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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Audible books--best video

Please consider going to Audible.com and voting for the video entry I just submitted. And sharing this with family and friends.

You can find my video by searching for Dorothy from Kentucky.

It was a rainy day project we put together in an hour and a half using my cell's iMovie App, various hats and what not we had at home.


There's only a few days left to get votes.


https://mobile.audible.com/audible20/apc.htm#/ 





Monday, October 2, 2017



Again, we wake to the awful news--"the largest mass shooting in America." The death toll keeps growing as I watch the news. 

I'm sick to death of having to say this: Enough already. Those of you in Washington D.C. who have sold your souls to the devil--or make that the NRA--should know, if there is a hell you will be on the fast track.

Below are two essays I wrote on the occasions of other mass shootings. They are just a sample of what I and others have expressed for a number of years. What will it take to wake up this country to the need for reasonable gun regulations?

2015
Another day, another shooting. Or several shootings. I’ve had enough talk where politicians wring there hands and say nothing can be done about guns. Or let’s look at mental health. It’s time Americans stood up and said, “Enough talk. Let’s see some action. Take their guns away.”
And it is an American phenomenon. Because we are a country of guns. Elisabeth Rosenthal eloquently and factually explained, More Guns = More Killing. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/06/sunday-review/more-guns-more-killing.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20130106&_r=0
Below, I am re-posting an essay I wrote back in 2012. The location of the shooting is different. The victims this time are college-aged rather than elementary age. But three years later and we are still dealing with the same problems, the lack of will by elected politicians to do something that actually will make a difference. That is, take away the military-style weapons from the general populace.

Enough with blaming mental health professionals for not identifying which particular young or middle-aged or old male will be the next mass shooter. Most of these mass killers are male—that is probably the best demographic in identifying the next shooter. Women tend not to kill a whole group of strangers first if they decide to end their lives. We do not have the ability to identify who is going to suddenly decide to take out a bunch of other innocents as he ends his life is a news-worthy fashion. But we do have the ability to prevent every-day folks from acquiring an arsenal.

Mental health professionals, even the best of them, and I’m married to one of them, cannot predict which loner, which disaffected person, which otherwise normal person is going to be that one. This latest shooter, like a lot of the other mass-shooters, while perhaps a little strange, or someone who kept to himself, did not do or say anything that under current laws would have given a clear clue he needed to be committed or kept from having access to the ridiculous, military-style, deadly weapons legally available in so many places.

Let’s stop giving a pass to politicians too cowardly to stand up and do what’s right. “Stuff happens.” That’s what Jeb Bush said of the most recent mass shooting. He used the cleaned-up version of “Shit happens.” Is that what he would have said if he had known one of the victims? I think not.

The demi-god Trump said something like, “It’s too terrible to talk about.” He who talks about everything and is not afraid to go anywhere. Another coward.

Hillary is not a god, or even a demi-goddess. But she has mustered, even before this latest tragedy, the courage to come forward and argue for sensible gun control. Good for her and for anyone else who has the courage to make themselves a target of the NRA and do something to stop the next tragedy before it happens.

That is my litmus test for a politician who will get my vote. They must be willing to take on the NRA. They must be willing to talk about sensible gun control.

These latest shooting victims could have been my children. My grandchildren. My husband. Me or my friends. Or they could have been you or yours. Do you think the families of the latest victims suffer any less than you or I would if it had been our family’s loss? Does each and every one of us have to lose someone before we put an end to the madness?

Join me and shout “Enough”. I will not support any candidate who does not speak out and stand up for sensible gun control.


CALL THE PONY EXPRESS—ANOTHER “INDIAN” MASSACRE
Written December 2012
I promised myself I would write more upbeat, happy essays. After all, life is too short to wallow in sadness. And I did claim this blog was mostly about the amusing things in life with only an occasional dose of seriosity.
But then I turn on the news and see the funerals of little children.

