten Wave #19

Where streams of living water flow
My ransomed soul He leadeth,
And where the verdant pastures grow,
With food celestial feedeth.

Perverse and foolish oft I strayed,
But yet in love He sought me,
And on His shoulder gently laid,
And home, rejoicing, brought me.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Martyrs of Mankato

On December 26, 1862, Abraham Lincoln executed 38 "Indians and half-breeds" in Minnesota for the crime of attempting to feed themselves without relying on government hand-outs.  [It's more complicated than that, of course, but I'm attempting to present the aboriginal view].  It was the largest mass hanging in U.S. history and explains why American tribal members have a rather low regard for the 16th president.

Save for one, the executed were all baptized Christians, most of them Episcopalians.

Then-bishop of Minnesota, The Rt. Rev. Henry Benjamin Whipple, had intervened in the proposed action and convinced Lincoln to execute the 38 instead of the over-300 who were originally to be hanged.  Although his actions are generally regarded as heroic, there are some in the aboriginal community who fault him for not successfully saving all of the prisoners.  This is a rather raw controversy in parts of the greater Church, as the reader may imagine.

The Rev. Robert Two Bulls, a contemporary Episcopal priest, is attempting to have the slain Episcopalians named as official martyrs with their own date on our calendar.  My opinion in this matter is, for now, my own, although I'm rankled when some of the more conservative laity and clergy of the church are dismissive of this initiative as they think it mere political correctness or an example of tedious Episcopal trendiness.

The history of American Indian Episcopalians is largely unknown and rarely taught in any of the Church's seminaries.  While a small body of scholars is attempting to address that curricular shortcoming, as we commonly open our regard to many, many of the marginalized groups within our communion, perhaps some consideration could be granted to a collection of people of color who have remained faithful, sometimes in the midst of great hardship and persecution.

As they walked to the gallows on their final day, the contemporary newspaper accounts reported that the condemned sang their tribal "death song".  In reality, the Martyrs of Mankato were singing "Onward, Christian Soldiers" in the Dakota language of their tribe.

Lenten Wave #18

"I wasn't looking for satisfation from sponsorships, waves, or recognition in surfing anymore. My satisfaction comes from knowing God." - Jen Belshaw, Pro Woman surfer

Friday, March 6, 2015

My New Hero

The Man Who Snuck Into the Ivy League Without Paying a Thing

And I thought my way of doing it [a Lilly grant] was the way to go.

A Perpetually True Statement for Our Friday Rush Hour Music

The Voices on the Radio: Freed, Franklin, and Dee

I love radio - its immediacy and especially its intimacy... 
it is part of your life, whispering into your ear. - Malcolm Turnbull

Mine is the TV generation, or so I'm told.  The truth is more complicated, as is often the case with truth.

Perhaps it was because I achieved my teenage years around the same time that FM was developed, or because cable TV sports had not reached its current ubiquity and, thus, a more traditional medium for listening to baseball and basketball was still required, but I recall most of my best memories of growing up involved listening to the radio.  Whether it was the stately tube radio on which my grandfather and I listened to Cleveland Indians games, or the clock radio on my nightstand in our house on East 213th St. from which I cheered the Cleveland Cavaliers onto rare victories during their expansion year, or the rather nice Pioneer receiver in my college dorm, purchased with money made from a summer job, on which I heard the alternative rock music of my generation from stations like the late, lamented WNCR and the now-lamentable WMMS, it was voices on the radio rather than images on a TV screen that brought me a world that was vivid and immediate.

There was a great tradition of radio in Cleveland, especially in regards to the music that would first be labeled "rock and roll" by a metro disk jockey named Alan Freed.  In the early 1950's, Freed realized, despite what the commercial interests who underwrote the expenses of his radio station thought, that a new sound was being heard in the small clubs and road houses.  As his friend was Leo Mintz, the owner of Record Rendezvous, the most popular record store in northeastern Ohio [and even where, from 1968 until 1982, I bought every album of popular music I owned], Freed knew that young people, flush with 1950's affluence, were buying rhythm and blues songs marked by a torrid beat and incomprehensible lyrics.  As these songs were mostly performed by black artists, they were relegated to the "ethnic" stations on the low end of the dial and given their own separate listing on the Billboard charts.  Freed felt it was time they were mainstreamed.

