Thursday, September 21, 2017

Number of the Day: 10,000

Hard to believe, but it's true.  The Keyboard Commentarian has passed 10,000 views!  I am truly grateful that so many people have found this blog, and to those who come back again and again.  A special thank you, if I may, to those who come back, especially since, as I have mentioned before, I do not post with much regularity.  This is not a daily, weekly, or necessarily an even monthly blog.  I feel that, when I feel strongly enough on a subject, I will be (as I state right underneath the page title) sitting in front of my keyboard ... commenting.

Clearly, many, many people from around the world have found this blog, as the top ten list below shows...

In addition to these -- if you did the math, you know the numbers above do not add up to 10,000 even, let alone more than -- there have been views from many other locations around the world.  Locations such as Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Tanzania, Mexico, the Philippines, Australia, and Romania, to name a few.  I have mentioned it in the past, but I am still amazed at the interconnectedness (albeit, merely electronically) that the World Wide Web provides.  

It was back on February 20, 2015, that this blog passed 5,000 views -- two years and eight months after my first post in June of 2012.  It has taken two years and seven months to go from 5,000 views to 10,000 views.  Not too shabby.  (Maybe sometime in the Spring of 2020 will bring 15,000 views?)

All I can say is thanks to all of you who have found this blog and, hopefully, keep coming back.  If you enjoy what I write, please pass the address of this blog along to anyone who you think might also enjoy it.  As always, my hope is to continue writing about things that interest you and that keep you coming back.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017


My original idea for this post was to talk about Hurricane Harvey, which inundated parts of coastal and southeastern Texas, as well as portions of eastern Louisiana.  Instead, based on what is happening right now, my focus will be on global warming.

My memory may not be on point, especially since I don't live in a part of the country where hurricanes are regular occurrences, but I remember when hurricane season came around each year, there was usually one major hurricane (maybe two) and some smaller storms.  These storms would cause damage and flooding to varying degrees.  Additionally, a number these storms went out to sea or dissipated without rebuilding strength once they passed over land for a while.  There may have been years where that was not the case, but that is, in the broadest terms, how I remember this time of year.

In recent years, however, things have changed.  The hurricane season has changed.  Hurricanes themselves have changed ... a lot.  This hurricane season has been the most dramatic and devastating result of current global warming.  We can look back to 2005 and Hurricane Katrina and its devastation, including nearly 1,900 deaths.  There is Superstorm Sandy in 2012, called such as it was a "perfect storm"-like convergence of a hurricane (Sandy) and a nor-easter storm, which hit large portions of my home state of New Jersey, New York City, and New England area.  The first few weeks of Fall last year saw Hurricane Matthew cause massive damage to parts of South Carolina and Florida.  Other areas affected by these storms, including Hurricane Katrina, include the Greater and Lesser Antilles, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Bahamas.

Let us look at just the past month alone.  Beginning in mid-August and lasting through early September, Hurricane Harvey took a rather unusual track, making landfall, turning around, going back out over the Gulf of Mexico, and then making landfall as second time.

More recently, Florida -- along with the Antilles, Barbados (which was, in effect, rendered uninhabitable), Cuba, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and Cape Verde -- was devastated by Hurricane Irma.
In addition to the hurricane itself, there were reports of tornadoes that popped up in various parts of Florida, just as they did during Hurricane Harvey.

In the history of record-keeping for hurricanes, there have never been two hurricanes in the same year that made landfall at Category 4.  Both Harvey and Irma were Cat 4 when they made landfall.

Something else that has never happened before is the existence of three concurrent hurricanes.  Along with the extent of Harvey and Irma and Hurricane Katia which hit the southern part of Mexico as a Cat 1 hurricane.  (This image was recorded much earlier in the hurricanes' paths.  Lee, on the far right, remains a tropical depression.)

Currently, we have two hurricanes in play, Jose and Maria.

Jose is expected to do a clockwise turn in the Atlantic which would bring in closer to the northeastern coast of the United States.

And Hurricane Maria, which taking a more northern track than Irma, is still going to affect many of the island areas are hammered by Hurricane Irma.  As of this posting, Maria is a Category 5 hurricane and heading for Puerto Rico, which was hit hard by Hurricane Irma.