Local news is no better. If they are not covering the national tragedy in Connecticut, they are reporting on local violence and threats to schools in Jefferson and other counties in Kentucky.

Meanwhile, the front page headline of Louisville’s Courier Journal proclaims drastic budget cuts in Kentucky to school safety. A Kentucky state representative is quoted as saying we “need to study” what happened in Connecticut before we think about putting more money into school safety.

We aren’t back in the 1700’s, which incidentally is when the Second Amendment was adopted, and when stagecoaches and the Pony Express carried the news. Don’t we already know what happened?

A young male with easy access to military style weaponry shot his way into a locked school and massacred little children. Back in the 1700’s I suppose we would have called out the Calvary and blamed the Indians for rampaging. Maybe we would have evacuated families with children to a fort.

In the New York Times an architect writes about how we should “harden” our schools like we have done for airplane cockpits to keep the crazies with guns out. Or maybe we should just make schools, movie theaters, churches, mosques, shopping malls and wherever else a crazy person with legally-purchased automatic or semiautomatic weaponry and accouterments might go into fortresses. That would take a lot more money and for more than just school safety.

Retreating to fortresses would not protect us and our children even if we could afford it. The answer is obvious as the noses on our face and the guns in our hands.

 Our love affair with guns and belief in an inalienable right to a gun-toting “frontier” way of life with 21st century weapons has created the opportunity for this mass carnage of innocents.  And politicians’ blind adherence, until now when some sane voices have emerged, including Louisville’s own brave Representative John Yarmuth, to the NRA’s big stick have the blood of innocent children on their hands.

What century are we in—with 21st Century guns and an 18th century mentality?

Monday, June 12, 2017

Rhiannon Giddens--Wow Concert

On Saturday night at the intimate Kentucky Country Day theater, Rhiannon Giddens and her excellent back-up musicians wowed a sold-out crowd.

Giddens performed a number of songs before a wildly enthusiastic audience. I'll mention just a few of the highlights.

Rhiannon Giddens sang "Waterboy", one of her well-known songs. It's an old song, previously made popular by folksinger Odetta, where the singer is calling the waterboy to come out of hiding or she will tell on him to his pa.

In Rhiannon's performance of the song, if I were the "waterboy" I would've come out quick, fearing the singer far more than anything any pa could do.

She also covered Patsy Cline's "She’s Got You". Giddens has a voice to rival Patsy Cline. But her delivery was quite different.

Sitting in the fourth row, I felt the intensity of the anger in the song towards the woman who had taken her man. Giddens was not just the voice of a wronged or sad woman. Hers was the voice of an angry, possibly homicidal woman. If I were the guilty party, I would have made haste to exit the auditorium and relinquish all claims to the man in question. That was how powerful her rendition of the song was.

Giddens also sang songs based on research into true stories of African slaves. One song, "At the Purchaser’s Option", was heart wrenching. It told the story of a young slave woman, the mother of a nine-month-old, who was listed for sale with her baby available too, "at the purchaser’s option.”
Leading into the song, Rhiannon explained that as a mother she could imagine the heartbreak of being separated from her children. The audience felt that heartbreak on a visceral level.

The most moving song for me was based on the fable that some African slaves had the ability to fly but while some still could fly others had forgotten that trait after they had been brought to this country in chains.

Rhiannon told of a mother and daughter. The mother had carried from her mother the story of the ability to fly. She told her daughter that when the daughter felt the tingling in her arms she would know she had the ability. At some point the daughter began to feel that tingling in her arms and she and her mother flew away from slavery and into paradise.

I'm about as white-bread Caucasian as they come and by training and experience, a lawyer who deals in facts. So far as I know I have no African-American ancestors. So far as I know I also am not particularly susceptible to suggestions. But as Giddens sang, I literally began to feel both my arms tingle. The feeling spread up through the back of my scalp. I've never felt anything like this before. As Rhiannon sang, I began to wonder if I too had the ability to fly.