This was met with the usual resistance, of course, as smart choices are usually the ones that require some courage, and courage is a rare word in corporations.  However, using the leverage that was enabled by Record Rendezous' support of Freed's radio show, and the guarantee of about 250,000 rabid potential listeners, he branded himself the "King of the Moondoggers" and played, late night after late night, this new form of music on "The Moondog Show".

Any sentient human being knows the rest of the story.  Rock and Roll became the standard of popular music, shoving big band, jazz, choral, and even true rhythm and blues into their own musical sidestream, and becoming the soundtrack for the remainder of The American Century.  Freed would move to New York City in the early sixties and, thus, spread the sound that originated on the shores of Lake Erie.

Although he would die a couple of years before the Summer of Love [which, in Cleveland, was the year after the Summer of Violence], and thus before I began earnestly to listen to the radio, Freed's style and passion would continue to be copied and presented through all of the popular radio markets in the United States.  As testimony to his influence, when it was time to choose a city in which to locate the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, there really were no other serious candidates.

It wasn't just in music, however, that new ideas were being presented through Cleveland radio.  In the early 1970's, a mundane local sportscaster was given his own radio show and ordered to "make it interesting".  If any of the readers are old enough to remember sports radio in the 1960's, that might seem to have been an impossible assignment.  However, Pete Franklin, armed with this commission from his bosses, began to seek on-air phone calls from particularly opinionated and abrasive listeners [no shortage of those in Northeastern Ohio], issue forth with pungent observations on the mediocrity that is, by tradition, Cleveland professional sports, openly and loudly question the intelligence and sanity of team owners, and quickly become the only sports radio show to which anyone would listen.

My favorite moment was when he would introduce the nightly report on the Cleveland Indians by playing a funeral dirge. 

Like Freed and many others who pushed the envelop of "acceptable" behavior [what a quaint notion, especially in regards to radio], Franklin would be hired and fired in a funicular of employment.  Still, his radio persona was so successful that he has been copied again and again, even into the television market through ESPN and similar cable channels so that, if you have never heard of Franklin, you've "heard" him through the heirs of his style.  Also like Freed, Franklin would take his act to New York, for better or worse.

It's difficult to characterize Gary D. Gilbert, whose radio name was Gary Dee.  When I was in high school, my father, whose office was next door, would drive me to school.  It wasn't a very long drive, but I would listen to Gary Dee on the car radio on the way, much to my father's lament, as he found Dee common, unnecessarily hostile, and too loud.  This is what made Dee perfect for older teenagers, though, as the conversation in homeroom would always be about whom Dee had verbally abused on the radio that morning and to what extent.

Contemporary "shock jocks" are ubiquitous these days, but Dee was the originator of that manner of attracting listeners.  Although he was working on what was supposedly a country music station, he would maybe play, during the course of a four hour show in morning drive time, one song by George Jones or...well, Jones is the only one I remember.  The rest of the 240 minutes not claimed by some surprisingly high-end advertisers would be spent encouraging phone calls from the rich crop of eccentrics who lived in the greater metro area.  Dee referred to them as "egg-suckin' dogs".

He was cruel to fools, abrasive to political figures, intolerant of authority, and generally representative of every exaggerated quality of the classic American crank.  Having said that, he would also frequently host the president of Cleveland's city council, a formidable figure widely recognized as the true boss of the city, and engage in such playfully hostile banter with him that both would be de-articulated with laughter.

There's something to be said about being able to attract the largest radio audience in the Midwestern United States to listen to two grown men laugh like children into a couple of microphones.  Well, in radio, it's whatever works.

Dee lived a life similar to the most dissolute of the country artists whose music he was supposed to play on his show.  He battled the demon of addiction, would sometimes be in trouble with the police, would make the daily papers with a scandalous divorce, and would also watch his Arbitron ratings soar with every occasion of negative attention.