To be fair, any hurricane or tornado can bring a lot of damage, of course, but the more intense the winds and the slower it moves, the greater the amount of damage and loss of life.  The conditions for the creation and strengthening of hurricanes exists.  The resulting warmer waters from global warming are like fuel for hurricanes.  Time and time again, even hometown weather forecasters reiterate the warmer the water, the greater the fuel for hurricanes.  And yet, many people say the water's temperature is unto itself, with little to no effect on anything else.

Does this look like global warming is having no effect on water temperature and the amount of storm-related activity?  (Image from two days ago.)

Do I believe that the Earth gets colder and warmer on its own over centuries of millennia?  Yes, I do.  I also believe, however, that there can be mitigating circumstances that can retard or accelerate the heating or cooling.  Just like any science experiment, the same elements and conditions that produce a certain result can bring about a different result if any of the those elements or conditions are changed.  Therefore, I cannot accept that humanity's increased expulsion of fossil fuels has zero effect on the climate.  Just on a basic level, to say that it's impossible seems impossible to me. 

I have made the following argument before on different topics, but it also applies to global warming: Do the politicians and business leaders around the world have to be directly affected to a devastating degree before they address global warming as a serious issue that mandates action?  It certainly seems that way.  In the meantime, while it is not yet knocking on their door, people are losing their lives, their property, and their hope.

Tell that to the people of Barbados...

...or to the people of the Turks and Caicos islands...

...or to the people of Puerto Rico...

...or to the people of Florida...

There are those who refer to the Earth as Mother (Mother Earth), as the personification of this planet we have been given.  Whether you see it in those terms or not, the main point is that this planet is a living thing.  Along the lines of you reap what you sow, you get as good as you give, what you put in is what you get out, Earth is showing us cause and effect on a global scale.  Not on a small scale, as perhaps a remote tribe unable to comprehend it, but to all of us.  Ignorance is no excuse.  The time to deal with global warming has been here.  Are we at a point of no return?  There is some disagreement on that, but why err on the side of throwing caution to the wind?

There have been different periods in the history of the world, usually referred to as "ages" (i.e. Stone Age, Ice Age, Middle Ages).  I am not sure if this term has reached modern antiquity status, but it has been said that we are (were) in the Information Age.  (Perhaps with all of this information and the lack of global action, this might be called the Ignorance Age.)

What period are we in right now?



Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Term of the Day: THE KING OF COMEDY

Over the weekend, the world lost a giant in the world of comedy, Jerry Lewis.  He died at his home in Las Vegas, Nevada, at the age of 91.  His career spanned eight decades, beginning at age 5, including Vaudeville, radio, stage headliner (solo and with Dean Martin), television, and film.  He influenced generations of comedians, including Richard Pryor, Marlon Wayans, and Jim Carrey, among others.

In 1946, what would be Lewis' first, and arguably, greatest show business success began when he teamed up with singer Dean Martin as a duo act that played nightclubs and halls with Martin playing the crooning straight man to Lewis' zaniness.  The first gig of Martin and Lewis was at the old 500 Club in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
They rose to national popularity quickly and were given their own radio program, The Martin and Lewis Show, which ran from 1949 to 1953 on the old NBC Red Network.  They appeared on the then-newfangled thing called television on such shows as Toast of the Town, later called The Ed Sullivan Show, and Welcome Aboard (both in 1948), and The Colgate Comedy Hour (1950).  Their writers were Ed Simmons (who would later produce Welcome Back, Kotter and Mama's Family) and Norman Lear (All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Sanford and Son, Maude, Good Times, One Day at a Time).

They began their film career in 1950 at Paramount Studios (back when the studio system of managing talent still ruled the day) with At War With the Army.  That was followed by more than a dozen films, including That's My Boy (1951), The Caddy (1953), Scared Stiff (1953), Pardners (1956), and their last film Hollywood or Bust (1956).

Their popularity was so big, there was even a comic book series based on them that ran for five years, called The Adventures of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.

The duo split up in 1956 after much tension between the two as Lewis began to get much more attention than did Martin.  After ten years, the team of Martin and Lewis was no more, with both pursuing very successful solo careers.  The two had very rarely seen each other after the split, but Frank Sinatra, during Lewis' 1976 telethon, snuck Dean Martin on stage, marking the first time two had been together in twenty years.  It is still regarded as one of the telethon's highlights.