After the concert, we briefly stopped by the merchandise table to have a couple of CDs signed by Rhiannon. I told her it was a transcendental concert and her singing gave me goosebumps.

I used the word “goosebumps” for lack of a better word at the time. But it is not sufficient to describe what I felt at this concert. 


With a power that may be older than education, careers, and racial divisions, Giddens’ songs, storytelling and truly amazing voice transports her audience into another world. Rhiannon Giddens has a voice and a delivery that is a once-in-a- generation. If you have the opportunity to see her in person do so. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

An Unsuitable Nest Being Feathered

I've only posted a fraction of what I've written about Donald Trump. The trouble with being a casual writer focusing occasionally on current events, since Trump has hit the big time, is that everything changes in the space of an hour or two. The controversies, stories of corruption and chaos bloom like weeds in my garden faster than I can pull them.

Thus, whatever I have written becomes outdated in the length of time it takes me to water my outdoor flowers. If I want to write anything that is even remotely timely I find I’m constantly starting over.

As of last night, a special counsel has been appointed to the Justice Department to oversee the Russia / Trump investigation. There may be some totally new, shocking and outrageous development since last I looked. Please forgive me for missing whatever has occurred in Turmpland. I had flowers, birds’ nests and a collie dog to attend to.

Maybe last night’s appointment of a special investigator finally will give us a day or two of calm. The pundits’ pronouncements are filled with discussions of impeachment, 25th Amendment removals, and the possibility of resignation by President Trump.

There's also lots of talk about White House staffers, like rats on a sinking ship getting ready to jump overboard. So, there's no guarantee that any calm will remain long enough for an inquiry to get to the bottom of possible collusion with the Russians, violations of the emoluments clause or just outright corruption. I think those who are doing the investigation and pundit pondering may have some of the same issues I have. New revelations and shocking allegations continue to pour out faster than water from my hose on full blast.

Here’s my take: much of the problem with the Trump administration appears to be the stupidity and arrogance of the main character. Of course that does not excuse corruption, collusion with hostile foreign powers, unconstitutional acts, or just garden variety crimes that may have occurred. I do feel some genuine pity for those who work for him. But then I ask myself--why do they stay? Only they can answer that question.

On a lighter note, while I was looking away from the Trumpland’s blooming debacle, I discovered today the birds have been back at building a nest in our front door wreath.

Several weeks ago, a fully built nest had appeared overnight in the wreath, intricately woven within the new wreath I'd bought for our front door. It would be a nice spot for a birds' nest, since it's in a protected area under an overhang. I even think the birds, like I, may have appreciated the aesthetic design of the large, colorful and diverse flowers because they nestled the nest slightly hidden behind some of the large flowers. Except for the thing about the wreath, and thus the nest, being on the front door and people trying to go through that front door, that spot would have been perfect. 


If we'd been paying attention, we might have put together the facts of the tapping on the house and that our dog was barking frequently at the front door the day the nest was built. But with a collie dog there's always barking. And we have a lot of birds tapping here and there around the house.

I realize a lot of work must've gone into building that nest. On the other hand, anytime we went in or out through the front door, or let a visitor in or out, we ran the risk that a bird would fly into the house or any eggs deposited in the nest would go flying onto the front porch. While I felt slightly monstrous pulling that nest out of the wreath, it seemed the better part of valor to remove the nest before eggs were deposited therein.

Since then we’ve tried to discourage any further building of nests in that particular location. Every day we've been checking the wreath to make sure no new nest appears.

Today, was another unseasonably hot day. I watered the flowers on the back deck and continually tried to discourage our collie from eating the hydrangea leaves in the yard. Something he just recently decided is a canine delicacy. Just as I shooed him away from one hydrangea plant, he started to munch on another.

Then I went out front to water the potted flowers on the front steps. I found debris under the wreath along with the start of a new nest. I sighed before I disposed of debris and this new, partially built nest.

I guess one should try to be philosophical. Creatures return to whatever is in their nature. Our dog will keep trying to eat the leaves in our flower garden. Birds will continue to build nests in places that, for whatever inexplicable reason, appeal to them.