One Saturday night, my best friend and I, coming back from a baseball game or concert or something, decided, as we knew we were driving through the "mansion section" of the city, to cruise by Dee's home along the lake shore.  As we approached his house we saw police lights, several cars parked hither and yon, and a lot of people milling about the front yard.  Thinking we were about to approach a crime scene, my friend and I were preparing for a marvelous story to be told in homeroom.

As we got closer to the house, we saw a mad party in progress with Dee standing in his front yard with his left hand around the neck of a whiskey bottle, his right arm around a zaftig, bleached blonde who really didn't look like she was from Cleveland, posing for photographs with about half of the Cleveland Police Department.  Everyone present looked like they were completely, in Dee's words, "wrapped around the axle".

My friend, who was prepping to enter pre-med at Case Western Reserve University [and is now a senior surgeon with the University Hospital system in Cleveland] said, "Maybe I should study broadcasting."

I could speak at length about Dee's influence in this particular corner of the medium, but I will simply note that the fellow who hosted the afternoon drive time show on the same station copied Dee's style.  His name was Don Imus.  Whatever happened to him, I wonder?

All of these memories were brought to mind the other day when one of my students told me that she was working on a study of the influence of radio on culture.  Since broadcast, commercial radio has mostly surrendered to satellite stations and MP3 players, it amazed her that once upon a time there was a free, open forum for the expression of opinion and art that pre-dated the Internet and social media.  "It wasn't as backwards as I thought," she noted.

No, and in many ways, it was even broader and more accepting of new ideas than is the tightly constrained and politically sensitive Internet.  While TV brought us images of the world, radio brought us a far greater range of ideas and expression in a rapid and nimble format.

Or, as a program director for whom I worked in my radio days once said, "It's amazing how much you can see with your ears."

Lenten Wave #17

...The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew
Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.  - from Ulysses, by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Well, considering it was integrated before lunch counters, buses, and public schools, and gave voice to both the "Ban the Bomb" and anti-war protests, maybe.

Was Rock and Roll America's Greatest Revolution?

I'm Really Getting Tired of These Guys

Islamic State extremists Thursday razed an ancient site at Nimrud in Iraq, according to government officials, who accused the group of using heavy vehicles to remove all traces of precious archaeological remains.

Welcome to Male Privilege

The mortality rate for white women in the U.S. has surged
Maybe because more women are working in the corporate world?  Nah, that can't be it.  Can it?

Oh, look.  More male privilege:
Boys are being outclassed by girls at both school and university, and the gap is widening
Once in the classroom, boys long to be out of it. They are twice as likely as girls to report that school is a “waste of time”, and more often turn up late. Just as teachers used to struggle to persuade girls that science is not only for men, the OECD now urges parents and policymakers to steer boys away from a version of masculinity that ignores academic achievement. “There are different pressures on boys,” says Mr Yip. “Unfortunately there’s a tendency where they try to live up to certain expectations in terms of [bad] behaviour.”
There is little for boys or young men in education these days as the institutions are female-oriented in their concerns, style, and structure.  This should hardly be news to anyone who has observed educational trends over the last 25 years.  Couple that with bizarre dictates on the part of college and university administrations using orientation workshops that identify college-age men as potential predators and rapists and what is created is a remarkably unwelcoming, even hostile, environment for boys and men.

Give me $10,000 a year per male student and I could turn them into scholar-gentlemen who could quote Shakespeare, solve for x, construct a house, speak in public [and in two languages, at least], enjoy learning and excel in most any situation in which they would find themselves.  Unfortunately, since my program would not satisfy educational nannies and Title IX bureaucrats, it would have no use in the current century.

Lenten Wave #16

You visit the earth, and water it. You greatly enrich it.
The river of God is full of water. You provide them grain, for so you have ordained it.
You drench its furrows. You level its ridges.
You soften it with showers. You bless it with a crop. - Psalm 65:9-10