While Dean Martin scored as a nightclub performer (solo and with The Rat Pack), recording artist, film star (over forty films), and television star (The Dean Martin Show, The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast), Lewis went on to great heights in film, appearing in over thirty movies, many of which he directed and/or starred in and/or produced.  He also added singing to his achievements, even though he's more well-known for singing loudly and off-key, with the release of his 1956 album Jerry Lewis Just Sings, which went to #3 on the Billboard charts and sold more than one-and-a-half million copies.

His greatest on-screen successes, although he had many, were The Nutty Professor in 1963, considered by many (including me) to be his masterpiece, and The King of Comedy in 1982, alongside Robert DeNiro.  Although he had commercial failures in film as well -- Three on a Couch (1966), Way...Way Out (1966), Slapstick of Another Kind (1982), Cracking Up (1983) and others -- his most infamous film, even though it was never released, was The Day the Clown Cried.  The film, a 1972 drama about a Nazi concentration camp during World War II, was plagued with problems almost from the start, including loss of financing (for which Lewis put up his own money), script rewrites, and studio pressure.  Lewis hated the film and refused to release it.  To this day, forty-five years later, it has never been publicly shown, although some individuals have claimed to have seen it.  Sadly, his final film, Max Rose, released last year, was a box office failure.

While filming The Bellboy, he invented the video assist, a means of watching a film take immediately afterward on video, which became, and remains, standard practice in film making.  In the late 1960's, Lewis taught a film directing class at the University of Southern California .  (Two of his students were George Lucas and Stephen Spielberg.)

In 1952, he began his charity work on behalf of the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA)   It was in that year that Lewis began hosting telethons to benefit the MDA, although most mark the telethon's beginning as 1966, which was the year it went national.  In the roughly half-century during Lewis' involvement, the telethon raised more than $2.6 billion for MDA.  (Lewis insisted that the toteboard not include contributions from major corporations and contributors so that the viewers never felt in competition with entities that could raise more money.)  Lewis' name and the MDA's annual Labor Day telethon were synonymous for decades.

Later in life, Lewis did make several verbal missteps, like making off-color or insensitive jokes during his final few years of hosting the MDA Telethon, not being fond of female comedians (adding that women have no place being crude in their comedy), and publicly stating his right-wing views in the last years of his life.  There are many parts of his life that are not all pleasant and they have been recounted in many an obituary in print, on television, and on the Internet.  My intent is not to whitewash those parts of him, but to simply acknowledge them here and recap the parts of his life more well-known.

There have been many funny moments from his films remembered through the years.  Probably one of the most famous comes from his 1963 film Who's Minding the Store? (not to mention the music from it having been played by orchestras around the world) in which Lewis is "typing" away ...

Or dancing as Professor Julius Kelp in The Nutty Professor ...

Or a little distraction before doing the dishes in Who's Minding the Store? ...

Or trying to fix a hat (you can see Lewis cracking up a couple of times) in The Ladies Man ...

Or trying to get comfortable in his psychiatrist's office in Cracking Up ...

But my favorite scene from his films is the board room scene in The Errand Boy ...

Lewis also appeared on the Great White Way, making his Broadway debut in the 1995 revival of Damn Yankees at age 69!

Lewis had a myriad of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and chronic back problems.  It was due to pulmonary fibrosis that he began taking the steroid Prednisone in the Spring of 2001.  It bloated his body to where he was almost unrecognizable.  I remember watching the 2001 telethon and I truly thought he was wearing some sort of full-body prosthetic.  He trudged on, even in this bloated condition, continuing to be weaned off the drug, to host the telethon ... looking about the same in 2002, far less bloated in 2003, and back to just about normal in 2004.

Over the course of his long career, Lewis received a multitude of awards.  A partial list includes the Legion of Honor (Légion d'honneur) merit award (France), the Los Angeles Film Critics Association's Career Achievement Award, the Goldene Kamera Honorary Award (Germany), the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award (Academy Awards), an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Chapman University (California), and the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.  He was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame in 2009 and was made an honorary member of the Order of Australia in 2013.

Even though his rubber-faced expressions and physical slapstick comedy fell out of favor over the generations, Jerry Lewis made me laugh, hard, and much more than once or twice.  I loved his unbridled silliness.  He once said in an interview that we all have that inner child that we suppress as we get older; he just tapped into his much more.  Next to love and kindness, in my book, the greatest gift one can give is laughter.  Jerry Lewis gave us all that in abundance.