Had we, the American people, been paying close enough attention to the barking and tapping noises of construction by a shockingly unprepared and unsuited inhabitant of our White House, we might earlier have noticed before the current resident took to feathering his nest there. It appears our current President will continue to create chaos, mess, and corruption for so long as he resides in an office for which he is so ill suited.


Saturday, April 29, 2017

100 Days of Trump

Some journalists are making lists for 100 days of Trump. Others are asking the citizenry to assign grades. So, I’ll give Trump a grade--a solid F. I’d give him a lower grade if there were one.

I think that grade deserves a reasoned explanation, so here are three of the many reasons we could cite.

First, Trump has threatened our very democracy with his assaults on the courts, the press and the truth. Discussion to follow in next blog post.

Second, Trump is a liar and a bluffer. Neither our allies nor our enemies know when he is serious.  This could be an existential threat since Trump uses lies and bluffs against nuclear-armed powers with little apparent plan for the consequences. 

Trump has, on occasion, engaged in truth telling. He now says he’s learned healthcare is complicated. He says no one knew. Ha ha. But seriously, he also was astonished to learn that dealing a with nuclear North Korea is complicated. No one—that is Trump—knew that fact until now.

Trump acknowledges that trying to get legislation through Congress is hard. In his first 100 days, despite Trump’s threats, bullying, and bluffing he has not managed to pass any of the major laws he campaigned on.

No legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare. 

No legislation to fund his great wall.

No legislation to bring back jobs. (Executive orders to eliminate regulations that protect workers and the environment have not resulted in job growth.)

No big tax-cut legislation. (A one-page list of how to give more money to Trump and his fellow billionaires is not a plan for a tax cut to help average Americans. It’s not even a tax plan.)

Third, Trump is totally unprepared and unqualified to serve as President. As he now admits, being President is actually harder than being a real estate “mogul” who licenses his name. I suppose it also is harder than being a reality TV star. This should not have been a surprise to a ten-year old. But it was to Trump.

On more campaign promises than I can list, Trump has changed his mind. This definitely is a case of less is more. The less Trump accomplishes or even tries to do, the better it is for all of us. If only he would devote his full efforts to golf until Congress gets around to impeaching him.


Friday, January 20, 2017

Escape with "Firefly"


If you are in serious need of some diversions from the fiasco known as Trump World, here's an escapist suggestion for what you might consider watching.

I like sci fi and westerns, even when you combine them. But as I mentioned in an earlier post, the latest TV combination of sci fi and western-themed series, WestWorld, is too vile and inhuman to be an appealing diversion.  Much like real-life Trump World.

If you are looking for sci-fi with a western feel a better choice than WestWorld is the 2002 TV series Firefly. Or the subsequent movie, Serenity, that wrapped up loose ends left by Firefly’s cancellation.

 If you haven’t seen either series or movie, in a nutshell, five hundred years in the future, the Captain, Mal, (Nathan Fillion) of the Firefly spaceship is sort of Hans Solo-ish before he met Luke Skywalker or Princess Leia. And he has never heard of The Force.


Firefly also is absent most of the high-techy stuff and CGI so at times when the crew lands on a backwards planet, the show has the feel of an old western series. 

In concept, though, this is a space ship of the future. The usual assumptions on people's professions and status are sometimes turned on their heads from what we expect in current times. The first mate is a Black woman warrior, the only other survivor of the Captain's command from the Battle of Serenity. Her husband is a funny guy who cherishes his strong wife, plays with action figures and quite capably pilots the ship. 

A slightly built woman is the skilled mechanic. She harbors a crush on the ship's doctor, a formerly wealthy and well-connected member of the elite. He joined the ship as a passenger under false pretenses because he is on the run. He rescued, and then smuggled onto Firefly, his younger sister, a savant who was kidnapped and experimented upon by the government. 