In France, he's known as Le Roi du Crazy ("The King of Crazy").  In Italy, he known as Picchiatello ("Crackpot").  On a 1978 episode of The Mike Douglas Show, Brazilian soccer star Pelé said that people in his country called Lewis "Crazy Boy".  By most, he came to be known as The King of Comedy.

And so, to The King of Crazy, Crackpot, Crazy Boy, and The King of Comedy, we say congratulations on a hell of a life, thanks so much, and rest in peace.


Thursday, August 17, 2017


President Donald Trump must be removed from office.

There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it.  There is no ambiguity.  There is a real necessity of crisis and the President must become a former occupant of the Oval Office as soon as possible.

I have been watching what President Trump has done and not done in his nearly-seven-month presidency with a mixture of anger, frustration, and disbelief.  The only two things with which I have agreed are his saying immigrants should come here legally (but not as he has used it as a justification for banning Muslims) and backing out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).  Trump is no stranger to controversy -- look up the Central Park Five and his stance on it for just one example -- but now, as President, he seems to thrive on it.

From his dark and uninspiring "American carnage" inauguration speech and his childish argument about the size of the crowd in attendance to surrounding himself with ridiculous and uniformed representatives (i.e. Kellyanne "alternative facts" Conway, Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump) and calling for a voter fraud investigation even though he won (likely because his ego just cannot stand not winning the popular vote in the 2016 election), he has shown his relish of inciteful rhetoric, his need of ego stroking, and his warm embrace of nepotism.

From his three decades-long business dealings with Russia and refusing to show his tax returns (clearly to hide something) to saying his failed business ventures (i.e. Trump Steaks, Trump Vodka, Trump Ice Spring Water) were actually successful, he shows shady and failed business dealings are okay.  His firing of James Comey as FBI Director when Comey was giving Trump himself more scrutiny, as well as his still-in-play potential move to remove Special Counsel Robert Mueller from his investigation, and publicly lambasting Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the Russian investigation, reveals a person who has very serious matters to hide.  (Not to mention how in the world he thought none of this would ever come out once he got into the White House is mind-boggling.)  His regular use of language to put down others in order to make himself look better (i.e. "failing New York Times", "sleepy eyes Chuck Todd", "crooked Hillary", "fake news", "Psycho Joe" Scarborough, etc.) clearly displays a character flaw.

It's as though his promise to do things in Washington far differently than the status quo really stood for just starting up a bulldozer and letting it run without a driver.  That is not implementation of new, untried methods of governance, but rather a collateral damage presidency.

Don't even get me started on how ignorant Trump and his staffers and supporters are regarding history, not to mention his own inexplicable admiration for Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin.  And when has any U.S. President stated publicly that ruthless leaders like Putin are great leaders?

Still, Republican members of Congress along with various Trump supporters had only gone so far as to say, well, they might not do the same thing or, okay, what Trump said was inappropriate before jumping off the subject.

Let us now look at this past Saturday in the town of Charlottesville, Virginia.

The above picture is of a vehicular assault on a crowd of anti-Nazi/anti-white supremacist protesters.  The protesters were there in response to a march of White Supremacists protesting the removal of a statue of Confederacy General Robert E. Lee and the renaming of Lee Park, where the statue is located, to Emancipation Park.  James Alex Fields, Jr., plowed into the crowd, rear-ending two vehicles, injuring nineteen persons and killing one, 32-year-old Heather Heyer.  Fields was seen, earlier in the day, marching with the white supremacists.

Led by Jason Kessler, founder of the far-right group Unity & Security for America, white supremacists attending the 'Unite the Right' rally came armed.  They had firearms and other items that could be used as weapons.  Their claim for doing so is that they knew there would be a confrontation with those who disagree with them.  My opinion is that they came armed, not because they simply knew a confrontation was coming, but that they wanted a confrontation to take place.  When you espouse violence and use images of people fighting you to bolster your position, how could you reject such a desire?

The anti-white supremacist protesters came to counter the Unite the Right rally's message.  They disagree with having statues that honor those who fought for division and for slavery.  I agree.  I do not agree with destroying them or hiding them, however.  They belong in museums, not out in the open.  Those statues, as well as the Confederate flag, are not representing heritage.  They represent a collective mind of people who believed in maintaining the slavery state and who were willing to tear apart the country to do so.

Pro-Nazism and pro-Confederacy movements are making strange bedfellows these days.  Although, David Duke, a member of the American Nazi Party, who joined the KKK in 1967, eventually becoming its Grand Wizard, began pulling the two movements closer decades ago.  The two movements have a similarity that can be described as white supremacy or a pro-white mentality merger.  Slave owners were primarily white and, since black persons were nothing more than chattel, a whites-only dominion was the norm of the day.  Nazism, which, in addition to Jews, also fought against groups like Catholics and black people, believed certain white persons (the Aryan race) were the "Master Race" intended to take over and run the Earth.  Like the Confederacy's willingness to tear the United States apart to achieve its goals, the Nazis were willing to tear the world apart to achieve theirs.  Every President, from Franklin Roosevelt to Barack Obama, has openly and freely condemned the Nazi movement and all of its offshoots.

Every president, that is, except President Donald Trump.

Now, before anyone argues that he did come out and condemn various hate groups by name on Monday, it is important to look at all three mentions President Trump has made regarding this issue in the past several days, not just the one he made on Monday.

Saturday was the day of the march, the anti-protest march, physical attacks, and the murder of someone plus the injuring of more than a dozen individuals.  Later that day, Trump claimed hatred, bigotry, and violence came from "many sides".  No specific mention of the groups responsible, but just three words, "on many sides", ended up spreading the blame like a pat of ambiguous butter across an entire loaf of bread.  It was a Nazi / white supremacist rally that invoked violence, which means it should have been rebuked by name.  Nazism, white supremacy, and all of its hoards of hatred must be denounced, by name, with strong terms ... and it should come easily.  Trump, who consistently slammed Hillary Clinton during the presidential campaign for not saying specifically "radical Islamic terrorists" did not do the same on Saturday regarding white supremacists.

On Monday, President Trump was much more specific:
        "Racism is evil and those who commit violence in its name are criminals and
        thugs, including the KKK, Neo-Nazis, White Supremacists, and other hate
        groups that are repugnant to every we hold dear as Americans."

Clearly, much better.

The kicker came two days ago during a press conference originally slated to discuss infrastructure, which quickly turned to the events in Charlottesville.  First, the President said he did not wait to be more specific on Saturday in his condemnation of the violence because he "wanted all the facts", which apparently took forty-eight hours to accomplish.  (He added that he likes to be correct when he makes a statement.  Liking to and doing are two different things.)  He refused to call the car attack terrorism, calling it "the fastest one to come up with a good verdict", whatever that was supposed to mean.  He claimed that not all those who marched with the Unite the Right rally were white supremacists, even adding that the evening protest the night before.was quiet.  He even said that, if statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson were coming down, why not statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, drawing a glaring false equivalency.  Some of those who took part in the Unite the Right rally were "very fine people", according to the President, and he also reiterated that blame rests on both sides.

So, if you're speaking in broad terms on Saturday, then speak in specific terms on Monday, and then speak in broad terms once again on Tuesday, how do Americans find solace in a President righteously condemning evil?  The answer is they don't because he really doesn't.

The following short documentary put out by Vice News, which begins with images from the "quiet" evening rally the night before, recounts what happened in Charlottesville on Saturday.  Warning: Graphic images and language.

© 2017 Vice News / Home Box Office

In 1943, during World War II, the U.S. government put out an anti-fascist educational film titled Don't Be a Sucker.  (It was re-released in 1947.)  An abridged version has been making the rounds on social media.  Below is the full film, which runs about seventeen minutes.  Watch it and see if you see any relevance to what is going on today.

What about all this uprising of white supremacists, fascists, and racists?  New?  Hardly.  However, like any forest during a lengthy dry spell, just one spark can bring about a forest fire.  These hateful, evil people are the forest, but what was the spark?

Mr. Trump, when you said in your inauguration speech that your inauguration would be "remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again", to which people exactly were you referring?

Congress has the power to serve him his walking papers, but will they?  If they have only mildly condemned the President on things he has said during the campaign and while in the White House, what will happen in the light of this?  Do enough members of Congress have to be attacked personally (i.e. death, dismemberment, harm to their families) before they do something?  If the President refuses to condemn, by name, this evil and not waver in that condemnation -- and not coming across as though he'sbeing forced to do so -- how is he functioning in the best interests of the nation?  And how is that wavering not un-American?  In embracing Vladimir Putin and only condemning white supremacists when pushed to do so, how can you leave him in power?  The House already voted earlier this year to not proceed in forcing Trump to disclose his tax returns, so, when all the nasty information from them comes out, they are co-conspirators.  If Nazism, white supremacy, and racism are allowed to rule the day, you are not our Congress, rather our complicit oppressors.