The highest-status person on Firefly is a prostitute. In the future times of Firefly, high-tone prostitutes are known as Registered Companions and are reminiscent of geisha in that they are trained in certain fine arts. 

These Companions are like ambassadors who can go wherever they wish, choose whom they wish to see and provide respectability, cover, and entrĂ©e for the ship and its crew. 

Nonetheless, Captain Mal, either from jealousy or some vestigial sense of a centuries-old morality, is galled by the professional activities of Morena Baccarin's Companion Inara. The viewer is left wondering if the beautiful Companion Inara will ever leave her profession and she and Mal will end up a futuristic "item". 

 Many episodes involve horses, trains, miners covered in mud; under-handed bad guys often engage in bar brawls with the diverse and engaging crew. as double-crosses, hijinks and encounters or escapes from the Reavers, space-bogeymen who are cannibals and responsible for all manner of not-quite-human cruelty.  

Unfortunately, Firefly lasted less than one season. But fortunately, it’s available on DVD, Amazon Video or Netflix.


Mal, the Captain, who claims to now be apolitical, fought unsuccessfully against the Alliance but named his ship, Serenity, after the bloodiest and last battle of the lost war. The overriding theme of both Firefly and Serenity is that Mal, though a thief and crook at times, in the end demonstrates leadership and a strong sense of loyalty to his crew as well as basic humanity and an overriding concern for those who are suffering. 

If only that were the reality of our leadership in 2017 Trump World. 


Sunday, January 8, 2017

West Wing or WestWorld


No one would blame you if you are binge-watching fantasy worlds.  I admit I am.

 

We’ve found ourselves alternating between the past and the future. On some nights, we binge-watch West Wing, Aaron Sorkin’s creation of a principled, intelligent President, Jeb Bartlett, portrayed by Martin Sheen.

 

West Wing may be every liberal’s dream of how a good, intelligent man struggles to rationally resolve the problems faced in the Oval Office. Something we most likely will not see for at least four years except on TV.

 

On other nights, we watch science fiction. WestWorld also is escapism with a nod to both those good old days in the wild west and a futuristic world where androids have been created to suffer the havoc man inflicts on other men and women in a place where there are no societal rules. I’ll leave it to you whether we will see more of that in real life.

 

The TV series, WestWorld is based on a 1970s Michael Crichton film of the same name. It brings to mind other Crichton creations, such as Jurassic Park. In both cases, man’s hubris in scientific explorations and development is his downfall because he failed to give adequate consideration to the consequences.

 

Crichton’s vision of an android-populated amusement park where men can kill or inflict harm on human-looking creations for no reason other than their own enjoyment, is a good tool for asking why. It’s just not very much fun to watch.

 

I hoped WestWorld would provide some diversion. Instead, it’s only taken a few WestWorld episodes for me to dread seeing men blithely kill and rape others, even knowing the others are androids.

 

We could easily analyze and discuss in detail how both West Wing and WestWorld provide valuable insight into America’s current situation. Without writing a college essay I’ll only mention a few points.

 

For example, how little we’ve considered the consequences of our actions. Have we let our media and unfettered technology run riot on our sacred political system, now tainted beyond recognition, by fake news and Russian hacking? How much has our media been complicit in this debacle because Trump gives good ratings?

 

We are days away from installing a dangerous, former reality show host who is so narcissistic he apparently doesn’t care about the fake news or the Russian influence of our political system, because they benefited him in the election. Who also claims, without explanation, to know more about the hacking than anyone else. Perhaps he does.

 

How this type of illegitimate election can be allowed to stand is beyond belief, as it will result in the installation of a scoundrel and know-nothing as the most powerful man in the free world.

 

But enough about the real world.

 

One series I’m looking forward to in the new season is The Americans. This award-winning series brings to life Russian spies embedded in American society passing as ordinary Americans. I’ve heard tell the 2017 series will open in current time with a Russian plant passing as an anything but an ordinary American. Hold your breath for his next tweet.