I almost forgot to mention three key players in the midst of this who should also go ASAP.  First, Steve Bannon, the White House Chief Strategist, who used to head the alt-right website before his appointment by Trump.  Next, Stephen Miller, a Trump senior adviser, was once mentored by Jason Kessler, the white nationalist who organized the Unite the Right rally on Saturday.  Finally, Sebastian Gorka, Deputy Assistant to Donald Trump, who also worked for Breitbart, is connected to Vitézi Rend, a Hungarian anti-Semitic nationalist group.  (He even wore a pin of Vitézi Rend's logo on his lapel to the inauguration.) 

Just yesterday, one of the cable news shows displayed this on the bottom of the screen: GOP SPLIT ON TRUMP RESPONSE TO WHITE SUPREMACISTS   Are they serious?!  Split??!!!  On that???!!!!!!  I guess loyalty to country is conditional, and I would love to hear an explanation on how that split isn't un-American.

Congress of the United States, you need to get a backbone, remember it is the country you serve, not simply the President, and act on this swiftly.  Mr. Trump is the President of America, but, in addition to every terrible thing else, he is un-American.  That makes his removal not merely a possibility, but an absolute necessity.


Wednesday, July 19, 2017


Seven months ago, I first posted about the Dakota Access pipeline and the struggle the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe was having to get it stopped.  On the day of the posting (December 4, 2016), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced they would not be granting an easement for the pipeline to go through, stopping the progress in its tracks, in a major victory for Standing Rock.  President Obama ordered the permit to be pulled, and then said more study was required to see if the pipeline could be routed differently.  It was a time of celebration, but the celebration did not last long.

Just over seven weeks later, and merely four days in office, President Trump resurrected the Black Snake (as Standing Rock calls the pipeline) with an executive memorandum -- a document similar to an executive order -- to put the Dakota Access pipeline back on track.  Environmentalists and the Sioux tribe were appalled and in shock.  Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, former CEO of ExxonMobil, was seen as a key in getting any and all permits secured.  The fight went on, even though the Trump administration was seen, and still is seen, as a greater environmental threat.

Last month, Federal Judge James Boasberg ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers "did not adequately consider the impacts of an oil spill on fishing rights, hunting rights, or environmental justice, or the degree to which the pipeline's effects are likely to be highly controversial" in its initial issuance of an easement one year ago.  Judge Boasberg did not, however, go so far as to say the pipeline should be shut down until a new environmental study is completed.

Where the Court had ruled against Standing Rock (i.e. the Corps did not act too quickly on permits earlier this year, the pipeline does not infringe on Standing Rock's cultural heritage), last month's ruling somewhat reversed that.  Earlier this week, Judge Boasberg ruled that the Trump administration's hastily-approved permits from the Corps violated the law.  Once again, Judge Boasberg did not rule that the pipeline should be shut down until a new environmental study is done.

The Standing Rock Sioux Chairman, David Archambault II, released a statement that read:
        "The previous administration painstakingly considered the impacts of this
        pipeline, and President Trump hastily dismissed these careful environmental
        considerations in favor of political and personal interests.
        "We applaud the courts for protecting our laws and regulations from undue
        political influence and will ask the Court to shut down pipeline operations

Jan Hasselman, an attorney from EarthJustice, an Environmental Law law firm that is representing Standing Rock, added:
        "This decision marks an important turning point.  Until now, the rights of the
        Standing Rock Sioux Tribe have been disregarded by the builders of the
        Dakota Access Pipeline and the Trump administration -- prompting a well-
        deserved global outcry.  The federal courts have stepped in where our
        political systems have failed to protect the rights of Native communities."

The Black Snake has been stopped ... again ... but not for good.  The fight goes on.


Monday, June 19, 2017


2 0 1 2  -  2 0 1 7

It's hard to believe that it has been five years since I began this blog.  It was on June 19, 2012 when I posted my very first entry here.  It dealt with a case in Texas in which an elementary school teacher dealt with bullying, taking a six-year-old into her classroom and having her students line up and hit the child.  (A misdemeanor conviction for "official oppression" was overturned.)

It wasn't long after that initial post that I was writing about a myriad of topics.  Some of the topics were the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater shooting, illegal immigration, the Dead Sea Scrolls, same-sex marriage, Barack Obama winning his second term in office, the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, the death with dignity movement, the Boston Marathon bombings, and (at the time) the beginning of peeling back of voting rights for minorities.

And that was just the first year!

My initial intent was to have the "of the Day" title to always be simply the Word of the Day, although sometimes, the title has been Words of the Day.  That one-word title didn't last long, as my first Phrase of the Day post ("Connecting with the Past") was within the first month.  (There have even been Phrases of the Day posts.)  Weeks after my first Phrase of the Day, my first Term of the Day ("Same-Sex Marriage") appeared.  Two years ago, the affliction known as Meniere's Disease was the first Name of the Day.

B.B. King's passing was the occasion for the only Title of the Day ("King of the Blues"); the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, was the focus of the only Measurement of the Day ("Parts Per Billion"); and the only Question of the Day ("When Is This Crap Going to Stop?") was in response to the massacre at the Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, and all of the shootings of black individuals here in the United States.

There have been several multi-part postings over the past five years.  There were, however, two occasions where the title was not "of the Day", but "of the Week".  The first was a seven-part post ("To Protect and to Serve") about the killings of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Eric Garner by police.  Just last month, the second posting ("Treacherous") was a five-parter that addressed U.S. President Donald Trump.

Sometimes, the posting has been a Film/Movie of the Day, where I have shared some interesting documentaries, ranging from the Iraq War and 9/11 to Blues music and Halloween.  For these entries, I have always tried to choose documentaries that have had major theatrical releases as well as those that have been shown strictly on television.

My New Year's postings have changed over the years.  My first one (January 5, 2013) dealt a little bit with the Mayan "prediction" about the end of the world in 2012.  On January 2, 2014, my focus was on New Year's resolutions, including my belief that not making any New Year's resolution is, in an odd way, a resolution itself.  Beginning with my third New Year's post (January 1, 2015), I began the tradition of posting a video of a song as a kind of goodbye to the year gone by and hello to the new year ahead.  The first song was Dead Man Fall's 'Bang Your Drum'.  (I also recalled my elbow surgery in the summer of the previous year.)  I featured Greg Holden's 'Hold On Tight' in my fourth New Year's posting (January 1, 2016), while talking about friends getting me through some tough times in previous year.  This year's posting featured Elvis Presley's classic 'If I Can Dream'.

And yes, I already have a song picked out for my 2018 New Year's post.

As any regular reader of this blog will note, and as I have said in the past, I do not post every day, every week, or even every month.  My postings can be described as coming in fits and starts.  I like to post when I feel I have something to say on a topic.  Most of the time, it's in one post; sometimes, posts run over several days.  That is not to say there is very little that happens in the world that grabs my attention or makes me feel anything.  To the contrary, many things grab my attention or make me feel something, but my intent is to create post that is, hopefully, worthwhile to you.  I know it makes it difficult to maintain a steady audience, but I am not a fan of writing lines of words merely for the sake of writing lines of words.  (I went through that in grade school and high school.)

As this blog inches toward 10,000 views, I must be doing something right.

My thanks to all of you, my dear readers, for finding something of value here.  If you are a long-time reader, an occasional reader, or a new reader, keep hanging in there with me.  I can promise you that I will continue to do my best to provide you with something of value in these pages.


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Word of the Day: HACKED

There has been much talk about hacking for many years.  Such is the nature of computers and relative technologies.  We've seen hacking of companies' files of customers' information.  We've seen hacking of personal computers.  We've seen hacking of elections.  

However, the hacking being addressed today is quite different and the most pervasive.

The short film below does, I believe, express this kind of hacking quite well.  It comes from English animator and illustrator Steve Cutts. [website]

In his well-known novel 1984, author George Orwell includes the following quote...
        "To hang on from day to day and from week to week, spinning out a present that
        had no future, seemed an unconquerable instinct, just as one's lungs will always
        draw the next breath so as there is air available."
                                 [pt 2, ch 5]

It certainly feels that way from many, many people -- not such much intentionally ignoring, but mere acquiescence.  There is, however, another kind of ignorance that falls under self-absorption.  The following quote from a stage adaptation of Orwell's novel is quite appropriate for today:
        "The people will not revolt. They will not look up from their screens long enough
        to notice what’s happening."

Thus, misdirection is the means; apathy is the end.  

In short, the greatest hack of all time is right in front of us because it is us.